Artwork judge Wendy Taylor on the Archibull Prize 2011

This post has been written by the Archibull Prize artwork judge Wendy Taylor who visited Mt Druitt Tutorial and Alice Betteridge School for Deaf and Blind Children on day four of judging by herself whilst I presented at the Careers Advisor Conference in Liverpool.

Wendy’s reflection on her four days visiting the schools

The most remarkable thing that I have found with the Archibull Prize this year is that irrespective of the circumstance of the school, whether they are the most privileged private school, a catholic school, state or selective high school, the impact of the programme was consistent. It was irrelevant whether the children were handpicked from gifted and talented classes or had learning difficulties. Again they all benefited equally and learnt from the programme. It was also irrelevant whether the children were in Kindergarten, Year 11 and 12 students, Agriculture classes or Art classes or a combined effort. All students gained from being included in the programme.

This is a remarkable end result. It shows that whatever field of education you apply it to it will have an impact on the children involved. I think that it is as relevant for inner city areas, rural areas and indigenous communities. The appeal of the programme is that because it is outside the normal curriculum, it breeds enthusiasm among both students and teachers. This manifests itself in increased learning, attendance, school spirit and a cooperative experience between students and teachers.

It is undoubted that the programme increases an understanding, appreciation and knowledge of agriculture and demonstrates to children that a career in agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit on a tractor. I am sure that when Art4Agriculture up with the concept of the programme that they didn’t envision a response on so many different levels, from the individual students to the school community as a whole.

Wendy on school visits on Day of judging

Mt Druitt Tutorial Centre– “Chickcow”

On Friday I was abandoned by Lynne and ventured out on my own to visit the final two schools on our mega roadtrip.

The first was Mt Druitt Tutorial Centre. This is a dedicated school for children at risk.

I walked into the classroom expecting a cow depicting one of the commodity groups which I had seen over the last three days. Imagine my surprise when confronted with our very first “Chickcow”!

This cow definitely shows off the poultry industry, with its sculptural head, tail and feet. It has both tactile and painted feathers as well as many ‘info-feathers’ showing facts about the industry. The best bit of this cow is underneath with its precious clutch of hatching ‘chickcowlets’.

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The programme was embraced by much of the school, with the art class making the ceramic eggs, the cooking classes focussing on poultry and egg recipes and many other students involved in the work on the cow itself.

This cow was so precious to the school that they couldn’t bring themselves to pierce its ear for the earrings they wanted it to have, so they had to come up with plan B (which you have to admit is great- made from clip-on egg rings!)

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From the teacher

Time is up, so I am off to the next school.

Alice Betteridge–“Betsy”

Lucky last school for our judging road trip is Alice Betteridge School for the Deaf and Blind run by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

This year, Alice Betteridge is participating for the second time in the Archibull Prize programme. Last year they won the primary school section and this year thought they would try the High School section.

Alice Betteridge 2010

Alice Betteridge students and teachers with their winning entry from 2010

Annie (from Year 7) and Kirsten (from Year 9) were there to tell me about their calf, called “Betsy”.

While last year their entry was very tactile, with differing textures, finishes and built out areas, this year they have completed a very simple and elegant collage of relevant pictures. They found that because the children couldn’t feel the difference in the components, they wanted to know what each picture was and its relevance. They therefore had a much more complete learning experience. It was fascinating what the children could tell me about the pictures without being able to see them.

View album

They have pictures at the head of the calf showing rural images with pictures at the rear showing urban images and products. In the centre, linking the two, there is the Harbour Bridge over water with images of the process from grain to product.

Annie and Kirsten tell you what they have learnt here

As this is the last school (whew!!) I would just like to thank all the schools for their time and dedication to this programme, and for the phenomenal effort they have all put in. The results are beyond expectation and have completely blown us away. Well done to all! Thank you.

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