A special place
THE word “place” can mean a location, and it can also hold a deeper meaning of giving a sense of belonging and connection.
The notion of place is explored by artists all over the world, especially by our First Nations artists.
Think of place as a living, breathing environment that holds the stories of its people. Its soil, rocks and minerals are embedded with histories and cultures, creating a connection between past and present.
Place is an important part of First Nations cultures all over the world. Acknowledging the land you are on and its Traditional Owners is something everyone can take part in.
Today’s activities are inspired by the 2013 artwork Minyma Punu Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters Tree Women) (2013) by seven female artists from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers collective: Nyurpaya KaikaBurton, Ilawanti Ungkutjuru Ken, Niningka Lewis, Mary Katatjuku Pan, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Carlene Thompson and Yaritji Young.
The artists live and work in Central and Western desert regions.
The artwork tells the story of the Seven Sisters, an important songline in the Central and Western deserts in Central Australia.
The artists have used natural and found materials to create large-scale sculptures of the Seven Sisters who are Tree Women.
“The Seven Sisters came from the land itself, we decided that we wanted them to resemble trees because they are so closely associated with the land,” the artists have explained.
To get started, have a good look at the artwork on this page and ask yourself these questions:
● What do you think these artworks would feel like to touch?
● Do you know of a story often told or shared in your family?
CONNECTING WITH PLACE
Now it’s time to grab some art materials and connect with the notion of place through the following activities:
PREP TO YEAR 2 CONNECTING TO ONE ANOTHER THROUGH PLACE
Sit down with a family member or friend and think of an important place that each of you know. Share your memories of this place with each other and discuss what makes it particularly special to you both. Now each draw this special place from memory using a pencil and paper.
Once you have both done this, take a look at the drawings and start connecting them. Can you see any overlapping lines? Can you add lines that go off your paper and create a connection to the second drawing?
Once you are happy with how your drawings connect, add sticky tape on the back so that they stay together. Now add colour to your collaborative drawing using paints or coloured pencils.
Did this activity make you see your special place from a different point of view? Did you remember the same things?
YEARS 3-4 A SCULPTURE THAT HOLDS YOUR SPECIAL PLACE
Let’s go 3D. Go to a favourite place in your home, a special place that makes you feel happy and safe.
Take a moment to look at the space. What’s the first thing you notice? What does this special place remind you of? Write down three words to describe how you feel in this place, for example: warm, strong, joyful.
It’s time to create a sculpture using these three words. Look around your home for materials that represent the unique elements of the place. Use these elements to create a sculpture. Look for things such as fabric, pegs, wire, string or even building blocks. You might want to check with the big person in your home before using the materials you’ve found.
Once you’re happy with the sculpture, whisper your three special words to it. Now this sculpture holds your special place wherever it goes.
YEARS 5-6 CONNECTING THROUGH MAPPING
Let’s create a map from a new perspective. Ask the big person in your house if you can go for a walk through the neighbourhood.
Using a pencil and a notepad, write down elements that you notice on the walk which make your neighbourhood special, for example an interesting tree or a cat bathing in the sunshine.
When you’re back home, find a nice quiet spot and imagine viewing your neighbourhood from above.
Grab a piece of paper and some drawing materials. Create a bird’seye view drawing onto a piece of paper, making a map of your neighbourhood as you remember it. You can add colour if you like.
How did it feel to think about and view your neighbourhood from above?
YEARS 7-9 CONNECTING THROUGH SOUND
Let’s use our senses to connect to a place. There are many elements that give us a sense of connection to a place, like a familiar smell, taste or sound.
Find a quiet spot to sit down, somewhere you enjoy and feel relaxed. It might be in the living room or on the balcony, perhaps outdoors.
Close your eyes. What can you hear? Try and concentrate on each sound separately. Can you name some of the things you hear? Are there familiar sounds?
Now find some paper and art supplies. Using the materials you have, draw or paint the sounds of your place.
Try to capture what you heard by drawing abstract lines and shapes to represent those sounds. For example, if you heard a bird chirping you could draw the short tweets as a series of little lines fluttering across the page.
You will end up with an abstract representation of your special place. Show the picture to someone in your family and ask them what they see. It will be interesting to hear their interpretation of the artwork. Ask them what sounds they think you have heard.
Tjanpi Desert Weavers is an indigenous social enterprise of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council. Learn more at: tjanpi.com.au
MCA Australia’s Kids and Family programs are supported by The Balnaves Foundation. For more free children’s art activities, visit: mca.com.au
Minyma Punu Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters Tree Women) by Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton, Ilawanti Ungkutjuru Ken, Niningka Lewis, Mary Katatjuku Pan, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Carlene Thompson, Yaritji Young, 2013. Native grasses (minarri and ilping), found fencing wire, aviary mesh, textile, acrylic pillow stuffing, yarn, string, twine, raffia, plastic bagging, feathers, wool, tree branches, foam, piping. Museum of Contemporary Art.