24 July 2003

A masterstroke collaboration between a Brisbane kindergarten and a university art museum has culminated in a new book launched in mid-July this year.

Big Art small viewer: celebrating children as artists (Campus Kindergarten, $39.95) documents a project in which children aged between two-and-a-half and five interpreted eight adult artists’ work.

The children were all from Campus Kindergarten at The University of Queensland with the project born out of a unique collaboration between kindergarten and University Art Museum staff.

The collaboration led to a six-week exhibition of the children’s work alongside the “grown-up” artwork at the University Art Museum in August/September last year. It was believed to be the first exhibition of its kind ever staged in Australia.

Campus Kindergarten Director Megan Gibson said the book would inspire early childhood curricula, encourage opportunities for similar collaborations and challenge parents’ thinking about young children as artists.

“It also provides art lovers with a greater insight into children’s art as a language,” Ms Gibson said.

Big Art small viewer features high-resolution colour images of children’s and adult’s artwork from the exhibition, documentation panels of the processes behind creating the art, reflections from teachers and museum staff involved in the project and leading childhood authors’ discussions.

The “grown-up” artists selected for the project were: Melinda Harper; Rosella Namok; William Yang; Rosalie Gascoigne; Michael Nelson Jagamara and Michael Eather (one art work by these two artists); Ruth Waller; and Colin Lanceley.

Their works were chosen by Ms Gibson, Art Museum Exhibitions Officer Peter Liddy and Campus Kindergarten Pre-School Teacher Nadine McAllister as among those most likely to appeal to the children from more than 2000 works in the University’s collection.

In 2002, the children visited workshops at the University Art Museum to view and create their own versions of the seven works ranging from photographs to oil paintings and installations.

Using water paints, collage materials and pastels, the children completed their works at Campus Kindergarten with the aid of photographs of the Australian artworks.

“This collaborative project between the University’s art museum and kindergarten provided a wonderful introduction to the art museum/gallery environment for the children,” University Art Museum Director Ross Searle said.

The book is available at Campus Kindergarten (telephone 07 3365 3894, email campus.kindergarten@uq.edu.au) or The Book Garden (telephone 07 3229 9935, free call (outside Brisbane) 1800 812 336, email deb@thebookgarden.com.au).

Media: For downloadable photos, visit www.uq.edu.au/news/press For further information, contact Jan King (telephone 07 3365 1120, email j.king@uq.edu.au) or Shirley Glaister (email s.glaister@uq.edu.au).