CROSS CULTURE: Luke Close and Penny Evans with Matilda Ryzak, Zawadi Brodie, Mirai Katagiri, Vinnie Morris, Aaron Spry and Tiggy Harling, in one of two gunyas built in the Bangalow school playground.
CROSS CULTURE: Luke Close and Penny Evans with Matilda Ryzak, Zawadi Brodie, Mirai Katagiri, Vinnie Morris, Aaron Spry and Tiggy Harling, in one of two gunyas built in the Bangalow school playground. Kate Oneill

Arts and culture a natural match

STUDENTS at Bangalow Public School have gained a new insight into local Aboriginal culture thanks to artists Penny Evans and Luke Close.

The Lismore-based artists recently spent 20 weeks "in residence" at the school, thanks to an Artists in Schools grant.

They ran two 10-week workshops, firstly with kindergarten to Year 3 students in Term 2, then with students from Years 4-6 in Term 3.

Taking inspiration from Penny and Luke's work and traditional Aboriginal designs, the children created boomerangs, shields, bush toys, mullets and God's eyes or "mahmung geo", a weaving across sticks that is associated with Mexico but is also part of the Arakwal tradition.

The artworks were used to create an outdoor culture corridor at the school.

In addition, the children built two gunyas - traditional shelters made of bark and sticks - in their playground.

They worked outside for most of the classes and used found objects where possible.

"It was about resourcefulness and using what was in the environment," Penny said.

The school held a special ceremony last week to thank Penny and Luke, which included an Aboriginal flag raising, a smoking ceremony and storytelling with Burri Jerome.

Luke told the students at the ceremony that he had gained just as much from the experience as they had.

"It's been a breath of fresh air," he said.


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