13 Dec Rock Art Community Art Installation
Stage one – Foundation stones
In November, a new art project began taking shape on the Woodstock campus. A joint collaboration between the Centre for Imagination, the Art Department, and the whole school community. This multi-phased project aimed to capture and make sense of the two years that we have just lived through. Students who returned earlier in November were asked to bring a rock back with them, a rock that either represented something about the place where students spent the last two years, or that expressed something meaningful about the experience they have had over this period. Everyone in the community was invited to add a rock of their own, and tell its story – explaining how the rock represented their experience during the time of the pandemic and distance learning. The art project’s aim was about using rocks not just to make sense of the last two years of the pandemic, but to create a physical expression of who we are as a community, and what we can become!
Stage two – Bolder brushwork
The next step in its evolution in the installation’s evolution added a flourish of colour to the project, as community members were invited to paint their rocks. During advisor time, breaks and lunchtime, staff and students of all ages made their way to the painting stations near the Quad, to put their own personal creative touches to the many rocks that had been contributed to the project. Over two weeks the natural hues of the rocks were transformed to a kaleidoscope of colours and designs, each with a personal meaning sitting behind them.
Stage three – Rock solid teamwork
The third and final stage of the Rock Art Project was an inter-house ‘Installation Art’ Competition. The goal of Installation Art is to transform a particular place or space by literally ‘installing’ or filling it with a work of art, typically multiples of a particular item, in this case rocks! Two teams formed incorporating students from Grades 5 to 10 and were given five days and two specific spots in the Quad to plan and build their rock installations. The brief: What can an installation of rocks say about who we are as a school?
The response of the first team to that question was ‘The Web’, taking a square space between four Quad poles to create an intricate web of wool and stones that looked not unlike a cross between an asteroid filled galaxy and a very organic spider web. As the team’s captain, Grade six’s Surya explained: “In each of the little stones we were trying to express life, and how it was all interconnected. But our main goal was to provide something interesting to help people around the campus to stop and spend a few minutes of their time thinking about it, and finding their own meanings.”
The second team created ‘Wishing Well’ at the centre of the Quad, a rock walled pond with a pile of coloured paper on the side. The public was invited to fold paper boats and set them asail. Grade 10’s Rehaan shared his team’s intentions: “The wishing well represents Woodstock. A wishing well is about having dreams and wishing them to come true. Woodstock represents that for us, it’s a place that helps make our dreams come true.”
The Rock Art community art project drew to a close, at least for 2021, with a final exhibition of some of the artistic creations at the Festival of Ideas. It has been wonderful to see how the project has captured the imagination of the whole Woodstock School community. From initially a few lonely rocks on a line of empty plinths, the installation grew into a bold and demonstration of what is possible if we combine our creative talents. After a long period of virtual expressions of our artistic work, such a hands-on project was a welcome return to a very tangible, malleable, approach to creativity. One’s thing for sure, this may have been the first collective, community art project of this scale for some time, but it certainly won’t be the last one.