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Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

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Art of place

Art of place 

Stage 3 - Visual arts


Killalea State Park


Lake Illawarra foreshore behind Warilla Beach

Unit of work

This Google Site unit of work is designed to support student learning preceding and following an excursion experience with Illawarra EEC. In this unit there are nine lessons in total, including the summative assessment task.

Program overview 

The program focuses on students’ ability to confidently express themselves while developing a sense of connection to place through art.

This program addresses all wellbeing domains with particular emphasis on the spiritual and emotional domains. Delivery of this program is through pre- and post- excursion interactive learning through Google Site, and an excursion to Illawarra Environmental Education centre embedded within the unit.

 In the pre-learning, students complete a range of activities to develop an awareness of elements of art in nature and will  critique case studies of famous artists inspired by nature. If schools are interested in the excursion, but not the pre or post learning activities, the excursion can be modified for delivery as a one-day program. On the excursion, students will explore and create artworks inspired by the local environment. They will express relationships with living things, objects, places and spaces, in various forms including drawings, paintings and sculpture. Artworks are a mixture of ephemeral, permanent and reflections expressed in a nature journal. 


Inquiry and focus questions 

How do people’s connections to places affect their perception of them? (Stage 3 Geography)

How do people’s perceptions of places influence their artmaking and art appreciation?

How can individual and collaborative place-based artmaking

practices influence our sense of wellbeing?

Learning experiences  


Grounding activity - Students are guided through activities to ground themselves in place in time. They are then introduced to nature journaling activities and are encouraged to look at their surroundings with curiosity and wonder. 

Scavenger hunt - Students look for natural art elements and objects using a variety of senses. 

Microscope activity - In this activity, students look closer, to see colour and detail they didn’t realise was there. They will observe objects such as sand, shells and leaves using microscopes and magnifying glasses.

Connection to place

Sound map - Students listen for sounds and create a sound map. They record sounds as symbols, and include a key. Students consider the places and memories that these sounds remind them of.

Nature Drawing

Blind contour drawing - Students choose a natural object to draw without taking the pen off the page. They will not produce a realistic picture, but will capture elements of the object. This activity enables students to focus on observing, relaxing while drawing, and not worrying about mistakes.

Close up element of contour drawing - Students zoom in on an element of their contour drawing. Students use ink to add in shading. Shading with a felt tip pen is different from a pencil because the pen will not make dark and light lines. Students will use a technique that botanical artists use, called stippling.

Ephemeral land art 

Collaborative group art - Students collect a natural object that represents them to add to a group artwork. This group artwork is a response to the landscape that we are in, and a combination of everyone’s identities. 

Pattern art - Students consider the natural resources around them and the patterns that they could create using those materials sustainably. Students create their ephemeral land art individually, or in pairs or small groups up to 4 people.


Key syllabus outcomes 

Art, Wellbeing and Place K-6 

Visual Arts: Making

- VAS3.1 Investigates subject matter in an attempt to represent likenesses of things in the world

- VAS3.2 Makes artworks for different audiences, assembling materials in a variety of ways

Visual Arts: Appreciating

- VAS3.3 Acknowledges that audiences respond in different ways to artwork and there are different opinions about the value of artworks

- VAS3.4 Communicates about ways in which subject matter is representing in artworks


- PD3-2 Investigates information, community resources and strategies to demonstrate resilience and seek help 

- PD3-3 Evaluates the impact of empathy, inclusion and respect on themselves and others 

- PD3-10 Selects and uses interpersonal skills to interact respectfully with others to promote inclusion and build connections 


- GE3-2 Explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments

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