Kheang Ov is the head of visual arts at Westlake Girls High School on the North Shore of Auckland. Leading up to Sculpture onShore 2018, at the end of this year, Kheang and other art teachers at the school will be busier than usual as they have 150 students exhibiting.
Their work will be exhibited at the underground barracks of Fort Takapuna as part of the increasingly popular children’s sculpture exhibition. Naturally Kheang is a keen supporter of the arts within education but he believes Sculpture onShore offers an exceptional opportunity for students and teachers. “Our kids feel a huge level of prestige at being involved in Sculpture onShore. There is a public audience of over 20,000 people so to be a part of this is very special for everyone,” he says.
Kheang believes that the experience of attending the exhibition last time was hugely beneficial for his students, whether they were exhibiting or just viewing. “Many of our students had never been to an art gallery or seen a sculpture park before and they were just buzzing about it. They took photos and did drawings. They talked to each other about what they liked and you could see them discovering the potential of sculpture and the meaning of it.
“And as a girls school it was great to see the representation of women in art and sculpture. While previously sculpture may have been a male dominated form of art, the girls could see the potential and the reality of professional female artists making a living from their work,” he adds.
Kheang admits that it is often difficult to ensure the arts have an important place in school curriculum, especially with the pressure from parents on academic achievement and job-based outcomes. But he is adamant that the arts, and in particular sculpture, is a fantastic learning tool. “We know that conceptual and lateral thinking helps to develop minds. In sculpture there is a wide range of multi-dimensional levels that encourages lateral thinking and creativity. Sculpture onShore offers schools the most accessible opportunity to experience sculpture at its best and it is wonderful to be a part of this community,” says Kheang.
Mangere College students visited Sculpture onShore in 2016 and are hoping to do so again this year. As a Decile 1 school with a mostly pasifika student population, the school has a strong arts culture but not many opportunities to take trips out of the classroom due to lack of funding. Mike Christo, Head of Department of Visual Arts, says the experience was extremely rewarding for the students and staff. “Some students had never been to this part of Auckland before, let alone an outdoor sculpture exhibition which challenged their perception of reality,” says Mike.
“The experience was a conversation starter back in the classroom with every student liking and remembering something different. The student work undertaken after the event also took on an “inspired flavour” which was an unexpected bonus,” he adds.
For further information on the Schools Programme for Sculpture onShore please visit NZ Sculpture onshore schools programme website. Bookings are now open to book a school tour by emailing Fiona White Fiona@thewhites.co.nz