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Art, creativity + schools at The Dowse

Author: Alex Grace, Communications and Relationships Manager

In a contemporary world with new media and technology, creative learning is more important than ever as a way to foster resilience, experimentation and innovation.

Our educator Jolie with students from Waterloo School

Our educator Jolie with students from Waterloo School

The Te Awakirangi Lower Hutt region has a strong history of innovation and creativity in education in Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt. In 1942 potter and educator Dame Doreen Blumhardt (1914-2002) was employed by Dr Clarence Beeby, the revolutionary Director of Education at the time, to develop an arts and craft programme for schools which was launched right here in Lower Hutt at Waterloo School.

This is part of the reason for organising our current exhibition Scribble + Sculpt: Art in Schools. It shares the story of pioneering teachers who led the way for educational reform and promoted creativity at the heart of learning. Works by Doreen Blumhardt are shown in the exhibition alongside those of the artists who were part of the Northern Māori Project, including Sandy Adsett, John Bevan Ford, Ralph Hotere, Selwyn Muru, Marilyn Webb and Cliff Whiting.

Following the lead of these inspiring artist teachers, our educators Cat Bennett and Jolie de Gaia have used Scribble + Sculpt as an opportunity to get out into schools and celebrate the importance of art in education today. Working with Waterloo School and the Rafael House Rudolf Steiner School, the result is a display inside Scribble + Sculpt of the delightful and experimental work students at the schools produced. Jess, a student intern from Rafael House, has been working with Cat and Jolie at The Dowse to curate the works into our exhibition.

Warren Owen, the principal of Waterloo School, says “Waterloo School has been at the forefront of educational innovation since the days of Doreen Blumhardt. We are proud to continue in that tradition as we teach our students skills that help them explore the world with creativity and curiosity.”

When asked about the project Waterloo students said, “I thought using the different materials to make things was awesome.” “I loved how we got materials like flax from nature to make things.” “The art was such cool fun and I liked what I made.” Tautoko!

Scribble + Sculpt is on show over summer, until 11 February.

On 16 December we also open a new show dedicated to Doreen Blumhardt - Doreen Blumhardt: Jet-Powered Meteor.