Proving Children’s Art Matters

A sell-out crowd of teachers, child support workers, artists and parents, gathered at Coffs Central on February 19 and left with the message to provoke more support for art education and exhibitions to benefit the region’s young people.

By Sheree Lyons

Mid shot of five women smiling at the camera
Mid shot of four women talking to each other

Presented by the Friends of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Why Children’s Art Matters featured an inspiring talk by Australia’s leading voice in children’s art, Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM. 

Mid shot of a smiling woman speaking into a microphone at a lectern
Wide shot of a woman presenting a lecture in front of a crowd
Wide shot of a large crowd sitting down listening to a lecture

Sharing images of children’s art collected over the past three decades, Dr Piscitelli told both the uplifting and shocking stories behind works created by children including abuses of human rights and the contrasting ways children from Asia and Australia have experienced the pandemic.

“Every picture a child makes does not need to be of a happy childhood,” said Dr Piscitelli. “It’s important for us to pay attention to what they have to say, and the safest and easiest way is through their art.”

“Outside the home and school, children’s art is invisible. We need children’s art in more public places, to talk about children’s ideas and listen intently.”

Mid shot of a woman speaking into a microphone
A woman speaking into a microphone as others look on
A woman smiling as she speaks into a microphone
A panel of three women sitting in front of a crowd

A thought-provoking panel discussion gave the audience local insights into art education courtesy of The Art Dept’s Jess Miller, an experienced art teacher, who said society doesn’t value the arts enough and more funding is needed for classes and educators.

Also on the panel, Art Therapist Dr Emma Gentle, said children can pour their difficult emotions into their art and by exhibiting their work, the public bears witness to their stories. 

“We don’t often get to understand those inner worlds,” explained Dr Gentle. “Art is in and of itself therapeutic, and the making of art can make a huge difference in people’s lives as they’re getting their internal stories out.”

Canapes lined up
Plastic cups full of pink liquid, mint leaves and lemon slices
Refreshments were provided by Depot Cafe – Food at the Terrace Coffs Central
Proving Children’s Art Matters
A young woman smiling as she holds a canapé

Friends’ President and family lawyer, Heather McKinnon, said the event highlights the need to send the message to young people and decision-makers that culture matters, not just sport.

“I spent the week in Family Court dealing with children with the worse type of trauma and now to hear some solutions of how we can support kids through art,” Heather said.

“The children of Coffs Harbour need a safe place to make, learn and talk about art and the planned Cultural & Civic Space will provide this with a better equipped Regional Gallery.”

Proving Children’s Art Matters
Two elderly people embracing
Proving Children’s Art Matters
A group of women smiling and chatting
Proving Children’s Art Matters

Following the talk, attendees saw the works by local children in the Young Archie exhibition, now on at the Culture Hub*, Level 1 Coffs Central, and at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. Show your appreciation for children’s art by visiting the Young Archies – on view until March 6.

Coming soon: Jagun Yamarr Kids Easter Creative Workshop

Re-create our local, natural Jagun Yamarr (home fish) and marine world in watercolour! Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery’s Ash Frost will lead you as you paint fish inspired by the Jagun Yamarr Exhibition, on show at the Culture Hub. Explore drawing, watercolour techniques and learn the Gumbaynggirr names of our local fish species.

When: Saturday, April 3 10.30am and 12pm

Where: Recharge Hub on Level 1 near Depot Cafe

Cost: Free but bookings are required due to social distancing

All welcome – recommended for ages 8-12.

* The Culture Hub is Coffs Harbour Libraries, Museum and Gallery in association with Coffs Central. Combining arts, community and culture for Coffs Harbour and our region.

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