Community Connection, drawing and making

Approximately four months of onsite engagement
Children and families, and regional communities
Background: To coincide with ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10), the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) Children’s Art Centre worked with selected exhibiting artists to develop new projects specifically for children and families as part of APT10 Kids. Across the seven APT10 Kids projects are themes that celebrate love, inclusion, diversity, and the importance of collaboration and community. The Children’s Art Centre aims to engage children with multiple cultures so they can experience the many ways artists approach their work. QAGOMA has an ongoing commitment to presenting innovative exhibitions, projects and publications for children and families. The Gallery is also dedicated to making meaningful connections with communities throughout regional and remote Queensland by delivering free activities and materials for its annual Kids on Tour program. This enables children and families unable to travel to the Gallery to engage with contemporary art. QAGOMA is excited that more than 120 venues around Queensland, including those in Dirranbandi, Stonehenge, Mount Isa, Aurukun, Redlands and more, have chosen to be part of the 2022 program. Acknowledging the potential for interstate and overseas visitors to be impacted by ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Children’s Art Centre planned from the outset to develop online content for each project to allow the broadest access possible.
Indigenous Uramat Identity Papua New Guinea, est. 2012 Mudam gi: Uramat Fire Drawings 2021 Since 2006, QAGOMA has facilitated a series of drawing projects as part of the APT exhibitions to connect children from communities across the Asia Pacific region (including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, North Korea (DPRK) and Thailand). These projects have captured children’s impressions of their immediate surroundings and encouraged them to engage with contemporary issues, such as the future of the natural environment and the effects of war. For APT10 Kids, children belonging to the Uramat Clan of Gualim, Papua New Guinea, were asked to create drawings about their experience of fire, or use of fire in their community.
Fire is an important part of the Uramat’s spiritual practice and everyday life. The Clan are well known for the Engini, a night-time dance ceremony that takes place around a large fire. Children participating in the project created drawings of the Engini, as well as drawings of fire being used for more ordinary activities, such as cooking and gardening.
Following this initial workshop, QAGOMA shared the Uramat drawings with children in the regional Queensland communities of Noosa and Stanthorpe. These communities were chosen as they were affected by bushfires in 2019 and early 2020. Working with Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery and Noosa Regional Gallery, staff from QAGOMA’s Children’s Art Centre, Curatorial and Regional Services teams held workshops with four schools, including Noosaville State School, Peregian Beach College, Ballandean State School and Glen Aplin State School. Participating students were spoken to by Australian Indigenous Elders and received information on the Uramat Clan, before they were invited to make their own drawings.
The drawings created as part of the Queensland workshops largely explore the destructive power of bushfires; however, they also include imagery of campfires, fireplaces and beach parties.
A selection of drawings from regional Queensland are displayed in the Gallery of Modern Art for APT10 Kids alongside the drawings made by the Uramat children. All of the drawings created for the project can be viewed on the QAGOMA website ( Posters of these drawings have also been made to tour throughout regional Queensland as part of APT10 Kids on Tour (10 December 2021 – 30 April 2022). Copies of the drawings displayed at the Gallery by children from regional Queensland were sent back to the Uramat clan.  
Jamilah Haji Thailand b.1989 Happiness and Desire 2021 Jamilah Haji is a young Thai artist who creates intricate embroidered textile artworks. Her family made hijab, and she was attracted to art, especially sewn textile techniques, from an early age. Using her mother’s sewing machine, Haji embroiders large, densely layered textiles conveying her personal response to life in the south of Thailand. The artist illustrates women at their daily prayers and as brides and as mothers, as well as aspects of her own life. She also reflects upon the prejudice she has experienced as someone with a hand difference, and her ongoing work to provide creative opportunities for children with disability. For APT10 Kids Haji wanted to invite children of all abilities to consider what makes them happy and what they wish for. In December 2020 she held workshops for children with disability and their families to create drawings responding to this prompt. Ten participating children, with their parents and siblings, drew on A3-sized canvas pieces. Following the workshop, Jamilah embroidered small flowers on their work as a gesture of her support. A she explains, ‘The embroidered flower on the children’s work symbolises my sincerity and moral support for the children. I want them to have patience and strength so that they become self-reliant when they grow up.’1 A selection of their works are on display as part of APT10 Kids, and will be returned to the families at the end of the exhibition.  
QAGOMA also held workshops with local children in Brisbane from the Aussie Hands organisation, which provides support to people with hand differences. Aussie Hands organise group events a few times a year so that children with disability can play with each other and their parents can chat and support one another. Over the past several years, the Children’s Art Centre has organised for children and families from Aussie Hands to visit QAGOMA Kids exhibitions before Gallery opening hours. Haji’s project provided a valuable opportunity to build on our relationship with Aussie Hands and to celebrate their creativity. Seven children participated in the workshop with their siblings and parents. ‘Thank you so much for running such a fabulous workshop and for giving us this opportunity’. (Mother of participating child.) A selection of their work is displayed alongside that of the children from Thailand. A screen in the space also displays a selection of images taken during the workshops in both locations.
To expand on the access to and engagement with this project, an online activity was also developed using the same prompt, inviting children to think about what makes them happy or what they wish for. There are multiple suggestions for ways in which children can engage with this prompt — through writing, drawing, music, performance or sculpture.   Endnotes 1 Jamilah Haji, email to Laura Mudge, March 2021.