On Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 a mature female sea turtle washed up onto Stanley Beach, minutes away from our school, dead. It had eaten a plastic bag floating in the water thinking it was food. The plastic problem plagues our seas here in Hong Kong and almost every waterway on the planet. Because this problem is so large I am trying to teach young people that art can be used as a message to elicit change.
My Lower Primary classes has already started a unit with an environmental focus. Just a few weeks prior, many students from my school attended an Ocean Alliance beach clean-up. Although the death of the sea turtle was very upsetting for the children, I believe it truly resignated with them as it was close to home and to an endangered animal.
We began the unit by making paper from recycled menus from a local restaurant. Students then sketched different see creatures from a selection of reference points to use later for their final piece.
Students then selected one to three animals to draw in black marker on their recycled paper. Students added a dash of colour by re-using old dried out markers. You simply dip them in water and then they act like watercolour paint. The kids were amazed!
The artist that we used as inspiration was Aurora Robson. She is a contemporary artist who creates sculptures from plastic that she and communities collect from the seas and waterways.
Venus McArtsy stopped by while students were adding their marker colour to sing a song reiterating the message: reduce, reuse, recycle.
I wanted to model reducing, reusing and recycling in the classroom therefore the artwork produced no waste and in fact used all reused and recycled materials. My hope is that students will carry this message into their classrooms, homes and communities. Whitney Houston said it best, ‘I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.’ Sing it, Whitney!