Kate Tyrwhitt, a Reception to Year 7 visual arts teacher at St Michael’s, came across the idea to get her students to make models of the sculptures using 3D printing software after seeing recent sculptural works on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

 “So there was Auguste Rodin’s work, and in particular the work I thought the boys would be interested in were the Antony Gormley sculptures, which have a really blocky look about them which lends itself very well to being constructed and designed with Makers Empire,” Tyrwhitt says.

Gormley is a London-based sculptor best known for his international public installation Event Horizon, and has recently released a series of works which feature an eye-catching style reminiscent of pixel art or Minecraft objects. Students saw a 2D photo of the artwork before going in and seeing the works in person.

“In Makers Empire one of the features is called ‘Blocker’, and they used that to respond to Antony Gormley’s Clutch, which is a particular sculpture that he did. And by going in and seeing it at the gallery they could walk right around it and see how it defied gravity,” Tyrwhitt explains, adding that the activity has sparked childrens’ interest in the materials used.

 After viewing the artworks, students then sketched out their impressions in the gallery’s studio, and participated in a warmup activity before returning to the classroom to create their 3D models using Makers Empire. “They love Makers Empire … I’ve got two little 3D printers so I can actually print out some … you know, even if they’re tiny, the kids don’t care, they just really love seeing their designs get rendered into 3D. Even if it’s like a three centimetre square little object, it’s still their creation. They love it. They really do.” In the near future, Tyrwhitt hopes to create her own virtual field trips.

“What I’d like to do is to be able to create some of my own virtual field trips for various places, galleries in Australia, and to 3D print some sample objects that kids can actually hold in their hand, and then create their own.”