The project, created by visual arts teacher Sue Girak, saw students gather single-use plastic bags and turn them into a series of giant footprints that led from their school to the nearby beach – a visual representation of their environmental footprints.
Girak says she wanted to get her students to start thinking about the impact they have on the planet.
“I was looking at ... How we could have young kids become, not activists, but child artists that make a difference, and whether their art can make a difference and send a message to a wider audience,” she recalls.
“I asked the kids a series of questions, almost like a little mini survey for the older kids, and they were quite shocked by how much plastic they collected; they were quite shocked at how much shopping their parents did.”
Girak shared the project at the InSEA conference in Korea this August, in front of educators from around the world.
“I got a girl from Slovenia who is going to take up the project, and I had presented the year before at the World Alliance of Art Education conference and I had a girl from Beijing who want[ed] to do the project, so now they’re going to start the project at their schools,” Girak says.
As well as prompting students to become more environmentally conscious, Girak had other skills she wanted the children to hone.
“I would like the kids to learn through the arts.
“So when they wrote a proposal, we looked at the format of what real artists’ proposals are ... I wanted to make sure they really started using art language, or the appropriate language for that genre of writing,” she says.
“When I first started getting children to write their art responses it was quite short, maybe a sentence. I insisted that if this was to be put out as a proposal, in the ‘real world’ as such, grammar and spelling had to be correct otherwise the person who’s judging those proposals would throw them out straight away.”
The project might have wrapped up at City Beach, but Girak’s students are no doubt pleased by the state government’s decision to ban single use plastic bags, due to come into effect next year.