Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Student support through art

By Zoe McMaugh

Deniliquin High School students are encouraging their peers to ‘‘keep growing’’ into the best versions of themselves with a series of student constructed murals.

The art project, led by Alana Parker (visual arts) and Shane McGrath (music), is part of the school’s Well Being Initiative. 

Miss Parker has been working with more than 30 students since March on several large-scale murals based on themes important to the school community and Deniliquin youth.

It focuses on the whole child and aims to foster positive relationships between students, home and school.

The first in a series of murals has recently been completed by the students — a bright and colourful reminder to ‘keep growing’ to be the best possible version of yourself. 

This mural is located outside the school’s Wellbeing Hub.

‘‘Students have associated the theme of ‘keep growing’ with imagery representing nature, abstract shapes and patterns with organic line-work visually representing the definition of growth,’’ Miss Parker said.

‘‘They have used a variety of skills in the construction of the hand-painted murals, including stencilling, hand drawn imagery, spray painting, free-hand painting and supported detailed line-work. 

‘‘All the students have been doing an amazing job and I really feel they enjoy their time creating, and excelling in a practical sense in the one-on-one or small group environment this program allows.’’

The murals are being created by students ranging from Year 7 to Year 10.

“Working with such an eclectic group has allowed students to form relationships outside of their usual social group, and share skills and stories which truly result in a collegial work of art representative of the current student body,’’ Miss Parker said.

‘‘Our school is the cornerstone of communication throughout our community, and such initiatives on wellbeing and the art and music programs which run under this banner help us connect better and learn together.

‘‘The school’s staff are dedicated people who know, value and care for all students who then believe in their own value.’’

Miss Parker is working specifically with a group of indigenous students, exploring their cultural heritage and then creating a four-panel mural paying homage to the Australian landscape and their culture.

Another mural to be created this term will focus specifically on mental wellbeing and mental health awareness. 

‘‘Students are using signs and symbols to create a dream-like landscape, a very surreal mural unlike any other at the high school,’’ Miss Parker said.

‘‘It will be exhibited outside the Henry St office.

‘‘Stay tuned for the unveiling of both these new murals over the course of term three.’’

■ Anyone requiring crisis support can contact NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511, Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.