do it (homework): A Platform for Young People to Connect

25 August 2020

Two teenaged girls in school uniforms stand outside a brick building, with a sign reading "H Block". The girls are each smiling broadly, standing on one leg, and reaching towards each other with one hand, without touching.

do it (homework) was an 8-week creative learning program developed in direct response to Project 36: do it (australia), the organisation’s first public art project to be presented digitally.

The program was delivered in May–August 2020 and was specially tailored for Stage 5 (Year 9–10) learners. Young people from eight schools in diverse locations across inner Sydney, Western Sydney and regional NSW participated in the program and were often introduced to instructional art for the very first time.

About the program

do it (homework) provided an exciting chance for Kaldor Public Art Projects to connect with students and teachers during uncertain times. It was a unique opportunity to play and explore new methods of delivery and technology and provided a platform for young people to connect with their peers across the state. The program was a quick, thoughtful response to an urgent need for high-quality online programs and resources for in-school and remote learning contexts. It aimed to introduce new methods of art making to students and to highlight the significance of the audience in artistic encounters.

Connecting students with artists

We designed do it (homework) to foster collaboration and a sense of community during the global COVID-19 crisis. The program supported students to create their own collaborative instruction-based artworks, guided by the Kaldor education team, in close partnership with classroom teachers. Through live online sessions, students enthusiastically interacted with practising Australian artists Lauren Brincat, Dale Harding and Amrita Hepi and received advice and feedback on their own instructional artworks. The response from students was overwhelmingly positive, with some students expressing that they had never expected to meet a “real-life” artist.

The participating do it (homework) artists were also commissioned to create new instructions, expressly written for a student audience, and invited to reflect upon how rules govern the lives of young people. 

The program was informed by research into online learning, which identified that virtual delivery is more successful when students are able to directly interact with teachers, facilitators and peers, and actively engage in collaborative tasks. In light of these findings we gave ample time for students to actively participate, engage and ask questions.

Activities and workshops

The enthusiasm and commitment of the teachers was paramount to the success of the project and the Kaldor education team prioritised early meetings with teachers to establish a foundation of mutual understanding and trust. Following the initial Zoom meeting with teachers, students worked through three learning activities, which provided an introduction to instructional and conceptual art practice. Next, students participated in a series of online workshops facilitated by the Kaldor education team. The workshops encouraged students to reflect on individual values, skills and knowledge, and how they might work collaboratively as an ‘artists’ collective’. Building on ideas explored in the workshops and guided by their classroom teacher, students collaborated in small groups to create their own instruction-based artworks in the spirit of do it.

School exchange

Through July and August each school exchanged their instructions with an assigned ‘partner’ school, enabling students to engage with the work of their peers across metropolitan and regional NSW. All students had their work interpreted at least once by a friendly stranger they had never met. This was a significant part of the program as it aimed to highlight how audiences engage with art and ideas differently. Students were left feeling surprised but delighted with the audience response as it was often not what they had imagined.

Staying connected

As excursions and incursions are limited for the foreseeable future, do it (homework) aimed not only to introduce new methods of art-making for students, but to connect young people with artists, the wider art world and each other. It was a timely response to an urgent global situation, which has directly impacted the lives of teachers and students across NSW. do it (homework) offered a rich framework for creating artwork by students for students at a time of need.

do it (homework) was a meaningful opportunity to rethink the importance of artists and art-making in our daily lives, especially during a time of global change.

Kaldor Public Art Projects would like to thank the participating schools:
Denison College, Bathurst High Campus
Glen Innes High School
Karabar High School
Macquarie Fields High School
Marsden High School
Nepean Creative & Performing Arts High School
St Clair High School
Sydney Boys High School

do it (homework) was collaboratively delivered by Antonia Fredman (Manager, Education & Public Programs) and Lleah Smith (Assistant Manager, Education).

do it (homework) is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Read more about do it (homework) on the project microsite

Words by Lleah Smith

Image: In Remembrance of Social Distancing by Sneha, Amelia and Natalia from Macquarie Fields High School. This work was made in response to Amrita Hepi’s instruction Monumental piece (2020) for do it (homework)