Mural builds students’ confidence

SOMETHING big is taking shape at Shoalhaven High School.

To mark NAIDOC Week, local Aboriginal artist Kerrie Williams has joined forces with students from the support unit to create a mural on the wall of one of the classrooms.

The artistry won’t stop there however; there are plans to extend the mural throughout the adjacent hallway which will become known as the Dreamtime corridor.

Support unit teacher Melinda Brennan said the school wanted to provide the students in the support unit, who all have intellectual disabilities, with the opportunity to be involved in NAIDOC Week.

“And we wanted to share Kerrie’s expertise with them,” she said.

Ms Williams has worked with a number of other schools in the area, including Nowra East Public and Havenlee.

“I draw the design [on the wall] and they go for it,” she said.

“They’re awesome, they’re all involved.”

Ms Brennan said the students would not otherwise get to experience this kind of learning.

“They are loving it. It’s building their confidence – often as learners they are not willing to take risks, but with this they can step back and look at it and see they can do this,” she said.

A number of the students in the support unit have Aboriginal heritage.

“So it’s also an opportunity to connect to culture and country,” Ms Brennan said.

The mural itself is called Hands of Mother Nature and depicts Mother Nature’s hands on either side of her figure.

“She’s in the middle, creating the land,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Brennan said the students take a daily walk, enjoying the land and have done a semester of Aboriginal studies.

“So [the mural] is like a culmination of all that,” she said.

Ms Williams became interested in art from a young age.

“It runs in the family more or less,” she said.

She is studying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural arts at TAFE. 

DREAMTIME: Nowra Aboriginal artist Kerrie Williams, Shoalhaven High School deputy principal Kerrie Lindsay and support unit teacher Melinda Brennan with the mural designed by Ms Williams and painted by students.

DREAMTIME: Nowra Aboriginal artist Kerrie Williams, Shoalhaven High School deputy principal Kerrie Lindsay and support unit teacher Melinda Brennan with the mural designed by Ms Williams and painted by students.

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