As an artist, my passion is to engage in playful and experimental processes with materials, techniques, forms and surfaces. My main medium is textiles (in all of its forms – cloth, embroidery, crochet, paper to name a few) but I often dip into different media and slip between the traditional roles of an artist.
When I was recently invited to write a poem for an event, the initial invitation terrified me. Then I quickly remembered that my art practice is merely made up of a series of methodologies and philosophies which are adaptable and can be applied to any discipline and practice. In no time, I had written my poem (which was well received!) in the same way I might make an artwork. I approached it as an experiment, using many of the familiar strategies I use in my practice, but this time, the words replaced my materials.
As an artist educator, I often apply the approaches I use within my personal art practice to my teaching practice. Many of the creative learning strategies I share with children are playful and experimental in nature. They are an open ended invitation for children to engage with artworks in the Museum, through the lens of my art practice. By focusing on simple starting points related to my practice, the outcomes remain unknown and enable the children to lead their own learning. I view the learning process as an exchange, so it’s inevitable that the children always open up new perspectives for me, about the artwork and indeed my own art practice.
As an artist educator, I often apply the approaches I use within my personal art practice to my teaching practice. Many of the creative learning strategies I share with children are playful and experimental in nature.
I recently brought my art practice into a program for a group of early childhood educators as part of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Conference.
Workshop participants were quickly invited into my world of considering the stories that second-hand cloth holds. Each of them randomly selected a different piece of white cloth from my collection, including a crocheted doily, vintage lace and a well-worn apron. We spent a moment listening to the cloth, considering what it might say to us if it were to speak. We all have a very intimate relationship with cloth, it holds memories in its stains and fibres. Cloth can bear witness to our lives and trigger deeper memories.
We then used these memories and associations as starting points to look at two minimal paintings in the MCA Collection by Robert Hunter Untitled no 4. Personally, Hunter’s paintings strongly reference textile works like patchwork quilts and kitchen linens.
For the upcoming Creative Connections: For Early Childhood Teachers, I look forward to offering educators a tool-kit of creative learning strategies inspired by my art practice. As artists, our practices are as unique as we are and offer valuable methodologies that can be applied with confidence in an early learning setting and beyond.
Learn more about our 4 November Creative Connections workshop
Nicole Barakat is an artist who works to unpick the borders of art and life. She makes her art with love and patience and experiments with contemporary drawing and textile practices. She also collaborates with local communities to create artworks and exchange experiences, knowledge and skills.