Aboriginal Art becomes English class act


One of the nice things about being a grandparent, I imagine, is watching your children coming to the slow realisation that parenting is a muckup, not a conspiracy!!

By which I mean of course, that most of us do our best and when things go wrong it is most often issues of bad timing, communication or just plain exhaustion.

So it was with joy that I watched my mother (Nadine) have a moment of pure grandy serendipity with my middle son Angus during our last visit  from London.

Angus had to do a project for show and tell entitled “I made this!”, while he was on holiday in Australia.  But Angus is not the most hands-on of children. He prefers sports and telling stories, not making stuff.

However,  he had been fascinated by the shields and spears at the brilliant Aboriginal culture exhibit at the Adelaide Museum, and particularly when he saw an old movie of two little boys his age spearing and then barbecuing a small bird.

Now mum is not the making kind of grandma either – I have never seen her with a paintbrush in her hand and she never kept glue either, claiming she was allergic.

So it seemed I was going to have to try to make something while also attending to my sick dad, who was the reason we’d made the trip from London back to Adelaide with my children in the first place.

But that’s when mum had her brilliant idea. One of her grandchildren from Olivier’s side of the family is emerging sculptor  Andre Lawrence, who was doing some work on their house, to ask him for to spend some time helping Angus creating something interesting to take to class.

It all worked out so well, in the way grandparenting ideas do. Andre came over the next day with a dingo tooth to show Angus and the duo examined Papy’s collection of authentic Aboriginal spears and he discussed why they had been designed the way they had.

Because of distances, these two grandchildren had not really had much time together. Andre told Angus many stories of his childhood growing up in the Northern Territory, while showing him how to design and make a shield out of a mailing box.

Angus had an expert art and cultural teacher all to himself (did I mention that Angus also loves to ask questions, millions of them).   Andre left his box of paints and brushes for my 6-year-old son to decorate a beautiful shield, so symbolic of Aboriginal culture.

When we finally left for the airport, Angus gave Andre a hug and said “I’ll never forget you,” Hopefully he’ll never have to, as one day soon we’ll be close enough to see Andre more often.

And Angus’ show and tell in his London classroom was a huge success, too:  “Mum, every single person in the class had a question, they thought it was so interesting.”  He was so pleased with his handiwork. And his teacher thought he was brilliant too.

So thank you Grandma, you’re so much more than a pretty face! And thank you Andre for handing on your knowledge of Aboriginal culture.

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