Last year, my class of Year 1 and Year 2 students entered 38 art and craft items and won a total of 19 ribbons. I'd wondered how we could ever improve on that excellent result. It was interesting to study the various categories and compare the entries the 2005 judges had considered winners. For example, we'd managed to scoop the pool in Clay Work with our little dog statues. However, the small, preliminary black/white dog sketches we'd spent several lessons on (building towards our day of clay play), mounted up to be put in the Drawing section, simply couldn't compete against the large, full colour drawings from other schools. Did the addition of glitter make an artwork into a Collage, or was it still a Painting? Several other unique pictures, which I'd been planning to call Paintings (until I read the entry descriptions and realised that they better fitted the category of one-off Printmaking) ended up doing extremely well because no other school happened to enter that section, thus we collected all the Year 1/2 awards on offer in Printmaking.
Well, for this year's event, I helped to encourage the other classes and teachers to contribute their own entries and the school as a whole (K-6) ended up with over 120 display items in art, craft and cooking. A lot of work to catalogue them all, pin cards to all the entries, and ensure that each item was suitably mounted for display and wrapped for transport. (Good ol' bubblewrap!) My own students made sure we entered coloured Drawings this time, lots of Clay Work (we were studying Australian Animals this year), more of our sneaky/clever, one-off Printmaking (good ol' spraybottle of thick, white paint), and some beautifully mounted Paintings and Collages. I reckon the hardest thing about child art is knowing when to tell the child, "Okay, maybe you should stop now..." I'm sure many a great example of naive art has been ruined because of overdoing it.
Imagine my surprise, pleasure and pride to realise that 34 of my class's 36 Penrith District Show 2006 entries had won ribbons - blue Firsts, red Seconds, yellow Thirds, white Highly Commendeds - and, in front of one student's prize-winning clay kangaroo model, a huge, extra blue sash, embossed in gold lettering: Best Exhibit: Art - School Years 1/2. Research pays!
The display of schools' work was excellent this year: variety, quality and the setting out of the display space. My sincere thanks to our school's talented teachers and students, our worthy competitors from other schools, and my utter amazement at the great singlehanded job of the woman running the students' art section at the Penrith Show this year.
But I dread to think of how we top ourselves in 2007.