From the Principal’s Desk – 20 October 2016

The Street Art Project at ISH

The origin of street art has its roots in graffiti. My interest in graffiti and street art continue to this day and I have collected and worked with images of graffiti in my personal art and as a teacher over the past twenty-five years.

The highlight of this journey to date happened in 2014 when I travelled to Miami where I was fortunate enough to experience the ‘Graffiti Tour’ and what an experience it was – I recall that day with great enjoyment and happiness as it was a visual feast for the eyes and creative spirit! It was here that my understandings of how graffiti and street art have become meshed developed in a different way. Today, when we are confronted by these forms of art, we are often left asking the question: Is it graffiti or is it street art?  Graffiti and street art fulfil a number of important functions in a community. It’s a shared art form so everyone can enjoy it. Think about an art piece as part of an open-air art gallery that can be viewed at any time for free. It’s a wonderful thought, especially when we consider the exclusivity of much other art that’s not easily accessible. It adds colour to an otherwise drab or area affected by urban decay; the conceptual thinking that changed a run-down part of Miami into a major tourist attraction. It provides the gift of beauty to a community and also offers a space for conversation about the art piece or with the art piece.

So why this topic? Well, we have a street art culture developing at ISH. The school has a series of very unusual flags that represent out international character. These are made from re-used plastic bottle tops and add colour and a sense of national identity for many of our students. But what about the series of paintings that are developing? These have an unexpected beginning. Students whose behaviour hasn’t been what it should have, can find themselves having to attend community service as a consequence. Our thinking around this level of disciplinary action at ISH is to keep discipline within the school’s philosophy of service to self, others and the environment. So, when the need for community service first came across my desk, what a surprise the students got when instead of being put to task in a series of menial chores, they were asked to take up a challenge to make the school more beautiful with their community service. After discussing the idea and planning it out, the school witnessed the design and painting of a rhino mother and calf that grew on the wall between the Science and Mathematics classrooms. This first street art piece was very well received by the school and the students involved added days to their own community service to ensure the work was completed carefully. Students who has broken the rules walked away from the discipline with a better understanding of what it means to serve, what pleasure can be derived from creating and beautifying an environment for others and feeling really good about themselves and what they had achieved. From a moment of discipline came a win-win situation and an art work that brightens up lives every day.

And so, it’s growing … and we have our land animals and their young represented by the rhino, proteas for our flowers, Cape Sugarbirds to celebrate our feathered friends in the air, Southern Right whales and their young to represent the animals of the oceans. It’s been a wonderful series to develop and with the whales in the final stages of completion, this latest ISH street art theme will draw to a close. But already behind the scenes, the students and staff are busy with a large new art piece for the recently re-designed foyer called, ‘Connection in Diversity’ and the new street art thematic is being discussed. So watch the spaces and when you feel like enjoying a piece of street art, you need look no further than the corridors of ISH.

Yours in education

Garth Kitching

Head of School