Schools can be a stale, grey scale and uninspiring place to be, especially for bright, imaginative young minds. Unbeknown to most of us why schools need to resemble brutalist soviet infrastructure with the smelly carpet to match, or why we’re told that those ugly demountable *cough* hotboxes *cough* will be “temporary” there is a very dire and clear need to chirp the place up a bit. What better way to do that than splash around some murals, on the walls, on the floors, on the stairs, put them EVERYWHERE as far as we’re concerned.
Thankfully there’s been a significant increase in interest for school murals. Yasmin, a primary school teacher in QLD paid particular mention to students taking ownership of the environment they are in:
“Well I think they’re awesome! Some that I’ve seen have been dedicated to teachers who have passed away or have been at the school for a long time to celebrate their career. I love that students are in charge of what goes on them and have real ownership of the artwork. So important for the students to feel they belong in the school community and I believe this is one way in which they feel included. Also at one of the schools I work at, we have students with indigenous heritage so they bring that to their artwork as well and I love we celebrate the different cultures within the school community"
Let’s talk about the benefits of school murals:
- Kids involvement! Upon interviewing a bunch of teachers the consensus was that involving the students whether it be in the design process, the story telling process, or the actual painting of the murals is an awesome way to increase student engagement, morale, and make school less “schooly”. It’s a chance to interact with peers and adults, involve decision making skills, and learn the process of bringing ideas to life.
- The second most commented benefit was setting the tone for the school and generating a positive mindset. Walking into a colourful and uplifting cheerful space can really set the tone for the day ahead.
- It’s a way of incorporating different cultures and interests, creating a sense of unity and belonging. Australia is densely multi-cultural, making students feel included and unsegregated is another great way to increase positivity and inclusivity.
- Celebrating indigenous culture through murals is a beautiful and imaginative way to educate and involve students. Creating a learning environment that visually champions indigenous pride is a key player in connecting communities and students. Getting students involved in this process can generate cultural awareness and foster team work.
- Murals are a low cost solution for schools to add an abundance of improvements to the school grounds, creating interactive spaces that student and teachers enjoy being in.
What types of murals are cool for school?
Interactive Mural are a unique way to get students continuously involved in the project even after its completion. Here are 3 ideas for interactive murals:
- A line of different hair styles from different eras, genders, colours and cultures that you can stand under and essentially “wear”
- Motivational words or affirmations coming from a megaphone that you can stand behind and pretend you are screaming, or perhaps it says how to say hello in every language.
- A painted bench seat that leans up against a wall to look like a couch, or throne, or swing!
Murals that celebrate events, like a centennial of a local happening, or to give honour to a notable local character, or an inspiring mover and shaker. Wordy inspirational quotes disguised in murals, you just never know who might need to hear these words today, or tomorrow, splashing around a few motivational quotes, or even quotes that express how wonderful it is to just be yourself. Educational murals, disguising learning in the form of art is cheeky and widely received. Murals that tell stories always hit different, and the same goes for schools. And as already spoken of, indigenous cultural murals are an incredible way to create awareness and teach about the Aboriginal community unique to that schools area.
A few final notes on the benefits and challenges surrounding murals in schools is expressed by Ben Eyles, a teacher and muralist all rolled in to one. Located in Jindabyne, NSW, at the foothills of the snowy mountains Ben pays mention to issues aligning with being rural.
“Considering we are a rural town and school, it’s hard for kids to get to galleries sometimes and see art for themselves, so that's where public art comes in. Providing local and accessible art is important. As for schools in particular, we want our kids to be creative and engaged at school. Boring sterile walls of concrete and brick don't really achieve this, so being able to provide colour and excitement to these school spaces help in this area. And for lack of a better cliche, can help get the creative juices flowing.”
Ben goes on to say:
“Of course the tricky bit is public schools are owned by the state and getting the OK is not always as easy as it should be.”
It’s pretty safe to assume we’re all hoping for a brighter more colourful future, if you’re from a school, or know a school interested in finding a muralist the team here at Book An Artist can assist you in finding the right style and available artists!
Sunny days ahead, friends!