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Upper Primary Art: ACAVAM117


Explain how visual arts conventions communicate meaning by comparing artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks.


  • making discerning judgments about how they work as an artist, and what and why they design and create, using appropriate visual conventions, for example, a sculpture that expresses movement
  • Considering viewpoints – critical theories: For example – Compare these paintings (one from India, one Australian). What do you recognise? What do you understand? What is new?
  • explaining the artistic vision of artists from different contexts, particularly referencing the meaning their artworks convey, for example, Aboriginal rock art, graffiti art, Egyptian art
  • Considering viewpoints – meanings and interpretations: For example – What is this artwork about? What visual conventions have been used to convey meaning? How did the artist represent their subject matter? How does the artwork reflect the artist’s perspective about the environment? How did the audience react to the artwork when it was first displayed?
  • analysing how symbolic meaning or metaphor is constructed in their own artworks and artworks of others
  • Considering viewpoints – psychology: For example – What elements are used to show excitement in the sculpture? Make a scary monster.
  • expressing an opinion about the way numerous artists communicate multiple viewpoints through their artwork
  • Considering viewpoints – evaluations: For example – Did it make you think more seriously about the issue? Did the rest of the class understand your message?

What is the meaning of the Aboriginal flag?


This resource is an online unit of work found on the Australian Government’s International Property (IP) website in the ‘IP In Schools’ section. The unit contains six worksheets (available in both PDF and Rich Text Format) that focus on the use of symbolism in the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag. The worksheets examine symbols of: Australia, the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag. There is also background information on the Aboriginal flag and a discussion-starter on changing the Australian flag. Students can also use symbols to design their own flag.

Lives and stories of colonial women


These are the stories of five different Colonial women, Trukanini, Theresa Sutcliffe Mort, Mary Windeyer, Caroline Chisholm and Lola Montez. Hear their stories and look at their portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

Celebration of culture

This is an interactive resource in which students in the primary years make a virtual museum exhibit of four cultural objects. They choose a level of difficulty (easy or hard), explore three collections of cultural objects - from China, Italy and Papua New Guinea - and select a subject for their exhibit from four options: parties and activities, clothing and accessories, music and dance, and ornaments and decorations. When designing their exhibit, students write labels for the objects and select how they will be displayed. The exhibit can be printed and comprehensive teachers' notes are available.

Say it with art

In this teaching unit, students explore recontextualisation of objects and non-traditional art materials to communicate ideas. The package includes a unit plan, topic outlines and a slideshow to help teachers unpack the content. It also includes resources, an assessment task with a guide to making judgments, a model response and teacher tips. This unit is one in a complete set of units for Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) The Arts: Visual Arts.

Symmetry and pattern: the art of oriental carpets


This resource is a website about the study of symmetry through analysing patterns in oriental carpets. It presents a gallery of different oriental rugs. Details about the patterns in each rug can be accessed by selecting the image of the rug or the key below the images. There are links to pages that explain symmetry and pattern, including translation, reflection, glide reflection and rotation, and describe how field and border patterns in rugs are created by performing the basic symmetry operations. Other links lead to related educational resources that include activities for students.

Through my own eyes: a self-portrait


This resource for teachers is a visual arts unit that leads to a resolved two-dimensional self-portrait on paper. The unit combines the techniques of drawing and painting and explores the concept of a personal environment. It is in four parts: exploring examples of portraits by artists across history; developing line-drawn abstracted symbols and a self-portrait; skills and techniques in painting, colour mixing and the use of warm, cool, analogous and complementary colour schemes; and resolving the artwork. This resource includes links to images, galleries and further information.

The animal within

In this teaching unit, students focus on representation of animals as companion, metaphor, and predator. The package includes a unit plan, topic outlines and a slideshow to help teachers unpack the content. It also includes resources, an assessment task with a guide to making judgments, a model response and teacher tips. This unit is one in a complete set of units for Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) The Arts: Visual Arts.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, 'Bushfire II', 1972


This is a painting by Anmatyerr artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri depicting the ancestral narrative of Lungkata the Blue-Tongued Lizard, who punished his two sons because they had broken the law by eating the sacred kangaroo. The painting is shown as an enlargeable image and in a video. Text onscreen gives information on the Papunya artists and the challenges they faced when producing art for the public domain. The video soundtrack provides strong visual analysis, exploring the ancestral being and Dreaming stories presented. The painting measures 61.0 cm high x 43.0 cm wide and was painted using synthetic polymer paint on composition board.

Alexander Schramm, 'Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the River Torrens', 1850


This is a painting made in 1850 by Australian colonial artist Alexander Schramm depicting Kaurna people, sheltering under gum trees in Adelaide parkland. The painting is shown as an enlargeable image and in a video. Text onscreen gives information on Schramm’s life and practice as he is known for his sympathetic representation of Aboriginal people during colonial times. The video soundtrack provides visual analysis, discussing the narrative detail of the painting representing Aboriginal people immersed in their daily lives. The painting measures 86.7 cm high x 130.2 cm wide and was painted with oil on canvas.

Destination modern art


This is an interactive resource that focuses on a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with an alien character to explore selected two-dimensional and three-dimensional exhibits by famous artists including Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Polly Apfelbaum, Romare Bearden and Umberto Boccioni. By selecting artworks visitors can learn about the artists, their techniques and inspirations, and engage in activities through interactive icons titled Tools; Listen; Look; Words; About; and Idea, which includes ideas to create your own artworks.

Sharing stories: community


This is a rich resource about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' communities and identities. It consists of an introduction; a teacher guide; a film, 'My people, the Karajarri people', made by Wynston Shoveller about the Mowla Bluff massacre in the Kimberley region in 1916; and a video interview with Sunno Mitchell about the importance of language for the Paakantji people. The teacher guide contains viewing and discussion points and suggested activities. It provides a link, usually via an interactive map, to four other films, 'Djulpan', 'Miiku and Tinta', 'The story of Girbar' and 'Dhuwa Yirritja'.

Hans Heysen: 'The saplings', 1904


This resource includes an enlargeable image of the painting 'The saplings' by Hans Heysen and catalogue information about the painting. There is also a video with audio commentary and corresponding onscreen text that provides an interpretation of the painting and information about the artist's views. The painting pays homage to the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and the majestic forms of Australian gum trees.