Bushfires. Burnt trees. Blooming jacarandas. Poppies on Remembrance Day. These quintessential Australian motifs were all seen in beautiful artworks at a recent art exhibition, Children’s Dialogue with Nature. The artists? Kids aged two to five, of the Cuddlez Child Care & Long Day-care Centre at Quakers Hill Sydney.
Shafiya, 5, painted a bushfire. “My mum told me about the scary bushfires, so I decided to paint them,” she told Indian Link.
Other paintings were chosen based on the children’s interests and included everything from familiar objects like houses, flowers and beaches.
Even Van Gogh’s renowned Sunflowers made an appearance.
What was special about these works of art was that they were created using turmeric, beetroot, kale powder, coffee and caraway seeds.
Nandan Mukhariya, supervisor at Cuddlez Preschool who initiated this exercise, said, “Growing up in Bhopal India, I watched my mother and grandmother use raw materials like ground rice, turmeric and ‘palash’ (teak) to draw intricate art on the walls on special occasions. Those childhood memories motivated me to organize this exhibition to encourage our students to interact more with Mother Earth.”
Seeing the young ones use up-cycled materials to create art was quite impressive. Raw materials used to create the artwork – pots made of papier mache and small hessian bags – were also displayed attractively. Onion and garlic peels, knitting yarn, dry berries, coloured vermicelli, used match sticks and even crumbled tissue papers became art on canvases.
Michelle Rowland MP, Federal Member for Greenway, the chief guest at the exhibition commented that the artwork left her speechless. “I was expecting some cute drawings on A4 sheets stuck on the wall, but look at this display! So much thought has gone into these paintings, it is hard not to appreciate the effort,” she said.
Blacktown Councillor Moninder Singh was among guests who dropped by to see the budding artists’ work – and that of facilitator Nandan Mukhariya, who has been organizing these exhibitions since 2016.
While it is worrying to see calamities like bushfires making a lasting impression on young, impressionable minds, observing the youngsters seek inspiration from nature in this manner is heartening.
The exhibition did not merely display artistic talent of the young students, it is also evidence of learning – sowing the seed in their mind about a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. We are living in times when human-instigated changes are systematically altering the course of our environment for the worse, and the earlier we bring this discussion into our schools, the better.