- Excellence Award 2009
- Nursing Rocks 2009-10
- I'd Rather Be (picture book) 2008
- The Learning Circles 2008
- Toddler Totem Trails 2007
- From Dreamtime to Sorrytime 2008
- River of Reflections 2007
- Nativity Scene 2006
- Sun Canticle II 2006
- Primordial Garden II 2006
- Paradise Garden II 2006
- Parkland Petals 2006
- Foyer Piece - Woodlands Van Park 2006
- The Welcome Wall 2005
- Well Travelled Trunks 2004
- Mosaic Tables JCU Campus 2002
- McCoral Reef Mural 2002
- McCoral Reef Play Area 2002
- Sample Ashton 2D works
- Ashton art works 3D
- Comments welcome
The Learning Circles - James Cook University
The Learning Circles Art project is a unique 2008 collaborative Community Art project for permanent public display in the JCU Eddie Koiki Mabo library. The idea developed from meetings between Learning Advisers Peter Hanley and Kylie Bartlett and public art expert Linda Ashton, from JCU’s School of Education. The piece symbolises the importance of social support networks for contemporary learning.
The project was originally conceived to help first year retention rates. Mentors from the JCU mentor program were trained to show new students how to make clay mandalas for the large art installation. The time spent making their clay mandalas for the Learning Circles allowed first year students to chat and make new friends. They then recognised the familiar faces of their peers in class and their mentor providing a vital support group when needed.
Approximately 4000 clay pieces were made, fired, varnished then installed and handed over to the JCU library as a public art display.
The 20m x 4m work is located on the ground floor of the library at the Learning Centre and can also be viewed from the mezzanine floor. It incorporates six of the unique circular windows which were originally part of an exterior wall.
Many students and staff have worked together on the one year project. This includes students from JCU’s mentor program, first year students across all Faculties, the JCU School of Education, Learning Centre Staff and members of the wider community. Local business Twin Cities Glass and Aluminium kindly donated and cut the large circular mirror pieces. School of Education art students worked with Linda Ashton to arrive at the final design and completed the installation.
The majority of pieces were made during O-week 2008. Then mentors took the half hour clay workshop to lots of classes in their early weeks of university tuition. Mid year intake students also contributed. The work was handed over to the JCU library as a fortieth anniversary gift at a formal event in Dec 2008.
The primary reason for the project was aimed at greater retention of first year students. This was to be partially achieved through the time spent creating the clay mandalas for the display. The art work itself needed to complement the space and architecture of the library providing an aesthetic dimension. Its final value is about $25 000.
WITH WHAT :
The piece is made from mixed media, attached to the existing concrete wall. As well as clay, the final artwork features river washed stones, mirror, some river rocks from the original library garden outside, clear glass, varnish and of course, lots of glue. A ceramic work by Peter (Travis (1969) which has been in the library since its opening provided a way of connecting with significant existing art in the space. The porthole windows designed in the library building provided the main structural focal point for a design which complemented existing elements.
The project is semi-abstract inviting multiple interpretations. First and foremost is that education is a foundation stone for life. The circles could represent the Faculties and the Library as information hubs. Mandalas are universal circular symbols for the sun and for social gatherings. Clay is an ancient, versatile and tactile medium in ochre colours from the earth. When fired it lasts for centuries and captures the marks of individuals along with their cultural icons. The rhythmic flow of the coloured stones represents the learning pathways of JCU students. The mirror invites them to see themselves as part the JCU learning community in the tropics and its alumni upon graduation.