• Anna Branford

'sticks, stones and feathers'

There is some magic going on at the Abbotsford Convent just near where I live. If you visit you'll find it in the Sticks, stones and feathers exhibition, created by children working closely with ideas of ecology and interdependent relationships in nature. The work they have done really is astonishingly beautiful.

The children found and painted these sticks and created the clay pebbles that allow them to stand as a forest. Findings from their explorations such as this little nest are sprinkled all through the exhibition.

This exhibit, Foraged Feathers, displays a beautifully diverse collection in pure white miniature vases. In my mind's ear the feathers take flight and make the vases tinkle together like little bells....

This is one of my favourite pieces in the whole exhibition. Twigs, foraged and partly wrapped in hand-dyed fleece, represent ideas about how the world works above and below a waterline.

A starry mandala of wooden rounds and smooth angles.

These extraordinary pieces, created by four-year-olds, are called The Stones Are Balancing. The children shaped the clay pebbles themselves and then built structures from Y-shaped twigs to support them.

Who is Inside? I love this name for such a beautiful collection of homes created from sticks and linen dipped in coloured clay slip. My mind flew straight away to the sorts of creatures who would love to occupy these little shelters.

Some of the exhibits invited human hands, and who could resist holding one of these coloured pebbles between their palms? (Not me.)

Others were carefully marked so that the precious work would be protected.

This is really just a directive to help visitors to move through the exhibition as the artists intend, but somehow I think it captures the message of the entire collection.

Thank you to the artists of the ELC and to your wonderful leaders, especially Suzana Klarin, who has the magic touch of the forest in all that she does. The opening night of Sticks, stones and feathers was exquisite.

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