The Distant Connections exhibition features artwork from university students studying by distance at Charles Sturt University to become secondary visual arts teachers. This exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Faculty of Education, Charles Sturt University, Chifley Home & Education Centre (CHEC) and Bathurst Regional Council.
CHEC was approached back in 2011 to participate in an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) 2011-2013 Innovation and Development Research project entitled ‘Learning and Teaching in Public Spaces 2011-13’. The focus of the project was to enhance learning and teaching within higher education.
The group project became Distant Connections and it is a perfect example of collaboration across heritage, visual arts and education. Charles Sturt University offered two subjects in teaching degrees specialised for visual arts high school teachers and these subjects were developed to suit the needs of distance education students.
The outcome of these subjects was an exhibition at Chifley Home and Education Centre. This exhibition features artworks produced by a group of nineteen Charles Sturt University students. As part of their subject, students engaged with Chifley Home and Education Centre as a historical site, as a resource for teaching and as an inspiration for the creation of artworks.
As part of the Distant Connections project, Charles Sturt University students communicated with one another in an online teaching and learning environment that traversed geographical distance, enabling them to share their experience, ideas and expertise while also responding and teaching one another.
As a starting point for their artworks, each student chose a historical object from their own community but also related to the Chifley era. Individually they then investigated and explored those objects to develop a range of concepts, interpretations and viewpoints that are developed in the final artworks. As part of this process they communicated with one another in an online teaching and learning environment that traversed geographical distance, enabling them to share their experience, ideas and expertise while also responding and teaching one another.
While the project outcomes are designed specifically to enhance learning and teaching within higher education, the benefits to the museum sector are also valuable. Museums have always been synonymous with educational activities, yet they also promote civic responsibility and community connection. Distant Connections fulfils these goals perfectly.
Both Chifley Home and Education Centre and Charles Sturt University have indicated a willingness to continue this relationship into the future with an aim to grow the concept into an industry norm, rather than a local project. This model of partnership has clear benefits for both parties, students, and the community.
Explore the exhibition online as well.
Home page slideshow image: Amanda Bishop, Travelling Memories, 2013.