Mandurah artist teaches Ocean Road Primary students about sustainable art

Artist Helen Coleman with Ocean Road Primary School students.
Artist Helen Coleman with Ocean Road Primary School students.

OCEAN Road Primary School’s Year Two and Three classes were taught a mix of art and science from Mandurah artist Helen Coleman today.

Ms Coleman conducted an art lesson with students, funded by the City of Mandurah Creative Mandurah Grants Program, and taught them how to create eco prints using Mandurah gum tree leaves.

She said the use of local materials and cloth was an example of the slow fashion movement.

“The slow fashion movement is where people use natural safe material to cover cloth and create textures and patterns rather than use more dangerous, unsustainable and unethical practices in fast fashion,” she said.

Ms Coleman said the process of creating the material was a fusion of art and chemistry teachings.

“The leaves are placed onto cloth, which has been soaked in soy milk, and coats the cloth with a protein layer so the plant dye bonds with the cloth better,” she said.

“They draw the leafs on, put the leaves on and another cloth gets put on top, which has been soaked in an iron vinegar solution.”

Ms Coleman said the iron and the vinegar react with the tannins in the leaf to bring out the patterns.

The material would then be rolled around sticks, tied tight, and boiled for an hour.

She said the art activity would present to students a different way of creating cloth and colours using sustainable practices.

“We used materials that you can find in the bush rather than chemical dye,” she said.

“The activity will allow them to slow down and look at the shape of the leaf and appreciate it.”