Units of Work

Aboriginal daydream

Intermediate |

Hay, Australia, Aboriginal, dreams, painting, abstract, symbol, symbolism, narrative, journey, bark painting, colour, color, mark-making, pattern, shape

Make a collection of reproductions of Aboriginal dreamtime paintings. Use books and postcards. Ideally take the children to a gallery, but otherwise talk about the reproductions and the fact that they are not the real thing. Make a display of images, books and artifacts.

Discuss the dreamtime paintings with the children and talk particularly about the meaning behind the work, the symbolism and the cultural significance of the paintings. Ask the children to try to 'decode' the symbols that are frequently used, for example, the snake, the concentric circles and the footprints. Invite the children to make a list of symbols in their sketchbooks which represent different parts of their lives, for example, their family, friends, school, pets, toys, where they live and their hobbies.

Ask them to combine these symbols in a painting in the same style as the Aboriginal work, using the idea of a journey as a starting point. This could be a journey that the children take everyday to school or a special journey they have made recently. Ask the children to tell the story of that journey in the painting noting all the different parts of their lives that they pass on the way. Encourage the children to decide on a colour scheme, using ready mix paint and a selection of brushes and tools to paint with on black sugar paper.

You may choose to develop this into more imaginative work, using a story or a dream as a starting point. Encourage the children to research Aboriginal art further, finding out about bark paintings, musical instruments and Aboriginal stories.

Double primary painting system (see the units referenced above), water pots, palettes, sponges, brushes and tools, a variety of papers including black sugar paper, sketchbooks, drawing media, reproductions of Aboriginal art.