ARTIST Frances Belle Parker and her daughter Olivia Parker-Bow look with the other judges Cher Breeze (left), Rosie Vesper and Malcolm King at the River of Learning exhibition. at Maclean High School. Photo: Adam Hourigan
ARTIST Frances Belle Parker and her daughter Olivia Parker-Bow look with the other judges Cher Breeze (left), Rosie Vesper and Malcolm King at the River of Learning exhibition. at Maclean High School. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Celebrating our winding Clarence river

LIKE the winding Clarence River, the works of Maclean High's new art competition and exhibition weave their way through the school library.

Each is vibrant, unique and reflective of the personal importance the river holds to its creator, and all of the artists are talented students from local schools.

The four judges agree that the quality of River of Learning is such that it will make it tough to pick out the cream of the crop. Former Maclean High student Francis Belle Parker, who is a judge and also the exhibition's artist in residence, said it was good to be able to give the students some exposure to the idea of art as a career.

Her art teacher at the school, Pat Riordan, was one of her biggest inspirations.

"It was my teacher at the time who believed in me and pushed me in this direction," she said. "She knows how much of an impact she had on my career.

"It's good to be able to show the kids that it can be a viable career depending on how you pursue it."

Fellow judge Malcolm King, of Kingstudio, said overall it was a good concept because of its engaging theme. "It's a really great project because it's getting the kids to really reflect on what the river means to them," he said.

The exhibition is a part of the wider River of Learning celebration, an Aboriginal education program run by the school each year for the past six years.

Maclean High School deputy principal Rhonda Pitson said what started as an educational walk through the grounds with respected Maclean elder Ron Heron has over the past six years morphed into something much bigger.

On Wednesday the River of Learning's main event will see hundreds of people, including Aboriginal elders, students, parents, Macquarie University representatives and principals from surrounding schools descend on the school hall to celebrate the annual program. "This is the first year we've had the exhibition so hopefully it will be a success."

From June 24, a selection of the artworks from River of Learning will be on display at the Grafton Regional Art Gallery, so parents and the public can drop in through the school holidays.



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