Y9 Visual Arts students connect to the rainforest

Student Lewis Martin captures the spirit of the rainforest at Australian Botanic Gardens

Student Lewis Martin captures the spirit of the rainforest at Australian Botanic Gardens

By Amanda Poland, Head of Visual Arts and Year 9 students

Developing ideas through researching, drawing and photographing took Visual Art students to the rainforest at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. 

On 22 February, our Visual Art class went on an excursion to the to draw plants, after being inspired by a musical composition, 'Kondalilla', by Australian composer Stephen Leek about a particular place, a rainforest in Queensland.  Just behind the Sunshine Coast, in the scenic Blackall Range, Kondalilla National Park is a cool mountain retreat.  

Photo credit Amanda Poland Photo credit Lewis Martin Photo credit Lewis Martin

Extracts from the students’ written responses to the experience follow: 

  • As we walked down the stairs to explore the Botanic Gardens Rainforest we were greeted by mist, which created a mysterious and compelling atmosphere. I saw many exotic plants that I have never see in my everyday life. However, I was especially mesmerized by the beautiful ferns, which I decided to draw. 
  • The excursion to the Australian National Botanic Gardens was a simple way to experience the similar Australian flora and fauna to Kondalilla, in Queensland. 
  • I felt very connected to nature when we were in the rainforest. In some spots, we could only see less than a metre in front of us which disconnected us from the rest of the world. We started relying on hearing, smelling and touching to keep on the path and could only see the green around us.  

 The botanical gardens were magical. The gardens reminded me of the images we previewed of Kondalilla which was helpful to gain inspiration for my artwork. The mist that was spread around the lower levels of the rainforest and made the whole experience relaxing. I personally, really liked looking at the ferns and how the leaves are shaped. 

  • After this trip I was inspired to start a piece of artwork based on what you can see looking upwards, I thought the different perspective would be interesting. The plants I drew were same as the plants at Kondalilla 
  • The trip to the botanical rainforest was very insightful as we are investigating the environment and more specifically, Kondalilla, a rainforest in SE Queensland.   
  • While we were drawing, it really seemed like an actual rainforest. Overall, this excursion gave us the information we needed to research a rainforest, and have an idea of what Kondalilla feels and looks like.  
  • I drew lots of different types of plants so I could get an idea about what each one looked like. Afterwards, I coloured them with watercolours, and I tried to make them look like something out of the research on Kondalilla 
  • Greeted with the chorus of birds it truly felt like you were walking into a rain forest, somewhere magical you could say.   
  • I paid attention to the ferns of the rain forest not simply because there was so many, but because they were so beautiful. I focused on the life cycle, the growth the birth, the middle stage, and what happens when the leaves fall and die. 
  • I admired the thriving quality of the place, with wrens chirping and sitting on rocks, insects buzzing about, and most of all, the plants which a lively green. On our trip to the botanic gardens I felt really connected to nature. Overall, I had a really fun time drawing with my friends.  
  • I felt spiritually and emotionally connected to the gardens as the atmosphere was calming and refreshing. A welcome change from the chaotic rush of everyday life the cool colours of the gardens and the textures of the plants were very intriguing to paint and draw. I drew the wildlife while visiting the gardens and focused mainly on the textures of the foliage rather than the colours. 
  • I drew many different aspects of a variety of different plants (textures, patterns, shapes, light and dark etc.). I felt nostalgic as I used to visit the Botanical Gardens as a small child. We walked in places that I had walked in before, many years ago. I drew ferns and other plant life as accurately as possible, instead of the 'idea' of the rainforest. 
  • The Botanical Gardens has a scientific element to collecting and maintaining plants from all over Australia. Drawing accurately ties into how in science you have to be precise as well. Our unit on Nature relates to Kondalilla and the music piece by Stephen Leek who was influenced by the place, and is all about the atmosphere, history and nature of the rainforest.  
  • The rainforest was very misty and at some points mysterious and I suppose this would be similar to Kondalilla as both are centred around water and the movement of it. We all had some time to sit and reflect then further integrate those personal thoughts into our artwork. This combined both the peaceful nature of the rainforest and our art. I know our class greatly enjoyed this excursion and would love to go again!  
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