Change and Adaptation

03. 08. 2016

Off the Wall

Artist: Barbary O’Brien  l  Rebecca Hicks

A series of wall panels from a child’s view of health and happiness

Working with an open brief, Barbary and Rebecca considered various approaches to creating a 3D interactive mural for the Early Learning for Families (ELF) garden located at Southern Fleurieu Health Service in Victor Harbor.

The artists attended  fortnightly meetings with the ELF team (physiotherapist, social workers, speech therapists and a psychologist) during the early part of the project to help inform the development process.  Barbary and Rebecca visited the centre one day a week for several months to work with the children and collect numerous children’s drawings and experimental painted backgrounds.

The children were asked to respond with drawings to various questions like, what is community?   Some children discussed and collaborated while others worked individually bringing their own perspective and interests to their artwork, producing images ranging from the workings of the human body to mermaids.

It was agreed that creating large peg boards would provide the best achievable tactile interactive experience for children,  allowing for the continual rearrangement of shapes to create new designs and layouts.

The children ‘story-drew’, mark-made and splashed paint around on 11 double sided panels.   The 600mm x 900mm and 900mm x 1200mm panels were the blank surfaces upon which the children experimented, freely playing with colour and texture,  while Barbary and Rebecca monitored the palette to avoid a disappointing muddy monochromatic outcome.

After collecting  the works, the artists spent time grouping and re-grouping drawings that would work together and enable the panels to retain a fluid and ambiguous feel, yet be able to resolve the shapes, lines and colours to work artistically.  The drawings were then transferred to the large panels taking care to retain as much integrity as possible.

Once the panels had reached the next stage feedback was sought from the children and from parents.

Pegs for the boards were then created by encouraging children and centre staff to draw directly on 15×15 MDF squares. These images were cut out, ‘pegged’ and painted.

The finished peg boards were displayed at the Demolition Symphony event.

Partner Outcomes 

  • a colourful interactive resource for children
  • additional artwork for fundraising
  • arts skill building for staff members
  • support in assisting children to enjoy creative expression
  • improved creative garden environment

The Off the Wall project emerged from the ‘Dressing the Building’ project.  Click here to see the Change & Adaptation project map.

Matthew Bennett

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2011 - 2014


Artist Residencies


Country Arts SA in Partnership with Australia Council for the Arts, Alexandrina Council, Government of South Australia and Medicare Local


Alexandrina Region

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.