Future Animators: A showcase of Manurewa students’ work

Issue: Volume 96, Number 17

Posted: 25 September 2017
Reference #: 1H9exB

Future Animators is a joint initiative that supports students at Manurewa High School working in 3D animation. A current Future Animators showcase was recently held at Nathan Homestead in Manurewa, allowing students to exhibit work on their home turf.

A partnership between a contemporary art gallery and a nearby high school is resulting in some exciting digital artwork.

Te Tuhi is a contemporary art gallery in Pakuranga, Auckland, that offers a LEOTC (Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom) programme to local schools.

In addition, the gallery also runs a youth programme providing a wide variety of arts-oriented learning experiences to young people.

A partnership between Te Tuhi and Manurewa High School called Future Animators is one such experience.

Future Animators sees the gallery supporting Manurewa High year 12 and 13 digital animation students throughout the year as they create individual animation shorts. The programme also gives students real-life arts education experiences and opens up professional pathways into the creative sector.

A practising visual artist, Manurewa High School digital technology teacher Rangituhia Hollis has been involved in Future Animators from the start.

“The idea for Future Animators all started with a conversation I had with then-curator of Te Tuhi, Bruce Phillips,” says Rangituhia.

“We were talking about how we could forge relationships between Manurewa High and the gallery, in a way that would support student learning and help them make genuine connections with the Auckland art community.

“I really wanted to help facilitate real-world opportunities for our students and also find a way that their work could be seen and critiqued by gallery staff and working artists.

“About five years ago, the programme started off with a relatively small class of about 12 students at year 12. Now we have 31 students at year 13 and a relatively strong base at year 12 level as well,” he explains.

Bruce Phillips has since left Te Tuhi but Future Animators will carry on under the new leadership.

By regularly participating in workshops and feedback sessions, students involved in the Future Animators programme have unique opportunities to share and critically develop their work. This continuous support gives them the confidence to present their work in a public space.

Recent feedback and interest from Gabriela Salgado, currently a curator at London’s Tate Modern Gallery, who will next year take up the position of artistic director at Te Tuhi, has been especially exciting, says Rangituhia.

“It’s special for the students because it helps them feel heard and valued. One of the things about the course, and the work – is that it’s obviously good. Working in 3D animation is a slow process, and it takes a long while to see results, but once you do, it’s quite clear that it is very good. We don’t need to talk it up or anything – it’s obvious to everyone that our students make good work.”

Among other open source software applications, Future Animators use a 3D animation programme called Blender, as well as AfterEffects and Photoshop to develop their animation projects with complete artistic freedom.

This is important, as Rangituhia explains.

“The way we run the course is that we use open-source, free software – tools the students can use from home. This is empowering because they have the means to production. It’s accessible and they have control over it – they’re not reliant on us to get started.”

A place and space to ‘make’

Rangituhia highlights the need for a safe and positive space for art students to “just make”.

“For the most part, this arts course has been structured so they can just ‘make.’ We’ve structured the classes for maximum ‘making’ time – so they have the space and resources to really take their time and do their best work.”

He points out that a similar tertiary-level course would break up the learning into specialty areas, whereas the Future Animators programme has a broader scope.

“We basically aim to cover the whole field – and it can be complex. But I think for the most part, by the time the students are halfway through the year, and because they see the work as a very personal project, they’re in a situation where they’re quite self-motivated. The most successful students are those who are quite driven, who really want to keep making better work.”

A community showcase

A showcase of digital work by Future Animators was exhibited at local gallery Nathan Homestead from 11 August to 16 September.

“This is an exciting opportunity for students as it means they are showcasing their work on their home turf, to their whānau and communities who have no doubt influenced their creative process,” says Echo Janman, facility manager at Nathan Homestead.

“As Manurewa’s local arts centre, we are excited to partner with Te Tuhi and offer local students and whānau the opportunity to showcase their work in their local neighbourhood,” she says.

“Featuring the outstanding talent at Manurewa High School in the Nathan Homestead gallery demonstrates the vision and creativity of our youth in a professional context in our community.”  

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:00 am, 25 September 2017

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