Acknowledgment of country

Polyglot acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live and create, and we pay our respects to Elders past and present. For more than 65,000 years, children and families have created and played here, and we are grateful to make our art on this country too.

21 Nov 2023 Education News

“Small moments of connection”

A When the World Turns creative development photo. Polyglot artists in khaki explorer costumes engage with students in wheelchairs. They are in a school corridor. Photo: Suzanne Phoenix

November Education News

Polyglot’s engagement with school communities is woven throughout our 45-year history. Across 2023, we have moved to longer residencies that allow richer, more meaningful connection with students and educators. Through our extensive touring of Paper Planet into specialist and supported inclusion schools since 2018, we have experienced the depth of impact and exchange that this model can deliver, and look forward to how this shift will ripple through our work.

“You all took the time to plan, create and support our students to engage from their level and it showed by the wide range of ways our students were able to enjoy the experience.” Educator

By the end of the year, we will have toured Paper Planet into seven schools: Broadmeadows SDS, Western Autistic School, Hamlyn Views (Geelong), Springvale Park SDS, Endeavour Hills Specialist School, Monash SDS and Naranga School (Frankston). Highlights so far include: swamps, fashion catwalks, an ice dragon hatching ceremony, crocodile operations, feeding a bear who can’t eat donuts, and the truly magnificent Bantam of the Opera.

A behind-the-scenes Paper Planet photo. A Polyglot artist holds a large, handmade paper and cardboard owl. She smiles at it. She is in a large school hall, filled with tall, brown cardboard trees.
A behind-the-scenes Paper Planet photo. A group of Polyglot artists stand in a forest of tall, brown cardboard trees, which grow in a large multi-purpose school room. They smile at the camera, as small pieces of colourful paper (thrown by one of the artists) flutter around them.

When the World Turns

“All children should have access to the arts and the fact that you are very specific in catering to students in wheelchairs and who have disabilities is very special.” Educator

In August, Polyglot spent a week in residence at Glenroy Specialist School, developing a version of When the World Turns to tour into specialist and supported inclusion schools. When the World Turns is our collaboration with Oily Cart (UK), commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne for major arts and disability festival Alter State. The new in-school version is being developed with further support from Arts Centre Melbourne and the Cassandra Gantner Foundation, and will ensure that even more young people with complex disability (who often face the most barriers to access) can experience this work. We offer a big thanks to ecoDynamics who provided us with more than 2000 plants and horticultural expertise to transform Glenroy into a living, breathing landscape.

Thousands of kilometres away, Oily Cart is in the midst of the UK premiere season. They have shared this fantastical, immersive production with Stephen Hawking School, Swiss Cottage School, Beatlie School (Scotland), and Delamere School and Springwood Primary School (Manchester).

A When the World Turns creative development photo. Polyglot artists in khaki explorer costumes engage with students in wheelchairs. They are in a school corridor. Photo: Suzanne Phoenix
A When the World Turns creative development photo. An educator holds up a long piece of wrinkled brown paper, engaging with a student in a blue and yellow jumper. They are at a small table in a very dark space, illuminated only by a lamp. Photo: Suzanne Phoenix

When the World Turns. Photographer: Suzanne Phoenix

Imaginative & expansive

Family Forts is a playful, creative project with children that investigates the experience of home, family and community from their perspective. Led by Generator artist Ashlee Hughes, it has been developed with the children of five local City of Casey kinders (Botanic Ridge, Rangebank, Southern Cross, Lynbrook, Valleybrook).

Together, we have drawn, built and played, creating ‘windows’ that show what is important to the children: families, friends, neighbours, pets and friends. The windows become part of constructed forts and cardboard cubbies, which grow into collaborative townships and new spaces where the children can play together with friends, and invite family to join.

The development, proudly supported by the City of Casey, culminated in a public exhibition at Cranbourne Library. We are very excited about the future of Family Forts, and where it will go next.

“We have noticed that since COVID, over the three years of this project, children’s play has become more imaginative and expansive. It began as domestic and home-based (cooking, sleeping, walking to the park, shops) but now we see so many more storylines. This session had mermaids, a portal, imaginary creatures, spaceships.” Ashlee Hughes

A Family Forts production photo. A Polyglot artist creates and plays with a small child among cardboard boxes and masking tape. Red bunting is suspended overhead. Photo: Suzanne Phoenix
A Family Forts production photo. A Polyglot artist creates and plays with a small child among cardboard boxes and large pieces of yellow and blue cloth. Photo: Suzanne Phoenix

Family Forts. Photographer: Suzanne Phoenix

How do things grow and change?

With our Kids Collaborations, Polyglot develops deep, trusting relationships with communities who often have limited access to the arts, and seek authentic creative engagement for their young people.

BLOOM is our Term 4 residency at Coburg Special Developmental School, celebrating the growth and change the school is experiencing as they move to a bigger campus. Every Thursday and Friday, Polyglot artists spend time in classrooms with students and educators, creating, playing, and exploring the concept of ‘bloom’ through the senses. Together we are working towards an art and performance installation that will be shared with the school community at the end of the year.

“We have had plenty of gentle engagement and small moments of connection.” “Some students engaged in unexpected ways.” Artist workshop reports

From our friends at Down Syndrome Victoria:

Conference: Authentic Inclusion in Schools

Save the date for Down Syndrome Victoria’s biennial Education Conference: Authentic Inclusion in Schools, Monday 4 March 2024, Abbotsford, Melbourne. The conference will present a range of practical strategies from a series of leaders in the education sector, supporting educators to better include and engage all students, creating genuine and meaningful inclusion in schools. Topics will include:

– Teaching children with intellectual disability to read – benefits for language and cognition;
– Proactive strategies to nurture positive behaviour;
– Creating an inclusive school environment;
– How assistive technology can facilitate greater independence and inclusion;
– Supporting a student to be successful in numeracy; and
– Making adjustments to the curriculum.

Learn more and register:

Thank you

Paper Planet is supported by the Victorian Department of Education Strategic Partnerships Program, and the Cassandra Gantner Foundation.

Logos: State Government of Victoria Department of Education; Cassandra Gantner Foundation.

Commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne for major arts and disability festival Alter State, When the World Turns is supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons Board, the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season, with further support from the Cassandra Gantner Foundation, State Trustees Australia Foundation, the Jennifer Prescott Family Foundation, the Marian and E.H. Flack Trust, ArtPlay and Arts Council England.

Logos: When the World Turns funders

We thank Lucas Dental Care for generously supporting our school workshop program, and ecoDynamics for generously supporting When the World Turns.

Logos: Lucas Dental Care; ecoDynamics