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COVID-19 has brought about many changes for all students in boarding this year.

11 June 2020

Pembroke Boarders Masterclass Art 2

Cedric Varcoe

Most boarders were able to go home over the holidays. 22 students who hail from diverse cultural backgrounds including the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region, Europe and Australia remained in boarding, all residing in Campbell House together for the holidays and Week 1 of Term 2. The girls moved into the upper floor and the boys occupied the bottom floors. This was the first time in the history of Pembroke Boarding that the girls and boys have lived under the same roof.

While this presented some challenges it was an exciting opportunity for this group to bond in a way they might not have. The students soon found many fun and Covid-safe activities to do together including watching movies, collaborating on art projects, playing games and attending fitness sessions. There was an Easter Egg Hunt on Kensington Oval, geocaching and dog walking. Without doubt, the highlight of the holidays was the painting workshop and master classes organised through Indigenous Education@Pembroke and our wonderful Visual Art staff with Ngarrindjeri/Ramindjeri artist and storyteller, Mr Cedric Varcoe.

Cedric is a valued member of the Pembroke community. Many Junior and Middle School students have already worked with Cedric through their camp programs. Cedric’s ancestors are from the Finniss River area, where Old Watulunga, Pembroke’s Outdoor Education Centre, is located.

The holiday art workshop commenced with Cedric sharing the creation stories of his country, from the River Murray and the Lower Lakes to the Coorong, incorporating the South Coast to Kangaroo Island. Cedric encouraged students to reflect on their own cultural heritage, expressing their own stories through their work.

Students were asked to incorporate a river or ocean that was special to them, to add meaningful symbols and to fill the space with colour. Apart from these instructions, students were left to their own devices with plenty of time to indulge in the task at hand.

The art rooms in the Shipsters Road building provided a peaceful and creative space for the students to come together, paint and share their own yarns about culture, family and connection to place at a safe distance.

At the end of the holidays the students enjoyed a sense of accomplishment and pride in their completed works. Cedric’s generous guidance and his important messages of connection to culture, family and community resonated with all participants.

The paintings will be proudly displayed in the boarding houses with parents and visitors invited to see these works in the near future.

It has been lovely to watch the follow-on effects of these holidays, with boarders from different year levels, genders and cultural back grounds noticeably more relaxed and connected with one another.

Libby Twigden and Amanda Bourchier
Head of Turner House, and Director of Community Engagement and Indigenous Education