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Visual arts

The following clips have teachers’ notes related to this topic:

What is art?

from the documentary Art (PG)

Everyone sees art in different ways.

Painting the Dreamtime

from the documentary Art From the Heart (G)

Adrian Newstead, director of the Coo-ee Gallery in Sydney hopes that the art works will develop with the young Aboriginal painters and last forever. Aboriginal artist, Barbara Weir, says that she is painting to record …

Painting by hand

from the documentary Arthur Boyd: Figures in the Landscape (G)

Painter Arthur Boyd uses his hands to paint. He says that the method is sensual and allows him to better depict his intent.

Antipodean Chagall

from the documentary Arthur Boyd: Testament of a Painter (PG)

Australian painter Arthur Boyd painted his 'Half-Caste Bride’ series in the 1950s, drawing international attention to his work.

Art curator Barry Pearce explains how Boyd’s exposure to European painters like Goya gave him a …

Jesus’s belly button

from the documentary The Art of Healing (G)

The artists talk about the response to the paintings on the Santa Teresa church wall. We see an Aboriginal interpretation of biblical characters such as Jesus and Moses.

The spirit people

from the television program A Big Country – Peninsula People (PG)

Percy Trezise is a pilot who searches for Aboriginal rock paintings in his spare time. He’s uncovered some magnificent paintings of the ancestral spirits known as Quinkan beings, who are of special significance to …

‘Ten years on’

from the television program Bookmark – Tim Winton (PG)

In the decade since That Eye, the Sky (1986) was published to rave reviews, there has been a theatrical version by Justin Monjo and Richard Roxburgh and now a film adaptation by Melbourne director John …

‘Treated with respect’

from the television program Bookmark – Tim Winton (PG)

Andrea Stretton asks Tim Winton whether he could ever really be happy with an adaptation, given that his work is very much about the use of language and not just story-line and plot. He generously …

Japan invades China

from the documentary A Breath (PG)

Japan invaded China in 1934. Forty million Chinese fled the invasionary forces. Cartoonist Huang Miaozi drew anti-Japanese slogans to protest the invasion.

Flying friar

from the documentary The Business of Making Saints (PG)

Saint Joseph of Cupertino levitated regularly while praying, occasionally requiring the use of ropes to anchor him.

The First World War in cartoons

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – Crown Prince of Death (G)

This clip begins with cartoonist Harry Julius walking into his office reading a newspaper. Some of his cartoons are visible around his desk. Julius puts the newspaper down and begins to draw. This is followed …

The Rushin bear and flying Turk

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – German Dove of Peace (G)

A large bear (representing the Russian forces) carrying a bayonet is accompanied by the caption: ‘I’m out to give Mr Turk a bad time’. In a boat landed nearby, the hand of the artist …

Allied apparel

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – Miss Australasia (G)

This clip begins with the animated title Cartoons of the Moment, then shows political cartoonist Harry Julius sitting at his desk reading a newspaper. He puts the newspaper down and begins to sketch. This cuts …

National service

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – Miss Australasia (G)

This clip begins with text outlining Colonel Cameron’s suggestion on returning from the Dardanelles that Australia should introduce compulsory national service. A white outline of Australia and New Zealand is turned sideways to form …

The Hun’s Xmas wail

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – The Berlin Lokal Anzeiger (G)

This clip begins with the Cartoons of the Moment title card featuring a kangaroo and lion. Cartoonist Harry Julius is shown sketching at his notepad against an ocean background. A headline from the Berlin ??Lokal …

Economy in Germany

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – The Economy in Germany (G)

This clip begins with the title card Cartoons of the Moment followed by a scene of cartoonist Harry Julius sketching at an easel. A group of children run up to him and watch as he …

The Kaiser War

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – The Kaiser War (G)

This clip begins with a cartoon of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II surrounded by skulls. A caption illustrates the Kaiser’s thoughts, saying that while he wished to fight in the trenches, the almighty ‘willed …

The war zoo

from the newsreel Cartoons of the Moment – The War Zoo (G)

This clip begins with the hand of the artist (Harry Julius) drawing seven animals including a bear, bulldog, turkey and daschund, which surround a title card ‘the war zoo’. Three of the animals are introduced …

‘Look and put’

from the documentary Clifton Pugh (PG)

Australian landscape painter Clifton Pugh explains how he approaches painting the Australian bush from a subjective viewpoint.

Conrad Martens’s New South Wales

from the documentary Conrad Martens (PG)

Watercolourist Conrad Martens settled in NSW in 1835, remaining there until his death in 1878. He painted a valuable visual record of life in the young colony, and we see many examples of early Sydney.

Powerful gift

from the documentary Difficult Pleasure: A Portrait of Brett Whiteley (PG)

Australian artist Brett Whiteley says that he was born with a 'powerful gift’. Whiteley points out that many 'gifted people shipwreck’. He talks of his addiction to drugs and says it is a way of …

A marriage of cultures

from the documentary Dreamtime, Machinetime (PG)

A brush pushes dots against an all black canvas. Trevor Nickolls tells us about the influences that shape his work. Nickolls refers to the Western machinery and Indigenous cosmology known as the Dreaming.

Dancing flowers

from the home movie Elapsed Time Test Studies: Australian Wildflowers, Tahiti, Travel Scenes (G)

A group of flowering plants – violet, white, orange, and purple – slowly blossom against a background of greenery. This is captured using time lapse photography methods.

Surfie chic

from the television program Fashionista – Mambo (G)

Australia is a world leader in surf wear and surf culture. Robert Moore has been designing for Mambo for many years and is one of the best in the business, despite very little art school …

Frank Thring and his stars

from the advertisement FW Thring Introduces the Stars (G)

Dressed in a dinner suit, Frank Thring – film director and head of Efftee Film Studios – addresses the audience in a speech to camera which introduces the studio’s first all-Australian talking picture program. Thring outlines …

‘Brussels sprouts’

from the documentary Girl in a Mirror: A Portrait of Carol Jerrems (PG)

Still photographer Carol Jerrems made a short film in 1975 featuring 15-year-old schoolboys from Heidelberg Tech. Most of them had been expelled and, in Carol’s words, preferred ‘bashing, beer, sheilas, gang bangs, gang fights …

Angry Penguins

from the documentary The Good Looker (PG)

Joy Hester (1920-1960) was a passionate woman whose works, mainly in ink, are confronting. Her confident work is displayed by her first husband, painter Albert Tucker. Hester was a part of the group of Victorian …

Gauguin’s paradise

from the documentary Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise (PG)

Gauguin arrives in Tahiti to find the paradise he longs to paint has almost completely disappeared. But he soon finds models to paint including fourteen-year-old Tahitian girl Teha’amana who also becomes his lover. Stephen …

‘Look at moy’

from the television program Kath and Kim – Money (PG)

Kim (Gina Riley), aka 'Hornbag,’ visits Brett (Peter Rowsthorn) at work in order to buy a modem from him. Back home, she fights with Sharon (Magda Szubanski) when Sharon wants a turn on the computer …

Shoved in front of a camera

from the television program Masterpiece Special – Judy Davis (PG)

When Judy Davis was chosen to play the lead in My Brilliant Career (1979), she was 23 and a recent graduate of NIDA. Under the gentle prompting of interviewer Andrea …

‘You hold your nose and you jump in’

from the television program Masterpiece Special – Robert Hughes (PG)

Robert Hughes describes the long hard slog of writing. He says that all his books, except for The Culture of Complaint (1993), would never have been written if he’d known what was ahead of …

The expat

from the television program Masterpiece Special – Robert Hughes (PG)

Robert Hughes is dismissive of anyone who says you can see the great art works online or in books. He says that it is important to travel to the world’s art galleries to see …

World class

from the television program Message Stick – Child Artists of Carrolup (G)

This clip describes the constant disruptions to the boys’ preparation for an exhibition, and the discouragement of art as a vocation. Noel White’s daughter and excerpts from White’s diary describe the interference from …


from the television program Message Stick – Kurtal: Snake Spirit (G)

Wangkatjungka elder Spider sits with the children and shows them how Kurtal became a serpent. Spider then leads a convoy to the jila (living waterhole) where Kurtal slumbers, taking his family to meet their ancestor …


from the television program Message Stick – Scotty Martin, Rodeo Boy, Don’t Say Sorry (G)

Scotty Martin shows us rock paintings of Wandjina, the ancestor who – in Scotty’s culture – is the being who created the world, giving Aborigines culture and law. Or, as Scotty puts it, 'the boss’.

Investing in the unknown

from the short film Mimi (PG)

An art auction. A woman is purchasing two pieces of art – a Mimi statue and a painting of a barramundi fish.

Do you know any ‘real Aborigines’?

from the short film Mimi (PG)

Thornton not only pokes fun at the ignorance of conservative white purchasers of Indigenous art, but also exploits the paradigm of 'authentic Aboriginality’. The same ignorance Catherine (Sophie Lee) displays in relation to the culture …

Tom Roberts’s ‘Bailed Up’

from the documentary National Treasures – Tom Roberts's 'Bailed Up' (PG)

With its revolutionary approach to depicting the landscape and light, Tom Roberts’s Bailed Up is a painting that helped define Australia’s national identity.

Washing feet

from the short film Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (PG)

A pair of frail, gnarled feet. The Aboriginal daughter (Marcia Langton) on her hands and knees, gently washes her white mother’s arthritic feet. The Aboriginal woman begins to remember another time, when as a …

Stencil art

from the documentary Out of Darkness (PG)

Grahame Walsh, an expert in stencil art, explores Carnarvon Gorge to find evidence of occupation by Aboriginal people 20,000 years ago.

Maps of the country

from the documentary Painting Country (G)

Aboriginal paintings feature maps of a specific area, mythology, personal history and storytelling.


from the documentary Painting Country (G)

Aboriginal artists Brandy Tjungurrayi and Charlie Wallabi paint their country.

Profound impact

from the documentary Painting the Town: A Film About Yosl Bergner (G)

In 1939, for the first time, a French and British contemporary art exhibition was brought to Melbourne. It is the first large collection of cubist, post-expressionist and surrealist art exhibited there. It wowed the artists …

Anti-fascist exhibition

from the documentary Painting the Town: A Film About Yosl Bergner (G)

The Contemporary Art Society of Australia, of which Yosl Bergner and fellow artists are members, mounted an anti-fascist exhibition in Melbourne and Adelaide in late 1942. Bergner talks about his paintings of Aboriginal people.

An ancient land

from the television program Peach's Australia – Flinders Ranges (G)

Bill Peach takes us for a meander through the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Along the way, we learn that the white squatters who settled the area in 1851 welcomed the artist Hans Heysen to …

Always the light

from the documentary Smart's Labyrinth (PG)

Artist Jeffrey Smart takes the audience on a whimsical visit to an industrial landscape where he set a painting featuring bicycle riders. Smart asks the film’s director where he would put the figure of …

Reception and photographs

from the home movie Society Wedding (G)

The camera films the wedding party compose themselves for still photographs at the reception. Some of the guests are also shown. The clip ends with the bride and groom standing in front of a staircase …

Australian night sky

from the documentary Tim Storrier, 'Lighting Fires' (PG)

Australian painter Tim Storrier creates a nocturnal landscape painting from photographs and his imagination.

Passionate painter

from the documentary Tuckson (G)

We see samples of Tony Tuckson’s later work in a gallery, while in voice-over friends and colleagues discuss his work, and the changes he went through in later life.

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