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QPAC’s Here I Am self-portrait workshops help kids self-reflect

We put you in the picture with a look at a recent workshop

3 min read

After premiering at our 2018 Out of the Box Festival, Here I am – Self Portrait workshops stepped beyond QPAC in 2020 and sprung up in YFG Shopping Centres across Brisbane (Redbank Shopping Centre, Sunnybank Hills Shoppingtown and Sunnybank Plaza).

These workshops are delivered by a team of Out of the Box professional teaching artists and involve children creating their own self-portrait to be digitised and displayed.

Children paint their self-portraits

Out of the Box Festival Director Brett Howe explains that the workshops explore themes of self-reflection, diversity, and community and well as build fundamental skills in self-portraiture and watercolours.

“Here I Am celebrates the wonderful diversity in our society and at the same time, explores each individual in their own right. We all may have different eyes, hair, and skin, but we play the same, smile the same and laugh the same.”

In this hands-on workshop children are asked to reflect on questions like:

  • How do I want to be seen in the world?
  • How is my face a reflection of who I am?
  • How do I feel?

“A wonderful output of the five-day workshops is a large-scale growing installation that develops each day with the artworks of the previous day,” says Brett.

QPAC teaching artists recently headed to YFG Sunnybank Plaza to conduct five days of Here I Am workshops for young budding Picassos aged from five to fourteen.

From big eyes to tiny noses, and stand up mohawk hair, nothing was off limits!

With a clear message that there are no mistakes or ‘bad’ drawings, the children were given only one piece to paper to let their imagination run wild about how they wanted to draw themselves.

Children show off their artistic skill as they paint

As per usual, the QPAC team was blown away by the artistic skills and level of focus and imaginative detail the children had.

A few words from the parents… 

“It’s good to give a guide while still letting the kids have the freedom to choose what their self-portrait is to look like.”

“I think it is great to give the kids just one piece of paper and let them work with it. They don’t get to draw like this at home because if they make a mistake, they will start again on another piece of paper, so it is great they can learn to work with any mistakes they make.”

“My son is shy and does not speak English really well, so the best part for me was that it is giving him a voice and providing him comfort after moving from China as he is feeling isolated.”

YFG Shopping Centres have been an Out of the Box partner since 2017 and came on board to deliver Here I Am workshops across its centres from 2019.

YFG’s Marketing Director Lisa Smith said the partnership with QPAC provides an opportunity for their youngest customers to engage with the arts and explore their place in their local community and the world around them.

“We know how important this stage is in childhood development, and we are excited to be able to offer an opportunity like this in our shopping centres,” said Lisa.

“The Here I Am workshops have received a great deal of positive feedback from parents, retailers and customers in general, as they have expressed their delight at seeing the beautiful work produced by the children.

“We are delighted to be able to display the artwork in-centre to be enjoyed by one and all, and it is lovely to hear the appreciation being expressed by customers as they go about their shopping,” she adds.

Brett Howe added that the workshops encourage children to think about how they are perceived and if that perception is an accurate reflection of who they are.

“We end up seeing portraits of children with lightning bolts or pink hair, massive eyes, or hearts and stars on their shirts, in places they love and surrounded by the things they adore. In looking at themselves the children find out more about who they are and develop certainty about some parts of themselves, and questions about others.”

“There is also a sense of achievement in this workshop. While thinking about how they feel, the children also learn how to create an image that represents that.”

A final word from the young artists themselves…

“It is me as a princess with black hair. At home I love to draw cats because I want to get a cat when I grow up. My mum is allergic, so we have two dogs instead.”

“My portrait is me in space because I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.”

“I am drawing myself at the beach. I went to Surfers Paradise to test out my boogie board I got for Easter, and I love the beach!”


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