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Multicultural Australia. Exploring multicultural Australia through the artworks of Australian Indigenous artist Lin Onus. artworks. "I kind of hope that history may see me as some sort of bridge between cultures , between technology and ideas." Lin Onus, artist statement, 1990. artworks.

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multicultural australia

Multicultural Australia

Exploring multicultural Australia through the artworks of Australian Indigenous artist Lin Onus


"I kind of hope that history may see me as some sort of bridge between cultures, between technology and ideas."

Lin Onus, artist statement, 1990

about lin onus
About Lin Onus
  • Was born and grew up in Melbourne
  • His farther is Aboriginal and his mother is …
  • The works of Onus often involve symbolism from Aboriginal styles of painting, along with recontextualisation of modern artistic elements. The images in his works include haunting portrayals of the Barmah red gum forests of his father's ancestral country, and the use of rarrk cross-hatching-based based painting style that he learned (and was given permission to use)[6] when visiting the Indigenous communities of Maningrida.
  • His most famous work, Michael and I are just slipping down to the pub for a minute, has been featured on a postcard, and is a reference to his colleague, artist Michael Eather. The painting is of a dingo riding on the back of a stingray which is meant to symbolise his mother's and father's cultures combining in reconciliation. The image of the wave is borrowed from The Great Wave of Kanagawa (1832), by Japanese printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai
themes in onus artworks
Themes in Onus’ artworks
  • Issues of:
  • identity, ownership, dispossession and social justice are investigated and inform art making activities.
  • When developing an arts-based Unit of Work:
  • Using a series of paintings by the Aboriginal artist Lin Onus that include a series of rich tasks, provides excellent opportunities to engage students in substantive discussion and explore issues of difference across time and space. It helps prepare students for a global, multicultural world so they recognize and respect difference, develop social consciousness and demonstrate diverse ways of thinking that fosters tolerance and appropriate citizenship.
developing an arts based uow
Developing an arts-based UOW:
  • Using a series of paintings by the Aboriginal artist Lin Onus can provide the basis for a series of rich learning and teaching activities. The series of tasks provide students the opportunity to explore various themes about Australian identity and our history. Students discuss and engage in issues of identity, ownership, dispossession and social justice which can be investigated and informed by art making activities.
focus for unit of work identity
Focus for unit of work- identity
  • KLA Links:
  • PDHPE- families and belonging, relationships, your own identity,
  • Mathematics- Perspective
  • English- written reflections, narrative on identity, analysis of various texts about identity, speaking tasks of identity
  • Creative Arts- Drama; role play, Music; creating music based on your own identity, Dance; looking at different dances from various cultures, Visual arts; creating own art work on their personal identity and their culture.
  • HSIE- exploring own culture, and history, exploring different cultures.
  • › Exploring aspects of Identity through Lin Onus’ art works:
  • Students investigate and discuss

Exploring aspects of the minuet across the curriculum:

  • › Link to History
  • › Link to Social Sciences
  • › Link to Mathematics
  • › Link to Science
  • › Link to Geography
  • › Link to Technology (ICT)
  • › Link to LOTE
  • › Link to PDHPE
  • › Link to Creative Arts
  • › Link to all the Nominated Areas of the Standards
  • › Design rich learning tasks, based on the minuet
  • › Consider suitable pedagogy strategies
  • › Develop appropriate assessment 4 learning strategies

Exploring aspects of The Snow Queen story through the arts

  • › ‘Which will you choose, the head or the heart?’ Explore the meaning of each and discuss
  • students’ choice. Students create an artwork using mixed media to demonstrate these
  • different choices. Students mime their choice using drama conventions.
  • › Link to choices and contexts, self in society
  • › Students discuss the virtual Snow Queen —
  • › the emotionless and calculating personality
  • › represented by the cold world of computers.
  • › Explore the impact of computers on society
  • › and communication (e.g. facebook, twitter etc.)
  • › Link to socio-cultural issues as portrayed in
  • › the media

Beyond the performance, across the curriculum

  • › Preliminary research activities:
  • › Identify and discuss the symbolism used in the performance
  • (Creative Arts, Society & Culture, Languages).
  • › Students develop a vocabulary list including technological terms relating to the performance
  • (English Literacy, Media Studies, Technology Education).
  • › Students select one of the symbols and research further (eg snow crystals, the river, the swallow,
  • the crow) from a science/biology perspective (Sciences).
  • › Students explore the mathematical beauty of the Snow Queen and research snow crystals and
  • other natural forms from a mathematical perspective (Mathematics).
  • › Students investigate the geography of the frozen North (Geography).
  • › Students explore the culture and histories of people who inhabit the arctic lands (HSIE, Community
  • & Family Studies).
  • › Students research Australia’s explorers of the South Pole (Australian History, Geography

Rich tasks

  • › Students recontextualize the story and set it in a different time/place and write a
  • short animation movie proposal (English Creative Writing)
  • › Students develop a storyboard for a scene of their animated movie (English
  • Literacy, Media Studies, Technology Education, Animation, Visual Arts)
  • › Students use the multimedia story telling software KAHOOTZ and develop their
  • own experimental machinima based on their recontextualization of the Snow
  • Queen story (Technology Education, Animation, Visual Arts)
  • › Students compile a short (2 minute) video clip based on the story board
  • › Students design and develop the music for the video clip using GarageBand
  • (Technology Education, Music)
  • › Students design and produce a marketing campaign for their proposed movie
  • (Design & Technology Education, Visual Arts, Graphic Design, Business Studies,
  • Economics, Legal Studies)
  • THE SNOW QUEEN, activities
  • 10
professional teaching standards and quality teaching framework
Professional Teaching Standards and Quality Teaching Framework
  • How does the case study relate to the Professional Teaching Standards and the QTF?
suitability for learning and teaching
Suitability for learning and teaching
  • The complexity of this unit, due to the themes and the context of the artworks it explores, makes it suitable for a later Primary Stage or Early Secondary Schooling.
  • The unit could be adapted for earlier primary years, by looking at Lin Onus’s art making practice, and engaging it various art making forms such as collage, and using various colours. Older years, may focus more on themes and context of the artwork, and the socio-political context that it addresses.