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SCHOOL Reef – St. Michael's Collegiate

Photo courtesy of St. Michael's Collegiate School website.

In 2015 we were contacted by a textiles teacher at St Michael's Collegiate School, Julie Brock. She inquired about undertaking a School Reef with her Year 9 students and their family members. St. Michael's is a day and boarding school in Tasmania, Australia, the home country of the Margaret and Christine Wertheim, the creators of the Crochet Coral Reef. Founded by a group of women in 1892 (!), the school has educated many generations of girls and young women, with emphasis on cultural inclusion and "dynamic learning environments." We were thrilled to see a Satellite be nurtured not only "down under," but at an institution wholly dedicated to supporting the intellectual and ethical development of girls. The feminism of the CCR project is a very important part of its power, and we especially relish the moments when it reaches those who value women's education.

Photo courtesy of Julie Brock.

Julie Brock was kind enough to reflect on the endeavor and how it gave different generations of St. Michael's families the opportunity to commune through hands-on activity:

The St. Michael’s Collegiate Coral Reef began as a chance encounter with local Hobart artist, Linda Erceg.  She introduced the idea of a crochet coral reef being an opportunity to engage Design in Textiles students with new techniques and to see textiles as an art form. After speaking with Year 9 students, it was decided that we should make this an intergenerational project with them inviting parents, siblings and grandparents to join us in class time to create the reef.  Working with new and recycled materials, students and parents quickly learnt the skills to create coral forms.  The ‘older’ class members enjoyed the ‘no rules’ approach to crochet.  Each week, the ‘show and tell’ beginning of the class was always exciting for students, parents and grandparents alike as we shared what we had made at home during the week.  This Project has resulted in our School community being enriched visually by the installation of the coral reef, but also through the sharing and mutual respect which comes from people of all ages being engaged in learning and sharing their creative passion.

Photo courtesy of Julie Brock.

In an issue of the School's newsletter, Julie wrote more in-depth about the experience, remarking that the older generation who participated said

this open ended task [of crocheting coral] enabled them to be more experimental, creative, and they gained great pleasure in the 'play' of learning. All age groups commented on the way they relaxed during the class; speaking of pleasure, being lost in the moment and finding the task easier to master than they had feared!

We at the IFF deeply appreciate hearing that the CCR project inspired reverie and pleasure, as these are core values of the embodied play we love. Congratulations to the Year 9 girls and their families! The School Reef is beautiful.

Photo courtesy of Julie Brock.

The St. Michael's Collegiate School Reef display was opened on December 1, 2015 by school Principal, Mrs Judith Tudball. Below is the list of participants including students, parents, siblings and grandparents.

Linda Erceg (Artist-in-Residence)
Sancia Bingham
Mrs Barbara Blackman
Rebecca Fleming
Tania Fleming
Samantha Fleming
Olivia Kingston
Mrs Helen Hall
Kyra Gallagher
Mrs Pat Voss
Kate McMahon
Mrs Sarah McMahon
Scarlet Iwanovski
Mrs Joan Harrison
Abi Zeckendorf
Brittney Siedentopf
Miriam Boult
Grace Elrick
Julie Brock

Photo courtesy of Julie Brock.