Shining the Light on Storytelling

Room 11 has been learning about Māori narratives and how knowledge and history are passed on through the art of storytelling. When Māori first arrived in the 1200s, they used word of mouth to share their stories as Te Reo Māori wasn't a written language. Māori employed art forms like tāmoko and carv…

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Malcolm Winter, also known as The Sandman, is a famous New Zealand artist known for his creative storytelling through sand art. His well known YouTube videos of Māori narratives such as "A Māori Creation Story" and "How Maui Slowed the Sun" helped to inspire the idea for Room 11’s Celebration of Learning presentation.


Room 11 decided to use Malcolm Winter’s art ideas to retell the story of Ngatoroirangi and how the volcanic activity line from White Island to the Tongariro National Park came to be.  After studying many of Malcolm's videos from his YouTube channel, the students were ready to have a try. Using tote trays, a mini whiteboard, and sand from the sandpit, students experimented with the right quantity of sand, how to make the lines, and the concept of negative and positive space to create the images.

Recreating the art using sand turned out to be quite a challenge for some students. Morgan and Austin explain: ‘First we put too much sand on the whiteboard and found that it made the sand too hard to draw lines. The sand walls caved in.

Lucy and Brooklyn sprinkled a light layer across the surface of the whiteboard and achieved sharp detail in the lines. Bailey and Austin were the first to discover that if they made a mistake while creating their designs, they would have to wipe the board clean of sand and start again, as rubbing it out only created more lines. This tested their perseverance. Jack C took his time to create accurate lines, using negative space and letting the sand trickle from his hand.

Letting the sand run through my hands worked best.

The excitement and motivation around learning how to make sand art meant I had to learn as well. Studying how Malcolm Winter created his art pieces led me to buy a lightbox. A quick Google search showed that it would be costly and take weeks to arrive. Then, with a stroke of inspiration and some kiwi ingenuity, I decided to go the DIY route. I went to The Warehouse to buy a picture frame, a pack of curtain seedlights, tin foil, and two rolls of tape, and was able to create a budget-friendly lightbox.

The lightbox I made was A2-sized. I was concerned that enlarging the image from A5 would prove to be a challenge. Simron was up first. She had her writing book beside her, and it took her about a minute to visualize how big the final piece was supposed to be. Without hesitation, Simron enlarged her image perfectly, utilizing all the space of the lightbox for her design.  All of the art pieces turned out far better than I could have imagined. Room 11 students can be proud of their creativity and perseverance.


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