My Gallery has been a source of much delight. We enjoy using it ourselves, and it’s a useful tool for the curators. Even more, we relish seeing the collections created by our visitors. People from all over the world use it, mixing artworks from our collection with work from other galleries, pictures from publications, and even with their own pieces. This leads to unexpected juxtapositions, and the comments people leave can be as fascinating as the fresh combinations.
One day our librarian and archivist Tim Jones was reading through My Gallery comments. He noticed that an Australian email address kept popping up. The owner of the email address had created a number of My Gallery sets of portraits and works featuring creatures. So Tim emailed, saying: ‘I can see that you’re a big user of My Gallery. If you have any thoughts or comments on how we could make it better, we'd love to hear from you.’
And our mystery user emailed back. Turned out she is Kylie Coggans, a Visual Arts Teacher at Leumeah High School in New South Wales. The My Gallery sets were actually created by her students, who use My Gallery as part of art assessment tasks in Year 7 and Year 8. The students did tend to forget their email and password, so to save time, Kylie had them all sign in under her name.
Kylie wrote: ‘Leumeah High School is a comprehensive state school in the south west of Sydney with approximately 800 students. I’ve been a teacher here for 18 years. Arts courses offered to students include: visual arts, visual design, music and photography. We’re always aiming to increase the arts profile at our school through musicals, creative and performing arts night, art camps, excursions to the Art Gallery of NSW and Sculpture by the Sea. We also have a small agricultural farm which has in recent years won prizes at the Sydney Royal Agricultural Easter Show for our pumpkins and chickens.’
Any school mixing art, pumpkins and chickens sounds like a pretty excellent school to us. We asked Kylie if she would be willing to tell us a bit more about how her students use My Gallery.