"Every child is an artist but they need to acknowledge this themselves for the joy to be awakened."
Fiona Willis has been teaching children aged 4 -12 since 1981, in both the private and public school systems. For the past 12 years, she has been working at Rosalie Primary School in the Perth suburb of Shenton Park, teaching both part-time and fulltime in the classroom as well as being the ‘artist –in-residence’ for the past decade , running an arts and crafts programme for Years 1-7, one term a year.
Although not trained as an art teacher, this married mother of two daughters, has always been involved in the arts, with her artistic and creative family playing a large part in the development of her love of the visual arts. Her childhood was spent exploring the natural environment and creating with what she found in the home. ‘Bits and pieces’ always seemed to be waiting to be crafted into something useful and she is still looking for a project that will use her collection of eight boxes of driftwood and 300 old railway line nails!
Over the years she has found herself using all manner of materials for all sorts of projects…mosaics, driftwood frames, hand painted furniture, rock carving, wirework…she has tried it all, allowing these new experiences to infiltrate her classrooms, adapting ideas to suit the year group, ability and materials available.
Fiona’s aim in her art classes is to bring out the artist in every child and have them explore different mediums in art and craft in order to find materials they get satisfaction working with. Her greatest joy in the classes is when a child says, ‘I love my work’ and she no longer hears, ‘I’m no good at art’. Her belief is that if children can find the creative part of their nature, they will always have something to give them comfort and joy throughout their lives.