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Art and Nature

Throughout history, humans have observed the world around us and created art inspired by what we see. In fact, many of the earliest known cave paintings in the world are of animals!  

Early examples in Sydney can be seen in large Aboriginal rock engravings of marine animals near Bondi, or in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, where there are many images of humans, fish, wallabies and other animals of the area carved into flat rock outcrops.  

Across different forms and periods of art, nature is ever present. French Post-Impressionists Paul Gauguin and Henri Rousseau often depicted exotic, tropical, plant-filled worlds. Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny is the subject of some of his most beloved works. And locally, artists such as John Glover and Albert Namatjira painted the beauty of the Australian landscape, each in their own style.   

What element of the natural world inspires you the most?  Why not create an artwork based on this inspiration! 

Watch some garden art inspired by First Nations Artists.

Activities - Art and Nature

1. Aboriginal art

Plants and animals are often the subjects of Aboriginal art and tell a story about the connection to the natural world.  Research some Aboriginal art. Choose a plant or animal you have seen represented, draw it and write two sentences about why it appears in Aboriginal art.  

2. Create a landscape 

Using coloured pencils, acrylic paint or watercolours, draw a scene/landscape around your home, or of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Use the images above for some ideas on art styles.  

3. Natural material art

Collect leaves and other natural materials that you can use to make an artwork of a plant or animal in your area. Use materials that can represent different elements, such as leaves for petals, sticks for legs, rocks for eyes, or grass for fur.

4. Explore tangrams

A tangram is a puzzle with different shapes. Download the activity sheet and cut out the shapes. Can you use the shapes to make  Australian animal outlines?  What other outlines could you make? Teacher note: Please see 'Teacher Resources' for further information on this activity.

5. Communicating art

Blindfold a friend. Choose something in the garden and describe it in detail for them to draw. Remember they can’t see it so you will need to use a lot of precise describing words. Swap roles and draw something else based on your friend’s description. Show the two drawings to another friend. Can they tell what was drawn?