Local company Mix & Paint, along with pupils from the Australian International School, recently completed a wonderful mural on the wall of the school’s Art and Design department. Keith Hancock met with the head of design at the Australian International School, to talk further. Photos by La Vu Hien.

Mix & Paint at Australian International SchoolNigel Hall considers himself a facilitator rather than simply a teacher. Art differs from many other subjects taught in schools, inasmuchas much of it can be taught, but much of it cannot. It is inspirational and intuitive.

Hall has a tremendous rapport with his students, and this is reflected in the results being achieved.

As AIS’s philosophy states: “At the Australian International School we want our students to listen to the world around them, to hear it hum, and to grow into young people who are curious, reflective and want to make a positive difference to their world. AIS emphasises the development of each student’s academic ability and encourages well-rounded, confident individuals who aspire to achieve their potential.”

The school offers a balanced and rigorous curriculum. They appreciate different learning styles and experiences.

The school supports the individual strengths and talents of their students so they are stimulated by learning and encouraged to embrace all challenges they face with a confident belief in their own ability.

It’s to be expected that when a school becomes involved with street art project, there are certain precautions to be taken. There is a huge difference between graffiti and graffiti art, and if you have ever travelled Europe, you will understand the difference.

The ‘tagging’ that is prevalent all over Europe, especially visible from windows of trains when traveling from city to city, is not something you might find in a modern art gallery.

However, the commissioned work that appears on walls in many European cities, such as the work of world famous graffiti artists Banksy, is entirely different and is considered by an increasing number of people as art. This differentiating distinction was not lost on the school.

Cafe Style

As Nigel explained “Graffiti art is hugely important in terms of conveying social messages. We wanted to create a greater sense of ownership of the environment within the school. When kids take control of their learning environment it stops being a classroom.

For example, inside the design department we want the walls of the art room to be almost like a Starbucks, so students can get that relaxed coffee bar experience.”

The plan certainly works, this is a very interesting room in which the students work. There is an atmosphere of calm and the students appear stimulated and excited when working with their teacher.

Nigel’s idea for creating a street art project with his students happened to coincide with a visit to the Mix & Paint venue in Thao Dien. He chose eight students of Vietnamese and Korean nationality to work on the project with him.

The students were chosen for their interest in Anime and Manga contemporary cartoons, as well as their artistic capabilities.

The students come from years 10 to 13, and were all girls.

The mural itself took ten days to complete, although the total project from design to completion took place over a two-month period. The school knew that by collaborating with Mix & Paint, there would be an element of greater professional experience in the mural’s design with their artists working closely with Nigel.

Welcoming Message

There is a subliminal image of the characters in the image looking towards the art department door; it draws you in.

Working as a team, the students came up with a design proposal for the project in the senior school art and design area. Together, they started with simple sketches, then worked on large sheets of cardboard to practice the skills they would need to complete a project of this stature.

When the students’ designs were completed, the best ones were chosen and the Mix & Paint team then pencilled the outlines onto the wall where the mural would be painted. Then, under careful guidance and supervision of the professionals, the team from AIS started filling in the details to complete the project.

The finished result is truly admirable, and those who take part in its creation can be rightly proud. When they eagerly posed for photos in front of the finished mural there was an air of achievement and a sense of excitement.

As they pass the finished project on their way to class each day, the students will be able to take pride in a momentous achievement and the role they have played in changing the scape of the school for years to come.

The project lead by Nigel reminds us of the importance of art in the school curriculum. This importance was emphasised last year by Tesla founder Elon Musk who identified that the creative arts are one area that will never be taken over by automation.

It stresses the need for creative thinking, and the benefits it will bring to all industries.

As job specifications and employee requirements are set to change in all sectors over the coming years, it’s those candidates that have displayed a firm interest in the arts who will stand out as preferred candidates, especially in the IT sector.