Home Arts Children’s art makes it onto UNESCO World Register

Children’s art makes it onto UNESCO World Register

Children’s art makes it onto UNESCO World Register

Today (14 April), artworks by young children from kindergartens and primary schools in Wuhan (China) and Brisbane (Australia) have been added to the prestigious UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

The drawings are part of the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children’s Art Archive – over 2000 artworks held within the State Library of Queensland’s collection. The archive began in 1986 to enable children to share their stories about their social worlds, human rights and futures.

Piscitelli says of the archive: ‘Children’s views are rarely considered during times of crisis, yet children often have deep insights into current events and the world around them.’

Between 1986 and 2016, artworks were collected from children across Australia, China and Vietnam. It was added to significantly in 2020, when Piscitelli initiated the new archive, Pandemic Picture Stories (June – July 2020)working alongside Professor Zhichao Chen in Wuhan.

‘Battle of the New White Coat Angels Against COVID-19’ (2020), by Sihan Li, then aged 5, from Huanggang Experimental Kindergarten, Huanggang City, China. Created as part of Dr Barbara Piscitelli’s ‘Pandemic Picture Stories’ project, State Library of Queensland. Image: supplied.

The 160 drawings and paintings inspired by COVID-19 illustrate how children perceived the world during the international health crisis. The new archive was donated to the State Library in August 2020.

Piscitelli continues, ‘The pandemic picture stories are much more than pretty pictures. They are documents that reveal children’s ideas of a global health emergency and how to live with confusion, challenge, disruption and change.

‘The pandemic collection arouses thinking about social reality from a wider point of view, enabling children’s once sidelined voices and views to have a place in public conversation.’

Reacting to UNESCO’s acknowledgment of the archive and its addition to the Australian Memory of the World Register, State Librarian and CEO, Vicki McDonald AM, says the Library is thrilled that Piscitelli’s ‘important work is being recognized – the archive is a testament to her determination and dedication to children’s art education’.

The archive also contains artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in the remotest parts of Queensland. McDonald adds that the State Library ensures that the archive is a living document in its hands. ,[The works] inspire people through storytelling, and we know stories can be shared in so many different forms. This wonderful archive shares stories through art, giving little children an even bigger voice,’ says McDonald.

The archive forms the most comprehensive, and significant, resource for the study of children’s art in Australia.

read: Why art-making is so valuable for children

Queensland Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch adds that UNESCO’s Australian Memory of the World Register, ‘includes children’s responses to the UN Article 31, which states that “every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”.

The Minister said the Queensland State Government’s commitment to an ‘annual $5 million investment in the State Library’s First 5 Forever The program helps to introduce and build a foundation in creativity and literacy with statewide support to Queensland families and primary caregivers for the first five years of children’s lives.’


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