SA Chapter Lights Up for 2019 SA/NT Awards Presentation

The second biennial SA Chapter Awards for Learning Environments Australasia (LEA) were announced on September 25 at an Awards Evening held at the AIA Chapter Office in Leigh Street.

Our MC for the night Amanda Blair, once again displayed her inimitable ability to entertainingly steer proceedings with no chance of anyone taking the occasion  too seriously.

A total of 21 entries were received across 8 categories.  Thanks to Soraya Ramsey’s successful tutoring in AwardsForce, the 8 jurors, including three from NT, had been ably led by Panel Chairs Noel Mifsud and Andrew Tidswell, to agree on 5 Awards and 7 Commendations across the 8 categories.View SA gallery of award entries and winners here 

 We were also fortunate to be joined on the night  by renowned South Australian lighting designer and theatre director Geoff Cobham who spoke powerfully on using design to engage children.

Geoff has had a stellar career working with the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Windmill Theatre and with the State Theatre Company where he created art installations on stage for plays including Tim Winton’s  “That Eye, the Sky” and Andrew Bovall’s “Secret River” and “Things I Know to Be True.”

He recently became Artistic Director of the Patch Theatre Company which specialises in theatre for children aged 4 to 8 years.  His aim is to make works about the things about which we don’t know the answers and to capitalise on young children’s capacity for imagination, creativity and innovation.

Geoff mentioned that a major influence in his younger years was a children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon” about a little boy, all alone in the world and all he has is a purple crayon with which he creates his world.

In a similar vein, Geoff asks the young children who come to the theatre to create something out of nothing; to imagine things that do not exist and to describe what might be there, even though they have never seen it.  He wants the children to be part of the work, not passive observers, and to question and suggest ideas.

Examples include questions such as  “Where does light go to sleep?” and “Who is the dark and what does it want?”  Recently children were asked if they could show him “dark” or bring him some “dark’.  Not a problem for children with imagination – they came along with dark in a box, a bottle, in their hands and in the sky.

The ideas and the types of learning environments Geoff finds stimulating and supportive of his work include a number of recent schools where creativity and imagination is encouraged and linked to practical skills.  Two excellent examples are the Makers Workshop at Bowden Brompton Community (Sth Aus) and Woorana Park Primary School (Vic) which features in the attached video.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to Patch Theatre to help them progress innovation and creativity, go to their web site

Article: Andrew Gehling & Ann Gorey

Photographer: Renae Schulz

This page last updated: Monday 14 October 2019