Art students examine suitcase treasures from the National Gallery

This week art students at Lakelands Primary School examined precious artifacts from a pair of suitcases that travelled all the way from the National Gallery of Australia (NGA).

The two suitcases – part of the Wolfensohn Gift donated to the NGA in 1988 – each had a theme: one focused on form, space and design; the other on myth and ritual. 

“They’re only in WA for a short time, and we’re very lucky to be one of I think only two or three schools to have them, because the Mandurah Museum has got them for a short time,” Lakelands art teacher Kim Fitzpatrick said.

“We’ve talked a lot about storytelling and how a piece of art can tell a story.”

The students then made a sketch of their favorite object from the suitcases.

“This is a special ceremonial kettle, which was in Indonesia, but it has a lot of Chinese symbols on it,” year 5 student Jane Kosonlawat said.

“I think it’s supposed to give good luck and wealth to the bride and the groom at the wedding. the fish represent wealth, and the phoenix represents forever love.”

Year 5 student Holly Skinner chose a more modern item, meant to represent the digestive system, to draw.

“I chose this one because it would be a challenge to draw, and it looked really interesting with the way the rib-cage and the heart is, and how they’ve got like a bone and a tap head and stuff,” she said.

The collection was designed to be resilient, so it could be handled and enjoyed by adults and children in remote, regional and metropolitan centres across Australia.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to see the practical ways that visual arts can be used to preserve history and communicate different cultural values, stories and beliefs,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

She said the suitcases will act as an inspiration for the children to create their own sculptures this term, using clay, mod roc, natural and recycled materials.

For more information on the travelling suitcases, visit


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