Learning from Country


15 May to 30 July 2017

Learning from Country is an exhibition of original artwork and materials showcasing the journey behind a series of multiaward-winning books produced by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle.

Published over the course of a decade by independent Australian publisher, Allen & Unwin, these innovative books celebrate a way of learning that puts Country at the centre.

This exhibition showcases the journey behind the production of these books – a journey that began when Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle worked as consultants at the school at Papunya (Northern Territory), and were introduced to the Indigenous principle of "Learning from Country" that is at the core of the Papunya School Book of Country and History and the picture book memoir When I was Little, Like You, by Papunya Elder Mary Malbunka. In Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu, the same principle is explored in a different Aboriginal country.

Later work that Nadia and Ken have done with students in Sydney shows that this way of learning is just as effective when the ‘country’ is the city and students’ families come from homelands scattered across the world. This was exemplified in Going Bush, in which art and writing by culturally diverse urban children is showcased.

In Playground, more than 100 Aboriginal Elders and young people from across the continent pass on their wisdom, while in Australians All, Nadia and Ken present stories of young people growing up in our nation, from the Ice Age to the Apology.

While educators will be inspired by this exhibition to try out this holistic model for themselves, the display of text and original artwork (in draft and final form) will fascinate anyone who has ever wondered how words and images get onto the page of a picture book.

Finally, of course, Learning from Country will delight its core audience: the young Australians to whom these beautiful books belong.

Books showcased in the exhibition are:

  • Papunya School Book of Country and History by staff and students Papunya School, in association with Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle
  • When I was Little, Like You by Mary Malbunka
  • Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu by Diane Lucas and Ken Searle
  • Going Bush by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle, in association with students from inner-Sydney schools
  • Playground – Stories from Country and from Inside the Heart compiled by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Ken Searle. Indigenous consultant Dr Jackie Huggins
  • Australians All, Growing Up in Australia from the Ice Age to the Apology by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle

Public program of FREE events

In Conversation events

Learning from Country: education from Country
Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle will discuss an inspirational way of learning in conversation with Professor Robyn Ewing AM, Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

Thursday 25 May, 6–7.30pm | Bookings essential

Learning from Country: the art of the book
Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle in conversation with their Allen & Unwin publisher, Erica Wagner, discussing how books are made.

Wednesday 7 June, 6–7.30pm | Bookings essential

Guided walks

Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle will guide you through the exhibition.

Guided Walk 1: Tuesday 23 May, 5–6pm | Bookings essential

Guided Walk 2: Saturday 3 June, 3–4pm | Bookings essential

Guided Walk 3: Thursday 15 June, 5–6pm | Bookings essential

Guided Walk 4: Thursday 22 June, 5–6pm | Bookings essential

Event details

  • When: 9am–5pm

  • Where: Exhibition Space, Level 2, Fisher Library F03

  • Cost: Free

  • Bookings: Essential for all activities because places are limited.

  • Contact: Helen Loughlin
    E: helen.loughlin@sydney.edu.au

Learning from Country: 15 May – 31 July 2017


Fisher Library F03; Level 2; Exhibition Space


15 May 2017

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