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Ice cream and zombies, snails and sakura trees, Neon Stories is an interactive exhibition sharing the things we love. 


Presented by Footscray Community  Arts Centre and Western English Language School in collaboration with the indirect Object. Supported by Creative Learning Partnerships - A Victorian Government Initiative

Neon Stories still film crop.jpg

Acknowledgement of Country 

Footscray Community Arts Centre acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land from which this content was created and broadcast, the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation, and pay our respect to their Elders, past and present. We extend this respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be watching. We acknowledge their place in our history as the original story-tellers, their living cultures, and that sovereignty has never been ceded. 

the indirect Object

Artist Statement


Neon Stories is the culmination of a six month collaboration between Footscray Community Arts Centre, Western English Language School Footscray Campus, and the indirect Object. As the second wave of COVID-19 took hold, the need to radically change our process and outcome became clear. Gone were the weekly sessions of group play and tactile exploration, replaced with hour long online classes. 

We asked ourselves, how do you retain the essence of a fundamentally fluid, exploratory and hands on collaboration while working in isolation? 

Our approach was to embrace the possibilities this seismic shift in scale and space gave us. We used our online classes to emphasise transformations, just as our online process would be transformed into a real, tangible exhibition. Here around you, the handmade becomes digitised and the digital is made real. 

An artist led process was replaced with cooperation and mutual support between teachers and artists. The teachers became the creative team in the classroom, and none of this would have been possible without them. Through a week-by-week curriculum of focused creative activities, the students developed 2D and 3D design skills in response to simple questions designed to promote creative thinking, informal communication, and new language acquisition. 

We began with selecting and sharing our favourite things. We drew and built models of our favourite places. We wrote and performed stories about these places, people, animals, objects and natural landscapes. As the weeks went on, we shifted from the known and figurative to embrace pattern, texture, abstract design and wildly imaginative scenarios. 

These are our Neon Stories, told through our drawings, models, voices, text, light, sound and yes, even neon.

Beth McMahon

Creative Director

the indirect Object

What Neon Stories has meant to Western English Language School… 

Neon Stories fosters the opportunity for our students and their families of Western English Language School, Footscray campus, to participate in the critical nature of making and displaying art that reflects their own understandings of the world. It hopes to create future connections for these children and their families to the broader art world by the provision of an immediate connection to the local community arts facility, FCAC and through the unique and valuable opportunity for a school to work directly with artists, the indirect Object. 

After a tumultuous 2020 year, it was with such joy that students were provided with packages and boxes of art materials ready to execute a term of art making, creativity and exploration. Neon Sharpies, blue lights, cardboard tubes with drilled holes, clay, brightly coloured lids, shiny pieces of fabric, boxes of string, unusual objects all ready to thread, draw, build, mould, tie and construct favourite or imaginative places. Teachers supported and watched as their students manipulated these brightly coloured art materials and utilised their own language and their acquiring English language to tell stories about them. 

A series of ‘How To’ videos and Google Meets with Beth and Mike provided the students with engaging and exciting weekly art workshops that adopted a shared love of art making between the students, teachers and artists. Through these meetings, online 3D building programs and sound design workshops, a kind of ‘Mash Up’ between the digital landscape and these real tactile materials began to unfold. The exhibition of these works brings the objects back into real life and showcases the impressive intuition and insightful collaborative effort of our artists.

Shannon Slee

Project Coordinator

Western English Language School



What are your favourite things and why do you like them? Tell us a story about your favourite things. 

Over three weeks the students used their favourite things as inspiration to design and make a paper puppet theatre, then wrote a story connecting all these elements together. In the final week, the students performed their stories and puppet shows in a livestream shared with the artists and the other classes. 


Students use manual drawing and construction techniques to illustrate what things, people and objects would be in their favourite place. They begin the process of building their own conceptual worlds. 

  • Explore visual arts practices and link them to storytelling 

  • Experiment with different materials, techniques and processes to create 2D and 3D artworks 

  • Express our own and identify others ideas in artworks 


Entrance Gallery: 

This gallery is dedicated to the Paper Theatre and Puppet designs. Conceived as a giant diorama, all the students’ hand drawn designs are here, including replicas of hand written stories and soundscapes created by the students in response to their Paper Theatre stories and favourite places. 

Gabriel Gallery: 

The trunk of the installation is decorated with black and white patterns of the favourite things Puppets made by F01 (Foundation). Footage of the livestream performances can be seen in the documentation film. 


Using your imagination and the materials provided, can you make a model of your favourite place?  It can be a made-up place, a room, a place in nature, from a story, or a place you know. 

The students began by drawing a reference picture of their favourite places, then investigated the shapes of the materials provided in their recycled materials boxes. The students used these materials to build models of their favourite places. 


Students use manual construction techniques to build a favourite place. 

  • Experiment with different materials and techniques to construct a 3D model 

  • Experiment with new technologies such as light and integrate them in sculptural works 

  • Make connections between 2D drawings to 3D sculptural works 

  • Consider the various construction techniques to join two or more objects together 

  • Utilise the language of shape for the making of artworks 

  • Consider the different ideas and possibilities with making a 3D model with the materials that are available 

  • Link artworks to storytelling 



Gabriel Gallery: 

All the students’ models are displayed around the installation. There is footage of students working on their models during our online classes and images of the reference drawings are included in the documentation film. The sound design has been composed by the students and includes voice recordings of them discussing their favourite place designs. 


Making shapes, textures and patterns – using clay to sculpt our favourite things 

The prep students were given pre-softened oven-bake clay and simple sculpting tools to sculpt their favourite things. Some used the tools provided (bamboo straw, knife and skewers) to make patterns and textures or pressed leaves into the clay for texture, while others made intricate designs of flowers, diamonds, ghosts and animals. 


  • Explore ideas, experiences, observations and imagination to make artworks 

  • Explore techniques— use our hands and simple tools and natural objects to push, roll, squash, cut and print onto clay 

  • Make connections from 2D drawings to a sculptural 3D artworks 

  • Tell stories and share artworks with others 



Gabriel Gallery: 

Hanging from the canopy of the installation are branches of colourful mobiles created by F01 (preps). At the end of each mobile is a handmade sculpture. 


Use your favourite place model from last week as inspiration to create a digital 3D design. 

Over three weeks, the students continued to develop their 3D design skills through learning to use Tinkercad ( and recreating their favourite place handmade model. 

Many students made multiple models and demonstrated exceptional skill and understanding of 3D space and scale. During these weeks a flair for the abstract, absurd, and uniquely personal creative expression came to the forefront of their work. 


  • Consider the use of 3D shapes and placing them into a digital landscape that reflects their hand-built 3D model 

  • Explore visual arts practices and new technologies to make artworks that reflect our own ideas and understandings of the world around us 

  • Explore different ways to make and display artworks to enhance their meaning 



Gabriel Gallery: 

The students were asked to number their favourite Tinkercad designs to be printed. Some students chose only 1 design to print, some chose 3. These are displayed with the students’ handmade models. 

Footage of additional designs can be seen in the documentation film. Additionally, footage of preparing designs for print, and the print process is also included in the film. 

The 3D models are printed with a glow in the dark blue filament. When the lights in Gabriel Gallery are only UV, the printed models and the clay in the mobile sculptures glow the same colour.