Virtual Symposium 2021 – Program

There’s an elephant* in the early childhood visual arts room: A virtual symposium to confront the big issues.


21st – 27th Feb 2021

In 2021, our conference is going virtual! Explore below.

About Topics Program Registration Contact

* metaphorical idiom for an important or enormous topic, problem that is obvious but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes some uncomfortable or is personally, socially, or politically embarrassing, controversial, inflammatory, or dangerous.


Program – an overview of the offerings

Program Last Updated: February 25th 2021.

2021 International Art in Early Childhood virtual symposium: Commencing February 21, 2021.

The symposium theme is ‘the elephant in the room’, an opportunity to confront some of the big issues and challenges related to early childhood visual arts pedagogy and practice; and to present new ideas, effective theories and inspirations for practice. There are six topic focus strands and several art workshops.

Introduction to the International Association of Art in Early Childhood

The Association is a non-profit organisation that aims to connect those around the world who have an interest in the visual arts for young children.

It aims to:

  • Provide a forum for an exchange of ideas and research about young children and the visual arts
  • Encourage and support the visual arts in early childhood contexts
  • Connect researchers and practitioners in the field
  • Support a biennial international conference of art in early childhood

The organisation is a big, noisy family of volunteers, artists, teachers, parents, researchers and educators who are passionate about the possibilities the visual arts hold for young children. This diverse group of people comes together at the International Art in Early Childhood Conference which is usually held every two years to celebrate, play and discuss art and young children.


The first Art in Early Childhood Conference was held in London at Roehampton University in 2005. Margaret Brooks (University of New England, Australia) and Rosemary Richards attended this conference and realised that this was too good to be a one-off event. Consequently, the event was taken back to the University of New England in Australia in 2007.

From the interest shown about early childhood art research, the International Association of Art in Early Childhood was formed in 2007. This was followed by the International Art in Early Childhood Research Journal which was established in 2009. Since then, there have been conferences in the USA, Singapore, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Bhutan and New Zealand.

Responses and Solutions:

During 2020, a small group of colleagues who had developed friendships and collaborative partnerships at previous IAEC conferences connected organically via ZOOM and continued meeting weekly throughout the 2020 Covid19 restrictions.

We were seeking connection and somehow these weekly conversations sustained us professionally, academically and emotionally. For easy reference, we called ourselves ‘The Possums.’

As it became clear that our much-anticipated reunion at the scheduled 9th International Art in Early Childhood conference in Exeter, UK (2021) would have to be postponed until 2022, we began to think about how we might sustain the important information sharing, connections and collaborations afforded by the conference and tide us all over until we can reunite in person.

We hope that as symposium delegates you will aspire to join us in person at future conferences and become part of the very special community of artists, teachers, creatives and academics who share a common goal to ensure all children experience the right to high quality visual arts experiences and pedagogy in early childhood contexts and beyond!

Symposium Coordinators:

Dr Margaret Brooks (University of New England, Australia)
Dr. Gai Lindsay  (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Denise Savins (EC Teacher/Artist, Australia)

With wonderful consultative and practical support from ‘The Possums’:

Dr. Sylvia Chard (Retired, France), Rachel Denee (EC Teacher/Director/PhD Candidate, NZ), Joke den Haese (Erasmus Brussels, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Belgium), Dr. Evelyn Egan (Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland), Catherine Lee (EC Teacher/Director, Australia), Dr. Lisa Terreni, Victoria University, NZ).

• Dr. Margaret Brooks: Vygotsky just makes sense.
• Dr. Gai Lindsay: Revisiting John Dewey to move toward more progressive visual arts pedagogy
• Pete Moorhouse: A theoretical framework of creativity: The beauty of complexity
• Dr. Sarah Probine: Becoming an artist/teacher: Diverse interpretations of sociocultural theories and what this means for children’s learning
Working with artists and museums
• Dr. Clare Britt, Amanda Palmer, Brook Morgan, Cara MacLeod, Creative Reciprocity: Connections and threads between contemporary artists and young children
• Christine McMillan and Dr. Margaret Brooks: What do artists do all day?
• Dr. Barbara Piscitelli AM & Stella Read (State Library of Queensland), BIG VOICES: Children’s art matters
• St Peters Preschool: Let’s talk about the elephants.
Effective Pedagogies
• Dr. Theresa Giorza: Pedagogical conversations from South Africa: Issues of arts and justice in early childhood.
• Marghanita Hughes: Learning through nature-based arts
• Yvonne Kogan – Nurturing Creative Expressions: Designing aesthethic and meaningful contexts and experiences.
• Victoria Mazlenikova: Offering guided arts experiences for young children (ages 3-4)
• Renee Smith and Marki Watson (Duke School): Implementing Art in Project Work
Art at the centre of the curriculum
• Dr. Shana Cinquemani: Becoming Nomadic: Playful Material Engagement in Art Curriculum
• Joke Den Haese, Debi-Keyte Hartland, Kaat Verhaeghe, Louise Lowings: Blurring the Boundaries through Art in Curriculum
• Dr. Sylvia Kind – The early childhood studio as making a life together: becomings, choreographies, materialities
• Catherine Lee and Dr. Lisa Terreni: Turning boxes inside out: Connecting materials to place and sustainability
• Dr. Lisa Terreni and Sola Freeman: When art meets science
• Dr Kit-mei Betty Wong (with colleagues Ka-ki Ho & Man-wai William Cheung): Bring public art to children through picture books
• Rachel Denee: Transforming ECE teachers’ visual arts pedagogy: shifts in thinking, shifts in practice.
• Dr. Evelyn Egan: Inquiry-based emergent curriculum using a transdisciplinary approach to the visual arts in early childhood education and care: Implications for policy, education and practice
• Dr. Mike Emme: Engaging with the world through wonder and doubt: The art and science of children as researchers
• Dr. Louisa Penfold: Connecting young children’s learning with art museums’ curatorial practices
Art and Culture
Stories of practice from Bhutan:
• Lalita Devi Neopaney: Four Harmonious Friends-Exploring Bhutanese folklore with children through art
• Yeshi Paday: Culturally inspired ephemeral art with young children
Stories of practice from CHINA: A series of 3 collaborative presentations.
• Making active connections with Chinese Cultural knowledge and traditional art form through visual art in Chinese kindergartens TANG, Ye (Daohe Kindergarten, Guangzhou, CHINA); SHEN, Min (Shenzhen Experimental Kindergarten, CHINA); BAI, Xiaoxi (Shenzhen Experimental Kindergarten, CHINA); CHENG, Yong (Xinqu Enji Kindergarten, Beijing, CHINA); YANG, Ke (Wangjiao Art Studio, Beijing, CHINA); ZHOU, Jing (Independent ECE PD facilitator / researcher, CHINA).
• Louana Fruean and Dr. Lisa Terreni: Te Wairui Toi: The Spirit of Art
• Catherine Lee: Connecting the Past to the Present and Looking toward the Future
• Yao and Liu Xiaowei: Children’s Freehand Paper Cutting and Chinese Cultural Heritage
Artists workshops
• Dr. Kathy Danko McGhee: Make your mark: An exploration of mixed-media and printmaking techniques
• Dr. Evelyn Egan: Exploring white & the potential of paper
• Jane Gillings: Creative re-use in early childhood art education