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Our Ghostly Crew (ATOM Study Guide)

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SKU: SG1943

Against the backdrop of a COVID-19 lockdown, artist Michael Vale retreats to his home studio to start work on a painting. And not just any painting – he embarks on a family portrait, a work that will capture the essence of his loved ones.

Donna McRae - filmmaker and Vale's partner – assumes the role of documentarian, chronicling each step of Vale’s artistic process. We follow the progress of the work as Vale brings to life a motley crew of the undead joyfully following his family through an enigmatic landscape.

In a surprise ending, the work transcends the confines of the studio walls. It travels interstate where it captures the imagination of the judges of one of Australia’s most prestigious art accolades: the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.

Our Ghostly Crew serves as an elegant exploration of the intricacies inherent in both painting and portraiture in general. The documentary unveils the process of painting, weaving in the complexities of creating a portrait within its own portrait of Michael Vale. The film is an act of creativity, which anyone can relate to.

Significantly, the video was shot during one of Melbourne’s COVID lockdowns. McRae had no access to filmmaking equipment, or to a crew (other than the eponymous ghosts). The video was shot using available technology on a mobile phone.

Curriculum Links:

Our Ghostly Crew is suitable for senior secondary and tertiary students the learning areas of:

  • Media Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Humanities and Social Sciences (English Literature)

It also has relevance to the general capabilities of Critical and Creative Thinking, and Information and Communication Technology, as well as the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. (Discussion of the gothic genre promotes deeper understanding of colonial practices and Aboriginal representation in the arts.)

Our Ghostly Crew is available to stream here.

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