Art activities for lockdown

Spending so much time at home is a great opportunity to get creative! These art activities for kids and adults are inspired by our exhibitions and collection.

Anzac art activities

Anzac Day 2020 will be different – no dawn services, no buying a red poppy to wear and raise money for the RSA. These art activities are a(nother) way you and your family can mark the day.

One of our current exhibitions, My name comes from this place, is by Northland artist Filani Macassey. Fun fact: Filani was named after a village on the island of Cyprus, because her father spent time there on leave during World War II. The photos are from her exhibition – when we open again, come and see it!

Awesome art ideas

Look closely at the photos. There are lots of objects inside this glass table that relate to the Long Range Desert Group, a group of mostly Kiwi men who operated as spies and navigators in the African desert. (Filani’s father was one of those men.)

1. What can you find in the photos? Make a list of things and how many of each you see: count the medals, find the ferns, track down the trucks, and so on.

2. A desert is a very dry and hot place, with lots of sand and different kinds of trees. Draw your own desert landscape, and include three of the objects you can see in the table. What kind of animals do you think you’d find in the desert? Draw one of them too.

3. The men in the photographs worked behind enemy lines, travelling over huge distances across the Sahara Desert. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to imagine you’re a spy, and create a map of your journey from home to the supermarket, or from home to your school. Mark out the obstacles and terrain, and use codes (colours, numbers or symbols) to give us the information. Make sure you include a key!

4. The Long Range Desert Group travelled across the desert in trucks, navigating using a sun compass designed by Major Ralph Bagnold. How would you navigate across the desert – using the stars, a compass, or a GPS? Draw your ultimate vehicle to take you to a desert oasis, and include your method of navigation in the picture.

Send your artwork to us at or post it on our Facebook page – we’d love to see your creations!

The Plant Room art activity

Photographs of leaves

Correct ways to photograph leaves or flowers in your backyard for The Plant Room.

“Great art picks up where nature ends.” – Marc Chagall

We’re sending you into your backyard bubble for a treasure hunt! One of our current exhibitions, The Plant Room, uses algorithms to turn digital images of nature into colourful new forms that exist only for a few minutes. Every so often, different plant material from around Whangārei infiltrates The Plant Room and creates strange new patterns.

AwhiWorld, the creators of The Plant Room, will make the exhibition’s next iteration using material sent in by YOU during lockdown. Here’s how you can be part of the exhibition.

So get snapping, get the kids involved, and send in those photos!

Kaitiaki sculpture activity

Tiny clay animal, and Kaitiaki sculpture by Manos Nathan

We’re honoured to have in our collection the high-fired ceramic sculpture ‘Kaitiaki’ (pictured above right) by Manos Nathan, the late, esteemed carver and clay artist.

Nathan (Te Roroa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi) created this pou for Whangārei Art Museum, with support from a CreativeNZ Te Waka Toi grant. He chose to explore the concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), a core part of the Māori worldview. Nathan’s ceramic sculpture ‘Kaitiaki’ stands tall just inside the museum’s entrance, guarding our exhibitions and collections until we can welcome our community in person again.

We love the thought of this beautiful artwork protecting our museum, and it got us thinking: who or what is a kaitiaki in your life? A kaitiaki is a person or animal that protects the natural world, valuable objects, a language, or even people.

1. Make a sculpture of your own kaitiaki: a special person or animal, imaginary or real, that makes you feel happy, safe, ready to explore and play. Our visitor host Helen has shared her epic play-doh recipe on our Facebook page to get you started… but if you don’t want to use your precious flour, we understand! You can make your sculpture out of anything: sticks and string, mud, clay (such as the cutie pictured above left), or random objects from around the house.

2. Email your photos to and tell us a little about the artwork you’ve made.

Artwork credit: ‘Kaitiaki’, 2002, Manos Nathan. Whangārei Art Museum collection.
Photo credit: Timothy Dykes on Unsplash.