Dale Harding – Telling Objects


This activity asks students to consider the possible effects of using objects with their own histories and stories in an artwork.

In creating Know them in correct judgement (2017), Dale collected information from his Mother’s family about their experience growing up on the Woorabinda Mission in Queensland. Dale visually translates these oral histories into an installation comprising sculpture and painting. Construct your own sculpture using information collected from family members or an adult at home.



  1. Ask an adult at home to describe an object they remember from their childhood that they no longer possess. Write down 5 points about this object. Some ideas for questions you might ask:
    • How did the object look, sound, smell, feel?
    • When did you use the object?
    • Where did you get it from?
    • Did the object make any sounds?
    • How did the object make you feel?
  2. As a class, discuss the results.
  3. Using sculptural material, reconstruct the object based on the clues and the stories told to you.



  • Give your sculpture a title and write a short statement about it. As a class, curate an exhibition of the group’s sculptures, placing the statements next to each work. Pay attention to the relationship between works when organizing the placement of sculptures.


You will need

  • Writing materials
  • Sculpture material like cardboard, plasticine or air dried clay.




  • Was it a challenge to create a sculpture based on an object you may not have seen or used?
  • Did you feel a sense of responsibility to your family member to construct this object as best you could? Why or why not?
  • Show your sculpture to the family member or adult at home and discuss with them the similarities and differences from their memory of the object.
  • Do you think that everyone remembers history the same way? Why or why not?