Gasps of delight filled the hall at St Patrick's Catholic Primary School in Port Kembla yesterday as the school's new mural was unveiled to students.
A collaboration between the pupils and Coomaditchie Artists' Co-operative members Lorraine Brown and Narelle Thomas, the three-panelled painting features the children's interpretations of Illawarra dreaming stories.
Principal Anne Duggan said it was great to see how excited the children were to view the work for the first time.
"We heard things like 'Wow', 'How amazing', 'Did we really do that?' " she said.
As part of NAIDOC Week activities in July, Ms Brown and Ms Thomas visited the school and shared dreaming stories with the students, including the story of how the Five Islands off the coast of Port Kembla were created.
Each child then had to use their imagination to paint what they interpreted from the tale. An array of sea creatures, hand prints and animals feature on the brightly coloured piece.
The artists then detailed the artworks, outlining images and brightening up faint areas, and returned it last week.
"They kept the integrity of each student's work and added their own little touches," Mrs Duggan said.
She said the purpose of the collaboration was to build ties within the community and give the students a greater understanding of indigenous history and culture in the Illawarra.
Lara Maccagnan, 12, said she wanted to learn more about indigenous art after working on the project.
Alyssa Norris, 10, agreed. "It was an interesting thing to learn at school and was very fun to do."
"If our class was doing art we would learn a bit about Aboriginal art, but we learnt a lot more here."
The paintings will be hung in the school's office. A fourth artwork donated by the artists will be part of a new garden at the school.