Big Voices Children’s Art Matters

Children's art is powerful.

Through art, children give voice to their knowledge and experience of their world. To have your voice heard is a human right.    

But, to make art, to tell your own story and to share this with others takes courage. Big Voices celebrates this courage and creativity of children sharing their stories through art.

Drawing from the Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive of artworks by child artists, this exhibition invites you into the collection to share in children's insight as they tell us how they see themselves, their lives, their rights and their futures.

Whilst the library is still, quiet and closed for now...these compassionate creative and courageous voices still speak loud and clear. Please enjoy our selection of artworks from the collection and we look forward to seeing you when we reopen at the onsite exhibition.

The Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM Children's Art Archive

This archive is a collection created by Dr Piscitelli, collector and curator of children's art, and advocate for children's cultural citizenship.  

The archive represents over 30 years of working with children on local, regional and international art projects. Exploring children's perceptions and observations of specific areas of their lives, this unique research collection tells stories of childhood across continents, across communities and across time.

Children’s Picture Diaries

Children's Picture Diaries is a project about growing up in Queensland with a methodology developed by Dr Piscitelli.  The project employs a powerful mix of art and story to gather children's perspectives of themselves and their childhoods.

Children aged 5 to 12 years participated in several workshops to consider aspects of their identity, paint self-portraits, observe and paint their neighbourhood, make collagraph prints about what they like to do and write stories about their lives. Across the 500 artworks and artefacts, the importance of family, community and play emerge as central in children's self-representation of identity.

Dr Piscitelli worked with State Library to collect art and stories from children in Erub, Kelvin Grove, Ipswich, Poruma, Hopevale and Cherbourg.

Australia-China art exchanges

In 1995 and again in 2016, Dr Piscitelli joined with Professor Chen Zhichao, Hubei Preschool Teachers' College, to create an Australia-China children’s art exchange with the aim to foster international understanding of early childhood arts education and children's social, cultural and artistic lives across these two countries.  Children were asked to create and contribute artwork that reflected on their life, families, communities and their thoughts of the future.

The resulting collections Together Under One Sun (1995) and One Sun, One World - Many Dreams (2016) contain over 400 vignettes of children’s lives and thoughts on the future and enables us to examine perspectives across time and place and recognise the persistent importance children place on people, play and nature.

Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM bio

In 1986, Dr Piscitelli founded the Children's Art Archive when she began using art to talk with children about their worlds, their futures and their rights.

Since that time, she has systematically collected and documented over 2,000 children's artworks from urban and rural Australia, China and Vietnam.

The Children's Art Archive was donated to State Library in 2005 to continue this commitment to collect and preserve children's works.

"Children have the right to share freely with others what they learn, think and feel, by talking, drawing, writing..."

— Convention on the Rights of the Child


Share your child's voice

Win at $250 gift card for Eckersley's Art & Craft! Invite your child to create a painting, poem, sculpture, collage, dance, anything they dream up, and share with us on Instagram with #slqBigVoices.



On 28 September 2018, I went to the State Library of Queensland to meet Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM.  We had briefly met once...

Roy Self Portrait

On 20 November 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child and opened this significant treaty for signatures...

Shadow Art

Hello and welcome to The Corner at Home Activities. Today’s activity is inspired by the exhibition, Big Voices: Children’s Art Matters...

Learning notes

The Children’s Picture Diaries methodology aims to collect stories about childhood, as told by children in various formats:  in story, poem, film, drawing, painting or sculpture. The methodology encourages the development of critical and creative thinking, literacy, intercultural understandings, and personal and social capabilities.

This education resource is underpinned by the methodology developed in communities by Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM.

Grade Levels: Early Years
Subject Areas: Visual Art

Library shop

The Library Shop features books and more that will empower children to learn more about their rights and to explore their own creativity.

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