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Guest Blogger: Claire Halpin, Visual Artist, Curator & Arts Educator – Blog 4


1_Senior Infants at Aideen Barry Exhibition

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Claire is a visual artist, curator and arts educator based in Dublin. Over the last twenty years Claire has worked with a range of groups across many age groups from Primary School children through to Second and Third level students, teachers, community groups, intellectual disability groups and older people. These projects have taken place in a range of settings and contexts including museum gallery based, classroom, library, healthcare, local authority and community settings and over a range of timescales. Claire is represented by Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin and is currently curating Concerning the Other – an artist collaborative project with the gallery in September 2017. 

Blog 4: Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Creativity in the Classroom

So after my mini rant in the last Blog Post on the trials and tribulations and juggling of the life of an artist and arts educator I have decided to focus in this post on the arts in education project that I have been engaged in the longest that is Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Creativity in the Classroom working with Holy Family N.S, Monkstown.

DLR Creativity in the Classroom

DLRCIC was set up in 2010 with a steering group of artists including Liz McMahon, Maree Hensey and myself who had met through our work on the DLR Primary Arts Panel in 2010.

DLR Creativity in the Classroom uses the model of practice and ethos of Creativity in the Classroom which was set up 20 years ago with a cluster of 6 schools in Dublin’s south inner city. This project uses visual art as a means of helping children develop their sense of self and provides them with time to explore their creative energy, time to experience the process of what it is to be. This allows for the multitude of emotional responses that will unfold, both positive and negative. More importantly it gives freedom for these responses and provides a safe environment for them to be dealt with.

DLRCIC currently has two participating schools in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area for the last six years and is considered to be sustainable within these schools. Each artist works with four classes in total throughout the school year, facilitating nine workshops with each class. Exhibition visits are included and parents/ grandparents/ guardians are invited to participate in a hands-on workshop with their child. Funding for the programme is through the participating schools and DLR Arts Grant for Participation and Learning which is applied for annually. The programme also receives support from Blackrock Education Centre.

Current Project

As an artist working in arts in education project can have many durations of engagement from one off, year long, commissions with a particular outcome or artwork. For me the beauty and enjoyment of the DLR Creativity in the Classroom programme is the longer engagement and emphasis on the process based, exploring of materials, ideas and concepts. A slowing down. This involves the building up over time of a partnership and trust with the individual teachers, school principal, wider school community and most importantly the children themselves.

It is a long term collaborative process which the schools have invested in, engaged in and continue to recognise the benefits of both within the classroom and beyond over the last six years with the programme being adopted for each school while still keeping the model of practice and strong ethos of Creativity in the Classroom.

So this term I am working with two class groups – 5th/ 6th Class group – who are a class group whom I have worked with over the years since they were in Senior Infants! So I know the class, their personalities and watched their development as we have worked together over nine weeks each year.

I am also working with Senior Infants group who are absolutely fantastic! Their inhibitions and creative engagement are refreshing and exciting in our explorations of a range of drawing materials and processes exploring ideas around micro and macro, inside and outside. There is an emphasis on trust with the teacher in that we had discussed visiting Aideen Barry’s exhibition Slice, Vast, Deep at Muncipal Gallery, dlr LexIcon in September and using it as a starting point without knowing where the process would lead us. The class really loved the projected animations and talked about how they could make their own drawings move and mix with projected images. So we don’t know where we are going to end up! We have done some individual and collaborative drawings looking at the teeny tiny and the huge, inside and outside and also done some stop frame photo shoots of the children dressed up as super heroes. Over the next number of weeks we are going to try and bring these elements together. And that is the beauty of this creative process – the time and space is allowed just to be, to explore, to journey without knowing the destination and to trust it will be a rewarding and worthwhile journey….

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For more information about DLR Creativity in the Classroom  go to  dlrcreativityintheclassroom.wordpress.com/

Or visit Claire Halpin  clairehalpin2011.wordpress.com

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