Kieran Gallagher is an art teacher in St Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda. He works as head of a large art department. Since moving to St Oliver’s over three years ago he has established connections with the local art gallery, the Highlanes Gallery and has worked on a number of art projects with his students and the Director, Aoife Ruane. Kieran is also a practicing artist and is part of Ormond Studios in Dublin.
Art Teacher Blog Post No.1
Like all art teachers, the past two weeks have been a productive and busy period. School is well underway; my students and I are well settled into the first term. Apart from the typical art room duties that we have been creatively working on, we had an art trip to ‘Sculpture In Context’ with 56 of our fifth year students, open night, October assessments, exhibition ‘In sense of place’ meetings and organisation of the #startoftheart campaign.
The most interesting project, which I have been working on with a group of fifth year students, is the curation project in collaboration with the Highlanes Gallery, the British Council’s Art Collection, and Our Lady’s College, Drogheda. This project came about as a result of a number of other smaller projects and visits to the Highlanes Gallery. Their Director, Aoife Ruane, approached me last year with the idea of getting students to select and curate an exhibition to coincide with their 10th birthday celebrations. Since May of last year a group of students and myself met in the gallery to start planning the exhibition. The students have been extremely dedicated to the project, meeting three times over the summer holidays and every Thursday after school, for two hours, since the start of term. We are currently in the process of selecting the artwork for the VAI, postcards and posters, so keep an eye out. The exhibition opens on Friday the 25th of November. I will speak more about this project next time.
Thanks to the above project, I have linked with another school in town. They set up a WhatsApp group and we are in the process of organising some sort of event in town to mark the #stateoftheart campaign, which is looking at the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and asking the question, why has art has been forgotten? It seems crazy, especially in a time where such buzz words as creativity and innovation are being used so widely. The main aim of this campaign is to get the attention of the Department of Education, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examination Commission to apply gentle pressure on them to implement a new, modern Leaving Cert curriculum; one that address the disconnect between the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and exam and the entry requirements into third level Art and Design colleges. In our school we are going to cover up all the artwork that is displayed throughout the school. For the larger town collaboration project? I will discuss it next time.