Guest Blogger: Yvonne Cullivan Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Visual Artist – Blog No.4
Yvonne Cullivan is a visual artist and educator based in the West of Ireland. She has fifteen years experience in Fine Art practice, Arts Education, Public & Participatory Arts and Arts Management. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, and an M.Sc. in Multimedia from Dublin City University. Yvonne is a Lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, on the First Year Fine Art & Design Programme and in the Fine Art Media Department. She is also currently engaged as a Creative Associate with the Creative Schools Programme.
Working across a broad range of documentary-style media, including sound, video, photography, interview/conversation, drawing and writing, Yvonne’s practice is underpinned by a strong participatory and collaborative approach. She often works within communities of place, rooting the engagement in site-specific research and interdisciplinary knowledge generation. Sustained processes of observation, documentation, collaboration and experiential engagement with place, lead to the creation of new work that is reflective of, appropriate to and shaped by the process.
Blog 4 – Reflect and Refine
My first year working as a Creative Associate on the Creative Schools Programme with my three allocated schools has ended. Nothing feels finished however; it feels as if we are just starting. While creative activities took place in each school as a direct result of the consultation process, I view this years work as research and development and I won’t be surprised if year two feels like more R&D. The consultation process in each case was very thorough and the conversations with the coordinators and, less frequent but equally important, with management, were robust and wide-reaching. Through evaluation with a selection of children from each school, for the most part, they report having both enjoyed and learned from their participation in the programme so far.
In my mind, the role of the Creative Associate is to assist in embedding creative approaches to teaching and learning (one could say to thinking and being) within the school environment. Reflecting on this, it would be easy to be disappointed with the years work, it falls far short of achieving that aim. There were small disappointments; not all teachers participated in the organised activities, not all children made the connection between the opinions they put forward in the consultation process and the resulting activities that they participated in, some of the planned activities didn’t materialise, some people didn’t enjoy the activities. There were larger logistical issues at play too; the late commencement of the programme combined with the lengthy intensive consultation process meant that most activities took place at the very time of year when schools are most busy. This had the most impact at G.E.T.N.S. where we developed and implemented an ambitious whole school programme of activities in May and June. The whole school cohesiveness we needed to realise the holistic nature of this programme got lost in the end of year ether. I choose to reflect on all of this as learning.
My three schools and I are building relationships together, we are reaching levels of understanding, finding out what works and what doesn’t in each setting. We are journeying. As a result of this long-term attitude and shared vision for trying to go a level deeper into creativity within the school environment, we have clear pointers for 2019/20. A large part of our work together will be investing in creative professional development for teachers. This would appear to be the most necessary and sustainable use of our time together. Our main challenges will be freeing up staff time and reaching beyond the arts curriculum. G.E.T.N.S. will engage in a Per Cent for Art project that will hopefully build, in a very exciting way, on our work together this year; the boys at Athenry are leading us toward a programme around creative play and the outdoor environment; Eglish are going to further their digital skills acquisition. The process is creative and child-led and this makes sense to me.