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Part 3: Announcing the Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award Recipients

Image Credit: 2023 Portal Documentation Award recipient, Up, Up, Up, Central Remedial Clinic School. Photo courtesy of Edel Doherty.

The Portal Team are delighted to announce we have been documenting a third project as part of the Portal Documentation Awards: ‘Up, Up, Up’. This award was originally made in 2020 for an early years project at the Central Remedial Clinic School, Clontarf. We are very excited to be working with each recipient in the coming months to document their projects. These projects will be showcased on the portal as the documentation progresses.

Project Title: Up, Up, Up

’Up, Up, Up’ is an immersive experience for early years children with a physical disability and complex needs and is supported by the Exploring & Thinking Award, an initiative of the four Local Dublin Authorities and the Arts Council of Ireland. The project aims to provide early years children living with limited mobility and additional needs the opportunity to grab, stretch and reach into the forbidden cookie jar! Reaching, moving, creating sounds, mischief making and making marks are the tools we shall use together as we explore the dexterity of the body and creative mind whilst expanding the child’s physical literacy. 

Every child has something to say and every child has their own way of saying it.  Communication is through movement, mark making, sound generation, verbalising and vocalisations, the children initiate and together we extend their curiosity.  They choose, in their own time, their learning.  We choose, as a team, to value their choice and bounce it back and forth with them.  Our interactions are careful and balanced. Our project needed to be multisensory, to appeal to all the needs of the children in the class. The project evolved because we wanted the children to be more actively involved in their learning.  We wanted time to allow for this concentrated involvement, building on their existing interests and giving them the freedom to just be.

Over several weeks artist Helen Barry and Early Years Educator Audrey Fagan along with the team at the CRCS will create a developmental interactive experience for these early years children to engage together with their friends. The floor will be the canvas, it is what will support us, to lie, sit, roll or push against. Each element will be designed to support and enable a more equal engagement.

Artist: Helen Barry
Helen Barry is a visual artist, inventor and classically trained dancer. She has over 35 years experience working creatively and playfully with the very young to the very old. This collaborative process is what drives her work, from the initial concept through to the design, making and sharing of the creative output with her co-creators and new audiences. Since 2010 Helen has specialised in co-creating with early years and children living with mild, moderate, profound and neurodiverse needs. The synergy created by using a cross-disciplinary approach provides a sensorium palette from which Helen draws from. Everything exists on the horizon; a perpetual visual and aural palatte of sensations, frequencies and movements through which we interpretate the world around us. Helen’s ambition is to design arts experiences that allow us to explore and discover our bodies’ receptors that will stimulate growth, wellbeing and an ability to focus and thrive. Helen has been awarded several bursaries and commissions for her work with early years children. The National Concert Hall continues to support her foray into music and sculpture.

A sample of Helen’s work ‘Sculptunes’ can be found here:

Early Years Educator: Audrey Fagan
Audrey Fagan is a primary school teacher who has been working in special education for over 25 years. Audrey works in the Central Remedial Clinic School, Clontarf, a school for children with physical disabilities and additional complex needs. Fourteen years ago, Audrey moved into the Preschool of the CRC, delivering a two-year cycle of early education embracing the Aistear framework, and incorporating elements of the Froebel, Reggio Emilia and Te Wháriki approaches. A kaleidoscope curriculum is in place to respond to the diverse needs and interests of the children. Audrey believes in creating a learning environment that allows all the children to be involved and included – inquiring, discovering and experiencing holistically at their level of ability. Audrey completed a self-study action research M. Ed from Maynooth University in 2021 exploring a slow pedagogy in the preschool. As part of her role as Assistant Principal, she is currently responsible for the development of multisensory experiences and a wellbeing policy in the CRC School. Working in special education, Audrey has reached out and developed important collaborative relationships with therapists, parents and artists from many disciplines – music, art and drama to consolidate and inform her love of the arts and to bring this learning to the children in preschool.




Multi-art form

School Level

Early Years


Dublin City