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Creative Schools
Deadline: 2 April, 2021

Creative Schools is forming a panel of Creative Associate Regional Coordinators across the country. It is envisaged that the Arts Council will engage the services of 8 Regional Coordinators. Both individuals and organisations (who nominate a particular representative) may apply to provide these services.

The main tasks of the Creative Associate regional coordinators are:

– Work closely with the Arts Council’s Creative Schools’ team to support and assist in coordinating the work of the Creative Associates at a regional level.

– Liaise with and support up to twenty Creative Associates and their assigned schools across each region.

– Be required to carry out services for around seventy days per annum, with a minimum of one day per week between the months of September to June.

Deadline for applications: Friday 2nd April, 2021

For more information, see www.etenders.gov.ie/ (select Arts Council in ‘authority’ field of an advanced search on etenders).

Lismore Castle Arts
Online exhibition

Artifice is an annual exhibition by Lismore Castle Arts which presents works of art created by transition year students from across County Waterford. This year’s theme is “Land Art”, based on Lismore Castle Arts’ main exhibition for 2021 “Light and Language” centred around the work of Nancy Holt, a significant figure in the Land Art movement. Students were invited to explore their relationship with the environment  and to express their experience of the lockdown, environmentalism and personal identity.

Over 130 students took part in Artifice 2021, creating new artworks using a variety of media including photography, film, sculpture and painting. The five schools participating in Artifice 2021 are Meánscoil San Nioclás (An Rinn), Ard Scoil na nDéise (Dungarvan), Ardscoil na Mara (Tramore), St. Augustine’s College (Dungarvan) and Blackwater Community School (Lismore).

View the exhibition here: www.lismorecastlearts.ie/education/

Creative Schools
Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools are delighted to announce an exciting opportunity for schools/centres to apply to participate in the initiative. Schools/centres may apply from 6 April and the deadline is 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021.

The Creative Schools initiative supports schools/centres to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children’s and young people’s lives. This initiative provides opportunities for children and young people to build their artistic and creative skills; to communicate, collaborate, stimulate their imaginations, be inventive, and to harness their curiosity. It will empower children and young people to develop, implement and evaluate arts and creative activity throughout their schools/centres and stimulate additional ways of working that reinforce the impact of creativity on children and young people’s learning, development and well-being.

Participating schools/centres will be provided with a package of supports that includes working with a Creative Associate, training and networking to support them to create their Creative School Plan, as well as seed funding to begin to implement their Plan.

Creative Associates will respond to each school/centre’s development priorities and needs in order to support them to deepen the arts and creative opportunities for children and young people. They will use their practical experience, to develop partnerships and mechanisms that enable sustained relationships between schools/centres and the arts and cultural sectors.

All Department of Education and Skills-recognised primary and post-primary schools and Youthreach centres who have not already participated in a previous round of Creative Schools are eligible to apply.

Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

Further information on the Creative Schools application process will be available online shortly. Applications must be submitted online and schools are encouraged to register well in advance of the deadline: https://onlineservices.artscouncil.ie/Register.aspx

 

The LAB Gallery, Dublin City Arts Office
Dates: Wednesdays 4-6pm, 3, 10, 24 March & 14, 21, 28 April

The Practice of Looking is a six-week, online course to learn about Visual Thinking Strategies and its use in Dublin, and to practice its facilitation. It was born out of the growing interest in the adoption of Visual Thinking Strategies at the LAB Gallery and in the partnerships and networks that have evolved around it. The LAB Gallery, Dublin City Arts Office, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and VTS Neighbourhood Schools are partnering to host an online course that offers the opportunity to learn from trained VTS coaches in the existing network. The course will have a strong focus on facilitation practice and reflection. You will receive a certificate of attendance after completion of the course.

Please note that to participate to the course, you need to:

For more information and to register, please see here: http://www.dublincityartsoffice.ie/the-lab/vts-projects/the-practice-of-looking

 

 

The Ark
Date: 25 February 2021

The Ark invites you to ‘Creativity in the Online Classroom Made Easy’ CPD workshop for teachers, where you will learn a range of easy, accessible skills to help you bring creativity into your online teaching. Find out how easy it can be to breathe imagination into an online class, inspiring both your students and yourself. The ideas shared will be useful for both teaching online and when you are back in the classroom.

Perhaps you are overwhelmed with the technical aspects of moving your teaching online, or feeling frustrated with the limitations and struggling to make your online lessons creative and engaging. Or perhaps you are simply looking for some fresh inspiration for ideas that can work well in the online space. Join the Ark for this morning of inspiration and art-making to help you address these challenges, led by artist Duffy Mooney-Sheppard who has been leading online classes for children for the past year.

During this session you will gain valuable time to explore various tools available on Zoom to develop, hone and gain confidence in digital art lessons. Ideas shared will be adaptable and transferrable to other online platforms you may be using also. The possibilities in virtual learning spaces are wide and we are all learning! We will ask questions, share challenges, try things out and build our knowledge as a group.

This is a free CPD event for teachers, but advance booking is essential. For more details please go to: https://ark.ie/events/view/cpd-creativity-online-classroom

Children’s Books Ireland & Poetry Ireland
Dates: 23 & 24 February, 2, 3, 10 March

Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland are working in partnership to host a series of capacity-building webinars for artists who are delivering online programmes to children and young people. The webinars are free to attend and places are limited. Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland are committed to supporting artists in the development of their practice and their working conditions.

For more information or to register for these workshops, see https://www.eventbrite.ie/o/childrens-books-ireland-11806877628

VISUAL Carlow 

Dates: Throughout February & March

Would you and your class like to participate in an online workshop with VISUAL Carlow’s Curator of Learning, Clare Breen?

Clare will bring your class on a virtual walk through this season’s exhibitions, broadcast live from inside their closed gallery. After the tour she will lead an art activity that can be completed with simple materials children can find at home or in school.

These workshops are suitable for primary school groups from 1st to 6th class. Book your place for an online workshop in February and March, workshops are free but places are limited!

For further information or to book your place, email learning@visualcarlow.ie.

The Dock Arts Centre and The Lab Gallery

Eleven Irish artists reveal what inspires them and how they make their art in a free video series designed for use in the classroom.

The Dock Arts Centre in Carrick on Shannon and The Lab Gallery in Dublin have worked together to produce an online resource for teachers and arts educators. This resource is ideal for use in a classroom or online educational setting and features artists speaking directly about themselves and the art making process. View the online resource here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8094850

As well as connecting young people with some of the rich ideas that inform our visual culture and offering them a unique insight into the arts practices, methods and motivations of practicing artists the series also affords the artists a unique opportunity to speak directly to and connect with young audiences.

In the interviews the artists reveal their reasons for making art, describe the methods they use to make their work but most importantly reveal what is means to them to be an artist and how they transform their desire to create and communicate into the work they produce. The diversity of their individual backgrounds and experiences is reflected in the work each artist makes. They draw inspiration from many sources; the books they read as children, the films they have watched, conversations they have had, the environments that they have lived in and places they have visited.

The artists are Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Eve O’ Callaghan, Jamie Cross, Ellen Duffy, Kate Murphy, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Gemma Browne, Anna Maria Healy, Austin Ivers, Louise Manifold and Jackie McKenna.

The video series is a starting point to mediate conversations with young people about their own creativity, ideas and inspirations, the videos may also be used as an inspiration for teachers and educators to devise workshop and other practical activities for their classes.

Access this free resource here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8094850

For further information go to www.thedock. ie/learning-projects/speaking- of-which.

 

Chester Beatty Library

Chester Beatty launched an Intercultural museum programme for primary and post-primary schools offering students and their teachers the opportunity to explore world cultures in an Irish museum.  Participants are encouraged to engage with Chester Beatty’s Islamic, East Asian and European collections through a variety of activities including guided tours, self-guided visits, online learning resources and access to the extensive image gallery.

Intercultural dialogue and learning plays a key role in the museum’s mission and fosters dialogue with the communities represented in Chester Beatty’s unique collections.  These collections offer wonderful learning opportunities and support a number of key curricular areas from art history to world faiths. A range of free teaching resources are available to support self-guided visits and inspire activities back at school.

The research for developing the programme was carried out in co-operation with Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Maynooth University, the Intercultural Education Service (Education Authority of Northern Ireland) and the UK Heritec Education Consultancy.  A key component of the development programme was the training of guides and facilitators in visual thinking strategies and object-based learning to reflect the school curriculum.

This report includes the background to the intercultural school’s project and includes definitions on intercultural dialogue and relevant policies, strategies and projects in both the formal education, arts and cultural sectors; the development of the intercultural school’s programme; analysis of current practices and methodologies; programme development including the training of volunteer guides, Continuous Professional Development of teachers; and pilot tours and evaluation.

Schools have full access to Chester Beatty’s remarkable treasures through the website www.chesterbeatty.ie thus allowing students and teachers to experience the Chester Beatty from the school desk or from home.  In addition, the CB’s new Digital Museum Guide app offers audio tours in 13 languages, virtual 3D walkthroughs of the museum, online browsing of the Chester Beatty’s world-renowned treasures, and a news section to highlight our extensive programme of events and activities.

View and Download the ‘Embracing cultural diversity in the classroom – Research and Development Report’ here.

For more details about the Chester Beatty Learning and Education Department please contact educationservices@cbl.ie

 

 

RTÉ and Creative Ireland Programme

Deadline extended to Sunday 31 Jan 2021

RTÉ and Creative Ireland Programme have come together in partnership to create This Is Art! – a celebration of visual art through the creation of an exciting new online art competition aimed at young people across the island of Ireland.

The competition aims to promote artistic practice among young people and encourage and support creativity, originality and self-expression. Applicants can enter individually or they can enter as part of a group and all visual art disciplines are welcomed. The competition is open for anyone 18yrs and under.

All of the artwork will be included in a digital gallery and considered for the This Is Art! 2021 Grand Prix Award.

Deadline extended to Sunday 31 Jan 2021

For further information go to: https://www.thisisart.ie/

The National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline: Friday 5 February 2021

The National Gallery of Ireland invites schools to apply to participate in Your Gallery at School, a new holistic outreach programme that brings the National Gallery of Ireland directly to schools.

Over the course of 2021, The National Gallery of Ireland will work with six primary schools that wouldn’t usually be able to visit the Gallery, to create a tailored programme of activities for their students.

Participating schools will be selected via an open application process. Selected schools will not have visited the Gallery in the past three years and will be from one or more of three key groups:

  • DEIS schools to address socio-economic barriers to accessing culture.
  • Boys’ schools to address the gender barrier to accessing culture.
  • Schools geographically far away (over 2 hours away from Dublin) to address the geographic barrier to accessing culture.

The closing date: Friday 5 February 2021

Your Gallery at School aims to break down the barriers that prevent engagement with the arts through holistic programming that ensures children transition to adulthood equipped with the life-changing benefits of art.

For more details please go to: https://www.nationalgallery.ie/explore-and-learn/your-gallery-school

 

Solstice Arts Centre

Exhibition running until 22 December 2020

Solstice Arts Centre are delighted to announce two new online resource packs for schools to accompany the exhibition ‘New Era – Exploring Climate Change’.

New Era is an exhibition featuring four Irish visual artists Rachel Doolin, Siobhán McDonald, Martina O’Brien and Méadhbh O’Connor whose work explores different aspects of climate change in the natural world.  The exhibition includes new and recent art works by these artist/activists and advocates for both local and global climate change.

Resource Packs:

Look Draw Think Respond – Primary Schools

This fun learning resource, originally designed to be completed in the gallery is now accompanied by a virtual 360° tour of the exhibition New Era, with links and additional information on each of the four artists on our website at solsticeartscentre.ie/ event/new-era-exploring- climate-change.

This resource embraces many subjects across the curriculum including art, geography, SPSE, science and literacy and a personalised tour and virtual creative activities can be arranged for individual classrooms.

Download Primary School Resource here

Solstice Secondary Resource New Era – Post-Primary Schools 

This learning resource is designed to assist Leaving Certificate students and teachers interested in opting for the gallery question on the History & Appreciation of Art paper.

It can be used in conjunction with the virtual 360° tour of the exhibition New Era. with links and additional information on each of the four exhibiting artists on our website at https://solsticeartscentre.ie/ event/new-era-exploring- climate-change for a comprehensive response to this or similar exam question.

Download Post-Primary School Resource here

Solstice Arts Centre can also arrange a Zoom meeting with any class group to give them further insight into the show and information on the artists involved.

For further information go to solsticeartscentre.ie or email deirdre.rogers@solsticeartscentre.ie

The Ark

Date: 7 November Saturday 

This half-day visual art CPD workshop for teachers with The Ark which will focus on skills, techniques and processes teachers can integrate into their lesson plans and easily adapt to all ages.

Every season has its own beauty and winter is certainly not lacking. It may not display the soft pastel tones of spring, the bright and bold splashes of summer or the fiery range of autumn’s colours, but the winter season has its own very individual palette.

Through the theme of winter, artist Jole Bortoli will lead the group on an exploration of the visual art curriculum through hands on activities which will be completed in real time via zoom. Together, the group will examine the many manifestations of winter in the diverse environments and habitats found in Ireland. Looking at how various visual artists have interpreted this theme, participants will create their very own artwork, giving them the tools to approach a winter-themed art workshop with children in the classroom.

Each participant will be asked to gather simple materials and tools that they should easily find around the house. They will also be sent a small art pack by post with any speciality materials that they will need during the workshop.

Date: 10.30am-12.30pm, 7 November Saturday

Tickets: €15 (€13.50 for ArkEd Members)

Booking closes at midnight on Thursday 29 October to allow adequate time for your art pack to be posted to you. Postage of the art pack is available within the Republic of Ireland only.

For further information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-wintertime-2020

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Artist Annabel Konig

When discussing the possible project with the teacher of the classes I was going to work with, we discovered that nature, observation, fabrics and the environment, were the main topics that were going to make up the project idea. Based on those, ‘weaving the walk’, was born. The idea was that each child would go for a walk with an adult and look at their surroundings differently, looking at textures, picking up weavable materials, make drawings and if they could, write words, in a notebook which would be their form of reference for the weaving we were going to make.

The frames for the weavings were made from branches that I brought in. Each child had to learn how to tie knots, measure string and create the framework. There was co-operation between the classes as some children were quite young.

Teacher Brenda Binions 

I had previously taught the children some simple weaving techniques and am passionate about our local environment, so I was excited to collaborate with Annabel on this topic. We decided on this project very quickly during our first collaboration meeting. Prior to our first workshop, I spoke to the children about the project and they were very enthusiastic. I also sent a note home to the parents, outlining our ideas and asking for their help in taking the children for a walk and gathering suitable materials for our weaving. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t been very nice, so not all children had been for a walk so we took an observational walk around the school grounds and looked at the colours and textures we could see around us.

During the first workshop, Annabel discussed the project with the children. Some of the children had brought in materials for the weaving and we looked at these and discussed their suitability, or otherwise,  with the children. When we started putting the frames together, it quickly became obvious that tying strings was too difficult for the younger children so we enlisted the help of the older classes to assist them. This lead to the project becoming a collaboration for the whole school, as, over the course of the project, all 48  children in the school had the opportunity to engage hands on in the project.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Artist Annabel Konig

The second workshop centered on the brought in materials and drawings that the students had made. The drawings were the layout plan. Each child then made a general weaving plan, based on their own frame – some being horizontal, one vertical some large, etc. Both the school and myself had brought in additional soft, weavable materials, which were interpreted by the students as flowers, sheep, trees, grass and sky. The textures of the materials made the pupils consider what a bush might look like or a stream, a flower, etc.

At the end of the project, each child had a finished, or near to finished piece and could tell the story to someone else of how their walk was converted into a weaving.

Teacher Brenda Binions

Annabel asked the children to draw the story of their walk and then select suitable materials to represent the story. She asked them what they knew about weaving and explained the techniques that would be needed in this project. She explained the importance of tying the woven strands to support the structure of the weaving and discussed which materials might represent the different aspects of their walk.  Again, the actual weaving was a challenge for some of the junior children. So we got some of the children in the senior room to help. We also had the assistance of our SNA in the room, which helped greatly. Some of the children found it difficult to get started on selecting materials and others grasped the concept straight away and showed great imagination in representing their walk in the weaving.

After each workshop, I asked the children to reflect on what they had been doing. We discussed it first and then they wrote about it. I put some of these responses in a scrapbook, along with photographs of the various stages, to keep as a record.

When they had finished their pieces of weaving, we took them to the other class to show them how they had turned out and each child told the “story” of their walk, as represented in their weaving.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Artist Annabel Konig

I always learn from children, the way they interpret ideas, the way they manage to work in materials – often different than I would so I re-discover the possibilities of working. Many of the students discovered that the even though their walks were similar, how they picked the fabrics to represent elements in the landscape, altered how others understood their work. The challenges some of the students found was that in their initial excitement after the project had been explained to them, is that they may have bitten off more than they could chew in the size of their frames. Big is not always better. Successes were many for each individual child, being able to stand up at the end of the process to explain their work, finding that they were good at something event though school work generally is hard for them and, as one little boy said to me ‘I know how to tie my shoelaces now’, shows that, through an art process one can obtain life skills.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I really enjoyed this project and I know the children did too. There were challenges for sure, not least where to store the weaving frames between workshops! We were very lucky in that we had a wide selection of weavable materials, some of which I had in the school but much of it was provided by Annabel . We had initially asked the children to bring in found materials which they could incorporate in their weaving, but much of this was unworkable and in the end, we mostly used fabric strips , wool and twine to represent the landscape. The children focused on colour and texture to represent their walk. We could not have done this project without adult assistance and the assistance of the children in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes. However, the children gained great skills in selecting materials, weaving, cutting, tying and describing their work.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Artist Annabel Konig

Process, process, process. You can learn skills that cross over into other elements of life and school subjects. Learning through creativity can often not feel like homework or hard learning, it can be done through fun and ‘outside the box’ approaches.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I always value the chance to collaborate with an artist. In this case, the project stretched the children’s creativity and expanded their skills, not just in art but in awareness of their environment, developing their confidence and collaboration with others. They each had a great sense of achievement and were delighted to show and bring home their finished piece.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Artist Annabel Konig

Any workshop I do with children always encourages me to do more and to up the anti. Young people are so much more able than we think, once you give them the skills to succeed.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I think that as a teacher, I am inclined to keep projects small and within the confines of the classroom. This project had inspired me to look beyond the classroom and think outside the box. It has inspired me to ask more of the children and, with help from other adults and older children, encourage the children to expand their creativity.

 

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA)

Deadline: 12 noon, 27 August 2020

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA), through its joint arts in education programme, ‘The Three Muses’, wishes to appoint an artist/facilitator with an established track record in the development and delivery of multi-disciplinary and interactive art workshops for primary school children. The artist will design a series of workshops in which participants will engage with and creatively respond to the three permanent collections, using the alphabet as a conceptual frame. Given the uncertainty around schooling arrangements in the months ahead, we encourage candidates to explore alternative online and digital forms of engagement, in the event that physical workshops are not possible.

The Three Muses: Exploring Art and Identity’, is an innovative programme for primary schools, launched in November 2019, which aims to increase access, ownership and enjoyment of the collections of The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and LCGA, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. The Three Muses programme is supported by Limerick City and County Council and Friends of the Hunt Museum. ‘ABC of the Three Muses’ is sponsored by Affinity Credit Union.

For further information on this opportunity and to find out how to apply, please go to https://www.huntmuseum.com/vacancy-artist-facilitator/

“Curious Minds” is a series of booklets with lessons for primary school teachers created by professional Visual Artists.

This free digital resource offers more than 16 projects, with 43 lessons in total, divided into five books: one with the foundation; and four with projects for every season (most projects or lessons can be used any time of the year). It also includes various “warm-up” and awareness exercises (including “gymnastics for the brain”).

The content focuses on four main themes: belonging, identity, consumerism, and the environment. It is organised in such a way that allows for flexibility. Most lessons are suitable for a diverse range of ages, from 1st to 6th classes. There are projects of short, medium and long duration (from 1 to 8 lessons). The design of the books will allow anyone to print each project by lesson or in its entirety.

“Curious Minds” is the brainchild of Karla Sánchez and Els Dietvorst, who met through the “Living Arts Project”, an innovative art education program run by Wexford Arts Centre and the Art Department of Wexford County Council.

Karla and Els share an interest in multi-disciplinary and holistic education, and invited a group of creatives to collaborate in this endeavor: Clare Breen (who also did the illustrations), Laura Ní Fhlaibhín, Orla Bates, David Begley and Colm O’Neill (graphic designer).

For further details please see: livingartsproject.ie/book-1-introduction-and-fundamentals/

“Curious Minds” is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme.

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

IMMA invites children, young people and their families to join them every week on their social channels for #ExploreratHome.

While IMMA is closed the Explorer at Home art activities are available for children and adults to do and make at home. IMMA’s team share a new art activity every Wednesday afternoon on their social channels. You will find specially selected artworks, inspired by the IMMA Collection Online and IMMA’s temporary Exhibition Programme, as starting points for creative activities.

IMMA invites you to share your creations with them online by tagging IMMA and using the hashtag #ExploreratHome so you can see your work on IMMA’s website.

For more information go to imma.ie/whats-on/explorer-at-home/

 

Trócaire & National Youth Council of Ireland

Closing Date: 30 June

During these extraordinary times as we all do our best to stay at home, Trócaire in partnership with the National Youth Council of Ireland, have created a new competition for young people called Trócaire Game Changers Home Challenge.  This is a competition for young people who want to change the world and believe games are a way to do this. It is a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have a lot of fun while they do it.

Young people could create their games by recycling materials such as cereal boxes, bottle caps etc. The competition is open to young people of all ages and prizes will be awarded to the best entries.

The closing date is 30th June and entries can be submitted by post or electronically.

for further information go to www.trocaire.org/education/gamechangers/

Trócaire Games Challenge

Trócaire Games Challenge

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Deadline: 14 May 2020

Kids’ Own has a special opportunity for young people, aged 10–13, to participate in an online visual thinking initiative.

Working alongside artist/curator Vanya Lambrecht Ward, young participants will have a special role in supporting and shaping the development of a new exhibition featuring artwork and writing from Kids’ Own’s extensive 23-year archive. Over a series of 6 online sessions, the team will explore aspects of the Kids’ Own archive – our books, our way of working, and visual art processes before selecting artwork and writing for the exhibition, as well as thinking about physical spaces of the exhibition and ways of presenting work for young audiences.

The work of the Visual Thinking Team will be instrumental in developing the exhibition, which will premiere at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon in late 2020, before moving to other venues in 2021/22. It is also important to Kids’ Own that the young participants have a physical presence in the exhibition, be that through inclusion of their voices and artwork in the exhibition brochure, or video presence in the exhibition itself.

The project will take place over six weeks in June and early July 2020.

As places are very limited, children are asked to visit the Kids’ Own website at the link below and fill in the application form and return by: Friday 14th May 2020.

To apply go to kidsown.ie/kids-own-visual-thinking-team-call-out-for-participants

Kids’ Own welcome applications from children of all backgrounds and abilities and from anywhere in Ireland.

The Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum are delighted to bring you The Three Muses Activity Pack, a learning resource inspired by the collections of The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art.

It is bursting with open-ended, creative activities which support Visual Art, History and English curricula, and comes in a full colour version for screens and a reduced colour version for printing at home. Explore and learn from Limerick’s museums without leaving your house – all you need is a pencil, paper and your brilliant imagination!

The Three Muses is a learning programme designed to increase access, ownership and enjoyment of three Limerick museums, with a focus on modern and contemporary visual art. The programme includes workshops and learning resources like this. Watch a short video on the programme here.

The Three Muses programme is supported by Limerick City and County Council and Friends of the Hunt Museum. This Activity Pack is sponsored by Unity Credit Union.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

To download the activity packs go to www.huntmuseum.com/the-three-muses-activity-pack/⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

 

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Date: 7 March 2020

Kids’ Own is really proud to be celebrating thirteen years of their virtual arts in education project, Virtually There, with a large-scale exhibition and special launch event at Belfast Children’s Festival.

On Saturday 7th March 2020, a new exhibition will open in Belfast to showcase work developed by children, artists and teachers over the past three years. Funded for eleven years by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation since 2016, Virtually There was developed by Kids’ Own with a pioneering approach whereby artists connected virtually from their studios with children in the classroom.

Kids’ Own has partnered with Belfast Children’s Festival, Young at Art and University of Ulster to develop this exciting exhibition for public audiences, which runs from 6th-28th March.

A special exhibition opening event takes place at the Ulster University Belfast Campus on Saturday 7th March, 1pm-3.30pm. This event will include the launch of Open Space: An action research report from the Virtually There project by Dr Bryonie Reid. It will be launched by Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast.

There will also be a panel discussion entitled What does collaboration really mean? This discussion will be chaired by Mark O’Brien, director of axis, Ballymun, in conversation with artists and teachers who participated in the project.

Date & Time

Saturday, 7 March 2020. 1pm – 3.30pm

Venue

Belfast College of Art, York Street, Belfast

Refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to info@kidsown.ie

For further information go to kidsown.ie/kids-own-celebrates-13-years-of-virtually-there-project-at-belfast-childrens-festival/

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: 7 March 2020

Primary school teachers, artists and those working within the classroom are invited to a one day CPD at Solstice Arts Centre, Navan to experience the potential of the gallery as an educational resource for the primary school curriculum and how this can be applied to the classroom context.

Exploring ‘You are Made of Stardust’, Solstice’s current exhibition by George Bolster participants will engage in a responsive workshop led by professional artist/educator Jane Fogarty. Supporting and enhancing artistic skills through discussions on art and a hands-on printmaking workshop. This CPD is suitable for those working with all primary class years and has links to the print and drawing modules from the visual arts curriculum.

€25 including lunch in Solstice café, places are limited.

10am – 3:30 pm, no prior art experience necessary.

For further information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/learning-participation/the-gallery-as-a-classroom.2939.html

EVA International

EVA International is delighted to announce the release of free copies of Better Words, for primary school libraries nationwide. It is a new book that offers an introduction to contemporary art and culture through the eyes of 8 – 12 year olds.

It features new artistic terms, words and word-forms, that describe many aspects of contemporary art today, all of which were invented by children through a workshop process that took place across 5 schools in County Limerick, in Spring 2019.

Organised into thematic sections, Better Words offers an introduction to key themes in contemporary art practice today, while also reflecting the cultural curiosity, creative energy and humourous irreverence of the participating school children.

Published by EVA International the book features contributions by acclaimed author Kevin Barry and notes on the workshop process by curator Maeve Mulrennan.

Please contact Eimear Redmond (Better Words Programme Coordinator) at eimear@eva.ie, to redeem a free copy of Better Words for your school library.

Please note that a small nominal fee of €3 for post and package will apply, one copy per school while stocks last.

For further information go to www.eva.ie

The Hunt Museum

School bookings open from 21 November for spring and summer terms 2020

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art are delighted to invite primary schools to take part in ‘The Three Muses: exploring art and identity’ programme.

Through this innovative visual arts programme for primary schools, pupils from schools across Limerick will engage with modern and contemporary visual art from the collections of three Limerick museums. Through workshops and activities participants will develop their confidence and understanding in visual art, while exploring the theme of identity.

The programme also includes one-off events such as children-led tours of the collections, training sessions for teachers and a summer showcase.

This programme is underpinned by Visual Thinking Strategies and links with Arts Education, History and SPHE curricula, giving participants an opportunity to connect in a relevant way with three Limerick museums and to generate an understanding and appreciation of the importance of visual art.

This programme is supported by Limerick City & County Council and Friends of The Hunt Museum.

School bookings from 21 November for spring and summer terms 2020.

For further information and booking details go to www.huntmuseum.com/learn/primary-schools

The Glucksman

Dates: 14-26 January 2020

The Glucksman is delighted to invite you to the ‘The Classroom Museum’ exhibition.

The Classroom Museum enables schoolchildren in rural Ireland to participate in an imaginative programme of creative learning based around contemporary artworks from the UCC art collection. In Autumn 2019, with the support of Kerry County Council and Creative Ireland, the Glucksman brought the Classroom Museum initiative to Caherdaniel NS and Portmagee NS in South West Kerry.

Through the short-term loan of artworks and collaborative activities, the children and their teachers had the opportunity to interact with artworks by Irish contemporary artists Dara McGrath and Fiona Kelly.

The Classroom Museum is built around the value of providing children with an opportunity to engage with works of art in a personal and continuous way. The initiative facilitates the loan of artworks into the classroom space, and includes a visit by the artist to the school, a collaborative art project by the children and an exhibition of this work in the Glucksman.

The students from Caherdaniel and Portmagee will visit the Glucksman in January 2020 to see their artworks on display. The exhibition is open to the public and runs until January 26th.

For further information go to www.glucksman.org/projects/the-classroom-museum

 

Museum of Literature Ireland

The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) are excited to offer a free primary school creative programme ‘Shut your eyes and see’ to Irish primary school teachers and students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class. Workshops explore Irish literature, past and present, hoping to inspire the next generation to read, write, and unlock their creative potential in whatever form it takes.

Developed in collaboration with students from our learning partner schools, teachers, educators, administrators and librarians, our programme is designed with different learning styles in mind.

We offer a two-hour experience in MoLI from 10am–12pm, during term time. Teachers and students participate in a creative workshop and a tour of our exhibition space and gardens.

Connecting to our exhibitions and gardens, and reflecting elements of the school curriculum, workshops seek to develop critical thinking and research skills as well as visual, verbal and information literacy.

When booking, primary school teachers can choose from one of three workshops:

To book go to moli.ie/book-a-primary-school-workshop/

For further information and to download a teachers resource pack go to moli.ie/learning/schools-and-teachers/

 

Fingal County Council Arts Office

Date: 29 October 2019

Artist Jane Fogarty will introduce primary school teachers to Estuary – an exhibition of artworks from Fingal County Council’s Municipal Art Collection, as a starting point for generating ideas for use with students back in the classroom.

Teachers will be supported to enhance their artistic skills and expand their approach to teaching in the classroom by exploring the potential of the gallery context as an educational resource for the primary school curriculum. There will be an emphasis on looking and responding to contemporary artworks, group discussion, and identifying curriculum links.

This event is Free to attend. Lunch will be included.

For further information and booking please contact:  julie.clarke@fingal.ie

There are limited places available.  Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

About Estuary, Sept 12th – Nov 16th at Draíocht

Fingal County Council presents this significant exhibition to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the council and its Municipal Art Collection. Curated by Una Sealy (RHA), James English (RHA), Joshua Sex and Sanja Todorović, the selected artworks represent an evolving collection of painting, print, photography, literature and sculptural work by some of Ireland’s most prolific artists.  There is a strong theme of nature flowing through much of the selected works chosen by the curators specifically with Fingal’s landscape in mind. We hope that you enjoy the exhibition and participation in the public engagement programme.  www.fingalarts.ie

Date & Time:  

Tuesday 29 October 2019, 10am – 3pm

Location:

Draíocht, Blanchardstown

Facilitator:

Artist Jane Fogarty

Tipperary County Council Arts Service

Dates: Ongoing

Tipperary County Council Arts Service offers schools in Tipperary the opportunity to borrow and display an exhibition of thirty-two contemporary prints by Irish artists. The prints from twenty two artists include works by Cecil King, Alice Hanratty, Patrick Hickey, Gene Lambert,  Suzannah O’Reilly and Des McMahon.  Print mediums include monoprint, relief print, etching, silkscreen, lithograph, collograph, and dry point. An informative exhibition catalogue for educational purposes is included with the print exhibition.

A one-day printmaking workshop in the school is also available as part of this opportunity. The prints are specially packed for easy handling and transport.

Teachers and schools can arrange to borrow the exhibition by contacting the Tipperary Arts Office by phone at 0761 06 5000 or by email at artsoffice@tipperarycoco.ie.

Liz Coman is an Assistant Arts Officer with Dublin City Council.  She is a certified Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator with VTS/USA and has completed training to coaching level.  She is responsible for monitoring the quality of Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder – an EU project for Dublin City Council that is testing the VTS training pathway with educators in classroom and gallery settings. Liz has a background in History of Art and Museum Studies and fifteen years experience in designing innovative projects that support arts, education and learning.  She has led trainings in enquiry led approaches to mediating artwork for visual art facilitators in The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, The National Gallery of Ireland, and The Turner Prize, Derry and offers ongoing mentorship for individual artists, arts educators and teachers.

Stepping Back – Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder in a Post Primary School Art Room – Blog 2

A conversation with Anne Moylan, Art Teacher, Hartstown Community School, Clonsilla, Dubln15.

My experience with VTS has taught me that supporting authentic VTS practice, for our educators, our students, and myself is not a linear process.  It thrives on a spirit of collaboration, time, and some resources to access training and share understandings of the method.

In 2016, Dublin City Arts Office piloted a partnership approach with the NCCA to test the VTS training pathway with a group of Irish educators from different backgrounds –  professional educators who are from early years settings; primary school classroom teachers; secondary school (art) teachers; art educators (freelance museum and gallery educators, including teaching artists). It supported professional educators to train in Visual Thinking Strategies via Beginners and Advanced Practicums, with VTS/USA Programme Director, Yoon Kang O’Higgins. Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder extended this approach to six European partners, allowing us to deepen our understanding of the educators’ VTS practice journey through a research evaluation framework led by our partners, VTS Nederland.  The intended impact is that, through supporting educators, children and young people will have access to opportunities for critical thinking & thoughtful citizenship; will be actively encouraged to trust their own perceptions and be open to the thoughts of others; will feel their observations are valued and valuable when dealing with visual expression.

Change has been apace in secondary school curriculum re-design in Ireland in recent years. The ‘new’ Junior Cycle places an emphasis on students’ holistic development, linking subject areas, and turning a titanic history of ‘information giving’ towards scaffolding students’ life skills to equip them for a rapidly changing technological and global world.  This is a welcome change, and long awaited by us in the field that bridges arts, education and learning. It also invites challenging questions. I wonder what really happens in the classroom when we ‘step back’ and support our students to take the lead?  In my conversation with Anne Moylan, a secondary school art teacher, and educator participating in Permission to Wonder, we discuss how her training in VTS has supported a shift in her teaching practice and heightened her awareness of the value of “stepping-back” for her students.

How does VTS inform your teaching practice?

For me, the method is very much about stepping back.  It has definitely simplified down the process of looking at a painting, an object, a sculpture, piece of assemblage, for the first time.  To ask the question – what is going on in this work? – and then to actually hear what the students can see and what they are thinking about it. You always come with your own knowledge but in a VTS image discussion you have to step back out of that.  It is about allowing them to take you on any sort of a journey with their observations.

It is surprising when they point out something that you haven’t thought about or know already. You have to be prepared to go with the flow and therefore, your role completely changes with your students. You can make connections, bridge comments and themes, always developing the journey of their observation of the artwork. At the beginning, I found this difficult. Sometimes, as teenagers, you will find they are quiet or are afraid they are going to make a mistake.  That really gets easier with experience and practice as the students get used to the process over time.

We are not looking at images on the art history course. These are images from the VTS/USA website or the Permission to Wonder project, chosen specifically for use in a VTS image discussion. They are images that I am not familiar with myself. So, I am out of my comfort zone. I find this invigorating.

*Permission to Wonder partners are building and testing a European based image bank specifically for use within the project by the educators.  This will be available shortly on the project website www.permissiontowonder.com. Other images we have practiced with are drawn from the VTS/USA image curriculum for specific age groups available on https://vtshome.org/

What have you noticed happening for your students in a VTS image discussion?

Often, in a VTS session, you will find that students, who are very quiet usually, will begin to have a lot to say about a work. Some of these students would never talk, even in a practical art class. Then you show them an image, something will strike them in that image, and they really want to let you know what they see in it.

I have a number of students whose first language is not English. They have difficulty trying to say what they are looking at in their second language. Yet VTS gives them the space to do this.  The atmosphere is very calm. That is the shift for me.  Instead of giving them facts, dates and information about artwork, you are waiting to find out what they want to say about it, first and foremost.

With VTS, you really are connecting with their world. VTS allows the space for their world to connect with an artwork and indeed with me, as somebody from a different generation. You just see into their minds. Therefore, you could show them an image and the theme of mental health or family issues might come through from them. Of course you have to be careful and manage the discussion, not to flinch or be surprised.  You might be flummoxed by what might come out of them.  So holding your neutrality, and keeping the space safe for students, is important. VTS training helps you learn to do this effectively.  You sometimes think they might be talking about their own lives, and yet they are not, they are talking about an artwork.

Your role becomes very much the facilitator of the discussion. Often I would have students, saying to me ‘When can we do this again?

Have you practiced VTS with images that are on the art history course?

Yes, for example, with Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding. When you ask the first question – what is going on in this work?-  you get “I know all about this, we studied this in religion / we studied this in history”. This is an image that is a little bit recognisable to them. They are able to share what they have been taught. However, when you manage the discussion with conditional paraphrasing and ‘What more can we find?’ it deepens their engagement with the work. Even though they think they know as much as there is to know about it, it refocuses their attention back on the image. It deepens their concentration and gets their eyes back on the key elements of the picture.

‘The Arnolfini Wedding’ by Jan Van Eyck
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait

As part of teaching art history, I take the opportunity to bring the students into galleries in Dublin.  The guides tend to lead the tour with one voice- the guides voice. As an art teacher, I just want them to know you can walk into a gallery in any city, you do not have to pay, you can go in, see two pieces, and go back out again. With VTS and the three questions, it is a framework for them to use for looking at artwork, no matter where they are or what artwork they are looking at.

Can you recall a favourite VTS image discussion?

I have used VTS with all the year groups. However, I particularly remember a VTS discussion with a group of sixth years, at the end of the year, in May. We were finished the practical side of the preparation for the exam. With sixth years, you do not want to make anybody have to speak. It is fine if they don’t want to say anything.  However, in this session, there was one boy from China. He had so much to say about a particular image. He related it back to his own country. It was a painting, with a bright yellow palette and all the children depicted had these red neckerchiefs. The Irish children read them as the scouts, or being members of a group, or a club. This boy went in a completely different direction. He described that this is what it is like in China, in school. He talked about his own experience. He spoke for a few minutes and got a round of applause from the other students. A girl in the group said to him ‘in all the years that you have been in the school, that is the most, I’ve ever heard you say’.  So that is the kind of profound experience I remember coming from my VTS image discussions.

‘Mask Series No. 6’ by Zeng Fanzhi,
https://muse.union.edu/aah194-wi19/2019/01/30/zeng-fanzhi-mask-series-no-6/

How do you think VTS complements the Junior Cycle art curriculum?

In the new junior cycle art curriculum, student voice is very important.  It means stepping back and letting the student do the work, lead their learning process.  This does not mean that your job is easier. Within the structure of classroom-based assessment, a lot of reflecting, verbalizing and building the visual vocabulary for teachers and the students, is required.  The change is that you are putting the ownership for their learning and describing their learning process back on the student.  Therefore, you need to facilitate the classroom environment more in order to achieve that.

What we are all nervous about is that it this is difficult to assess. For students and parents it is difficult to understand this change in emphasis. I gave my students a VTS image discussion as a piece of homework to try out with their parents.  They took the framework and used it to look at any artwork or any piece of visual information with their family. The students were surprised with their parent’s observations and the conversations about the art work at home. I use it with my own family and it works very well!

How did Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder help you develop your VTS practice?

I really value that I have been involved in Permission to Wonder. As an art teacher in a school, you might be the only art teacher. You could be on your own, in your creative world.  You are so busy day to day with project work. It is amazing to step out of it with VTS and to have an opportunity to meet other educators-to look at artwork with them using a different format. It is really quite enlightening and refreshing. There are four of us educators from Dublin and we are all coming from completely different backgrounds – gallery, artist, primary school and secondary school. Being involved in our own Irish group was brilliant. We helped each other to explore our own context and look at theirs. I really enjoyed the collaboration and it was invigorating to explore art with others.

The training practicums were very well paced out. In the Beginners Practicum, you had the three questions. But you have to get them right, and in the right order, remember the exact wording, and that was tricky for me in the beginning.  It was also a challenge to learn to paraphrase accurately.  That requires a lot of skill. In the Advanced Practicum, I loved learning about linking and framing comments. How you, as facilitator, can connect comments and really build the learning in the group. I enjoyed the training and understand that it is also up to me to support my own practice and keep  motivated in using VTS.

What would you like to work on next in your VTS practice?

I did a VTS session with a society and politics class. None of these students were art students. We looked at images I selected specifically looking at politics and society – race, childhood issues, gender etc. VTS worked so well in this class. Students had so much to say and the images stimulated insightful conversations. I am interested in how VTS could be used in other subject areas and how I might help other teachers integrate VTS into their subjects in our school.

The Ark

Dates: 12 – 16 August 2019

The Ark, Dublin are delighted to be presenting this course for the fifth year in a row. This hands-on, creative course focuses on a visual arts approach to exploring narrative, literacy & other subjects.

This is a five day Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

The aim of the course is to enable participants to start the new school year with an enhanced tool box of skills and knowledge, in order to effectively deliver the visual arts curriculum in the classroom. Participants will be engaged ‘hands-on’ throughout this course so learning will be through doing. Working in teams and individually, you will cover a range of curriculum strands including drawing, painting, print, 3D construction, fabric and fibre.

A strong emphasis will be on building skills and confidence. The group will also explore how visual art can be used to engage with aspects of the English, SPHE, History and Maths curriculum, as well as to promote visual literacy approaches. School self-evaluation exercises will be incorporated as an integral part of the course.

This course will appeal to teachers of all levels of experience and will be facilitated by the visual arts and education specialist and founder of Art to Heart, Jole Bortoli. This is a continuing professional development opportunity not to be missed!

For further information and booking go to https://ark.ie/events/view/teachers-summer-course-a-visual-arts-approach

National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline Date: 12th July 2019

The National Gallery of Ireland this year are developing new resources and outreach programming, taking the Gallery off-site to schools across the country that may find it difficult to travel to Dublin. To help shape this programme, the Gallery will be forming a national network of teachers who will guide their research, planning and evaluation.

The Gallery are looking for teachers from across the country to be part of this network. They want the network to be as inclusive as possible, with every county represented, and a good mix of rural and urban, and primary, post-primary and special schools.

The network will primarily exist online, but each year we will hold programme-development workshops at the Gallery, where participants will help co-produce new programming. The Gallery also hope that members will host local events, helping to share learning and resources with their peers.

For further information and details on how to apply please go to www.nationalgallery.ie/schools/teacher-network

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 1 July – 5 July 2019

This CPD course offers a unique opportunity for primary school teachers to expand their artistic skill set in a national cultural institution.

Join facilitators Claire Hall and Sinéad Hall for this National Gallery of Ireland CPD course comprising a series of presentations focusing on the six strands of the primary school visual arts curriculum, followed by workshops in drawing, painting, print, fabric and fibre, construction and clay. The sessions will involve hands-on, practical activities, and lessons that can be used at all class levels, with direct references to related works of art in the Gallery’s collection.

The course will cover all strands and strand units of the visual arts curriculum; the elements of art; linkage and integration across the curriculum; and assessment and self-evaluation. The course will also focus on the centrality of looking and responding and process throughout the strands. Course attendees will participate in tours of the Gallery’s current exhibitions, and some workshops may take place in gallery rooms.

All attendees will receive an information pack detailing all that the Gallery has to offer primary schools. Produced by the National Gallery’s Education Department, the information pack will include advice on visiting galleries and cultural institutions with students; suggestions on how to introduce primary school children to art and art history; and details on how to access online resources.

The course fee covers all materials, handouts, equipment and supplies. All art work completed during the course may be photographed and/or taken home at the end of the course as a reference for classroom use.

Dates and time: Monday, 1 July – Friday, 5 July | 9.30 am – 2pm
Course Fee: €90.00
Max. number of participants: 25
Suitable for: Primary school teachers
For information and to book, please email: sineaddehal@gmail.com | claire.hall3838@gmail.com

For further information go to www.nationalgallery.ie/whats-on/teachers-cpd-course-art-primary-school-making-and-appreciation-skills 

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

The project was grounded by both Liselott and John’s backgrounds. This was informed firstly by exploring the cultural heritage of Sweden, particularly in relation to folktale and oral histories. John presented work on his own practice as a printmaker, children saw firsthand how a printmaker renders a copperplate or woodblock. A single print ‘Cave’ by Mamma Andersson became the stimulus, linking cross curriculuar themes such as geography, history, drama, literacy and maths. Participants engaged in multi-plate print processes, exploring the textural possibilities of relief printmaking. Responding to a site visit in Dunmore caves, pupils visually investigated geological formations, while researching the historical context of the cave in relation to folklore. A diorama became the backdrop to shadow play that was constructed over a number of sessions, echoing the interior space of the cave. Tapping into imagination participants played out theatrical scripts that responded to a series of narratives.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

John Busher, Artist

The project was developed over a number of sessions prior to the workshops beginning. The intention was to integrate numberacy and literacy, but also investigate the possibility of cross curricular activity. Following intital meetings it was decided to exlopre the cultural heritage of Sweden, the birthplace of class teacher Liselott. The project was developed in response to the activities; this usually involved a brief meeting following certain sessions to evaluate outcomes. Participants worked in small groups, where print stations were set up and amended to their needs. Liselott carried out research in between sessions with the group, children engaged in written activities that investigated folk tradition of Sweden. Other written activities responded to a site visit to Dunmore cave. There was a shared sense of balancing research with practical activity throughout the workshops with John.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

At the start of the project John introduced Mamma Anderson the print maker. We looked at her work both with John and outside of the workshop. The children learnt about her as an artist and we discussed her work in terms of themes, style, her use of colour etcThe children looked at Johns work as an artist and printmaker . We discussed where we see print in our environment, the children learnt to use ink and rollers by learning to monoprint outside the engagement with the artist. We also read folkstories. John had a book of Swedish folktales and in between the sessions we read those and discussed the theme, characters etc.

Before our trip to the caves we looked again at Mamma Anderson’s work and discussed the theme of caves. We talked about what a cave might smell like, feel like and look like. We picked out stories that featured caves such as We are going on a Bear Hunt. We talked about the different types of animals that could live in the caves. We looked at the caves on google maps to see where it was located and discussed the history of how the cave was found.

After the trip to Dunmore caves in Kilkenny, we reviewed what we had learnt about the caves and the children described the caves. We made a list of vocabulary associated with the caves and the children wrote a report on their visit and drew a diagram of the caves. We talked about how water can affect rocks and used the vocabulary -stalactites and stalagmites – to label the diagrams. At the end of the project the children had developed characters, which became shadow puppets. They had experience of reading scripts through using Readers Theatre and they discussed how they would create a script in groups for their characters.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

John Busher, Artist

As a practicing artist, it was a pleasure to engage the children in the investigative process that an artist often goes through. From gathering initial research, documenting work both written and visual, through to the various stages that sees an artwork come into fruition. The onsite visit to Dunmore Cave brought richness to the project; this could not be achieved by working in the classroom alone. Planning for the sessions were only ever one week in advance, using this approach meant that I was responding to conversations that would happen with children in the classroom. This process often mirrors how I might work in the studio, responding to work made that day. The idea for a diorama grew out of the initial print process of making a cave print and linking with the local environment. As a visual artist I had no experience in script writing, it was a wonderful experience to see how the children responded to work in written form. Under Liselott’s guidance, children explored an incredible range of narratives through pair work. It was exhilarating to witness the children’s awe in exploring this through shadow play.

Having very little fluent speaking Irish was challenging at times, as conversations were often difficult to follow. It did allow an exchange where the children were directing me somewhat, which allowed me to build art terms and vocabulary through Irish. Demonstrating was often most challenging, articulating the various art-making processes and linking this with the content of the work. As the project progressed I became more fluent in how I delivered the sessions, this was a rewarding process ultimately and I found myself learning more about the children I was working with. The success of the project meant that Liselott and I have continued to work on the project in the context of the AiE summer course delivered in partnership with Wexford and Kilkenny Education Centres. The project has become a template in how to achieve successful teacher / artist partnerships, and the importance of cultivating this special relationship.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

The timing of the workshops was a challenge. We started at the beginning of May and as a teacher this time until the end of the school year can be hectic. I played a supportive role to John in the classroom. John instructed the children and at the start I was trying to translate this into Irish as the children are in a gaelscoil. This was interrupting the flow of the workshop so we decided that I would give the children the vocabulary in the following days. This was time consuming too.

It was a successful project as the children engaged in it over 2 months. There were 8 sessions of face-to-face workshops with the artist. Having a theme that was capable of expanding into the different curricular areas was rewarding and enriching for the children. Investigating their own locality was really important and learning about the history and geography of the region deepened the learning experience for the children.

The project also had many challenges. The project was started in May and continued until the end of June. This time of the year as a teacher, we are juggling assessments, school trips and other end of year school activities. The workshop lasted 2 hours for each session. We had to adjust our timetable to suit the artist.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

John Busher, Artist

The project was exceptionally rich in terms of relating the working activities of a practicing artist. Children engaged in similar methodologies that artists would in their studio. Such as research, testing, exploring materials, reviewing and editing and traveling on site to gather visual research. The project demonstrated that children of any age could sustain their interest over a prolonged period of time. Each session I would bring a range of works in progress from the studio, often these were failed works other times they were pieces that I felt were successful. This process allowed a space where children felt it was possible to fail and work through their difficulties in the classroom, this was part of the natural process in art making. The children’s natural curiosity, their doubts, insecurity, highly charged energy and critical thinking are not too far from how an artist experiences the process of making art.It was a privilege to share this experience in the context of their classroom.

Liselott: The children had an experienced artist whose main passion is printmaking working with them for a sustained amount of time. This allowed a deeper engagement with the project. The children were able to build a relationship with the artist and secondly develop their own skills, language and work in a way that encouraged them to ask questions and not be afraid of making mistakes.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

John Busher, Artist

Integrating stimulating site visits into workshops as research has opened up a lot of possibilities regarding how participants engage with contemporary art. The practical aspect of artist research can be adapted successfully within the visual arts curriculum. The project also explored the similarities and differences between artists and teachers, and brought a more sensitive understanding regarding both roles. As an artist I am more familiar with facilitating as means of engaging children, this often involves demonstrating rather than direct instruction. Participating in the partnership has taught me a balance between direct instruction and demonstration. Artists engage children through inquiry based pedagogicalapproaches, as this method mirrors more closely how an artist might work. Having completed the residency I have found that there is a place for other pedagogicaltechniques such as scaffolding in the context of a workshop setting.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

Embracing a theme across a number of weeks allows a deeper engagement with both the theme and also a process. As a teacher there is pressure to move quickly through the curriculum to cover all processes and subjects. Allowing the children time to reflect and to experience a process in this case print over a number of weeks I saw how more capable the children had become in using the equipment and using the vocabulary to express themselves. The children were more confident and took more ownership of the process.

The Ark – Lucy Hill & Christina Macrae

Date: 28th March 2019

Join artist Lucy Hill, our inaugural John Coolahan Early Years Artist in Residence, and her residency mentor Dr. Christina Macrae from Manchester Metropolitan University to celebrate, reflect on and discuss their experiences together as Lucy’s residency draws to an end. The fascinating discussion will include illustrations of key moments and learnings during the residency, the mentoring process, as well as research and ideas in early years and visual arts practice more generally.

Thought-provoking for parents, preschool and primary teachers, artists, arts managers and anyone with an interest in art and children.

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/talk-for-grown-ups-a-year-of-early-years-visual-art

Christopher McCambridge is a Special Educational Needs teacher at St. Colman’s Primary School, Lambeg. St. Colman’s Primary is a mainstream school of 400 pupils with two learning support unit classes. Christopher is also an active member of the Belfast art scene. He co-founded the arts organisation Belfast Platform for the Arts (Platform Arts) in 2010, which continues to provide an exhibition space and studios for artists.

In 2016 Christopher and his Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership ‘Virtually There’ project. ‘A virtual artist in residence project which explores the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology’. (Orla Kenny, Creative Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership). Now in their 3rd year, artist John D’Arcy has been working collaboratively with Christopher and his class at St Colman’s P.S as virtual artist-in-residence. 

Away Day – Blog 4

2018 marked the completion of my 2nd Year working as part of the Kids’ Own, Virtually There project.  The two years have flown in and I have found that the pupils throughout those years have been given an enjoyable and unique experience. This project has also helped me to develop creatively as a teacher and an individual. This development was furthered through the ‘creative away day’ that the Kids’ Own organisation offered to all the teacher – artist groupings. Each teacher-artist grouping would be able to organise their own creative away allowing us the opportunity to re-charge our creative batteries, broaden our horizons and prepare for the next project year.

After much discussion, John D’Arcy (Artist) and I decided to take a day trip to Dublin to view a number of exhibitions that we both found of interest. These exhibitions included Land / Sea / Signal at RUA RED in Tallaght and ‘Prototypes’ by Doireann O’Malley, Rachel Maclean ’Just be yourself’ in The Hugh Lane gallery. The exhibitions involved the use of digital technology, an aspect that has been integral to our project.

The journey to Dublin provided us both with an opportunity to reflect on the project from the previous year. Discussing aspects such as the pacing of the individual elements of the project, aspects of planning, pupils’ enjoyment, as well as discussing what we felt worked well or could be improved. This time, especially outside of term time, was invaluable as it allowed us to discuss the project without any other distractions.

In Year 2, the central theme of our project was Hacking.  This word was the starting point from which all other ideas would develop from. I felt this worked particularly well as it meant we could develop ideas from this central theme, allowing ideas to either develop as stand-alone lesson or develop into their own mini-project . This flexible approach, gave me more confidence in allowing each idea to develop at its own pace, with the children developing and realising their ideas across a number of weeks. Thus, allowing for a greater insight into the work. This is an aspect which I hope we further refine, allowing the children to critically reflect on their workings within each session.

During our first two years working together, technology has played an important role within our projects. This year the use of apps had allowed the children to explore hacking in a variety of ways. In one of the mini-projects we focused on the ‘hacking of time’, exploring how we could speed up or slow down different movements from the mundane, the children completing work, to the more exciting, running a race. This mini-project was achieved through the app Hyper-lapse. I felt the variety and use of different apps had engaged the children. These apps were later used by the children to create a ‘coded film’ which the viewer was required to hack, using a code developed by the children during our sessions. Due to an interest in technology, I was interested in viewing these exhibitions in Dublin.

The exhibition, Land / Sea / Signal, was a group show featuring artists, Alan Butler, Gregory Chatonsky, John Gerrard, Nicolas Sassoon & Rick Silva and Santa France. The exhibition brought together these artists whose practices ‘mediated on the materiality of internet infrastructure and the complex socio-political conditions that are embedded within them.’The exhibition examined our modern day relationship with the internet, particularly how we ‘maintain, update and adjust our relationships … and reconfigure ourselves through technologies and with one another.

Image copyright artist Alan Butler - Land / Sea / Signal at Rua Red

Image copyright artist Alan Butler – Land / Sea / Signal at Rua Red

As with any exhibition, there were artworks which held my interest longer than others. In Land / Sea / Signal, the artist Alan Bulter piece was one of these. The artist documented the lives and experiences of the homeless … within the video game, Grand Theft Auto V. Upon first viewing I had initially mistaken these photographs as documenting real people in the outskirts of rundown cities. Once realising my error, I was taken aback by the uncanny resemblance to the real-life and how unfortunate circumstances can lead to these positions for people.

After exploring RUA RED, we moved on to the Hugh Lane gallery to view the exhibitions by Doireann O’Malley and Rachel Maclean.

Dorieann O’Malley’s exhibition Prototypes was a multi-screen film installation exploring ‘transgender studies, science fiction, bio politics and psychoanalysis, AI and experimental music. She skilfully ties these to phantoms of modernist utopias, epitomised by the post-war architecture of Berlin, which serves as a dreamlike scenography for the main, protagonists’ ghostly actions’ [Jury Statement, Edith Russ Haus fur Media Art Stipendium, 2016]

Some of the work of Doireann O’Malley was as a result of collaborative methodology, using a combination of CGI, film and Virtual Reality of interest. This was of interest to both John and I, as we have discussed the use of Virtual Reality as a line of enquire in Year 3 of our project.

Rachel Maclean’s exhibition ‘Just be yourself!’, also at the Hugh Lane gallery, was a series of video installations and digital artworks. Her work uses “satire to critique consumer desire, identities and power dynamics … she parodies fairy tales, children’s television programmes, advertising, internet videos and pop culture … combining her interests in role-play, costume and digital production in works of cinematic collage.

Image copyright Rachel Maclean - ‘Just be yourself!’, at the Hugh Lane gallery

Image copyright Rachel Maclean – ‘Just be yourself!’, at the Hugh Lane gallery

I would like to thank Kids’ Own and their funders for giving John and I the opportunity to organise this creative away day. It has provided us with the opportunity to discuss and critique our project work to date and allow us to view exhibitions that could influence our thinking for future ‘Virtually There’ projects.

Year 3 of our ‘Virtually There’ project is currently underway, and as documented in my previous post, we are exploring the theme of ‘Radio.’ We have developed our own radio identity, WECHO FM. Since my last post, the children have created their own DJ names, such as Smooth T, Aidan Big Shot, Jump Bam Sam and Charley KAPOW to name a few.  They have also used these names to design portraits, using a variety of different materials and techniques, which reflect their radio personalities.

As the project continues to grow and develop, the children are beginning to record talk shows, news stories, weather reports and create music and jingles, advertising WECHO FM and their own individual shows. At the end of the project, we intend to visit a local radio station, where we will have the opportunity to play our content to a live audience.

The ‘Virtually There’ project continues to allow the children the opportunity to express themselves artistically, as well as giving me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone and develop as a teacher.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Date: Saturday 2nd February, 10:00am to 12:30pm

Explore print-making during a studio workshop and enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition IMMA Collection: Freud Project, Gaze. IMMA guided tours for primary schools are focussing on this exhibition until May 2019.

Artist Rachel Tynan will lead this practical workshop during which primary teachers will discover multiple links to the visual art curriculum.

This workshop is free but on-line booking is essential. Places are limited and booking is on a first come, first served basis.

You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience of art-making.

Book your place: imma.ticketsolve.com/shows/873601916

Kids’ Own has published a brand new book by children experiencing homelessness. The book was launched in partnership with Focus Ireland on Friday 9th November, and offers a rich resource for teachers and schools to explore themes of social justice, children’s rights and SPHE topics. The book was developed by 15 children, aged 8–12, during the summer – through a creative process with writer Mary Branley and artist Maree Hensey –and includes a beautiful mixture of artwork, photography, poetry and personal stories.

To buy a copy, visit Kids’ Own’s website.

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

This project was Phase 2 of the Arts in Education Initiative – Exploring Teacher/Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD for Supporting & Enhancing Arts Education. The initiative comprises three phases and is being conducted using Action-Research methodology and principles.

It is a Department of Education and Skills initiative developed in response to the objectives outlined in the Charter. Vera McGrath (lead teacher) was nominated by Monaghan Education Centre and Claire Halpin (lead artist – visual artist) was nominated by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

From the outset we wanted the project to be very open and to really explore the partnership of the artist and teacher in the classroom and allow the class group to inform the direction the project would take. We slowed down our working processes and took time to discuss our creative work as the project developed. Our opening theme was the idea of place – Where is your place? What does your place mean to you?

We began working in drawing – mapping our journeys to school and home, blind drawings and detailed maps, gathering textures from our surroundings our physical space, talking about natural and manmade spaces and surrounding sounds. We visited Parallel Visions: Sculpture and Installation from the IMMA Collection at the High Lanes Gallery, Drogheda. Vera led the tour using an enquiry based approach with the group – What do you see? What do you see that makes you say that? It allowed the group to really explore the work and discuss its physical qualities, how it was made as well as the themes and ideas in the artworks.

Following on from this in the classroom, we explored paper as a construction material. We punctured, twisted, rolled, pleated, bent, folded, shaped, cut, adhered, fringed, knotted, crushed, scrunched, pinned, threaded, stapled, stuck, tore, layered, decorated and plaited different papers to test out how strong durable, sturdy, weight bearing and appropriate different weights, graded and textures of paper were for the creations that the participants undertook.

Over the next few weeks the group developed on these techniques and planned artworks that would reflect the idea of place – where is your special place? As the plans developed we evaluated the ideas and themes in group critique sessions. We talked about where these art works would be placed in the real world – context and scale. We looked at other artist work discussing scale and space. All the time developing the groups language skills in discussing art and critical thinking and critical reflection.

In keeping the emphasis on the openness of the project we allowed the group to select whatever materials they would like to work with and developed their techniques and creative processes and potential in working with these materials to create their artworks. We worked on these pieces over a number of weeks as the group explored and learned the techniques of the materials they had selected to work with and refined and developed their individual artworks.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Claire Halpin, Artist 

The group’s creativity, imagination and hard work was overwhelming. The individuality of their work and their articulation of their work and their individual creative processes was incredible. They were really focused and concentrated on the project, had a strong sense of ownership of the project and developed confidence in their skills and creativity. It was a new experience for them to work in this way, and they were challenged by this approach as they are more accustomed to direct instructions and making specific artworks.

I feel the trust of myself and Vera in the partnership, in each other and in the group allowed for these outcomes to emerge. We worked very well together – each taking a lead where appropriate and relevant and within this learned a lot about each other’s working processes and language around discussing art and our own individual approaches and practice. The project entailed a lot of planning on a weekly basis and also each week we would spend time evaluating and working out where to go next with the group, analysing their responses to each session.

The group was unique in that they were a newly-formed group for the project, comprising 13 children from learning support, encompassing a spectrum of students with different needs including the academically gifted, dyslexic/ dyspraxic students and students in the autistic spectrum. Being a small group, we were afforded the luxury of allowing the children to work in their chosen medium. This was challenging for us time-wise as we had to teach each child the practical skills and techniques of working in their chosen material. It also allowed us as teacher and artist to take chances with the project and try out this approach and to develop a trust in each other and the group. In so doing, the group could see that we did not always know the answers but would figure it out, which is inherent to creativity and being an artist. This I feel allowed the children to see themselves as artists creating individual unique artworks that were personal to them. A key part of this was the regular group discussions evaluating their own work and the creative processes of the project.

I learnt a huge amount about slowing down – really taking time to allow the artworks to develop and discussing these developments throughout. The enquiry-based approach to the exhibition visit for me was a learning curve around discussing artworks and how this approach creates really strong memories of the artworks and the experience of looking at art for the participants. These aspects are something that I will bring with me from the fantastic experience of working in this partnership project. The commitment to the project and the partnership from the teacher and the class group was critical to the process and made it a really strong project, allowing for the positive creative outcomes and learning experience.

Vera McGarth, Teacher 

I concur with all the observations made by Claire above. I was very excited and amazed by the ability of these young students to articulate their ideas and how creative they were in their approach to realising them through visual art materials. The whole experience created a wonderful bond among us all, myself Claire and the children, all of whom I now see in a different light. Thus the partnership blossomed from being a teacher-artist partnership to being a children/ artist/ teacher venture during which roles were interchanged regularly. Often Claire and I had to be so open to learning from and about the children with whom we were working. The process was wonderfully experimental, and Claire and I allowed the direction of the project to emerge rather than plan it rigidly from start to finish. We de-emphasised the finished product and kept our focus entirely on process, regularly gathering the children around to reflect on how they were progressing and what thoughts, insights and understandings were emerging.

Like Claire, I found the greatest challenge for me was time management, particularly as we gave full reign to the students in the selection of materials for their final piece. I also learned to slow down- to give the process the time it needs and deserves and to recognise the value of doing this, something which often escapes teachers pressurised by meeting targets, expectations and completing curricula and governed by timetables. Personally I learned so much from Claire who brought the outside world into our classroom and taught me to think beyond and above the classroom, the school and the curriculum.

The link to our website posted below is critical to get a flavour of the nature of this project. The learning outcomesof the work done by Claire and myself in partnership will now be translated into two summer courses to be run in Summer 2015for primary teachers and artists from different disciplines in two venues in the North-East and North-Dublin regions. Claire and I will lead these courses and bring the rich learning and insights we have gained to help nurture new partnerships between artists and teachers so that many more of the children in our primary schools can enjoy and benefit from the privilege of working in such a holistic, creative, intellectual, self-motivated and engaging manner. Moreover we hope that primary teachers will come to understand, as we now do the value of working in this way and that artists in our communities will see the wonderful insights, knowledge and skills they have to offer the world of education and how much they have to gain in becoming involved.

 

The Ark

Dates: 13 Aug – 17 Aug 2018

Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

Over five days this hands-on, creative course at The Ark, Dublin focuses on a visual arts approach to exploring narrative, literacy & other subjects.

The aim of the course is to enable participants to start the new school year with an enhanced tool box of skills and knowledge, in order to effectively deliver the visual arts curriculum in the classroom. Participants will be engaged ‘hands-on’ throughout this course so learning will be through doing. Working in teams and individually, you will cover a range of curriculum strands including drawing, painting, print, 3D construction, fabric and fibre.

A strong emphasis will be on building skills and confidence. The group will also explore how visual art can be used to engage with aspects of the English, SPHE, History and Maths curriculum, as well as to promote visual literacy approaches. School self-evaluation exercises will be incorporated as an integral part of the course.

This course will appeal to teachers of all levels of experience and will be facilitated by the visual arts and education specialist and founder of Art to Heart, Jole Bortoli. This is a continuing professional development opportunity not to be missed!

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-summer-course-a-visual-arts-approach

The Hunt Museum

Date: 7th April, 2018 

In conjunction with the ATAI, The Hunt Museum and Limerick Printmakers are offering art teachers a full day CPD in drawing and printing.

The morning session at The Hunt Museum will be led by artist Sam Walsh, whose exhibition The Segment & Apple Drawings is currently on display. Sam will deliver two demonstrations; the first will incorporate nine different drawing techniques. The second will focus specifically on cross-hatching and its ability to create texture, form and value. Teachers will then experiment with these techniques to create their own  drawings of objects from the collection.

After lunch tutors at Limerick Printmakers will introduce teachers to the printing processes of drypoint and chine-collé. With their guidance teachers will review the suitability of their drawings for these media.

This CPD will enable art teachers to plan schemes in print making for Junior and  Senior Cycle students, as well as providing them with a new outlet to express their own creativity and to develop new technical skills.

Booking is essential. ATAI membership number required.

For more information go to www.huntmuseum.com or email education@huntmuseum.com.

 

Price: Free to ATAI members or €40 for                 non-member. Includes all materials.                    Lunch not supplied

The Arts in Education Portal editorial team have begun visiting sites of the recipients of our Documentation Award.

Earlier this month, we visited St Ibar’s National School, in Castlebridge, Wexford where artist Clare Breen has been working since October 2017 with 3rd and 5th classes. Each Wednesday she has worked in 2 sessions, responding to the work of 10 different international artists, including her own. The project is titled Breadfellows’ Chats with the Living Arts Project. The Living Arts Project was established in 2013 as a long-term visual arts education scheme, supporting the existing partnership between Wexford Arts Centre and the Arts Department of Wexford County Council.

The question “what does an artist do?” is at the center of this project. Breen selected 10 artists whose work is very diverse, and she has introduced the children to as wide a spectrum as possible of contemporary material processes. They have worked with painting, collage, sculpture, performance and the body, textiles, writing, film, photography, ceramics and sound. It was also important to Breen that the activities would cover the 3rd and 5th class art curriculum during the weekly sessions.

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In week one the children made tunics to wear each week to protect their clothes. The tunics are painted with images responding to the question

If you were not a human, what would you like to be?

This could be an animal or an object, an alien or a monster, anything you can think of, but it should reflect some of your best qualities. (If this question is very difficult you can ask your friends for some help!)

This question was formulated as an alternative introduction that is not based on nationality, age, gender etc. to leave space for improvisation, allowing all to introduce themselves on their own terms. Working collaboratively, the children drew around one another while lying on the ground to find their shape; the traced figure became the outline for a tunic. Each child then painted on the tunic’s ‘tummy’ the animal/ object/ monster/ alien they had selected to wear over their uniform for the coming weeks.

The accompanying photos show the children in their tunics working on a painting project responding to the work of artist Sarah de Wilde.

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Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

We have been developing the Creative Generations Arts-in-Education programme over the last four years, and in 2017 we had an opportunity to expand our engagement with a school through a longer term residency. This gave us the chance to make a deeper impact on the students’ learning and awareness of contemporary art. Working with inner city schools in Dublin is part of our remit as a city centre gallery and studio space – so Synge Street was a suitable partner school. This programme is centred around a residency format and creating a space for professional artists to bring their art practice into a school setting; sharing skills, experience and concepts of what contemporary arts practice is today.

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

The residency took the form of six sessions in Synge Street Secondary School where I worked together with the teacher and the transition year students on designing and constructing a hang out space for the students to use in their spare time. The goal of these sessions was to think about how to transform the spaces we use and, through some basic construction or alterations, make them more suitable to our needs. Taking their school as the space where they spend most of their time, we looked at the influential work of future thinking architects and artists like Paolo Soleri, Superstudio, Andrea Zittel and N55 as a form of inspiration for our project. From this we then created a sculptural environment for their library.

Student S

Ms Wright brought us to Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, we met Andreas Kindler and Jean and they showed us around the building. Andreas told us what he does and how he works with light. He said he’ll come to the school and do some kind of project together.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Temple Bar Galleries approached our school with the idea of an artist residency, working with students/schools from the local area. Our students began working with Andreas Kindler von Knobloch under the Creative Generations Education Programme. Creative Generations is generously funded by Central Bank of Ireland. The students worked collaboratively to create a new artwork that engaged with the architectural landscape of our school and one that created a special space for the TY students.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The residency started with students visiting Andreas in his TBG+S Studio to see where he works, and get an insight into his methods, motivations and inspirations as an arts practitioner. It was from here that a relationship was developed, which continued in the school, where Andreas shared with students the main drivers in his work, and together the artist and students set about making a collaborative piece which incorporated some of these themes and discussions.

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

For our first session we worked with Plato’s five basic geometric forms and used them as inspiration in order to come up with a design. Working in groups the students made cardboard models using the basic principles of the platonic solids which are forms made out of equilateral facets. We then chose the most successful model as the basic plan for the larger final structure. Using basic tools and materials such as hammers, drills, nails, screws, cable ties, plywood and 2×1 lengths of wood, we built a structure based on the geometry of the equilateral triangle. Through this building process the students learnt some of the skills that can then be applied in order to build almost any small structure.

Student H

Andreas gave us a powerpoint presentation to inspire us and give us an idea of what he planned to do with us. We all then made a model of the structure we planned to make using cardboard. After deciding on a structure, we began making it using wooden triangles, nails, screws and other materials.

Student S

Andreas gave us a powerpoint presentation and told us how we can mess around with triangles to make a shape of artists and architecture that inspire him.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Firstly the group visited Andreas in his work space in Temple Bar Galleries. For some this was a first experience of meeting a working artist, seeing their workspace and even visiting a gallery space which was an amazing experience in itself. From there, after seeing some of Andreas’s work, he came to visit our school and the creative conversation began within the group. Jean facilitated and guided the conversation within the group which kept things on task. The students gave Andreas and Jean a tour of the school and started the selection process of creating a space for themselves. Giving the ownership and creative discussion over to the students was very empowering to them and it also pushed their maturity and problem solving skills. The students and myself loved the collaborative feel to this project from start to finish.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

For me it was really exciting to be able to share my practice with this group of students and to work together with them to create an interesting new structure. The greatest challenge was organising the sessions in a way that there were enough tasks and tools for everyone. It was a large group of students and at times it was difficult to keep them all engaged. Our first attempt at the larger structure failed. One of the successes of the project was showing them how to learn from that failure and use it as a way of stepping forward instead of a setback.

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The collaborative nature of Andreas’s practice, coupled with his strong technical skills and methodologies, meant he was very suitable for the residency format. The students learnt a great deal from him, in all sorts of ways. They learned practical and technical methods but also visualisation, problem solving and perseverance, along with the teamwork aspect of constructing as a group on a large scale.

 

Student K

Building the structure we thought about was very challenging cause it’s not a small structure – it’s huge and we need a lot of materials to make it work. We failed once and the structure fell cause it wasn’t strong enough so we tried again and the second time we succeeded and it was a successful teaming up with everyone.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Like every creative project it is going to run into problems and this project hit a slump on weeks 3–4 and I strongly feel that was where the greatest learning was for the students and also in the running of this programme looking forward. I have to commend Andreas and Jean for how they dealt with the loss of interest on the students’ part. They pulled the project back to the discussion and design stage and helped / guided the TY students to see a way through this slump.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

One of the most significant parts of the project for me was to be able to share my interest and passion for innovative architectural design and see the students respond so positively to it. They really took to some of the ideas and there were some really ambitious plans suggested in the planning stages that in the end were not feasible in the time that we had. The support structures that were in place for me to carry out this residency were essential. If it had not been for Jean Mann and for the support offered by the school and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios it would have been a much more difficult experience.

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

For me the residency demonstrated the possibilities that can occur if an artist is given free reign to bring their practice into the classroom, and allow students to become active participants in the process of art making.

Student D

I really enjoyed working with the team on such a big project that was on such a large scale.

Student K

The successful teamwork we did was worth sharing and the enjoyment I felt doing art through building something.

 

Student J

I enjoyed working with the drills and hammer.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

This was a project that Synge St students would not have been able to experience due to its sheer size and the construction skill set involved. The students absolutely loved working with Andreas and using all the ‘man tools’ as they referred to them. This project encapsulates the hands-on approach that Synge Street wanted the TY students to experience. Everything they were learning from their books, measurements in maths, topics from science class to communication skills from English class were all played out during their weekly sessions in a practical manor on this project.

This was a fantastic learning experience for both my students and myself. The TY students are very proud of their seating pod which has found its home in our school library. There was a huge amount of creative learning involved in this project with Andreas showing some of the lads how the tools worked for the construction process! Life skill learning was paramount in this project and as the coordinator, this was exactly what I was looking for, for my students. It is amazing to even watch back over the short film and see the students’ confidence grew.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

Working collectively is a big part of my practice. This project was very useful for me to see how I might be able to extend that collaborative element to a wider group of people. Since that project I have gone on to make structures that are assembled collaboratively with large groups of people which in part came from this experience.

Student D

My view of art has changed because up until now I thought of art as a much more individual thing to do, but not on bigger projects where everyone can use teamwork and work together.

Student F

My view of art has changed because I didn’t think that what we were doing was a piece of art until the end of the project.

Student S

I thought it was impossible to build something like that, but the result told me that I’m capable of developing my ideas and make it happen.

Student A

I really enjoyed the freedom we got from doing.

Student H

I associated art with picture and drawings and this gave me the knowledge that art can take any form.

Student K

At first, I thought Art was boring but when we did this project I enjoyed everything that is part of the project – and it’s all about art!

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

From working on this project my own teaching has taken on an edgier element. I’m not afraid of bigger projects and to hand over ownership to my students and trust that they will find a solution with maybe less input from me! I have probably learned to trust the students more and trust their creativity.

20180125_220635_edit2Christopher McCambridge is a Special Educational Needs teacher at St. Colman’s Primary School, Lambeg. St. Colman’s Primary is a mainstream school of 400 pupils with two learning support unit classes. Christopher is also an active member of the Belfast art scene. He co-founded the arts organisation Belfast Platform for the Arts (Platform Arts) in 2010, which continues to provide an exhibition space and studios for artists.

Virtually There Year 1 – Blog 1

In September 2016, my Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Virtually there project. The Virtually there project is an innovative virtual artist in residence project … exploring the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology (Orla Kenny, Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership).

Our class were paired with artist, performer and composer, John D’Arcy. John’s work focuses on the use of sound and voice in intermedia art events. As a primary school teacher, teaching children with special education needs, the art mediums that I tend to explore within the curriculum include drawing, painting, ceramics, printing and 3-D sculpture. The use of sound as an art form or event, outside of musical lessons and choir, was an intriguing concept that I was eager to engage with.

Throughout the course of the fourteen weeks the pupils explored natural and man-made sounds in a variety of different environments and locations. Initial sound explorations focused on our school environment and ranged from birds chirping, the wind howling to high-heel shoes walking down the corridor or the buzzing of the whiteboard and the hum of the lights. These discussions concentrated on getting the children to describe the sounds they heard and attempt to recreate them using their voice. Throughout the sessions the children began to show greater confidence and clarity when describing different sounds.

“How could you tell it that the sound was high-heel shoes? Can you describe the sound?

“It went clip clop … the sound was spaced apart … the sound was short and repeated … it was getting quieter as the woman walked down the corridor … it sounded like my Mum’s shoes in the kitchen.”

As the sessions progressed, John began to ask the children to interpret the sounds we could hear as drawings. He taught the children to understand the concept that a drawing of lines, symbols or both can represent a sound, an abstract idea that the children loved because it frees them from trying to make a realistic drawing.  After a visit to the Belfast Zoo, John asked the children to interpret the animal sounds that they heard and recorded through drawings.

He discussed with the class, what might the sound of an animal or bird look like?

The parrots talking resembled a curved line to Kevin because the ‘sound went from low to high and it was a short sound’.

Daniel drew a series of circles of different sizes joined by lines for the sound of the parrots. The sounds ‘went from loud to quiet … it was like the parrots were talking to each other.’

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Caitlin – Monkey

“I was imagining the monkey making ‘oh, oh’ sounds, that is why I picked an O [to draw]. I drew a line because it was joining the sound together. I the red sound was an angry sound and the purple sound was a lower sound

Oscar – Parrots

“I drew this shape because it looked like a parrot’s beak. The triangle is getting bigger as the sound is getting louder and angrier.”

The project continued to evolve developing drawings and sounds into graphic scores, which would later be performed and recorded by the children as an abstract musical performance pieces. The children’s confidence grew as they began to interpret drawings that John had given them as sounds. The children were then able to use the sound recording app Keezy, to record eight sounds and arrange them into an abstract sound piece or follow a graphic score that John had arranged. Throughout the project it was a delight to see children that were initially reluctant to take part in the performances and recordings began to grow in confidence and express themselves through sound, drawing and performance as well as being able to articulate their thoughts and descriptions with greater clarity.

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We have now entered into the second year of working within the Kids’ own project. John and myself are continuing to explore art mediums, that as a class teacher I would have been reluctant to try without his assistance. The first year and a half has been an extremely worthwhile experience not only for myself, but more importantly for the children in my class.

The Ark

Date: 6th – 22nd March 2018

In Me & The City your class will discover and explore how a city is planned, created and developed. Working with artist Jole Bortoli, they will learn how architects work and look at artists who have created landmark sculptures and colourful big-scale street art.

On arrival your class will visit The Ark’s gallery, which will be full of displays that will explore the structure of cities, their architecture and diverse habitats. You will see plans that show the design process of urban spaces as well as architectural drawings and sketchbooks, photographs and 3D models. Inspired by what they have seen, the class will then take part in a practical mixed media workshop led by artist Jole Bortoli.

Me & The City is an ideal opportunity to explore the Looking and Responding unit of the Visual Arts curriculum and the workshop is strongly linked with the Construction, Fabric and Fibre, Drawing and Paint and Colour strands.

The workshop also has strong linkage with other curricula including Geography (in particular the Human Environments strand), Science, Mathematics and SPHE.

6th – 22nd March (Tue – Fri) at 10.15am & 12.15pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/schools-me-the-city

blue_mug2016Julie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Blog 4

In my final blog I would like to describe my response to an invitation to lead a workshop.

I have been asked to focus on the interaction between the identities of maker and educator…

exciting!

and to begin by submitting a 50 word blurb for the workshop

– challenging! 

Settling in to task I find that I am a little ill at ease with the label, educator. Learning in arts practice comes about from the creative encounter, and the excitement of discovery, we all know that even when a ‘discovery’ has been made a thousand times before by others our own personal experience is the vital thing. So, by setting a path and then looking for traces, following these and generating some excitement about where they might lead, I feel more like a Companion tracker than ‘educator’: we find our own routes of discovery in the world about us.

The richness of arts practice means that discoveries may be found in just about anything: the way a particular material behaves, or by becoming aware of a new sensitivity to sound or colour, or in the places a mind might wander while creating a rhythm with a lump of charcoal. And in the education setting, where there is a wealth and breadth of experience, sharing these discoveries with others is a particular pleasure which doesn’t happen in the studio.

Often in the education setting a theme is superimposed onto the art process, this theme might be drawn from with the school curriculum. So for example one might begin with a broad parameter called “Ecology.” We look for a jumping off point and so we may begin by a brainstorming activity – perhaps the naming of all of the plants we know, then perhaps by making a collection of indigenous species of plants – the way one might approach the creation of this collection is diverse and this approach will often set the methodology for the project.

MAKER

When I am alone, in studio I have my radio tuned, usually to Lyric FM, it may be day or night, music and light discretely setting mood and contributing to context. The starting point for work is incidental to me, and the farther it is from any kind of reasoning, or logic, the better. The first mark in the void, needs to be unattached, innocent. Throw up a coin and watch it land. After that there is something to respond to. This initial mark is like a lodestone attracting whatever is buzzing in the air, it expands the possibilities of the moment.

Work becomes a series of acts, of making and responding of adjusting and reinterpreting, slipped in with memory and carried out with a heightened sensitivity to coincidence and connection. The work evolves, parts are discarded, parts are advanced, the whole becoming gradually orchestrated into some edited, arrived at, Thing/Series of Things. If this all sounds rather vague perhaps it is in this part, a conjuring; a cloud of energy seeking form. A theme will arise midway through a project, the beginnings are tentative, arbitrary and blind. The way is felt.

(EDUCATOR)//TRACKER

One of the  privileges of working in education settings is to be working with the curiosity of young collaborators. Collaborators, in addition to being creators in their own right, contribute much to my practice, becoming part mirror, part joker and part external eye on process. It is this working in tandem that allows flow and mutual enrichment between my practice and the project’s unfolding. Feeling my own way in the dark I am able to see more clearly what others do with the same criteria, what gets thrown up: Whatever the seekers find, and how they communicate their findings will lead us deeper into the project, and into the next phase. It is in the observation of this process that reflection becomes a driving force.

I try to encourage a commentary from participants. The voicing of observations aired during the making process are witness to a wider sensibility. When a maker becomes commentator on the work both commentator and audience are led into an observational position that opens up a reflective dimension. Process becomes foregrounded, motivations become more clear, particular sensitivities and attractions are voiced and often more subtle and unusual connections are made between image, outcome and intention.

A drawing of a dandelion might lead to a conversation about yellow, or sunshine, first experiences of the bitter sap staining hands, folkloric warnings about bed wetting or other knowledge latent within the imaginations of a group of participants. A conversation about a dandelion may begin with its name – what a strange name this flower has! We might research and find that the name is middle English and comes from French dent-de-lion, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’ that’s another image straight away. Discussions might find other routes, the gardener’s phrase that “a weed is a plant out of place” may throw up extended conversations about migration and belonging. We could think of dandelion seasons, perhaps about how a dandelion might support an ecology.  An observational drawing of a dandelion before such a discursive process will be very different from a drawing from the imagination, made after these wanderings (and this is just me thinking aloud).

By recording this commentary we deepen and extend the reflective process. The recording of those observations involves an echoing and a a translation, from an initial drawing, to spoken word to written report, photograph or other kind of document. The choice of media for documentation influences this enquiry. It’s fun to play with different recording methods. …the pressing of the flower, the crushing and collection of sap, the particular material properties and behaviours of dandelion seed heads, stories about dandelion experiences, the folklore of a dandelion, actions with a dandelion.

Translation from one media to another will involve further images, references, words, actions or sounds, and will also throw up different kinds of problems, seeking creative solutions, all of which will augment and colour the work leading it on to new places. Curiosity will drive this process along. I try to remember the voice, I scribble things down on scraps of paper, transferring them later to a notebook. I find that multiple translations help my process, a hasty scribble is wildly different from a concentrated drawing out of an idea, but each has their own qualities.  I use notebooks for ideas that I might try out in studio and I use blogging as a kind of scrapbook for documentation and references to other realms, a blog post might include a bit of research arising from the work in progress, it may be a fragment of video, a link to another artist’s work, something I am reading about, a piece of music, or a random image or connection found online.

Blogging is a perfect space for holding these observations and documenting the process. It is a shared space. Maker, student and teacher can refer to the observations held in the blog, an audio visual record of the territory, a map.

I arrive at my wording for the blurb:

WORKSHOP

The idea is a spark – the spark can be as volatile or as contained as you decide. There will be some parameters which will guide the explorations. Shared knowledge is rich, we will tap into this. The imagination is wild and we will allow this to roam. Other peoples’ ideas are always interesting. Roaming between our own perception, responses to peer work and free expression we will explore the territory together. (71 words)

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: January to March 2018

From Frankenstein to the Hulk, Shrek to Beauty and the Beast, monsters who seem to be really frightening often turn out to be misunderstood. This Spring, the Glucksman presents a monster project that invites schools, community groups and children living in Direct Provision to take over the museum with fabulous creatures of their own making. In Monsters in the Museum workshops, participating children will explore ideas of difference and respect, working collaboratively to create artworks for an exhibition that will take over all of Gallery 1. The renowned illustrator Chris Judge will visit the Glucksman to see all the monster artworks on display and to launch the exhibition with a special event for participating children.

If your school or community group would like to get involved in Monsters in the Museum, please email education@glucksman.org.

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: 10am -1pm, Saturday 24th February, 2018

Art can help us understand and address difficult issues. Artists have long used visual methods of expression to consider and interrogate societal problems such as homelessness and discrimination. In this masterclass, teachers will investigate ways to engage their students in artistic processes that creatively explore global and local challenges. Join curator Tadhg Crowley and artist Cassandra Eustace to look at projects about art and social change that can be re-imagined in your classroom.

€25. Booking required.

For more information go to www.glucksman.org.

To book go to Eventbrite

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Our project began by exploring self-portraits. It wasn’t long before this led us to the realisation that many of the pupils lacked confidence and self-esteem. We decided to try and tackle this through a creative avenue and to link in with SPHE. The pupils used a kaleidoscope camera to take unique pictures of themselves. From there we looked at describing words for ourselves and our peers. The pupils chose their favourite word and it was carved into their self-portrait. They then placed cellophane behind the word to make it stand out. All the pupils’ portraits were suspended from a grid system Helen had created in the classroom which we added to over the course of the year. The installation was very effective and it helped create a very positive atmosphere in the classroom. We also did a printing workshop. The children designed their own printing plate and they got to use a real printing press which was so exciting for them. As the materials Helen had provided were such good quality, the prints turned out beautifully and the pupils were so proud of their work.

Helen Barry, Artist

Our project grew from a week long Training of Trainers Programme, Summer 2016. A unique initiative with the Association of Teachers’/Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI), funded by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG)/Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DAHRRGA) that supports the Teacher-Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD – 22 artists nominated by arts organisations, and in my case it was IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and 22 teachers representing Education Centres nationwide. In our partnership the organisations were IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and Dublin West Education Centre.

During the week long Training of Trainers programme we had time to discuss and plan potential ideas that would link naturally to the curriculum. Mary had had this particular class in the earlier stage of their primary school education so she knew the girls quite well. As an artist I try to link the theme to areas of my own practice. A key component of my own inquiry is faith and belief, that I was keen to explore as most of them would be participating in a holy sacrament during their final year of primary school. As with many potential themes and ideas these are quickly abandoned when I actually meet the class and get to know the group

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Helen began by meeting the class and getting a feel for where their interests lay. She planned a lovely introductory session where the pupils got to know her. By the end of session one, the students felt at ease and were very excited about where the project would lead. Myself and Helen liaised with each other and were able to link our project into the curriculum. As it’s so overloaded, it was a great help to be able to integrate in such a creative manner. We initially decided to link in with SPHE in a bid to help build on the pupils’ confidence – a great bonus for pre-teen girls.

Helen Barry, Artist

The time in the summer had provided Mary and I with a good understanding of how we work and most importantly gave us an understanding of each other’s personalities. In my experience it is crucial for a successful artist in residence that the interaction between the artist and teacher is mutually respectful of each other’s professional practice. In this particular incidence it was imperative that I followed Mary’s knowledge of the class. It was evident on my initial meeting of the class that their confidence and self esteem seemed particularly low throughout the whole class. Mary and I had similar aesthetic tastes and though Mary had at times little confidence in her own artistic abilities her enjoyment, enthusiasm and new skills embraced everything we did and the children followed suit.

After my initial meeting with the class Mary and I were able to re-plan a creative programme that centred on building self-esteem that would grow throughout the year with the children.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I learned so much from this experience and overall it was incredibly positive and rewarding for both myself as a teacher and the pupils. By the end, I felt much more confident in teaching the various art forms that we had explored. The pupils grew in confidence in their abilities and were so proud of the work that they had created.

My only challenge was in accepting the importance of, in a sense, allowing the project lead itself. Each week or so, we would re-evaluate and decide where we would be taken, either by something that the pupils spoke about/ enjoyed doing or something that struck us as professionals. As teachers, we tend to be quite regimented regarding our planning and we like to know what we’ll be doing weeks in advance, so it was lovely to allow the creativity to take over and to allow the pupils to play a major part in deciding what we would do.

Helen Barry, Artist

I really enjoyed working on this project and watching it grow and develop in parallel with the children’s growth in confidence and self-esteem. The project really benefited from the time provided for the teacher and artist to get to know each other. The main challenge was parking my specific idea at the classroom door.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

We created a really wonderful installation. It began with the installation of our portraits but that was just the beginning of a piece of work that we added to again and again as the year went on. It really stressed for me the importance of the process as opposed to the product. I was also stuck by how effective it can be to allow simple conversations with the pupils’ guide where a project goes. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can pick up on so much which will bring the project to a place that the children are interested in and will take so much pride in.

Helen Barry, Artist

The dynamic of every class is different and even if the artist can see a potential project that has strong links to his or her own studio enquiry it is imperative to pause and understand where the teacher and class are at. I can honestly say that the children led the direction of the project and enjoyed allowing it to go somewhere that I had to loosen my control of.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I have become much better at not being so fixated on a plan and have learned to accept that when working on a long-term project, there are bound to be changes and that’s ok. I have learned from Helen that trial and error is all part of the creative process. It’s great for the children to see and experience this too. I’ve become better able to step out of my comfort zone as a result of working with Helen. It was a fantastic opportunity, one that I was so glad to have had the chance to participate in.

Helen Barry, Artist

I spend more time listening to the teacher before overloading them with ideas.

 

Jean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, Jean Tormeyevents and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London. 

Blog 4: Interview with Assistant Curator Lucy McDonald

In my final blog post I’d like to focus on the most recent addition to Tate’s Early Years and Families’ programme offer – Under 5s Explore the Gallery – an artist-led, monthly event for under 5s and their families held in the collection galleries of Tate Britain. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/workshop/under-fives-explore-gallery.

To introduce another voice to this series of blogs, I asked Assistant Curator Lucy McDonald [1] (the lead curator on the under 5s programme strand) to reflect on her involvement in the development of this programme.

Where did the idea for ‘Under 5s Explore the Gallery’ come from?


The impetus came from an institutional objective to increase the family offer at Tate Britain – to improve attendance, but also visibility of this audience. It felt very important for the sessions to be held in the galleries – openly exploring the spaces and artworks as opposed to out of sight in a studio space. The presence of other gallery visitors in the sessions supports the building of families’ confidence to find their own individual way of being in the gallery as a family.



What are the key elements of this programme for you?


Key elements include the role of the artist, who are briefed carefully about their position in the sessions and invited to find ways of supporting families’ journeys through the galleries. Within this, children are encouraged to lead – deciding what to look at, where to go and setting the pace. The artist shares ideas they are exploring in their own practice to provide strategies that families can use to experience the spaces and artworks in their own way. These strategies can include, but are not exclusive to, ways of looking, ideas to promote discussion about art and/ or encourage physical exploration of the galleries. This is usually done with a selected range of materials that are introduced at carefully considered moments.

The structuring of the sessions is also key. Being in and moving around the galleries is core to the programme, so limiting the number of visitors that can join is important. Maximum group size is 30 including adults, ensuring the sessions do not become overwhelming for the participants or other visitors. This works towards the families being integrated into the everyday landscape of the gallery, so it doesn’t feel like a ‘special event’ as such, and families can feel empowered to return independently. The structure includes careful consideration of timing and pace, with the two hour duration allowing a relaxed, unrushed atmosphere.

Another key aspect of the programme is having a dedicated space to gather for the introduction, where the tone and some key ideas are first introduced. This space also acts as a place to return to during the sessions should families need to, as well as somewhere to re-group at the end to reflect on what has happened – encouraging families to recognise the learning that has taken place.

Reflection is core to Under 5s Explore, and it is encouraged to take place during the session and at the end, where families are invited to consider what is happening and what it means for them. Participants have access to digital cameras, where they can capture what they notice or something that happens within their family unit that they feel is of value. Images are projected at the end of the session, and families are invited to observe and chat about what they and other families notice, giving value to what they have done and learning further ways of exploring the gallery from other families.



What kind of artists’ practices are you interested in exploring, and how have artists used their practices to facilitate activity?

I am interested in practices that encourage a gentle approach to exploring new ideas, and artists that are skilled in supporting families to develop an understanding of artworks on their own terms – so that sessions are accessible to all visitors including new ones. For me, artists who have been particularly successful in facilitating the sessions in the past are those who are open to seeing them as a series of experiments or possibilities, and are confident in allowing unexpected happenings to unfold and emerge.

What has been the audience response to this event?

It has been really positive, with parents and carers reporting a real shortage of gallery/ museum programme specifically for this age group, especially ones that encourage children to lead and value the unpredictability they can bring to these environments. Through interviews with families during the first few months of the programme, I discovered that many have preconceptions about Tate Britain being less welcoming of families than Tate Modern, and less appropriate for under fives in particular. Happily, feedback gathered indicates that families greatly value the sessions, enjoy experiencing the galleries together and show an interest in returning.

How do you think this strand might develop in future?

I have been particularly struck by how families (especially young children) very intrinsically and naturally explore the space of the gallery with their whole bodies through movement. I would like to work with more artists who work with movement to experiment with this further, as I feel movement as a practice is a positive way to address the negative ideas about gallery behaviours and etiquette that many families have. This would need to be done carefully with the right artist to ensure it didn’t become too performative or intimidating in nature. 

I would love to see all families feeling like they no longer needed the support of the sessions to visit and be in the galleries, and that through the sessions a network of families could emerge, who become advocates for under 5s in galleries and museums more broadly.

[end of interview]

I think Lucy’s viewpoint in this concluding post reiterates some of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, as well as our non-negotiables discussed previously, and hope that the series as a whole have given a sense of the inspiration, thinking around and development of the early years programme at Tate.

[1] Lucy McDonald has been Assistant Curator on the Early Years and Families programme for the last 2 years with a special emphasis on early years, and has recently taken over as Curator (jointly with Jessie McLaughlin) to cover my maternity leave 2017/18. Lucy also worked as an Assistant Curator on the final year of the Big and Small programme in 2013/ 2014 and as project manager on a number of BP Family Festivals in  2014 and 2015.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Leanne Kyle, Teacher

We were working with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership on a project called Virtually There. In this project the artist doesn’t actually come into the classroom. We correspond mostly via the interactive whiteboard. I was ICT coordinator and this project really appealed to me. It was different and offered  a new experience for me and the children.

Initially the artist (Lisa) came to meet us at the school. It was great day because we were able to chat and have a planning session. We went on a walk around the school. We decided to use nature and the actual school environment as a beginning point. I wanted to use the school garden and create links to the eco-school ethos. We tied this all together into a project which focused on the topic of ‘senses’. This topic is very popular and suitable for P2 and 3. Later we narrowed this down further to the sense of touch with many trips outside working with the trees. It was Autumn time so we began to focus on the leaves. Lisa taught a ‘leaf dance’. From here, it just took off with a focus on nature and touch.

Lisa Cahill, Artist

My ‘Virtually There’ journey with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, Leanne Kyle and the P2 & 3 Class of Aughnacloy began in September 2016. At this time I was also Dance Artist in Residence at the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University. The Autumn of 2016 marked the final phase of the three year residency. I had received an Arts Council, Young People Children and Education (YPCE) Bursary Award. The focus of my investigations included the development of frames and activities that engaged the sensory body in the outdoor environment of a school site. Over those Autumnal and Winter months the creative journey with many partners unfolded.

Developing the body’s sensory attunement through engagement with the site is an important element of my practice. I was spending a lot of time outside. I was out in the garden , fields, orchards, forested areas of the University campus. My explorations involved movement, writing, art making, gathering sounds and natural materials, reading and learning more and more about the natural environment that I was in.

I wanted to bring these explorations into the Virtually There project. I really looked forward to sharing these with Leanne and the children. I wanted to notice and hear their responses through multiple and different forms of documentation. I wanted to see what emerged through our collective journey.

Leanne shared my curiousity in this discovery process as we set about investigating:

 

We committed to holding an intention of listening to the needs and responses of each partner. We committed to capturing each of our responses to the tasks and activities. These responses might emerge in different forms, such as verbal, written, a gesture or movement, a photograph, a word, a drawing.

I felt my role was to invite and remind us to return to our body and the sensations and feelings we were experiencing right now in each moment.

And so our journey unfolded.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Leanne

At the first online session, the children introduced themselves to Lisa. They wrote a little about themselves and they read this to Lisa through the interactive whiteboard. We began to work on the leaf dance and talked about the different seasons. We were in the season of Autumn. We went outside and discussed how the leaves were falling and blowing in the trees. Lisa shown us her leaf dance. That really got the children thinking about what they would like to do. They had a lot of input. We created some sensory warm up audio clips with Lisa.

https://soundcloud.com/lisadance/virtually-there-warm-up

She was great to ask the children for their ideas. The children decided that they would like to bring things in from the outside. We played with different ways of using these materials in our warm up clips. This resulted in the children bringing in leaves and things like that. This then resulted in their favourite activity; leaf tattoos. The children loved this. It was so simple, yet so effective. This all tied in well with our topics in school because we look at the different seasons. It tied in with our literacy, particularly poetry. When we arrived at the season of Spring, we wrote poems. We’d explored so much by this stage. We looked at our hands, created drawings of our hands, gone outside to find natural objects to mark make on paper. Actually, this mark making was something they really loved.

The children, in small groups, began to form their own dances. They led the learning at this point. Some of them started to think and dance about trees being chopped down. This led us to a new topic, which I had never done before in school; the topic of deforestation, looking at the Amazon rainforest and the effect of deforestation. The children really led this bit. There were lots of woodcutters chopping down trees. But also planting new trees. This was really the chidren’s own ideas, which came from Lisa’s input. At a later stage in the project, the children made campaign posters to send to the Prince’s Rainforest Trust. We are a UNICEF school and it all tied into the modules of Your Rights and You Have a Right to Have an Opinion. The children had a right to voice their opinion that deforestation is wrong.  They led the learning completely.

I would say it was very collaborative project, a journey in working together.

Lisa

The intention Leanne and I brought to the development of our work together was to listen to each other and the children. In listening, we focused on attuning to the energy and responses of the children. How were they responding? At what moments did energy heighten and flow?

Indeed it was often a great challenge for me to notice and ‘feel into’ the energy of the children, the temperature of the room in response to an activity. My own sensory experience of been in the class room through the interactive whiteboard at times felt frustrating and even at times lonely. Looking at the classroom through the narrow screen of my laptop made me consider other ways of discovering and identifying the information I needed to ‘feel into’ and sense in order to learn about this room full of people. I had to ask specific questions to the children and Leanne to receive their feedback.

I will always remember Leanne’s description of the children’s response to the task of creating leaf tattoos. She described the children’s joy and laughter coupled with their attention in colouring and pressing leaves on their bodies.

Throughout the duration of the project, I continued to share elements and small samples of work from my own practice. From these sharings, Leanne and the children began to develop their own questions, tasks and creative forms of response and reflection.

I found it so exciting to see, hear and feel individual’s process, their ideas, questions and responses.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Leanne

I’ll start with a challenge. It was session 9. Everything had been going so well on our computer programme, Blackboard Collaborate. But on lesson 9, the technology would not work for us. Lisa couldn’t connect with us. I felt lost. The C2K school network in Northern Ireland is very strict. I couldn’t use facetime or skype to connect with Lisa. So we ended up communiciating via whatsapp. It was a whole new way of connecting with Lisa. We were able to communicate with Lisa using whats app voice messages. We sent photographs of what we did that day (which was a continuation of what we were doing). So when technology fails – that is a challenge.

The highlight was when Lisa came up to the school for two days in April. I will never forget that the time that she spent with them before we went out filming their dances. I will never forget that. The children will never forget that. It was amazing. We spent all this time working collaboratively online.  Then she was there in person. That was a highlight for me and the kids.

Lisa

Indeed, like Leanne, memories of session 9 haven’t softened for me. Our means of communiciation didn’t work. I lost a little confidence with the technology after this point. I felt anxious in the lead up to the next sessions. When technology fails, it definitely poses a big challenge.

But, because of the realisation that we could not rely on our online connection, we began to develop less focus on me as the leader of sessions. I look back now and realise that this was a really important moment of our journey together. After session 9, I think Leanne and the children really took off and entered their full flow. Up to session 9, we spent much time getting to know each other, exploring ideas, trying things out, engaging with our senses indoors and outdoors, experiencing each others small creative forms and experiments. I know that the children had developed skills and knowledge and were full of passion for creative movement and the natural environment around them. In stepping back a little, I created more space for this dynamic partnership (teacher and children) and individuals to embrace their own creativity. When I reflect on this, I smile.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? (These may seem small, but are significant to you)

Leanne

At the start I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. I needed to take a step back and breath. Lisa encouraged us all to concentrate on the simple things. But the simple things turned out to be very effective.

In main stream schools at the minute, it’s all about getting children in touch with their senses again. There are so many children coming into school at the moment with sensory issues. With the warm ups, we focused on the sense of touch. Before each lesson the children were so excited about working with Lisa. The warm ups helped calm the children.

The sensory issue is a big thing at the minute in main stream schools. We recognise the need to support children to return to the basics, being calm in themselves and able to regulate themselves. The warm ups for me were great. They focused on touch and feeling, touching your arm, leg and head. From a sensory perspective, this was significant for me and I thought it prepared them well for their dances.

Lisa

Something I would like to share is how we endeavoured to document the process through gathering multiple means of documentation. Leanne is an avid photographer. She created, gathered and drew our focus to this form of visual documentation.

It feels now, following completion of the project that the engagement with multiple forms of documentation was a really important layer and container for the processes and choices that emerged throughout the project. Methods included: photography, film, writing, art, movement and the gathering of materials. These forms illustrated and offered many entry points for others into the work and processes of the project.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Leanne

Yes. The impact of the audio warm ups and our attention to the senses made me take a step back and realise everything in mainstream teaching is done at a pace. You are going at a rate of knots to try and get everything covered because there is so much curriculum to cover. At the end  of the day as society goes on, moves more into technology (and yes our project was based around technology), this project brought out the importance of just been still. Breathing and regulating yourself, mindfulness. Being aware of your space, being aware of your own body and senses, which alot of children at this age are missing. I’d say that has really made me think as a teacher.

Dance does not have to be very structured. It can made so creative and the children proved that. I was thinking where is this going to go with the boys? How are the boys going to get into this? And I not being a dancer, I was thinking, ‘gosh, where is this going to go? I think at times I worried about the end product. But I realise now it’s really about the process. The amount of work the children put into the process of it all was unbelievable. Those dances didn’t happen overnight. The children took ownership of their own process. I loved the days when Lisa worked with small groups, chatting to them about their dances, giving them feedback, hints and tips. The children loved this. It was really about the process but it’s also nice to have an amazing end product. But it really is about the process.

For me the parents really getting on board was important. It was a risk you take. Our sessions took a whole day. It was a whole day out of the normal curriculum; numeracy and literacy. For this day, you are dancing!

It was really important that the parents were on board with this. And they were. They kept involved all the time. Right from the class assembly, when we shared an interview between the children, teacher and artist. They absolutely loved it. They got to see Lisa. They had heard so much about Lisa from the chidlren. But they got to see Lisa and they were so keen to learn more about her. I think that was important, getting the parents on board and getting them involved. We created a DVD as part of our project. The DVD idea wasn’t my suggestion. It wasn’t the childrens or Lisas. It was the parents’ suggestion. Parents came to me after the class assembly and asked me for the footage. We had shown a film of an interview between Lisa and the children. We had two interviewers who asked Lisa questions. They did a super job and their parents were so proud watching the footage of  them confidenctly posing questinos. This project was inclusive of all chidlren in the class and particulary appealed to those chidlren who learn best through kinaesthetic learning.

Our final DVD came from the parents request to see footage of this interview. The parents wanted to see the children’s dances and share it with others. I think this is important. It is not just a partnership between the teacher, children and the artist. It is also a partnership with the parents.

When Lisa came to the school in April, it was amazing to see the parent’s excitement. She got out of her car and they were all saying hello. She had never met them before. But they all felt that they knew her. It’s amazing how you can work with someone all year and ye’re at opposite ends of the country. When something like this comes together, it’s pretty special.

Lisa

I think what I am left with at this stage and what I would like to remember as I go forward with Leanne, the children, families and community of Aughnacloy PS, is my curiousity around makings connections and asking questions.

I have neither an answer or a method as to how to achieve these successfully. But I think we can rely on our intention to listen, trust and be curious.

Here is a note from my journal (which was written throughout the project).

What question(s) can be shared to offer permission for an experience to ‘unfold’.

I think there are different ways of thinking about this.

The possibility of making connections – learning about something and learning about myself simultaneously.

Again, what question(s) encourage openness and curiosity – giving ownership back to the individuals.

Recognise

Acknowledge

Acceptance – acceptance of where someone is right now.

A non-linear approach to learning and achievement.

What is between the teacher and the artist?

The known and the unknown. Staying at this edge. It might feel like a void or a delayed in-between stage.

Developing structures together which are composed from all the sensations of the work and materials.

A sense of intimacy and dialogue with the work – listening to it.

There is a need to explore and create frames and structures, which are away from the demands of an end product or production.

A project where we can all ask questions of each other.

“What do you know now?”

“How are you now?”

We welcome educators from all backgrounds to join us for a curatorial tour of our exhibitions Now Wakes the Sea and Deep Maps. The evening will include light refreshments and an opportunity to discuss upcoming Glucksman projects and events.

Wednesday 11th October 2017, 4pm

Free. Booking required.

Please contact education@glucksman.org to register.

Join Curator of Education Tadhg Crowley and artist Carol-Anne Connolly for a morning masterclass that looks at art projects ready to be re-imagined in your classroom. This season the masterclass will look at techniques and approaches to helping students develop personal projects and establish individual ideas through sketchbooks and drawing exercises.

10am – 1pm, Saturday 21 October 2017 – €25.

Booking required.

Please contact education@glucksman.org for booking or for further information

Trinity College Dublin is calling on the nation to get creative this autumn and be inspired by one of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures, the Book of Kells. Get your pens and paint brushes out, and write a poem, short story or create a drawing or painting based on the images from the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. Our judges will be looking for modern and innovative interpretations of the Book of Kells from participants. There are fantastic prizes to be won for individuals, schools, clubs and groups nationwide.

Closing date for entries Thursday 30 November 2017

To find out more click here

blue_mug2016 Julie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Blog 3 –

As the new year unfolds into Autumn I would like to reflect on that heady time, a few short months ago, when the holidays stretched ahead and routine was being dissolved into the long days of summer.

My summer usually begins with a week of creative activity with teachers, as part of their Continuing Professional Development. This CDP Programme run by CRAFTed and the West Cork Education Centre takes place in different host primary school each year and the number of participants is 25. So teachers find themselves in a familiar setting where their roles are reversed, the tables are turned, teacher becomes pupil, and, I have found, they make this switch naturally and with gusto!

Teachers are on a giddy high at this busy time, there is a sense of release as they wind down into the summer and also sense of self evaluation and reflection as they are packing up after a year in the classroom. The CPD programme must address this ‘end of year’ dynamic and the structure and content of the programme allows for this valuable teacher time together, peer to peer, sharing ideas, catching up, meeting new friends and enjoying each other’s company. After a year of routine and responsibility, it is time to be on ‘the other side’ and a chance to allow for loosening up, and a complete freedom to adopt a “what happens?” approach. Our CPD programme allows plenty of time for interactive play while opening up opportunities for sharing, testing and evaluating individual classroom procedures and preferences. It is a place where a process of ‘discovery towards’ something is the modus operandi for all activities, where there is no such thing as a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ format to fall back on/aspire to/comply with/copy. For many teachers, who have a profound sense of responsibility, and who are expected to be in control at all times, and must who achieve measurable results across a classroom of pupils, this artist’s approach can present a daunting task and a leap into the unknown. The discovery approach involves great faith in process and requires some practice, it can meet with both enthusiasm and resistance in a classroom full of disparate personalities and performance pressures. The reward for this open ended practice is a confidence in the ability of the child to meet the challenge of the task at her own level.

So in the spirit of a new term I would like to share here one of my favourite loosening up activities for drawing. This activity comes from copying, or, more grandly put, from observation, and celebrates the capacity for invention. It is a drawing game in the spirit of an old party favourite, Chinese Whispers. In my example the source material came in the form of photographs I had collected of extinct and endangered Irish wild flowers (but the source could easily be from any other kind of ‘category’  and is ideal for focussing closely on any area of research). Each individual is invited to fold their A2 sheet into 8 sections and numbered 1 to 8 (in a room of lively teacher/pupils it quickly became evident that this was a task in itself!)

In the first section, numbered “1” they must make a drawing from their photograph. I set a time limit of 5 minutes for each drawing. Each artist then passes the sheet to the person on their right who must copy their predecessors drawing in the next section. Participants may only look at the previous drawing and must work from the information contained in that section. The drawing goes around the table and comes back to the original draughts-person.

Results are always interesting, we can see the corruption from one drawing to the next we can note changes, omissions and exaggerations and we can think about evolution, design, glitches, copying, originality, perception, imagination, preference and progression that affirm each artist’s hand in the final work. It can be the beginning for al kinds of enquiry and further artwork. This activity touches on the relationship between perfection and invention, itself a profound enquiry. There is no right or wrong and its impossible to dictate a ‘correct’ outcome. Many rules are broken. I love this activity especially because it celebrates copying – one of the cardinal sins of the child’s universe and often the bane of the teacher’s classroom! What’s more, it celebrates copying badly, turning a vice into a virtue. It celebrates collaboration and corruption and all that deviates from the original. It celebrates the original.

After this exercise drawing becomes a whole lot easier for everyone.

Jean TormeyJean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, events and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London.

Blog 3 – EYF programme

In this penultimate blog post I’d like to talk about what we currently programme for early years audiences at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, reflecting on the history of the programme and its current ‘non-negotiables’ of agency, curiosity, diversity and openness – which reflect the influence of the Reggio Emilia philosophy.[1]

By designing an open programme with artists, we aim to encourage the agency of a diverse group of children and carers to use their curiosity to explore the social space of the gallery together – inclusive of art and architecture – to co-construct meaning relevant to their lives.

Children of an early years’ age come to Tate with parents or guardians if they are in a family unit or early years’ practitioners if they are with their nursery, and our programme needs to speak to these adults as much as to the children. We are keen to acknowledge the expertise and inherent knowledge these adults hold in relation to the children in their care, and for our resources and events to draw this out and build on it. We offer a range of self-led resources that can be used independently for people to use in their own time and in their own way. Through their openness, our self-led resources aim to evoke the unique interests, abilities and motivations of visitors under 5.

An example of one of these resources at Tate Britain is ‘Swatch’.[2] Swatch takes its name from a colour swatch and is a palm-sized collection of cardboard pieces with images of details of the gallery (one of which has a raised texture, another a hole through which to look), a mirror piece and an orange-coloured perspex piece. Developed by artist Abigail Hunt [3] with the Early Years and Families’ team over 5 years ago, it has a long history with the programme.

Its language-free, sensory and tactile nature means it’s accessible to children with special education needs, and it has been used succesfully as part of projects for children with speech and language development needs as a communication tool in the gallery.[4] When facilitating the resource, we try and offer it to the child rather than the adult so that they can choose the images or materials that excite them to act as a catalyst for their collective experience of the gallery.

For many families a resource is not enough. An event, where parents/ carers know that other families will be present and more guidance will be offered, is far preferable. Our artist-led and staff-led events are aimed at either parents/ carers or early years’ practitioners and aim to support people to have confidence in using their own expertise and knowledge of the early year’s children in their care to support a very individual, child-led experience.

In the last year a new monthly event was launched by the Early Years and Families team at Tate Britain entitled Under 5s Explore the Gallery.[5] Taking the learning from the aforementioned Big and Small programme as well as borrowing a format similar to our 8-14s Studio programme at Tate Modern[6], this relatively new strand works with a different artist every 3 months and explores their practice in the galleries with families through different choices of artworks or spaces, materials and processes. This strand considers the environment of the gallery as educator, capitalises on the social experience of the gallery for families, and ensures early years audiences are visible and evident to other audiences.[7]

Another strand worth mentioning is our seasonal Early Exchange event for early years’ practitioners.[8] Building on previous experiences trying to work with partners in a reciprocal, equitable way through programmes like Big and Small and the Early Years Open Studio[9], this social event invites practitioners to come together, view an exhibition with early years audiences in mind, and engage in a discussion about the benefits and challenges of working with early years in the gallery. As well as being an opportunity for practitioners to find out what we do, it’s a great way for our team to find out about the challenges facing this audience and remain relevant to the sector. We invite these practitioners to return with groups of under 5s and lead their own visit of the galleries based on our advice and the learning from this event.

My next blog will consider the artists’ practicies being explored through our early years programme.

[1]  Up to date listings of what’s on for families at Tate can be found here –

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/kids-and-families/tips-for-families

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/10-visiting-tips-tate-britain

[2]  Swatch is listed on the Tate website here after our Title resource which is a self-led paper-based resource aimed at visitors of all ages –

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain/pick-up-activities-2016

[3]  Abigail Hunt is an artist who we work with again and again on our early years programme and who has been pivotal in shaping what it is today. More information about her work can be found here –

http://www.abigailhunt.co.uk/a.statement

[4]  A major example of this is when it was used as part of projects for the Big Lottery funded Big and Small programme of long-term projects, veents and resources. More information and a film explaining the aims and different facets of this programme can be viewed here – http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/big-and-small.

[5]  More information about this event can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/workshop/under-fives-explore-gallery

[6]  More information about the 8-14s programme can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/8-14s-studio-performing-bodies.

[7]  Over the summer we worked with a PhD student who is looking into this area of practice in different arts organisations across the UK. http://www.tate.org.uk/research/research-centres/learning-research/in-progress/investigating-value-experiential-creative-play

[8]  More information about this event can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain-tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/early-exchange-professional-development.

[9]  More information about this London Development Authority funded programme can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/early-years-studio-programme-tate-modern

Deirdre Sullivam HeadshotDeirdre Sullivan is a writer and SEN teacher from Galway. Her latest book, Tangleweed and Brine will be published this September.

Guest Blog CPD Course at The Ark

I signed up for a five-day CPD course in The Ark with one summer course already under my belt. I had brought my class to The Ark on a number of visits and they have always been very supportive and accommodating. I’m a special education teacher, and my students really enjoy the sensory elements of the visual arts, so I also wanted to build my skills and learn a few new tricks.

The course facilitator was Jole Bortoli, whose warmth and insight made the workshop space very welcoming. I am very aware of my limitations when it comes to the visual arts, I’m not a “good drawer”, but the emphasis was very much on the engagement and practice rather than the end result, though many of my classmates blew me away with their talent and creativity. There are some very lucky classrooms and libraries in Dublin!

We started with drawing, and spent time making a collaborative project with lines and curves, on big rolls of paper. This was displayed on the ceiling during the course, so we could take it in. It was a simple and practical exercise, and the result was lovely. We then worked to Jole’s instructions, but interpreted them in our own way, so the results were very different. I was already seeing the potential for linkage with SPHE and maths.

We then took the time and space to visit the exhibition of animal sculpture in The Ark, and used sketches we had taken to inform the final project of the day which was based on work that Jole has done with a range of children. She was incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about the young people she works with, and showed us examples of ways she adapts her activities for different age ranges and abilities. She also showed us some video footage of a project she had done with Saplings in Rathfarnham, where a team worked with children with autism.

Day two was paint and colour, and the bright shades were really welcome after (the mostly black and white) day one, and we made another collaborative project, this time a riot of shape and colour. We were introduced to a range of different materials. I was particularly taken with paint-sticks, which were like glue-sticks but with paints. We painted with our eyes closed to music and again with our eyes open. Particularly popular was making our own egg tempura paints, and exploring a range of textured paints that can be made at home or in the classroom, depending on your setting. This activity would link in well with the science curriculum, as well as being a lot of fun.

Day three was 3D! We focused on construction, and engaged in collage, work with different types of clay (on the theme of rural and urban space and the wildlife within) and most interestingly sculpture. We used soap and a knife to whittle seals (and one sparrow), and it was a really interesting activity. The knives were safe (blunt), and this activity could be done in a class. It made me think a lot about shape and space, and the clay-play seemed really easy in comparison. Again, Jole and the other facilitators were supportive and gave us inspiration and space to create, and the results were impressive.

On Day 4, we worked on Fabric and Fibre, and spent the day making hats and masks. The hats were made from cardboard, fabric, beads and natural objects such as driftwood and feathers, and Jole once again drew inspiration from the First Nations artists of northern Canada to prompt our creative activity. This drew in the “Looking and Responding” part of the visual arts curriculum really nicely. The masks were two-sided, one animal on the outside and another on the inside, and they were made with paper on cardboard. These two projects were time-consuming, and some people were so enthusiastic they worked through their coffee break to get them finished, which is a good sign.

Friday was our final day and we worked on map-making- with a range of different activities, relief-painting and ink-dripping. The results were interesting, and Jole gave us some pointers on the correct materials to use for the best results with a class.

We kept reflective journals throughout, and Jole took time to explain where each exercise was coming from, and how it could be developed. There was a lovely mix of learning and creating, and I came away full of excitement to share some of my new skills with my students over the coming year. Highly recommended.

Jean TormeyJean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, events and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London

Inspiration for Tate’s EYF programme – the Reggio Emilia approach

“The child is not a citizen of the future; they are a citizen from the very first moment of life and also the most important citizen because they represent and bring the ‘possible’… a bearer, here and now of rights, of values, of culture… It is our historical responsibility not only to affirm this, but to create cultural, social, political and educational contexts which are able to receive children and dialogue with their potential for constructing human rights.” Carlina Rinaldi, In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning

 When I took up the post of Early Years and Families (EYF) Curator at Tate, most of my experience was with families’ programming aimed at 5-12 year olds, with under 5s included as part of an intergenerational group, or where activity was primarily aimed at parents with an understanding that early years are welcome.[i]

I was introduced to the theory influencing Tate’s EYF programme – the Reggio Emilia approach[ii] – by the Convenor of the programme, Susan Sheddan[iii], and through working on the programme have learnt about the potential of the gallery to be used as an important site of learning and communication specifically for this agegroup.

The infant and toddler schools of Reggio offer places to 0-6 year olds and consist of a mixture of municipal, state, public and private schools. The aims of the schools are to involve their community in participatory consultation in all aspects of their running, to be transparent and shared in this approach, to give substance and voice to the rights of children, parents and teachers, and to improve the quality of life of children in the city overall. Each centre has a pedagogista, teacher, atelierista and cook. Children and parents are involved in the running of each centre, which is closely connected to its context. The process of how people communicate and when is of utmost importance to the streamlined running of the centre.

The learning principles of Reggio are that children must have some control over the direction of their learning, be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they must be allowed to explore, and have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. I had the opportunity to visit Reggio Emilia for a study week in spring 2014 and came away with the following highlights relevant to my work at Tate. These are reflected in the EYF team’s current values or ‘non-negotiables’ of agency, curiosity, diversity and openness.

“The best we can be”: Carla Rinaldi, president of Reggio Children, talks about childhood as a quality (not just a stage of life), and about it representing ‘the best we can be’. She describes children as being in a constant state of searching for meaning and understanding in the world – interpreting their surroundings to find answers in life. The Reggio approach sees children as keen, sensitive observers with the  potential to fill flexible contexts and generative environments with meaning.

Diffused atelier: There is an atelier (studio) and atelierista (studio artist) in every Reggio school. Atelieristas are considered to have heightened awareness of contemporary culture, know how to interpret art, and have a unique perspective on learning. They work as co-constructors with teachers, students and parents to create contexts for learning a range of different subjects – the process for which can be compared to an artist developing work in their studio. The atelier, a metaphor for the Reggio approach as a whole, pervades the public space of the school so that everyone involved can influence the atelier and come together to co-construct meaning.

Co-researchers: The role of the teacher is as researcher alongside the children (with parents and artists). This might include exploring existing theories together, but also developing new theories and going to new places of learning as a result of exploration. Parents are involved as much as possible in the building of shared value.

Traces of learning: In order to research alongside children, observation (of and by children) is a key process used by Reggio teams – with drawing being used as a consistent tool for this, revealing traces of learning. Active listening, consulting with and talking to children about what they have noticed or observed develops critical thinking skills among children.

Exchange: The Reggio approach is highly influenced by Lev Vygotsky and the belief that psychological development occurs through interpersonal connections, actions and play in small groups. Children have a predisposal to creating relations and engaging in exchange. This is encouraged in Reggio schools by adults offering their point of view ready for children to offer theirs, using a range of the so called ‘100 languages’ Reggio deem children to have.

Education is political: Reggio is a political project, ultimately trying to change the status of EY schools nationally in Italy from service providers to education centres. They consistently refer to the rights of children and to some children as having ‘special rights’ (rather than special needs). In Reggio Emilia itself, the schools played an important role in welcoming and involving immigrant communities from Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and China.

‘Shaped by the city but also shaping the city’: The city of Reggio plays a leading role in the school – it is referred to as a protagonist, with schools visibly present in the city/ their local areas. Bringing the school and children to the city and making the culture of children more public strengthens the school’s alliance with their context.

 In the next post I’ll explore how the Reggio Emilia approach influences the EYF programme at Tate.

[1] Examples of this activity are National Drawing Day at the Butler Gallery Kilkenny www.butlergallery.com/national-drawing-day-2016/ or Crib Notes at the Whitechapel www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/crib-notes-emma-hart-mamma-mia/.

[1] The Reggio Emilia approach emerged in the small northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia after it was badly affected by World War II. A visionary educator named Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) along with parents from the locality wanted  “… to bring change and create a new, more just world, free from oppression” urging people to “gather their strength and build with their own hands schools for their young children.” Influenced by early childhood psychologists and philosophers such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Bruner, the educators of Reggio Emilia, inspired by their already existing community-centred culture, went about setting up a new form of early years learning for the children of the city.

In 1963, with great economic and social development taking place across Italy, the first municipal preschool was opened. In the late 1960s the schools were transferred to the city government for operation and financing. There was a feminist focus to the setting up of the schools as it enabled women to go back to work and tried to garner more respect for early years educators, usually the responsibility of women (formally/ informally). By the 1980s the Malaguzzi method was known and appreciated by many educators including thanks to an exhibition at the Modern Museet in Stockholm. At this time, the National Group for Work and Study on Infant Toddler Centres was formed in Italy.

In 2003 the municipality of Reggio Emilia chose to manage the system and the network of school services and toddler centres by forming the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia. Municipal schools and preschools had their own independent programs and activities, but were supported by the public sector. The political roots of the approach and its continued political engagement in campaigning for the importance of governmental support for early years education is important to acknowledge.

In February 2006, the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opened in Reggio Emilia for professional development and research of the philosophy. The foundation was officially established in 2011 with the aim of “Education and research to improve the lives of people and communities, in Reggio Emilia and in the world”.

[1] More can be learnt in Transforming Tate Leaning about the influence of Reggio Emilia on the programme at this time – http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/30243.

 

 

 


                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Examples of this activity are National Drawing Day at the Butler Gallery Kilkenny http://www.butlergallery.com/national-drawing-day-2016/ or Crib Notes at the Whitechapel http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/crib-notes-emma-hart-mamma-mia/.

[ii] The Reggio Emilia approach emerged in the small northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia after it was badly affected by World War II. A visionary educator named Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) along with parents from the locality wanted  “… to bring change and create a new, more just world, free from oppression” urging people to “gather their strength and build with their own hands schools for their young children.” Influenced by early childhood psychologists and philosophers such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Bruner, the educators of Reggio Emilia, inspired by their already existing community-centred culture, went about setting up a new form of early years learning for the children of the city.

 

In 1963, with great economic and social development taking place across Italy, the first municipal preschool was opened. In the late 1960s the schools were transferred to the city government for operation and financing. There was a feminist focus to the setting up of the schools as it enabled women to go back to work and tried to garner more respect for early years educators, usually the responsibility of women (formally/ informally). By the 1980s the Malaguzzi method was known and appreciated by many educators including thanks to an exhibition at the Modern Museet in Stockholm. At this time, the National Group for Work and Study on Infant Toddler Centres was formed in Italy.

 

In 2003 the municipality of Reggio Emilia chose to manage the system and the network of school services and toddler centres by forming the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia. Municipal schools and preschools had their own independent programs and activities, but were supported by the public sector. The political roots of the approach and its continued political engagement in campaigning for the importance of governmental support for early years education is important to acknowledge.

 

In February 2006, the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opened in Reggio Emilia for professional development and research of the philosophy. The foundation was officially established in 2011 with the aim of “Education and research to improve the lives of people and communities, in Reggio Emilia and in the world”.

 

[iii] More can be learnt in Transforming Tate Leaning about the influence of Reggio Emilia on the programme at this time – http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/30243.

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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.

As an visual artist, curator and arts educator I work on many different projects across different contexts over a range of timescales. It is a juggling act with no days or weeks being the same – something that any working artist is familiar with as their profession, way of life and the challenges, opportunities and rewards it brings. Over the next four blog posts I am going to focus on one or two arts in education projects I am working on as they develop. Since March 2017, I have been working as project co-ordinator and Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator on the DCC VTS Neighbourhood Schools project. VTS Neighbourhood Schools is a visual thinking strategies project funded by Dublin City Council Arts Grant in collaboration with The LAB Gallery, Central Model School, St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough, St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview. It is part of Project 20/20 – a visual literacy initiative with children living in Dublin 1 led by Dublin City Council, the City Arts Office and The LAB Gallery.

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an educational curriculum and teaching method which is designed to enable students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills. It is a discussion based methodology for looking at art. The method is the result of more than fifteen years of collaboration between cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen, a Harvard trained educator and psychologist and veteran museum educator Philip Yenawine. The current Irish Primary School Curriculum places emphasis on developing a child’s sense of wonder and facilitating the child to be an agency in his or her own learning. VTS allows space for these aims as well as for other core ideas of the Curriculum such as creating space for the child’s own knowledge to be a base for learning- the VTS facilitator scaffolds what the child’s responses are rather than the opposite way around.

Since 2014 Central Model Senior School has worked with VTS facilitator, Lynn McGrane, funded by Dublin City Council Arts Office and The LAB Gallery using VTS to look at contemporary Irish art both through visits to The LAB Gallery and classroom sessions. IAWATST – Interesting And Weird At The Same Time was an exhibition of work from the OPW Collection and Department of Finance, Northern Ireland Collection, selected by this class group, using VTS in the selection process. The aim and structure of the VTS: Neighbourhood Schools project is to continue using Visual Thinking Strategies to add to the knowledge of the arts and build on the sense of place and experience that the children on Central Model N.S have and to share that experience with their neighbours through working in close collaboration with two schools (St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview and St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough) with trained VTS practitioners in each of the schools.

In September 2016, I completed the Visual Thinking Strategies Beginners Practicum with Yoon Kang-O’Higgins, VTS Programme Director along with teachers from Central Model School (Deirdre Gartland and Bridget Kildee) and St. Vincent’s B.N.S (Orla Doyle), funded by Dublin City Council Arts Office. In this first phase of this project (March – June) the VTS Practitioners have facilitated 6 sessions with four class groups – Junior Infants to 3rd Class. These sessions happened at The LAB Art Gallery, Hugh Lane Gallery, ArtBox Gallery and classroom based looking at contemporary Irish art. As a team we have met for peer to peer mentoring and support sessions and Liz Coman DCC Assistant Arts Officer and VTS Trainer facilitated coaching sessions with each VTS practitioner. In June we will have a Reflective Practice Session with Yoon Kang-O’Higgins – an opportunity to see where we are all at this stage of the project and where we are going with Phase 2, building capacity, modelling VTS for teachers and observing teachers, image selection, potential trainees for VTS Beginner’s Practicum in Autumn 2017. In this blog post I have only had the chance to lay out the structure and background to the project. In the next post I will relate back from the class groups themselves and their teachers, their responses, experiences and my own experience as a practicing visual artist using VTS.

Links:

Dublin City Arts Office     http://www.dublincityartsoffice.ie

DCC Project 2020             http://dublincityartsoffice.ie/project2020/

St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview   https://stmarysartproject.wordpress.com/

Claire Halpin                     https://clairehalpin2011.wordpress.com/

Julie ForresterJulie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Artist Blog Post 2

Drawing Worlds

My mother describes a picture of me age 4, she shows me a photograph, there I am sitting, legs spreadeagled, on the floor in front of me is “Julie bear” (my childhood teddy bear), in the diamond of floor encompassed by me, my legs and my bear is a piece of paper and on that paper I am making a drawing. Now I look at the photograph, I see it as my mother describes, I can’t get back to that place, I see it now outside of myself – a child absorbed. But I know that feeling.

I have a drawing my daughter made, age 6, it has the date on the back of the frame, in her own writing the legend reads: “My dog Under the table 23.12.97. Annie”. Annie doesn’t remember doing the drawing, and nor do I. I do remember the events around this picture, and where we were living at the time. Our dog was Miko, a stray we homed, and Miko had puppies, nine in all. The Daddy was Bart, our housemate’s dog.

The drawing shows an inky black shape with multiple extremities which seem to be leaking out from the body. On closer look you can make out the 4 black legs and 6 elongated teats, the mother’s tail is curled backward, awkwardly echoing the arc of her body. At her back are 3 leggy blobby pup shapes, there are 2 more at her front. There are five puppy shaped blobs in all: 4 are missing.

 I look at the picture and I see the repeated arcs of dogs back, ringed over and over and framed finally within the square and capped by a border on three sides. I see the mother’s pink tongue haloed by exclamations of blue spittle, I see her ears askew, her eyes, which are barely visible, have obviously been drawn into the black silhouette at later stage, and this action has left a bleachy green rim where one marker dye acts on another. I see the mother dog held within the horse shoe form of the yellow basket bed she had, I see a turquoise ring with turquoise triangles pointing in and pointing out, this jagged, joined up ring form is contained within the orange square of ‘under the table’, a liminal floor/table space. Here the angle changes from top view to sideview and I see the table holding it all together. The table has two pink drawers. There is a large fruit bowl on top of the table, it is a bowl we still have, made by her Granny (It clearly shows the apple design of Bandon Pottery) The bowl contains stalked fruits. Beside the bowl is the most mysterious object in the picture – is it a yellow door?

 This drawing contains a concentrated world, a complex mixture of emotion, observation, invention and imagination. It is a brave drawing, it is a necessary drawing and it is a mysterious drawing. It is a drawing that describes an event long forgotten by its maker. It is a drawing that gives me a glimpse into another world and one that I know is real, even if I wasn’t there.

When children draw they bring forth worlds, turning the inside out. This way of processing of experience is something that continues to fill me with awe, it still draws me. I love the word Draw, it has so many meanings, encompassing ideas of pulling, attracting, taking in and letting out, one can “draw breath” and one can “allow tea to draw”, “draw a pistol”, or a bath, as well as a line, it has a particular tension between hiding on and letting go. One time when I was a teenager I went with my father to the mart, we brought our sketchbooks. Later an acquaintance politely asked us what we were doing there, when I said “drawing” he said, looking at my father slightly puzzled, “drawing cattle to the mart?”

In the previous blog, I spoke about some drawing we did together at the Virtually There project in Killard house. This was not exactly a collaboration, we hadn’t agreed on making a ‘work of art’ together, it was a live action conversation. The whiteboard was the testing ground where our dialogue took place. It was a space where images were placed, excavated from our archives, grabbed online, or captured from life, they were uploaded, they were drawn out and drawn upon, discarded, elements were shrunken, enlarged, obliterated and moved about by one person or another, threads were created and broken over the course of a conversation, it was often hard to keep track. The drawing happened one mark or image beside another in a space which became layered and sequenced over time. We were celebrating together the act of drawing.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Sharon Kelly, Artist: This was the second year of working with Fionnuala at St Patrick’s Primary School, although I have been a ‘virtual’ artist in residence since 2010. In September 2016 we had agreed to base our explorations for this phase of the project around the idea of Balance. The ‘way in’ to this came to me as I was moving studio at that time, leaving a building inhabited since 1993, and moving into an old building that was once the main fishing tackle shop in Belfast. The former inhabitants left behind a lot of things, one of which was an old wages and salaries book from 1904, called Time Book. I thought this could provide inspiration to generate ideas about balance. Fionnuala was really open and willing to take this route, which seemed at first a little obscure.

What struck me was the old fashioned ink script that recorded names and hours worked, it was of course a balance of sorts, balancing the books, but what really interested me was the beautiful controlled letters flowing in ink, balanced between the lines on the page. I left the book at the school after an introductory first visit and waited to hear the children’s response as they held, looked and smelled the book! It was the starting point for investigating what sort of balance and control we try to exert as we write our names. I was interested in the WAY we do this, how we use our body. Importantly I have been collaborating with dancers over the past 3 years and that particular project was beginning to come to fruition. Awareness of the way we move, tempo and gesture interested me. I also facilitate drawing classes with young people and adults once a week and this experience has meant that we often take time to explore the way we make marks and the many aspects that affect mark–making/expression.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Sharon: The ideas developed through a process of questioning, taking something seemingly basic as writing your name and asking how do we do that. The P3/4 children were beginning to learn joined up writing, practicing making their letters flow continuously one into another. For our on-line sessions we spent time identifying what parts of our body we use to make letters as we write, mostly small movements with our hand and wrist. Together we began mimicking loops in the air and expanding the gesture to move more and more of our arm and then whole body. When we tried this in practice, the children discovered that if they utilized their whole arm and shoulders to make their loops, they could no longer write on small pieces of paper.

This exploration went from A5 size paper on their classroom desks to large scale loops on table-scale pieces of paper and out into the yard with chalk! The responses to this were very interesting because the children told me that they used a different energy and body weight to create these larger swirls. This real experience, supported by the wonderful way Fionnuala can elicit responses from the children for discussion, was a very important prompt before we took time to look at and take inspiration from the free-flowing script of Chinese writing and later the work of artists Cy Twombly’s Blackboard paintings from the 1970’s and the action painting of Jackson Pollock. (This was done by posting links to the classroom; the children and teacher would watch a video or view the work of the artists and a detailed discussion would take place).

Following this exposure to the action painting of Jackson Pollock in particular, Fionnuala thought it would be really worthwhile to allow the children to actually explore using paint and their bodies the way that Jackson Pollock had done. We planned that I would make a real visit to the classroom and we would all experience what it is like to paint on a large canvas surfaces on the floor and to engage our whole bodies in the process. It was an investigation into how much control we could use to drip, pour and splatter the paint. The children used many different implements to get paint onto the canvases  brushes; sticks; sports cones that dribbled out paint; syringes; baby bottles.

In a sense we were experimenting with balance, exploring how we balance our bodies to create a gesture on the canvas and allowing enough freedom for spontaneity. It was a very potent mix and the outcomes on the floor were amazing to all of us. This very intense activity was followed by discussion, both on how we made the floor paintings, and what we thought about them. To further cement our ideas about balance we engaged the help of a friend of mine, Marie Murphy, Professor of Health and Fitness at Ulster University. We connected online via Blackboard Collaborate software. Professor Murphy invited us all  to try some balancing postures, which proved to be a wonderful cool- down for the  busy activity that preceeded it! Through the whole process we questioned, tried things out and reflected on what we observed, felt and understood. These beginning explorations provided a rich well to go on and explore gravity, air pressue, movement through space and in drawing (animations) and finally to explore space itself beyond the classroom, the school and the boundary of our planet!

Fionnuala Hughes, Teacher: We made loopy movements in the air, and then we tried to recreate them on large pages using graphite sticks, restricting our movements by keeping one arm behind our back. Some of the pupils were able to create looped designs with amazing uniformity and regularity in their designs, showing a great deal of control and an awareness of the overall effect which was being achieved. There was again intense concentration involved. The children used a great amount of energy, travelling as they worked, all the time keeping their chalk in contact with their canvas and exerting a huge degree of control and balance over their own bodies as they moved through their wonderful loopy designs. The work was challenging physically, but the children were very focussed on the tasks and the end results were wonderful. We had an entire playground covered in unique loopy designs and spiral patterns.

Technically the work involved a great deal of concentration and energy as well as allowing time to drip the paint onto the surface. Jackson Pollock’s tools never actually touched the canvas on which he was working so the concepts of Balance, Control and Gravity were important aspects of the children’s work. Again there was immense concentration on the part of the children; many of them found that they had to restrain themselves from pouring the paint onto the canvas instead of allowing gravity to play a part and control how they could drip the paint onto the surface in fine angel hair lines and criss-cross patterns as well as the splatter effect which was more random. Encouraging the children to control the flow of paint, and to exercise patience and restraint posed too great of a challenge for some pupils who chose quantity over quality. Keeping the paint pots full as the groups moved around the boards was not a simple task, and altogether we used over 12 litres of paint as well as a fair amount of PVA glue and several litres of water. The end results were pretty amazing and the children were justifiably proud of their results. Moving the boards out of the room to dry proved tricky and there was some movement of paint took place during this procedure however it did not detract from the overall effect. We had a very interesting and physical session in which the children explored balance and control using their bodies. They were only too happy to participate in these activities and enjoyed the challenge of balancing using different parts of our body to control and distribute our weight. Professor Murphy, via collaborate link, gave the children some tips as to how they could distribute their weight and maintain their balance for longer. The children were fascinated by his apparent ‘scribbles’ and we discussed what we had just done and what his work suggested to us.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Sharon: The whole project, which has just finished for now, was a wonderful journey in so many ways and these beginning sessions were very memorable for me. It is also true to say that the sorts of activities we have pursued, painting using control and balance of our whole bodies, meant that there were several ‘challenges’ to deal with, the attitude of those involved in the project, Fionnuala, Eileen the classroom assistant and the Principal of the School, Mr. Madine, were wholly supportive and this led to the success of the project. When we communicate online it can present challenges, some are technical problems that have to be overcome or they can be certain challenges in the way we interact. Some things are not immediate, we have to wait; to give time for things to develop – but I see this as contributing to the important ethos of the overall purpose of the project. Exploring, working collaboratively over time. After the practicing large scale loops  and scribbles, Fionnuala made the observation that she had noticed the children’s handwriting had improved considerably, they were more confident with their joined up writing!

Fionnuala: The project enabled me as a teacher to get to know the pupils in my class very closely. I became the facilitator as opposed to the teacher and their project work was purely expressive. There was no right or wrong way and this enabled them to express themselves in whatever way they chose. Everything was valued. There was no fear. All was relevant. There was a lot of discussion where the children’s’ voices drove the ideas forward from session to session. Their engagement in the activities was always complete and they were immensely proud of any work which was produced as a result of the sessions. Their self-esteem and confidence grew with each session. The challenges were always practical. How can each child participate fully in each activity with equal access to the resources being made available? This involved considering the length of each of the activities ineach session and what order we might explore them in to allow time to rearrange the room during breaktimes,etc. we usually set up for art the day before so we had a blank canvas instead of a regular classroom to begin with!

On a personal level for me, the links which Sharon sent during our pre-session planning directing me to explore and discover the likes of Jackson Pollock or William Kentridge, neither of whom I’d heard of before. This prompted in me an interest into an area which I’d never delved into before. Involvement in the project broadened out my whole understanding of art as we began to ‘think outside the box’. Sharon was very good at lending me books from her own personal collection to develop my appreciation of art.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Sharon: The emphasis on process and discovery is really significant in this project and while Fionnuala and I plan sessions, they are generated out of what happened in the previous session and after a period of reflection. I am always interested in ‘disrupting’ the space of the classroom and the way the children spend so long sitting at desks. Many of our online sessions require that the space of the room be used differently. Fionnuala is always great at organizing the space to suit our activities. The children experienced drawing inside, outside, in the air, on the classroom floor and in many different scales.

I particularly liked the fact that we took something like writing your name, in school we must do this repeatedly usually in a particularly small scale, and analyzing everything about the way we do that. The practice of creating loops and giant scribbles and the feeling of ‘being in your work’ was invaluable since it helped generate ideas that we continued to explore about movement, balance, counter balance and feeling. Also in school we are not encouraged to ‘scribble’ for the sake of it and I found it so refreshing that Fionnuala embraced all aspects of this activity. She clearly valued what the children were doing and she was always willing to create the necessary space both physical and importantly the creative mind space. This was so evident when we explored  during the real visit, the way we could control and balance our bodies to ‘paint’ the canvases on the floor of the classroom, taking Jackson Pollock’s work as inspiration. The inevitable ‘mess’ created was never a barrier! The important thing was that the children were able to have a significant experience.

Fionnuala: The project has had a significant impact on the children’s personal growth and development. It has also encouraged them to work together in teams to produce composite pieces. It was a whole new type of learning in which they were encouraged to get to know themselves, their bodies and how to use their bodies to create and draw. The activities usually meant that the children were up and out of their seats. Desks disappeared and the classroom became an art studio. The only boundaries were the children’s imaginations. We travelled across the globe, to outer space and back again, exploring concepts such as balance, control, and gravity, using their bodies and minds in harmony, to suspend disbelief and make the space become whatever they needed it too. The children worked closely and in harmony together. I do believe that the art session with Sharon was a special time in the week, when the children could forget about their worries and do something for themselves. They became totally engrossed and involved. Their inhibitions disappeared. The fact that another adult, a real artist, was placing such a significant value on their contributions raised their self-esteem enormously.

The day we did the “Jackson Pollock masterpieces” the children had such enormous fun exploring the whole concept of control and dripping the paint onto the canvas. The sheer size of the canvas was enough to excite them as they had this massive area to work in and there was no-one telling them what to do. It was pure self-expression and they absolutely loved it. The animation sessions were also very appealing to the children and the idea of making moving images from still drawings inspired the way they looked at movement and how much we take for granted without thinking how much work goes into a single animation.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Sharon: Working on Virtually There Project continues the notion of the artist, children and teacher sharing explorations together and the spirit of this feeds into my thinking in my own work in a more subliminal way. Sometimes it can elicit an idea for a piece of work, something a child says in response to something has triggered an idea. However mainly it’s the way that you are able to develop the relationship over time, that allows you this wonderful window into the life of the school and those who pass through it, this has an impact on my thinking and contemplations about what I consider in the studio and outside.

Fionnuala: I feel that my approach to art in the classroom has changed in that I no longer focus on just the end product but I now value the whole process of doing and creating something. I tended to stick to drawing still life, and everyone created something similar, whereas now I see the value of providing the children with the tools, discussing ideas and letting them express themselves more freely. We had opportunities to use artistic medium which the school normally wouldn’t provide, such as willow charcoals, oil pastels and paints, as well as a range of papers, brushes and implements to create and express.

The best thing about the project is the insight it has given me into my pupils, and that special time we spent together during the sessions, as a class, creating and bonding. The relationship with Sharon has been central to that process, as she is always positive, questioning the children in a way that elicits very personal and interesting responses. It’s been great having the opportunity to work closely with Sharon, sharing ideas as we journeyed through the school year together. I look forward to working with her again in the future and feel privileged that I have the opportunity to work with such a talented person as Sharon, on an arts in education project which contributes to the holistic development of the children in such a positive way.

Julie ForresterJulie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Artist Blog Post 1:

Art enables a magical way of being in the world.

A conscious turn from routine can transform one’s approach along a spectrum from lacklustre ennui to one of tantalising attention. Objects take on significance, the ordinary becomes enriched, moments collide in fascinating ways. Sharing these ideas connects us in new and interesting conversations. We notice things that lead us to explore the nature of things and we are led on an adventure at once wild and exciting. Our senses connect to our brains our perceptions change…….but there is no need to say any of this here – suffice to say that I am motivated and captivated by a magical sense of being. Working with children expands the possibilities here. A sense of discovery leads into new territories for both myself and the child.

Working with teachers in the classroom is a very privileged place to be. The teacher is the holder of the space (s)he creates the environment for learning. (S)he is also a creative partner. The collaborative relationship between teacher and artist gives the structure to support and wings to let loose the children’s explorations.

This 3 way relationship is at the heart of the Virtually There residency project run by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership. Here the Artist/Teacher roles are very much foregrounded by the challenges and limitations of online presence. In Virtually There the artist is not in residence in the classroom but in a virtual space that hovers between classroom and studio. Her visual presence is contained in a frame, on a screen. Aurally her presence can be heard through a speaker, often as gremlins or in delay. Like wise the artist’s experience of the classroom is on screen and remote, tiny moving ants, often backlit by classroom windows, occasional face to face conversations and a virtual whiteboard. The teacher often takes up the role of mediator between screen and room. Gremlins come and go ransacking the airwaves. It’s today’s technology but it feels archaic. Two distinct worlds form at either end, in parallel. I imagine being in a submarine at the periscope communicating by radio control, sometimes it even feels like we are feeling our way via sonar echolocation, at once remote and intimate.

One develops strategies to incorporate this technology, it becomes another collaborator, the fourth partner in the equation. Experiments often begin with instructions as jumping off points, and in the sense of a Chinese whisper, one is anticipating the return of something wild and wilful from the original.

The interactive whiteboard becomes a shared ground where ideas are thrown up and moved about. During my residency at Killard House I worked in one to one conversation with children from year 10, using the whiteboard as our ‘visual speech bubbles’. I captured this activity using screenshots. Digital capturing does not at all represent a record of the session. It creates its own truth through a punctured narrative where elisions reign, occluding vital moments, replacing them, punctuating them with knots of captured stasis, warping time and concentrating attention in offbeat places. Human fallibility has its place of honour here, turning the machine/system into poetry or farce. The children’s voices push dynamically through the images they share and the sequencing of their thoughts. For me it is the perfect medium to test the narrative capabilities of stop motion animation.

Meanwhile classroom activity continues with teacher, the dynamic Ms Davey, elaborating on our prepared activities, the children coming up to webcam at intervals to intercept the dialogue with some extraordinary observation, discovery or piece of work to share.

In Virtually There time with the teacher between sessions is invaluable, here we are able to explore and adapt our project, pushing out ideas, extending chance encounters and developing these into a mutual understanding for creative play, the collaboration is always live, as we share our differing approaches, responses and strategies to all that is thrown up. There is also a hovering of all that I have missed from my submarine.

For more on the Virtually There Killard House Blog please click here 

Kieran GallagherArt Teacher Blog Post No.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.3

How I balance work as an Artist-Teacher:

To be an art teacher in any given day or class period can be exhausting. Having over 20 students per class period, all of whom you know well; you know what step of their painting, print or sculpture that they are working on, and you have to think ahead of the possible next step, problems or solutions that might arise. We do this instinctively, without batting an eyelid. By the end of the day you can be drained, going home, cooking dinner, going for a run, how would I have time for making my own artwork?

I have to be honest, most days I don’t. But I make time weekly or monthly. I managed to find time to look at Facebook, watch Netflix, so why not for making art? In 2012 I decided to enroll in the Masters of Art in art and design education. I had been teaching for 5 years and only exhibited once since college. This masters was a distant learning course, which was stretched out over two years. The reason that I mention this course is because it is what reconnected me with my own art practice, and gave me the confidence that I needed to get back to making art work again, that I was happy with.

Luckily enough I have a studio space in the city centre, in Ormond studios. (Add us on FB or look at our blog ormondstudios.wordpress.com) Having that dedicated space makes all the difference. Being able to leave your work out and come back to it, that’s how I am able to work. I used to work in a spare room, but I found I could never leave work out or finish anything.  Now I find it easier to have a deadline to work towards. In Ormond studios we have member’s shows twice a year, this keeps me motivated.

Having a studio in the city center also allows me to frequently visit galleries and artists talks. These visits along with my art practice inform my teaching on a regular basis; if I am researching artists, visiting exhibition openings or exploring a new theme, I bring it into my classroom. It’s really important to keep up to date with the art world and bringing it into my student’s keeps them informed, but it also keeps my classroom fresh and my teaching schemes constantly change.

My art practice has shifted from printmaking to drawing, painting, mixed media and more recently installation in the form of weaving. The shift in my art practice happened naturally, I hadn’t the facilities to print outside of Art College. My current installation is a mammoth project; I had hundreds of old photographs, which I took for a project called “When we were giants”. Lots of the photographs were blurred or not worth using, so they stayed in a box for three years. I recently revisited them and decided that I wanted to give them a purpose, or use. They forest where I took the photographs was a place where I used to play and build forts as a child. Having experience with layers and weaving previously, I began to weave the photographs together based on colour flows rather than the actual image. My aim is to create a large-scale fort or tent.

My only advice for those who are looking to get back into their art practice, just start something, set aside time. I didn’t think I would have time for a masters, but I made the time, I didn’t think I would have time to continue making art after my masters, three years later I am still working.  We never have time, but you are reading this so, put your phone down, get off Facebook, stop reading this and go create

Tadhg Crowley the Curator of Education at the Glucksman

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog 4

The Certificate in Contemporary Living (CCL) is a two-year education programme for people with intellectual disabilities designed for delivery in a third level education setting. It focuses on helping students develop strategic skills to promote self-reliance and independence and increased participation in society. The CCL course provides structured opportunities for interaction between students with intellectual disabilities and non-disabled students. As such it is about inclusion and not just about access.

Until 2015, the Expressive Arts module on the certificate in contemporary living course at University College Cork consisted solely of a semester devoted to music. Throughout the semester the group made outings to different cultural centres and galleries and the reaction of students to visual art exhibitions prompted the course coordinators to review ways that they could offer students a more rounded experience of the arts. In late 2014 the course coordinators approached the Glucksman with a view to working together on a visual arts module. The goal was to break the arts module into three strands – Visual Arts, Music and Drama.

The visual art module was designed around three key points that we returned to again and again over the 5 sessions. They were Individualism: how we all see things differently and therefore we all create differently. Capacity to be creative: everyone has the ability to be creative, we can be creative in many different ways and different mediums allow different people to be creative. Finding your voice: through experimentation, practice and choosing methods/approaches that are rewarding.

The days were divided into three pedagogical streams – art appreciation; art interaction; and art making. These three approaches are widely used in art education with the appreciation and interaction exercises informing the art making session and an understanding of the art making process informing the art appreciation and interaction. Each week we looked at different artists and artworks and the group engaged in practical projects with artist Paul McKenna.

A common link among the artists we studied in the appreciation sessions was that as well as pointing to the three key elements of Individualism, Capacity and Finding a Voice; they all had overcome major difficulties/obstacles to pursue a life of creativity.

Two of the artists we studied were Henri Matisse and Anni Albers. Henri Matisse was a renowned painter before he fell ill in later life and was confined to his bed for long periods. His movement now restricted he had to find new ways to continue his artistic career and so he began to work with scissors and paper. The work completed during this period of his life (cut-outs) is now regarded as some of his most important. Matisse found a way to continue his creativity and these new methods led to a rebirth in his artistic career.

Anni Albers encountered many obstacles throughout her extraordinarily creative life. Despite the challenges of a prejudiced college system, the peril of Nazi Germany and the difficulties of being an immigrant arriving in the USA without the language, she established an artistic practice and legacy befitting of one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.

The art interaction sessions led students on drawing and photography walks on route to viewing artworks in the exhibition ‘Gut Instinct: Art, food and feeling’ at the Glucksman and a selection of significant works in the University College Cork Art Collection www.glucksman.org/collections.html

Under the guidance of Paul McKenna the group had the opportunity to bring the ideas and methods discussed earlier in the day to the practical projects. Working both individually and collectively, the students were presented with a diverse selection of materials and techniques in the quest to find their creative voice.

The three strands of this year’s CCL Expressive Arts module will conclude with an exhibition of the artworks created, along with sound recordings, video and live performance at the Glucksman in early May.

For more information please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

Tadhg Crowley

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses, Preview Evenings and Summer Courses.

Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog 3

At the time when the Glucksman first began to incorporate projects and events for Primary School Teachers into its programme, there were a number of concepts that we sought to explore and that the teachers we engaged with challenged us to address. These ideas came to form the basis of the programmes that were designed and delivered in the subsequent months and years.

It is widely accepted that the visual arts can play a significant role in creating an innovative learning environment, but a pivotal question for the Glucksman team was, what can be done to improve the quality of arts learning opportunities for children in Ireland today and what is the role of the art museum in any initiative? Art museums provide exceptional art educational mechanisms and opportunities that include access to professional artists, introductions to various art making techniques, and the experience of seeing and understanding significant works of art but how could these resources best be utilized to improve art opportunities for children? At the Glucksman, we consistently see the positive impact that visual art has on young people, the opportunity to view an artwork up close without distraction and to begin to grasp an artist’s motivations can have a significant impression on a child’s mind. However, when children visit museums with their school or with their family it is not always on a frequent basis and this irregular exposure to art can mean that their appreciation and understanding is less than would be achieved through consistent interaction or through an enduring learning curve as can be achieved in a school environment.

The feedback we were getting from Primary School teachers was that increased pressure to allocate more time to the curriculum and in particular to the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy, meant it was becoming increasingly difficult to dedicate time in the classroom to art making activities and art appreciation. Understanding the limited time available for arts in the classroom, we began to look at how the Glucksman could enable teachers to develop projects that combined elements of visual art with other strands of the curriculum such as math, science, language, history or SPHE. By continuing to focus on intrinsic areas of the curriculum, classroom routine and structure would not be negatively affected. Instead students learning could be enhanced through exciting creative processes and exposure to important visual artists and art movements.

This idea for an art integration approach was influenced by the Glucksmans exhibitions model. Exhibitions at the Glucksman draw on the research of University College Cork academic departments and professionals from across the four colleges of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science; Business and Law; Medicine and Health; and Science, Engineering and Food Science. One of the primary goals of the exhibitions is to emphasis the unique role of visual media in communicating knowledge and central to this is the creation of discursive relationships between academic disciplines and art practice. The Glucksman finds itself in a favourable position where, right on its doorstep, it can create dialogues and exchanges with researchers who are leaders in diverse and interesting fields. The value of bringing an extensive and authentic knowledge to particular themes and ideas leads to both comprehensive and sensitive visual investigations.

Leading contemporary artists are constantly using aspects of curriculum strands such as history, science and language studies as the subject matter for their creative practices. Many art movements lend themselves to understanding subjects such as math or science while historical artworks can allow children to better understand the world at a specific period in time. We believed that learning from these artists, artworks and art movements, teachers could begin to develop creative projects that would augment a student’s experience and understanding.

In 2015, the Glucksman ran its first summer course for Primary School Teachers based on the art integration model to overwhelmingly positive feedback. The course followed the three pedagogical approaches of Art Appreciation; Art Interaction; and Art Making. The morning sessions led by the curatorial team investigated artists, their artworks and how their practices could relate to curriculum strands. These sessions took place in the exhibition spaces and included lectures, talks, tours and discussions. The afternoon sessions invited teachers to work with professional artists on practical projects for the classroom.

This coming August will see the third iteration of the art integration summer course at the Glucksman. For more information on the Glucksman Teachers Programme please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

 

Tadhg Crowley the Curator of Education at the Glucksman

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog no. 2

As we enter the teenage years we begin to gain a little more freedom. This new found autonomy provides us with the opportunity to explore our local area (city, town or village) through aimless wanderings and walks or by beginning the process of ownership of our locality in the corners or streets we lay claim to. This process is crucial in the development of civic pride but also in the establishment of a sense of belonging.

For teenagers living in Direct Provision — who live in isolated and restrictive settings — they are not afforded the opportunity to get to know their local area in the same way as other young people.

Navigating the Urban Landscape was an art project that invited teenagers living in direct provision centres in Cork City and County to work with the Glucksman and practicing artists over a six week period in Autumn 2016. Throughout the weekly sessions participants engaged in projects that investigated the idea of dérive (an unplanned journey through an urban landscape) working with different mediums and artists.

The project invited 14 teenagers (ages 12-17 years) from the DP centres in Kinsale Road, Glounthaune, Clonakilty and Drishane Castle to work with practicing artists to create artworks that explored the landscape of the city and offered the group a creative and positive experience. This was an opportunity for these teenagers to interact with artistic ideas and mediums and to discover their own creative and imaginative capabilities away from their prohibitive surroundings.

Young people living in direct provision do not have access to any extra-curricular activities; any encounters with art making they would have in school. The centers are noticeably devoid of facilities.

Teenage years can be difficult for all young people, but to be dealing with the challenges of being a teenager and to also be living in a restrictive and prohibitive situation is incredibly demanding. Any opportunity for this group to engage in positive and stimulating activities can only be beneficial to their development.

From the earliest discussions I had with the artists, we all agreed that one of the primary elements of these workshops should be in providing the teenagers with the skills to continue being creative after the project had concluded. From the photography with Roseanne Lynch to drawing with Cassandra Eustace and film-making with Dervla Baker, all the sessions with the teenagers would focus on enabling the group to develop a set of skills that would allow them to share their stories. We felt it was crucial that what was learnt in the workshops could be taken and used or shared with others back at the centres.

Working with the teenagers was a very different experience than our previous work with younger children living in DP. The younger children had very high energy/excitement levels and their attention would wane quickly and so we found that short activities with immediate results worked best in keeping their focus. On the other hand, the teenagers were very calm, focused and eager to try all the tasks put before them. There was never any sense of hesitation. For the teenagers this opportunity for extra curricular activities was incredibly precious and it was notable how determined they were to make the most of their time at the Glucksman. This level of ambition and focus across the group was not only striking in comparison to the younger children in DP but to other groups of teenagers we have worked with in the past.

The project culminated with an exhibition of the group’s artwork at the Glucksman in early 2017. On what was truly one of my most memorable days working here at the Glucksman, the teenagers returned with family and friends for the exhibition launch party with music, food and good vibes. The day concluded with the inaugural screening of the teenagers short film ‘Undead Revenge

Reading some of the moving feedback from the teenagers highlights how crucial it is that these young people are cherished and nurtured and that they are provided with the opportunities that we all deserve.

I was amazed by the architectural designs and the surroundings itself. We took lots of pictures and had to draw different things. It was quite the most wonderful thing I have done.

I was a bit shy at first, but I was told, ‘Everyone has a talent, we have to show it to make it better’ and since then I have never been more proud of my art works.’

Meet some of the group here

The Navigating the Urban Landscape project was supported by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Young Ensemble Scheme.

For more information contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

 

Student Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select. The students involved have selected and curated an exhibition, which opened on 25th of November.

Blog 3

The countdown had stopped. The day had finally arrived. It was the day of the opening.

Many months of decision making, days spent in the gallery and countless meetings have all culminated in our exhibition and we were finally opening it up to the public. We invited everyone we knew- family, friends and teachers, but we also had other important guests coming to see the exhibition- the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, TD; Heather Humphreys, Sir Ciaran Devane; CE of the British Arts Council and two of the exhibiting artists; Mariele Neudecker and Graham Crowley, the pressure was on!

On the afternoon of the opening day, we had the opportunity to meet Marielle Neudecker and Graham Crowley. They told us about their lives and inspirations. It was really fascinating to hear the artist themselves reveal their thoughts, the ideas behind their creations and to hear their opinions on how their art complemented the other artworks surrounding them. It was an amazing experience, as soon we would have to be the ones giving tours of all the art that was now in the gallery.

As the opening night grew closer there was a hint of nervousness in the air between us. In a few moments we will have to give one of, if not the most, important tour of the exhibition to our special guests. In our heads we recited all of the facts, dates and names we learnt over the past few months about the art surrounding us, remembering the connections that we mapped out and why we hung certain works in certain places. Our family, friends and teachers started to filter in through the doors. The time had come!

We greeted and shook hands with Heather Humphreys and Sir Ciaran Devane as they walked into the gallery. In pairs we led them and the other guests through the gallery telling them about the art along the way. After the tour everybody who came gathered downstairs at the altar. Niamh McDonnell (St. Oliver’s) and Cáit McArdle (Our Lady’s College Greenhills) gave amazing speeches about the Student Select, how we came about to do this and the work we did up to the opening. They were followed with speeches from some of the distinguished guests and Aoife Ruane, the director of the gallery.

We were excited and proud to finally be able to fully share the exhibition with the public. We were building up to this point all the time and hearing the thoughts, praise and observations of our families, our teachers, general visitors and special guests on ‘In Sense Of Place’ definitely gave us feelings of affirmation and accomplishment. After the opening we celebrated with dinner and it was nice to socialise with all the people we worked with for so long.

During the weeks the exhibition was open we gave tours to secondary and primary school students. On most of these tours we spent time listening to the opinions of the students and discussing them, rather than just telling them the exact information. Art should always be based on your own interpretation. At the end of the tours the primary school students drew out their favourite art piece. It was great to see their enthusiasm, they were less inhibited than the older students.

We also held a workshop based on the works in our exhibition. It was set up for kids between the ages of 4 and 12. We were thrilled that 45 kids came and they brought recycled materials in primary and secondary colours. Together we assembled shapes out of the materials they brought, inspired by Tony Cragg’s ‘Canoe’. We also discussed the colour wheel and complementary colours, we put the theory to practice with pastels. Another work we took inspiration from is ‘Mean-mean’ and we made collages.

This was a once in a lifetime experience, we learnt so much about contemporary art and how a gallery works and we so happy to be involved in such a great project.

 

 

 

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of Tadhg headshot 2temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog no. 1

When as an earnest 14-year-old, I stood with my family and friends in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Cork City and admired my artwork that was on exhibit, it mattered little that what we were looking at was an oversized postage stamp that crudely depicted my sense of the most important Irish people in history (with a disproportionate number of fellow Corkonians!!). What really mattered, was at that moment I knew that my hard work and talent was being recognised, admired and shared with the public. To experience that sense of pride around my art was pivotal in the way I approached and thought about my creativity for years to come.

In April 2016, Aislinn Spillane, art teacher at Christ King Girls’ Secondary School, contacted me about the possibility of working on a project together and what immediately became clear was that we both wanted her students to have the opportunity to experience a moment like this. Another key motivation for the project was to provide the students with the conditions where they could really investigate a subject, to explore ideas and find exciting methods to create their visual responses.

Gut Instinct: Art, food and feeling’ was an exhibition at the Glucksman that drew on the cutting-edge research of Professor John Cryan, and his colleagues at the APC Microbiome Institute at UCC. Using artworks that explored the materiality of foodstuffs and that tested the boundaries of good taste and revulsion, the exhibition explored how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states.

Gut Instinct presented the ideal starting point for the project and from where the students could begin their own creative journey through ideas of the way they used and thought about food.

In December 2016, the students were introduced to the exhibition, its central themes and we looked at a number of the artworks in detail. After the guided tour, the group had the opportunity to creatively record their initial responses in a printmaking workshop with artist Killian O’Dwyer.

Back in school, the students were provided with additional information on the artists/artworks and on the research of APC. I visited them in early January to discuss the plans for the next stages, principally the film they would make. What was striking about this visit and the discussions with the group was that they had highlighted an area around food and emotions that was not explored in Gut Instinct. The students were drawn to ideas of appearance and the pressures attached, what that means to the way we feel about food and how that could develop to eating disorders. The Gut Instinct curators consciously took the decision not to venture into this field of investigation when developing the exhibition as it strays from APC’s research aims and crucially they felt it was an area that deserves considered investigation and reflection in a separate moment.

Clearly this topic had significance to the group and it was impressive to see that in the prints they created for the exhibition in March 2017, they had looked closely at how they could create images that would articulate their thoughts and concerns.

The students were presented with the challenge of developing a film script that would reflect their thoughts on the exhibition, before returning to the Glucksman in early February for filming. On a Friday morning in February, the students worked together under the guidance of filmmaker Dervla Baker to produce the short film ‘The Power of Taste

The 5th year students at Christ King Girls’ School had their exhibition moment in early March when their artworks went on display at the Glucksman. I hope they too experienced that sense of pride that I felt way back at the beginning of my life in the arts.

Sincere thanks to the art teachers from Christ King Girls’ School – Niamh Rigby, Jodie Kerins and Aislinn Spillane.

For more information on The Power of Taste or the Glucksman Schools Programme please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

This project was a collaboration between early childhood educators at Woodland Park preschool in Westport; Karen O’Brien, Mary Skillington, Joanna Kuruc, Kasia Rymarczyk, Bridgit McNamara, Ciara MacNally, Erszi Whyte and resident visual artist Lucy Hill. The collaboration between artist and early years setting began in 2007. The early years setting was located in a building that was previously a primary school and so had a large site with an excess of classrooms. An arrangement was made to use one of the classrooms as a studio space in exchange for collaborating on visual art projects including creating temporary play environments for the children with materials sourced from the Creative Resource Centre.

This particular documentation project grew out of many conversations. There was a strong desire to try to highlight the very many ephemeral moments at preschool where children display positive learning dispositions that could easily be invisible to adults or even understood as ‘mis-behaviour’. The project was grounded in the belief that very young children are competent, capable learners who demonstrate an explorative attitude as they ‘re/present’ their ideas, thoughts and feelings with multiple mediums. Much of the learning, discoveries, creativity and innovations of very young children happen in front of our eyes but need to be framed in understandable ways in order for adults to fully grasp the power and impact of what is unfolding. So for this project, there was no theme, no direction, no grand plan other than this question of how to capture children’s agency in the tiniest everyday moments that may be deeply impactful as an education tool for adults if framed in an understandable way and so the idea for a book document developed. The book would then provide a reflective tool for children where they could visit and revisit their creations in partnership with peers, educators and their parents.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

The children followed the everyday routines of work and play within the preschool day. During free play children made choices as they selected materials and explored the affordances of these materials. The artist and educators together captured many photographs, conversations and children’s everyday activities over several months. There were weekly meetings which explored children’s lines of enquiry and observed interests. These were followed with discussion on how the documentation was developing, what was being captured, what could be found through knowledge of individual children and the particular schema they may be working within. The relational foundation between educators and children was fundamental to revealing the value of the moments being captured where knowledge of individual children’s interests, personalities and competencies was crucial. The artist as documenter was able to take a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the everyday. The main headings within the document emerged slowly through the editing and discussion process. It felt important to allow sufficient time for the project and so it happened in a very unhurried way over several months. An exhibition was planned for Westport library in order to celebrate the children’s artwork and provide visibility of their learning to the wider community. Key competencies were highlighted and dispositions such as involvement, persistence, problem solving and creativity were exemplified through a display of poster pages.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Artist: My personal experience of the project was an awareness of the delicacy and responsibility implicit in documenting young children’s work and play practices. At all costs we wanted to avoid moments that might frame children from an adult’s aesthetic or that could be seen as a promotional tool. The purpose was to try to get to the core of what was occurring for the children, often using the children’s voice. In the end, the photographs used were all taken by the educators themselves, and included the messiness of the working space, the un-staged every-day. I helped with the design of the document and putting it together but each of the educators also had full access to the editing process and there was much discussion around what should go where and there was no time deadline imposed. Mary took responsibility for the main body of text in the book and Joanna took responsibility for the exhibition design and layout.

Educators: This project provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the learning which took place as children engaged with each other and the environment. Through observation we began to recognise the affordances the environment offered as children engaged with a wide variety of materials. Decisions about what to document was a challenge as there was an abundance of images and narratives collected.
What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Long term collaborations between artists and educators are hugely useful, interesting and valuable scenarios from which children and adults equally stand to benefit and learn.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Artist: This project had a significant impact on my practice. It has led to us collaborating on my current PhD project. Within the research, the focus on what is unfolding for the children can be accessed in a very privileged way, due to the trust and respect that has been established over the past ten years. I am very grateful for the continuous openness, generosity and opportunities to learn.

Educator: The artist provided alternative perspectives on children’s creative and communicative potentials as we worked together to promote children’s developing ability to symbolically represent their ideas with clay, constructions, drawings, and paintings. The artist opened us up to the tools and the need to communicate children’s understandings through various media. As we collected and contemplated transcripts of children’s conversations and detailed renderings of their developing understandings, we also began to refine our own form of symbolic representation. Working with an artist prompted us to advocate for more reciprocal adult–child conversations. Over time, documentation became more integral to our practice, illustrating the principle that culturally constructed ways of life depend on “shared modes of discourse for negotiating differences in meaning and interpretation” (Bruner, 1990, p. 13).

Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select.

All images courtesy of student Grainne Smith

Student Blog – No. 2

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The excitement has become a constant buzzing feeling inside all of us. A lot has happened in the past two weeks, but it was when the delivery truck came, the work we had put into this exhibition became a reality.

The artwork came in precise and ingeniously engineered, sky blue crates. Seeing the magnificent shade of blue increased our impatience to open them up. We learned about the specially modified lorry that transports artwork; the temperature must be kept at a constant 19 degrees celsius, to accustom the artwork to the gallerie’s climate. We also examined the padding on the inside walls of the truck and the cables used to hold the crates. We had to let the crates sit in the gallery for a few days, to allow the artwork to climatise. The excitement was heightened  when the crates were unscrewed and the lid opened. Inside we saw the artwork comfortably and securely packaged in between specially designed foam as to avoid damage from movement. When all the artwork was opened we now could start to consider where to place the work for our exhibition.

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We had already researched themes that could link the artwork together, but seeing them before us sparked other ideas and thoughts. I think it is the unexpected contrast between seeing a photo of the art and standing before it. Some of the pieces shocked us by their size or their vibrant colour. There was a never ending list of factors which we had to consider when hanging our show, we were all so excited despite the amount of decision making as it was finally real, the work was all there in front of us. Now we had to figure out where to place the artwork; lighting, wall space, neighbouring art, the journey of the viewer… etc. Eventually, after  several days thinking and re-thinking, moving work around, having to make difficult choices came the conclusions and solutions. It wasn’t easy as we had to leave some of our work out as it didn’t seem to fit with any of the rest of the art work. This was a decision  that none of us thought we would have to make.

We linked and placed the artwork by themes, contrasting and complementing colours, ideas. Where and why we put the art, but also the art itself carried a message, provoking thoughts, ideas and questions for the viewers.

20161117_122818_editSome of the artwork that we selected for our exhibition required specific allocation. In particular the ‘Canoe’ by Tony Craig needed a large open space and therefore we made one of the easier decisions of placing it downstairs. There the wide white spacious gallery space accented the large colourful sculpture. Which lead to figuring out what would go with this sculpture. The Rachel MacLean ‘The Lion and The Unicorn’ needed a dark place with no noise pollution- luckily the Highlanes Gallery had just the right space the ‘cement room’ with the required conditions for this piece. Another artwork in our exhibition in which we had to put extra placement consideration into, was the Richard Long sculpture, ‘Stone Line’- this piece also required a large space all to itself. The upstairs of the gallery was painted a royal blue, which we thought complimented the grey in the cornish stones. We were lucky enough to search the Drogheda Municipal art collection for art that would work well with this particular piece.

Our exhibition is a walk through a landscape, a journey of someone trying to find their place.

In the next blog we will tell you all about; the exhibition opening, the tours and workshop.

lucy_hill__paint_by_alison_laredo_3Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

First virtual visit.

As part of our training before the project with the children began, Carmel (my project partner teacher in Scoil Eoin, Tralee) and I scheduled in a couple of technology ‘play dates’. This helped us work out any glitches, internet speed, how we related, communicated and looked. My studio space is in the Customs House Studios in Westport and at the moment I’m working on a research project so, it looks (to my own children at least) like I’m plotting the downfall of a small country…charts, maps, sticky notes, colour coding, a lot of chopped up text stuck on the walls…maybe not what the class expect an artist’s studio to look like……I needn’t have worried…..they were far too busy with the work in the classroom.

For our first virtual visit we had decided that we would use a selection of materials in the classroom that I had brought for the ‘actual’ visit. We had separated each material into a numbered pocket folder. We then had a lottery selection with me matching each child to a number/material. The question we asked was ‘What might materials do to each other?’ so in teams of two initially, the children devised visual sequences of possible interactions between their materials and set up a photo shoot. Then we got nicely complicated in teams of four, then eight. They drew with pencils and markers as they planned, and again once they had set up their material interactions.

 

I actually found the virtual aspect quite tricky. It’s entirely natural when you are physically in a room full of children with creative action unfolding, to be able to tune in, to listen, watch, play, interact and try to read and understand the atmosphere being generated…….but virtually, it’s a little disconcerting. I was trying to see around corners, onto desks, into hands….it was like wearing vision restricting goggles. The up-side was that when the children were at the screen talking to me, they really had to explain themselves clearly and I could see some of their ideas being solidified for them in that process. I found it very funny too as some children couldn’t help but fix their hair as they talked to me/themselves or try to surprise me by popping up out of nowhere.

The photo shoots were very exciting. They were expert at setting up clear uncluttered shots, some making sophisticated stop motion sequences. They happened at the back of the classroom so I had no control at all over how they were progressing and no idea what the images would look like. And then they took their materials outside to see how would they behave or change with the inclusion of the weather and the school yard. They waved me good bye and switched me off. I waited anxiously for half an hour. At last, they switched me back on and while taking off coats and fixing wind swept hair, they told me about how they had got on. The photos they took were fantastic. In our discussions, a question had come up about ‘pixel art’ so after the session was over, I played around with pixelating some of their photos, I hope they like the results.

In our next virtual session, we are going to ask ‘What might materials do to us?’

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Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership 

Across an Open Field is the first Irish history book written and illustrated by children, revealing unique accounts and personal insights into Ireland’s past. Over 300 children from 10 primary schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland investigated the events of 1912-1922 during a two-year project led by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership. Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, the book project took place with children aged 8-12 in schools in Antrim, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Monaghan and Tyrone. Across an Open Field was launched by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D. on November 25th in Kilkenny Education Centre.

To create the publication, the children became action researchers within their own communities, each school taking a different direction as the children found their own areas of interest and exploration. Several schools engaged a local historian to support them in their research and the long-term nature of the project provided the scope for the children to look beyond the received myths and perceptions around historical events.

Across an Open Field captures the children’s fascinations across global and national happenings, local events and family stories in the 1912-1922 era. Some children were drawn to social change and economic development, and explorations included the Suffragette movement, transportation, workers’ rights and the children of the 1913 Lockout. The minutiae behind global events such as World War I were another source of intrigue. We learn about family histories and the role of blood relations during The Easter Rising and The War of Independence. Other children were captured by a single story – from pioneer aviator Denys Corbett Wilson to the Clones Shootings – which they chose to explore collectively in more detail.

Paul Fields, Director of Kilkenny Education Centre, said: ‘This publication demonstrates the commonality, humanity and concerns of our nation, all written and drawn by children. It offers a platform for historical discussion about our nation, our people, and how our children understand its evolution, development, emergence and identity.

Fíonán Carolan, aged 12, St Joseph’s BNS, Carrickmacross, Monaghan, said: ‘When the project started I asked my Dad if he had any relations in the war or anything to do with the Easter Rising. I didn’t expect to have any connection. It was very interesting to find out how they lived. I’ve become passionate about history, the Rising, the War, Michael Collins, the Titanic and the Lusitania.’

Linda O’Sullivan, Teacher at St Joseph’s BNS, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, said: ‘I feel that children have developed a wonderful sense of how history can leap off the page and come alive for them from this project.’

Marie O’Donoghue of the Education Authority, Northern Ireland, said: ‘The pioneering methods of Kids’ Own forge a rich environment where creativity is nurtured and developed. When children are placed in this type of environment they never cease to amaze us. They shine with their ability to think for themselves, to solve problems and to notice something that we would never think of. The depth and breadth of the learning that the children are experiencing is tangible. This is education at its best.’

Orla Kenny, Director of Kids’ Own, said: ‘This publication provides a unique and significant resource as a first history-book publication developed by children as part of the commemoration initiative. The title of the book is drawn from the children’s own words – from a story about World War One – but as the title, it seeks to convey history as an open field of investigation. We hope that it offers a stimulus for continued dialogue and learning, and inspires children everywhere to have a deeper connection with our history and our culture.

Across an Open Field is published by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership in association with Kilkenny Education Centre (representing the Association of Teacher Education Centres in Ireland) and the Education Authority, Northern Ireland. The children’s historical research is documented on a dedicated website which includes case studies and videos capturing their voices and perspectives: 100yearhistory.com

The publication is available from kidsown.ie.

 

Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College and Niamh Woods from Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select. The students involved have selected and curated an exhibition, which opens Friday the 25th of November, at 7pm.

Student Blog – No. 1

Nearing the middle of our Transition Year, our art teachers, Kieran Gallagher (St. Oliver’s) and Áine Curran (Our Lady’s College), told us we would be collaborating in the curation of an art exhibition for the Highlanes Gallery, here in Drogheda. Before we started this project, we didn’t know much about what a curator did; how much work and research was involved in creating an exhibition. We were always the artists, but never would we have thought of being curators. To our first few meetings at the Highlanes, we came in filled with curiosity, intrigue and excitement- and these have only intensified coming closer to the final countdown. At the first few meetings, we looked at the British Council’s Collection for artwork that we liked. Then we discussed why we admired these pieces; we spoke of colours, mediums and what the imagery made us feel, think. We made lists of the art we desired and sent it out to the British Council. Unfortunately, some of the artwork was unavailable – but we kept looking until we found other works that we liked.

During the summer, we got the chance to go out to Dublin and visit a few art galleries. We collected our own research on things like how tours were given, lighting and labelling. The information we gathered would be applicable to our exhibition and it was helpful to see how these galleries were run. Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane was the first gallery we visited. We had a quick but informative tour as time was limited. Then our enthusiastic tour guide at The Little Museum of Dublin gave us a very interesting tour through Stephen’s Green. The Kerlin Gallery was next on our list. We all agreed on how unique and beautiful the gallery space was. We then went from the Kerlin gallery to another contemporary gallery, The Douglas Hyde Gallery. After that, we visited the RHA, which was filled with compelling works. The National Gallery was displaying the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci at this time which we had the chance to see. Lastly we were invited to the opening of an exhibition in Farmleigh. The trip gave us invaluable experience for what is to come.

When a final list of the artwork was agreed on, we had to link all this artwork to a theme. Luckily, the works we’ve chosen did in fact have numerous themes combining them. We also had the privilege of choosing works from the Drogheda Municipal Art collection. Then we moved on to the important task of naming the exhibition. There was many ingenious suggestions made, but in the end “In Sense Of Place”, we felt defined our whole perception of these artworks. We not only had to unite the artworks to a theme, but also the artists to each other. We did extensive background research on these artists, their work, their style and their art movements.

Now with less than two weeks until showtime; the work has doubled, but also our enthusiasm and passion.

Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children's art exhibition 'paint' at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Artist in Residence – Virtually There Project – Blog Post No.1

Our project began when we met on our first training day in Portlaoise. We were set a task to create something together using the available materials (markers, paper, tape, pencils). It was a gorgeous sunny day so we opted to take the materials outside. There was a breeze that kept catching the papers we had laid on the ground, so we weighted them with different found objects: sticks, stones, leaves. A woodlouse crawled across one of them and we followed its trail with a pencil line. There were linear cracks in the paving stones. We traced shadows from the strong sunlight. We ‘painted’ with the available moss. We found that the breeze, the light and the ‘wild life’ made us follow the materials. There was an equality to that process between artist, teacher, materials and environment that we both responded to. That idea of ‘Following Materials’ became a clear starting point for our project with the children.

I am very lucky to have a Creative Resource Centre in Castlebar, so I loaded up the car before travelling to Tralee with card, elastic, string, paper, cotton, hessian, plastic, tubing, test jars, tape, lids, bottles, cones, fabric, netting, black board, beads, ribbon, chalk, pestle and mortars, sieves, glues, stones, sticks, wool, felt. As is to be expected, the children responded really well to the explosion of different materials brought into their classroom. The freedom to physically move around the room also played an important part as did the decision to take the entire school day for the project. The materials generated an excitement and flow of possibility and so Carmel and I became very much secondary to the general activity. We were able to help with individual creative engineering problems as they arose and to watch as the materials led the children on a wide and varied series of routes sparked by their own passions and knowledge. When we had finished and were reflecting on the day, the children’s questions and comments were rooted in their own experiences and so we had a really insightful set of statements to think about, which will definitely spark the next sessions.

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Getting to know the children through their working methods with the materials gives a privileged insight into their unique personalities but also for me as a visitor, into their deep bonds as a class group. I usually work with children outside of school environments and so I was really struck by how close and knowing their working relationships are. Also, the introduction of materials that invite exciting ideas rather than particular skills generates an equality that is really interesting to watch. The children all seemed to be on an equal footing, with no-one being selected as ‘the best’ (which may put them under an expectant pressure or hold others in their shadow a little). Everyone got on with their own ideas unconcerned and unintimidated, thanks to the level field introduced by the new materials. Carmel and I were free to check in with each other regularly as to how it was all going, which is a lovely reassuring thing for us as adults that hugely benefits the children by really focusing on and protecting the creative flow. In terms of my relationship with the class, I gratefully accepted all their warm and generous words during our reflection but I’m very aware that the real positivity lies in the natural, exciting entanglements between the materials and the children themselves. I’m really interested to see how it translates or is transformed through the addition of the virtual element next week.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Written by Cliona Harmey with input from creative collaborators & teachers on the project

As the artist developing the public art project Dublin Ships (commissioned by Dublin City Council) I wanted an engagement project to run in parallel within the duration of the art work. Dublin Ships was a temporary public artwork generated via a live electronic information system (AIS) which tracked the locations of ships coming in and out of Dublin Port. The names of the most recently arrived and most recently departed ships from Dublin Port were displayed on two large LED screens sited at the Scherzer Bridges close to the Samuel Beckett Bridge over a nine month period. The artwork was concerned with the meanings and poetic qualities of ship names which included references to maritime trade, cargoes, historical figures and distant places.

Together with the commissioners, Ruairí Ó Cuív and Liz Coman, we decided to work with children living locally who were potentially experiencing the artwork, in their day to day lives, over the extended period of time.

We approached three experienced and innovative people, artist Martina Galvin, visual arts educator Katy Fitzpatrick and philosopher Aislinn O’ Donnell to work on the project. All of them had existing or previous relationships with the schools in the area and a familiarity with the locale. The initial framework for our planning was finding different ways to enable students to respond to ideas prompted by the artwork. Through collaborative team planning and an ongoing dialogue, we designed a series of four class group sessions, which included using verbal discussion, hands-on making, notebook work and an experiential field trip.

Martina Galvin, Artist

As I was at the philosophical discussions in the classrooms, and as mesmerised as the children on the port visits, I was able to gauge what areas to focus on in the workshops in the classrooms.  Although I concentrated on the children creating their own public art work for the port, there were many strands that could be expanded on in an artistic and creative way.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

The engagement project was developed with four schools on both sides of the Liffey. Therefore the fact that many of the students had an existing awareness of the artwork was very helpful in terms of generating discussion and bouncing ideas around as the project progressed.

The project began with discussions led by Aislinn and Katy, which explored the potiential for many different forms of art and was an important springboard for opening up thinking at the start of the project. This initial part of the project also included imagining and speculating on the visible and invisible elements of signal and communications based technologies that surround us in our everyday lives. This sowed an important seed for later abstract drawings.

During the initial phase of the project there was a field trip to the port with Martina Galvin and Charlie Murphy, Communications Manager of Dublin Port Company. This visit allowed the young people to see behind the walls of a facility close to their locality and also to see operations in the control room. The port visit was a very exciting experiential highlight. One group got to see the arrival of a large cruise ship “Carribean Princess” up close from within the control room. This particular school is opposite the port and regularly sees shipping traffic at a distance from the windows of the school across from the other side of the river.

After these discussions, children worked with visual artist Martina Galvin to come up with initial ideas for their own public artworks. These included many imaginative responses, some of which also took the form of experiences or tours. Other suggestions included artwork for 3 dancers, a skatepark as an artwork, an artwork that might take you back to the time of the dinosaurs, as well as artworks designed for specific locations.

The young people kept individual project notebooks to store their ideas and gather their research. Myself and Martina discussed with the children the ways in which artists’ use notebooks. We brought some examples of our own notebooks to show them. The use of personal notebooks was a simple but very effective methodology giving students some sense of agency and personal investment in the project.

Back in the classrooms, we used photographs recorded by Martina as prompts to jog pupil’s memories and to initiate discussion of their experience of the port and to recount what it was like to see behind the scenes.

Marina Galvin, Artist

The “notebook’ as the collector of this rich array of materials and ideas, was a great way to give the children individual freedom but yet not lose their responses and creative ideas. I did provide them with a rich and diverse set of materials in the workshops, and this definitely helped move them from ‘traditional illustrations’ of what they saw, to developing imaginitive ideas. I took extensive photographs of the port trips and re visited the trip using these photographs to bring the port back to the classroom – ensuring we were not working from a blank canvas. For instance, they had a “smell” page in the notebooks and they put drops lavender or lemon grass oil on their notebook page. This corresponded directly back to the very, very strong smell of the grain storage depots in the port. We were all in awe that this grain is the only source of wheat for all the bread made in Ireland that we all consume!!  They also wrote out ideas, as I emphasised that ideas can be thought and written, not necessarily made. This allowed greater creative freedom. There were numerous examples of very individual responses, and I think that was part of the highlight of the project for me – enabling the children to have very individual creative process free from the necessity to materialise an idea.

Mary Sunderland, teacher from St Lawrence’s Girls National School, Sherriff Street, Dublin 1 

What I loved most was how the project utilised the children’s surroundings to inform and lead the project. The children and I experienced things that we never would normally and all of them being on our doorstep. This included learning about Dublin Port and Dublin Ships. It was a thoroughly enjoyable project.

After the port visit some teachers initiated project work in classtime that happened between the port visit and the artist sessions. Some extraordinary abstract sculptural and graphic elements which grew out of material exploration and the discussion of visible and invisible elements.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The children’s discussions and descriptions of the port visit were really lovely. Highlights included the strong smell of grain being delivered, the control room itself, looking through binoculars out to sea, talking to an incoming ship, and speaking/singing through megaphones.

One challenging aspect was the sheer volume of work generated over the course of four sessions with facilitators. The children produced a vast amount of material that illustrated their thinking and responded to ideas and materials. The editing was quite a challenging process and a little unwieldy. At the initial stage of the project we were unsure exactly what form the final output would take, in retrospect our job would have been easier if we had some clarity on final form earlier.

While the project was happening the four teachers involved were very committed and active collaborators. Some of the teachers kept discussion going and came up with complementary activities which happened in the time between sessions.

After the summer break it was challenging to re-engage the schools in the project as three out of four of the teachers involved were on leave of absence and new teachers were starting with the class groups. These teachers had not experienced the main aspects of the project and so picking up and further developing themes encountered was very difficult.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Working in parallel and with support from the other practitioners and supportive teachers was really crucial and drove the engagement project.

I compiled the collated information into an ‘Online Showcase’ which offered an overview of some of the key questions we explored. We tried to give a flavour of our approach, which we compiled from audio recordings together with images and drawings by the participants.

Myself and Liz Coman returned to one class group to show them the online showcase and receive their feedback. In this discussion the impact of the project was obvious as the children shared strong visual and verbal memories of their experience. The importance of the use of notebooks as a tool to gather thinking as research was commented on by the children. When we showed the online showcase to the children we discussed how I had selected images and sound pieces from a vast amount of content – curating their work in a sense. With a longer engagement time we could have developed this aspect of choice and curation of the content more directly with the children.

The collated images of their drawings into video clips got strong responses from the children. A silent image sequence of their abstract drawings stimulated a huge level of quiet concentration and seemed one of the most effective ways of collating this information for group response and class room use.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

For me as an artist the project enabled mediation and discussion of the public art work with the local school community. It also provided valuable feedback and helped us gauge on some level the effectiveness of the public art project overall. Children also engaged in discussions with parents or grandparents around the work and also helped to mediate the work to the wider community for us.

The engagement project also introduced the children to the inner workings of the port, a space which is in their backyard and which has a legacy in their community. They engaged directly in discussion of what ships come in and out, the cargo involved, and the names of ships.

The project introduced children to the concept of different forms contemporary art work can take. The project also allowed children time and space to make a creative response to their experience of the visiting the port, seeing the artwork and understanding how it was made.

The collaboration between the creative facilitators, the teachers and staff of Dublin City Public Art Programme, Dublin City Arts Office, and Dublin Port enabled a degree of peer to peer learning with different areas of expertise coming together to support the children’s experience.

 

The 100-year history project is a creative commemoration project, engaging children and teachers from 10 schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland with the Decade of Commemorations, through research and creative activity alongside a professional artist and writer. The project is phased to encompass child-led research, exploring the wider political events of the decade 1912-22 through the lens of local and family histories.

The 100 Year History publication will be launched in September 2016.

The project aims to:

  1. Support a way of working that involves children as action researchers within their own communities and that recognises the value of the arts for breaking down cultural barrier.
  2. Make a unique commemorative book publication to provide a legacy that promotes children’s inclusion in commemorations, and the power of the child’s voice to challenge the perceptions of adults.
  3. Engage children with the decade of commemorations through child-led research and creative activity alongside a professional artist and writer.
  4. Challenge received myths and perceptions around historical events from 1912-22, and break the culture of silence surrounding these events.

Who was involved?

The project is managed and led by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, in conjunction with the Kilkenny Education Centre, Blackrock Education Centre, Dublin West Education Centre, Limerick Education Centre, and the Belfast Education and Library Board. For 10 primary schools North and South of Ireland with artist Ann Donnelly and writer Mary Branley.  The project is funded by The Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.

The 12 primary schools included;

  • Northampton National School, Kinvara, Co. Galway
  • Laghey Primary School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
  • Inchicore National School, Dublin 10
  • Hazelwood Integrated PS, Belfast
  • Lisnafunchin National School, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny
  • Gaelscoil na Bhfál, Falls Road, Belfast
  • Nicker National School, Old Pallas, Co. Limerick
  • Holy Rosary Primary School, Belfast
  • St Joseph’s Boys National School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
  • St Brigid’s National School, Dublin 4

How did you begin?

Phase one of the project began with an initial teacher meeting, with teachers from schools, north and south, artist Ann Donnelly & writer Mary Branley, representatives from the partner organisations. The aim of the meeting was to provide a space for teachers participating in the project to come together to begin to discuss and plan the project.

The feedback from the teachers on the day reflected both their excitement about the project, as well as their fears and concerns, in terms of supporting the children through a research process while being mindful of the political sensibilities involved;

“Only British history is taught to the pupils in my school. I am excited to teach the children some history about Northern Ireland, especially within their own locality. Children learn a lot of British history but have never visited the settings of these historical events. By learning about local history the children can compare now and then.”

“There was a positive sense of schools working as part of a group, with help from writer and artist.”

“Rich historic surroundings around our school in Inchicore/ Kilmainham. I am excited and enthusiastic about beginning the project and exploring, 1. How the children interpret these events explored, and 2. How it can be linked to personal/ local history, and also how it can be compared to their experiences of the world today – perspective of an innocent eye.”

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

This work is not just about the facts and stories that have been uncovered, although some of these are full of interest and worth: above all, the project needed to be child-led. This approach has required a huge amount of resourcefulness from all concerned, as often the material doesn’t exist in a form that is easily accessible, particularly for younger children or those with English as a second language. The role of the writer and artist was in supporting children and teachers in their research, encouraging them to dig deeper into local and family history.

Writer Mary Branley

The actual historical knowledge the children researched through different means and sources. In two schools so far the entire class focused on place related incidents, i.e. The Lockout of 1913 in Haddington Rd Dublin, The Clones Shooting in 1922 (in which the newly established border plays a big part), and the arrival of the Belgian Refugees in Monaghan, Carrickmacross. In preparing these stories for publication, children, teacher, artist and writer worked together to tell the story orally, writer transcribed, we revisited the story for accuracy, completeness, further details and context. Once agreement had been reached on the written story, the children selected the images or aspects of the story they wanted to illustrate. This kind of collective working meant both a higher level of knowledge was attained, and shared, and that a high level of ownership of both text and illustrations was reached. The role of the adults was to support the children in their line of inquiry, rather than leading the children in any particular direction.

Pupil from St Joseph’s Boys’ National School, Carrickmacross

“There has been a lot of work researching, searching the internet and books and doing drawings. But it should be spectacular at the end to see what other kids have done”.

Pupils from Gaelscoil na Bhfál, Belfast

“We walked from school to City Cemetery up the Falls Road. It took us five minutes. It’s a very old cemetery. We saw graves from 1789. We first had to go big gates with statues on either side of the wall, we followed the trail to find the graves.

The highlight of our day was climbing through bushes to find what graves there were. Someone leaned over to pull the ivy vines away from the headstone. We saw a grave over 200 years old.

We also found the grave of Viscount Perrie’s. He was in charge of Harland and Wolf during the building of the Titanic”.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Artist Ann Donnelly

The children’s enthusiasm was exciting in every school, I loved seeing real objects and photos, these really brought things to life for me. Or hearing about something that happened just around the corner, amazing stories and ideas. Louis from Kilkenny discovered from visiting historian that his great aunt was the first woman to drive an armoured car. Children in the Limerick class told me about rebel ambushes a few fields away and about great aunts who were shot as German informers near Lublin in Poland. I was challenged to ensure that these amazing little stories did not get swept away in a big important narrative strand.

Writer Mary Branley

School visits are always exciting and it’s a privilege to be welcomed wherever we have gone. It was a delight to meet individual children who had found out about the lives of their great great grandparents, or other family members, and conveyed their amazement in looking at artefacts, like photos, letters from the trenches in World War 1 and even a beautifully boxed deck of playing cards. It made history come alive to make connections with family members, in some cases with the same names as themselves and clear family resemblances.

The sensitivity of the history itself, both of the formation of the Republic of Ireland and the creation of Northern Ireland challenged us. As one teacher explained it “History is not just fact, but perspectives on the same stories, depending on your sources. Then there are opinions and judgments on the facts which we are living with to this day. It’s not easy for children to understand this, but their perspectives are also part of the learning process.” We need to be aware of the pitfalls of simple jingoistic narratives that essentially continue the status quo, and never go deeper into the complexities of issues that might challenge us, and lead us to question our mono cultural perspectives. But there has never been a better time to investigate the past, with so many and varied sources now available.

Teacher Linda O’Sullivan

“I feel that children have developed a wonderful sense of how history can leap off the page and come alive for them from this project”.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Writer Mary Branley

Winston Churchill famously described history, as “just one damn thing after another.”  This is both true and very misleading. Facts are facts, but they don’t exist by themselves, such as neat little sums,like 2+2=4. There are causes, consequences, terrible events, and further reprisals in an ongoing saga of power and politics. Then there are the ordinary people caught up in battles for equality, rights, justice and the wish to lead a peaceful life. This can be a daunting task for children to negotiate. But how worthwhile to allow children to connect with and make sense of the past.

Pupil from St Joseph’s Boys’ National School, Carrickmacross

“My Grandad has a chest of stuff about PJ Cassidy. I felt excited because someone in our family was in such a big event and I had real thing from 100 years ago to show the boys in the class”.

 

 

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Vanya:

I was asked by Kids’ Own if I would like to rejoin the Virtually There residency programme again with a new school in Tralee. I was delighted to be part of it again as it is such a unique project. The teacher, Marie O’Connell and myself settled on a starting point (the old school buildings that used to be the schools in Ardfert). It was a starting idea that would hopefully help link the curriculum, was relevant to the area and therefore would hopefully speak to the class, and that was something that had many options and something we could both get exited about as well.

Marie:

The project started when I met with Vanya in Dublin. I suggested that a good point for beginning might be local history as our village is steeped in history. It contains may old ruins. There is also an old school building in the village. This old school closed 40 years ago and our present school opened 40 years ago. We felt this was a good area to focus on as history lends itself to lots of integration with many other subjects. Vanya agreed that this might be a good place to start as it tied in with her art as well. We both agreed that even though this was our starting point the project might take other directions.

Our first session happened when Vanya, our artist, visited the school. One of the activities that day was walking down the village to visit the old school. So that’s how it started. That visit was the basis for maths work – estimation, length, geography – map work, history – researching, working as an historian, English – writing reports on many of the sessions with Vanya and lots of group work, collaboration between the children and artist and teacher. The ICT aspect was very exciting for the children. They were amazed the first day but they became so accustomed to seeing Vanya on the whiteboard that it became ‘norm’ from then on.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Vanya:

The process of the residency is one of openness and collaboration, listening and process rather than results. This makes for a great creative environment where anything can happen and where all ideas and methods of making are allowed. We used all sorts of ways to make enquiries, asked lots of questions, and tried lots of new methods of making; All to help us look at things with new eyes. The online element of the project can pose many challenges but gives such ownership to the children and the teacher, which to me is of amazing value. The virtual presence in the classroom teaches me to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible and asks me to be both very prepared but stay open simultaneously.

Marie:

Seeing the children so engrossed in the activities and being so enthusiastic made me smile. What I found challenging during the activities was making sure that I was giving the children the correct instructions given to me by Vanya. In other words that we were both on the same page.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Vanya:

Apart from the joy of working with this great class, full of great and curious minds the projects also reflects elements of studio work that is ongoing for the artist which makes it a uniquely integrated and allows for so much more, like more philosophical questions, scientific ideas being put to the test and other more open ended queries. In our particular project we asked for instance ‘what history is made of’ and explored notions around fact and fiction, interpretation and perception.

Marie:

It is very interesting to work with another person in the classroom as this is rare enough in teaching except for areas of learning support/resource. The teacher is usually in charge of picking content/activities to explore with the class but during a project like this it is a real collaboration between the teacher, artist and pupils. Discussion and being open to others’ suggestions is very important.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Vanya:

For me my skills around fine-tuning the process of ‘feeling our way through’ in other words: Not planning too far ahead to allow for all the wonderful things in between, have vastly increased. It has taught me to trust the openness and to have faith that there is great meaning, inspiration and excitement in all the little things we come across.

Marie:

I think my focus on ‘the process’ has changed. I can see the importance in it and the importance in allowing the children to have their say and direct the project. It might be a different direction than I had in mind at the beginning and as a result a different outcome but I’ve learned that that is fine as well. There may not be an end product.

Other information.

Vanya:

As part of the project/ residency an online journal, to document the process, is kept by all involved; This not only allows for the children, artists and teachers to follow each others projects, it gives parents a window into the richness of the children’s thinking during the process. It also shows additional personal insights, which might otherwise be lost.

Marie:

As a teacher I believe in helping each child to reach their full potential through exposing them to as many enriching and varied experiences as possible. I feel that the children benefit as a result of being challenged. This awakens their creativity, imagination, problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are very important for life in the 21st century. I also enjoy trying something new and watching the benefit and enjoyment that the children get from it. The Virtually There project provided a great opportunity to integrate many curriculum areas and pedagogies.

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

Room 13 is a well-established and renowned arts education programme, which began in Fort William, UK, and now exists in schools throughout the world. I was interested in the school studio concept for a long time and curious about how it would work in practice. I had consulted with artists and schools to assess their experiences of traditional artist-in-residence projects and to identify their cultural needs in going forward. I knew that artists and schools were interested in exploring alternative models of arts-in-education and Room 13 encompassed all the principles we were interested in upholding.

Orla Kelly had a keen interest in Room 13 also and following much thought and dialogue we embarked on visiting the original Room 13 in Caol Primary School, Fortwilliam, to see what a student run art studio looked like. It was a wonderful visit and we were greatly inspired by the children and artist we met there. Their studio is hosted by the primary school but autonomous in all other aspects. It is managed by the students and self-sustainable.

On our return to Fingal we set about meeting with Dublin 15 schools interested in the possibility of establishing a similar studio model in their school. Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS in Blanchardstown and Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS were eager and excited about the potential of such a project. They had a strong understanding of the child-centred ethos of Room 13 and they were prepared to provide their students with a suitable space within the school to be transformed into a working studio.

After some planning the door of an empty classroom was opened to artist Orla Kelly and to Anne Cradden in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS and Tyrrelstown ETNS respectively and to each child and teacher in the school to use as a creative studio. Orla and Anne began introducing themselves to the children and teachers in their respective schools by delivering playful artistic sessions over several weeks. During this time the children became familiar with the artist, the art materials, facilities, and the freedom attached to this new space within their school. Relationships formed over time and interest groups organically emerged. Fifth class in both schools established themselves as lead protagonists in developing the studios. Initial dialogue focused on key questions around ‘studio’ and ‘environment’. We compared the spaces we share with others to the spaces we occupy and enjoy alone. We reflected on how our environment influences our behaviour and activities. Together we considered the characteristics of an effective studio environment in a school context and the idea of a ‘shared studio’ as a site supported by a community of people, for thinking and making.

A workspace within the Studio ~ Scoil Bhríde Cailíní was given to artist Orla Kelly for her own personal practice by the students. Like other Room 13 projects, the artist’s role is to offer guidance to the line of enquiry lead by the children and to scaffold their creative curiosity. The studio is for those who want to engage with it and is not compulsory for any child or teacher to participate in studio activities.

Cultural visits to exhibitions, places of interest and professional artists’ studios are an important element of the programme. Already the children have visited and explored Draíocht’s artist studio; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Frances Bacon’s Studio and works; IMMA artists’ studios and collection; and they intend on visiting the NCAD graduate show this June. The site visits provide the children and teachers with opportunities to experience contemporary art outside of the school environment and inform their own investigations back in the Studio.

Renee Moran, Visual Arts Coordinator in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní
Reflections on Room 13

We were delighted to hear that we had been chosen to take part in Room 13 after expressing an interest in the project to Fingal Arts Office. Admittedly, after the initial excitement, I began to grow anxious, as I really wanted it to work. Everything that had enthused me about the project also posed a considerable challenge. On a practical level, what would a working art studio demand of a primary school? Could we meet the demands? How would we work with the artist? Would the artist suit our school, would we suit the artist? Would our pupils embrace Room 13 or be confused or at best, bemused by it? Could the rules of a school be relaxed enough for the idealogy of Room 13? Would our staff be willing to give up valuable class time for the art workshops?

Thankfully, these challenges were met and dealt with effectively over the school year. First and foremost our artist, Orla Kelly, has been a pleasure to work with. She has built a wonderful rapport with the pupils and teachers of our school and the importance of this cannot be underestimated as it has fostered a creative and collaborative environment in which to work. Both teachers and pupils enjoy Orla’s enthusiastic and encouraging approach to work within Room 13. The staff of Scoil Bhríde has supported Room 13 from the beginning and was eager to take part in all of the workshops. Class teachers were flexible with their own timetables to allow for this and support teachers were encouraged to bring smaller groups to the studio. We consider ourselves privileged to have such a space within our school where pupils can go and make art in a very different way to the classroom environment. The pupils absolutely love Room 13. Scoil Bhríde is a primary school and therefore operates within certain constraints. As a staff, we were curious about how the somewhat informal approach of Room 13 would work out. It has been interesting and uplifting to see that the pupils, in particular the senior pupils, have adopted a respectful attitude to the studio. Rather than taking advantage of the freedom offered within the studio and wasting the opportunity afforded to them, they have embraced this and used this in the spirit with which it was intended. They experiment, explore and enjoy the process rather than focusing solely on the end product.

The biggest change with regard to Room 13 is that we now have an art studio within our school and this has become normal! Room 13 has worked its way seamlessly into the life of Scoil Bhríde. We have all adopted it as something that we can all avail of. Orla Kelly is a valued colleague and Room 13 is our studio.

Sinéad Toomey, Fifth Class Teacher Scoil Bhríde Cailíní

What aspects of the project made you smile?

Seeing the children make art with very few limitations or inhibitions. As a class teacher, you try to encourage children to be as creative as possible. However, in a classroom setting this is not always feasible as firstly, there are the time constraints of setting up the classroom for art and tidying up afterwards. Secondly, in the classroom it is generally more practical to focus on one strand of the art curriculum at a time as it is easier to manage art supplies. This also means that the children tend to have to finish their art in a limited space of time before moving on to a new strand.

With Room 13, the art supplies are ready and waiting for the children. They know where to find everything they need and where to put them when they are finished. They’re not afraid to get paint on the floor or desks! They can spend as much time as they want on a project. In this way they are exploring all of the strands of the curriculum on their own terms, often mixing and blending media. They are less concerned with getting things “wrong” and work more confidently and intuitively.

What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

One of the main aspects of the Room 13 project is letting the children take control of their own learning and encouraging them to be more independent. During the first couple of weeks most of the children really took to this and started working straight away. Others found it difficult. Some children would flit from paint to clay to fabric, starting an art activity within the studio and leaving it half way through. Others would wander around the room, struggling for inspiration. As a teacher I found it very difficult not to intervene and give them a project to complete.

However, I have noticed a huge change in these children since the project started. Now when they come to Room 13 they spend a few minutes looking through art books or observing other pieces of art for inspiration before getting started. Often they will have ideas before they come into the room, or have something they began the day/week before that they want to finish. I don’t think that these children would have developed these types of skills if they weren’t given the chance to work independently.

Artist Orla Kelly ~ Reflections on Room 13

I am a contemporary artist working presently with painting and drawing. On a regular day I can have about 20 drop in visitors to my shared studio space in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní to see what I am working on, to chat about art, materials, constructing and engineering, or just to give a hug. It’s not a regular studio environment, as the average age of those I share with are 8-11 years old but it is a perfectly dynamic and rich one,  offering daily crits, posing meaningful aesthetic challenges, providing an enthusiastic and vocal audience for developing work.

The studio is almost always an ordered mess which is perfectly fine. After we visited Francis Bacon’s studio at The Hugh Lane Gallery on one of our cultural visits, we agreed that sometimes a certain amount of chaos is required for creating, although we didn’t want to reach his level just yet. When the young artists and I work together in the space we usually do so on the floor. It means we are all on the same level, investigating together. The conversations we share are a mixture of student –teacher technical inquiry, philosophical wonderings, aesthetic meanderings probing the nature of the arts and life. It is a generous and honest environment.

How do you feel about Room 13?

Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS,  10 – 11 yrs

‘Really happy and lucky’
‘I enjoy that its messy as it means we’re very creative’
‘You get to use lots of art materials and you can work on any art project you want’
‘I’m so happy that Orla and Julie are in our school because without them we would not be able to do anything we want concerning our own creativity’
‘I’m glad to have Orla in my school; she is very kind and helpful’
‘When Orla is there I feel welcome she inspires me a lot, when I don’t know what to do she helps me work out ideas’
‘Sometimes it’s challenging, once I had to go and use the hot glue and Orla was there to rescue me’
‘It feels really fun and exciting Orla is very talented’
‘I enjoy all the art with my friends’

Aoife Coffey, Arts Coordinator, Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS

What aspects of the project made you smile?

The project is a wonderful opportunity for children to experience what I would consider real art. It made me smile to see my own student from the ASD unit burst through the door every morning with a new creation he had made and to listen to him describe the process of how he made it. There is very much a sense amongst the children that Room 13 is theirs. I’m looking forward to watching this project grow and expand over the next few years. It is an exciting time for us in Tyrrelstown Educate Together. We are so happy and grateful to be working with Anne this year as she has had such a special influence over the children in opening their eyes to the art world!
What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?
The beginning of the project was challenging as we had to find a suitable space within the school without using up space we needed. Emails were flying back and forth with problems and solutions until we found a room we all agreed on. Fortunately we were able to add a sink to the room and our wonderful art studio was born.  With the help of Julie, Orla and Anne the whole project ran smoothly from then on. The staff showed a great interest in the project and we all agreed it was a fantastic opportunity for our school and our pupils. When Anne came on board the studio really got going. On any given day as you walk past the studio children are busily designing, painting and constructing. There is always something new happening. It is wonderful to see the children have their own space and time to just create. We are very appreciative in the school to have our very own art studio!

Anne Cradden, Artist ~ Reflections on Room 13

Room 13 has been a revelation for me. At the start, I thought that helping the students with their investigations and then doing my own work in sculpture and drawing would be two entirely separate strands of the same project. However, the fact that we work side by side has meant that an incredibly dynamic creative environment has developed, where I believe the students’ approach to art making, and my own, have evolved and changed at a fundamental level. We have been working with an emphasis on experimentation and process rather than on “the end result,” and I have been amazed not only by the work the students have produced but also the important and exciting issues that come up in the studio, such as the value of contemporary art, the intersection between art and science, and the meaning of beauty. However, Room 13 has also fundamentally changed how I produce my own work.  On one level, being able to use the school building for temporary sculptural installations has been incredibly inspiring. More importantly, sharing the studio with the young artists has meant that constant consultation and discussion with them has become the norm for me, and now I find their input, their unique perspective, and their practical help invaluable.

Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS Students, 10 – 11 yrs

‘Room 13 is not an ordinary place’
‘It’s a place in our school with an artist’
‘The studio is having an Art Mart…we will be making our own art…and selling it and use the money to buy more art stuff like paint, fabric, paper’
‘Room 13 is a place where you can express your feelings’
‘I think about art in a different way now’

What’s next for the project?

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

The development of pupils’ entrepreneur and enterprise skills is an important part of the programme. Responsibility for running the studio will be divided among those students with a keen interest in the mechanics of arts administration work. They are gaining an understanding of my work in Fingal Arts Office and the important role played by organisations and individuals providing contexts within which art is made, shared and received. For some students this is the exciting part, and for others the art making is more exciting. Wherever their interest lies, there is a role for everyone interested in being involved. Both studios are evolving organically. Each week is informed by the previous and although the starting points were similar in each school, the individual studios are unique in how they are used and managed at this time. The pupils are very proud of their art studios and would choose to work there all day given the choice.
It’s important to mention that these studio projects are in the early stages of development. Our aim is to build the capacity of the children to experiment, explore, invent and realise their creative ideas over time. Fingal Arts Office and the schools have pledged to support the development of the studios for three years before assessing their viability to continue as self-sustainable entities thereafter.

Documentation

Room 13 ~ Fingal features on the Room 13 International website. However we would like to assist the students establish their very own online resource, one that they can control. We have discussed the possibility of creating a website for Room 13~Fingal with the children. They are interested in sharing their art work online with a wide audience. They are also interested in establishing an editorial team in each school. Some have expressed a keen interest in film / photography and others in writing. They are eager to respond to exhibition visits and share their opinions on the contemporary art that they have seen. The website could act as a forum for exchange between the two Room 13 projects in Dublin 15 and with Room 13 and young people elsewhere. It would be ideal for reinforcing the visual literacy, critical thinking and aesthetic development skills learned throughout the studio project.

Contact Details
For more information on Room 13~Fingal please contact: Julie Clarke, Youth & Education Arts Officer, Fingal County Council, Grove Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Email: julie.clarke@fingal.ie. Phone: 01 8905960
Room 13~Fingal, is proudly sponsored by Fingal County Council’s Arts Office

Context

Dominican Primary School (DPS) is a DEIS (Dep. of Education and Skills) co-educational primary school. The Junior Infants class consists of 18 students, 12 of those are learning English as an additional language (EAL). DEIS schools address and prioritize the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities. DPS is concerned with the education of the whole person. It aims to provide opportunities for each child to reach his or her full potential, by exposing them to a wide variety of opportunities that develops and develops their overall growth and self-esteem.
The artist Helen Barry is based in the school through DLRCC’s DLR Primary Arts that supports a long-term artist in residence programme of 24 contact hours over a 4to 5 month period. This has been extended through the Artist at Work residency programme in DLR Lexicon Library where the Helen is currently based. Within walking distance from the school and this offers a further 14 contact hours in the school and in DLR Lexicon’s Project Room.

Timeframe

The artist commenced in Dominican Primary School in November 2014 and will continue through until May or June 2015. We meet weekly mostly based in the school and some sessions are based in DLR Lexicon.

Our Vision

We learn by doing and we learn from each other. Using a child centred and child led approach to:

Documenting

DLR Primary Arts supports the learning, observations and experience through a blog. The children, artist and teacher will all contribute to the blog. We will also invite others to record their observations of the process and impact it is having on the children, teacher\s and artist through the school principal, parents, teachers, and arts office and library staff. We are using a multi disciplinary approach and will be able to record the spoken word, written word, sounds and images and moving images.

The Teacher

As a class teacher working in a DEIS school I feel it is important to participate and work in partnership with others, in education in promoting social inclusion for the children I teach. DLR Primary Arts (creative practitioner project) and Artist At Work workshops with Helen are providing a wonderful and enriching experience for the children and for me as a teacher. Helen’s expertise and artistic insight as an artist has changed my own opinion on art education especially in the early years.

I feel it is important to highlight the large number of children learning English as an additional language in the class, which presents its own challenges for me as a teacher and brings its own frustrations to the children. The artistic process involved with each sessions allows children of all abilities and backgrounds to express their personal ideas, co-operate and communicate with their peers and adults and express their uniqueness in a positive learning environment. The sessions with Helen are providing a great means for communication for the children while reducing their frustrations of language and allowing their competance and confidence to grow.

Helen’s use of the aistear principles which guide her practise and sessions are very much child-centred and child led. Literacy, SPHE and mathematical language are integrated as well as the Visual Art strands.

The Children

would also like to share their own opinions and experiences working on the projects…

Me and Angeline made a castle”, Zhya 5yrs
I like the Lexicon library because we made things”, Holly 5yrs
The tubes are fun I made a bridge”, Amanda 5yrs
We do lots of cutting and making things”, Daivik 4yrs
I like collecting stuff and making things”, Alma 5yrs
Helen plays with us”, Brooke 4yrs

The Artist:

WE ARE

I observe
I listen
I watch
I am open
I am inspired
We talk
We plan
We ask
We make
We are challenged
We are patient
We are open
We explore
We build
We stick
We poke
We cry
We laugh
We reflect
They argue
We learn
We support
We are creative
We give
We work
We struggle
We are honest
They are brutally honest
I am exhausted
We are energetic
We get more help
We are synergetic
We are content
We are inspired
WE ARE.

Helen Barry 2015

‘We Are’ is a poem that best captures what happens throughout my collaborative practice and offers the basis for the language which best describes my methodology. My methodology and my approach to collaborative work with early years children is similar to that of Aistear: the early years curriculum framework. I have also done extensive reading of the curriculum focusing on the early cycle of the primary school. I believe that the teaching methodology and application in the classroom runs parallel to the work and process that happens in the artists’ studio.

I am learning about learning, how we learn and what we learn. I have started at the beginning and I am learning with the children, she is my teacher too. I listen to the children deciphering language through photonics. The lengthening of words like fly, cat, jump; elongated they create beautiful rhythms their tone is set by the hum of the children’s voice, each word held for a prolonged moment. This has become the impetus for a piece of work we are creating together in the school and DLR LexIcon.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin? How did it develop?

Artful Dodgers is a unique early years arts education programme that commenced in September 2013 and continues to evolve today in two community crèche services in Fingal, north county Dublin. The programme is pioneered by Artist Jackie Maguire and Naomi Draper with Julie Clarke of Fingal County Council Arts Office, Fingal County Childcare Committee, Ros Eo and Little Learners Community Crèche and Prof. Carmel O’Sullivan and Prof. Noirin Hayes of the Arts Education Research Group, Trinity College Dublin (AERG).

The programme aims to provide an exploratory, creative and playful artistic space for children to develop and grow. To investigate the impact of this engagement on the children’s early development with particular focus on literacy and numeracy skills; and to build the capacity of the early years educators to embed music and visual arts in their settings. The project team adopted an artist is residence model for Phase 1 where both artists were located in the services on a weekly basis over a twelve week period. Each week they delivered a music and visual arts workshop in partnership with the staff of both settings. The artist in residence model was significant in that the artists were embedded within the settings allowing the artists, early years teachers and children to build relationships and to get to know each other over time. Over the period of the residency the artists worked closely with the children and early years teachers in both settings, where they explored the world of music and visual arts together.

The evaluation of Phase 1 (2013) indicated changes in pedagogical planning and style in the early years teachers over the twelve weeks period. Their language became more reflective and their practice incorporated a wider and richer range of materials; there was greater evidence of more child-led activities and unstructured play opportunities over the duration of the study. The data suggests that children’s social, cooperative and communication skills were enhanced. There was evidence over time of improved self-regulation, recall and recollection, and attention to activities. In addition, children’s curiosity and exploration was encouraged leading to enhanced vocabulary and greater persistence at activities. To assist the sustainability of the learning and practices developed during phase one the partnership provided the required resources to establish second phase. During this phase the teachers were encouraged to continue with the arts in their practice and the artists came to work with staff in both settings once a month. This kept the momentum of the project going without interruption. The focus of Phase 2 (2014-2015) was to develop ‘creative exchange’ between both the artists and early years teachers through a co-mentoring process. It was designed to consolidate arts practice within the early years settings, build a creative environment and strengthen relationships between the participants (artists and early years teachers) through reflecting on practice and children’s engagement.

A key element of phase two was the introduction of the ORID framework by the artists with the early years teachers to evaluate and reflect on the process. This framework facilitates focused conversation between participants in order to reach some point of agreement or clarify differences. ORID is as an evaluation framework developed at the Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. The framework gave everyone a voice and provided sound evidence to direct and inform future delivery.

A preliminary evaluation of Phase 2 suggests that changes occurred in early years practice, in terms of curriculum planning, relationships with children, staff and parents. Co-mentoring across different disciplines is very powerful particularly when it is experiential and all parties, in this case artists and early years teachers, are actively involved. The artists highlighted the value of the co-mentoring approach, which informed their planning for each setting visits. The early years teachers reported better understandings of children’s learning and sensitivity to the uniqueness of every child. They also reported a deepening understanding of Aistear, the early childhood curriculum framework and a greater appreciation of the importance of ‘tuning in’ and responding to the children’s behaviour. As the project evolved the partnership grew stronger and a third phase, the ‘parental involvement programme’, was created. This work is ongoing.

Ash Ryan of Little Learners Community Crèche, Mulhuddart
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The Children, staff and parents’ engagement made me smile. I would glance around the room, which looked chaotic – paint everywhere, children’s faces and hands a multitude of colours, parents on the floor weaving, staff laughing with the children – and smile! However there were plenty of challenges. I had to rethink my teaching practice, both in terms of how much I controlled the outcomes of art projects with the children and my own feelings on ‘messy play’.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Both the parents and staff have a different view on how the children engage with art materials, originally dirty clothes were a problem, but now parents expect the children to leave looking like they’ve been involved in activities during the day, and they always oblige with a change of clothes when necessary. My whole practice has changed. I have a far better understanding of creative play and its links to Aistear. Children have more of a say in the activities we provide and they have the freedom to choose materials and ideas for their own artwork. Parents have become more involved in the service as a result of their direct involvement. Children are generally having great fun while learning. We have stopped group activities where twenty children are making the same thing from a template. Templates are no longer used in the service. Artful Dodgers has managed to put an ethos in place that no college course for early years teachers has been able to achieve to date. The artists’ hands on engagement showed how a different approach works in practice; the staff could see the methods and begin to use them easily in a supported way.

Debbie Donnelly & Mary Farrell of Ros Eo Community Crèche, Rush
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Seeing the enjoyment shining through the children throughout their involvement in the project made us all smile a lot. Jackie would break into song unexpectedly and both Jackie and Naomi’s personalities brought warmth and positivity into the classroom, which was a huge factor in the enjoyment and success of the project.

As safety officer I worried about the safety of the children while working away from the desks, on the floor, using materials they hadn’t used before, especially when we had a large group of children together. At the beginning I felt a little out of my comfort zone, as I was familiar with working a particular way. I also worried about fitting all the new arts activities in with the already full curriculum. I doubted my own ability to be a worthy capable participant in the project as I am not an artist.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

A new lease of life was injected into staff as we learned new ways to teach. We now use props to enhance language skills and the children’s understanding of a particular story or activity. We learned to share the workload better among staff. We now make time to reflect on activities afterwards. We discuss the positives and negatives and question how to improve or deliver something that didn’t work so well differently the next time. The weekly reflection is a very informative experience and positive way to finish the week. As a staff team we are more open to trying new things with the children. We know that what we are doing compliments the curriculum so we are more confident about delivering the curriculum. I’m definitely not afraid to move out of my comfort zone now.

I realise that I don’t have to be ‘talented’ at art or music to use it in the classroom. I’m willing to try new things and learn alongside the children. We don’t dwell if something doesn’t go to plan, we move on and try it again another day with something different. My advice is to keep trying and be adventurous. You’re never too old to learn.

Artist Naomi Draper
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The welcome we received on every visit made me smile. Every week we arrived to an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation from the children, their parents and the staff. They were always waiting for us to arrive, they knew we were coming. During this residency I really felt part of the setting, a part of their week, a part of the team! I do think that this came from the strength of the relationship we developed with the staff who made us feel welcome, valued and supported in our work there. We also had time to establish these connections, time for reflection together and when we could see that we had developed something worth holding on to, the arts office gave us more time to develop these partnerships, supporting one another through a shared learning exchange, and broadening our partnerships to engage parents in a parental involvement phase. Our approach was probably a challenge initially, as we completely took over every corner of the crèche. But you could see confidence growing with every visit and as new materials were presented or alternative spaces were used, no instruction was required, the children, staff and parents too were willing to play, experiment, and see where it would bring them. Watching everyone’s confidence grow and observing how our practices changed and developed was very exciting.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Jackie introduced us to the ORID reflective tool, which became an important tool to critically reflect and change. ORID also played a huge part in the development of our relationships with one another. It enabled us to openly and honestly speak about what happened and what we observed. It provided a supportive environment for me to learn and develop a better understanding of working in this context. Another aspect of my work that I am interested in exploring is the physical spaces we are part of. The initial residency period of the AD programme allowed me to test and examine the potential of the spaces in terms of children’s learning and development. Together with the staff we realised new possibilities for spaces that were not used in the crèche and found ways to activate and utilise them further.

Professor Nóirín Hayes, on behalf of the research team:
“As an academic with a long history of research in early childhood the potential value of arts education in early education, for both children and staff, has always been an interest of mine – particularly the challenging link between arts education and the role of play and process in early learning.

A key attraction of working with Artful Dodgers has been the collaborative approach, the creation of a learning community comprising children, parents, educators, artists and academics. The project, throughout, endeavoured to create a context that encouraged careful attention to planning through a mutual respect for the expertise of both the artists and the early years educators. Reflection informing future actions was a central dimension of the project at all stages. The success of this approach was evident in the engagement of all participants and the outcomes for children. Throughout the project careful records were maintained and shared by the artists and the early years educators. This material, alongside observation records and documentation of practice in process, provide a rich source of data to inform practice, policy and further research. Over and above this the project has brought parents and early educators close together in the shared education of young children. It is a privilege to have become part of the team and I look forward to furthering the dissemination of this important action research arts education project.”

About the project
Cluas le hÉisteacht was a year long process-led engagement and partnership between the second year students of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, their art teacher Brenda Ní Fhrighill and artist Maree Hensey.

The project communicated visually a process led approach, collaboration and the language of drawing. Brenda and Maree provided an environment that was safe and supportive for creative expression. Participants were given the opportunity to make their own individual response to the materials presented and given the confidence to continue that individual creative journey.

The students were introduced to ways of mark making using a range of exploratory techniques and materials working both large and small scale. Over the duration of the project they gained a confidence in experimental expressive mark making and working collaboratively.

Arriving at the concept: Artist Maree Hensey

Brenda and I have been working together since 2008. We know each other very well and understand the way we work. When we are planning a project and an approach this depth of understanding and trust allows us to take on projects that are challenging and have an element of risk.

So why sound? How did we arrive at the concept?


It took several phone calls and a few sessions over dinner to arrive at a concept that rang true to both Brenda and I. Looking at the profile of the participants they are constantly plugged in. Our impetus was to facilitate an alternative creative experience.

Concept: Listening.

Through out the process students learned to:

We began the journey by making sound recordings in the landscape e.g. lapping water, people walking, tractor engine, boat in the distance, dog barking, conversation. We listened to the layers of sound that are part of their local environment. Back in the art room we listened intently to a chosen sound and made drawing marks that expressed the rhythm, tone and quality of the sound.

The work made was sensitive, thought provoking and individual. Self-evaluation by students of their work was an integral part of the process. After each session students chose a word that best described their individual experience. These words became an integral part of the outcome where students made a collaborative experimental sound scape playfully sounding their chosen word.

Art teacher at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne Brenda Ní Fhrighill
The project has been a really important part of the whole academic and educational process. As a teacher I really appreciate the value of using Video Conferencing Technology and see the benefits that it has brought to my students. The possibility of collaboration with professional artists is no longer limited or defined by our location. The process led work has helped students to creatively develop their own unique voice and visual language. The students learned important skills in self-evaluation, communication, technique and confidence that will be useful across all other subjects in the curriculum.

About the process and how it evolved
Maree worked with the students over 2-3 days in the school. Brenda rearranged her schedule and the students so that they were available to work for 4-5 hours per day.
 Following the experience of working in the school, Maree continued the contact and exploration over several weeks using video conferencing technology for sessions of 40 – 80 minutes. Maree is based in Dublin and the journey to Dingle was not realistic on a weekly basis.

Planning and evaluation was given a generous amount of time. We were in contact by phone at least twice a week.

The project started with field trips and mapping sounds. The recorded sounds were edited and processed. Sounds were selected and the process of visually expressing the sounds and the sentiment of the sound began through explorative mark making.

The enormous challenge was working in the abstract. The student’s experience of art was in the figurative as per the curriculum. In order for the participants to understand the process and the project each week, we compiled a list of words that described their interpretation of the process. The recording accompanying the video is a selection of these words.

The project ended beautifully where the students eliminated all sound and listened to their own internal rhythm. The images of the students with the earplugs connected to the box was their experience of listening to nothing but their own thoughts and nothingness.

The culmination was an installation in Gallararus Oratory, video projection and an external exhibit of large-scale drawings in the Gallarus visitors centre on the Dingle Peninsula. The oratory, situated in an area of natural beauty was an appropriate location in which to place work that was influenced by listening, silence and the surrounding environment. The exhibition gave a physical record and testimony to the creative processes.

Student Outcomes:

Cubes & Compromise – Visual artist Helen Barry engaged in a 12-week collaborative residency with 1st class children in the Muslim National School, Clonskeagh. Together they explored components of Islamic art and design using a cross-curricular approach. The project was child-led; the children had much broader ambitions of what could be explored through art and creativity. One of the objectives for Helen was to clarify her methodology and approach to collaborative practice within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. The residency was supported by The Arts Council’s bursary awarded to Helen in 2013/14.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Helen Barry, Artist

My decision to approach the Muslim National School was instigated by key themes of my own studio work. I use many of the principals of geometry and symmetry found in Islamic art and architecture in the design and creation of my own work. A strong aspect of my work examines the architectural spaces of sacred buildings and the communities that use these spaces. I had also just completed another residency with senior infants in Rathfarnham Educate Together National School and I wanted to base myself in a school that had a completely different ethos. It seemed a natural choice to invite children of a similar age and a teacher from the Muslim National School to join me in a 12-week collaborative residency.

I asked the children’s teacher June Kelly to feed directly into the sessions and guide me as to the relevance of what we were doing in relation to the curriculum. I am interested in learning about the pedagogical development of children and how creativity can enhance cross-curriculum learning. My work with early years children had become an integral part of my practice and I wanted to challenge my approach to and understanding of collaboration and how this impacted on my work and why I was compelled to work this way.

One of the objectives was to clarify my methodology and approach to collaborative work within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. This residency was made possible through The Arts Council’s young peoples and children’s bursary award scheme I received in 2013/14.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Helen Barry arrived to our school, The Muslim National School, last September beaming with enthusiasm to complete a 12-week collaborative residency. The children took to her immediately and she developed a very strong rapport with them. The focus of the project initially was geometry and symmetry. Both geometry and symmetry are a major focus in Islamic Art and Islamic architecture. On Helen’s first visit, when we got to see samples of her work, it was clear that there were strong parallels between her work and Islamic Art.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Helen Barry, Artist

Initially I had proposed to explore elements of maths, geometry and Islamic design with the children and very quickly it was clear that the children had their own ideas of how we would actually do this and lots of other things. My approach to collaborative work allows the children to lead the direction and content of the work; this in turn influences the overall process and techniques we use. As my own work primarily focuses on sculpture we started with exploring and constructing 3D spaces. We used a lot of non-traditional art techniques and materials as we moved about measuring the room together; we asked a lot of questions, chatted, laughed, shared stories, worked in pairs and we rarely seemed to sit down. I tend to work on a very large scale with children; using our entire bodies in the creative process from lying on the ground to climbing into spaces, exploring under the tables to building installations. This also demands the practical involvement of the teacher, which was given enthusiastically and consistently by teachers, staff and, at times, assistance from older children.

Even though I was keen to use maths and geometry as strong central themes we veered off through many different areas of the curriculum that demonstrated the richness of the children’s skills and interests. The children’s oral skills were particularly strong. They had a wonderful ability to present images of family life and how important it was to share. Their imaginations had few boundaries and the groups’ playful dynamic supported me to be more open to their ideas and to test out new media. As the weeks progressed I realized that it is not only the children and teachers who must be open to the process of experimenting but the artist too as things do not always go according to plan. We used shadow puppetry to explore their strong sense of storytelling, filming their characters coming to life using the sunlight streaming into the classroom. English was not a first language for many of the children yet they created a varied narrative for their plays overcoming many language difficulties.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

On Helen’s first visit she showed samples of her work from her website. The children were completely in awe. Over the twelve weeks the children made shadow puppets and created their own shadow puppet performances and they also helped created the spectacular stained glass effect silhouette cubes. It felt like Helen was merely guiding the children and they came up with most the ideas and did a lot of the work. Mrs Altawash, Ms. Davin-Park and I also helped guide the whole process along.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Helen Barry, Artist

There were many elements that made me smile throughout the residency from the children’s enthusiasm and their delight in trying to teach me Arabic, Sarah’s Story telling of her Uncle’s bee hives on the roof of a building in North Africia and producing enough honey for his family, Ms Asiyo Altawash’s practical solutions to my overly complex ones and much more. Throughout all my residencies I need to ensure that what we are doing is relevant to my own work. We followed a number of different lines of enquiry and I often found it challenging to correlate one strand with another and where it related to my own work. The children were curious, playful and very giving and I wanted to capture this essence in what we would create. I struggled with how this would come together with what we were exploring and where it sat with my own work. As we created our final pieces two women who walked through the space we were working in each week observed that our cubes were reflective of ‘The Kabba’ in Mecca and the images reminded them of the energy of children. I could not have had more positive feedback.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

I thoroughly enjoyed the children’s puppet shows, using shadow puppets. It was great to see them so motivated and engaged during their performances. I also enjoyed watching the children when they used the quills for writing. Their curiosity and enthusiasm was infectious.

I found the spontaneity of process quite challenging, in that I am so used to planning my lessons with an end vision or product in mind. I had to take a step back as the children played a huge role in deciding what direction this project would go in. It was a huge and effective learning curve for me.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? (These may seem small, but are significant to you)

Helen Barry, Artist

The children were at different levels, for some languages proved to be an initial obstacle but there were children in the class who had special needs and I found that when using a creative approach, it was not apparent as to who these children were. I always ask the children what do they know about ‘artists’. The children in the Muslim National School were the first to say artists were men and women, in all other schools the children say artist are men.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Sometimes as teachers we may over-plan activities and lessons and in doing so we are perhaps guilty of curtailing the children’s creativity.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Helen Barry, Artist

I have become more confident in allowing the process to go in directions that are new both in terms of the mediums we use and more importantly the content of what we are exploring. I am more open to allowing the children have stronger role in where we are going to go.

I have returned to the Muslim National School to do a second residency, this time with younger children in Junior Infants and this is running concurrently with a second residency with the Dominican National School in Dun Laoghaire. This residency is being supported by The Arts Council YPCE Bursary award 2015.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

For me personally, I think something has changed. I am hopeful that I will be more confident in allowing the children have much more input into my art lessons. It’s okay to deviate from the plan and never to underestimate their ideas and input. I also hope in future in my art lesson to completely restrict my use of templates in order to further the children’s opportunity to be more creative.

The story of our project from the teacher – Denise:

I approached Lynn in Nov 2014 to collaborate on developing an art class for ECCE in Ulla beag which would cover many art disciplines; painting, printing, working with 3 dimensional form and various craft skills to provide a more holistic teaching approach to pre-reading; pre-writing and pre-maths skills.

Collaborating with Lynn has been a great experience as we both started out with the same beliefs and ethos – We need to recycle more and look at using old materials. It is amazing how you can transform a raisin box into a robot, providing hours of fun and play for children. Through this process, children can create their own toys and the empowerment and confidence they get through using old materials is amazing.

The use of visual media as a teaching method to develop pre-reading; writing and maths skills has moved learning to a higher quality, more holistic approach at Úlla Beag.

The story of our project from the artist – Lynn:

As a group, the children worked on large pieces – printing, painting and collaging, and physically manoeuvred themselves around the piece, rather than just using their upper body, when painting. All activities gave them opportunities to strengthen their fine motor skills. They learned to work together as a group, which built up peer relationships and a joint ownership of the work they produced.

Other projects included clay modelling; and making pinch pots and papier mâché bowls, which focused on form-making, using their hands in a different way. We mono printed onto old baby wipes which was very effective and quick and explorative: some worked well, some didn’t.

We talked about the failed attempts and why this happened – too much paint, too little paint – and we tried again. Some were very keen to try stitching so we did simple long stitches through print and baby wipe. I was pleasantly surprised by how effective baby wipe material was and how easily it took the paint. It worked well with this age group as a surface to print on.

The story of our project from the children:

Through this project we experienced so many examples of children’s feedback:

I like this way of making letters.” (Mike) This was Mike’s feedback on creating Cars from Cs; Trees from Ts and Houses from Hs. Mike found learning and retaining letters difficult until we started creating associations with every day items in picture format. As an educator you know children learn in different ways and while mainstream teaching of phonics through song & rhyme may work for most children, it does not work for all. One of the critical areas as an educator is to acknowledge this and find a new method of teaching to enable the child.

I don’t like the way the glue makes my fingers sticky but I want to make my bowl so I will get sticky fingers and then I will have a bowl.” Mary’s feedback on papier mâché technique.

I don’t mind if I stick the needle on my finger I want to sew a cross and I am getting better at seeing where the needle comes out so I don’t catch my finger!” (Imogen)

I like using this as sometimes I drop my paintbrush” Oscar (aged 2 1/2) discussing his preference for using cotton buds when painting a picture.

I am really good at making robots.” (Charlie)

I made a hole in my picture and had to start again I put too much water on.” (Amelia)

I feel calm when I paint.” (Thaidhg)

I mix red and blue for purple. Sometimes I remember how to make orange too, that’s yellow and red, but sometimes I forget so I have to mix different colours together.” (Eibhe)

I like printing with toothbrushes its cool. They are old toothbrushes though, not new ones.” (Saoirse)

The flow of our art days included: Preparation of room and materials (Lynn); Group discussion with the children -remembering the last class; reviewing the work completed. (This is important for continuity and information processing for children at this age.) Getting ready – Aprons on and discussion with the children of what art lesson is taking place.

After learning techniques from Lynn, the children start to experiment and create, with assistance from Lynn and Denise where needed. Some children finish earlier so they then get to create their next adventure while the other children are given time or guidance to finish their work.

Closing discussions with the children reinforced lessons learned – what the children liked or would change for the next time. Again this is very important in supporting communication skills and information processing with children at a preschool level. This was followed by forward planning – including the children in a discussion of what will take place the following week. At the end, everyone tidies up together.

The biggest smile for both of us was the significant level of pride the children had in their group and individual work. It was amazing seeing the children develop into a strong unit that were as happy with their group projects as they were with their individual works – which really allowed them to feel a sense of identity and belonging within the group. The children are more inquisitive about everything around them – both in and out of school they are talking about their colours and making new things from old things.

The main challenge was keeping the projects age appropriate so the children were not over-dependent on us to intervene and help and really only needed to call on us in real emergencies – such as the glue sticking their fingers together!

Some insights:

•Group Art projects even at an early years level   promoted leadership within the group and fostered team work and empathy amongst the children.
•Art as a teaching process facilitates a safe environment to allow children to fail and start again – a valuable life lesson the children had to figure out with us why things did not always work out. (e.g. Not enough paint applied, Not leaning hard enough to print, yellow will not print out on the recycled wipes etc.)
•Learning to fail and recover / find new solutions is very important to instilling creativity and resilience in children. With print media the children very quickly saw what worked and did not work and the results were immediate.
•Art is a fantastic medium to foster child-led learning and child-led planning as it is such a creative process the children were completely open and could be masters of their own destiny!
•As a result of this collaboration through art with the children we display, discuss and review each others’ work together as part of the art classes. This allows the children to learn more from each other, praise each other, get praise from each other, empathise with each other when something does not work, help each other out more. This is very important in relation to wellbeing, identity and belonging and developing empathy and communication skills with peers, teachers and parents.

Changes and new developments from the project:

The project has resulted in the expansion of the group to include pre-ECCCE children. Art practice has been integrated within daily lessons at Úlla Beag.

There is now stronger and higher quality integration of art-based work into our An Taisce Green Flag Awards process. We are currently on our Water flag and have started gathering recycled materials to create a water lifecycle group exhibition in January, which will be published as part of our Green Flag presentation in March.

More time is allowed for creativity – previously we would have integrated a lot of art work with our children but now we have introduced an element of child-led choice.

We have moved from a reactive solution to a proactive learning environment. That is to say in Year 1 combining phonics and visual art printing allowed us to react to a situation where some children were really struggling to grasp phonetical learning – so we worked together to create a more visual understanding of C. This brought 3 of the more visual learners on a par with their peers and their love of phonics quickly developed. In Year 2 we are seeing very little disparity amongst the children as it is a more holistic and inclusive approach, so we are combining visual printing and other art techniques with phonetical learning.

We have collaborated on Easter  and  Summer camp art days and these are a great hit with the afterschool groups who come to Ulla Beag.


!!!! Opportunity: Creative Schools Regional Co-Ordination Panel

Creative Schools
Deadline: 2 April, 2021

Creative Schools is forming a panel of Creative Associate Regional Coordinators across the country. It is envisaged that the Arts Council will engage the services of 8 Regional Coordinators. Both individuals and organisations (who nominate a particular representative) may apply to provide these services.

The main tasks of the Creative Associate regional coordinators are:

– Work closely with the Arts Council’s Creative Schools’ team to support and assist in coordinating the work of the Creative Associates at a regional level.

– Liaise with and support up to twenty Creative Associates and their assigned schools across each region.

– Be required to carry out services for around seventy days per annum, with a minimum of one day per week between the months of September to June.

Deadline for applications: Friday 2nd April, 2021

For more information, see www.etenders.gov.ie/ (select Arts Council in ‘authority’ field of an advanced search on etenders).

!!!! Lismore Castle Arts Launches Artifice Online Exhibition

Lismore Castle Arts
Online exhibition

Artifice is an annual exhibition by Lismore Castle Arts which presents works of art created by transition year students from across County Waterford. This year’s theme is “Land Art”, based on Lismore Castle Arts’ main exhibition for 2021 “Light and Language” centred around the work of Nancy Holt, a significant figure in the Land Art movement. Students were invited to explore their relationship with the environment  and to express their experience of the lockdown, environmentalism and personal identity.

Over 130 students took part in Artifice 2021, creating new artworks using a variety of media including photography, film, sculpture and painting. The five schools participating in Artifice 2021 are Meánscoil San Nioclás (An Rinn), Ard Scoil na nDéise (Dungarvan), Ardscoil na Mara (Tramore), St. Augustine’s College (Dungarvan) and Blackwater Community School (Lismore).

View the exhibition here: www.lismorecastlearts.ie/education/

!!!! Opportunity: Creative Schools 2021 Applications Open for Schools and Centres

Creative Schools
Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools are delighted to announce an exciting opportunity for schools/centres to apply to participate in the initiative. Schools/centres may apply from 6 April and the deadline is 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021.

The Creative Schools initiative supports schools/centres to put the arts and creativity at the heart of children’s and young people’s lives. This initiative provides opportunities for children and young people to build their artistic and creative skills; to communicate, collaborate, stimulate their imaginations, be inventive, and to harness their curiosity. It will empower children and young people to develop, implement and evaluate arts and creative activity throughout their schools/centres and stimulate additional ways of working that reinforce the impact of creativity on children and young people’s learning, development and well-being.

Participating schools/centres will be provided with a package of supports that includes working with a Creative Associate, training and networking to support them to create their Creative School Plan, as well as seed funding to begin to implement their Plan.

Creative Associates will respond to each school/centre’s development priorities and needs in order to support them to deepen the arts and creative opportunities for children and young people. They will use their practical experience, to develop partnerships and mechanisms that enable sustained relationships between schools/centres and the arts and cultural sectors.

All Department of Education and Skills-recognised primary and post-primary schools and Youthreach centres who have not already participated in a previous round of Creative Schools are eligible to apply.

Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

Further information on the Creative Schools application process will be available online shortly. Applications must be submitted online and schools are encouraged to register well in advance of the deadline: https://onlineservices.artscouncil.ie/Register.aspx

 

!!!! Opportunity: The Practice of Looking, Visual Thinking Strategies Course

The LAB Gallery, Dublin City Arts Office
Dates: Wednesdays 4-6pm, 3, 10, 24 March & 14, 21, 28 April

The Practice of Looking is a six-week, online course to learn about Visual Thinking Strategies and its use in Dublin, and to practice its facilitation. It was born out of the growing interest in the adoption of Visual Thinking Strategies at the LAB Gallery and in the partnerships and networks that have evolved around it. The LAB Gallery, Dublin City Arts Office, The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and VTS Neighbourhood Schools are partnering to host an online course that offers the opportunity to learn from trained VTS coaches in the existing network. The course will have a strong focus on facilitation practice and reflection. You will receive a certificate of attendance after completion of the course.

Please note that to participate to the course, you need to:

For more information and to register, please see here: http://www.dublincityartsoffice.ie/the-lab/vts-projects/the-practice-of-looking

 

 

!!!! Opportunity: Teachers’ CPD: Creativity in the Online Classroom Made Easy

The Ark
Date: 25 February 2021

The Ark invites you to ‘Creativity in the Online Classroom Made Easy’ CPD workshop for teachers, where you will learn a range of easy, accessible skills to help you bring creativity into your online teaching. Find out how easy it can be to breathe imagination into an online class, inspiring both your students and yourself. The ideas shared will be useful for both teaching online and when you are back in the classroom.

Perhaps you are overwhelmed with the technical aspects of moving your teaching online, or feeling frustrated with the limitations and struggling to make your online lessons creative and engaging. Or perhaps you are simply looking for some fresh inspiration for ideas that can work well in the online space. Join the Ark for this morning of inspiration and art-making to help you address these challenges, led by artist Duffy Mooney-Sheppard who has been leading online classes for children for the past year.

During this session you will gain valuable time to explore various tools available on Zoom to develop, hone and gain confidence in digital art lessons. Ideas shared will be adaptable and transferrable to other online platforms you may be using also. The possibilities in virtual learning spaces are wide and we are all learning! We will ask questions, share challenges, try things out and build our knowledge as a group.

This is a free CPD event for teachers, but advance booking is essential. For more details please go to: https://ark.ie/events/view/cpd-creativity-online-classroom

!!!! Opportunity for Artists: Managing Online Content Webinars

Children’s Books Ireland & Poetry Ireland
Dates: 23 & 24 February, 2, 3, 10 March

Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland are working in partnership to host a series of capacity-building webinars for artists who are delivering online programmes to children and young people. The webinars are free to attend and places are limited. Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland are committed to supporting artists in the development of their practice and their working conditions.

For more information or to register for these workshops, see https://www.eventbrite.ie/o/childrens-books-ireland-11806877628

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: VISUAL Carlow Online Workshops

VISUAL Carlow 

Dates: Throughout February & March

Would you and your class like to participate in an online workshop with VISUAL Carlow’s Curator of Learning, Clare Breen?

Clare will bring your class on a virtual walk through this season’s exhibitions, broadcast live from inside their closed gallery. After the tour she will lead an art activity that can be completed with simple materials children can find at home or in school.

These workshops are suitable for primary school groups from 1st to 6th class. Book your place for an online workshop in February and March, workshops are free but places are limited!

For further information or to book your place, email learning@visualcarlow.ie.

!!!! New Video Resource For Schools: ‘Speaking of Which’ Artist Interview Series

The Dock Arts Centre and The Lab Gallery

Eleven Irish artists reveal what inspires them and how they make their art in a free video series designed for use in the classroom.

The Dock Arts Centre in Carrick on Shannon and The Lab Gallery in Dublin have worked together to produce an online resource for teachers and arts educators. This resource is ideal for use in a classroom or online educational setting and features artists speaking directly about themselves and the art making process. View the online resource here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8094850

As well as connecting young people with some of the rich ideas that inform our visual culture and offering them a unique insight into the arts practices, methods and motivations of practicing artists the series also affords the artists a unique opportunity to speak directly to and connect with young audiences.

In the interviews the artists reveal their reasons for making art, describe the methods they use to make their work but most importantly reveal what is means to them to be an artist and how they transform their desire to create and communicate into the work they produce. The diversity of their individual backgrounds and experiences is reflected in the work each artist makes. They draw inspiration from many sources; the books they read as children, the films they have watched, conversations they have had, the environments that they have lived in and places they have visited.

The artists are Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Eve O’ Callaghan, Jamie Cross, Ellen Duffy, Kate Murphy, Atoosa Pour Hosseini, Gemma Browne, Anna Maria Healy, Austin Ivers, Louise Manifold and Jackie McKenna.

The video series is a starting point to mediate conversations with young people about their own creativity, ideas and inspirations, the videos may also be used as an inspiration for teachers and educators to devise workshop and other practical activities for their classes.

Access this free resource here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8094850

For further information go to www.thedock. ie/learning-projects/speaking- of-which.

 

!!!! Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Classroom: Report on Building an Intercultural Museum Programme for Schools

Chester Beatty Library

Chester Beatty launched an Intercultural museum programme for primary and post-primary schools offering students and their teachers the opportunity to explore world cultures in an Irish museum.  Participants are encouraged to engage with Chester Beatty’s Islamic, East Asian and European collections through a variety of activities including guided tours, self-guided visits, online learning resources and access to the extensive image gallery.

Intercultural dialogue and learning plays a key role in the museum’s mission and fosters dialogue with the communities represented in Chester Beatty’s unique collections.  These collections offer wonderful learning opportunities and support a number of key curricular areas from art history to world faiths. A range of free teaching resources are available to support self-guided visits and inspire activities back at school.

The research for developing the programme was carried out in co-operation with Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Maynooth University, the Intercultural Education Service (Education Authority of Northern Ireland) and the UK Heritec Education Consultancy.  A key component of the development programme was the training of guides and facilitators in visual thinking strategies and object-based learning to reflect the school curriculum.

This report includes the background to the intercultural school’s project and includes definitions on intercultural dialogue and relevant policies, strategies and projects in both the formal education, arts and cultural sectors; the development of the intercultural school’s programme; analysis of current practices and methodologies; programme development including the training of volunteer guides, Continuous Professional Development of teachers; and pilot tours and evaluation.

Schools have full access to Chester Beatty’s remarkable treasures through the website www.chesterbeatty.ie thus allowing students and teachers to experience the Chester Beatty from the school desk or from home.  In addition, the CB’s new Digital Museum Guide app offers audio tours in 13 languages, virtual 3D walkthroughs of the museum, online browsing of the Chester Beatty’s world-renowned treasures, and a news section to highlight our extensive programme of events and activities.

View and Download the ‘Embracing cultural diversity in the classroom – Research and Development Report’ here.

For more details about the Chester Beatty Learning and Education Department please contact educationservices@cbl.ie

 

 

!!!! This Is Art! Online Art Competition with RTÉ & Creative Ireland

RTÉ and Creative Ireland Programme

Deadline extended to Sunday 31 Jan 2021

RTÉ and Creative Ireland Programme have come together in partnership to create This Is Art! – a celebration of visual art through the creation of an exciting new online art competition aimed at young people across the island of Ireland.

The competition aims to promote artistic practice among young people and encourage and support creativity, originality and self-expression. Applicants can enter individually or they can enter as part of a group and all visual art disciplines are welcomed. The competition is open for anyone 18yrs and under.

All of the artwork will be included in a digital gallery and considered for the This Is Art! 2021 Grand Prix Award.

Deadline extended to Sunday 31 Jan 2021

For further information go to: https://www.thisisart.ie/

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Your Gallery at School with the National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline: Friday 5 February 2021

The National Gallery of Ireland invites schools to apply to participate in Your Gallery at School, a new holistic outreach programme that brings the National Gallery of Ireland directly to schools.

Over the course of 2021, The National Gallery of Ireland will work with six primary schools that wouldn’t usually be able to visit the Gallery, to create a tailored programme of activities for their students.

Participating schools will be selected via an open application process. Selected schools will not have visited the Gallery in the past three years and will be from one or more of three key groups:

  • DEIS schools to address socio-economic barriers to accessing culture.
  • Boys’ schools to address the gender barrier to accessing culture.
  • Schools geographically far away (over 2 hours away from Dublin) to address the geographic barrier to accessing culture.

The closing date: Friday 5 February 2021

Your Gallery at School aims to break down the barriers that prevent engagement with the arts through holistic programming that ensures children transition to adulthood equipped with the life-changing benefits of art.

For more details please go to: https://www.nationalgallery.ie/explore-and-learn/your-gallery-school

 

!!!! ‘New Era’ Exploring Climate Change Exhibition: Resources for Schools from Solstice Arts Centre

Solstice Arts Centre

Exhibition running until 22 December 2020

Solstice Arts Centre are delighted to announce two new online resource packs for schools to accompany the exhibition ‘New Era – Exploring Climate Change’.

New Era is an exhibition featuring four Irish visual artists Rachel Doolin, Siobhán McDonald, Martina O’Brien and Méadhbh O’Connor whose work explores different aspects of climate change in the natural world.  The exhibition includes new and recent art works by these artist/activists and advocates for both local and global climate change.

Resource Packs:

Look Draw Think Respond – Primary Schools

This fun learning resource, originally designed to be completed in the gallery is now accompanied by a virtual 360° tour of the exhibition New Era, with links and additional information on each of the four artists on our website at solsticeartscentre.ie/ event/new-era-exploring- climate-change.

This resource embraces many subjects across the curriculum including art, geography, SPSE, science and literacy and a personalised tour and virtual creative activities can be arranged for individual classrooms.

Download Primary School Resource here

Solstice Secondary Resource New Era – Post-Primary Schools 

This learning resource is designed to assist Leaving Certificate students and teachers interested in opting for the gallery question on the History & Appreciation of Art paper.

It can be used in conjunction with the virtual 360° tour of the exhibition New Era. with links and additional information on each of the four exhibiting artists on our website at https://solsticeartscentre.ie/ event/new-era-exploring- climate-change for a comprehensive response to this or similar exam question.

Download Post-Primary School Resource here

Solstice Arts Centre can also arrange a Zoom meeting with any class group to give them further insight into the show and information on the artists involved.

For further information go to solsticeartscentre.ie or email deirdre.rogers@solsticeartscentre.ie

!!!! A Celebration of Wintertime – Visual Arts CPD for Teachers with The Ark

The Ark

Date: 7 November Saturday 

This half-day visual art CPD workshop for teachers with The Ark which will focus on skills, techniques and processes teachers can integrate into their lesson plans and easily adapt to all ages.

Every season has its own beauty and winter is certainly not lacking. It may not display the soft pastel tones of spring, the bright and bold splashes of summer or the fiery range of autumn’s colours, but the winter season has its own very individual palette.

Through the theme of winter, artist Jole Bortoli will lead the group on an exploration of the visual art curriculum through hands on activities which will be completed in real time via zoom. Together, the group will examine the many manifestations of winter in the diverse environments and habitats found in Ireland. Looking at how various visual artists have interpreted this theme, participants will create their very own artwork, giving them the tools to approach a winter-themed art workshop with children in the classroom.

Each participant will be asked to gather simple materials and tools that they should easily find around the house. They will also be sent a small art pack by post with any speciality materials that they will need during the workshop.

Date: 10.30am-12.30pm, 7 November Saturday

Tickets: €15 (€13.50 for ArkEd Members)

Booking closes at midnight on Thursday 29 October to allow adequate time for your art pack to be posted to you. Postage of the art pack is available within the Republic of Ireland only.

For further information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-wintertime-2020

!!!! Weaving the Walk

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Artist Annabel Konig

When discussing the possible project with the teacher of the classes I was going to work with, we discovered that nature, observation, fabrics and the environment, were the main topics that were going to make up the project idea. Based on those, ‘weaving the walk’, was born. The idea was that each child would go for a walk with an adult and look at their surroundings differently, looking at textures, picking up weavable materials, make drawings and if they could, write words, in a notebook which would be their form of reference for the weaving we were going to make.

The frames for the weavings were made from branches that I brought in. Each child had to learn how to tie knots, measure string and create the framework. There was co-operation between the classes as some children were quite young.

Teacher Brenda Binions 

I had previously taught the children some simple weaving techniques and am passionate about our local environment, so I was excited to collaborate with Annabel on this topic. We decided on this project very quickly during our first collaboration meeting. Prior to our first workshop, I spoke to the children about the project and they were very enthusiastic. I also sent a note home to the parents, outlining our ideas and asking for their help in taking the children for a walk and gathering suitable materials for our weaving. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t been very nice, so not all children had been for a walk so we took an observational walk around the school grounds and looked at the colours and textures we could see around us.

During the first workshop, Annabel discussed the project with the children. Some of the children had brought in materials for the weaving and we looked at these and discussed their suitability, or otherwise,  with the children. When we started putting the frames together, it quickly became obvious that tying strings was too difficult for the younger children so we enlisted the help of the older classes to assist them. This lead to the project becoming a collaboration for the whole school, as, over the course of the project, all 48  children in the school had the opportunity to engage hands on in the project.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Artist Annabel Konig

The second workshop centered on the brought in materials and drawings that the students had made. The drawings were the layout plan. Each child then made a general weaving plan, based on their own frame – some being horizontal, one vertical some large, etc. Both the school and myself had brought in additional soft, weavable materials, which were interpreted by the students as flowers, sheep, trees, grass and sky. The textures of the materials made the pupils consider what a bush might look like or a stream, a flower, etc.

At the end of the project, each child had a finished, or near to finished piece and could tell the story to someone else of how their walk was converted into a weaving.

Teacher Brenda Binions

Annabel asked the children to draw the story of their walk and then select suitable materials to represent the story. She asked them what they knew about weaving and explained the techniques that would be needed in this project. She explained the importance of tying the woven strands to support the structure of the weaving and discussed which materials might represent the different aspects of their walk.  Again, the actual weaving was a challenge for some of the junior children. So we got some of the children in the senior room to help. We also had the assistance of our SNA in the room, which helped greatly. Some of the children found it difficult to get started on selecting materials and others grasped the concept straight away and showed great imagination in representing their walk in the weaving.

After each workshop, I asked the children to reflect on what they had been doing. We discussed it first and then they wrote about it. I put some of these responses in a scrapbook, along with photographs of the various stages, to keep as a record.

When they had finished their pieces of weaving, we took them to the other class to show them how they had turned out and each child told the “story” of their walk, as represented in their weaving.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Artist Annabel Konig

I always learn from children, the way they interpret ideas, the way they manage to work in materials – often different than I would so I re-discover the possibilities of working. Many of the students discovered that the even though their walks were similar, how they picked the fabrics to represent elements in the landscape, altered how others understood their work. The challenges some of the students found was that in their initial excitement after the project had been explained to them, is that they may have bitten off more than they could chew in the size of their frames. Big is not always better. Successes were many for each individual child, being able to stand up at the end of the process to explain their work, finding that they were good at something event though school work generally is hard for them and, as one little boy said to me ‘I know how to tie my shoelaces now’, shows that, through an art process one can obtain life skills.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I really enjoyed this project and I know the children did too. There were challenges for sure, not least where to store the weaving frames between workshops! We were very lucky in that we had a wide selection of weavable materials, some of which I had in the school but much of it was provided by Annabel . We had initially asked the children to bring in found materials which they could incorporate in their weaving, but much of this was unworkable and in the end, we mostly used fabric strips , wool and twine to represent the landscape. The children focused on colour and texture to represent their walk. We could not have done this project without adult assistance and the assistance of the children in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes. However, the children gained great skills in selecting materials, weaving, cutting, tying and describing their work.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Artist Annabel Konig

Process, process, process. You can learn skills that cross over into other elements of life and school subjects. Learning through creativity can often not feel like homework or hard learning, it can be done through fun and ‘outside the box’ approaches.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I always value the chance to collaborate with an artist. In this case, the project stretched the children’s creativity and expanded their skills, not just in art but in awareness of their environment, developing their confidence and collaboration with others. They each had a great sense of achievement and were delighted to show and bring home their finished piece.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Artist Annabel Konig

Any workshop I do with children always encourages me to do more and to up the anti. Young people are so much more able than we think, once you give them the skills to succeed.

Teacher Brenda Binions

I think that as a teacher, I am inclined to keep projects small and within the confines of the classroom. This project had inspired me to look beyond the classroom and think outside the box. It has inspired me to ask more of the children and, with help from other adults and older children, encourage the children to expand their creativity.

 

!!!! Open Call Out for Artist/Facilitator for the Three Muses Arts Education Programme

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA)

Deadline: 12 noon, 27 August 2020

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA), through its joint arts in education programme, ‘The Three Muses’, wishes to appoint an artist/facilitator with an established track record in the development and delivery of multi-disciplinary and interactive art workshops for primary school children. The artist will design a series of workshops in which participants will engage with and creatively respond to the three permanent collections, using the alphabet as a conceptual frame. Given the uncertainty around schooling arrangements in the months ahead, we encourage candidates to explore alternative online and digital forms of engagement, in the event that physical workshops are not possible.

The Three Muses: Exploring Art and Identity’, is an innovative programme for primary schools, launched in November 2019, which aims to increase access, ownership and enjoyment of the collections of The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and LCGA, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. The Three Muses programme is supported by Limerick City and County Council and Friends of the Hunt Museum. ‘ABC of the Three Muses’ is sponsored by Affinity Credit Union.

For further information on this opportunity and to find out how to apply, please go to https://www.huntmuseum.com/vacancy-artist-facilitator/

!!!! Curious Minds – Resources for Teachers created by Visual Artists

“Curious Minds” is a series of booklets with lessons for primary school teachers created by professional Visual Artists.

This free digital resource offers more than 16 projects, with 43 lessons in total, divided into five books: one with the foundation; and four with projects for every season (most projects or lessons can be used any time of the year). It also includes various “warm-up” and awareness exercises (including “gymnastics for the brain”).

The content focuses on four main themes: belonging, identity, consumerism, and the environment. It is organised in such a way that allows for flexibility. Most lessons are suitable for a diverse range of ages, from 1st to 6th classes. There are projects of short, medium and long duration (from 1 to 8 lessons). The design of the books will allow anyone to print each project by lesson or in its entirety.

“Curious Minds” is the brainchild of Karla Sánchez and Els Dietvorst, who met through the “Living Arts Project”, an innovative art education program run by Wexford Arts Centre and the Art Department of Wexford County Council.

Karla and Els share an interest in multi-disciplinary and holistic education, and invited a group of creatives to collaborate in this endeavor: Clare Breen (who also did the illustrations), Laura Ní Fhlaibhín, Orla Bates, David Begley and Colm O’Neill (graphic designer).

For further details please see: livingartsproject.ie/book-1-introduction-and-fundamentals/

“Curious Minds” is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme.

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

!!!! IMMA’s Explorer at Home Series

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

IMMA invites children, young people and their families to join them every week on their social channels for #ExploreratHome.

While IMMA is closed the Explorer at Home art activities are available for children and adults to do and make at home. IMMA’s team share a new art activity every Wednesday afternoon on their social channels. You will find specially selected artworks, inspired by the IMMA Collection Online and IMMA’s temporary Exhibition Programme, as starting points for creative activities.

IMMA invites you to share your creations with them online by tagging IMMA and using the hashtag #ExploreratHome so you can see your work on IMMA’s website.

For more information go to imma.ie/whats-on/explorer-at-home/

 

!!!! Trócaire Game Changers Home Challenge

Trócaire & National Youth Council of Ireland

Closing Date: 30 June

During these extraordinary times as we all do our best to stay at home, Trócaire in partnership with the National Youth Council of Ireland, have created a new competition for young people called Trócaire Game Changers Home Challenge.  This is a competition for young people who want to change the world and believe games are a way to do this. It is a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and have a lot of fun while they do it.

Young people could create their games by recycling materials such as cereal boxes, bottle caps etc. The competition is open to young people of all ages and prizes will be awarded to the best entries.

The closing date is 30th June and entries can be submitted by post or electronically.

for further information go to www.trocaire.org/education/gamechangers/

Trócaire Games Challenge

Trócaire Games Challenge

!!!! Kids’ Own Visual Thinking Team: Call for Participants!

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Deadline: 14 May 2020

Kids’ Own has a special opportunity for young people, aged 10–13, to participate in an online visual thinking initiative.

Working alongside artist/curator Vanya Lambrecht Ward, young participants will have a special role in supporting and shaping the development of a new exhibition featuring artwork and writing from Kids’ Own’s extensive 23-year archive. Over a series of 6 online sessions, the team will explore aspects of the Kids’ Own archive – our books, our way of working, and visual art processes before selecting artwork and writing for the exhibition, as well as thinking about physical spaces of the exhibition and ways of presenting work for young audiences.

The work of the Visual Thinking Team will be instrumental in developing the exhibition, which will premiere at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon in late 2020, before moving to other venues in 2021/22. It is also important to Kids’ Own that the young participants have a physical presence in the exhibition, be that through inclusion of their voices and artwork in the exhibition brochure, or video presence in the exhibition itself.

The project will take place over six weeks in June and early July 2020.

As places are very limited, children are asked to visit the Kids’ Own website at the link below and fill in the application form and return by: Friday 14th May 2020.

To apply go to kidsown.ie/kids-own-visual-thinking-team-call-out-for-participants

Kids’ Own welcome applications from children of all backgrounds and abilities and from anywhere in Ireland.

!!!! The Three Muses Activity Pack – Learning Resource

The Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum are delighted to bring you The Three Muses Activity Pack, a learning resource inspired by the collections of The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art.

It is bursting with open-ended, creative activities which support Visual Art, History and English curricula, and comes in a full colour version for screens and a reduced colour version for printing at home. Explore and learn from Limerick’s museums without leaving your house – all you need is a pencil, paper and your brilliant imagination!

The Three Muses is a learning programme designed to increase access, ownership and enjoyment of three Limerick museums, with a focus on modern and contemporary visual art. The programme includes workshops and learning resources like this. Watch a short video on the programme here.

The Three Muses programme is supported by Limerick City and County Council and Friends of the Hunt Museum. This Activity Pack is sponsored by Unity Credit Union.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

To download the activity packs go to www.huntmuseum.com/the-three-muses-activity-pack/⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

 

!!!! Kids’ Own Celebrates 13 Years of the Virtually There Project

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Date: 7 March 2020

Kids’ Own is really proud to be celebrating thirteen years of their virtual arts in education project, Virtually There, with a large-scale exhibition and special launch event at Belfast Children’s Festival.

On Saturday 7th March 2020, a new exhibition will open in Belfast to showcase work developed by children, artists and teachers over the past three years. Funded for eleven years by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation since 2016, Virtually There was developed by Kids’ Own with a pioneering approach whereby artists connected virtually from their studios with children in the classroom.

Kids’ Own has partnered with Belfast Children’s Festival, Young at Art and University of Ulster to develop this exciting exhibition for public audiences, which runs from 6th-28th March.

A special exhibition opening event takes place at the Ulster University Belfast Campus on Saturday 7th March, 1pm-3.30pm. This event will include the launch of Open Space: An action research report from the Virtually There project by Dr Bryonie Reid. It will be launched by Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast.

There will also be a panel discussion entitled What does collaboration really mean? This discussion will be chaired by Mark O’Brien, director of axis, Ballymun, in conversation with artists and teachers who participated in the project.

Date & Time

Saturday, 7 March 2020. 1pm – 3.30pm

Venue

Belfast College of Art, York Street, Belfast

Refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to info@kidsown.ie

For further information go to kidsown.ie/kids-own-celebrates-13-years-of-virtually-there-project-at-belfast-childrens-festival/

!!!! The Gallery as a Classroom – CPD for Primary School Teachers

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: 7 March 2020

Primary school teachers, artists and those working within the classroom are invited to a one day CPD at Solstice Arts Centre, Navan to experience the potential of the gallery as an educational resource for the primary school curriculum and how this can be applied to the classroom context.

Exploring ‘You are Made of Stardust’, Solstice’s current exhibition by George Bolster participants will engage in a responsive workshop led by professional artist/educator Jane Fogarty. Supporting and enhancing artistic skills through discussions on art and a hands-on printmaking workshop. This CPD is suitable for those working with all primary class years and has links to the print and drawing modules from the visual arts curriculum.

€25 including lunch in Solstice café, places are limited.

10am – 3:30 pm, no prior art experience necessary.

For further information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/learning-participation/the-gallery-as-a-classroom.2939.html

!!!! School Opportunity: Better Words – A Field Guide to Contemporary Art and Culture for Primary Schools

EVA International

EVA International is delighted to announce the release of free copies of Better Words, for primary school libraries nationwide. It is a new book that offers an introduction to contemporary art and culture through the eyes of 8 – 12 year olds.

It features new artistic terms, words and word-forms, that describe many aspects of contemporary art today, all of which were invented by children through a workshop process that took place across 5 schools in County Limerick, in Spring 2019.

Organised into thematic sections, Better Words offers an introduction to key themes in contemporary art practice today, while also reflecting the cultural curiosity, creative energy and humourous irreverence of the participating school children.

Published by EVA International the book features contributions by acclaimed author Kevin Barry and notes on the workshop process by curator Maeve Mulrennan.

Please contact Eimear Redmond (Better Words Programme Coordinator) at eimear@eva.ie, to redeem a free copy of Better Words for your school library.

Please note that a small nominal fee of €3 for post and package will apply, one copy per school while stocks last.

For further information go to www.eva.ie

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: The Three Muses: exploring art and identity programme

The Hunt Museum

School bookings open from 21 November for spring and summer terms 2020

The Hunt Museum, Limerick Museum and Limerick City Gallery of Art are delighted to invite primary schools to take part in ‘The Three Muses: exploring art and identity’ programme.

Through this innovative visual arts programme for primary schools, pupils from schools across Limerick will engage with modern and contemporary visual art from the collections of three Limerick museums. Through workshops and activities participants will develop their confidence and understanding in visual art, while exploring the theme of identity.

The programme also includes one-off events such as children-led tours of the collections, training sessions for teachers and a summer showcase.

This programme is underpinned by Visual Thinking Strategies and links with Arts Education, History and SPHE curricula, giving participants an opportunity to connect in a relevant way with three Limerick museums and to generate an understanding and appreciation of the importance of visual art.

This programme is supported by Limerick City & County Council and Friends of The Hunt Museum.

School bookings from 21 November for spring and summer terms 2020.

For further information and booking details go to www.huntmuseum.com/learn/primary-schools

!!!! Invitation to The Classroom Museum Exhibition at The Glucksman

The Glucksman

Dates: 14-26 January 2020

The Glucksman is delighted to invite you to the ‘The Classroom Museum’ exhibition.

The Classroom Museum enables schoolchildren in rural Ireland to participate in an imaginative programme of creative learning based around contemporary artworks from the UCC art collection. In Autumn 2019, with the support of Kerry County Council and Creative Ireland, the Glucksman brought the Classroom Museum initiative to Caherdaniel NS and Portmagee NS in South West Kerry.

Through the short-term loan of artworks and collaborative activities, the children and their teachers had the opportunity to interact with artworks by Irish contemporary artists Dara McGrath and Fiona Kelly.

The Classroom Museum is built around the value of providing children with an opportunity to engage with works of art in a personal and continuous way. The initiative facilitates the loan of artworks into the classroom space, and includes a visit by the artist to the school, a collaborative art project by the children and an exhibition of this work in the Glucksman.

The students from Caherdaniel and Portmagee will visit the Glucksman in January 2020 to see their artworks on display. The exhibition is open to the public and runs until January 26th.

For further information go to www.glucksman.org/projects/the-classroom-museum

 

!!!! New Primary School Creative Programme at the Museum of Literature Ireland

Museum of Literature Ireland

The Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) are excited to offer a free primary school creative programme ‘Shut your eyes and see’ to Irish primary school teachers and students in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class. Workshops explore Irish literature, past and present, hoping to inspire the next generation to read, write, and unlock their creative potential in whatever form it takes.

Developed in collaboration with students from our learning partner schools, teachers, educators, administrators and librarians, our programme is designed with different learning styles in mind.

We offer a two-hour experience in MoLI from 10am–12pm, during term time. Teachers and students participate in a creative workshop and a tour of our exhibition space and gardens.

Connecting to our exhibitions and gardens, and reflecting elements of the school curriculum, workshops seek to develop critical thinking and research skills as well as visual, verbal and information literacy.

When booking, primary school teachers can choose from one of three workshops:

To book go to moli.ie/book-a-primary-school-workshop/

For further information and to download a teachers resource pack go to moli.ie/learning/schools-and-teachers/

 

!!!! Final Call for Registration for a CPD Opportunity for Primary School Teachers

Fingal County Council Arts Office

Date: 29 October 2019

Artist Jane Fogarty will introduce primary school teachers to Estuary – an exhibition of artworks from Fingal County Council’s Municipal Art Collection, as a starting point for generating ideas for use with students back in the classroom.

Teachers will be supported to enhance their artistic skills and expand their approach to teaching in the classroom by exploring the potential of the gallery context as an educational resource for the primary school curriculum. There will be an emphasis on looking and responding to contemporary artworks, group discussion, and identifying curriculum links.

This event is Free to attend. Lunch will be included.

For further information and booking please contact:  julie.clarke@fingal.ie

There are limited places available.  Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

About Estuary, Sept 12th – Nov 16th at Draíocht

Fingal County Council presents this significant exhibition to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the council and its Municipal Art Collection. Curated by Una Sealy (RHA), James English (RHA), Joshua Sex and Sanja Todorović, the selected artworks represent an evolving collection of painting, print, photography, literature and sculptural work by some of Ireland’s most prolific artists.  There is a strong theme of nature flowing through much of the selected works chosen by the curators specifically with Fingal’s landscape in mind. We hope that you enjoy the exhibition and participation in the public engagement programme.  www.fingalarts.ie

Date & Time:  

Tuesday 29 October 2019, 10am – 3pm

Location:

Draíocht, Blanchardstown

Facilitator:

Artist Jane Fogarty

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Contemporary print exhibition available for loan to schools

Tipperary County Council Arts Service

Dates: Ongoing

Tipperary County Council Arts Service offers schools in Tipperary the opportunity to borrow and display an exhibition of thirty-two contemporary prints by Irish artists. The prints from twenty two artists include works by Cecil King, Alice Hanratty, Patrick Hickey, Gene Lambert,  Suzannah O’Reilly and Des McMahon.  Print mediums include monoprint, relief print, etching, silkscreen, lithograph, collograph, and dry point. An informative exhibition catalogue for educational purposes is included with the print exhibition.

A one-day printmaking workshop in the school is also available as part of this opportunity. The prints are specially packed for easy handling and transport.

Teachers and schools can arrange to borrow the exhibition by contacting the Tipperary Arts Office by phone at 0761 06 5000 or by email at artsoffice@tipperarycoco.ie.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Liz Coman, Assistant Arts Officer Dublin City Council & VTS Facilitator – Blog No.2

Liz Coman is an Assistant Arts Officer with Dublin City Council.  She is a certified Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator with VTS/USA and has completed training to coaching level.  She is responsible for monitoring the quality of Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder – an EU project for Dublin City Council that is testing the VTS training pathway with educators in classroom and gallery settings. Liz has a background in History of Art and Museum Studies and fifteen years experience in designing innovative projects that support arts, education and learning.  She has led trainings in enquiry led approaches to mediating artwork for visual art facilitators in The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, The National Gallery of Ireland, and The Turner Prize, Derry and offers ongoing mentorship for individual artists, arts educators and teachers.

Stepping Back – Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder in a Post Primary School Art Room – Blog 2

A conversation with Anne Moylan, Art Teacher, Hartstown Community School, Clonsilla, Dubln15.

My experience with VTS has taught me that supporting authentic VTS practice, for our educators, our students, and myself is not a linear process.  It thrives on a spirit of collaboration, time, and some resources to access training and share understandings of the method.

In 2016, Dublin City Arts Office piloted a partnership approach with the NCCA to test the VTS training pathway with a group of Irish educators from different backgrounds –  professional educators who are from early years settings; primary school classroom teachers; secondary school (art) teachers; art educators (freelance museum and gallery educators, including teaching artists). It supported professional educators to train in Visual Thinking Strategies via Beginners and Advanced Practicums, with VTS/USA Programme Director, Yoon Kang O’Higgins. Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder extended this approach to six European partners, allowing us to deepen our understanding of the educators’ VTS practice journey through a research evaluation framework led by our partners, VTS Nederland.  The intended impact is that, through supporting educators, children and young people will have access to opportunities for critical thinking & thoughtful citizenship; will be actively encouraged to trust their own perceptions and be open to the thoughts of others; will feel their observations are valued and valuable when dealing with visual expression.

Change has been apace in secondary school curriculum re-design in Ireland in recent years. The ‘new’ Junior Cycle places an emphasis on students’ holistic development, linking subject areas, and turning a titanic history of ‘information giving’ towards scaffolding students’ life skills to equip them for a rapidly changing technological and global world.  This is a welcome change, and long awaited by us in the field that bridges arts, education and learning. It also invites challenging questions. I wonder what really happens in the classroom when we ‘step back’ and support our students to take the lead?  In my conversation with Anne Moylan, a secondary school art teacher, and educator participating in Permission to Wonder, we discuss how her training in VTS has supported a shift in her teaching practice and heightened her awareness of the value of “stepping-back” for her students.

How does VTS inform your teaching practice?

For me, the method is very much about stepping back.  It has definitely simplified down the process of looking at a painting, an object, a sculpture, piece of assemblage, for the first time.  To ask the question – what is going on in this work? – and then to actually hear what the students can see and what they are thinking about it. You always come with your own knowledge but in a VTS image discussion you have to step back out of that.  It is about allowing them to take you on any sort of a journey with their observations.

It is surprising when they point out something that you haven’t thought about or know already. You have to be prepared to go with the flow and therefore, your role completely changes with your students. You can make connections, bridge comments and themes, always developing the journey of their observation of the artwork. At the beginning, I found this difficult. Sometimes, as teenagers, you will find they are quiet or are afraid they are going to make a mistake.  That really gets easier with experience and practice as the students get used to the process over time.

We are not looking at images on the art history course. These are images from the VTS/USA website or the Permission to Wonder project, chosen specifically for use in a VTS image discussion. They are images that I am not familiar with myself. So, I am out of my comfort zone. I find this invigorating.

*Permission to Wonder partners are building and testing a European based image bank specifically for use within the project by the educators.  This will be available shortly on the project website www.permissiontowonder.com. Other images we have practiced with are drawn from the VTS/USA image curriculum for specific age groups available on https://vtshome.org/

What have you noticed happening for your students in a VTS image discussion?

Often, in a VTS session, you will find that students, who are very quiet usually, will begin to have a lot to say about a work. Some of these students would never talk, even in a practical art class. Then you show them an image, something will strike them in that image, and they really want to let you know what they see in it.

I have a number of students whose first language is not English. They have difficulty trying to say what they are looking at in their second language. Yet VTS gives them the space to do this.  The atmosphere is very calm. That is the shift for me.  Instead of giving them facts, dates and information about artwork, you are waiting to find out what they want to say about it, first and foremost.

With VTS, you really are connecting with their world. VTS allows the space for their world to connect with an artwork and indeed with me, as somebody from a different generation. You just see into their minds. Therefore, you could show them an image and the theme of mental health or family issues might come through from them. Of course you have to be careful and manage the discussion, not to flinch or be surprised.  You might be flummoxed by what might come out of them.  So holding your neutrality, and keeping the space safe for students, is important. VTS training helps you learn to do this effectively.  You sometimes think they might be talking about their own lives, and yet they are not, they are talking about an artwork.

Your role becomes very much the facilitator of the discussion. Often I would have students, saying to me ‘When can we do this again?

Have you practiced VTS with images that are on the art history course?

Yes, for example, with Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding. When you ask the first question – what is going on in this work?-  you get “I know all about this, we studied this in religion / we studied this in history”. This is an image that is a little bit recognisable to them. They are able to share what they have been taught. However, when you manage the discussion with conditional paraphrasing and ‘What more can we find?’ it deepens their engagement with the work. Even though they think they know as much as there is to know about it, it refocuses their attention back on the image. It deepens their concentration and gets their eyes back on the key elements of the picture.

‘The Arnolfini Wedding’ by Jan Van Eyck
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait

As part of teaching art history, I take the opportunity to bring the students into galleries in Dublin.  The guides tend to lead the tour with one voice- the guides voice. As an art teacher, I just want them to know you can walk into a gallery in any city, you do not have to pay, you can go in, see two pieces, and go back out again. With VTS and the three questions, it is a framework for them to use for looking at artwork, no matter where they are or what artwork they are looking at.

Can you recall a favourite VTS image discussion?

I have used VTS with all the year groups. However, I particularly remember a VTS discussion with a group of sixth years, at the end of the year, in May. We were finished the practical side of the preparation for the exam. With sixth years, you do not want to make anybody have to speak. It is fine if they don’t want to say anything.  However, in this session, there was one boy from China. He had so much to say about a particular image. He related it back to his own country. It was a painting, with a bright yellow palette and all the children depicted had these red neckerchiefs. The Irish children read them as the scouts, or being members of a group, or a club. This boy went in a completely different direction. He described that this is what it is like in China, in school. He talked about his own experience. He spoke for a few minutes and got a round of applause from the other students. A girl in the group said to him ‘in all the years that you have been in the school, that is the most, I’ve ever heard you say’.  So that is the kind of profound experience I remember coming from my VTS image discussions.

‘Mask Series No. 6’ by Zeng Fanzhi,
https://muse.union.edu/aah194-wi19/2019/01/30/zeng-fanzhi-mask-series-no-6/

How do you think VTS complements the Junior Cycle art curriculum?

In the new junior cycle art curriculum, student voice is very important.  It means stepping back and letting the student do the work, lead their learning process.  This does not mean that your job is easier. Within the structure of classroom-based assessment, a lot of reflecting, verbalizing and building the visual vocabulary for teachers and the students, is required.  The change is that you are putting the ownership for their learning and describing their learning process back on the student.  Therefore, you need to facilitate the classroom environment more in order to achieve that.

What we are all nervous about is that it this is difficult to assess. For students and parents it is difficult to understand this change in emphasis. I gave my students a VTS image discussion as a piece of homework to try out with their parents.  They took the framework and used it to look at any artwork or any piece of visual information with their family. The students were surprised with their parent’s observations and the conversations about the art work at home. I use it with my own family and it works very well!

How did Erasmus+ Permission to Wonder help you develop your VTS practice?

I really value that I have been involved in Permission to Wonder. As an art teacher in a school, you might be the only art teacher. You could be on your own, in your creative world.  You are so busy day to day with project work. It is amazing to step out of it with VTS and to have an opportunity to meet other educators-to look at artwork with them using a different format. It is really quite enlightening and refreshing. There are four of us educators from Dublin and we are all coming from completely different backgrounds – gallery, artist, primary school and secondary school. Being involved in our own Irish group was brilliant. We helped each other to explore our own context and look at theirs. I really enjoyed the collaboration and it was invigorating to explore art with others.

The training practicums were very well paced out. In the Beginners Practicum, you had the three questions. But you have to get them right, and in the right order, remember the exact wording, and that was tricky for me in the beginning.  It was also a challenge to learn to paraphrase accurately.  That requires a lot of skill. In the Advanced Practicum, I loved learning about linking and framing comments. How you, as facilitator, can connect comments and really build the learning in the group. I enjoyed the training and understand that it is also up to me to support my own practice and keep  motivated in using VTS.

What would you like to work on next in your VTS practice?

I did a VTS session with a society and politics class. None of these students were art students. We looked at images I selected specifically looking at politics and society – race, childhood issues, gender etc. VTS worked so well in this class. Students had so much to say and the images stimulated insightful conversations. I am interested in how VTS could be used in other subject areas and how I might help other teachers integrate VTS into their subjects in our school.

!!!! Teachers Summer Course at The Ark ‘A Visual Arts Approach in the Classroom’

The Ark

Dates: 12 – 16 August 2019

The Ark, Dublin are delighted to be presenting this course for the fifth year in a row. This hands-on, creative course focuses on a visual arts approach to exploring narrative, literacy & other subjects.

This is a five day Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

The aim of the course is to enable participants to start the new school year with an enhanced tool box of skills and knowledge, in order to effectively deliver the visual arts curriculum in the classroom. Participants will be engaged ‘hands-on’ throughout this course so learning will be through doing. Working in teams and individually, you will cover a range of curriculum strands including drawing, painting, print, 3D construction, fabric and fibre.

A strong emphasis will be on building skills and confidence. The group will also explore how visual art can be used to engage with aspects of the English, SPHE, History and Maths curriculum, as well as to promote visual literacy approaches. School self-evaluation exercises will be incorporated as an integral part of the course.

This course will appeal to teachers of all levels of experience and will be facilitated by the visual arts and education specialist and founder of Art to Heart, Jole Bortoli. This is a continuing professional development opportunity not to be missed!

For further information and booking go to https://ark.ie/events/view/teachers-summer-course-a-visual-arts-approach

!!!! Opportunity: Join the National Gallery of Ireland’s Teacher Network

National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline Date: 12th July 2019

The National Gallery of Ireland this year are developing new resources and outreach programming, taking the Gallery off-site to schools across the country that may find it difficult to travel to Dublin. To help shape this programme, the Gallery will be forming a national network of teachers who will guide their research, planning and evaluation.

The Gallery are looking for teachers from across the country to be part of this network. They want the network to be as inclusive as possible, with every county represented, and a good mix of rural and urban, and primary, post-primary and special schools.

The network will primarily exist online, but each year we will hold programme-development workshops at the Gallery, where participants will help co-produce new programming. The Gallery also hope that members will host local events, helping to share learning and resources with their peers.

For further information and details on how to apply please go to www.nationalgallery.ie/schools/teacher-network

!!!! Art in the Primary School Making and Appreciation Skills – CPD for Primary School Teachers

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 1 July – 5 July 2019

This CPD course offers a unique opportunity for primary school teachers to expand their artistic skill set in a national cultural institution.

Join facilitators Claire Hall and Sinéad Hall for this National Gallery of Ireland CPD course comprising a series of presentations focusing on the six strands of the primary school visual arts curriculum, followed by workshops in drawing, painting, print, fabric and fibre, construction and clay. The sessions will involve hands-on, practical activities, and lessons that can be used at all class levels, with direct references to related works of art in the Gallery’s collection.

The course will cover all strands and strand units of the visual arts curriculum; the elements of art; linkage and integration across the curriculum; and assessment and self-evaluation. The course will also focus on the centrality of looking and responding and process throughout the strands. Course attendees will participate in tours of the Gallery’s current exhibitions, and some workshops may take place in gallery rooms.

All attendees will receive an information pack detailing all that the Gallery has to offer primary schools. Produced by the National Gallery’s Education Department, the information pack will include advice on visiting galleries and cultural institutions with students; suggestions on how to introduce primary school children to art and art history; and details on how to access online resources.

The course fee covers all materials, handouts, equipment and supplies. All art work completed during the course may be photographed and/or taken home at the end of the course as a reference for classroom use.

Dates and time: Monday, 1 July – Friday, 5 July | 9.30 am – 2pm
Course Fee: €90.00
Max. number of participants: 25
Suitable for: Primary school teachers
For information and to book, please email: sineaddehal@gmail.com | claire.hall3838@gmail.com

For further information go to www.nationalgallery.ie/whats-on/teachers-cpd-course-art-primary-school-making-and-appreciation-skills 

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – Cave Dweller

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

The project was grounded by both Liselott and John’s backgrounds. This was informed firstly by exploring the cultural heritage of Sweden, particularly in relation to folktale and oral histories. John presented work on his own practice as a printmaker, children saw firsthand how a printmaker renders a copperplate or woodblock. A single print ‘Cave’ by Mamma Andersson became the stimulus, linking cross curriculuar themes such as geography, history, drama, literacy and maths. Participants engaged in multi-plate print processes, exploring the textural possibilities of relief printmaking. Responding to a site visit in Dunmore caves, pupils visually investigated geological formations, while researching the historical context of the cave in relation to folklore. A diorama became the backdrop to shadow play that was constructed over a number of sessions, echoing the interior space of the cave. Tapping into imagination participants played out theatrical scripts that responded to a series of narratives.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

John Busher, Artist

The project was developed over a number of sessions prior to the workshops beginning. The intention was to integrate numberacy and literacy, but also investigate the possibility of cross curricular activity. Following intital meetings it was decided to exlopre the cultural heritage of Sweden, the birthplace of class teacher Liselott. The project was developed in response to the activities; this usually involved a brief meeting following certain sessions to evaluate outcomes. Participants worked in small groups, where print stations were set up and amended to their needs. Liselott carried out research in between sessions with the group, children engaged in written activities that investigated folk tradition of Sweden. Other written activities responded to a site visit to Dunmore cave. There was a shared sense of balancing research with practical activity throughout the workshops with John.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

At the start of the project John introduced Mamma Anderson the print maker. We looked at her work both with John and outside of the workshop. The children learnt about her as an artist and we discussed her work in terms of themes, style, her use of colour etcThe children looked at Johns work as an artist and printmaker . We discussed where we see print in our environment, the children learnt to use ink and rollers by learning to monoprint outside the engagement with the artist. We also read folkstories. John had a book of Swedish folktales and in between the sessions we read those and discussed the theme, characters etc.

Before our trip to the caves we looked again at Mamma Anderson’s work and discussed the theme of caves. We talked about what a cave might smell like, feel like and look like. We picked out stories that featured caves such as We are going on a Bear Hunt. We talked about the different types of animals that could live in the caves. We looked at the caves on google maps to see where it was located and discussed the history of how the cave was found.

After the trip to Dunmore caves in Kilkenny, we reviewed what we had learnt about the caves and the children described the caves. We made a list of vocabulary associated with the caves and the children wrote a report on their visit and drew a diagram of the caves. We talked about how water can affect rocks and used the vocabulary -stalactites and stalagmites – to label the diagrams. At the end of the project the children had developed characters, which became shadow puppets. They had experience of reading scripts through using Readers Theatre and they discussed how they would create a script in groups for their characters.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

John Busher, Artist

As a practicing artist, it was a pleasure to engage the children in the investigative process that an artist often goes through. From gathering initial research, documenting work both written and visual, through to the various stages that sees an artwork come into fruition. The onsite visit to Dunmore Cave brought richness to the project; this could not be achieved by working in the classroom alone. Planning for the sessions were only ever one week in advance, using this approach meant that I was responding to conversations that would happen with children in the classroom. This process often mirrors how I might work in the studio, responding to work made that day. The idea for a diorama grew out of the initial print process of making a cave print and linking with the local environment. As a visual artist I had no experience in script writing, it was a wonderful experience to see how the children responded to work in written form. Under Liselott’s guidance, children explored an incredible range of narratives through pair work. It was exhilarating to witness the children’s awe in exploring this through shadow play.

Having very little fluent speaking Irish was challenging at times, as conversations were often difficult to follow. It did allow an exchange where the children were directing me somewhat, which allowed me to build art terms and vocabulary through Irish. Demonstrating was often most challenging, articulating the various art-making processes and linking this with the content of the work. As the project progressed I became more fluent in how I delivered the sessions, this was a rewarding process ultimately and I found myself learning more about the children I was working with. The success of the project meant that Liselott and I have continued to work on the project in the context of the AiE summer course delivered in partnership with Wexford and Kilkenny Education Centres. The project has become a template in how to achieve successful teacher / artist partnerships, and the importance of cultivating this special relationship.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

The timing of the workshops was a challenge. We started at the beginning of May and as a teacher this time until the end of the school year can be hectic. I played a supportive role to John in the classroom. John instructed the children and at the start I was trying to translate this into Irish as the children are in a gaelscoil. This was interrupting the flow of the workshop so we decided that I would give the children the vocabulary in the following days. This was time consuming too.

It was a successful project as the children engaged in it over 2 months. There were 8 sessions of face-to-face workshops with the artist. Having a theme that was capable of expanding into the different curricular areas was rewarding and enriching for the children. Investigating their own locality was really important and learning about the history and geography of the region deepened the learning experience for the children.

The project also had many challenges. The project was started in May and continued until the end of June. This time of the year as a teacher, we are juggling assessments, school trips and other end of year school activities. The workshop lasted 2 hours for each session. We had to adjust our timetable to suit the artist.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

John Busher, Artist

The project was exceptionally rich in terms of relating the working activities of a practicing artist. Children engaged in similar methodologies that artists would in their studio. Such as research, testing, exploring materials, reviewing and editing and traveling on site to gather visual research. The project demonstrated that children of any age could sustain their interest over a prolonged period of time. Each session I would bring a range of works in progress from the studio, often these were failed works other times they were pieces that I felt were successful. This process allowed a space where children felt it was possible to fail and work through their difficulties in the classroom, this was part of the natural process in art making. The children’s natural curiosity, their doubts, insecurity, highly charged energy and critical thinking are not too far from how an artist experiences the process of making art.It was a privilege to share this experience in the context of their classroom.

Liselott: The children had an experienced artist whose main passion is printmaking working with them for a sustained amount of time. This allowed a deeper engagement with the project. The children were able to build a relationship with the artist and secondly develop their own skills, language and work in a way that encouraged them to ask questions and not be afraid of making mistakes.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

John Busher, Artist

Integrating stimulating site visits into workshops as research has opened up a lot of possibilities regarding how participants engage with contemporary art. The practical aspect of artist research can be adapted successfully within the visual arts curriculum. The project also explored the similarities and differences between artists and teachers, and brought a more sensitive understanding regarding both roles. As an artist I am more familiar with facilitating as means of engaging children, this often involves demonstrating rather than direct instruction. Participating in the partnership has taught me a balance between direct instruction and demonstration. Artists engage children through inquiry based pedagogicalapproaches, as this method mirrors more closely how an artist might work. Having completed the residency I have found that there is a place for other pedagogicaltechniques such as scaffolding in the context of a workshop setting.

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

Embracing a theme across a number of weeks allows a deeper engagement with both the theme and also a process. As a teacher there is pressure to move quickly through the curriculum to cover all processes and subjects. Allowing the children time to reflect and to experience a process in this case print over a number of weeks I saw how more capable the children had become in using the equipment and using the vocabulary to express themselves. The children were more confident and took more ownership of the process.

!!!! Grown Up Talk: A Year of Early Years Visual Art at The Ark

The Ark – Lucy Hill & Christina Macrae

Date: 28th March 2019

Join artist Lucy Hill, our inaugural John Coolahan Early Years Artist in Residence, and her residency mentor Dr. Christina Macrae from Manchester Metropolitan University to celebrate, reflect on and discuss their experiences together as Lucy’s residency draws to an end. The fascinating discussion will include illustrations of key moments and learnings during the residency, the mentoring process, as well as research and ideas in early years and visual arts practice more generally.

Thought-provoking for parents, preschool and primary teachers, artists, arts managers and anyone with an interest in art and children.

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/talk-for-grown-ups-a-year-of-early-years-visual-art

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 4

Christopher McCambridge is a Special Educational Needs teacher at St. Colman’s Primary School, Lambeg. St. Colman’s Primary is a mainstream school of 400 pupils with two learning support unit classes. Christopher is also an active member of the Belfast art scene. He co-founded the arts organisation Belfast Platform for the Arts (Platform Arts) in 2010, which continues to provide an exhibition space and studios for artists.

In 2016 Christopher and his Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership ‘Virtually There’ project. ‘A virtual artist in residence project which explores the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology’. (Orla Kenny, Creative Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership). Now in their 3rd year, artist John D’Arcy has been working collaboratively with Christopher and his class at St Colman’s P.S as virtual artist-in-residence. 

Away Day – Blog 4

2018 marked the completion of my 2nd Year working as part of the Kids’ Own, Virtually There project.  The two years have flown in and I have found that the pupils throughout those years have been given an enjoyable and unique experience. This project has also helped me to develop creatively as a teacher and an individual. This development was furthered through the ‘creative away day’ that the Kids’ Own organisation offered to all the teacher – artist groupings. Each teacher-artist grouping would be able to organise their own creative away allowing us the opportunity to re-charge our creative batteries, broaden our horizons and prepare for the next project year.

After much discussion, John D’Arcy (Artist) and I decided to take a day trip to Dublin to view a number of exhibitions that we both found of interest. These exhibitions included Land / Sea / Signal at RUA RED in Tallaght and ‘Prototypes’ by Doireann O’Malley, Rachel Maclean ’Just be yourself’ in The Hugh Lane gallery. The exhibitions involved the use of digital technology, an aspect that has been integral to our project.

The journey to Dublin provided us both with an opportunity to reflect on the project from the previous year. Discussing aspects such as the pacing of the individual elements of the project, aspects of planning, pupils’ enjoyment, as well as discussing what we felt worked well or could be improved. This time, especially outside of term time, was invaluable as it allowed us to discuss the project without any other distractions.

In Year 2, the central theme of our project was Hacking.  This word was the starting point from which all other ideas would develop from. I felt this worked particularly well as it meant we could develop ideas from this central theme, allowing ideas to either develop as stand-alone lesson or develop into their own mini-project . This flexible approach, gave me more confidence in allowing each idea to develop at its own pace, with the children developing and realising their ideas across a number of weeks. Thus, allowing for a greater insight into the work. This is an aspect which I hope we further refine, allowing the children to critically reflect on their workings within each session.

During our first two years working together, technology has played an important role within our projects. This year the use of apps had allowed the children to explore hacking in a variety of ways. In one of the mini-projects we focused on the ‘hacking of time’, exploring how we could speed up or slow down different movements from the mundane, the children completing work, to the more exciting, running a race. This mini-project was achieved through the app Hyper-lapse. I felt the variety and use of different apps had engaged the children. These apps were later used by the children to create a ‘coded film’ which the viewer was required to hack, using a code developed by the children during our sessions. Due to an interest in technology, I was interested in viewing these exhibitions in Dublin.

The exhibition, Land / Sea / Signal, was a group show featuring artists, Alan Butler, Gregory Chatonsky, John Gerrard, Nicolas Sassoon & Rick Silva and Santa France. The exhibition brought together these artists whose practices ‘mediated on the materiality of internet infrastructure and the complex socio-political conditions that are embedded within them.’The exhibition examined our modern day relationship with the internet, particularly how we ‘maintain, update and adjust our relationships … and reconfigure ourselves through technologies and with one another.

Image copyright artist Alan Butler - Land / Sea / Signal at Rua Red

Image copyright artist Alan Butler – Land / Sea / Signal at Rua Red

As with any exhibition, there were artworks which held my interest longer than others. In Land / Sea / Signal, the artist Alan Bulter piece was one of these. The artist documented the lives and experiences of the homeless … within the video game, Grand Theft Auto V. Upon first viewing I had initially mistaken these photographs as documenting real people in the outskirts of rundown cities. Once realising my error, I was taken aback by the uncanny resemblance to the real-life and how unfortunate circumstances can lead to these positions for people.

After exploring RUA RED, we moved on to the Hugh Lane gallery to view the exhibitions by Doireann O’Malley and Rachel Maclean.

Dorieann O’Malley’s exhibition Prototypes was a multi-screen film installation exploring ‘transgender studies, science fiction, bio politics and psychoanalysis, AI and experimental music. She skilfully ties these to phantoms of modernist utopias, epitomised by the post-war architecture of Berlin, which serves as a dreamlike scenography for the main, protagonists’ ghostly actions’ [Jury Statement, Edith Russ Haus fur Media Art Stipendium, 2016]

Some of the work of Doireann O’Malley was as a result of collaborative methodology, using a combination of CGI, film and Virtual Reality of interest. This was of interest to both John and I, as we have discussed the use of Virtual Reality as a line of enquire in Year 3 of our project.

Rachel Maclean’s exhibition ‘Just be yourself!’, also at the Hugh Lane gallery, was a series of video installations and digital artworks. Her work uses “satire to critique consumer desire, identities and power dynamics … she parodies fairy tales, children’s television programmes, advertising, internet videos and pop culture … combining her interests in role-play, costume and digital production in works of cinematic collage.

Image copyright Rachel Maclean - ‘Just be yourself!’, at the Hugh Lane gallery

Image copyright Rachel Maclean – ‘Just be yourself!’, at the Hugh Lane gallery

I would like to thank Kids’ Own and their funders for giving John and I the opportunity to organise this creative away day. It has provided us with the opportunity to discuss and critique our project work to date and allow us to view exhibitions that could influence our thinking for future ‘Virtually There’ projects.

Year 3 of our ‘Virtually There’ project is currently underway, and as documented in my previous post, we are exploring the theme of ‘Radio.’ We have developed our own radio identity, WECHO FM. Since my last post, the children have created their own DJ names, such as Smooth T, Aidan Big Shot, Jump Bam Sam and Charley KAPOW to name a few.  They have also used these names to design portraits, using a variety of different materials and techniques, which reflect their radio personalities.

As the project continues to grow and develop, the children are beginning to record talk shows, news stories, weather reports and create music and jingles, advertising WECHO FM and their own individual shows. At the end of the project, we intend to visit a local radio station, where we will have the opportunity to play our content to a live audience.

The ‘Virtually There’ project continues to allow the children the opportunity to express themselves artistically, as well as giving me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone and develop as a teacher.

!!!! Opportunity for Teachers: CPD Visual Art Workshop at IMMA

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Date: Saturday 2nd February, 10:00am to 12:30pm

Explore print-making during a studio workshop and enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition IMMA Collection: Freud Project, Gaze. IMMA guided tours for primary schools are focussing on this exhibition until May 2019.

Artist Rachel Tynan will lead this practical workshop during which primary teachers will discover multiple links to the visual art curriculum.

This workshop is free but on-line booking is essential. Places are limited and booking is on a first come, first served basis.

You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience of art-making.

Book your place: imma.ticketsolve.com/shows/873601916

!!!! Kids’ Own publishes new book by children experiencing homelessness, aged 8–12

Kids’ Own has published a brand new book by children experiencing homelessness. The book was launched in partnership with Focus Ireland on Friday 9th November, and offers a rich resource for teachers and schools to explore themes of social justice, children’s rights and SPHE topics. The book was developed by 15 children, aged 8–12, during the summer – through a creative process with writer Mary Branley and artist Maree Hensey –and includes a beautiful mixture of artwork, photography, poetry and personal stories.

To buy a copy, visit Kids’ Own’s website.

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – Scoil Náisiúnta Muire gan Smál

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) is a unique Department of Education and Skills initiative for supporting and enhancing arts in education in primary schools. The CPD Summer Course and residency programme is now mainstreamed and consists of free DES approved (EPV days) Summer Courses operating in each of the 21 full-time Education Centres in Ireland. The initiative includes funded Artist in Residency opportunities in which participating teachers and artists work together in collaboration in the School during the following academic year.

For more information click here.

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

This project was Phase 2 of the Arts in Education Initiative – Exploring Teacher/Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD for Supporting & Enhancing Arts Education. The initiative comprises three phases and is being conducted using Action-Research methodology and principles.

It is a Department of Education and Skills initiative developed in response to the objectives outlined in the Charter. Vera McGrath (lead teacher) was nominated by Monaghan Education Centre and Claire Halpin (lead artist – visual artist) was nominated by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

From the outset we wanted the project to be very open and to really explore the partnership of the artist and teacher in the classroom and allow the class group to inform the direction the project would take. We slowed down our working processes and took time to discuss our creative work as the project developed. Our opening theme was the idea of place – Where is your place? What does your place mean to you?

We began working in drawing – mapping our journeys to school and home, blind drawings and detailed maps, gathering textures from our surroundings our physical space, talking about natural and manmade spaces and surrounding sounds. We visited Parallel Visions: Sculpture and Installation from the IMMA Collection at the High Lanes Gallery, Drogheda. Vera led the tour using an enquiry based approach with the group – What do you see? What do you see that makes you say that? It allowed the group to really explore the work and discuss its physical qualities, how it was made as well as the themes and ideas in the artworks.

Following on from this in the classroom, we explored paper as a construction material. We punctured, twisted, rolled, pleated, bent, folded, shaped, cut, adhered, fringed, knotted, crushed, scrunched, pinned, threaded, stapled, stuck, tore, layered, decorated and plaited different papers to test out how strong durable, sturdy, weight bearing and appropriate different weights, graded and textures of paper were for the creations that the participants undertook.

Over the next few weeks the group developed on these techniques and planned artworks that would reflect the idea of place – where is your special place? As the plans developed we evaluated the ideas and themes in group critique sessions. We talked about where these art works would be placed in the real world – context and scale. We looked at other artist work discussing scale and space. All the time developing the groups language skills in discussing art and critical thinking and critical reflection.

In keeping the emphasis on the openness of the project we allowed the group to select whatever materials they would like to work with and developed their techniques and creative processes and potential in working with these materials to create their artworks. We worked on these pieces over a number of weeks as the group explored and learned the techniques of the materials they had selected to work with and refined and developed their individual artworks.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Claire Halpin, Artist 

The group’s creativity, imagination and hard work was overwhelming. The individuality of their work and their articulation of their work and their individual creative processes was incredible. They were really focused and concentrated on the project, had a strong sense of ownership of the project and developed confidence in their skills and creativity. It was a new experience for them to work in this way, and they were challenged by this approach as they are more accustomed to direct instructions and making specific artworks.

I feel the trust of myself and Vera in the partnership, in each other and in the group allowed for these outcomes to emerge. We worked very well together – each taking a lead where appropriate and relevant and within this learned a lot about each other’s working processes and language around discussing art and our own individual approaches and practice. The project entailed a lot of planning on a weekly basis and also each week we would spend time evaluating and working out where to go next with the group, analysing their responses to each session.

The group was unique in that they were a newly-formed group for the project, comprising 13 children from learning support, encompassing a spectrum of students with different needs including the academically gifted, dyslexic/ dyspraxic students and students in the autistic spectrum. Being a small group, we were afforded the luxury of allowing the children to work in their chosen medium. This was challenging for us time-wise as we had to teach each child the practical skills and techniques of working in their chosen material. It also allowed us as teacher and artist to take chances with the project and try out this approach and to develop a trust in each other and the group. In so doing, the group could see that we did not always know the answers but would figure it out, which is inherent to creativity and being an artist. This I feel allowed the children to see themselves as artists creating individual unique artworks that were personal to them. A key part of this was the regular group discussions evaluating their own work and the creative processes of the project.

I learnt a huge amount about slowing down – really taking time to allow the artworks to develop and discussing these developments throughout. The enquiry-based approach to the exhibition visit for me was a learning curve around discussing artworks and how this approach creates really strong memories of the artworks and the experience of looking at art for the participants. These aspects are something that I will bring with me from the fantastic experience of working in this partnership project. The commitment to the project and the partnership from the teacher and the class group was critical to the process and made it a really strong project, allowing for the positive creative outcomes and learning experience.

Vera McGarth, Teacher 

I concur with all the observations made by Claire above. I was very excited and amazed by the ability of these young students to articulate their ideas and how creative they were in their approach to realising them through visual art materials. The whole experience created a wonderful bond among us all, myself Claire and the children, all of whom I now see in a different light. Thus the partnership blossomed from being a teacher-artist partnership to being a children/ artist/ teacher venture during which roles were interchanged regularly. Often Claire and I had to be so open to learning from and about the children with whom we were working. The process was wonderfully experimental, and Claire and I allowed the direction of the project to emerge rather than plan it rigidly from start to finish. We de-emphasised the finished product and kept our focus entirely on process, regularly gathering the children around to reflect on how they were progressing and what thoughts, insights and understandings were emerging.

Like Claire, I found the greatest challenge for me was time management, particularly as we gave full reign to the students in the selection of materials for their final piece. I also learned to slow down- to give the process the time it needs and deserves and to recognise the value of doing this, something which often escapes teachers pressurised by meeting targets, expectations and completing curricula and governed by timetables. Personally I learned so much from Claire who brought the outside world into our classroom and taught me to think beyond and above the classroom, the school and the curriculum.

The link to our website posted below is critical to get a flavour of the nature of this project. The learning outcomesof the work done by Claire and myself in partnership will now be translated into two summer courses to be run in Summer 2015for primary teachers and artists from different disciplines in two venues in the North-East and North-Dublin regions. Claire and I will lead these courses and bring the rich learning and insights we have gained to help nurture new partnerships between artists and teachers so that many more of the children in our primary schools can enjoy and benefit from the privilege of working in such a holistic, creative, intellectual, self-motivated and engaging manner. Moreover we hope that primary teachers will come to understand, as we now do the value of working in this way and that artists in our communities will see the wonderful insights, knowledge and skills they have to offer the world of education and how much they have to gain in becoming involved.

 

!!!! Teachers Summer Course at The Ark ‘A Visual Arts Approach in the Classroom’

The Ark

Dates: 13 Aug – 17 Aug 2018

Department of Education and Skills and EPV-approved summer course for teachers.

Over five days this hands-on, creative course at The Ark, Dublin focuses on a visual arts approach to exploring narrative, literacy & other subjects.

The aim of the course is to enable participants to start the new school year with an enhanced tool box of skills and knowledge, in order to effectively deliver the visual arts curriculum in the classroom. Participants will be engaged ‘hands-on’ throughout this course so learning will be through doing. Working in teams and individually, you will cover a range of curriculum strands including drawing, painting, print, 3D construction, fabric and fibre.

A strong emphasis will be on building skills and confidence. The group will also explore how visual art can be used to engage with aspects of the English, SPHE, History and Maths curriculum, as well as to promote visual literacy approaches. School self-evaluation exercises will be incorporated as an integral part of the course.

This course will appeal to teachers of all levels of experience and will be facilitated by the visual arts and education specialist and founder of Art to Heart, Jole Bortoli. This is a continuing professional development opportunity not to be missed!

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-summer-course-a-visual-arts-approach

!!!! Drawing and Print Making CPD for Art Teachers at The Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum

Date: 7th April, 2018 

In conjunction with the ATAI, The Hunt Museum and Limerick Printmakers are offering art teachers a full day CPD in drawing and printing.

The morning session at The Hunt Museum will be led by artist Sam Walsh, whose exhibition The Segment & Apple Drawings is currently on display. Sam will deliver two demonstrations; the first will incorporate nine different drawing techniques. The second will focus specifically on cross-hatching and its ability to create texture, form and value. Teachers will then experiment with these techniques to create their own  drawings of objects from the collection.

After lunch tutors at Limerick Printmakers will introduce teachers to the printing processes of drypoint and chine-collé. With their guidance teachers will review the suitability of their drawings for these media.

This CPD will enable art teachers to plan schemes in print making for Junior and  Senior Cycle students, as well as providing them with a new outlet to express their own creativity and to develop new technical skills.

Booking is essential. ATAI membership number required.

For more information go to www.huntmuseum.com or email education@huntmuseum.com.

 

Price: Free to ATAI members or €40 for                 non-member. Includes all materials.                    Lunch not supplied

!!!! Documentation Award Update – Artist Clare Breen & Breadfellows’ Chats

The Arts in Education Portal editorial team have begun visiting sites of the recipients of our Documentation Award.

Earlier this month, we visited St Ibar’s National School, in Castlebridge, Wexford where artist Clare Breen has been working since October 2017 with 3rd and 5th classes. Each Wednesday she has worked in 2 sessions, responding to the work of 10 different international artists, including her own. The project is titled Breadfellows’ Chats with the Living Arts Project. The Living Arts Project was established in 2013 as a long-term visual arts education scheme, supporting the existing partnership between Wexford Arts Centre and the Arts Department of Wexford County Council.

The question “what does an artist do?” is at the center of this project. Breen selected 10 artists whose work is very diverse, and she has introduced the children to as wide a spectrum as possible of contemporary material processes. They have worked with painting, collage, sculpture, performance and the body, textiles, writing, film, photography, ceramics and sound. It was also important to Breen that the activities would cover the 3rd and 5th class art curriculum during the weekly sessions.

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In week one the children made tunics to wear each week to protect their clothes. The tunics are painted with images responding to the question

If you were not a human, what would you like to be?

This could be an animal or an object, an alien or a monster, anything you can think of, but it should reflect some of your best qualities. (If this question is very difficult you can ask your friends for some help!)

This question was formulated as an alternative introduction that is not based on nationality, age, gender etc. to leave space for improvisation, allowing all to introduce themselves on their own terms. Working collaboratively, the children drew around one another while lying on the ground to find their shape; the traced figure became the outline for a tunic. Each child then painted on the tunic’s ‘tummy’ the animal/ object/ monster/ alien they had selected to wear over their uniform for the coming weeks.

The accompanying photos show the children in their tunics working on a painting project responding to the work of artist Sarah de Wilde.

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!!!! Creative Generations – Synge Street CBS collaboration with Andreas Kindler

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

We have been developing the Creative Generations Arts-in-Education programme over the last four years, and in 2017 we had an opportunity to expand our engagement with a school through a longer term residency. This gave us the chance to make a deeper impact on the students’ learning and awareness of contemporary art. Working with inner city schools in Dublin is part of our remit as a city centre gallery and studio space – so Synge Street was a suitable partner school. This programme is centred around a residency format and creating a space for professional artists to bring their art practice into a school setting; sharing skills, experience and concepts of what contemporary arts practice is today.

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

The residency took the form of six sessions in Synge Street Secondary School where I worked together with the teacher and the transition year students on designing and constructing a hang out space for the students to use in their spare time. The goal of these sessions was to think about how to transform the spaces we use and, through some basic construction or alterations, make them more suitable to our needs. Taking their school as the space where they spend most of their time, we looked at the influential work of future thinking architects and artists like Paolo Soleri, Superstudio, Andrea Zittel and N55 as a form of inspiration for our project. From this we then created a sculptural environment for their library.

Student S

Ms Wright brought us to Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, we met Andreas Kindler and Jean and they showed us around the building. Andreas told us what he does and how he works with light. He said he’ll come to the school and do some kind of project together.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Temple Bar Galleries approached our school with the idea of an artist residency, working with students/schools from the local area. Our students began working with Andreas Kindler von Knobloch under the Creative Generations Education Programme. Creative Generations is generously funded by Central Bank of Ireland. The students worked collaboratively to create a new artwork that engaged with the architectural landscape of our school and one that created a special space for the TY students.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The residency started with students visiting Andreas in his TBG+S Studio to see where he works, and get an insight into his methods, motivations and inspirations as an arts practitioner. It was from here that a relationship was developed, which continued in the school, where Andreas shared with students the main drivers in his work, and together the artist and students set about making a collaborative piece which incorporated some of these themes and discussions.

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

For our first session we worked with Plato’s five basic geometric forms and used them as inspiration in order to come up with a design. Working in groups the students made cardboard models using the basic principles of the platonic solids which are forms made out of equilateral facets. We then chose the most successful model as the basic plan for the larger final structure. Using basic tools and materials such as hammers, drills, nails, screws, cable ties, plywood and 2×1 lengths of wood, we built a structure based on the geometry of the equilateral triangle. Through this building process the students learnt some of the skills that can then be applied in order to build almost any small structure.

Student H

Andreas gave us a powerpoint presentation to inspire us and give us an idea of what he planned to do with us. We all then made a model of the structure we planned to make using cardboard. After deciding on a structure, we began making it using wooden triangles, nails, screws and other materials.

Student S

Andreas gave us a powerpoint presentation and told us how we can mess around with triangles to make a shape of artists and architecture that inspire him.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Firstly the group visited Andreas in his work space in Temple Bar Galleries. For some this was a first experience of meeting a working artist, seeing their workspace and even visiting a gallery space which was an amazing experience in itself. From there, after seeing some of Andreas’s work, he came to visit our school and the creative conversation began within the group. Jean facilitated and guided the conversation within the group which kept things on task. The students gave Andreas and Jean a tour of the school and started the selection process of creating a space for themselves. Giving the ownership and creative discussion over to the students was very empowering to them and it also pushed their maturity and problem solving skills. The students and myself loved the collaborative feel to this project from start to finish.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

For me it was really exciting to be able to share my practice with this group of students and to work together with them to create an interesting new structure. The greatest challenge was organising the sessions in a way that there were enough tasks and tools for everyone. It was a large group of students and at times it was difficult to keep them all engaged. Our first attempt at the larger structure failed. One of the successes of the project was showing them how to learn from that failure and use it as a way of stepping forward instead of a setback.

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The collaborative nature of Andreas’s practice, coupled with his strong technical skills and methodologies, meant he was very suitable for the residency format. The students learnt a great deal from him, in all sorts of ways. They learned practical and technical methods but also visualisation, problem solving and perseverance, along with the teamwork aspect of constructing as a group on a large scale.

 

Student K

Building the structure we thought about was very challenging cause it’s not a small structure – it’s huge and we need a lot of materials to make it work. We failed once and the structure fell cause it wasn’t strong enough so we tried again and the second time we succeeded and it was a successful teaming up with everyone.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

Like every creative project it is going to run into problems and this project hit a slump on weeks 3–4 and I strongly feel that was where the greatest learning was for the students and also in the running of this programme looking forward. I have to commend Andreas and Jean for how they dealt with the loss of interest on the students’ part. They pulled the project back to the discussion and design stage and helped / guided the TY students to see a way through this slump.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

One of the most significant parts of the project for me was to be able to share my interest and passion for innovative architectural design and see the students respond so positively to it. They really took to some of the ideas and there were some really ambitious plans suggested in the planning stages that in the end were not feasible in the time that we had. The support structures that were in place for me to carry out this residency were essential. If it had not been for Jean Mann and for the support offered by the school and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios it would have been a much more difficult experience.

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

For me the residency demonstrated the possibilities that can occur if an artist is given free reign to bring their practice into the classroom, and allow students to become active participants in the process of art making.

Student D

I really enjoyed working with the team on such a big project that was on such a large scale.

Student K

The successful teamwork we did was worth sharing and the enjoyment I felt doing art through building something.

 

Student J

I enjoyed working with the drills and hammer.

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

This was a project that Synge St students would not have been able to experience due to its sheer size and the construction skill set involved. The students absolutely loved working with Andreas and using all the ‘man tools’ as they referred to them. This project encapsulates the hands-on approach that Synge Street wanted the TY students to experience. Everything they were learning from their books, measurements in maths, topics from science class to communication skills from English class were all played out during their weekly sessions in a practical manor on this project.

This was a fantastic learning experience for both my students and myself. The TY students are very proud of their seating pod which has found its home in our school library. There was a huge amount of creative learning involved in this project with Andreas showing some of the lads how the tools worked for the construction process! Life skill learning was paramount in this project and as the coordinator, this was exactly what I was looking for, for my students. It is amazing to even watch back over the short film and see the students’ confidence grew.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Artist

Working collectively is a big part of my practice. This project was very useful for me to see how I might be able to extend that collaborative element to a wider group of people. Since that project I have gone on to make structures that are assembled collaboratively with large groups of people which in part came from this experience.

Student D

My view of art has changed because up until now I thought of art as a much more individual thing to do, but not on bigger projects where everyone can use teamwork and work together.

Student F

My view of art has changed because I didn’t think that what we were doing was a piece of art until the end of the project.

Student S

I thought it was impossible to build something like that, but the result told me that I’m capable of developing my ideas and make it happen.

Student A

I really enjoyed the freedom we got from doing.

Student H

I associated art with picture and drawings and this gave me the knowledge that art can take any form.

Student K

At first, I thought Art was boring but when we did this project I enjoyed everything that is part of the project – and it’s all about art!

Maria Wright Slattery, Art Teacher

From working on this project my own teaching has taken on an edgier element. I’m not afraid of bigger projects and to hand over ownership to my students and trust that they will find a solution with maybe less input from me! I have probably learned to trust the students more and trust their creativity.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 1

20180125_220635_edit2Christopher McCambridge is a Special Educational Needs teacher at St. Colman’s Primary School, Lambeg. St. Colman’s Primary is a mainstream school of 400 pupils with two learning support unit classes. Christopher is also an active member of the Belfast art scene. He co-founded the arts organisation Belfast Platform for the Arts (Platform Arts) in 2010, which continues to provide an exhibition space and studios for artists.

Virtually There Year 1 – Blog 1

In September 2016, my Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Virtually there project. The Virtually there project is an innovative virtual artist in residence project … exploring the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology (Orla Kenny, Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership).

Our class were paired with artist, performer and composer, John D’Arcy. John’s work focuses on the use of sound and voice in intermedia art events. As a primary school teacher, teaching children with special education needs, the art mediums that I tend to explore within the curriculum include drawing, painting, ceramics, printing and 3-D sculpture. The use of sound as an art form or event, outside of musical lessons and choir, was an intriguing concept that I was eager to engage with.

Throughout the course of the fourteen weeks the pupils explored natural and man-made sounds in a variety of different environments and locations. Initial sound explorations focused on our school environment and ranged from birds chirping, the wind howling to high-heel shoes walking down the corridor or the buzzing of the whiteboard and the hum of the lights. These discussions concentrated on getting the children to describe the sounds they heard and attempt to recreate them using their voice. Throughout the sessions the children began to show greater confidence and clarity when describing different sounds.

“How could you tell it that the sound was high-heel shoes? Can you describe the sound?

“It went clip clop … the sound was spaced apart … the sound was short and repeated … it was getting quieter as the woman walked down the corridor … it sounded like my Mum’s shoes in the kitchen.”

As the sessions progressed, John began to ask the children to interpret the sounds we could hear as drawings. He taught the children to understand the concept that a drawing of lines, symbols or both can represent a sound, an abstract idea that the children loved because it frees them from trying to make a realistic drawing.  After a visit to the Belfast Zoo, John asked the children to interpret the animal sounds that they heard and recorded through drawings.

He discussed with the class, what might the sound of an animal or bird look like?

The parrots talking resembled a curved line to Kevin because the ‘sound went from low to high and it was a short sound’.

Daniel drew a series of circles of different sizes joined by lines for the sound of the parrots. The sounds ‘went from loud to quiet … it was like the parrots were talking to each other.’

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Caitlin – Monkey

“I was imagining the monkey making ‘oh, oh’ sounds, that is why I picked an O [to draw]. I drew a line because it was joining the sound together. I the red sound was an angry sound and the purple sound was a lower sound

Oscar – Parrots

“I drew this shape because it looked like a parrot’s beak. The triangle is getting bigger as the sound is getting louder and angrier.”

The project continued to evolve developing drawings and sounds into graphic scores, which would later be performed and recorded by the children as an abstract musical performance pieces. The children’s confidence grew as they began to interpret drawings that John had given them as sounds. The children were then able to use the sound recording app Keezy, to record eight sounds and arrange them into an abstract sound piece or follow a graphic score that John had arranged. Throughout the project it was a delight to see children that were initially reluctant to take part in the performances and recordings began to grow in confidence and express themselves through sound, drawing and performance as well as being able to articulate their thoughts and descriptions with greater clarity.

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We have now entered into the second year of working within the Kids’ own project. John and myself are continuing to explore art mediums, that as a class teacher I would have been reluctant to try without his assistance. The first year and a half has been an extremely worthwhile experience not only for myself, but more importantly for the children in my class.

!!!! Me & The City – A Visual Art Programme for Schools at The Ark

The Ark

Date: 6th – 22nd March 2018

In Me & The City your class will discover and explore how a city is planned, created and developed. Working with artist Jole Bortoli, they will learn how architects work and look at artists who have created landmark sculptures and colourful big-scale street art.

On arrival your class will visit The Ark’s gallery, which will be full of displays that will explore the structure of cities, their architecture and diverse habitats. You will see plans that show the design process of urban spaces as well as architectural drawings and sketchbooks, photographs and 3D models. Inspired by what they have seen, the class will then take part in a practical mixed media workshop led by artist Jole Bortoli.

Me & The City is an ideal opportunity to explore the Looking and Responding unit of the Visual Arts curriculum and the workshop is strongly linked with the Construction, Fabric and Fibre, Drawing and Paint and Colour strands.

The workshop also has strong linkage with other curricula including Geography (in particular the Human Environments strand), Science, Mathematics and SPHE.

6th – 22nd March (Tue – Fri) at 10.15am & 12.15pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/schools-me-the-city

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 4

blue_mug2016Julie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Blog 4

In my final blog I would like to describe my response to an invitation to lead a workshop.

I have been asked to focus on the interaction between the identities of maker and educator…

exciting!

and to begin by submitting a 50 word blurb for the workshop

– challenging! 

Settling in to task I find that I am a little ill at ease with the label, educator. Learning in arts practice comes about from the creative encounter, and the excitement of discovery, we all know that even when a ‘discovery’ has been made a thousand times before by others our own personal experience is the vital thing. So, by setting a path and then looking for traces, following these and generating some excitement about where they might lead, I feel more like a Companion tracker than ‘educator’: we find our own routes of discovery in the world about us.

The richness of arts practice means that discoveries may be found in just about anything: the way a particular material behaves, or by becoming aware of a new sensitivity to sound or colour, or in the places a mind might wander while creating a rhythm with a lump of charcoal. And in the education setting, where there is a wealth and breadth of experience, sharing these discoveries with others is a particular pleasure which doesn’t happen in the studio.

Often in the education setting a theme is superimposed onto the art process, this theme might be drawn from with the school curriculum. So for example one might begin with a broad parameter called “Ecology.” We look for a jumping off point and so we may begin by a brainstorming activity – perhaps the naming of all of the plants we know, then perhaps by making a collection of indigenous species of plants – the way one might approach the creation of this collection is diverse and this approach will often set the methodology for the project.

MAKER

When I am alone, in studio I have my radio tuned, usually to Lyric FM, it may be day or night, music and light discretely setting mood and contributing to context. The starting point for work is incidental to me, and the farther it is from any kind of reasoning, or logic, the better. The first mark in the void, needs to be unattached, innocent. Throw up a coin and watch it land. After that there is something to respond to. This initial mark is like a lodestone attracting whatever is buzzing in the air, it expands the possibilities of the moment.

Work becomes a series of acts, of making and responding of adjusting and reinterpreting, slipped in with memory and carried out with a heightened sensitivity to coincidence and connection. The work evolves, parts are discarded, parts are advanced, the whole becoming gradually orchestrated into some edited, arrived at, Thing/Series of Things. If this all sounds rather vague perhaps it is in this part, a conjuring; a cloud of energy seeking form. A theme will arise midway through a project, the beginnings are tentative, arbitrary and blind. The way is felt.

(EDUCATOR)//TRACKER

One of the  privileges of working in education settings is to be working with the curiosity of young collaborators. Collaborators, in addition to being creators in their own right, contribute much to my practice, becoming part mirror, part joker and part external eye on process. It is this working in tandem that allows flow and mutual enrichment between my practice and the project’s unfolding. Feeling my own way in the dark I am able to see more clearly what others do with the same criteria, what gets thrown up: Whatever the seekers find, and how they communicate their findings will lead us deeper into the project, and into the next phase. It is in the observation of this process that reflection becomes a driving force.

I try to encourage a commentary from participants. The voicing of observations aired during the making process are witness to a wider sensibility. When a maker becomes commentator on the work both commentator and audience are led into an observational position that opens up a reflective dimension. Process becomes foregrounded, motivations become more clear, particular sensitivities and attractions are voiced and often more subtle and unusual connections are made between image, outcome and intention.

A drawing of a dandelion might lead to a conversation about yellow, or sunshine, first experiences of the bitter sap staining hands, folkloric warnings about bed wetting or other knowledge latent within the imaginations of a group of participants. A conversation about a dandelion may begin with its name – what a strange name this flower has! We might research and find that the name is middle English and comes from French dent-de-lion, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’ that’s another image straight away. Discussions might find other routes, the gardener’s phrase that “a weed is a plant out of place” may throw up extended conversations about migration and belonging. We could think of dandelion seasons, perhaps about how a dandelion might support an ecology.  An observational drawing of a dandelion before such a discursive process will be very different from a drawing from the imagination, made after these wanderings (and this is just me thinking aloud).

By recording this commentary we deepen and extend the reflective process. The recording of those observations involves an echoing and a a translation, from an initial drawing, to spoken word to written report, photograph or other kind of document. The choice of media for documentation influences this enquiry. It’s fun to play with different recording methods. …the pressing of the flower, the crushing and collection of sap, the particular material properties and behaviours of dandelion seed heads, stories about dandelion experiences, the folklore of a dandelion, actions with a dandelion.

Translation from one media to another will involve further images, references, words, actions or sounds, and will also throw up different kinds of problems, seeking creative solutions, all of which will augment and colour the work leading it on to new places. Curiosity will drive this process along. I try to remember the voice, I scribble things down on scraps of paper, transferring them later to a notebook. I find that multiple translations help my process, a hasty scribble is wildly different from a concentrated drawing out of an idea, but each has their own qualities.  I use notebooks for ideas that I might try out in studio and I use blogging as a kind of scrapbook for documentation and references to other realms, a blog post might include a bit of research arising from the work in progress, it may be a fragment of video, a link to another artist’s work, something I am reading about, a piece of music, or a random image or connection found online.

Blogging is a perfect space for holding these observations and documenting the process. It is a shared space. Maker, student and teacher can refer to the observations held in the blog, an audio visual record of the territory, a map.

I arrive at my wording for the blurb:

WORKSHOP

The idea is a spark – the spark can be as volatile or as contained as you decide. There will be some parameters which will guide the explorations. Shared knowledge is rich, we will tap into this. The imagination is wild and we will allow this to roam. Other peoples’ ideas are always interesting. Roaming between our own perception, responses to peer work and free expression we will explore the territory together. (71 words)

!!!! ‘Monsters in the Museum’ at The Glucksman

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: January to March 2018

From Frankenstein to the Hulk, Shrek to Beauty and the Beast, monsters who seem to be really frightening often turn out to be misunderstood. This Spring, the Glucksman presents a monster project that invites schools, community groups and children living in Direct Provision to take over the museum with fabulous creatures of their own making. In Monsters in the Museum workshops, participating children will explore ideas of difference and respect, working collaboratively to create artworks for an exhibition that will take over all of Gallery 1. The renowned illustrator Chris Judge will visit the Glucksman to see all the monster artworks on display and to launch the exhibition with a special event for participating children.

If your school or community group would like to get involved in Monsters in the Museum, please email education@glucksman.org.

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

!!!! Art Teachers Masterclass at The Glucksman, UCC

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: 10am -1pm, Saturday 24th February, 2018

Art can help us understand and address difficult issues. Artists have long used visual methods of expression to consider and interrogate societal problems such as homelessness and discrimination. In this masterclass, teachers will investigate ways to engage their students in artistic processes that creatively explore global and local challenges. Join curator Tadhg Crowley and artist Cassandra Eustace to look at projects about art and social change that can be re-imagined in your classroom.

€25. Booking required.

For more information go to www.glucksman.org.

To book go to Eventbrite

!!!! Myself and My Friends

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Our project began by exploring self-portraits. It wasn’t long before this led us to the realisation that many of the pupils lacked confidence and self-esteem. We decided to try and tackle this through a creative avenue and to link in with SPHE. The pupils used a kaleidoscope camera to take unique pictures of themselves. From there we looked at describing words for ourselves and our peers. The pupils chose their favourite word and it was carved into their self-portrait. They then placed cellophane behind the word to make it stand out. All the pupils’ portraits were suspended from a grid system Helen had created in the classroom which we added to over the course of the year. The installation was very effective and it helped create a very positive atmosphere in the classroom. We also did a printing workshop. The children designed their own printing plate and they got to use a real printing press which was so exciting for them. As the materials Helen had provided were such good quality, the prints turned out beautifully and the pupils were so proud of their work.

Helen Barry, Artist

Our project grew from a week long Training of Trainers Programme, Summer 2016. A unique initiative with the Association of Teachers’/Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI), funded by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG)/Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DAHRRGA) that supports the Teacher-Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD – 22 artists nominated by arts organisations, and in my case it was IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and 22 teachers representing Education Centres nationwide. In our partnership the organisations were IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and Dublin West Education Centre.

During the week long Training of Trainers programme we had time to discuss and plan potential ideas that would link naturally to the curriculum. Mary had had this particular class in the earlier stage of their primary school education so she knew the girls quite well. As an artist I try to link the theme to areas of my own practice. A key component of my own inquiry is faith and belief, that I was keen to explore as most of them would be participating in a holy sacrament during their final year of primary school. As with many potential themes and ideas these are quickly abandoned when I actually meet the class and get to know the group

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Helen began by meeting the class and getting a feel for where their interests lay. She planned a lovely introductory session where the pupils got to know her. By the end of session one, the students felt at ease and were very excited about where the project would lead. Myself and Helen liaised with each other and were able to link our project into the curriculum. As it’s so overloaded, it was a great help to be able to integrate in such a creative manner. We initially decided to link in with SPHE in a bid to help build on the pupils’ confidence – a great bonus for pre-teen girls.

Helen Barry, Artist

The time in the summer had provided Mary and I with a good understanding of how we work and most importantly gave us an understanding of each other’s personalities. In my experience it is crucial for a successful artist in residence that the interaction between the artist and teacher is mutually respectful of each other’s professional practice. In this particular incidence it was imperative that I followed Mary’s knowledge of the class. It was evident on my initial meeting of the class that their confidence and self esteem seemed particularly low throughout the whole class. Mary and I had similar aesthetic tastes and though Mary had at times little confidence in her own artistic abilities her enjoyment, enthusiasm and new skills embraced everything we did and the children followed suit.

After my initial meeting with the class Mary and I were able to re-plan a creative programme that centred on building self-esteem that would grow throughout the year with the children.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I learned so much from this experience and overall it was incredibly positive and rewarding for both myself as a teacher and the pupils. By the end, I felt much more confident in teaching the various art forms that we had explored. The pupils grew in confidence in their abilities and were so proud of the work that they had created.

My only challenge was in accepting the importance of, in a sense, allowing the project lead itself. Each week or so, we would re-evaluate and decide where we would be taken, either by something that the pupils spoke about/ enjoyed doing or something that struck us as professionals. As teachers, we tend to be quite regimented regarding our planning and we like to know what we’ll be doing weeks in advance, so it was lovely to allow the creativity to take over and to allow the pupils to play a major part in deciding what we would do.

Helen Barry, Artist

I really enjoyed working on this project and watching it grow and develop in parallel with the children’s growth in confidence and self-esteem. The project really benefited from the time provided for the teacher and artist to get to know each other. The main challenge was parking my specific idea at the classroom door.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

We created a really wonderful installation. It began with the installation of our portraits but that was just the beginning of a piece of work that we added to again and again as the year went on. It really stressed for me the importance of the process as opposed to the product. I was also stuck by how effective it can be to allow simple conversations with the pupils’ guide where a project goes. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can pick up on so much which will bring the project to a place that the children are interested in and will take so much pride in.

Helen Barry, Artist

The dynamic of every class is different and even if the artist can see a potential project that has strong links to his or her own studio enquiry it is imperative to pause and understand where the teacher and class are at. I can honestly say that the children led the direction of the project and enjoyed allowing it to go somewhere that I had to loosen my control of.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I have become much better at not being so fixated on a plan and have learned to accept that when working on a long-term project, there are bound to be changes and that’s ok. I have learned from Helen that trial and error is all part of the creative process. It’s great for the children to see and experience this too. I’ve become better able to step out of my comfort zone as a result of working with Helen. It was a fantastic opportunity, one that I was so glad to have had the chance to participate in.

Helen Barry, Artist

I spend more time listening to the teacher before overloading them with ideas.

 

!!!! Blog 4: Jean Tormey: Interview with Assistant Curator Lucy McDonald

Jean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, Jean Tormeyevents and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London. 

Blog 4: Interview with Assistant Curator Lucy McDonald

In my final blog post I’d like to focus on the most recent addition to Tate’s Early Years and Families’ programme offer – Under 5s Explore the Gallery – an artist-led, monthly event for under 5s and their families held in the collection galleries of Tate Britain. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/workshop/under-fives-explore-gallery.

To introduce another voice to this series of blogs, I asked Assistant Curator Lucy McDonald [1] (the lead curator on the under 5s programme strand) to reflect on her involvement in the development of this programme.

Where did the idea for ‘Under 5s Explore the Gallery’ come from?


The impetus came from an institutional objective to increase the family offer at Tate Britain – to improve attendance, but also visibility of this audience. It felt very important for the sessions to be held in the galleries – openly exploring the spaces and artworks as opposed to out of sight in a studio space. The presence of other gallery visitors in the sessions supports the building of families’ confidence to find their own individual way of being in the gallery as a family.



What are the key elements of this programme for you?


Key elements include the role of the artist, who are briefed carefully about their position in the sessions and invited to find ways of supporting families’ journeys through the galleries. Within this, children are encouraged to lead – deciding what to look at, where to go and setting the pace. The artist shares ideas they are exploring in their own practice to provide strategies that families can use to experience the spaces and artworks in their own way. These strategies can include, but are not exclusive to, ways of looking, ideas to promote discussion about art and/ or encourage physical exploration of the galleries. This is usually done with a selected range of materials that are introduced at carefully considered moments.

The structuring of the sessions is also key. Being in and moving around the galleries is core to the programme, so limiting the number of visitors that can join is important. Maximum group size is 30 including adults, ensuring the sessions do not become overwhelming for the participants or other visitors. This works towards the families being integrated into the everyday landscape of the gallery, so it doesn’t feel like a ‘special event’ as such, and families can feel empowered to return independently. The structure includes careful consideration of timing and pace, with the two hour duration allowing a relaxed, unrushed atmosphere.

Another key aspect of the programme is having a dedicated space to gather for the introduction, where the tone and some key ideas are first introduced. This space also acts as a place to return to during the sessions should families need to, as well as somewhere to re-group at the end to reflect on what has happened – encouraging families to recognise the learning that has taken place.

Reflection is core to Under 5s Explore, and it is encouraged to take place during the session and at the end, where families are invited to consider what is happening and what it means for them. Participants have access to digital cameras, where they can capture what they notice or something that happens within their family unit that they feel is of value. Images are projected at the end of the session, and families are invited to observe and chat about what they and other families notice, giving value to what they have done and learning further ways of exploring the gallery from other families.



What kind of artists’ practices are you interested in exploring, and how have artists used their practices to facilitate activity?

I am interested in practices that encourage a gentle approach to exploring new ideas, and artists that are skilled in supporting families to develop an understanding of artworks on their own terms – so that sessions are accessible to all visitors including new ones. For me, artists who have been particularly successful in facilitating the sessions in the past are those who are open to seeing them as a series of experiments or possibilities, and are confident in allowing unexpected happenings to unfold and emerge.

What has been the audience response to this event?

It has been really positive, with parents and carers reporting a real shortage of gallery/ museum programme specifically for this age group, especially ones that encourage children to lead and value the unpredictability they can bring to these environments. Through interviews with families during the first few months of the programme, I discovered that many have preconceptions about Tate Britain being less welcoming of families than Tate Modern, and less appropriate for under fives in particular. Happily, feedback gathered indicates that families greatly value the sessions, enjoy experiencing the galleries together and show an interest in returning.

How do you think this strand might develop in future?

I have been particularly struck by how families (especially young children) very intrinsically and naturally explore the space of the gallery with their whole bodies through movement. I would like to work with more artists who work with movement to experiment with this further, as I feel movement as a practice is a positive way to address the negative ideas about gallery behaviours and etiquette that many families have. This would need to be done carefully with the right artist to ensure it didn’t become too performative or intimidating in nature. 

I would love to see all families feeling like they no longer needed the support of the sessions to visit and be in the galleries, and that through the sessions a network of families could emerge, who become advocates for under 5s in galleries and museums more broadly.

[end of interview]

I think Lucy’s viewpoint in this concluding post reiterates some of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, as well as our non-negotiables discussed previously, and hope that the series as a whole have given a sense of the inspiration, thinking around and development of the early years programme at Tate.

[1] Lucy McDonald has been Assistant Curator on the Early Years and Families programme for the last 2 years with a special emphasis on early years, and has recently taken over as Curator (jointly with Jessie McLaughlin) to cover my maternity leave 2017/18. Lucy also worked as an Assistant Curator on the final year of the Big and Small programme in 2013/ 2014 and as project manager on a number of BP Family Festivals in  2014 and 2015.

!!!! A Sensory Experience of Place

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Leanne Kyle, Teacher

We were working with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership on a project called Virtually There. In this project the artist doesn’t actually come into the classroom. We correspond mostly via the interactive whiteboard. I was ICT coordinator and this project really appealed to me. It was different and offered  a new experience for me and the children.

Initially the artist (Lisa) came to meet us at the school. It was great day because we were able to chat and have a planning session. We went on a walk around the school. We decided to use nature and the actual school environment as a beginning point. I wanted to use the school garden and create links to the eco-school ethos. We tied this all together into a project which focused on the topic of ‘senses’. This topic is very popular and suitable for P2 and 3. Later we narrowed this down further to the sense of touch with many trips outside working with the trees. It was Autumn time so we began to focus on the leaves. Lisa taught a ‘leaf dance’. From here, it just took off with a focus on nature and touch.

Lisa Cahill, Artist

My ‘Virtually There’ journey with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, Leanne Kyle and the P2 & 3 Class of Aughnacloy began in September 2016. At this time I was also Dance Artist in Residence at the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University. The Autumn of 2016 marked the final phase of the three year residency. I had received an Arts Council, Young People Children and Education (YPCE) Bursary Award. The focus of my investigations included the development of frames and activities that engaged the sensory body in the outdoor environment of a school site. Over those Autumnal and Winter months the creative journey with many partners unfolded.

Developing the body’s sensory attunement through engagement with the site is an important element of my practice. I was spending a lot of time outside. I was out in the garden , fields, orchards, forested areas of the University campus. My explorations involved movement, writing, art making, gathering sounds and natural materials, reading and learning more and more about the natural environment that I was in.

I wanted to bring these explorations into the Virtually There project. I really looked forward to sharing these with Leanne and the children. I wanted to notice and hear their responses through multiple and different forms of documentation. I wanted to see what emerged through our collective journey.

Leanne shared my curiousity in this discovery process as we set about investigating:

 

We committed to holding an intention of listening to the needs and responses of each partner. We committed to capturing each of our responses to the tasks and activities. These responses might emerge in different forms, such as verbal, written, a gesture or movement, a photograph, a word, a drawing.

I felt my role was to invite and remind us to return to our body and the sensations and feelings we were experiencing right now in each moment.

And so our journey unfolded.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Leanne

At the first online session, the children introduced themselves to Lisa. They wrote a little about themselves and they read this to Lisa through the interactive whiteboard. We began to work on the leaf dance and talked about the different seasons. We were in the season of Autumn. We went outside and discussed how the leaves were falling and blowing in the trees. Lisa shown us her leaf dance. That really got the children thinking about what they would like to do. They had a lot of input. We created some sensory warm up audio clips with Lisa.

https://soundcloud.com/lisadance/virtually-there-warm-up

She was great to ask the children for their ideas. The children decided that they would like to bring things in from the outside. We played with different ways of using these materials in our warm up clips. This resulted in the children bringing in leaves and things like that. This then resulted in their favourite activity; leaf tattoos. The children loved this. It was so simple, yet so effective. This all tied in well with our topics in school because we look at the different seasons. It tied in with our literacy, particularly poetry. When we arrived at the season of Spring, we wrote poems. We’d explored so much by this stage. We looked at our hands, created drawings of our hands, gone outside to find natural objects to mark make on paper. Actually, this mark making was something they really loved.

The children, in small groups, began to form their own dances. They led the learning at this point. Some of them started to think and dance about trees being chopped down. This led us to a new topic, which I had never done before in school; the topic of deforestation, looking at the Amazon rainforest and the effect of deforestation. The children really led this bit. There were lots of woodcutters chopping down trees. But also planting new trees. This was really the chidren’s own ideas, which came from Lisa’s input. At a later stage in the project, the children made campaign posters to send to the Prince’s Rainforest Trust. We are a UNICEF school and it all tied into the modules of Your Rights and You Have a Right to Have an Opinion. The children had a right to voice their opinion that deforestation is wrong.  They led the learning completely.

I would say it was very collaborative project, a journey in working together.

Lisa

The intention Leanne and I brought to the development of our work together was to listen to each other and the children. In listening, we focused on attuning to the energy and responses of the children. How were they responding? At what moments did energy heighten and flow?

Indeed it was often a great challenge for me to notice and ‘feel into’ the energy of the children, the temperature of the room in response to an activity. My own sensory experience of been in the class room through the interactive whiteboard at times felt frustrating and even at times lonely. Looking at the classroom through the narrow screen of my laptop made me consider other ways of discovering and identifying the information I needed to ‘feel into’ and sense in order to learn about this room full of people. I had to ask specific questions to the children and Leanne to receive their feedback.

I will always remember Leanne’s description of the children’s response to the task of creating leaf tattoos. She described the children’s joy and laughter coupled with their attention in colouring and pressing leaves on their bodies.

Throughout the duration of the project, I continued to share elements and small samples of work from my own practice. From these sharings, Leanne and the children began to develop their own questions, tasks and creative forms of response and reflection.

I found it so exciting to see, hear and feel individual’s process, their ideas, questions and responses.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Leanne

I’ll start with a challenge. It was session 9. Everything had been going so well on our computer programme, Blackboard Collaborate. But on lesson 9, the technology would not work for us. Lisa couldn’t connect with us. I felt lost. The C2K school network in Northern Ireland is very strict. I couldn’t use facetime or skype to connect with Lisa. So we ended up communiciating via whatsapp. It was a whole new way of connecting with Lisa. We were able to communicate with Lisa using whats app voice messages. We sent photographs of what we did that day (which was a continuation of what we were doing). So when technology fails – that is a challenge.

The highlight was when Lisa came up to the school for two days in April. I will never forget that the time that she spent with them before we went out filming their dances. I will never forget that. The children will never forget that. It was amazing. We spent all this time working collaboratively online.  Then she was there in person. That was a highlight for me and the kids.

Lisa

Indeed, like Leanne, memories of session 9 haven’t softened for me. Our means of communiciation didn’t work. I lost a little confidence with the technology after this point. I felt anxious in the lead up to the next sessions. When technology fails, it definitely poses a big challenge.

But, because of the realisation that we could not rely on our online connection, we began to develop less focus on me as the leader of sessions. I look back now and realise that this was a really important moment of our journey together. After session 9, I think Leanne and the children really took off and entered their full flow. Up to session 9, we spent much time getting to know each other, exploring ideas, trying things out, engaging with our senses indoors and outdoors, experiencing each others small creative forms and experiments. I know that the children had developed skills and knowledge and were full of passion for creative movement and the natural environment around them. In stepping back a little, I created more space for this dynamic partnership (teacher and children) and individuals to embrace their own creativity. When I reflect on this, I smile.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? (These may seem small, but are significant to you)

Leanne

At the start I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. I needed to take a step back and breath. Lisa encouraged us all to concentrate on the simple things. But the simple things turned out to be very effective.

In main stream schools at the minute, it’s all about getting children in touch with their senses again. There are so many children coming into school at the moment with sensory issues. With the warm ups, we focused on the sense of touch. Before each lesson the children were so excited about working with Lisa. The warm ups helped calm the children.

The sensory issue is a big thing at the minute in main stream schools. We recognise the need to support children to return to the basics, being calm in themselves and able to regulate themselves. The warm ups for me were great. They focused on touch and feeling, touching your arm, leg and head. From a sensory perspective, this was significant for me and I thought it prepared them well for their dances.

Lisa

Something I would like to share is how we endeavoured to document the process through gathering multiple means of documentation. Leanne is an avid photographer. She created, gathered and drew our focus to this form of visual documentation.

It feels now, following completion of the project that the engagement with multiple forms of documentation was a really important layer and container for the processes and choices that emerged throughout the project. Methods included: photography, film, writing, art, movement and the gathering of materials. These forms illustrated and offered many entry points for others into the work and processes of the project.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Leanne

Yes. The impact of the audio warm ups and our attention to the senses made me take a step back and realise everything in mainstream teaching is done at a pace. You are going at a rate of knots to try and get everything covered because there is so much curriculum to cover. At the end  of the day as society goes on, moves more into technology (and yes our project was based around technology), this project brought out the importance of just been still. Breathing and regulating yourself, mindfulness. Being aware of your space, being aware of your own body and senses, which alot of children at this age are missing. I’d say that has really made me think as a teacher.

Dance does not have to be very structured. It can made so creative and the children proved that. I was thinking where is this going to go with the boys? How are the boys going to get into this? And I not being a dancer, I was thinking, ‘gosh, where is this going to go? I think at times I worried about the end product. But I realise now it’s really about the process. The amount of work the children put into the process of it all was unbelievable. Those dances didn’t happen overnight. The children took ownership of their own process. I loved the days when Lisa worked with small groups, chatting to them about their dances, giving them feedback, hints and tips. The children loved this. It was really about the process but it’s also nice to have an amazing end product. But it really is about the process.

For me the parents really getting on board was important. It was a risk you take. Our sessions took a whole day. It was a whole day out of the normal curriculum; numeracy and literacy. For this day, you are dancing!

It was really important that the parents were on board with this. And they were. They kept involved all the time. Right from the class assembly, when we shared an interview between the children, teacher and artist. They absolutely loved it. They got to see Lisa. They had heard so much about Lisa from the chidlren. But they got to see Lisa and they were so keen to learn more about her. I think that was important, getting the parents on board and getting them involved. We created a DVD as part of our project. The DVD idea wasn’t my suggestion. It wasn’t the childrens or Lisas. It was the parents’ suggestion. Parents came to me after the class assembly and asked me for the footage. We had shown a film of an interview between Lisa and the children. We had two interviewers who asked Lisa questions. They did a super job and their parents were so proud watching the footage of  them confidenctly posing questinos. This project was inclusive of all chidlren in the class and particulary appealed to those chidlren who learn best through kinaesthetic learning.

Our final DVD came from the parents request to see footage of this interview. The parents wanted to see the children’s dances and share it with others. I think this is important. It is not just a partnership between the teacher, children and the artist. It is also a partnership with the parents.

When Lisa came to the school in April, it was amazing to see the parent’s excitement. She got out of her car and they were all saying hello. She had never met them before. But they all felt that they knew her. It’s amazing how you can work with someone all year and ye’re at opposite ends of the country. When something like this comes together, it’s pretty special.

Lisa

I think what I am left with at this stage and what I would like to remember as I go forward with Leanne, the children, families and community of Aughnacloy PS, is my curiousity around makings connections and asking questions.

I have neither an answer or a method as to how to achieve these successfully. But I think we can rely on our intention to listen, trust and be curious.

Here is a note from my journal (which was written throughout the project).

What question(s) can be shared to offer permission for an experience to ‘unfold’.

I think there are different ways of thinking about this.

The possibility of making connections – learning about something and learning about myself simultaneously.

Again, what question(s) encourage openness and curiosity – giving ownership back to the individuals.

Recognise

Acknowledge

Acceptance – acceptance of where someone is right now.

A non-linear approach to learning and achievement.

What is between the teacher and the artist?

The known and the unknown. Staying at this edge. It might feel like a void or a delayed in-between stage.

Developing structures together which are composed from all the sensations of the work and materials.

A sense of intimacy and dialogue with the work – listening to it.

There is a need to explore and create frames and structures, which are away from the demands of an end product or production.

A project where we can all ask questions of each other.

“What do you know now?”

“How are you now?”

!!!! Teachers Preview Evening at The Glucksman, University College Cork

We welcome educators from all backgrounds to join us for a curatorial tour of our exhibitions Now Wakes the Sea and Deep Maps. The evening will include light refreshments and an opportunity to discuss upcoming Glucksman projects and events.

Wednesday 11th October 2017, 4pm

Free. Booking required.

Please contact education@glucksman.org to register.

!!!! Art Teachers Masterclass at The Glucksman

Join Curator of Education Tadhg Crowley and artist Carol-Anne Connolly for a morning masterclass that looks at art projects ready to be re-imagined in your classroom. This season the masterclass will look at techniques and approaches to helping students develop personal projects and establish individual ideas through sketchbooks and drawing exercises.

10am – 1pm, Saturday 21 October 2017 – €25.

Booking required.

Please contact education@glucksman.org for booking or for further information

!!!! Trinity Book of Kells Creative Competition

Trinity College Dublin is calling on the nation to get creative this autumn and be inspired by one of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures, the Book of Kells. Get your pens and paint brushes out, and write a poem, short story or create a drawing or painting based on the images from the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. Our judges will be looking for modern and innovative interpretations of the Book of Kells from participants. There are fantastic prizes to be won for individuals, schools, clubs and groups nationwide.

Closing date for entries Thursday 30 November 2017

To find out more click here

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 3

blue_mug2016 Julie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Blog 3 –

As the new year unfolds into Autumn I would like to reflect on that heady time, a few short months ago, when the holidays stretched ahead and routine was being dissolved into the long days of summer.

My summer usually begins with a week of creative activity with teachers, as part of their Continuing Professional Development. This CDP Programme run by CRAFTed and the West Cork Education Centre takes place in different host primary school each year and the number of participants is 25. So teachers find themselves in a familiar setting where their roles are reversed, the tables are turned, teacher becomes pupil, and, I have found, they make this switch naturally and with gusto!

Teachers are on a giddy high at this busy time, there is a sense of release as they wind down into the summer and also sense of self evaluation and reflection as they are packing up after a year in the classroom. The CPD programme must address this ‘end of year’ dynamic and the structure and content of the programme allows for this valuable teacher time together, peer to peer, sharing ideas, catching up, meeting new friends and enjoying each other’s company. After a year of routine and responsibility, it is time to be on ‘the other side’ and a chance to allow for loosening up, and a complete freedom to adopt a “what happens?” approach. Our CPD programme allows plenty of time for interactive play while opening up opportunities for sharing, testing and evaluating individual classroom procedures and preferences. It is a place where a process of ‘discovery towards’ something is the modus operandi for all activities, where there is no such thing as a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ format to fall back on/aspire to/comply with/copy. For many teachers, who have a profound sense of responsibility, and who are expected to be in control at all times, and must who achieve measurable results across a classroom of pupils, this artist’s approach can present a daunting task and a leap into the unknown. The discovery approach involves great faith in process and requires some practice, it can meet with both enthusiasm and resistance in a classroom full of disparate personalities and performance pressures. The reward for this open ended practice is a confidence in the ability of the child to meet the challenge of the task at her own level.

So in the spirit of a new term I would like to share here one of my favourite loosening up activities for drawing. This activity comes from copying, or, more grandly put, from observation, and celebrates the capacity for invention. It is a drawing game in the spirit of an old party favourite, Chinese Whispers. In my example the source material came in the form of photographs I had collected of extinct and endangered Irish wild flowers (but the source could easily be from any other kind of ‘category’  and is ideal for focussing closely on any area of research). Each individual is invited to fold their A2 sheet into 8 sections and numbered 1 to 8 (in a room of lively teacher/pupils it quickly became evident that this was a task in itself!)

In the first section, numbered “1” they must make a drawing from their photograph. I set a time limit of 5 minutes for each drawing. Each artist then passes the sheet to the person on their right who must copy their predecessors drawing in the next section. Participants may only look at the previous drawing and must work from the information contained in that section. The drawing goes around the table and comes back to the original draughts-person.

Results are always interesting, we can see the corruption from one drawing to the next we can note changes, omissions and exaggerations and we can think about evolution, design, glitches, copying, originality, perception, imagination, preference and progression that affirm each artist’s hand in the final work. It can be the beginning for al kinds of enquiry and further artwork. This activity touches on the relationship between perfection and invention, itself a profound enquiry. There is no right or wrong and its impossible to dictate a ‘correct’ outcome. Many rules are broken. I love this activity especially because it celebrates copying – one of the cardinal sins of the child’s universe and often the bane of the teacher’s classroom! What’s more, it celebrates copying badly, turning a vice into a virtue. It celebrates collaboration and corruption and all that deviates from the original. It celebrates the original.

After this exercise drawing becomes a whole lot easier for everyone.

!!!! Blog 3: Jean Tormey, Curator Early Years & Families at Tate Modern & Tate Britain

Jean TormeyJean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, events and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London.

Blog 3 – EYF programme

In this penultimate blog post I’d like to talk about what we currently programme for early years audiences at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, reflecting on the history of the programme and its current ‘non-negotiables’ of agency, curiosity, diversity and openness – which reflect the influence of the Reggio Emilia philosophy.[1]

By designing an open programme with artists, we aim to encourage the agency of a diverse group of children and carers to use their curiosity to explore the social space of the gallery together – inclusive of art and architecture – to co-construct meaning relevant to their lives.

Children of an early years’ age come to Tate with parents or guardians if they are in a family unit or early years’ practitioners if they are with their nursery, and our programme needs to speak to these adults as much as to the children. We are keen to acknowledge the expertise and inherent knowledge these adults hold in relation to the children in their care, and for our resources and events to draw this out and build on it. We offer a range of self-led resources that can be used independently for people to use in their own time and in their own way. Through their openness, our self-led resources aim to evoke the unique interests, abilities and motivations of visitors under 5.

An example of one of these resources at Tate Britain is ‘Swatch’.[2] Swatch takes its name from a colour swatch and is a palm-sized collection of cardboard pieces with images of details of the gallery (one of which has a raised texture, another a hole through which to look), a mirror piece and an orange-coloured perspex piece. Developed by artist Abigail Hunt [3] with the Early Years and Families’ team over 5 years ago, it has a long history with the programme.

Its language-free, sensory and tactile nature means it’s accessible to children with special education needs, and it has been used succesfully as part of projects for children with speech and language development needs as a communication tool in the gallery.[4] When facilitating the resource, we try and offer it to the child rather than the adult so that they can choose the images or materials that excite them to act as a catalyst for their collective experience of the gallery.

For many families a resource is not enough. An event, where parents/ carers know that other families will be present and more guidance will be offered, is far preferable. Our artist-led and staff-led events are aimed at either parents/ carers or early years’ practitioners and aim to support people to have confidence in using their own expertise and knowledge of the early year’s children in their care to support a very individual, child-led experience.

In the last year a new monthly event was launched by the Early Years and Families team at Tate Britain entitled Under 5s Explore the Gallery.[5] Taking the learning from the aforementioned Big and Small programme as well as borrowing a format similar to our 8-14s Studio programme at Tate Modern[6], this relatively new strand works with a different artist every 3 months and explores their practice in the galleries with families through different choices of artworks or spaces, materials and processes. This strand considers the environment of the gallery as educator, capitalises on the social experience of the gallery for families, and ensures early years audiences are visible and evident to other audiences.[7]

Another strand worth mentioning is our seasonal Early Exchange event for early years’ practitioners.[8] Building on previous experiences trying to work with partners in a reciprocal, equitable way through programmes like Big and Small and the Early Years Open Studio[9], this social event invites practitioners to come together, view an exhibition with early years audiences in mind, and engage in a discussion about the benefits and challenges of working with early years in the gallery. As well as being an opportunity for practitioners to find out what we do, it’s a great way for our team to find out about the challenges facing this audience and remain relevant to the sector. We invite these practitioners to return with groups of under 5s and lead their own visit of the galleries based on our advice and the learning from this event.

My next blog will consider the artists’ practicies being explored through our early years programme.

[1]  Up to date listings of what’s on for families at Tate can be found here –

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/kids-and-families/tips-for-families

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/10-visiting-tips-tate-britain

[2]  Swatch is listed on the Tate website here after our Title resource which is a self-led paper-based resource aimed at visitors of all ages –

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain/pick-up-activities-2016

[3]  Abigail Hunt is an artist who we work with again and again on our early years programme and who has been pivotal in shaping what it is today. More information about her work can be found here –

http://www.abigailhunt.co.uk/a.statement

[4]  A major example of this is when it was used as part of projects for the Big Lottery funded Big and Small programme of long-term projects, veents and resources. More information and a film explaining the aims and different facets of this programme can be viewed here – http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/big-and-small.

[5]  More information about this event can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/workshop/under-fives-explore-gallery

[6]  More information about the 8-14s programme can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/8-14s-studio-performing-bodies.

[7]  Over the summer we worked with a PhD student who is looking into this area of practice in different arts organisations across the UK. http://www.tate.org.uk/research/research-centres/learning-research/in-progress/investigating-value-experiential-creative-play

[8]  More information about this event can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain-tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/early-exchange-professional-development.

[9]  More information about this London Development Authority funded programme can be found here – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/courses-and-workshops/early-years-studio-programme-tate-modern

!!!! Guest Blogger Deirdre Sullivan is a writer and SEN teacher

Deirdre Sullivam HeadshotDeirdre Sullivan is a writer and SEN teacher from Galway. Her latest book, Tangleweed and Brine will be published this September.

Guest Blog CPD Course at The Ark

I signed up for a five-day CPD course in The Ark with one summer course already under my belt. I had brought my class to The Ark on a number of visits and they have always been very supportive and accommodating. I’m a special education teacher, and my students really enjoy the sensory elements of the visual arts, so I also wanted to build my skills and learn a few new tricks.

The course facilitator was Jole Bortoli, whose warmth and insight made the workshop space very welcoming. I am very aware of my limitations when it comes to the visual arts, I’m not a “good drawer”, but the emphasis was very much on the engagement and practice rather than the end result, though many of my classmates blew me away with their talent and creativity. There are some very lucky classrooms and libraries in Dublin!

We started with drawing, and spent time making a collaborative project with lines and curves, on big rolls of paper. This was displayed on the ceiling during the course, so we could take it in. It was a simple and practical exercise, and the result was lovely. We then worked to Jole’s instructions, but interpreted them in our own way, so the results were very different. I was already seeing the potential for linkage with SPHE and maths.

We then took the time and space to visit the exhibition of animal sculpture in The Ark, and used sketches we had taken to inform the final project of the day which was based on work that Jole has done with a range of children. She was incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about the young people she works with, and showed us examples of ways she adapts her activities for different age ranges and abilities. She also showed us some video footage of a project she had done with Saplings in Rathfarnham, where a team worked with children with autism.

Day two was paint and colour, and the bright shades were really welcome after (the mostly black and white) day one, and we made another collaborative project, this time a riot of shape and colour. We were introduced to a range of different materials. I was particularly taken with paint-sticks, which were like glue-sticks but with paints. We painted with our eyes closed to music and again with our eyes open. Particularly popular was making our own egg tempura paints, and exploring a range of textured paints that can be made at home or in the classroom, depending on your setting. This activity would link in well with the science curriculum, as well as being a lot of fun.

Day three was 3D! We focused on construction, and engaged in collage, work with different types of clay (on the theme of rural and urban space and the wildlife within) and most interestingly sculpture. We used soap and a knife to whittle seals (and one sparrow), and it was a really interesting activity. The knives were safe (blunt), and this activity could be done in a class. It made me think a lot about shape and space, and the clay-play seemed really easy in comparison. Again, Jole and the other facilitators were supportive and gave us inspiration and space to create, and the results were impressive.

On Day 4, we worked on Fabric and Fibre, and spent the day making hats and masks. The hats were made from cardboard, fabric, beads and natural objects such as driftwood and feathers, and Jole once again drew inspiration from the First Nations artists of northern Canada to prompt our creative activity. This drew in the “Looking and Responding” part of the visual arts curriculum really nicely. The masks were two-sided, one animal on the outside and another on the inside, and they were made with paper on cardboard. These two projects were time-consuming, and some people were so enthusiastic they worked through their coffee break to get them finished, which is a good sign.

Friday was our final day and we worked on map-making- with a range of different activities, relief-painting and ink-dripping. The results were interesting, and Jole gave us some pointers on the correct materials to use for the best results with a class.

We kept reflective journals throughout, and Jole took time to explain where each exercise was coming from, and how it could be developed. There was a lovely mix of learning and creating, and I came away full of excitement to share some of my new skills with my students over the coming year. Highly recommended.

!!!! Blog 1: Jean Tormey, Curator Early Years & Families at Tate Modern & Tate Britain

Jean TormeyJean Tormey is Curator of the Early Years and Families programme of resources, events and projects at Tate Modern and Tate Britain for under 5s, 8-14s and intergenerational audiences. She has worked on Families’ programming in galleries since 2008. Her practice involves working with artists, audiences and colleagues at Tate to develop content and activity through which diverse children and families can be considered as equal and valued visitors to Tate. Jean has worked in gallery learning since 2005 as an intern in New York and as a learning curator in different galleries in Liverpool, Kilkenny and London

Inspiration for Tate’s EYF programme – the Reggio Emilia approach

“The child is not a citizen of the future; they are a citizen from the very first moment of life and also the most important citizen because they represent and bring the ‘possible’… a bearer, here and now of rights, of values, of culture… It is our historical responsibility not only to affirm this, but to create cultural, social, political and educational contexts which are able to receive children and dialogue with their potential for constructing human rights.” Carlina Rinaldi, In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia: Listening, Researching and Learning

 When I took up the post of Early Years and Families (EYF) Curator at Tate, most of my experience was with families’ programming aimed at 5-12 year olds, with under 5s included as part of an intergenerational group, or where activity was primarily aimed at parents with an understanding that early years are welcome.[i]

I was introduced to the theory influencing Tate’s EYF programme – the Reggio Emilia approach[ii] – by the Convenor of the programme, Susan Sheddan[iii], and through working on the programme have learnt about the potential of the gallery to be used as an important site of learning and communication specifically for this agegroup.

The infant and toddler schools of Reggio offer places to 0-6 year olds and consist of a mixture of municipal, state, public and private schools. The aims of the schools are to involve their community in participatory consultation in all aspects of their running, to be transparent and shared in this approach, to give substance and voice to the rights of children, parents and teachers, and to improve the quality of life of children in the city overall. Each centre has a pedagogista, teacher, atelierista and cook. Children and parents are involved in the running of each centre, which is closely connected to its context. The process of how people communicate and when is of utmost importance to the streamlined running of the centre.

The learning principles of Reggio are that children must have some control over the direction of their learning, be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that they must be allowed to explore, and have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. I had the opportunity to visit Reggio Emilia for a study week in spring 2014 and came away with the following highlights relevant to my work at Tate. These are reflected in the EYF team’s current values or ‘non-negotiables’ of agency, curiosity, diversity and openness.

“The best we can be”: Carla Rinaldi, president of Reggio Children, talks about childhood as a quality (not just a stage of life), and about it representing ‘the best we can be’. She describes children as being in a constant state of searching for meaning and understanding in the world – interpreting their surroundings to find answers in life. The Reggio approach sees children as keen, sensitive observers with the  potential to fill flexible contexts and generative environments with meaning.

Diffused atelier: There is an atelier (studio) and atelierista (studio artist) in every Reggio school. Atelieristas are considered to have heightened awareness of contemporary culture, know how to interpret art, and have a unique perspective on learning. They work as co-constructors with teachers, students and parents to create contexts for learning a range of different subjects – the process for which can be compared to an artist developing work in their studio. The atelier, a metaphor for the Reggio approach as a whole, pervades the public space of the school so that everyone involved can influence the atelier and come together to co-construct meaning.

Co-researchers: The role of the teacher is as researcher alongside the children (with parents and artists). This might include exploring existing theories together, but also developing new theories and going to new places of learning as a result of exploration. Parents are involved as much as possible in the building of shared value.

Traces of learning: In order to research alongside children, observation (of and by children) is a key process used by Reggio teams – with drawing being used as a consistent tool for this, revealing traces of learning. Active listening, consulting with and talking to children about what they have noticed or observed develops critical thinking skills among children.

Exchange: The Reggio approach is highly influenced by Lev Vygotsky and the belief that psychological development occurs through interpersonal connections, actions and play in small groups. Children have a predisposal to creating relations and engaging in exchange. This is encouraged in Reggio schools by adults offering their point of view ready for children to offer theirs, using a range of the so called ‘100 languages’ Reggio deem children to have.

Education is political: Reggio is a political project, ultimately trying to change the status of EY schools nationally in Italy from service providers to education centres. They consistently refer to the rights of children and to some children as having ‘special rights’ (rather than special needs). In Reggio Emilia itself, the schools played an important role in welcoming and involving immigrant communities from Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and China.

‘Shaped by the city but also shaping the city’: The city of Reggio plays a leading role in the school – it is referred to as a protagonist, with schools visibly present in the city/ their local areas. Bringing the school and children to the city and making the culture of children more public strengthens the school’s alliance with their context.

 In the next post I’ll explore how the Reggio Emilia approach influences the EYF programme at Tate.

[1] Examples of this activity are National Drawing Day at the Butler Gallery Kilkenny www.butlergallery.com/national-drawing-day-2016/ or Crib Notes at the Whitechapel www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/crib-notes-emma-hart-mamma-mia/.

[1] The Reggio Emilia approach emerged in the small northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia after it was badly affected by World War II. A visionary educator named Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) along with parents from the locality wanted  “… to bring change and create a new, more just world, free from oppression” urging people to “gather their strength and build with their own hands schools for their young children.” Influenced by early childhood psychologists and philosophers such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Bruner, the educators of Reggio Emilia, inspired by their already existing community-centred culture, went about setting up a new form of early years learning for the children of the city.

In 1963, with great economic and social development taking place across Italy, the first municipal preschool was opened. In the late 1960s the schools were transferred to the city government for operation and financing. There was a feminist focus to the setting up of the schools as it enabled women to go back to work and tried to garner more respect for early years educators, usually the responsibility of women (formally/ informally). By the 1980s the Malaguzzi method was known and appreciated by many educators including thanks to an exhibition at the Modern Museet in Stockholm. At this time, the National Group for Work and Study on Infant Toddler Centres was formed in Italy.

In 2003 the municipality of Reggio Emilia chose to manage the system and the network of school services and toddler centres by forming the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia. Municipal schools and preschools had their own independent programs and activities, but were supported by the public sector. The political roots of the approach and its continued political engagement in campaigning for the importance of governmental support for early years education is important to acknowledge.

In February 2006, the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opened in Reggio Emilia for professional development and research of the philosophy. The foundation was officially established in 2011 with the aim of “Education and research to improve the lives of people and communities, in Reggio Emilia and in the world”.

[1] More can be learnt in Transforming Tate Leaning about the influence of Reggio Emilia on the programme at this time – http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/30243.

 

 

 


                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] Examples of this activity are National Drawing Day at the Butler Gallery Kilkenny http://www.butlergallery.com/national-drawing-day-2016/ or Crib Notes at the Whitechapel http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/crib-notes-emma-hart-mamma-mia/.

[ii] The Reggio Emilia approach emerged in the small northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia after it was badly affected by World War II. A visionary educator named Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994) along with parents from the locality wanted  “… to bring change and create a new, more just world, free from oppression” urging people to “gather their strength and build with their own hands schools for their young children.” Influenced by early childhood psychologists and philosophers such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Bruner, the educators of Reggio Emilia, inspired by their already existing community-centred culture, went about setting up a new form of early years learning for the children of the city.

 

In 1963, with great economic and social development taking place across Italy, the first municipal preschool was opened. In the late 1960s the schools were transferred to the city government for operation and financing. There was a feminist focus to the setting up of the schools as it enabled women to go back to work and tried to garner more respect for early years educators, usually the responsibility of women (formally/ informally). By the 1980s the Malaguzzi method was known and appreciated by many educators including thanks to an exhibition at the Modern Museet in Stockholm. At this time, the National Group for Work and Study on Infant Toddler Centres was formed in Italy.

 

In 2003 the municipality of Reggio Emilia chose to manage the system and the network of school services and toddler centres by forming the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia. Municipal schools and preschools had their own independent programs and activities, but were supported by the public sector. The political roots of the approach and its continued political engagement in campaigning for the importance of governmental support for early years education is important to acknowledge.

 

In February 2006, the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre opened in Reggio Emilia for professional development and research of the philosophy. The foundation was officially established in 2011 with the aim of “Education and research to improve the lives of people and communities, in Reggio Emilia and in the world”.

 

[iii] More can be learnt in Transforming Tate Leaning about the influence of Reggio Emilia on the programme at this time – http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/30243.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Claire Halpin, Visual Artist, Curator & Arts Educator – Blog 1

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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.

As an visual artist, curator and arts educator I work on many different projects across different contexts over a range of timescales. It is a juggling act with no days or weeks being the same – something that any working artist is familiar with as their profession, way of life and the challenges, opportunities and rewards it brings. Over the next four blog posts I am going to focus on one or two arts in education projects I am working on as they develop. Since March 2017, I have been working as project co-ordinator and Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator on the DCC VTS Neighbourhood Schools project. VTS Neighbourhood Schools is a visual thinking strategies project funded by Dublin City Council Arts Grant in collaboration with The LAB Gallery, Central Model School, St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough, St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview. It is part of Project 20/20 – a visual literacy initiative with children living in Dublin 1 led by Dublin City Council, the City Arts Office and The LAB Gallery.

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is an educational curriculum and teaching method which is designed to enable students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills. It is a discussion based methodology for looking at art. The method is the result of more than fifteen years of collaboration between cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen, a Harvard trained educator and psychologist and veteran museum educator Philip Yenawine. The current Irish Primary School Curriculum places emphasis on developing a child’s sense of wonder and facilitating the child to be an agency in his or her own learning. VTS allows space for these aims as well as for other core ideas of the Curriculum such as creating space for the child’s own knowledge to be a base for learning- the VTS facilitator scaffolds what the child’s responses are rather than the opposite way around.

Since 2014 Central Model Senior School has worked with VTS facilitator, Lynn McGrane, funded by Dublin City Council Arts Office and The LAB Gallery using VTS to look at contemporary Irish art both through visits to The LAB Gallery and classroom sessions. IAWATST – Interesting And Weird At The Same Time was an exhibition of work from the OPW Collection and Department of Finance, Northern Ireland Collection, selected by this class group, using VTS in the selection process. The aim and structure of the VTS: Neighbourhood Schools project is to continue using Visual Thinking Strategies to add to the knowledge of the arts and build on the sense of place and experience that the children on Central Model N.S have and to share that experience with their neighbours through working in close collaboration with two schools (St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview and St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough) with trained VTS practitioners in each of the schools.

In September 2016, I completed the Visual Thinking Strategies Beginners Practicum with Yoon Kang-O’Higgins, VTS Programme Director along with teachers from Central Model School (Deirdre Gartland and Bridget Kildee) and St. Vincent’s B.N.S (Orla Doyle), funded by Dublin City Council Arts Office. In this first phase of this project (March – June) the VTS Practitioners have facilitated 6 sessions with four class groups – Junior Infants to 3rd Class. These sessions happened at The LAB Art Gallery, Hugh Lane Gallery, ArtBox Gallery and classroom based looking at contemporary Irish art. As a team we have met for peer to peer mentoring and support sessions and Liz Coman DCC Assistant Arts Officer and VTS Trainer facilitated coaching sessions with each VTS practitioner. In June we will have a Reflective Practice Session with Yoon Kang-O’Higgins – an opportunity to see where we are all at this stage of the project and where we are going with Phase 2, building capacity, modelling VTS for teachers and observing teachers, image selection, potential trainees for VTS Beginner’s Practicum in Autumn 2017. In this blog post I have only had the chance to lay out the structure and background to the project. In the next post I will relate back from the class groups themselves and their teachers, their responses, experiences and my own experience as a practicing visual artist using VTS.

Links:

Dublin City Arts Office     http://www.dublincityartsoffice.ie

DCC Project 2020             http://dublincityartsoffice.ie/project2020/

St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview   https://stmarysartproject.wordpress.com/

Claire Halpin                     https://clairehalpin2011.wordpress.com/

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 2

Julie ForresterJulie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Artist Blog Post 2

Drawing Worlds

My mother describes a picture of me age 4, she shows me a photograph, there I am sitting, legs spreadeagled, on the floor in front of me is “Julie bear” (my childhood teddy bear), in the diamond of floor encompassed by me, my legs and my bear is a piece of paper and on that paper I am making a drawing. Now I look at the photograph, I see it as my mother describes, I can’t get back to that place, I see it now outside of myself – a child absorbed. But I know that feeling.

I have a drawing my daughter made, age 6, it has the date on the back of the frame, in her own writing the legend reads: “My dog Under the table 23.12.97. Annie”. Annie doesn’t remember doing the drawing, and nor do I. I do remember the events around this picture, and where we were living at the time. Our dog was Miko, a stray we homed, and Miko had puppies, nine in all. The Daddy was Bart, our housemate’s dog.

The drawing shows an inky black shape with multiple extremities which seem to be leaking out from the body. On closer look you can make out the 4 black legs and 6 elongated teats, the mother’s tail is curled backward, awkwardly echoing the arc of her body. At her back are 3 leggy blobby pup shapes, there are 2 more at her front. There are five puppy shaped blobs in all: 4 are missing.

 I look at the picture and I see the repeated arcs of dogs back, ringed over and over and framed finally within the square and capped by a border on three sides. I see the mother’s pink tongue haloed by exclamations of blue spittle, I see her ears askew, her eyes, which are barely visible, have obviously been drawn into the black silhouette at later stage, and this action has left a bleachy green rim where one marker dye acts on another. I see the mother dog held within the horse shoe form of the yellow basket bed she had, I see a turquoise ring with turquoise triangles pointing in and pointing out, this jagged, joined up ring form is contained within the orange square of ‘under the table’, a liminal floor/table space. Here the angle changes from top view to sideview and I see the table holding it all together. The table has two pink drawers. There is a large fruit bowl on top of the table, it is a bowl we still have, made by her Granny (It clearly shows the apple design of Bandon Pottery) The bowl contains stalked fruits. Beside the bowl is the most mysterious object in the picture – is it a yellow door?

 This drawing contains a concentrated world, a complex mixture of emotion, observation, invention and imagination. It is a brave drawing, it is a necessary drawing and it is a mysterious drawing. It is a drawing that describes an event long forgotten by its maker. It is a drawing that gives me a glimpse into another world and one that I know is real, even if I wasn’t there.

When children draw they bring forth worlds, turning the inside out. This way of processing of experience is something that continues to fill me with awe, it still draws me. I love the word Draw, it has so many meanings, encompassing ideas of pulling, attracting, taking in and letting out, one can “draw breath” and one can “allow tea to draw”, “draw a pistol”, or a bath, as well as a line, it has a particular tension between hiding on and letting go. One time when I was a teenager I went with my father to the mart, we brought our sketchbooks. Later an acquaintance politely asked us what we were doing there, when I said “drawing” he said, looking at my father slightly puzzled, “drawing cattle to the mart?”

In the previous blog, I spoke about some drawing we did together at the Virtually There project in Killard house. This was not exactly a collaboration, we hadn’t agreed on making a ‘work of art’ together, it was a live action conversation. The whiteboard was the testing ground where our dialogue took place. It was a space where images were placed, excavated from our archives, grabbed online, or captured from life, they were uploaded, they were drawn out and drawn upon, discarded, elements were shrunken, enlarged, obliterated and moved about by one person or another, threads were created and broken over the course of a conversation, it was often hard to keep track. The drawing happened one mark or image beside another in a space which became layered and sequenced over time. We were celebrating together the act of drawing.

!!!! Virtually There with St Patrick’s P.S. Co Armagh

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Sharon Kelly, Artist: This was the second year of working with Fionnuala at St Patrick’s Primary School, although I have been a ‘virtual’ artist in residence since 2010. In September 2016 we had agreed to base our explorations for this phase of the project around the idea of Balance. The ‘way in’ to this came to me as I was moving studio at that time, leaving a building inhabited since 1993, and moving into an old building that was once the main fishing tackle shop in Belfast. The former inhabitants left behind a lot of things, one of which was an old wages and salaries book from 1904, called Time Book. I thought this could provide inspiration to generate ideas about balance. Fionnuala was really open and willing to take this route, which seemed at first a little obscure.

What struck me was the old fashioned ink script that recorded names and hours worked, it was of course a balance of sorts, balancing the books, but what really interested me was the beautiful controlled letters flowing in ink, balanced between the lines on the page. I left the book at the school after an introductory first visit and waited to hear the children’s response as they held, looked and smelled the book! It was the starting point for investigating what sort of balance and control we try to exert as we write our names. I was interested in the WAY we do this, how we use our body. Importantly I have been collaborating with dancers over the past 3 years and that particular project was beginning to come to fruition. Awareness of the way we move, tempo and gesture interested me. I also facilitate drawing classes with young people and adults once a week and this experience has meant that we often take time to explore the way we make marks and the many aspects that affect mark–making/expression.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Sharon: The ideas developed through a process of questioning, taking something seemingly basic as writing your name and asking how do we do that. The P3/4 children were beginning to learn joined up writing, practicing making their letters flow continuously one into another. For our on-line sessions we spent time identifying what parts of our body we use to make letters as we write, mostly small movements with our hand and wrist. Together we began mimicking loops in the air and expanding the gesture to move more and more of our arm and then whole body. When we tried this in practice, the children discovered that if they utilized their whole arm and shoulders to make their loops, they could no longer write on small pieces of paper.

This exploration went from A5 size paper on their classroom desks to large scale loops on table-scale pieces of paper and out into the yard with chalk! The responses to this were very interesting because the children told me that they used a different energy and body weight to create these larger swirls. This real experience, supported by the wonderful way Fionnuala can elicit responses from the children for discussion, was a very important prompt before we took time to look at and take inspiration from the free-flowing script of Chinese writing and later the work of artists Cy Twombly’s Blackboard paintings from the 1970’s and the action painting of Jackson Pollock. (This was done by posting links to the classroom; the children and teacher would watch a video or view the work of the artists and a detailed discussion would take place).

Following this exposure to the action painting of Jackson Pollock in particular, Fionnuala thought it would be really worthwhile to allow the children to actually explore using paint and their bodies the way that Jackson Pollock had done. We planned that I would make a real visit to the classroom and we would all experience what it is like to paint on a large canvas surfaces on the floor and to engage our whole bodies in the process. It was an investigation into how much control we could use to drip, pour and splatter the paint. The children used many different implements to get paint onto the canvases  brushes; sticks; sports cones that dribbled out paint; syringes; baby bottles.

In a sense we were experimenting with balance, exploring how we balance our bodies to create a gesture on the canvas and allowing enough freedom for spontaneity. It was a very potent mix and the outcomes on the floor were amazing to all of us. This very intense activity was followed by discussion, both on how we made the floor paintings, and what we thought about them. To further cement our ideas about balance we engaged the help of a friend of mine, Marie Murphy, Professor of Health and Fitness at Ulster University. We connected online via Blackboard Collaborate software. Professor Murphy invited us all  to try some balancing postures, which proved to be a wonderful cool- down for the  busy activity that preceeded it! Through the whole process we questioned, tried things out and reflected on what we observed, felt and understood. These beginning explorations provided a rich well to go on and explore gravity, air pressue, movement through space and in drawing (animations) and finally to explore space itself beyond the classroom, the school and the boundary of our planet!

Fionnuala Hughes, Teacher: We made loopy movements in the air, and then we tried to recreate them on large pages using graphite sticks, restricting our movements by keeping one arm behind our back. Some of the pupils were able to create looped designs with amazing uniformity and regularity in their designs, showing a great deal of control and an awareness of the overall effect which was being achieved. There was again intense concentration involved. The children used a great amount of energy, travelling as they worked, all the time keeping their chalk in contact with their canvas and exerting a huge degree of control and balance over their own bodies as they moved through their wonderful loopy designs. The work was challenging physically, but the children were very focussed on the tasks and the end results were wonderful. We had an entire playground covered in unique loopy designs and spiral patterns.

Technically the work involved a great deal of concentration and energy as well as allowing time to drip the paint onto the surface. Jackson Pollock’s tools never actually touched the canvas on which he was working so the concepts of Balance, Control and Gravity were important aspects of the children’s work. Again there was immense concentration on the part of the children; many of them found that they had to restrain themselves from pouring the paint onto the canvas instead of allowing gravity to play a part and control how they could drip the paint onto the surface in fine angel hair lines and criss-cross patterns as well as the splatter effect which was more random. Encouraging the children to control the flow of paint, and to exercise patience and restraint posed too great of a challenge for some pupils who chose quantity over quality. Keeping the paint pots full as the groups moved around the boards was not a simple task, and altogether we used over 12 litres of paint as well as a fair amount of PVA glue and several litres of water. The end results were pretty amazing and the children were justifiably proud of their results. Moving the boards out of the room to dry proved tricky and there was some movement of paint took place during this procedure however it did not detract from the overall effect. We had a very interesting and physical session in which the children explored balance and control using their bodies. They were only too happy to participate in these activities and enjoyed the challenge of balancing using different parts of our body to control and distribute our weight. Professor Murphy, via collaborate link, gave the children some tips as to how they could distribute their weight and maintain their balance for longer. The children were fascinated by his apparent ‘scribbles’ and we discussed what we had just done and what his work suggested to us.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Sharon: The whole project, which has just finished for now, was a wonderful journey in so many ways and these beginning sessions were very memorable for me. It is also true to say that the sorts of activities we have pursued, painting using control and balance of our whole bodies, meant that there were several ‘challenges’ to deal with, the attitude of those involved in the project, Fionnuala, Eileen the classroom assistant and the Principal of the School, Mr. Madine, were wholly supportive and this led to the success of the project. When we communicate online it can present challenges, some are technical problems that have to be overcome or they can be certain challenges in the way we interact. Some things are not immediate, we have to wait; to give time for things to develop – but I see this as contributing to the important ethos of the overall purpose of the project. Exploring, working collaboratively over time. After the practicing large scale loops  and scribbles, Fionnuala made the observation that she had noticed the children’s handwriting had improved considerably, they were more confident with their joined up writing!

Fionnuala: The project enabled me as a teacher to get to know the pupils in my class very closely. I became the facilitator as opposed to the teacher and their project work was purely expressive. There was no right or wrong way and this enabled them to express themselves in whatever way they chose. Everything was valued. There was no fear. All was relevant. There was a lot of discussion where the children’s’ voices drove the ideas forward from session to session. Their engagement in the activities was always complete and they were immensely proud of any work which was produced as a result of the sessions. Their self-esteem and confidence grew with each session. The challenges were always practical. How can each child participate fully in each activity with equal access to the resources being made available? This involved considering the length of each of the activities ineach session and what order we might explore them in to allow time to rearrange the room during breaktimes,etc. we usually set up for art the day before so we had a blank canvas instead of a regular classroom to begin with!

On a personal level for me, the links which Sharon sent during our pre-session planning directing me to explore and discover the likes of Jackson Pollock or William Kentridge, neither of whom I’d heard of before. This prompted in me an interest into an area which I’d never delved into before. Involvement in the project broadened out my whole understanding of art as we began to ‘think outside the box’. Sharon was very good at lending me books from her own personal collection to develop my appreciation of art.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Sharon: The emphasis on process and discovery is really significant in this project and while Fionnuala and I plan sessions, they are generated out of what happened in the previous session and after a period of reflection. I am always interested in ‘disrupting’ the space of the classroom and the way the children spend so long sitting at desks. Many of our online sessions require that the space of the room be used differently. Fionnuala is always great at organizing the space to suit our activities. The children experienced drawing inside, outside, in the air, on the classroom floor and in many different scales.

I particularly liked the fact that we took something like writing your name, in school we must do this repeatedly usually in a particularly small scale, and analyzing everything about the way we do that. The practice of creating loops and giant scribbles and the feeling of ‘being in your work’ was invaluable since it helped generate ideas that we continued to explore about movement, balance, counter balance and feeling. Also in school we are not encouraged to ‘scribble’ for the sake of it and I found it so refreshing that Fionnuala embraced all aspects of this activity. She clearly valued what the children were doing and she was always willing to create the necessary space both physical and importantly the creative mind space. This was so evident when we explored  during the real visit, the way we could control and balance our bodies to ‘paint’ the canvases on the floor of the classroom, taking Jackson Pollock’s work as inspiration. The inevitable ‘mess’ created was never a barrier! The important thing was that the children were able to have a significant experience.

Fionnuala: The project has had a significant impact on the children’s personal growth and development. It has also encouraged them to work together in teams to produce composite pieces. It was a whole new type of learning in which they were encouraged to get to know themselves, their bodies and how to use their bodies to create and draw. The activities usually meant that the children were up and out of their seats. Desks disappeared and the classroom became an art studio. The only boundaries were the children’s imaginations. We travelled across the globe, to outer space and back again, exploring concepts such as balance, control, and gravity, using their bodies and minds in harmony, to suspend disbelief and make the space become whatever they needed it too. The children worked closely and in harmony together. I do believe that the art session with Sharon was a special time in the week, when the children could forget about their worries and do something for themselves. They became totally engrossed and involved. Their inhibitions disappeared. The fact that another adult, a real artist, was placing such a significant value on their contributions raised their self-esteem enormously.

The day we did the “Jackson Pollock masterpieces” the children had such enormous fun exploring the whole concept of control and dripping the paint onto the canvas. The sheer size of the canvas was enough to excite them as they had this massive area to work in and there was no-one telling them what to do. It was pure self-expression and they absolutely loved it. The animation sessions were also very appealing to the children and the idea of making moving images from still drawings inspired the way they looked at movement and how much we take for granted without thinking how much work goes into a single animation.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Sharon: Working on Virtually There Project continues the notion of the artist, children and teacher sharing explorations together and the spirit of this feeds into my thinking in my own work in a more subliminal way. Sometimes it can elicit an idea for a piece of work, something a child says in response to something has triggered an idea. However mainly it’s the way that you are able to develop the relationship over time, that allows you this wonderful window into the life of the school and those who pass through it, this has an impact on my thinking and contemplations about what I consider in the studio and outside.

Fionnuala: I feel that my approach to art in the classroom has changed in that I no longer focus on just the end product but I now value the whole process of doing and creating something. I tended to stick to drawing still life, and everyone created something similar, whereas now I see the value of providing the children with the tools, discussing ideas and letting them express themselves more freely. We had opportunities to use artistic medium which the school normally wouldn’t provide, such as willow charcoals, oil pastels and paints, as well as a range of papers, brushes and implements to create and express.

The best thing about the project is the insight it has given me into my pupils, and that special time we spent together during the sessions, as a class, creating and bonding. The relationship with Sharon has been central to that process, as she is always positive, questioning the children in a way that elicits very personal and interesting responses. It’s been great having the opportunity to work closely with Sharon, sharing ideas as we journeyed through the school year together. I look forward to working with her again in the future and feel privileged that I have the opportunity to work with such a talented person as Sharon, on an arts in education project which contributes to the holistic development of the children in such a positive way.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 1

Julie ForresterJulie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Artist Blog Post 1:

Art enables a magical way of being in the world.

A conscious turn from routine can transform one’s approach along a spectrum from lacklustre ennui to one of tantalising attention. Objects take on significance, the ordinary becomes enriched, moments collide in fascinating ways. Sharing these ideas connects us in new and interesting conversations. We notice things that lead us to explore the nature of things and we are led on an adventure at once wild and exciting. Our senses connect to our brains our perceptions change…….but there is no need to say any of this here – suffice to say that I am motivated and captivated by a magical sense of being. Working with children expands the possibilities here. A sense of discovery leads into new territories for both myself and the child.

Working with teachers in the classroom is a very privileged place to be. The teacher is the holder of the space (s)he creates the environment for learning. (S)he is also a creative partner. The collaborative relationship between teacher and artist gives the structure to support and wings to let loose the children’s explorations.

This 3 way relationship is at the heart of the Virtually There residency project run by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership. Here the Artist/Teacher roles are very much foregrounded by the challenges and limitations of online presence. In Virtually There the artist is not in residence in the classroom but in a virtual space that hovers between classroom and studio. Her visual presence is contained in a frame, on a screen. Aurally her presence can be heard through a speaker, often as gremlins or in delay. Like wise the artist’s experience of the classroom is on screen and remote, tiny moving ants, often backlit by classroom windows, occasional face to face conversations and a virtual whiteboard. The teacher often takes up the role of mediator between screen and room. Gremlins come and go ransacking the airwaves. It’s today’s technology but it feels archaic. Two distinct worlds form at either end, in parallel. I imagine being in a submarine at the periscope communicating by radio control, sometimes it even feels like we are feeling our way via sonar echolocation, at once remote and intimate.

One develops strategies to incorporate this technology, it becomes another collaborator, the fourth partner in the equation. Experiments often begin with instructions as jumping off points, and in the sense of a Chinese whisper, one is anticipating the return of something wild and wilful from the original.

The interactive whiteboard becomes a shared ground where ideas are thrown up and moved about. During my residency at Killard House I worked in one to one conversation with children from year 10, using the whiteboard as our ‘visual speech bubbles’. I captured this activity using screenshots. Digital capturing does not at all represent a record of the session. It creates its own truth through a punctured narrative where elisions reign, occluding vital moments, replacing them, punctuating them with knots of captured stasis, warping time and concentrating attention in offbeat places. Human fallibility has its place of honour here, turning the machine/system into poetry or farce. The children’s voices push dynamically through the images they share and the sequencing of their thoughts. For me it is the perfect medium to test the narrative capabilities of stop motion animation.

Meanwhile classroom activity continues with teacher, the dynamic Ms Davey, elaborating on our prepared activities, the children coming up to webcam at intervals to intercept the dialogue with some extraordinary observation, discovery or piece of work to share.

In Virtually There time with the teacher between sessions is invaluable, here we are able to explore and adapt our project, pushing out ideas, extending chance encounters and developing these into a mutual understanding for creative play, the collaboration is always live, as we share our differing approaches, responses and strategies to all that is thrown up. There is also a hovering of all that I have missed from my submarine.

For more on the Virtually There Killard House Blog please click here 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Kieran Gallagher – Art Teacher Blog Post No.3

Kieran GallagherArt Teacher Blog Post No.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.3

How I balance work as an Artist-Teacher:

To be an art teacher in any given day or class period can be exhausting. Having over 20 students per class period, all of whom you know well; you know what step of their painting, print or sculpture that they are working on, and you have to think ahead of the possible next step, problems or solutions that might arise. We do this instinctively, without batting an eyelid. By the end of the day you can be drained, going home, cooking dinner, going for a run, how would I have time for making my own artwork?

I have to be honest, most days I don’t. But I make time weekly or monthly. I managed to find time to look at Facebook, watch Netflix, so why not for making art? In 2012 I decided to enroll in the Masters of Art in art and design education. I had been teaching for 5 years and only exhibited once since college. This masters was a distant learning course, which was stretched out over two years. The reason that I mention this course is because it is what reconnected me with my own art practice, and gave me the confidence that I needed to get back to making art work again, that I was happy with.

Luckily enough I have a studio space in the city centre, in Ormond studios. (Add us on FB or look at our blog ormondstudios.wordpress.com) Having that dedicated space makes all the difference. Being able to leave your work out and come back to it, that’s how I am able to work. I used to work in a spare room, but I found I could never leave work out or finish anything.  Now I find it easier to have a deadline to work towards. In Ormond studios we have member’s shows twice a year, this keeps me motivated.

Having a studio in the city center also allows me to frequently visit galleries and artists talks. These visits along with my art practice inform my teaching on a regular basis; if I am researching artists, visiting exhibition openings or exploring a new theme, I bring it into my classroom. It’s really important to keep up to date with the art world and bringing it into my student’s keeps them informed, but it also keeps my classroom fresh and my teaching schemes constantly change.

My art practice has shifted from printmaking to drawing, painting, mixed media and more recently installation in the form of weaving. The shift in my art practice happened naturally, I hadn’t the facilities to print outside of Art College. My current installation is a mammoth project; I had hundreds of old photographs, which I took for a project called “When we were giants”. Lots of the photographs were blurred or not worth using, so they stayed in a box for three years. I recently revisited them and decided that I wanted to give them a purpose, or use. They forest where I took the photographs was a place where I used to play and build forts as a child. Having experience with layers and weaving previously, I began to weave the photographs together based on colour flows rather than the actual image. My aim is to create a large-scale fort or tent.

My only advice for those who are looking to get back into their art practice, just start something, set aside time. I didn’t think I would have time for a masters, but I made the time, I didn’t think I would have time to continue making art after my masters, three years later I am still working.  We never have time, but you are reading this so, put your phone down, get off Facebook, stop reading this and go create

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tadhg Crowley – Projects Adviser – Blog 4

Tadhg Crowley the Curator of Education at the Glucksman

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog 4

The Certificate in Contemporary Living (CCL) is a two-year education programme for people with intellectual disabilities designed for delivery in a third level education setting. It focuses on helping students develop strategic skills to promote self-reliance and independence and increased participation in society. The CCL course provides structured opportunities for interaction between students with intellectual disabilities and non-disabled students. As such it is about inclusion and not just about access.

Until 2015, the Expressive Arts module on the certificate in contemporary living course at University College Cork consisted solely of a semester devoted to music. Throughout the semester the group made outings to different cultural centres and galleries and the reaction of students to visual art exhibitions prompted the course coordinators to review ways that they could offer students a more rounded experience of the arts. In late 2014 the course coordinators approached the Glucksman with a view to working together on a visual arts module. The goal was to break the arts module into three strands – Visual Arts, Music and Drama.

The visual art module was designed around three key points that we returned to again and again over the 5 sessions. They were Individualism: how we all see things differently and therefore we all create differently. Capacity to be creative: everyone has the ability to be creative, we can be creative in many different ways and different mediums allow different people to be creative. Finding your voice: through experimentation, practice and choosing methods/approaches that are rewarding.

The days were divided into three pedagogical streams – art appreciation; art interaction; and art making. These three approaches are widely used in art education with the appreciation and interaction exercises informing the art making session and an understanding of the art making process informing the art appreciation and interaction. Each week we looked at different artists and artworks and the group engaged in practical projects with artist Paul McKenna.

A common link among the artists we studied in the appreciation sessions was that as well as pointing to the three key elements of Individualism, Capacity and Finding a Voice; they all had overcome major difficulties/obstacles to pursue a life of creativity.

Two of the artists we studied were Henri Matisse and Anni Albers. Henri Matisse was a renowned painter before he fell ill in later life and was confined to his bed for long periods. His movement now restricted he had to find new ways to continue his artistic career and so he began to work with scissors and paper. The work completed during this period of his life (cut-outs) is now regarded as some of his most important. Matisse found a way to continue his creativity and these new methods led to a rebirth in his artistic career.

Anni Albers encountered many obstacles throughout her extraordinarily creative life. Despite the challenges of a prejudiced college system, the peril of Nazi Germany and the difficulties of being an immigrant arriving in the USA without the language, she established an artistic practice and legacy befitting of one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.

The art interaction sessions led students on drawing and photography walks on route to viewing artworks in the exhibition ‘Gut Instinct: Art, food and feeling’ at the Glucksman and a selection of significant works in the University College Cork Art Collection www.glucksman.org/collections.html

Under the guidance of Paul McKenna the group had the opportunity to bring the ideas and methods discussed earlier in the day to the practical projects. Working both individually and collectively, the students were presented with a diverse selection of materials and techniques in the quest to find their creative voice.

The three strands of this year’s CCL Expressive Arts module will conclude with an exhibition of the artworks created, along with sound recordings, video and live performance at the Glucksman in early May.

For more information please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tadhg Crowley – Curator of Education – Blog 3

Tadhg Crowley

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses, Preview Evenings and Summer Courses.

Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog 3

At the time when the Glucksman first began to incorporate projects and events for Primary School Teachers into its programme, there were a number of concepts that we sought to explore and that the teachers we engaged with challenged us to address. These ideas came to form the basis of the programmes that were designed and delivered in the subsequent months and years.

It is widely accepted that the visual arts can play a significant role in creating an innovative learning environment, but a pivotal question for the Glucksman team was, what can be done to improve the quality of arts learning opportunities for children in Ireland today and what is the role of the art museum in any initiative? Art museums provide exceptional art educational mechanisms and opportunities that include access to professional artists, introductions to various art making techniques, and the experience of seeing and understanding significant works of art but how could these resources best be utilized to improve art opportunities for children? At the Glucksman, we consistently see the positive impact that visual art has on young people, the opportunity to view an artwork up close without distraction and to begin to grasp an artist’s motivations can have a significant impression on a child’s mind. However, when children visit museums with their school or with their family it is not always on a frequent basis and this irregular exposure to art can mean that their appreciation and understanding is less than would be achieved through consistent interaction or through an enduring learning curve as can be achieved in a school environment.

The feedback we were getting from Primary School teachers was that increased pressure to allocate more time to the curriculum and in particular to the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy, meant it was becoming increasingly difficult to dedicate time in the classroom to art making activities and art appreciation. Understanding the limited time available for arts in the classroom, we began to look at how the Glucksman could enable teachers to develop projects that combined elements of visual art with other strands of the curriculum such as math, science, language, history or SPHE. By continuing to focus on intrinsic areas of the curriculum, classroom routine and structure would not be negatively affected. Instead students learning could be enhanced through exciting creative processes and exposure to important visual artists and art movements.

This idea for an art integration approach was influenced by the Glucksmans exhibitions model. Exhibitions at the Glucksman draw on the research of University College Cork academic departments and professionals from across the four colleges of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science; Business and Law; Medicine and Health; and Science, Engineering and Food Science. One of the primary goals of the exhibitions is to emphasis the unique role of visual media in communicating knowledge and central to this is the creation of discursive relationships between academic disciplines and art practice. The Glucksman finds itself in a favourable position where, right on its doorstep, it can create dialogues and exchanges with researchers who are leaders in diverse and interesting fields. The value of bringing an extensive and authentic knowledge to particular themes and ideas leads to both comprehensive and sensitive visual investigations.

Leading contemporary artists are constantly using aspects of curriculum strands such as history, science and language studies as the subject matter for their creative practices. Many art movements lend themselves to understanding subjects such as math or science while historical artworks can allow children to better understand the world at a specific period in time. We believed that learning from these artists, artworks and art movements, teachers could begin to develop creative projects that would augment a student’s experience and understanding.

In 2015, the Glucksman ran its first summer course for Primary School Teachers based on the art integration model to overwhelmingly positive feedback. The course followed the three pedagogical approaches of Art Appreciation; Art Interaction; and Art Making. The morning sessions led by the curatorial team investigated artists, their artworks and how their practices could relate to curriculum strands. These sessions took place in the exhibition spaces and included lectures, talks, tours and discussions. The afternoon sessions invited teachers to work with professional artists on practical projects for the classroom.

This coming August will see the third iteration of the art integration summer course at the Glucksman. For more information on the Glucksman Teachers Programme please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tadhg Crowley – Curator of Education – Blog 2

 

Tadhg Crowley the Curator of Education at the Glucksman

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog no. 2

As we enter the teenage years we begin to gain a little more freedom. This new found autonomy provides us with the opportunity to explore our local area (city, town or village) through aimless wanderings and walks or by beginning the process of ownership of our locality in the corners or streets we lay claim to. This process is crucial in the development of civic pride but also in the establishment of a sense of belonging.

For teenagers living in Direct Provision — who live in isolated and restrictive settings — they are not afforded the opportunity to get to know their local area in the same way as other young people.

Navigating the Urban Landscape was an art project that invited teenagers living in direct provision centres in Cork City and County to work with the Glucksman and practicing artists over a six week period in Autumn 2016. Throughout the weekly sessions participants engaged in projects that investigated the idea of dérive (an unplanned journey through an urban landscape) working with different mediums and artists.

The project invited 14 teenagers (ages 12-17 years) from the DP centres in Kinsale Road, Glounthaune, Clonakilty and Drishane Castle to work with practicing artists to create artworks that explored the landscape of the city and offered the group a creative and positive experience. This was an opportunity for these teenagers to interact with artistic ideas and mediums and to discover their own creative and imaginative capabilities away from their prohibitive surroundings.

Young people living in direct provision do not have access to any extra-curricular activities; any encounters with art making they would have in school. The centers are noticeably devoid of facilities.

Teenage years can be difficult for all young people, but to be dealing with the challenges of being a teenager and to also be living in a restrictive and prohibitive situation is incredibly demanding. Any opportunity for this group to engage in positive and stimulating activities can only be beneficial to their development.

From the earliest discussions I had with the artists, we all agreed that one of the primary elements of these workshops should be in providing the teenagers with the skills to continue being creative after the project had concluded. From the photography with Roseanne Lynch to drawing with Cassandra Eustace and film-making with Dervla Baker, all the sessions with the teenagers would focus on enabling the group to develop a set of skills that would allow them to share their stories. We felt it was crucial that what was learnt in the workshops could be taken and used or shared with others back at the centres.

Working with the teenagers was a very different experience than our previous work with younger children living in DP. The younger children had very high energy/excitement levels and their attention would wane quickly and so we found that short activities with immediate results worked best in keeping their focus. On the other hand, the teenagers were very calm, focused and eager to try all the tasks put before them. There was never any sense of hesitation. For the teenagers this opportunity for extra curricular activities was incredibly precious and it was notable how determined they were to make the most of their time at the Glucksman. This level of ambition and focus across the group was not only striking in comparison to the younger children in DP but to other groups of teenagers we have worked with in the past.

The project culminated with an exhibition of the group’s artwork at the Glucksman in early 2017. On what was truly one of my most memorable days working here at the Glucksman, the teenagers returned with family and friends for the exhibition launch party with music, food and good vibes. The day concluded with the inaugural screening of the teenagers short film ‘Undead Revenge

Reading some of the moving feedback from the teenagers highlights how crucial it is that these young people are cherished and nurtured and that they are provided with the opportunities that we all deserve.

I was amazed by the architectural designs and the surroundings itself. We took lots of pictures and had to draw different things. It was quite the most wonderful thing I have done.

I was a bit shy at first, but I was told, ‘Everyone has a talent, we have to show it to make it better’ and since then I have never been more proud of my art works.’

Meet some of the group here

The Navigating the Urban Landscape project was supported by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Young Ensemble Scheme.

For more information contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Student Kotryna Knystautaite assisted by Hannah Murphy and Aoife Craddock

Student Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select. The students involved have selected and curated an exhibition, which opened on 25th of November.

Blog 3

The countdown had stopped. The day had finally arrived. It was the day of the opening.

Many months of decision making, days spent in the gallery and countless meetings have all culminated in our exhibition and we were finally opening it up to the public. We invited everyone we knew- family, friends and teachers, but we also had other important guests coming to see the exhibition- the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, TD; Heather Humphreys, Sir Ciaran Devane; CE of the British Arts Council and two of the exhibiting artists; Mariele Neudecker and Graham Crowley, the pressure was on!

On the afternoon of the opening day, we had the opportunity to meet Marielle Neudecker and Graham Crowley. They told us about their lives and inspirations. It was really fascinating to hear the artist themselves reveal their thoughts, the ideas behind their creations and to hear their opinions on how their art complemented the other artworks surrounding them. It was an amazing experience, as soon we would have to be the ones giving tours of all the art that was now in the gallery.

As the opening night grew closer there was a hint of nervousness in the air between us. In a few moments we will have to give one of, if not the most, important tour of the exhibition to our special guests. In our heads we recited all of the facts, dates and names we learnt over the past few months about the art surrounding us, remembering the connections that we mapped out and why we hung certain works in certain places. Our family, friends and teachers started to filter in through the doors. The time had come!

We greeted and shook hands with Heather Humphreys and Sir Ciaran Devane as they walked into the gallery. In pairs we led them and the other guests through the gallery telling them about the art along the way. After the tour everybody who came gathered downstairs at the altar. Niamh McDonnell (St. Oliver’s) and Cáit McArdle (Our Lady’s College Greenhills) gave amazing speeches about the Student Select, how we came about to do this and the work we did up to the opening. They were followed with speeches from some of the distinguished guests and Aoife Ruane, the director of the gallery.

We were excited and proud to finally be able to fully share the exhibition with the public. We were building up to this point all the time and hearing the thoughts, praise and observations of our families, our teachers, general visitors and special guests on ‘In Sense Of Place’ definitely gave us feelings of affirmation and accomplishment. After the opening we celebrated with dinner and it was nice to socialise with all the people we worked with for so long.

During the weeks the exhibition was open we gave tours to secondary and primary school students. On most of these tours we spent time listening to the opinions of the students and discussing them, rather than just telling them the exact information. Art should always be based on your own interpretation. At the end of the tours the primary school students drew out their favourite art piece. It was great to see their enthusiasm, they were less inhibited than the older students.

We also held a workshop based on the works in our exhibition. It was set up for kids between the ages of 4 and 12. We were thrilled that 45 kids came and they brought recycled materials in primary and secondary colours. Together we assembled shapes out of the materials they brought, inspired by Tony Cragg’s ‘Canoe’. We also discussed the colour wheel and complementary colours, we put the theory to practice with pastels. Another work we took inspiration from is ‘Mean-mean’ and we made collages.

This was a once in a lifetime experience, we learnt so much about contemporary art and how a gallery works and we so happy to be involved in such a great project.

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tadhg Crowley – Curator of Education – Blog 1

Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of Tadhg headshot 2temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds. A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public. In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2015 over 2500 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses,Preview Evenings and Summer Course. Tadhg has recently presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum and at the inaugural Arts in Education Portal National Day at IMMA. He has lectured on the MA: Art and Process programme at Crawford College of Art & Design as well as the Futures PhD module at University College Cork.

Blog no. 1

When as an earnest 14-year-old, I stood with my family and friends in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Cork City and admired my artwork that was on exhibit, it mattered little that what we were looking at was an oversized postage stamp that crudely depicted my sense of the most important Irish people in history (with a disproportionate number of fellow Corkonians!!). What really mattered, was at that moment I knew that my hard work and talent was being recognised, admired and shared with the public. To experience that sense of pride around my art was pivotal in the way I approached and thought about my creativity for years to come.

In April 2016, Aislinn Spillane, art teacher at Christ King Girls’ Secondary School, contacted me about the possibility of working on a project together and what immediately became clear was that we both wanted her students to have the opportunity to experience a moment like this. Another key motivation for the project was to provide the students with the conditions where they could really investigate a subject, to explore ideas and find exciting methods to create their visual responses.

Gut Instinct: Art, food and feeling’ was an exhibition at the Glucksman that drew on the cutting-edge research of Professor John Cryan, and his colleagues at the APC Microbiome Institute at UCC. Using artworks that explored the materiality of foodstuffs and that tested the boundaries of good taste and revulsion, the exhibition explored how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states.

Gut Instinct presented the ideal starting point for the project and from where the students could begin their own creative journey through ideas of the way they used and thought about food.

In December 2016, the students were introduced to the exhibition, its central themes and we looked at a number of the artworks in detail. After the guided tour, the group had the opportunity to creatively record their initial responses in a printmaking workshop with artist Killian O’Dwyer.

Back in school, the students were provided with additional information on the artists/artworks and on the research of APC. I visited them in early January to discuss the plans for the next stages, principally the film they would make. What was striking about this visit and the discussions with the group was that they had highlighted an area around food and emotions that was not explored in Gut Instinct. The students were drawn to ideas of appearance and the pressures attached, what that means to the way we feel about food and how that could develop to eating disorders. The Gut Instinct curators consciously took the decision not to venture into this field of investigation when developing the exhibition as it strays from APC’s research aims and crucially they felt it was an area that deserves considered investigation and reflection in a separate moment.

Clearly this topic had significance to the group and it was impressive to see that in the prints they created for the exhibition in March 2017, they had looked closely at how they could create images that would articulate their thoughts and concerns.

The students were presented with the challenge of developing a film script that would reflect their thoughts on the exhibition, before returning to the Glucksman in early February for filming. On a Friday morning in February, the students worked together under the guidance of filmmaker Dervla Baker to produce the short film ‘The Power of Taste

The 5th year students at Christ King Girls’ School had their exhibition moment in early March when their artworks went on display at the Glucksman. I hope they too experienced that sense of pride that I felt way back at the beginning of my life in the arts.

Sincere thanks to the art teachers from Christ King Girls’ School – Niamh Rigby, Jodie Kerins and Aislinn Spillane.

For more information on The Power of Taste or the Glucksman Schools Programme please contact education@glucksman.org or visit glucksman.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

!!!! A Journey with our Children

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

This project was a collaboration between early childhood educators at Woodland Park preschool in Westport; Karen O’Brien, Mary Skillington, Joanna Kuruc, Kasia Rymarczyk, Bridgit McNamara, Ciara MacNally, Erszi Whyte and resident visual artist Lucy Hill. The collaboration between artist and early years setting began in 2007. The early years setting was located in a building that was previously a primary school and so had a large site with an excess of classrooms. An arrangement was made to use one of the classrooms as a studio space in exchange for collaborating on visual art projects including creating temporary play environments for the children with materials sourced from the Creative Resource Centre.

This particular documentation project grew out of many conversations. There was a strong desire to try to highlight the very many ephemeral moments at preschool where children display positive learning dispositions that could easily be invisible to adults or even understood as ‘mis-behaviour’. The project was grounded in the belief that very young children are competent, capable learners who demonstrate an explorative attitude as they ‘re/present’ their ideas, thoughts and feelings with multiple mediums. Much of the learning, discoveries, creativity and innovations of very young children happen in front of our eyes but need to be framed in understandable ways in order for adults to fully grasp the power and impact of what is unfolding. So for this project, there was no theme, no direction, no grand plan other than this question of how to capture children’s agency in the tiniest everyday moments that may be deeply impactful as an education tool for adults if framed in an understandable way and so the idea for a book document developed. The book would then provide a reflective tool for children where they could visit and revisit their creations in partnership with peers, educators and their parents.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

The children followed the everyday routines of work and play within the preschool day. During free play children made choices as they selected materials and explored the affordances of these materials. The artist and educators together captured many photographs, conversations and children’s everyday activities over several months. There were weekly meetings which explored children’s lines of enquiry and observed interests. These were followed with discussion on how the documentation was developing, what was being captured, what could be found through knowledge of individual children and the particular schema they may be working within. The relational foundation between educators and children was fundamental to revealing the value of the moments being captured where knowledge of individual children’s interests, personalities and competencies was crucial. The artist as documenter was able to take a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the everyday. The main headings within the document emerged slowly through the editing and discussion process. It felt important to allow sufficient time for the project and so it happened in a very unhurried way over several months. An exhibition was planned for Westport library in order to celebrate the children’s artwork and provide visibility of their learning to the wider community. Key competencies were highlighted and dispositions such as involvement, persistence, problem solving and creativity were exemplified through a display of poster pages.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Artist: My personal experience of the project was an awareness of the delicacy and responsibility implicit in documenting young children’s work and play practices. At all costs we wanted to avoid moments that might frame children from an adult’s aesthetic or that could be seen as a promotional tool. The purpose was to try to get to the core of what was occurring for the children, often using the children’s voice. In the end, the photographs used were all taken by the educators themselves, and included the messiness of the working space, the un-staged every-day. I helped with the design of the document and putting it together but each of the educators also had full access to the editing process and there was much discussion around what should go where and there was no time deadline imposed. Mary took responsibility for the main body of text in the book and Joanna took responsibility for the exhibition design and layout.

Educators: This project provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the learning which took place as children engaged with each other and the environment. Through observation we began to recognise the affordances the environment offered as children engaged with a wide variety of materials. Decisions about what to document was a challenge as there was an abundance of images and narratives collected.
What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Long term collaborations between artists and educators are hugely useful, interesting and valuable scenarios from which children and adults equally stand to benefit and learn.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Artist: This project had a significant impact on my practice. It has led to us collaborating on my current PhD project. Within the research, the focus on what is unfolding for the children can be accessed in a very privileged way, due to the trust and respect that has been established over the past ten years. I am very grateful for the continuous openness, generosity and opportunities to learn.

Educator: The artist provided alternative perspectives on children’s creative and communicative potentials as we worked together to promote children’s developing ability to symbolically represent their ideas with clay, constructions, drawings, and paintings. The artist opened us up to the tools and the need to communicate children’s understandings through various media. As we collected and contemplated transcripts of children’s conversations and detailed renderings of their developing understandings, we also began to refine our own form of symbolic representation. Working with an artist prompted us to advocate for more reciprocal adult–child conversations. Over time, documentation became more integral to our practice, illustrating the principle that culturally constructed ways of life depend on “shared modes of discourse for negotiating differences in meaning and interpretation” (Bruner, 1990, p. 13).

!!!! Guest Blogger: Kotryna Knystautaite – Student – The Arrival – Blog No2

Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select.

All images courtesy of student Grainne Smith

Student Blog – No. 2

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The excitement has become a constant buzzing feeling inside all of us. A lot has happened in the past two weeks, but it was when the delivery truck came, the work we had put into this exhibition became a reality.

The artwork came in precise and ingeniously engineered, sky blue crates. Seeing the magnificent shade of blue increased our impatience to open them up. We learned about the specially modified lorry that transports artwork; the temperature must be kept at a constant 19 degrees celsius, to accustom the artwork to the gallerie’s climate. We also examined the padding on the inside walls of the truck and the cables used to hold the crates. We had to let the crates sit in the gallery for a few days, to allow the artwork to climatise. The excitement was heightened  when the crates were unscrewed and the lid opened. Inside we saw the artwork comfortably and securely packaged in between specially designed foam as to avoid damage from movement. When all the artwork was opened we now could start to consider where to place the work for our exhibition.

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We had already researched themes that could link the artwork together, but seeing them before us sparked other ideas and thoughts. I think it is the unexpected contrast between seeing a photo of the art and standing before it. Some of the pieces shocked us by their size or their vibrant colour. There was a never ending list of factors which we had to consider when hanging our show, we were all so excited despite the amount of decision making as it was finally real, the work was all there in front of us. Now we had to figure out where to place the artwork; lighting, wall space, neighbouring art, the journey of the viewer… etc. Eventually, after  several days thinking and re-thinking, moving work around, having to make difficult choices came the conclusions and solutions. It wasn’t easy as we had to leave some of our work out as it didn’t seem to fit with any of the rest of the art work. This was a decision  that none of us thought we would have to make.

We linked and placed the artwork by themes, contrasting and complementing colours, ideas. Where and why we put the art, but also the art itself carried a message, provoking thoughts, ideas and questions for the viewers.

20161117_122818_editSome of the artwork that we selected for our exhibition required specific allocation. In particular the ‘Canoe’ by Tony Craig needed a large open space and therefore we made one of the easier decisions of placing it downstairs. There the wide white spacious gallery space accented the large colourful sculpture. Which lead to figuring out what would go with this sculpture. The Rachel MacLean ‘The Lion and The Unicorn’ needed a dark place with no noise pollution- luckily the Highlanes Gallery had just the right space the ‘cement room’ with the required conditions for this piece. Another artwork in our exhibition in which we had to put extra placement consideration into, was the Richard Long sculpture, ‘Stone Line’- this piece also required a large space all to itself. The upstairs of the gallery was painted a royal blue, which we thought complimented the grey in the cornish stones. We were lucky enough to search the Drogheda Municipal art collection for art that would work well with this particular piece.

Our exhibition is a walk through a landscape, a journey of someone trying to find their place.

In the next blog we will tell you all about; the exhibition opening, the tours and workshop.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Lucy Hill – Artist in Residence – Blog No2

lucy_hill__paint_by_alison_laredo_3Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

First virtual visit.

As part of our training before the project with the children began, Carmel (my project partner teacher in Scoil Eoin, Tralee) and I scheduled in a couple of technology ‘play dates’. This helped us work out any glitches, internet speed, how we related, communicated and looked. My studio space is in the Customs House Studios in Westport and at the moment I’m working on a research project so, it looks (to my own children at least) like I’m plotting the downfall of a small country…charts, maps, sticky notes, colour coding, a lot of chopped up text stuck on the walls…maybe not what the class expect an artist’s studio to look like……I needn’t have worried…..they were far too busy with the work in the classroom.

For our first virtual visit we had decided that we would use a selection of materials in the classroom that I had brought for the ‘actual’ visit. We had separated each material into a numbered pocket folder. We then had a lottery selection with me matching each child to a number/material. The question we asked was ‘What might materials do to each other?’ so in teams of two initially, the children devised visual sequences of possible interactions between their materials and set up a photo shoot. Then we got nicely complicated in teams of four, then eight. They drew with pencils and markers as they planned, and again once they had set up their material interactions.

 

I actually found the virtual aspect quite tricky. It’s entirely natural when you are physically in a room full of children with creative action unfolding, to be able to tune in, to listen, watch, play, interact and try to read and understand the atmosphere being generated…….but virtually, it’s a little disconcerting. I was trying to see around corners, onto desks, into hands….it was like wearing vision restricting goggles. The up-side was that when the children were at the screen talking to me, they really had to explain themselves clearly and I could see some of their ideas being solidified for them in that process. I found it very funny too as some children couldn’t help but fix their hair as they talked to me/themselves or try to surprise me by popping up out of nowhere.

The photo shoots were very exciting. They were expert at setting up clear uncluttered shots, some making sophisticated stop motion sequences. They happened at the back of the classroom so I had no control at all over how they were progressing and no idea what the images would look like. And then they took their materials outside to see how would they behave or change with the inclusion of the weather and the school yard. They waved me good bye and switched me off. I waited anxiously for half an hour. At last, they switched me back on and while taking off coats and fixing wind swept hair, they told me about how they had got on. The photos they took were fantastic. In our discussions, a question had come up about ‘pixel art’ so after the session was over, I played around with pixelating some of their photos, I hope they like the results.

In our next virtual session, we are going to ask ‘What might materials do to us?’

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!!!! Ireland’s first history book written and illustrated by primary school children

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership 

Across an Open Field is the first Irish history book written and illustrated by children, revealing unique accounts and personal insights into Ireland’s past. Over 300 children from 10 primary schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland investigated the events of 1912-1922 during a two-year project led by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership. Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, the book project took place with children aged 8-12 in schools in Antrim, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Monaghan and Tyrone. Across an Open Field was launched by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D. on November 25th in Kilkenny Education Centre.

To create the publication, the children became action researchers within their own communities, each school taking a different direction as the children found their own areas of interest and exploration. Several schools engaged a local historian to support them in their research and the long-term nature of the project provided the scope for the children to look beyond the received myths and perceptions around historical events.

Across an Open Field captures the children’s fascinations across global and national happenings, local events and family stories in the 1912-1922 era. Some children were drawn to social change and economic development, and explorations included the Suffragette movement, transportation, workers’ rights and the children of the 1913 Lockout. The minutiae behind global events such as World War I were another source of intrigue. We learn about family histories and the role of blood relations during The Easter Rising and The War of Independence. Other children were captured by a single story – from pioneer aviator Denys Corbett Wilson to the Clones Shootings – which they chose to explore collectively in more detail.

Paul Fields, Director of Kilkenny Education Centre, said: ‘This publication demonstrates the commonality, humanity and concerns of our nation, all written and drawn by children. It offers a platform for historical discussion about our nation, our people, and how our children understand its evolution, development, emergence and identity.

Fíonán Carolan, aged 12, St Joseph’s BNS, Carrickmacross, Monaghan, said: ‘When the project started I asked my Dad if he had any relations in the war or anything to do with the Easter Rising. I didn’t expect to have any connection. It was very interesting to find out how they lived. I’ve become passionate about history, the Rising, the War, Michael Collins, the Titanic and the Lusitania.’

Linda O’Sullivan, Teacher at St Joseph’s BNS, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, said: ‘I feel that children have developed a wonderful sense of how history can leap off the page and come alive for them from this project.’

Marie O’Donoghue of the Education Authority, Northern Ireland, said: ‘The pioneering methods of Kids’ Own forge a rich environment where creativity is nurtured and developed. When children are placed in this type of environment they never cease to amaze us. They shine with their ability to think for themselves, to solve problems and to notice something that we would never think of. The depth and breadth of the learning that the children are experiencing is tangible. This is education at its best.’

Orla Kenny, Director of Kids’ Own, said: ‘This publication provides a unique and significant resource as a first history-book publication developed by children as part of the commemoration initiative. The title of the book is drawn from the children’s own words – from a story about World War One – but as the title, it seeks to convey history as an open field of investigation. We hope that it offers a stimulus for continued dialogue and learning, and inspires children everywhere to have a deeper connection with our history and our culture.

Across an Open Field is published by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership in association with Kilkenny Education Centre (representing the Association of Teacher Education Centres in Ireland) and the Education Authority, Northern Ireland. The children’s historical research is documented on a dedicated website which includes case studies and videos capturing their voices and perspectives: 100yearhistory.com

The publication is available from kidsown.ie.

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Kotryna Knystautaite & Niamh Woods – Student Blog Post No1

Kotryna Knystautaite from St Oliver’s Community College and Niamh Woods from Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, along with 10 other students have been working in partnership with the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and with the British Council as part of Student Select. The students involved have selected and curated an exhibition, which opens Friday the 25th of November, at 7pm.

Student Blog – No. 1

Nearing the middle of our Transition Year, our art teachers, Kieran Gallagher (St. Oliver’s) and Áine Curran (Our Lady’s College), told us we would be collaborating in the curation of an art exhibition for the Highlanes Gallery, here in Drogheda. Before we started this project, we didn’t know much about what a curator did; how much work and research was involved in creating an exhibition. We were always the artists, but never would we have thought of being curators. To our first few meetings at the Highlanes, we came in filled with curiosity, intrigue and excitement- and these have only intensified coming closer to the final countdown. At the first few meetings, we looked at the British Council’s Collection for artwork that we liked. Then we discussed why we admired these pieces; we spoke of colours, mediums and what the imagery made us feel, think. We made lists of the art we desired and sent it out to the British Council. Unfortunately, some of the artwork was unavailable – but we kept looking until we found other works that we liked.

During the summer, we got the chance to go out to Dublin and visit a few art galleries. We collected our own research on things like how tours were given, lighting and labelling. The information we gathered would be applicable to our exhibition and it was helpful to see how these galleries were run. Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane was the first gallery we visited. We had a quick but informative tour as time was limited. Then our enthusiastic tour guide at The Little Museum of Dublin gave us a very interesting tour through Stephen’s Green. The Kerlin Gallery was next on our list. We all agreed on how unique and beautiful the gallery space was. We then went from the Kerlin gallery to another contemporary gallery, The Douglas Hyde Gallery. After that, we visited the RHA, which was filled with compelling works. The National Gallery was displaying the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci at this time which we had the chance to see. Lastly we were invited to the opening of an exhibition in Farmleigh. The trip gave us invaluable experience for what is to come.

When a final list of the artwork was agreed on, we had to link all this artwork to a theme. Luckily, the works we’ve chosen did in fact have numerous themes combining them. We also had the privilege of choosing works from the Drogheda Municipal Art collection. Then we moved on to the important task of naming the exhibition. There was many ingenious suggestions made, but in the end “In Sense Of Place”, we felt defined our whole perception of these artworks. We not only had to unite the artworks to a theme, but also the artists to each other. We did extensive background research on these artists, their work, their style and their art movements.

Now with less than two weeks until showtime; the work has doubled, but also our enthusiasm and passion.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Lucy Hill – Artist in Residence – Post No1

Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children's art exhibition 'paint' at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Lucy Hill completed an M.F.A at Winchester School of Arts in Barcelona having previously studied painting at Crawford College of Art in Cork. She has won several awards (George Campbell Memorial Award, Thomas Dammann Award), public art commissions (Wexford & Mayo County Councils) and exhibited in solo and selected group shows (EV+A, Claremorris Open). She has been working with children through a wide variety of projects and organisations for fifteen years. She is in the second year of her practice based PhD at NCAD researching material engagement in early childhood.

Image: Artist Lucy Hill examines her Death Jars, part of her interactive Children’s art exhibition ‘paint’ at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar. Photo Alison Laredo

Artist in Residence – Virtually There Project – Blog Post No.1

Our project began when we met on our first training day in Portlaoise. We were set a task to create something together using the available materials (markers, paper, tape, pencils). It was a gorgeous sunny day so we opted to take the materials outside. There was a breeze that kept catching the papers we had laid on the ground, so we weighted them with different found objects: sticks, stones, leaves. A woodlouse crawled across one of them and we followed its trail with a pencil line. There were linear cracks in the paving stones. We traced shadows from the strong sunlight. We ‘painted’ with the available moss. We found that the breeze, the light and the ‘wild life’ made us follow the materials. There was an equality to that process between artist, teacher, materials and environment that we both responded to. That idea of ‘Following Materials’ became a clear starting point for our project with the children.

I am very lucky to have a Creative Resource Centre in Castlebar, so I loaded up the car before travelling to Tralee with card, elastic, string, paper, cotton, hessian, plastic, tubing, test jars, tape, lids, bottles, cones, fabric, netting, black board, beads, ribbon, chalk, pestle and mortars, sieves, glues, stones, sticks, wool, felt. As is to be expected, the children responded really well to the explosion of different materials brought into their classroom. The freedom to physically move around the room also played an important part as did the decision to take the entire school day for the project. The materials generated an excitement and flow of possibility and so Carmel and I became very much secondary to the general activity. We were able to help with individual creative engineering problems as they arose and to watch as the materials led the children on a wide and varied series of routes sparked by their own passions and knowledge. When we had finished and were reflecting on the day, the children’s questions and comments were rooted in their own experiences and so we had a really insightful set of statements to think about, which will definitely spark the next sessions.

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Getting to know the children through their working methods with the materials gives a privileged insight into their unique personalities but also for me as a visitor, into their deep bonds as a class group. I usually work with children outside of school environments and so I was really struck by how close and knowing their working relationships are. Also, the introduction of materials that invite exciting ideas rather than particular skills generates an equality that is really interesting to watch. The children all seemed to be on an equal footing, with no-one being selected as ‘the best’ (which may put them under an expectant pressure or hold others in their shadow a little). Everyone got on with their own ideas unconcerned and unintimidated, thanks to the level field introduced by the new materials. Carmel and I were free to check in with each other regularly as to how it was all going, which is a lovely reassuring thing for us as adults that hugely benefits the children by really focusing on and protecting the creative flow. In terms of my relationship with the class, I gratefully accepted all their warm and generous words during our reflection but I’m very aware that the real positivity lies in the natural, exciting entanglements between the materials and the children themselves. I’m really interested to see how it translates or is transformed through the addition of the virtual element next week.

!!!! ‘Dublin Ships’ Public Art Engagement Programme

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Written by Cliona Harmey with input from creative collaborators & teachers on the project

As the artist developing the public art project Dublin Ships (commissioned by Dublin City Council) I wanted an engagement project to run in parallel within the duration of the art work. Dublin Ships was a temporary public artwork generated via a live electronic information system (AIS) which tracked the locations of ships coming in and out of Dublin Port. The names of the most recently arrived and most recently departed ships from Dublin Port were displayed on two large LED screens sited at the Scherzer Bridges close to the Samuel Beckett Bridge over a nine month period. The artwork was concerned with the meanings and poetic qualities of ship names which included references to maritime trade, cargoes, historical figures and distant places.

Together with the commissioners, Ruairí Ó Cuív and Liz Coman, we decided to work with children living locally who were potentially experiencing the artwork, in their day to day lives, over the extended period of time.

We approached three experienced and innovative people, artist Martina Galvin, visual arts educator Katy Fitzpatrick and philosopher Aislinn O’ Donnell to work on the project. All of them had existing or previous relationships with the schools in the area and a familiarity with the locale. The initial framework for our planning was finding different ways to enable students to respond to ideas prompted by the artwork. Through collaborative team planning and an ongoing dialogue, we designed a series of four class group sessions, which included using verbal discussion, hands-on making, notebook work and an experiential field trip.

Martina Galvin, Artist

As I was at the philosophical discussions in the classrooms, and as mesmerised as the children on the port visits, I was able to gauge what areas to focus on in the workshops in the classrooms.  Although I concentrated on the children creating their own public art work for the port, there were many strands that could be expanded on in an artistic and creative way.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

The engagement project was developed with four schools on both sides of the Liffey. Therefore the fact that many of the students had an existing awareness of the artwork was very helpful in terms of generating discussion and bouncing ideas around as the project progressed.

The project began with discussions led by Aislinn and Katy, which explored the potiential for many different forms of art and was an important springboard for opening up thinking at the start of the project. This initial part of the project also included imagining and speculating on the visible and invisible elements of signal and communications based technologies that surround us in our everyday lives. This sowed an important seed for later abstract drawings.

During the initial phase of the project there was a field trip to the port with Martina Galvin and Charlie Murphy, Communications Manager of Dublin Port Company. This visit allowed the young people to see behind the walls of a facility close to their locality and also to see operations in the control room. The port visit was a very exciting experiential highlight. One group got to see the arrival of a large cruise ship “Carribean Princess” up close from within the control room. This particular school is opposite the port and regularly sees shipping traffic at a distance from the windows of the school across from the other side of the river.

After these discussions, children worked with visual artist Martina Galvin to come up with initial ideas for their own public artworks. These included many imaginative responses, some of which also took the form of experiences or tours. Other suggestions included artwork for 3 dancers, a skatepark as an artwork, an artwork that might take you back to the time of the dinosaurs, as well as artworks designed for specific locations.

The young people kept individual project notebooks to store their ideas and gather their research. Myself and Martina discussed with the children the ways in which artists’ use notebooks. We brought some examples of our own notebooks to show them. The use of personal notebooks was a simple but very effective methodology giving students some sense of agency and personal investment in the project.

Back in the classrooms, we used photographs recorded by Martina as prompts to jog pupil’s memories and to initiate discussion of their experience of the port and to recount what it was like to see behind the scenes.

Marina Galvin, Artist

The “notebook’ as the collector of this rich array of materials and ideas, was a great way to give the children individual freedom but yet not lose their responses and creative ideas. I did provide them with a rich and diverse set of materials in the workshops, and this definitely helped move them from ‘traditional illustrations’ of what they saw, to developing imaginitive ideas. I took extensive photographs of the port trips and re visited the trip using these photographs to bring the port back to the classroom – ensuring we were not working from a blank canvas. For instance, they had a “smell” page in the notebooks and they put drops lavender or lemon grass oil on their notebook page. This corresponded directly back to the very, very strong smell of the grain storage depots in the port. We were all in awe that this grain is the only source of wheat for all the bread made in Ireland that we all consume!!  They also wrote out ideas, as I emphasised that ideas can be thought and written, not necessarily made. This allowed greater creative freedom. There were numerous examples of very individual responses, and I think that was part of the highlight of the project for me – enabling the children to have very individual creative process free from the necessity to materialise an idea.

Mary Sunderland, teacher from St Lawrence’s Girls National School, Sherriff Street, Dublin 1 

What I loved most was how the project utilised the children’s surroundings to inform and lead the project. The children and I experienced things that we never would normally and all of them being on our doorstep. This included learning about Dublin Port and Dublin Ships. It was a thoroughly enjoyable project.

After the port visit some teachers initiated project work in classtime that happened between the port visit and the artist sessions. Some extraordinary abstract sculptural and graphic elements which grew out of material exploration and the discussion of visible and invisible elements.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The children’s discussions and descriptions of the port visit were really lovely. Highlights included the strong smell of grain being delivered, the control room itself, looking through binoculars out to sea, talking to an incoming ship, and speaking/singing through megaphones.

One challenging aspect was the sheer volume of work generated over the course of four sessions with facilitators. The children produced a vast amount of material that illustrated their thinking and responded to ideas and materials. The editing was quite a challenging process and a little unwieldy. At the initial stage of the project we were unsure exactly what form the final output would take, in retrospect our job would have been easier if we had some clarity on final form earlier.

While the project was happening the four teachers involved were very committed and active collaborators. Some of the teachers kept discussion going and came up with complementary activities which happened in the time between sessions.

After the summer break it was challenging to re-engage the schools in the project as three out of four of the teachers involved were on leave of absence and new teachers were starting with the class groups. These teachers had not experienced the main aspects of the project and so picking up and further developing themes encountered was very difficult.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Working in parallel and with support from the other practitioners and supportive teachers was really crucial and drove the engagement project.

I compiled the collated information into an ‘Online Showcase’ which offered an overview of some of the key questions we explored. We tried to give a flavour of our approach, which we compiled from audio recordings together with images and drawings by the participants.

Myself and Liz Coman returned to one class group to show them the online showcase and receive their feedback. In this discussion the impact of the project was obvious as the children shared strong visual and verbal memories of their experience. The importance of the use of notebooks as a tool to gather thinking as research was commented on by the children. When we showed the online showcase to the children we discussed how I had selected images and sound pieces from a vast amount of content – curating their work in a sense. With a longer engagement time we could have developed this aspect of choice and curation of the content more directly with the children.

The collated images of their drawings into video clips got strong responses from the children. A silent image sequence of their abstract drawings stimulated a huge level of quiet concentration and seemed one of the most effective ways of collating this information for group response and class room use.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

For me as an artist the project enabled mediation and discussion of the public art work with the local school community. It also provided valuable feedback and helped us gauge on some level the effectiveness of the public art project overall. Children also engaged in discussions with parents or grandparents around the work and also helped to mediate the work to the wider community for us.

The engagement project also introduced the children to the inner workings of the port, a space which is in their backyard and which has a legacy in their community. They engaged directly in discussion of what ships come in and out, the cargo involved, and the names of ships.

The project introduced children to the concept of different forms contemporary art work can take. The project also allowed children time and space to make a creative response to their experience of the visiting the port, seeing the artwork and understanding how it was made.

The collaboration between the creative facilitators, the teachers and staff of Dublin City Public Art Programme, Dublin City Arts Office, and Dublin Port enabled a degree of peer to peer learning with different areas of expertise coming together to support the children’s experience.

 

!!!! 100 Year History Project – Children as researchers

The 100-year history project is a creative commemoration project, engaging children and teachers from 10 schools in Ireland and Northern Ireland with the Decade of Commemorations, through research and creative activity alongside a professional artist and writer. The project is phased to encompass child-led research, exploring the wider political events of the decade 1912-22 through the lens of local and family histories.

The 100 Year History publication will be launched in September 2016.

The project aims to:

  1. Support a way of working that involves children as action researchers within their own communities and that recognises the value of the arts for breaking down cultural barrier.
  2. Make a unique commemorative book publication to provide a legacy that promotes children’s inclusion in commemorations, and the power of the child’s voice to challenge the perceptions of adults.
  3. Engage children with the decade of commemorations through child-led research and creative activity alongside a professional artist and writer.
  4. Challenge received myths and perceptions around historical events from 1912-22, and break the culture of silence surrounding these events.

Who was involved?

The project is managed and led by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, in conjunction with the Kilkenny Education Centre, Blackrock Education Centre, Dublin West Education Centre, Limerick Education Centre, and the Belfast Education and Library Board. For 10 primary schools North and South of Ireland with artist Ann Donnelly and writer Mary Branley.  The project is funded by The Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.

The 12 primary schools included;

  • Northampton National School, Kinvara, Co. Galway
  • Laghey Primary School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
  • Inchicore National School, Dublin 10
  • Hazelwood Integrated PS, Belfast
  • Lisnafunchin National School, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny
  • Gaelscoil na Bhfál, Falls Road, Belfast
  • Nicker National School, Old Pallas, Co. Limerick
  • Holy Rosary Primary School, Belfast
  • St Joseph’s Boys National School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan
  • St Brigid’s National School, Dublin 4

How did you begin?

Phase one of the project began with an initial teacher meeting, with teachers from schools, north and south, artist Ann Donnelly & writer Mary Branley, representatives from the partner organisations. The aim of the meeting was to provide a space for teachers participating in the project to come together to begin to discuss and plan the project.

The feedback from the teachers on the day reflected both their excitement about the project, as well as their fears and concerns, in terms of supporting the children through a research process while being mindful of the political sensibilities involved;

“Only British history is taught to the pupils in my school. I am excited to teach the children some history about Northern Ireland, especially within their own locality. Children learn a lot of British history but have never visited the settings of these historical events. By learning about local history the children can compare now and then.”

“There was a positive sense of schools working as part of a group, with help from writer and artist.”

“Rich historic surroundings around our school in Inchicore/ Kilmainham. I am excited and enthusiastic about beginning the project and exploring, 1. How the children interpret these events explored, and 2. How it can be linked to personal/ local history, and also how it can be compared to their experiences of the world today – perspective of an innocent eye.”

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

This work is not just about the facts and stories that have been uncovered, although some of these are full of interest and worth: above all, the project needed to be child-led. This approach has required a huge amount of resourcefulness from all concerned, as often the material doesn’t exist in a form that is easily accessible, particularly for younger children or those with English as a second language. The role of the writer and artist was in supporting children and teachers in their research, encouraging them to dig deeper into local and family history.

Writer Mary Branley

The actual historical knowledge the children researched through different means and sources. In two schools so far the entire class focused on place related incidents, i.e. The Lockout of 1913 in Haddington Rd Dublin, The Clones Shooting in 1922 (in which the newly established border plays a big part), and the arrival of the Belgian Refugees in Monaghan, Carrickmacross. In preparing these stories for publication, children, teacher, artist and writer worked together to tell the story orally, writer transcribed, we revisited the story for accuracy, completeness, further details and context. Once agreement had been reached on the written story, the children selected the images or aspects of the story they wanted to illustrate. This kind of collective working meant both a higher level of knowledge was attained, and shared, and that a high level of ownership of both text and illustrations was reached. The role of the adults was to support the children in their line of inquiry, rather than leading the children in any particular direction.

Pupil from St Joseph’s Boys’ National School, Carrickmacross

“There has been a lot of work researching, searching the internet and books and doing drawings. But it should be spectacular at the end to see what other kids have done”.

Pupils from Gaelscoil na Bhfál, Belfast

“We walked from school to City Cemetery up the Falls Road. It took us five minutes. It’s a very old cemetery. We saw graves from 1789. We first had to go big gates with statues on either side of the wall, we followed the trail to find the graves.

The highlight of our day was climbing through bushes to find what graves there were. Someone leaned over to pull the ivy vines away from the headstone. We saw a grave over 200 years old.

We also found the grave of Viscount Perrie’s. He was in charge of Harland and Wolf during the building of the Titanic”.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Artist Ann Donnelly

The children’s enthusiasm was exciting in every school, I loved seeing real objects and photos, these really brought things to life for me. Or hearing about something that happened just around the corner, amazing stories and ideas. Louis from Kilkenny discovered from visiting historian that his great aunt was the first woman to drive an armoured car. Children in the Limerick class told me about rebel ambushes a few fields away and about great aunts who were shot as German informers near Lublin in Poland. I was challenged to ensure that these amazing little stories did not get swept away in a big important narrative strand.

Writer Mary Branley

School visits are always exciting and it’s a privilege to be welcomed wherever we have gone. It was a delight to meet individual children who had found out about the lives of their great great grandparents, or other family members, and conveyed their amazement in looking at artefacts, like photos, letters from the trenches in World War 1 and even a beautifully boxed deck of playing cards. It made history come alive to make connections with family members, in some cases with the same names as themselves and clear family resemblances.

The sensitivity of the history itself, both of the formation of the Republic of Ireland and the creation of Northern Ireland challenged us. As one teacher explained it “History is not just fact, but perspectives on the same stories, depending on your sources. Then there are opinions and judgments on the facts which we are living with to this day. It’s not easy for children to understand this, but their perspectives are also part of the learning process.” We need to be aware of the pitfalls of simple jingoistic narratives that essentially continue the status quo, and never go deeper into the complexities of issues that might challenge us, and lead us to question our mono cultural perspectives. But there has never been a better time to investigate the past, with so many and varied sources now available.

Teacher Linda O’Sullivan

“I feel that children have developed a wonderful sense of how history can leap off the page and come alive for them from this project”.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Writer Mary Branley

Winston Churchill famously described history, as “just one damn thing after another.”  This is both true and very misleading. Facts are facts, but they don’t exist by themselves, such as neat little sums,like 2+2=4. There are causes, consequences, terrible events, and further reprisals in an ongoing saga of power and politics. Then there are the ordinary people caught up in battles for equality, rights, justice and the wish to lead a peaceful life. This can be a daunting task for children to negotiate. But how worthwhile to allow children to connect with and make sense of the past.

Pupil from St Joseph’s Boys’ National School, Carrickmacross

“My Grandad has a chest of stuff about PJ Cassidy. I felt excited because someone in our family was in such a big event and I had real thing from 100 years ago to show the boys in the class”.

 

 

!!!! Virtually There

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Vanya:

I was asked by Kids’ Own if I would like to rejoin the Virtually There residency programme again with a new school in Tralee. I was delighted to be part of it again as it is such a unique project. The teacher, Marie O’Connell and myself settled on a starting point (the old school buildings that used to be the schools in Ardfert). It was a starting idea that would hopefully help link the curriculum, was relevant to the area and therefore would hopefully speak to the class, and that was something that had many options and something we could both get exited about as well.

Marie:

The project started when I met with Vanya in Dublin. I suggested that a good point for beginning might be local history as our village is steeped in history. It contains may old ruins. There is also an old school building in the village. This old school closed 40 years ago and our present school opened 40 years ago. We felt this was a good area to focus on as history lends itself to lots of integration with many other subjects. Vanya agreed that this might be a good place to start as it tied in with her art as well. We both agreed that even though this was our starting point the project might take other directions.

Our first session happened when Vanya, our artist, visited the school. One of the activities that day was walking down the village to visit the old school. So that’s how it started. That visit was the basis for maths work – estimation, length, geography – map work, history – researching, working as an historian, English – writing reports on many of the sessions with Vanya and lots of group work, collaboration between the children and artist and teacher. The ICT aspect was very exciting for the children. They were amazed the first day but they became so accustomed to seeing Vanya on the whiteboard that it became ‘norm’ from then on.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Vanya:

The process of the residency is one of openness and collaboration, listening and process rather than results. This makes for a great creative environment where anything can happen and where all ideas and methods of making are allowed. We used all sorts of ways to make enquiries, asked lots of questions, and tried lots of new methods of making; All to help us look at things with new eyes. The online element of the project can pose many challenges but gives such ownership to the children and the teacher, which to me is of amazing value. The virtual presence in the classroom teaches me to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible and asks me to be both very prepared but stay open simultaneously.

Marie:

Seeing the children so engrossed in the activities and being so enthusiastic made me smile. What I found challenging during the activities was making sure that I was giving the children the correct instructions given to me by Vanya. In other words that we were both on the same page.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Vanya:

Apart from the joy of working with this great class, full of great and curious minds the projects also reflects elements of studio work that is ongoing for the artist which makes it a uniquely integrated and allows for so much more, like more philosophical questions, scientific ideas being put to the test and other more open ended queries. In our particular project we asked for instance ‘what history is made of’ and explored notions around fact and fiction, interpretation and perception.

Marie:

It is very interesting to work with another person in the classroom as this is rare enough in teaching except for areas of learning support/resource. The teacher is usually in charge of picking content/activities to explore with the class but during a project like this it is a real collaboration between the teacher, artist and pupils. Discussion and being open to others’ suggestions is very important.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Vanya:

For me my skills around fine-tuning the process of ‘feeling our way through’ in other words: Not planning too far ahead to allow for all the wonderful things in between, have vastly increased. It has taught me to trust the openness and to have faith that there is great meaning, inspiration and excitement in all the little things we come across.

Marie:

I think my focus on ‘the process’ has changed. I can see the importance in it and the importance in allowing the children to have their say and direct the project. It might be a different direction than I had in mind at the beginning and as a result a different outcome but I’ve learned that that is fine as well. There may not be an end product.

Other information.

Vanya:

As part of the project/ residency an online journal, to document the process, is kept by all involved; This not only allows for the children, artists and teachers to follow each others projects, it gives parents a window into the richness of the children’s thinking during the process. It also shows additional personal insights, which might otherwise be lost.

Marie:

As a teacher I believe in helping each child to reach their full potential through exposing them to as many enriching and varied experiences as possible. I feel that the children benefit as a result of being challenged. This awakens their creativity, imagination, problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are very important for life in the 21st century. I also enjoy trying something new and watching the benefit and enjoyment that the children get from it. The Virtually There project provided a great opportunity to integrate many curriculum areas and pedagogies.

!!!! Room 13

Briefly tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did it get started?

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

Room 13 is a well-established and renowned arts education programme, which began in Fort William, UK, and now exists in schools throughout the world. I was interested in the school studio concept for a long time and curious about how it would work in practice. I had consulted with artists and schools to assess their experiences of traditional artist-in-residence projects and to identify their cultural needs in going forward. I knew that artists and schools were interested in exploring alternative models of arts-in-education and Room 13 encompassed all the principles we were interested in upholding.

Orla Kelly had a keen interest in Room 13 also and following much thought and dialogue we embarked on visiting the original Room 13 in Caol Primary School, Fortwilliam, to see what a student run art studio looked like. It was a wonderful visit and we were greatly inspired by the children and artist we met there. Their studio is hosted by the primary school but autonomous in all other aspects. It is managed by the students and self-sustainable.

On our return to Fingal we set about meeting with Dublin 15 schools interested in the possibility of establishing a similar studio model in their school. Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS in Blanchardstown and Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS were eager and excited about the potential of such a project. They had a strong understanding of the child-centred ethos of Room 13 and they were prepared to provide their students with a suitable space within the school to be transformed into a working studio.

After some planning the door of an empty classroom was opened to artist Orla Kelly and to Anne Cradden in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS and Tyrrelstown ETNS respectively and to each child and teacher in the school to use as a creative studio. Orla and Anne began introducing themselves to the children and teachers in their respective schools by delivering playful artistic sessions over several weeks. During this time the children became familiar with the artist, the art materials, facilities, and the freedom attached to this new space within their school. Relationships formed over time and interest groups organically emerged. Fifth class in both schools established themselves as lead protagonists in developing the studios. Initial dialogue focused on key questions around ‘studio’ and ‘environment’. We compared the spaces we share with others to the spaces we occupy and enjoy alone. We reflected on how our environment influences our behaviour and activities. Together we considered the characteristics of an effective studio environment in a school context and the idea of a ‘shared studio’ as a site supported by a community of people, for thinking and making.

A workspace within the Studio ~ Scoil Bhríde Cailíní was given to artist Orla Kelly for her own personal practice by the students. Like other Room 13 projects, the artist’s role is to offer guidance to the line of enquiry lead by the children and to scaffold their creative curiosity. The studio is for those who want to engage with it and is not compulsory for any child or teacher to participate in studio activities.

Cultural visits to exhibitions, places of interest and professional artists’ studios are an important element of the programme. Already the children have visited and explored Draíocht’s artist studio; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Frances Bacon’s Studio and works; IMMA artists’ studios and collection; and they intend on visiting the NCAD graduate show this June. The site visits provide the children and teachers with opportunities to experience contemporary art outside of the school environment and inform their own investigations back in the Studio.

Renee Moran, Visual Arts Coordinator in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní
Reflections on Room 13

We were delighted to hear that we had been chosen to take part in Room 13 after expressing an interest in the project to Fingal Arts Office. Admittedly, after the initial excitement, I began to grow anxious, as I really wanted it to work. Everything that had enthused me about the project also posed a considerable challenge. On a practical level, what would a working art studio demand of a primary school? Could we meet the demands? How would we work with the artist? Would the artist suit our school, would we suit the artist? Would our pupils embrace Room 13 or be confused or at best, bemused by it? Could the rules of a school be relaxed enough for the idealogy of Room 13? Would our staff be willing to give up valuable class time for the art workshops?

Thankfully, these challenges were met and dealt with effectively over the school year. First and foremost our artist, Orla Kelly, has been a pleasure to work with. She has built a wonderful rapport with the pupils and teachers of our school and the importance of this cannot be underestimated as it has fostered a creative and collaborative environment in which to work. Both teachers and pupils enjoy Orla’s enthusiastic and encouraging approach to work within Room 13. The staff of Scoil Bhríde has supported Room 13 from the beginning and was eager to take part in all of the workshops. Class teachers were flexible with their own timetables to allow for this and support teachers were encouraged to bring smaller groups to the studio. We consider ourselves privileged to have such a space within our school where pupils can go and make art in a very different way to the classroom environment. The pupils absolutely love Room 13. Scoil Bhríde is a primary school and therefore operates within certain constraints. As a staff, we were curious about how the somewhat informal approach of Room 13 would work out. It has been interesting and uplifting to see that the pupils, in particular the senior pupils, have adopted a respectful attitude to the studio. Rather than taking advantage of the freedom offered within the studio and wasting the opportunity afforded to them, they have embraced this and used this in the spirit with which it was intended. They experiment, explore and enjoy the process rather than focusing solely on the end product.

The biggest change with regard to Room 13 is that we now have an art studio within our school and this has become normal! Room 13 has worked its way seamlessly into the life of Scoil Bhríde. We have all adopted it as something that we can all avail of. Orla Kelly is a valued colleague and Room 13 is our studio.

Sinéad Toomey, Fifth Class Teacher Scoil Bhríde Cailíní

What aspects of the project made you smile?

Seeing the children make art with very few limitations or inhibitions. As a class teacher, you try to encourage children to be as creative as possible. However, in a classroom setting this is not always feasible as firstly, there are the time constraints of setting up the classroom for art and tidying up afterwards. Secondly, in the classroom it is generally more practical to focus on one strand of the art curriculum at a time as it is easier to manage art supplies. This also means that the children tend to have to finish their art in a limited space of time before moving on to a new strand.

With Room 13, the art supplies are ready and waiting for the children. They know where to find everything they need and where to put them when they are finished. They’re not afraid to get paint on the floor or desks! They can spend as much time as they want on a project. In this way they are exploring all of the strands of the curriculum on their own terms, often mixing and blending media. They are less concerned with getting things “wrong” and work more confidently and intuitively.

What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

One of the main aspects of the Room 13 project is letting the children take control of their own learning and encouraging them to be more independent. During the first couple of weeks most of the children really took to this and started working straight away. Others found it difficult. Some children would flit from paint to clay to fabric, starting an art activity within the studio and leaving it half way through. Others would wander around the room, struggling for inspiration. As a teacher I found it very difficult not to intervene and give them a project to complete.

However, I have noticed a huge change in these children since the project started. Now when they come to Room 13 they spend a few minutes looking through art books or observing other pieces of art for inspiration before getting started. Often they will have ideas before they come into the room, or have something they began the day/week before that they want to finish. I don’t think that these children would have developed these types of skills if they weren’t given the chance to work independently.

Artist Orla Kelly ~ Reflections on Room 13

I am a contemporary artist working presently with painting and drawing. On a regular day I can have about 20 drop in visitors to my shared studio space in Scoil Bhríde Cailíní to see what I am working on, to chat about art, materials, constructing and engineering, or just to give a hug. It’s not a regular studio environment, as the average age of those I share with are 8-11 years old but it is a perfectly dynamic and rich one,  offering daily crits, posing meaningful aesthetic challenges, providing an enthusiastic and vocal audience for developing work.

The studio is almost always an ordered mess which is perfectly fine. After we visited Francis Bacon’s studio at The Hugh Lane Gallery on one of our cultural visits, we agreed that sometimes a certain amount of chaos is required for creating, although we didn’t want to reach his level just yet. When the young artists and I work together in the space we usually do so on the floor. It means we are all on the same level, investigating together. The conversations we share are a mixture of student –teacher technical inquiry, philosophical wonderings, aesthetic meanderings probing the nature of the arts and life. It is a generous and honest environment.

How do you feel about Room 13?

Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS,  10 – 11 yrs

‘Really happy and lucky’
‘I enjoy that its messy as it means we’re very creative’
‘You get to use lots of art materials and you can work on any art project you want’
‘I’m so happy that Orla and Julie are in our school because without them we would not be able to do anything we want concerning our own creativity’
‘I’m glad to have Orla in my school; she is very kind and helpful’
‘When Orla is there I feel welcome she inspires me a lot, when I don’t know what to do she helps me work out ideas’
‘Sometimes it’s challenging, once I had to go and use the hot glue and Orla was there to rescue me’
‘It feels really fun and exciting Orla is very talented’
‘I enjoy all the art with my friends’

Aoife Coffey, Arts Coordinator, Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS

What aspects of the project made you smile?

The project is a wonderful opportunity for children to experience what I would consider real art. It made me smile to see my own student from the ASD unit burst through the door every morning with a new creation he had made and to listen to him describe the process of how he made it. There is very much a sense amongst the children that Room 13 is theirs. I’m looking forward to watching this project grow and expand over the next few years. It is an exciting time for us in Tyrrelstown Educate Together. We are so happy and grateful to be working with Anne this year as she has had such a special influence over the children in opening their eyes to the art world!
What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?
The beginning of the project was challenging as we had to find a suitable space within the school without using up space we needed. Emails were flying back and forth with problems and solutions until we found a room we all agreed on. Fortunately we were able to add a sink to the room and our wonderful art studio was born.  With the help of Julie, Orla and Anne the whole project ran smoothly from then on. The staff showed a great interest in the project and we all agreed it was a fantastic opportunity for our school and our pupils. When Anne came on board the studio really got going. On any given day as you walk past the studio children are busily designing, painting and constructing. There is always something new happening. It is wonderful to see the children have their own space and time to just create. We are very appreciative in the school to have our very own art studio!

Anne Cradden, Artist ~ Reflections on Room 13

Room 13 has been a revelation for me. At the start, I thought that helping the students with their investigations and then doing my own work in sculpture and drawing would be two entirely separate strands of the same project. However, the fact that we work side by side has meant that an incredibly dynamic creative environment has developed, where I believe the students’ approach to art making, and my own, have evolved and changed at a fundamental level. We have been working with an emphasis on experimentation and process rather than on “the end result,” and I have been amazed not only by the work the students have produced but also the important and exciting issues that come up in the studio, such as the value of contemporary art, the intersection between art and science, and the meaning of beauty. However, Room 13 has also fundamentally changed how I produce my own work.  On one level, being able to use the school building for temporary sculptural installations has been incredibly inspiring. More importantly, sharing the studio with the young artists has meant that constant consultation and discussion with them has become the norm for me, and now I find their input, their unique perspective, and their practical help invaluable.

Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS Students, 10 – 11 yrs

‘Room 13 is not an ordinary place’
‘It’s a place in our school with an artist’
‘The studio is having an Art Mart…we will be making our own art…and selling it and use the money to buy more art stuff like paint, fabric, paper’
‘Room 13 is a place where you can express your feelings’
‘I think about art in a different way now’

What’s next for the project?

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

The development of pupils’ entrepreneur and enterprise skills is an important part of the programme. Responsibility for running the studio will be divided among those students with a keen interest in the mechanics of arts administration work. They are gaining an understanding of my work in Fingal Arts Office and the important role played by organisations and individuals providing contexts within which art is made, shared and received. For some students this is the exciting part, and for others the art making is more exciting. Wherever their interest lies, there is a role for everyone interested in being involved. Both studios are evolving organically. Each week is informed by the previous and although the starting points were similar in each school, the individual studios are unique in how they are used and managed at this time. The pupils are very proud of their art studios and would choose to work there all day given the choice.
It’s important to mention that these studio projects are in the early stages of development. Our aim is to build the capacity of the children to experiment, explore, invent and realise their creative ideas over time. Fingal Arts Office and the schools have pledged to support the development of the studios for three years before assessing their viability to continue as self-sustainable entities thereafter.

Documentation

Room 13 ~ Fingal features on the Room 13 International website. However we would like to assist the students establish their very own online resource, one that they can control. We have discussed the possibility of creating a website for Room 13~Fingal with the children. They are interested in sharing their art work online with a wide audience. They are also interested in establishing an editorial team in each school. Some have expressed a keen interest in film / photography and others in writing. They are eager to respond to exhibition visits and share their opinions on the contemporary art that they have seen. The website could act as a forum for exchange between the two Room 13 projects in Dublin 15 and with Room 13 and young people elsewhere. It would be ideal for reinforcing the visual literacy, critical thinking and aesthetic development skills learned throughout the studio project.

Contact Details
For more information on Room 13~Fingal please contact: Julie Clarke, Youth & Education Arts Officer, Fingal County Council, Grove Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Email: julie.clarke@fingal.ie. Phone: 01 8905960
Room 13~Fingal, is proudly sponsored by Fingal County Council’s Arts Office

!!!! Learning About Learning

Context

Dominican Primary School (DPS) is a DEIS (Dep. of Education and Skills) co-educational primary school. The Junior Infants class consists of 18 students, 12 of those are learning English as an additional language (EAL). DEIS schools address and prioritize the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities. DPS is concerned with the education of the whole person. It aims to provide opportunities for each child to reach his or her full potential, by exposing them to a wide variety of opportunities that develops and develops their overall growth and self-esteem.
The artist Helen Barry is based in the school through DLRCC’s DLR Primary Arts that supports a long-term artist in residence programme of 24 contact hours over a 4to 5 month period. This has been extended through the Artist at Work residency programme in DLR Lexicon Library where the Helen is currently based. Within walking distance from the school and this offers a further 14 contact hours in the school and in DLR Lexicon’s Project Room.

Timeframe

The artist commenced in Dominican Primary School in November 2014 and will continue through until May or June 2015. We meet weekly mostly based in the school and some sessions are based in DLR Lexicon.

Our Vision

We learn by doing and we learn from each other. Using a child centred and child led approach to:

Documenting

DLR Primary Arts supports the learning, observations and experience through a blog. The children, artist and teacher will all contribute to the blog. We will also invite others to record their observations of the process and impact it is having on the children, teacher\s and artist through the school principal, parents, teachers, and arts office and library staff. We are using a multi disciplinary approach and will be able to record the spoken word, written word, sounds and images and moving images.

The Teacher

As a class teacher working in a DEIS school I feel it is important to participate and work in partnership with others, in education in promoting social inclusion for the children I teach. DLR Primary Arts (creative practitioner project) and Artist At Work workshops with Helen are providing a wonderful and enriching experience for the children and for me as a teacher. Helen’s expertise and artistic insight as an artist has changed my own opinion on art education especially in the early years.

I feel it is important to highlight the large number of children learning English as an additional language in the class, which presents its own challenges for me as a teacher and brings its own frustrations to the children. The artistic process involved with each sessions allows children of all abilities and backgrounds to express their personal ideas, co-operate and communicate with their peers and adults and express their uniqueness in a positive learning environment. The sessions with Helen are providing a great means for communication for the children while reducing their frustrations of language and allowing their competance and confidence to grow.

Helen’s use of the aistear principles which guide her practise and sessions are very much child-centred and child led. Literacy, SPHE and mathematical language are integrated as well as the Visual Art strands.

The Children

would also like to share their own opinions and experiences working on the projects…

Me and Angeline made a castle”, Zhya 5yrs
I like the Lexicon library because we made things”, Holly 5yrs
The tubes are fun I made a bridge”, Amanda 5yrs
We do lots of cutting and making things”, Daivik 4yrs
I like collecting stuff and making things”, Alma 5yrs
Helen plays with us”, Brooke 4yrs

The Artist:

WE ARE

I observe
I listen
I watch
I am open
I am inspired
We talk
We plan
We ask
We make
We are challenged
We are patient
We are open
We explore
We build
We stick
We poke
We cry
We laugh
We reflect
They argue
We learn
We support
We are creative
We give
We work
We struggle
We are honest
They are brutally honest
I am exhausted
We are energetic
We get more help
We are synergetic
We are content
We are inspired
WE ARE.

Helen Barry 2015

‘We Are’ is a poem that best captures what happens throughout my collaborative practice and offers the basis for the language which best describes my methodology. My methodology and my approach to collaborative work with early years children is similar to that of Aistear: the early years curriculum framework. I have also done extensive reading of the curriculum focusing on the early cycle of the primary school. I believe that the teaching methodology and application in the classroom runs parallel to the work and process that happens in the artists’ studio.

I am learning about learning, how we learn and what we learn. I have started at the beginning and I am learning with the children, she is my teacher too. I listen to the children deciphering language through photonics. The lengthening of words like fly, cat, jump; elongated they create beautiful rhythms their tone is set by the hum of the children’s voice, each word held for a prolonged moment. This has become the impetus for a piece of work we are creating together in the school and DLR LexIcon.

!!!! Artful Dodgers

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin? How did it develop?

Artful Dodgers is a unique early years arts education programme that commenced in September 2013 and continues to evolve today in two community crèche services in Fingal, north county Dublin. The programme is pioneered by Artist Jackie Maguire and Naomi Draper with Julie Clarke of Fingal County Council Arts Office, Fingal County Childcare Committee, Ros Eo and Little Learners Community Crèche and Prof. Carmel O’Sullivan and Prof. Noirin Hayes of the Arts Education Research Group, Trinity College Dublin (AERG).

The programme aims to provide an exploratory, creative and playful artistic space for children to develop and grow. To investigate the impact of this engagement on the children’s early development with particular focus on literacy and numeracy skills; and to build the capacity of the early years educators to embed music and visual arts in their settings. The project team adopted an artist is residence model for Phase 1 where both artists were located in the services on a weekly basis over a twelve week period. Each week they delivered a music and visual arts workshop in partnership with the staff of both settings. The artist in residence model was significant in that the artists were embedded within the settings allowing the artists, early years teachers and children to build relationships and to get to know each other over time. Over the period of the residency the artists worked closely with the children and early years teachers in both settings, where they explored the world of music and visual arts together.

The evaluation of Phase 1 (2013) indicated changes in pedagogical planning and style in the early years teachers over the twelve weeks period. Their language became more reflective and their practice incorporated a wider and richer range of materials; there was greater evidence of more child-led activities and unstructured play opportunities over the duration of the study. The data suggests that children’s social, cooperative and communication skills were enhanced. There was evidence over time of improved self-regulation, recall and recollection, and attention to activities. In addition, children’s curiosity and exploration was encouraged leading to enhanced vocabulary and greater persistence at activities. To assist the sustainability of the learning and practices developed during phase one the partnership provided the required resources to establish second phase. During this phase the teachers were encouraged to continue with the arts in their practice and the artists came to work with staff in both settings once a month. This kept the momentum of the project going without interruption. The focus of Phase 2 (2014-2015) was to develop ‘creative exchange’ between both the artists and early years teachers through a co-mentoring process. It was designed to consolidate arts practice within the early years settings, build a creative environment and strengthen relationships between the participants (artists and early years teachers) through reflecting on practice and children’s engagement.

A key element of phase two was the introduction of the ORID framework by the artists with the early years teachers to evaluate and reflect on the process. This framework facilitates focused conversation between participants in order to reach some point of agreement or clarify differences. ORID is as an evaluation framework developed at the Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. The framework gave everyone a voice and provided sound evidence to direct and inform future delivery.

A preliminary evaluation of Phase 2 suggests that changes occurred in early years practice, in terms of curriculum planning, relationships with children, staff and parents. Co-mentoring across different disciplines is very powerful particularly when it is experiential and all parties, in this case artists and early years teachers, are actively involved. The artists highlighted the value of the co-mentoring approach, which informed their planning for each setting visits. The early years teachers reported better understandings of children’s learning and sensitivity to the uniqueness of every child. They also reported a deepening understanding of Aistear, the early childhood curriculum framework and a greater appreciation of the importance of ‘tuning in’ and responding to the children’s behaviour. As the project evolved the partnership grew stronger and a third phase, the ‘parental involvement programme’, was created. This work is ongoing.

Ash Ryan of Little Learners Community Crèche, Mulhuddart
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The Children, staff and parents’ engagement made me smile. I would glance around the room, which looked chaotic – paint everywhere, children’s faces and hands a multitude of colours, parents on the floor weaving, staff laughing with the children – and smile! However there were plenty of challenges. I had to rethink my teaching practice, both in terms of how much I controlled the outcomes of art projects with the children and my own feelings on ‘messy play’.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Both the parents and staff have a different view on how the children engage with art materials, originally dirty clothes were a problem, but now parents expect the children to leave looking like they’ve been involved in activities during the day, and they always oblige with a change of clothes when necessary. My whole practice has changed. I have a far better understanding of creative play and its links to Aistear. Children have more of a say in the activities we provide and they have the freedom to choose materials and ideas for their own artwork. Parents have become more involved in the service as a result of their direct involvement. Children are generally having great fun while learning. We have stopped group activities where twenty children are making the same thing from a template. Templates are no longer used in the service. Artful Dodgers has managed to put an ethos in place that no college course for early years teachers has been able to achieve to date. The artists’ hands on engagement showed how a different approach works in practice; the staff could see the methods and begin to use them easily in a supported way.

Debbie Donnelly & Mary Farrell of Ros Eo Community Crèche, Rush
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Seeing the enjoyment shining through the children throughout their involvement in the project made us all smile a lot. Jackie would break into song unexpectedly and both Jackie and Naomi’s personalities brought warmth and positivity into the classroom, which was a huge factor in the enjoyment and success of the project.

As safety officer I worried about the safety of the children while working away from the desks, on the floor, using materials they hadn’t used before, especially when we had a large group of children together. At the beginning I felt a little out of my comfort zone, as I was familiar with working a particular way. I also worried about fitting all the new arts activities in with the already full curriculum. I doubted my own ability to be a worthy capable participant in the project as I am not an artist.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

A new lease of life was injected into staff as we learned new ways to teach. We now use props to enhance language skills and the children’s understanding of a particular story or activity. We learned to share the workload better among staff. We now make time to reflect on activities afterwards. We discuss the positives and negatives and question how to improve or deliver something that didn’t work so well differently the next time. The weekly reflection is a very informative experience and positive way to finish the week. As a staff team we are more open to trying new things with the children. We know that what we are doing compliments the curriculum so we are more confident about delivering the curriculum. I’m definitely not afraid to move out of my comfort zone now.

I realise that I don’t have to be ‘talented’ at art or music to use it in the classroom. I’m willing to try new things and learn alongside the children. We don’t dwell if something doesn’t go to plan, we move on and try it again another day with something different. My advice is to keep trying and be adventurous. You’re never too old to learn.

Artist Naomi Draper
What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

The welcome we received on every visit made me smile. Every week we arrived to an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation from the children, their parents and the staff. They were always waiting for us to arrive, they knew we were coming. During this residency I really felt part of the setting, a part of their week, a part of the team! I do think that this came from the strength of the relationship we developed with the staff who made us feel welcome, valued and supported in our work there. We also had time to establish these connections, time for reflection together and when we could see that we had developed something worth holding on to, the arts office gave us more time to develop these partnerships, supporting one another through a shared learning exchange, and broadening our partnerships to engage parents in a parental involvement phase. Our approach was probably a challenge initially, as we completely took over every corner of the crèche. But you could see confidence growing with every visit and as new materials were presented or alternative spaces were used, no instruction was required, the children, staff and parents too were willing to play, experiment, and see where it would bring them. Watching everyone’s confidence grow and observing how our practices changed and developed was very exciting.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Jackie introduced us to the ORID reflective tool, which became an important tool to critically reflect and change. ORID also played a huge part in the development of our relationships with one another. It enabled us to openly and honestly speak about what happened and what we observed. It provided a supportive environment for me to learn and develop a better understanding of working in this context. Another aspect of my work that I am interested in exploring is the physical spaces we are part of. The initial residency period of the AD programme allowed me to test and examine the potential of the spaces in terms of children’s learning and development. Together with the staff we realised new possibilities for spaces that were not used in the crèche and found ways to activate and utilise them further.

Professor Nóirín Hayes, on behalf of the research team:
“As an academic with a long history of research in early childhood the potential value of arts education in early education, for both children and staff, has always been an interest of mine – particularly the challenging link between arts education and the role of play and process in early learning.

A key attraction of working with Artful Dodgers has been the collaborative approach, the creation of a learning community comprising children, parents, educators, artists and academics. The project, throughout, endeavoured to create a context that encouraged careful attention to planning through a mutual respect for the expertise of both the artists and the early years educators. Reflection informing future actions was a central dimension of the project at all stages. The success of this approach was evident in the engagement of all participants and the outcomes for children. Throughout the project careful records were maintained and shared by the artists and the early years educators. This material, alongside observation records and documentation of practice in process, provide a rich source of data to inform practice, policy and further research. Over and above this the project has brought parents and early educators close together in the shared education of young children. It is a privilege to have become part of the team and I look forward to furthering the dissemination of this important action research arts education project.”

!!!! Cluas le hÉisteacht

About the project
Cluas le hÉisteacht was a year long process-led engagement and partnership between the second year students of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, Dingle, their art teacher Brenda Ní Fhrighill and artist Maree Hensey.

The project communicated visually a process led approach, collaboration and the language of drawing. Brenda and Maree provided an environment that was safe and supportive for creative expression. Participants were given the opportunity to make their own individual response to the materials presented and given the confidence to continue that individual creative journey.

The students were introduced to ways of mark making using a range of exploratory techniques and materials working both large and small scale. Over the duration of the project they gained a confidence in experimental expressive mark making and working collaboratively.

Arriving at the concept: Artist Maree Hensey

Brenda and I have been working together since 2008. We know each other very well and understand the way we work. When we are planning a project and an approach this depth of understanding and trust allows us to take on projects that are challenging and have an element of risk.

So why sound? How did we arrive at the concept?


It took several phone calls and a few sessions over dinner to arrive at a concept that rang true to both Brenda and I. Looking at the profile of the participants they are constantly plugged in. Our impetus was to facilitate an alternative creative experience.

Concept: Listening.

Through out the process students learned to:

We began the journey by making sound recordings in the landscape e.g. lapping water, people walking, tractor engine, boat in the distance, dog barking, conversation. We listened to the layers of sound that are part of their local environment. Back in the art room we listened intently to a chosen sound and made drawing marks that expressed the rhythm, tone and quality of the sound.

The work made was sensitive, thought provoking and individual. Self-evaluation by students of their work was an integral part of the process. After each session students chose a word that best described their individual experience. These words became an integral part of the outcome where students made a collaborative experimental sound scape playfully sounding their chosen word.

Art teacher at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne Brenda Ní Fhrighill
The project has been a really important part of the whole academic and educational process. As a teacher I really appreciate the value of using Video Conferencing Technology and see the benefits that it has brought to my students. The possibility of collaboration with professional artists is no longer limited or defined by our location. The process led work has helped students to creatively develop their own unique voice and visual language. The students learned important skills in self-evaluation, communication, technique and confidence that will be useful across all other subjects in the curriculum.

About the process and how it evolved
Maree worked with the students over 2-3 days in the school. Brenda rearranged her schedule and the students so that they were available to work for 4-5 hours per day.
 Following the experience of working in the school, Maree continued the contact and exploration over several weeks using video conferencing technology for sessions of 40 – 80 minutes. Maree is based in Dublin and the journey to Dingle was not realistic on a weekly basis.

Planning and evaluation was given a generous amount of time. We were in contact by phone at least twice a week.

The project started with field trips and mapping sounds. The recorded sounds were edited and processed. Sounds were selected and the process of visually expressing the sounds and the sentiment of the sound began through explorative mark making.

The enormous challenge was working in the abstract. The student’s experience of art was in the figurative as per the curriculum. In order for the participants to understand the process and the project each week, we compiled a list of words that described their interpretation of the process. The recording accompanying the video is a selection of these words.

The project ended beautifully where the students eliminated all sound and listened to their own internal rhythm. The images of the students with the earplugs connected to the box was their experience of listening to nothing but their own thoughts and nothingness.

The culmination was an installation in Gallararus Oratory, video projection and an external exhibit of large-scale drawings in the Gallarus visitors centre on the Dingle Peninsula. The oratory, situated in an area of natural beauty was an appropriate location in which to place work that was influenced by listening, silence and the surrounding environment. The exhibition gave a physical record and testimony to the creative processes.

Student Outcomes:

!!!! Cubes and Compromise

Cubes & Compromise – Visual artist Helen Barry engaged in a 12-week collaborative residency with 1st class children in the Muslim National School, Clonskeagh. Together they explored components of Islamic art and design using a cross-curricular approach. The project was child-led; the children had much broader ambitions of what could be explored through art and creativity. One of the objectives for Helen was to clarify her methodology and approach to collaborative practice within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. The residency was supported by The Arts Council’s bursary awarded to Helen in 2013/14.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Helen Barry, Artist

My decision to approach the Muslim National School was instigated by key themes of my own studio work. I use many of the principals of geometry and symmetry found in Islamic art and architecture in the design and creation of my own work. A strong aspect of my work examines the architectural spaces of sacred buildings and the communities that use these spaces. I had also just completed another residency with senior infants in Rathfarnham Educate Together National School and I wanted to base myself in a school that had a completely different ethos. It seemed a natural choice to invite children of a similar age and a teacher from the Muslim National School to join me in a 12-week collaborative residency.

I asked the children’s teacher June Kelly to feed directly into the sessions and guide me as to the relevance of what we were doing in relation to the curriculum. I am interested in learning about the pedagogical development of children and how creativity can enhance cross-curriculum learning. My work with early years children had become an integral part of my practice and I wanted to challenge my approach to and understanding of collaboration and how this impacted on my work and why I was compelled to work this way.

One of the objectives was to clarify my methodology and approach to collaborative work within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. This residency was made possible through The Arts Council’s young peoples and children’s bursary award scheme I received in 2013/14.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Helen Barry arrived to our school, The Muslim National School, last September beaming with enthusiasm to complete a 12-week collaborative residency. The children took to her immediately and she developed a very strong rapport with them. The focus of the project initially was geometry and symmetry. Both geometry and symmetry are a major focus in Islamic Art and Islamic architecture. On Helen’s first visit, when we got to see samples of her work, it was clear that there were strong parallels between her work and Islamic Art.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Helen Barry, Artist

Initially I had proposed to explore elements of maths, geometry and Islamic design with the children and very quickly it was clear that the children had their own ideas of how we would actually do this and lots of other things. My approach to collaborative work allows the children to lead the direction and content of the work; this in turn influences the overall process and techniques we use. As my own work primarily focuses on sculpture we started with exploring and constructing 3D spaces. We used a lot of non-traditional art techniques and materials as we moved about measuring the room together; we asked a lot of questions, chatted, laughed, shared stories, worked in pairs and we rarely seemed to sit down. I tend to work on a very large scale with children; using our entire bodies in the creative process from lying on the ground to climbing into spaces, exploring under the tables to building installations. This also demands the practical involvement of the teacher, which was given enthusiastically and consistently by teachers, staff and, at times, assistance from older children.

Even though I was keen to use maths and geometry as strong central themes we veered off through many different areas of the curriculum that demonstrated the richness of the children’s skills and interests. The children’s oral skills were particularly strong. They had a wonderful ability to present images of family life and how important it was to share. Their imaginations had few boundaries and the groups’ playful dynamic supported me to be more open to their ideas and to test out new media. As the weeks progressed I realized that it is not only the children and teachers who must be open to the process of experimenting but the artist too as things do not always go according to plan. We used shadow puppetry to explore their strong sense of storytelling, filming their characters coming to life using the sunlight streaming into the classroom. English was not a first language for many of the children yet they created a varied narrative for their plays overcoming many language difficulties.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

On Helen’s first visit she showed samples of her work from her website. The children were completely in awe. Over the twelve weeks the children made shadow puppets and created their own shadow puppet performances and they also helped created the spectacular stained glass effect silhouette cubes. It felt like Helen was merely guiding the children and they came up with most the ideas and did a lot of the work. Mrs Altawash, Ms. Davin-Park and I also helped guide the whole process along.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Helen Barry, Artist

There were many elements that made me smile throughout the residency from the children’s enthusiasm and their delight in trying to teach me Arabic, Sarah’s Story telling of her Uncle’s bee hives on the roof of a building in North Africia and producing enough honey for his family, Ms Asiyo Altawash’s practical solutions to my overly complex ones and much more. Throughout all my residencies I need to ensure that what we are doing is relevant to my own work. We followed a number of different lines of enquiry and I often found it challenging to correlate one strand with another and where it related to my own work. The children were curious, playful and very giving and I wanted to capture this essence in what we would create. I struggled with how this would come together with what we were exploring and where it sat with my own work. As we created our final pieces two women who walked through the space we were working in each week observed that our cubes were reflective of ‘The Kabba’ in Mecca and the images reminded them of the energy of children. I could not have had more positive feedback.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

I thoroughly enjoyed the children’s puppet shows, using shadow puppets. It was great to see them so motivated and engaged during their performances. I also enjoyed watching the children when they used the quills for writing. Their curiosity and enthusiasm was infectious.

I found the spontaneity of process quite challenging, in that I am so used to planning my lessons with an end vision or product in mind. I had to take a step back as the children played a huge role in deciding what direction this project would go in. It was a huge and effective learning curve for me.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? (These may seem small, but are significant to you)

Helen Barry, Artist

The children were at different levels, for some languages proved to be an initial obstacle but there were children in the class who had special needs and I found that when using a creative approach, it was not apparent as to who these children were. I always ask the children what do they know about ‘artists’. The children in the Muslim National School were the first to say artists were men and women, in all other schools the children say artist are men.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Sometimes as teachers we may over-plan activities and lessons and in doing so we are perhaps guilty of curtailing the children’s creativity.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Helen Barry, Artist

I have become more confident in allowing the process to go in directions that are new both in terms of the mediums we use and more importantly the content of what we are exploring. I am more open to allowing the children have stronger role in where we are going to go.

I have returned to the Muslim National School to do a second residency, this time with younger children in Junior Infants and this is running concurrently with a second residency with the Dominican National School in Dun Laoghaire. This residency is being supported by The Arts Council YPCE Bursary award 2015.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

For me personally, I think something has changed. I am hopeful that I will be more confident in allowing the children have much more input into my art lessons. It’s okay to deviate from the plan and never to underestimate their ideas and input. I also hope in future in my art lesson to completely restrict my use of templates in order to further the children’s opportunity to be more creative.

!!!! Úlla Beag: Print media project

The story of our project from the teacher – Denise:

I approached Lynn in Nov 2014 to collaborate on developing an art class for ECCE in Ulla beag which would cover many art disciplines; painting, printing, working with 3 dimensional form and various craft skills to provide a more holistic teaching approach to pre-reading; pre-writing and pre-maths skills.

Collaborating with Lynn has been a great experience as we both started out with the same beliefs and ethos – We need to recycle more and look at using old materials. It is amazing how you can transform a raisin box into a robot, providing hours of fun and play for children. Through this process, children can create their own toys and the empowerment and confidence they get through using old materials is amazing.

The use of visual media as a teaching method to develop pre-reading; writing and maths skills has moved learning to a higher quality, more holistic approach at Úlla Beag.

The story of our project from the artist – Lynn:

As a group, the children worked on large pieces – printing, painting and collaging, and physically manoeuvred themselves around the piece, rather than just using their upper body, when painting. All activities gave them opportunities to strengthen their fine motor skills. They learned to work together as a group, which built up peer relationships and a joint ownership of the work they produced.

Other projects included clay modelling; and making pinch pots and papier mâché bowls, which focused on form-making, using their hands in a different way. We mono printed onto old baby wipes which was very effective and quick and explorative: some worked well, some didn’t.

We talked about the failed attempts and why this happened – too much paint, too little paint – and we tried again. Some were very keen to try stitching so we did simple long stitches through print and baby wipe. I was pleasantly surprised by how effective baby wipe material was and how easily it took the paint. It worked well with this age group as a surface to print on.

The story of our project from the children:

Through this project we experienced so many examples of children’s feedback:

I like this way of making letters.” (Mike) This was Mike’s feedback on creating Cars from Cs; Trees from Ts and Houses from Hs. Mike found learning and retaining letters difficult until we started creating associations with every day items in picture format. As an educator you know children learn in different ways and while mainstream teaching of phonics through song & rhyme may work for most children, it does not work for all. One of the critical areas as an educator is to acknowledge this and find a new method of teaching to enable the child.

I don’t like the way the glue makes my fingers sticky but I want to make my bowl so I will get sticky fingers and then I will have a bowl.” Mary’s feedback on papier mâché technique.

I don’t mind if I stick the needle on my finger I want to sew a cross and I am getting better at seeing where the needle comes out so I don’t catch my finger!” (Imogen)

I like using this as sometimes I drop my paintbrush” Oscar (aged 2 1/2) discussing his preference for using cotton buds when painting a picture.

I am really good at making robots.” (Charlie)

I made a hole in my picture and had to start again I put too much water on.” (Amelia)

I feel calm when I paint.” (Thaidhg)

I mix red and blue for purple. Sometimes I remember how to make orange too, that’s yellow and red, but sometimes I forget so I have to mix different colours together.” (Eibhe)

I like printing with toothbrushes its cool. They are old toothbrushes though, not new ones.” (Saoirse)

The flow of our art days included: Preparation of room and materials (Lynn); Group discussion with the children -remembering the last class; reviewing the work completed. (This is important for continuity and information processing for children at this age.) Getting ready – Aprons on and discussion with the children of what art lesson is taking place.

After learning techniques from Lynn, the children start to experiment and create, with assistance from Lynn and Denise where needed. Some children finish earlier so they then get to create their next adventure while the other children are given time or guidance to finish their work.

Closing discussions with the children reinforced lessons learned – what the children liked or would change for the next time. Again this is very important in supporting communication skills and information processing with children at a preschool level. This was followed by forward planning – including the children in a discussion of what will take place the following week. At the end, everyone tidies up together.

The biggest smile for both of us was the significant level of pride the children had in their group and individual work. It was amazing seeing the children develop into a strong unit that were as happy with their group projects as they were with their individual works – which really allowed them to feel a sense of identity and belonging within the group. The children are more inquisitive about everything around them – both in and out of school they are talking about their colours and making new things from old things.

The main challenge was keeping the projects age appropriate so the children were not over-dependent on us to intervene and help and really only needed to call on us in real emergencies – such as the glue sticking their fingers together!

Some insights:

•Group Art projects even at an early years level   promoted leadership within the group and fostered team work and empathy amongst the children.
•Art as a teaching process facilitates a safe environment to allow children to fail and start again – a valuable life lesson the children had to figure out with us why things did not always work out. (e.g. Not enough paint applied, Not leaning hard enough to print, yellow will not print out on the recycled wipes etc.)
•Learning to fail and recover / find new solutions is very important to instilling creativity and resilience in children. With print media the children very quickly saw what worked and did not work and the results were immediate.
•Art is a fantastic medium to foster child-led learning and child-led planning as it is such a creative process the children were completely open and could be masters of their own destiny!
•As a result of this collaboration through art with the children we display, discuss and review each others’ work together as part of the art classes. This allows the children to learn more from each other, praise each other, get praise from each other, empathise with each other when something does not work, help each other out more. This is very important in relation to wellbeing, identity and belonging and developing empathy and communication skills with peers, teachers and parents.

Changes and new developments from the project:

The project has resulted in the expansion of the group to include pre-ECCCE children. Art practice has been integrated within daily lessons at Úlla Beag.

There is now stronger and higher quality integration of art-based work into our An Taisce Green Flag Awards process. We are currently on our Water flag and have started gathering recycled materials to create a water lifecycle group exhibition in January, which will be published as part of our Green Flag presentation in March.

More time is allowed for creativity – previously we would have integrated a lot of art work with our children but now we have introduced an element of child-led choice.

We have moved from a reactive solution to a proactive learning environment. That is to say in Year 1 combining phonics and visual art printing allowed us to react to a situation where some children were really struggling to grasp phonetical learning – so we worked together to create a more visual understanding of C. This brought 3 of the more visual learners on a par with their peers and their love of phonics quickly developed. In Year 2 we are seeing very little disparity amongst the children as it is a more holistic and inclusive approach, so we are combining visual printing and other art techniques with phonetical learning.

We have collaborated on Easter  and  Summer camp art days and these are a great hit with the afterschool groups who come to Ulla Beag.