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Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) 
Deadline: Friday, 6 August 2021

The Irish Architecture Foundation invites applications from architects and architectural graduates to participate in the 2021/22 Architects in Schools initiative. Starting in September 2021, it is a great opportunity to gain CPD points while sharing your knowledge of architecture with young people and teachers in a fun and engaging way.

You will work directly with students in their school, supporting them as they learn how to explore, research, design and communicate their ideas about architecture and the built environment. You will also collaborate with students and teachers to select work for the annual Architects in Schools exhibition in the Museum of Country Life, Mayo, in May 2022.

The Architects in Schools programme is entering into its 9th cycle. It is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. In 2020/21 the programme reached 63 schools nationwide (up from 28 in 2019/20). 36 dedicated architects delivered workshops in a wide range of school types nationwide.

There are two programme options for schools. Architects can work across a combination of these options if working with a number of schools:

Programme A: (Full)

Programme B: (Introductory)

If you have good communication skills and are looking for exciting ways to expand your practice, we would love to hear from you!

For further information and to access the online application form go to architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2021-2022-open-call-for-architects/. 

For questions email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

 

The Gaiety School of Acting

Despite the fact that scientific developments permeate and enrich the lives of young people on a daily, or even hourly basis, studies across Europe are identifying pockets of this demographic that are struggling to relate to and engage with the science curriculum in the classroom. According to Science Foundation Ireland’s 2015 Science Barometer report, young women from less affluent backgrounds are less inclined to identify with science education at second level. This has a direct impact on the number of students from this demographic advancing to third level and ultimately working within the field.

Drilling down further into the statistics, researchers have found that young women from a cultural minority background or who identify as LGBTQIAP+ are even less likely to develop a positive scientific identity, meaning a far reduced number of people from these societal groups tend to aspire to careers in science.

With the aim to address these gaps in science engagement, The Gaiety School of Acting has teamed up with partners from Ireland, Finland, Poland and Holland to investigate ways in which performance, and specifically comedy improvisation, can be utilised by science educators to impact on their students in a new and dynamic way. The three year I-Stem  project, supported by the Erasmus Plus fund, began on September 1st 2020.

In its first publication ‘Creative Methods in Science Teaching – Ways Forward!’ an e-book resource for teachers, STEM subjects are related to arts. Use of arts in education tell us something about society: our educational systems and its angles of entry are creating the scientists of tomorrow. The combination of arts and science gives us a better starting point to develop our full potential which is needed when creating something new.

The publication has a preface video from Dr. Niamh Shaw, to view go to istem-project.eu/e-book/

This publication presents research and best practices of using arts as a means of improving pedagogy and classroom practice in STEM education. In these pages “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts–humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. It draws on theoretical understandings of arts in STEM disciplines to illustrate how researchers and practitioners are using creative initiatives to promote inclusive teaching approaches.

The e-book is aimed at post-primary school teachers who are currently using arts within their teaching practice or have an interest in doing so in the future. Examples of STEAM teaching in Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Finland are given. It is not intended to provide a fully comprehensive exploration of all aspects of arts in STEM disciplines. The I-Stem Project acknowledges the necessary limitations of this resource, but trusts that it will serve its purpose of guiding you through the main relevant concepts, and that it will give you insights and inspiration for your teaching.

To download the resource go to istem-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/I-STEM_e-book.pdf

Chamber Choir Ireland
Deadline: 5pm, 24 June, 2021

This July, a group of aspiring composers age 15-18 will have the opportunity to work remotely with professional composers and singers to create their own Choral Postcards—short pieces of music written for four-part choir, in a joint project with Chamber Choir Ireland and the Contemporary Music Centre.

All sessions will be held via Zoom and it is free to participate.

To apply, please send the following to education@chamberchoirireland.com:
1. Any examples of music you’ve written, either for choir or any other instrument/combination of instruments
2. A note outlining your reasons for applying
3. A recommendation from your school music teacher, instrumental/vocal teacher, or choir conductor, outlining your capacity to be involved in a choral composition project with Chamber Choir Ireland

Deadline: 5pm Thursday 24th June, 2021

For more information, see: www.chamberchoirireland.com/learning-participation/choral-postcards/

Irish Architecture Foundation
Date: 2pm, Friday 25 June

In collaboration with the London Festival of Architecture, Irish Architecture Foundation will host a live, virtual panel discussion entitled Together We Care About Public Spaces as part of their ‘Architects in Schools’ initiative 2021.

The panel will include Blaithin Quinn (Irish Architecture Foundation), Muhammad Achour (Places of ARcture), Frank Monahan (Architecture at the Edge) and students and teachers from Holy Faith and Synge Street secondary schools in Dublin, Ireland, and focus on imaginary public realm projects as part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s ‘Architects in Schools‘ initiative 2021.

In their collaborative work with the students, Muhammad and Frank focused on care, co-creation, pride, citizen engagement and ownership in the design of public space. How we care for our public realm is always relevant, even more so now as we adapt to life in a post-pandemic world.

‘Architects in Schools’ is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Department of Education and Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Date: 2pm, Friday 25 June

For more information, see: https://architecturefoundation.ie/event/architects-in-schools-at-london-festival-of-architecture-together-we-care-about-public-spaces/

Irish Architecture Foundation
Deadline: 6pm, June 4 2021

The IAF are delighted to announce that applications are now open for schools to take part in the 2021/22 cycle of Architects in Schools programme. The programme is entering into its 9th cycle, and the IAF will be collaborating with the National Museum of Ireland (Museum of Country Life, Mayo) for the annual exhibition of student work in May 2022.

An architect will facilitate hands-on design workshops in your school. Dates, times and workshop duration will be arranged between the designated teacher / TY coordinator and the assigned architect. Workshops must take place between 1 September 2021 and 4 March 2022. All architects will be fully Garda Vetted and will sign our Child Protection Policy. There is no cost for schools to participate (apart from providing some art materials).

There are two options for participation:
Option A: Full Programme
30 schools can participate in the full programme
20 hours with an architect / architectural graduate, consisting of 12 hours of workshops & 8 hours of preparation time for the architect
Option B: Introductory Programme
A new strand introduced in 2020/21, up to 40 schools can avail of introductory workshops
1 x 3 hour workshop per school, with an architect / architectural graduate

Deadline: 6pm, June 4th 2021

For more information and to apply online please visit https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-call-for-schools/

Source Arts Centre
Date: 24 April

The Source Arts Centre is hosting a series of online workshops until June as part of their ‘Y’ Arts Programme. The ‘Y’ Arts Programme encourages young people aged between 13 and 18 to create new works of art using a task and challenge based approach. The programme aims to encourage an understanding of contemporary art and avant-garde art.

Workshop : Dream Like Maya Deren
12pm-1pm, 24th April 2021

Maya Deren was a Ukrainian-born American experimental filmmaker  in the 1940s and 1950s. In this workshop, participants will look at her most famous film ‘Meshes Of The Afternoon’ and examine how dream states or the subconscious are depicted in art.

For more information, see here: www.thesourceartscentre.ie/events/info/dream-like-maya-deren-workshop

Music Generation 
Deadline: 30 April 2021

Music Generation invites individual or groups of professional musicians to tender to lead and develop distinct Communities of Practice with musicians that deliver Music Generation programmes; and to lead, develop and create new work for children and young people with musicians involved in Music Generation Communities of Practice.

Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme that gives children and young people access to high-quality, subsidised performance music education. Initiated by Music Network, Music Generation is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 30th April 2021

For more information on how to apply, see: www.musicgeneration.ie/news/request-for-tenders-professional-musicians-provision-of-services

 

 

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/

Ennis Book Club Festival
Dates: 2 – 5 March

Ennis Book Club Festival invites post-primary school students and teachers in County Clare to a series of online workshops scheduled as part of their wider book club festival taking place from 2 – 7 March.

The workshops include:

For more information on how to book, see https://www.ennisbookclubfestival.com/ebcf-2021-events

Irish Architecture Foundation

The IAF have produced an online resource ‘DIYStudio’ for teachers and secondary school students.

DIYStudio introduces you to architecture and is perfect for secondary schools students who might be curious about the process of design. Follow the five stages – Explore, Research, Design, Present, Reflect to design your own architectural space, learning and experimenting along the way. All you need to get started is internet access, paper and a pencil.

Students can start and finish anytime, DIYStudio is an ongoing project.

For further information go to architecturefoundation.ie/event/diystudio/

If you have any questions please email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

National Youth Council of Ireland

Date: 4 February 2021

NYCI commissioned UCC to carry out an independent mapping of youth arts provision in youth work settings in Ireland. Join NYCI at the virtual launch of the research to find out:

Why Attend?

Who Should Attend
Youth work managers, youth workers, youth arts practitioners, ETB youth officers, arts officers and anyone working with young people, academics in the field of youth studies, youth work students, policy makers, stakeholders from relevant government departments.

Who You’ll Hear From
Eileen Hogan, University College Cork
Eileen Hogan is a Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork. She is Course Director of the Masters in Youth Arts and Sports Education, which won the grad Ireland/HEA award for Best Postgraduate Course (Arts and Humanities) in 2017. Eileen is also Deputy Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Youth Work.

Through these roles, she is involved in the professional development of youth workers and youth arts practitioners and has strong connections with youth work organisations. Eileen is also a member of the Board of Directors at Youth Work Ireland Cork. She is also Chairperson of the IndieCork Film and Music Festival, which is a volunteer-led organisation that supports youth arts as an element of its broader cultural programme.

NYCI have a an exciting panel lined up to join Dr Hogan in reacting to and dissecting the research and what it means for your work.

For further information and to register go to www.youth.ie/event/research-launch-mapping-youth-arts-provision-in-youth-work-settings/?mc_cid=bc2c636276&mc_eid=a6a29c2666

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Calling young people in Sligo/Leitrim with an interest in LGBTQI+ issues…

Do you want to be part of a new art and writing project that explores gender and sexuality?

Do you want to stimulate dialogue and capture the imagination of your local community through the creation of strong messages and powerful imagery?

Kids’ Own in partnership with SMILY – offers an exciting creative process in summer/autumn 2020 with a writer, artist and graphic designer that will support you to have a voice and influence on the issues that matter to you.

Weekly workshops will take place in Sligo.

This programme is FREE and open to young people aged 13–18.

No previous art or writing experience is necessary.

For further information and to sign up go to www.kidsown.ie.

To find more information about SMILY, visit: facebook.com/SMILY.LGBT.Northwest

Youth Theatre Ireland

Deadline: 5pm, 14 September 2020

Youth Theatre Ireland is pleased to announce two grant schemes to offer assistance to Youth Theatres in these challenging times, with the generous support of the Creative Ireland Programme. The first, “Include YT – COVID Relief Inclusion Grant”, is available to affiliated theatres and the second “Join In – Youth Theatre Inclusion Grant” is available to developing Youth Theatres.

The Include YT grant will provide a maximum of €3,000 to help affiliated theatres to increase young people’s access to youth theatre and address exclusion on social or disability grounds. Emerging from Covid-19, youth theatres’ capacity to include new members may be severely challenged as they face additional costs and extended workshop programmes in order to comply with public health measures and social distancing guidelines. This grant is designed to help youth theatres keep social inclusion at the heart of their practice by resourcing approximately 6 youth theatres to engage with young people who have difficulty accessing youth theatre on social or disability grounds.

During these extraordinary times, this once-off grant is designed to support youth theatre inclusion initiatives in the Sept – Dec term 2020 and will assist with many measures including bursaries to cover membership fees for young people whose families are facing challenging circumstances, resources or additional staff to support the participation of members with disabilities or additional needs. The total fund available to youth theatres through this scheme is €18,000.

The “Join In – Youth Theatre Inclusion Grant” will provide a maximum of €3,000 to  developing youth theatres operating in areas of social deprivation, to help increase young people’s access to youth theatre. During these extraordinary times, this once-off grant is designed to support the development of new youth theatres that are addressing social exclusion and that aim to affiliate in 2020. The total fund available to youth theatres through this scheme is €15,000.

Rhona Dunnett, Acting Director of Youth Theatre Ireland said, “Youth Theatre Ireland is delighted to be working with the Creative Ireland Programme to offer these once-off grants to youth theatres. Like many sectors, youth theatre is facing difficult financial circumstances in 2020 and these grants will support youth theatres to keep inclusion at the heart of their practice and increase young people’s access to youth theatre in socially disadvantaged areas. In these challenging times, young people need youth theatre more than ever to help them feel connected and give them a safe, creative space to express themselves and their ideas.”.

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday, September 14th 2020.

For further information and application details go to www.youththeatre.ie/news/press/youth-theatre-ireland-announces-2-supporting-grants.

 

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: Friday 19 June 2020

The Irish Architecture Foundation are delighted to announce that applications are open for the 2020/21 Architects in Schools programme.

The Architects in Schools initiative for Transition Year students places architects and architectural graduates in schools across Ireland. Students learn how to research, design and communicate architectural ideas, always reimagining the spaces around them and sometimes even affecting change in their local built environment.

Check out Architect Frank Monahan’s guest blog series here on the Portal about his experience on the initiative.

For further information and to apply go to https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2020-2021-open-call-for-schools/. 

Or email learning@architecturefoundation.ie for queries.

Closing date Friday 19 June

Irish Film Institute

Date: 4 March 2020

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) and the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, in association with Screen Skills Ireland, will once again offer an inspiring and innovative day of events for young people interested in finding out more about working in the film and tv industries.

This event, aimed at Senior Cycle second-level students aged 15 to 18, is an opportunity for students to hear from a whole variety of film industry practitioners, to learn about their work, how they got there and what advice they might give to young people starting out. Whether it’s the craft side of the industry, working in front of the camera or behind, as well as other areas such as production or casting, there will be something for every interest.

A number of third-level institutions will also be on hand to offer guidance on the day.

Last year’s guests included director Lenny Abrahamson, producer Ed Guiney, costume designer Consolata Boyle and DOP Cathal Watters.

Booking essential. See www.ifi.ie/schools

 

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

In February 2018 Landmark Productions and Everyman Theatre Cork approached us to ask what ancillary activities would we be organizing around the production of ‘Asking For It’ they were planning to stage in June and which would subsequently transfer to the Abbey in November.

We all saw the necessity to involve young people in the story and so aside from the Abbey’s usual provision of post-show talks and podcasts we decided to take the work into schools as directly as possible. We planned a structure of pre and post show workshops to support any school who was going to see the play. We also committed to the creation of a teachers study pack which could appeal to many levels of ability.

After speaking about schools visits to Louise O’Neill, the author of the novel on which the play was based, it became clear that we needed specific training in dealing with this project. Louise’s disturbing experience had been that in nearly every school she had visited herself at least one young woman had disclosed she had experienced sexual assault.

On 24th July we hosted a workshop by Tender UK a theatre company that specializes in exploring issues of abuse with post primary students. On their advice we changed the original plan of having a sole female facilitator to having workshops run by both a male and female so they could model healthy gender relationships. That’s when I stopped just managing the project and stepped in as co-facilitator.

Based on her previous work with the Abbey we contacted actor and facilitator Aoibheann McCaul and she and I planned the post-show workshop together. Aoibheann also attended a training session at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

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

Aoibheann and Phil started visiting schools in October using applied drama to explore the students’ sense of the characters involved in the story and any links they had to students’ own sense of gender roles, friendship dynamics and sexual consent. These pre-show workshops were introductory and often didn’t go into the ethics of consent or even the plot of the play if the students’ weren’t already aware of the story. We wanted the students to experience it theatrically. For those that were aware of the book though, we found that for some the issues of assault were still unclear, “Well she took him into the room so she was asking for it, wasn’t she?”

The groups went to performances of ‘Asking For It’ at the Abbey Theatre and met a couple of the cast afterwards.  The actors had all volunteered to talk to the students and were eager to engage with their responses. These ranged from the shy and practical (“How do learn your lines?”) to more in depth enquiries “How do you play someone so nasty?” “Why did you choose to do this particular play?” “What’s it like having to play Emma over and over again?”. One all-girl’s school which had been skeptical about assault changed their view completely and demanded their teachers give them better sex education in future especially about consent.

Aiobheann and Phil then returned do the schools for a two hour long post show workshop that built on the previously introduced techniques of statues, tableaux and walking in character to explore how both the characters and the students themselves had changed over the course of the evening.

As with the pre-show workshops we used a basic drama technique to encourage recollection  of a lived moment e.g. “How did you feel at the interval of the play?” or “What moment do you remember most about the beginning of the show?” and then encouraged others to ‘read’ these and reflect upon them.  The majority of the workshop was taken up with creating tableaux of the most striking moments of play and then exploring what could have been going through the characters minds at the time. This meant we could explore many of the themes of the work –gender dynamics, peer pressure, sexual consent, family tension – from inside realistic illustrations of how these manifest in behavior. Some highlights of this were the complex dynamics of single gender friendship groups, what was going through the minds of the young men while they were assaulting Emma, how Emma’s father uses emotional blackmail to reinforce her decision to drop the charges.

We also looked at how characters’ lives were changed by the events of the play and again found quite a range of responses from those who thought e.g. Zoe would be 1/ glad that she could now “Take over Emma’s place as top girl.” to  “/ Zoe will be even more cowed by the knowledge her assailant, Dylan, has avoided prosecution for a second assault. It was in this section that the students really got to see the differences in their views.

There was quite a range of responses with the majority of students becoming more understanding and articulate about the circumstances that led to Emma’s choices and how she had been raped. Our touchstone was whether they saw Emma’s encounter with Paul at the party as consensual or not (Emma is plainly on drugs and asks him to wait which he ignores). Before the show this encounter separated out those who had considered the theme of consent in any depth from those who followed conventional option.

Generally the more depth of engagement with the story and characters resulted in a more sympathetic response to the play and more varied and satisfying discussion. One school was already putting on their own play about consent looking at an incident from different viewpoints and our work here became much more do do with teasing out the nuances of motivation in the subsidiary characters e.g. why the mother was drinking, or how the father was avoiding responsibility when asking Emma if she really wanted to drop the charges.  We were surprised to find in another school they still felt Emma had been “asking for it” because she had taken drugs and therefore implicitly consented. In this school there was less empathy for the characters and many of them talked about Emma as ‘a girl like that would’ indicating the distance they felt to her. The work here was harder because the students seemed entrenched in their positions and surprised and resistance to being asked to question them.

The most dramatic changed came with one all girls school who in the pre-show had felt Emma had encouraged Paul. By the end of the show and in the post show workshops they were clear that the sexual double standards evident in society and the lack of appropriate sex education in the field of content were unacceptable.

At the time of writing this we have two more schools to visit. One, a private male only boarding school, will offer the most challenging work as some of the pupils were already defensive and dismissive of the whole premise of the story, believing it to be unrealistic and diverting the debate with arguments that some women lie, men get raped too etc….we were specifically asked to work here by an existing teacher because they felt attitudes towards women needed to be challenged.

For follow on work we created a Study Pack with an analysis of the play and its themes but also extra ancillary material on the history of consent in Ireland, plans of the pre and post show workshops, blogs by students form Cork who’d seen the original production and an example of a homegrown consent workshops. We also asked the pack’s main author, critic and activist Saoirse Anton, to contribute an essay on the connection between consumer culture and rape culture.

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

Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

After speaking to Louise I had concerns about the work triggering traumatic experiences in the participants while remaining convinced it was essential young people be given a chance to engage with the issues directly; no amount of older generations talking about the topic of consent was going to make nearly as much difference as exploring it with their peers. I saw this clearly when attending a town hall meeting arranged by the Everyman Theatre and Land mark productions in Ballincollig where teacher Tim Burke arranged for his class to discuss the play with Louise O’Neil, Mary Crilly of the Cork Rape Crisis Centre. It was obvious the students previous discussions contributed to the depth and sympathy of their opinions as well as their intolerance of the lazy, self interested and vicious social forces that perpetuate rape culture.

So the visit of Tender UK was an eye opener about the depth of ignorance and indifference to young women’s agency they had encountered in schools already.  This prepared me for the casualness with which both young men and young women dismissed lead characters Emma’s behaviour as “asking for it”. It was still a challenge though especially when revisiting one inner city school after the play to find that many of the students opinions hadn’t changed and that “girls like that are half responsible”.

Methodologically all six schools proved so varied in responsiveness that we had to continually adapt our approach. This is more a highlight than a challenge because one of the pleasures of applied drama are those in-the-moment improvisations that help coax a non-responsive teenage into someone passionately arguing their point of view. It was also a pleasure to work closely with another facilitator, to be able to hand on to them and observe the different spin the took on what the young people were producing, to debrief and discuss afterwards and to have the space observe the students out of the main focus while your partner led.

All the groups became more responsive and engaged as the workshops went on, often prompting surprised teachers to exclaim how certain pupils were ‘coming out’ of themselves or asserting themselves more than usual. This may have been to do with the kinesthetic aspect of the work unlocking some student’s expressiveness ( a common enough result for applied drama) but also, especially with the young women, a reflection that the topic of gender inequality and consent was important enough to them to ‘raise their game’.

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

Seeing the play, which is very clear that the protagonist does not explicitly consent, wasn’t always enough to cut through the view that young women who take drugs, dress with sexual confidence and have sexual appetites must take responsibility if they are raped.

Every teacher we talked to was adamant their charges needed to be talking about this topic and as early in their school lives as possible.

There was one all boys schools that we were explicitly asked to visit because of the teachers’ concern about attitudes to women. The young men were indeed defensive and quick to offer counter examples of women lying about rape and we had to be clear the book and play of Asking For It are unequivocal in their depiction of an actual assault. The instinct to deflect the discussion then took an unusual route when they started to dismiss the story itself as unrealistic (“Those pictures would never have been left up there for so long”) and therefore not needing to be engaged with.

Despite having been worried, as mentioned previously, and prepared for the possibility that some participants might disclose that they had experienced assault the fast moving and generally fun nature of the workshops meant we never got to a space where this might have happened. We ensured that schools counsellors were aware of the work and many of them attended or kept in close communication. While the topics weren’t treated frivolously there was more a sense of the young people appreciated the respect shown by having them discuss them.

We were also worried that rules about reporting young people under 17 who revealed they had active sex lives would inhibit the discussion. This never happened and we managed to talk at length and in depth through the lens of the play and its characters without compromising any of the individuals involved.

Students Responses

‘The play had a huge effect on my awareness of my surroundings and really made me appreciate the life I have as the struggles portrayed in the play were devastating’. 

‘When the play was over it made me think how the word ‘rape’ is not being discussed as a problem. People are uneducated about the topic when they should’.

‘The play was very intense, the actors were very good at acting out their roles. By them doing this, it made the play very realistic’. 

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

A renewed enthusiasm to work with young people on ‘difficult’ topics.

A desire to continue to co-facilitate where resources allow.

A plan to use young people’s voice s more in the creation of study packs

Update from Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

Facilitator Johanna Webb and I returned to the all boys school and were told a third of the class were in Australia on a school trip and this meant our two workshops would be smaller.

This was a very different encounter with these privileged and, mainly, self-confident young men. Before, with larger groups of 20-25, the atmosphere had been alternately raucous and resistant with obvious leaders asserting their authority and more introverted personalities being muted by the sheer size and testosterone levels.

This time there wasn’t any possibility of hiding and Joanna and I chose to take a very candid approach in the hope it would create openness all round. We told them how concerned we had been at the previous workshops, how genuinely interested in their responses we were and how we appreciated the difficult position they were in (that they had little contact with young women and that they might feel attacked by the topics we were discussing). After moving through some responses obviously designed to give us what we wanted they started to actually say what they thought, prefaced with such remarks as ” I know this is an unpopular opinion but..” Once they saw they weren’t getting jumped on the whole workshop took off.

(My thanks here to Louise O’Neill who sent me an article about sex education in America which prompted us to focus more on these young men’s ignorance than their antagonism.)

We kept to our existing structure of exercises which explored the play ( walking around as different characters at different points in the story, making tableaux of significant moments) and the commitment was as mixed as any group but really these were just a springboard to keep discussing the themes of the play. Some preoccupations emerged – how culpable are you for your actions if you are drunk, how inhibited by convention the parents were, how over the top the lads were presented. The turning point was asking them, if were they Conor, would they take advantage of Emma’s offer to have sex in the second half of the play. Their outraged refusals introduced the idea of conscience and by the end of each workshop they had all agreed that really you always ‘know’ if you are overstepping the bounds of respect for another person’s autonomy regardless of how drunk you are.

The final exercise is choosing lines from the play (spread out on the floor in front of them) and talking about why they are significant. Several of these are from Emma when she is doubting her own position “e.g. Maybe I am a slut”. They were all clear this was an example of someone betraying themselves out of a desire to ‘get back to normal’. They also talked about their own fears of how to approach the whole area of sex and when two exchange students from France and Spain talked with obvious experience of having reflected on these topics you could see, past the odd embarrassed titter, that the Irish boys were impressed less at the achievement and more at the maturity. They all acknowledged the urge to brag about sexual conquests and how difficult it was to talk with the sensitivity they were displaying now when in the company of other young men. We did point out they were doing it there and then.

They came across as frightened, confused and tender-hearted, with no problem individually understanding Emma’s situation but also subject to a culture that made this empathy almost impossible to act upon. They seemed glad to have had the chance to talk openly and were noticeably more honest in the first workshop when we were left unsupervised for the last ten minutes.

Out of a possible 30 we only worked with 20 but these included the young man who’d previously called one of the characters ‘a pregnant bitch’ ( showing not only casual misogyny but a complete misunderstanding of the play) and another who’d been disruptively cynical. Both these behaviours disappeared quickly in the atmosphere of seriousness that the topics demanded. The teachers were amazed by how responsive some of the boys were but I wasn’t surprised that once they were listened to they re-discovered this sense of responsibility.

Before, after first visiting this school, I felt I’d seen the breeding ground for not only the rugby players in the Belfast rape trial but also the barristers who so calmly used their privileged education to spin the events to their clients’ advantage. Now I saw young men who could be advocates for more compassionate attitudes. So long as they resist the pack mentality.

Irish Film Institute (IFI)

Date: 18 December 2019

In advance of the Irish Film Institute’s (IFI) annual Careers in Screen Day, 2020, IFI Education, in partnership with Screen Skills Ireland, is offering a First Steps morning event, to introduce participants to the world of short filmmaking, through presentations from three flourishing filmmaking companies.

Presenting samples of their work and talking about their paths into the industry, guest speakers from Paper Panther Productions, Tailored Films and Failsafe Films, will each discuss their own career and answer participants’ questions relating to their work and their roles in the industry. The event is ideally suited to young people who are exploring different career options, perhaps considering third level courses in film, media or TV, or keen to learn from Irish filmmakers about working in the thriving screen industries.

Admission costs €5 per person and tickets are strictly limited. Suitable for ages 15-18. Event will last approx. 75 mins.

For further information go to ifi.ie/careers

 

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 14 November, 2019

Save the date! Join the team at the National Gallery of Ireland for a day of inspirational talks, activities and practical advice to get you thinking about what a creative career might mean for you!

Meet gallery staff members and learn about careers in areas such as curatorial, conservation and education. Special guests from other creative fields will also talk about their work and how they got to where they are today.

Suitable for post-primary students (4th Year – 6th Year).

More details to follow, and tickets available from September.
Contact codonnell@ngi.ie for more information.

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.

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

 

Learning from the power of place – Blog 3

“I walk because it confers- or restores- a feeling of placeness …I walk because, somehow, it’s like reading …” 

Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin wrote a while ago about the modern man, who walked the city in order to explore its history, the architecture, the changing environment.

That idea of exploring and thinking is about making sense of things, the places and people we encounter, and this approach can also be applied to adolescence children in their world, by interacting, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining their ideas.

Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local— the unique local history, environment, economy, culture, landscapes, and architecture of a particular place – in mapping the students’ own “place” or immediate schoolyard, neighborhood, town or community. And walking is like mapping with your feet.  It can promote a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing for all.

Following an introduction to the IAF Architects in Schools Programme to the TY students at St. Raphael’s College, Loughrea we started by asking the students a little about the town, the whereabouts of where they live and by what means had they travelled to the school that day. I wanted to find out about their lived experience and connection to the place. From this informal survey it soon became clear that the majority lived in either peripheralhousing estates or ribbon development on the towns fringes – the exception a few living on farm settlements in the environs of the county side. Not one it seemed lived within the town itself. I suggested walking the town together would allow us to stop – take a detour – and explore the form of that built environment.

Finding a historic street map from the local library and placing a glass, rim down, onto the map, we drew round its edge. We then instructed the students to pick up the map, go out into the town, and walk the circle, and keeping as close as they can to the curve, record their observations. This also helped them to get an idea of where we were in the context of the place.  Loughrea town is compact and so in short, the walk would show us all the key places in the town, and help us see some hidden gems in the process. By walking  – not only do you get great exercise –  you won’t miss details and you’re much more likely to go in different buildings, squeeze down alleyways, etc.

Loughrea lies at a number of boundaries, both historic and geographic and its pattern and form of development has been shaped by these features at the various stages of its development. The lake and medieval moate are wonderful but one could easily pass through Loughrea without noticing either. Its existing street plan closely follows that of a medieval layout. Many tall narrow properties on either side of the Main Street occupy burgage plots laid out in the 13th century.

The Temperance Hall / Barracks road complex is a palimpsest in which the layered history of Loughrea is revealed. Signs of the walled town, the original Gate House and successive military occupations are evident at even a quick glance. Behind the Temperance Hall, built c1780s as a Cavalry Barracks, we found a complex of buildings enclosed by fragments of a defensive wall. The site backed up to the lake with picturesque views out to the crannogs and surrounding landscape beyond. Student research later revealed the arrangement had once also included a hospital, infirmary and forge. Part currently provides social, cultural and educational services for the people of the town. This was the chosen site for the student’s design project. One of the first tasks we set in carrying out the survey was to photograph and to draw these buildings.

The aim, to adapt the assembly of buildings and introduce / incorporate new housing typologies into it to form a new ‘piece of town’. One that faced the lake but which also utilized the existing network of lanes which connect back from here into the town proper. The project was somehow about revitalizing this forgotten space, repopulating it and in so doing, assist in remedying the vacancy seen in the adjacent streets at the town center.

Adopting this strategy, the workshops which followed were designed to place the student at the center of this process, and resulted in propositions for a new linear public park, a café on the crannog and a new mixed residential community. All this, a clear demonstration for the potential of architecture to enhance the experience of living and working in the 21st century Irish town, coming from the students themselves.

It goes to show that if we start with small steps …. to support novice viewers become more observant and more thoughtful about what they are looking at then this can empower them to present an alternative vision for their existing built environment. It is so vital that our towns are living vibrant places, of social and cultural exchange, community and interactions and so they must be constantly maintained as adaptive changing entities.

We see that legacy of bad planning in towns like Loughrea. It’s one symptomatic of the challenges facing many small communities in Ireland – contradictory forces in the commercial landscape due to changing consumer behavior patterns, with resultant accepted sprawl of housing leading to vehicular predominance, and the changing demographics  – have pulled and shaped the town, and continue to do so resulting in increased vacancy at its core. In the context of climate change walkable and compact small towns have so much to offer us. The aim must be to shift the narrative from ‘conserving’ or ‘preserving’ small town settlements to ‘re-thinking’ and ‘championing’ them.

The students demonstrated an understanding of how these challenges faced by smaller communities can be overcome through sensitivity, creativity, collaboration and long-term stewardship. The projects demonstrate the possibilities of working in historic fabrics, re-connecting town centers to their surroundings and integrating a mix of uses into town centers. They arrived at a way of living which might suggest a more flexible approach to the town plot. It’s about creating a learning experiences that leverage the power of place. In fostering students’ connection to place, help their understanding of where they live and how taking action in their own backyards helps to take care of the world around them.

 

 

 

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.

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Cities Need Old Buildings – Blog 2

‘Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind—no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be—there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.’

From; The Death and Life of Great American Cities , Jane Jacobs

In my last blog I described how we extended the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) – Architects in Schools learning programme at The Bish into engagement beyond the school gate. Incorporating urban sketching on Nuns Island and other activities within the workshop itinerary in an attempt to encourage and allow the students an opportunity to examine their city from another perspective … to be creative. To be imaginative.

With the school located on part of the under-utilized parcel of land at the edge of Galway City center, the regeneration of Nuns Island lands need careful and detailed consideration it being directly between the City and NUI Galway it easily facilitates an expansion of the University campus or an expansion of the City creating a civic space to carefully bring both City and University together. NUI Galway and Galway City Council recently launched a public consultation for this very purpose. The aim here is to transform Nuns’ Island into a new quarter that will enable the city to capitalize on its creativity, enterprise and quality of life. The masterplan is being prepared by internationally-renowned planners BDP, business strategy advisors Colliers International and quantity surveyors AECOM. It is supported by the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund. Focusing on this regeneration of Nuns Island we were delighted that Gareth McGuire, Architect Director BDP agreed to lead the students on a mapping exercise.

So we took a walk through their Island, mapping the existing spaces and their functions, recording the grain of the place and also seeking out opportunities for future interventions.

Amongst the key programmatic functions identified by the students in this process a number of themes evolved;

Amongst these functions one of the activities identified by the students is the sight every July of the Big Blue Tent at Fisheries Field, erected for the duration of GIAF Arts Festival. It’s a signifier of the festival status which is core to the public life of the city and a landmark for the summer. We discussed with the students about this ‘creative arts entertainment’ intervention and the potential for other spaces on the island, such as the old derelict Persse’s Distillery Building for adaptive reuse purposes. What might those buildings and spaces become? Student accommodation? With the meeting of ‘Town and Gown’ perhaps a shared library building for the city would be useful? Or a new Distillery? A Contemporary Art Gallery? Co-working spaces to foster a creative community? The students could quite readily foresee that in the creative use of these spaces lies the key to regeneration for the entire masterplan.

GIAF Big Top

GIAF Big Top

During the process I was reminded of a famous line from the late great urbanist Jane Jacobs: “New ideas must use old buildings.” So how to interpret and translate that into a way which might allow the students to engage directly in the process of reimaging Nuns Island?

Attending the Galway International Arts Festival 2019 programme launch last Thursday, the Artistic Director Paul Fahy, referred to the lack of cultural infrastructure in the city, reaffirming the festivals need to ‘Adapt old spaces and turn them into something new … ’he announced that as in previous years having utilized the former Connacht Tribune Printworks for the Festival Gallery, and this now being is no longer available, (again its being repurposed but now as an indoor food market),  GIAF is out of necessity appropriating and re-adapting the old GPO Sorting Office for the Festival Gallery 2019. Situated just off William street this building is just one other city center site which has lain vacant and idle for many years. Out of sight and just screaming for rejuvenation!!

The GIAF festival have always been the cultural pioneers in this city whom out of necessity occupy overlooked and abandoned spaces and transform them into vibrant active places. They understood that a former printing works, or an GPO sorting office can accommodate exactly the kind of framework needed for a creative hub /district. Both examples demonstrate a pragmatic response, creating flexible public buildings that give scope for further development. That kind of loose-fit re-apportion of space does not dictate how it should be used, the potential for revival is already there in the infrastructure and Galway has the cultural riches to attract people in the first place. It’s a matter of turning it to the right purpose. To look at the seeming familiar from another perspective …

As Architects we are often challenged to respond to these kinds of circumstances by conceiving new ideas for the design or re-design of existing spaces. In this process architects can become both activist and educator, championing the cause and helping to galvanize the support of the local community.

This was the approach taken with the students at the Bish. Bringing the class out into the town to explore and experience spaces and familiar places on their door step. To invite them to contribute and make decisions on what buildings or spaces they would like to create in their own local area. You could sense the excitement among the student participants in engaging as stakeholders themselves in that process which shapes their environment, in opening up new ways of looking and engaging with the world, and just perhaps pathways to creative careers as master planners or cultural pioneers for a few.

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline Date: Friday 31 May 2019

Applications are now open for schools to participate in the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative. An initiative aiming to encourage collaboration between architects and teachers, giving Transition Year students a hands-on design experience.

Now in its seventh year, Architects in Schools has been delivered in over 80 schools nationwide to date, with students exploring how design and architecture affect their school and local environment, learning a range of skills and gaining insight into a range of career options. The initiative begins with a skills sharing day for all participating teachers and architects in late September, projects/workshops are delivered in classrooms in terms 1 and/or 2 and the initiative culminates with a national exhibition in mid April.

Places on the initiative are limited to 30 schools per year, and the IAF selects schools through an application process, aiming for a broad geographic spread, a mix of school types and a balance between new and returning schools. To give your school the best chance of participating, apply online by Friday 31 May.

For more information, visit the IAF website at architecturefoundation.ie/ news/architects-in-schools- 2019-20-open-for-school- applications/

To apply online go to  https://docs.google. com/forms/d/e/ 1FAIpQLSf9ZICqLfJ- CdcHVH8buyWLfdpNk1LyixWF7FS7CW XUrJEenw/viewform

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Threshold – Blog 1

TY students from schools around the country completed their IAF Architects in Schools project this month with a presentation at GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus to IAF, GMIT staff and Architect Dermot Bannon. Devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation, this initiative provides students with first-hand experience of the design process under the guidance of design professionals.

This was my third year participating in the programme, and alongside architect Sybil Curley returning to my alma mater at St. Josephs College, ‘the Bish’, Galway we undertook to deliver a series of workshops which might allow the students to develop their visual spatial skills. Art is not taught as part of the curriculum at the school, so it was important that we find a way to allow the students the opportunity to express their inherent creativity. The teacher was keen for us to assist the students to work on design concept development that would prepare them for Design Communication and Graphics (DCG) subject challenges. To this aim, prompting visual research was very important as it helped the students investigate that process. Taking steps to intentionally address any lack of confidence in their own creativity the students surveyed areas of the school and recorded observations on materials, light levels, circulation etc. Critical thinking and visual awareness was encouraged throughout the course.  Exploratory site visits further increased the students’ visual vocabulary and ability to convey design concepts through sketching.

In the first year we explored the idea of ‘Threshold’ in creating an aedicule, between the school institution and the city. There are plans to relocate the school away from Nuns Island and out of the city to a new site in the coming years so the idea was to think about designing a ‘gateway’ into the new institution. Starting with an exercise to create their own school motto to place above the entrance to the existing school building we brought the students out to sketch the Spanish Arch and other historical approach’s to the city. Following mapping exercises of the schools existing entrances and reception areas as well documenting the access roads/bridges onto the Island in which the school is located the students constructed a 1:100 physical model of the school upon which they could place designs of their own ‘aedicule’ interventions.

The following year we continued this exploration of that kind of creative flexibility which extended into how we can engage with the city beyond the school. Inspired by dePaor Architects refurbishment of Druid theatre, the students reimagined the adaptive reuse of their existing school building, turning it towards the river, and incorporating the adjacent Nuns Island Theatre into the schools buildings programme.  Careful consideration was made to how best retain the character of this building, a former Methodist Church repurposed as an arts venue, and how this might give greater flexibility for improvements throughout the entire schools built infrastructure.

The design brief encouraged them to practice a culture of sustainability in our built environment through adaptive reuse of existing building stock located in and around the school’s current location at Nun’s Island. This initiative has the potential not only to encourage the students to better understand their built environment and gain skills in design, sketching, photography, model making & computer graphics. But also to encourage them to explore their local history & geography, engage in environmental studies, develop knowledge of material & construction studies as well as a practical use for ICT skills. The ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions—is being recast as a prized and teachable skill.

I find that these experiences have not only reinforced my belief in the importance and benefits to be found in ‘learning from making’ for a student’s development, but it has enabled them develop their own identity/interests, skills, sense of self confidence, and the possibilities for integrating this into all aspects of their learning process.

When we think about communicating something essential about the world be it through art/drama/storytelling etc. to young people in particular, it does not help to be didactic, to focus on technical or technological skill. I would encourage an emphasis on the enjoyment and the value of the process of making more than the result or final product. What is of benefit to the youth is found in the freedom, experimentation and exploration that went into their creation. Expect to make mistakes. There is no right way or wrong way. It is in finding solutions that make the value of creative imagination most valuable. My approach would be to get something across playfully. To equip students with valuable life tools which enhance their public speaking and communication skills, social development, emotional development as well as the cognitive benefits. Actually, to get playfulness itself across.

Fiona Lawton TeacherFiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Working Together – Blog 3

As Spring slowly emerges with its brighter days and new beginnings, we too are delighted to get started with our new creative project in Scoil Bernadette.

After lots of planning and negotiating with calendars, our first visual arts workshop started on the 8th March with ten enthusiastic students, one from each class group, ready to pick up their pencils and get drawing.

During our first workshop we were introduced to our facilitators, Ailbhe Barrett and Rosaleen Moore who showed us some of their work and told us about their professional careers as artists. Ailbhe and Rosaleen are two artists who work in a supported studio as part of the Gasp programme. Gasp artists meet on Tuesdays in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and are facilitated by Mairead O’Callaghan (More information on supported artists and this project can be found here (www.crawfordartgallery.ie/Learn-and-Explore-Crawford-Supported-studio-Artists) We were certainly impressed to see their beautiful paintings and to hear of their celebrity appearances on the Late Late show.

We played a few icebreaker games to settle the nerves and to get to know each other a little better. Soon we were ready to get down to the busy work of creating. We each chose a word that represented the feeling of being at the workshop. Some of the words chosen were ‘happy’,’ listening’,’ together’, and ‘Cork’. It was the first step in expressing ourselves within the group. We then drew our words on paper, decorating them to our liking.

We finished the workshop with another fun game where in a circle we threw a ball of string from one person to another. We ended up with a visual representation of a very connected group. As one student remarked, it was all about ‘teamwork’.

The following workshop re-enforced this theme of working together. We were divided into two groups. Each group had to build a structure as high as they could. It was challenging, stressful, but lots of fun!

On the 22nd March the group set off for the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork City to get some inspiration. Here we met with Julie who gave us an extensive tour of the gallery where we viewed and interacted with the current exhibitions. We met with Ailbhe and Rosaleen there and got to visit the studio space where they work. We were lucky enough to have time to do some drawing in the Art Gallery at the end of our tour, taking inspiration from the paintings and installations we had seen.

So far the project is going well. The students look forward each week to having extra time in the school timetable to draw, build and create, taking inspiration from each other and the work of professional artists. After three weeks of working together, I feel that the group has bonded well and there is a collegial and supportive atmosphere which adds to the enjoyment of the workshops.

We have three weeks left to continue this work of creative collaboration. We are eager to continue to develop our skills and to discover our talents.  We hope to have a day of celebration in the coming months to display the finished and unfinished work to parents, friends and the rest of the school community. We are proud to be a creative school.

Fiona Lawton TeacherFiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Making Connections – Blog 2

Since our return to school in the New Year, we have begun the next stage of our Creative Schools journey, which is developing our school plan. In mid-January, I met with Naomi Cahill (Creative Schools Associate) to discuss our aims and objectives for the near future as a creative school. Using the framework provided, we were enabled to assess our current strengths and weaknesses in the following areas: Teaching and Learning; Leadership and Management; Children and Young People and Opportunities and Networks.

The process of writing the school plan has renewed our school’s commitment to the creative arts and also has highlighted the areas we would like to develop in the near future. We have committed to providing CPD (Continued Professional Development) for teachers in the next academic year. We will receive training on how best to use drama as a teaching methodology which can be integrated with all subjects across the curriculum.

Scoil Bernadette has a strong focus on the arts already and is involved in a number of extra-curricular creative projects including, dance, music, and theatre. In keeping with our overall objective, which is to enable all students to access a broad range of creative activities whilst in school, we have decided to organize additional visual arts workshops this year.

As Scoil Bernadette is a special school it is vital that all activities are accessible and inclusive for all students. Naomi has been invaluable in providing the school with links with a variety of organisations and practitioners that have experience in working with students with disabilities. It is important for us a school to expand our community network and provide as many opportunities as possible for our students to participate in activities that will aid their journey as lifelong learners.

We have made links with Mairead O’Callaghan in Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. Mairead facilitates visual arts workshops with a number of supported artists each week. (More information on supported artists and this project can be found here (www.crawfordartgallery.ie/Learn-and-Explore-Crawford-Supported-studio-Artists.html)

On 14th February 2019 Naomi, Mairead and I met to develop a plan where a series of six art workshops could be run in Scoil Bernadette during March and April. The workshops will be led by Mairead and co-facilitated by Rosaleen Moore and Ailbhe Barrett, two supported artists that attend the Crawford each week.

It is envisaged that this project will be collaborative and student-led. A group of ten to twelve students from Scoil Bernadette, one from each class, will attend each Friday in the school. The workshops will also involve a visit to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork City. Together the students will decide on how the project will take shape. We hope to document the process with photographs which can be used to form part of an exhibition to be held in the school.

The workshops will begin on 8th March. We are looking forward to welcoming Mairead, Ailbhe, and Rosaleen to our school and beginning this new adventure.

We are excited to make new links with our local community which hopefully will expand both current and future possibilities for students in Scoil Bernadette.

 

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

Fiona Lawton Profile Image Fiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Creative Coordinator – Blog 1

My Name is Fiona Lawton and I have been teaching in Scoil Bernadette for the last ten years. Scoil Bernadette is a special school in Cork that caters for students with mild general learning disabilities. The school aims to make each student be as independent as they can be.

We do this by providing a secure, caring and supportive environment through the provision of a broad curriculum of social, personal, academic, sporting, vocational and relevant life-skills programmes.

I teach a range of subjects in Scoil Bernadette and have a keen interest in drama, I am a graduate of the Masters in Drama and Theatre at UCC. My learning there has taught me the value of creativity in an educational setting. As teachers in Scoil Bernadette we are consistently looking for new ways to engage our students and make learning fun.

We have a strong focus on the arts in Scoil Bernadette. We have a choir that performs in school, at fundraising events and in an annual Christmas Concert each year. Our students are involved in a Samba drumming group and they participate in the Music Mash Up community arts programme where they learn instruments and singing. We have an annual visit from GMC rapper who works with our final year students in creating their own rap. We are also very involved in the dramatic arts. We are good friends with the Everyman Theatre in Cork and attend their musical theatre productions each year. We also regularly attend workshops and performances with Graffiti Theatre and Cyclone Productions. Our Fifth years create their own drama production where they devise, produce and perform their own show over a period of four months.

This is just a small selection of the creative activities that we are involved with. As you can imagine we were delighted to be chosen to participate in the Creative Schools programme. For us, it provides us with a forum to celebrate and consolidate the work we have been doing and it also gives us an opportunity to take stock, evaluate and plan how we can develop our school as a creative learning community.

Attending the in service for the Creative Schools Coordinators was an exciting and encouraging start to the year. It was great to meet all the other teachers and youth workers who are involved in the programme. The day was informative, hands on and great fun. The enthusiasm showed by the facilitators and participants was infectious. It was a great reminder of how we learn best when we are active and collaborating. This belief is one of the core teaching methodologies that we would like to promote in Scoil Bernadette as a creative school.

I did my best to recreate the days learning (albeit a condensed version) at our own staff planning day. We all did the envelope activity which required us to think ‘outside the box’ and engage with our creative sides. We don’t always have the opportunity to consider these things together so it was nice to discuss and share ideas about what creativity means to us as a staff. We also did an inventory of the creative activities that we are currently doing. It was great to acknowledge the many creative activities we are involved with already.

It was a pleasure to finally meet our Creative Schools Associate, Naomi. Naomi came up to meet with a group of our students and did a fantastic workshop with them where they were given an opportunity to consider what creative activities they are currently involved with and what they would like to do in the future. Naomi also distributed surveys to the staff so that we could give our thoughts on our current strengths, challenges and hopes for Scoil Bernadette as a creative school. Naomi’s enthusiasm for the project is evident and we are delighted we have her expertise to guide us through the planning process.

I feel that the wheels have been set in motion and we are off to a good start. I am looking forward to the next stage of the process where we can start planning and making decisions about where to go next.

It will be exciting to make links with other schools and expand our thinking and share experiences. We are delighted to be involved with this project and are looking forward to the rest of the year.

Read Naomi Cahill, Creative Schools Associate blog series at the links below:

Naomi Cahill – Guest Blog 1

Naomi Cahill – Guest Blog 2

Narrative 4

Narrative 4 is inviting post-primary school teachers in the Mid-West to take part in their innovative story based CPD training, enabling teachers to run their creative wellness and storytelling module “The Story Exchange” in their classrooms. This module has already been delivered in 18 schools in the region, and has been piloted in Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh for the last 2 years. It was developed in the USA as a means of building empathy and breaking down social boundaries through personal stories, and is now also in schools Mexico, Canada, the UK, Palestine, Israel and South Africa.

Funded by the Creativity Fund Programme from Creative Ireland.

Training Location: Narrative 4, 58 O’Connell Street, Limerick.

Proposed dates:

4th and 5th February (Two full days)

April and July TBC

Additional dates in the coming months to be scheduled

To book your place or to find out more information please email community@Narrative4.ie or phone 061-315656.

Or go to narrative4.com/ireland/

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights’ Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

College has changed the way I write… – Blog 2

I write this blog like a stereotypical college student, with a deadline looming, on a tiny computer, in a big academic library. Eight months ago I was accepted into the Young Playwrights Programme and four months ago my first play took to life on the stage. Do I miss the programme? Short answer: Yeah.

In college, I am constantly reminded of the time I spent at Graffiti – not to jinx it. Just like then I am surrounded by people I like with my trusty keyboard only a stretch of my arm away.

A lot of things that I did not expect happened when I became a first-year student at UCC.

I can stare/glare/laugh at the ‘world’ now. And feel comfortable enough in it. John and Katie always encouraged us to say what we are- writers. An obvious title. But up until this new chapter of my life, I was waiting. Waiting for proof that I could post on Instagram and make everyone stop scrolling for a second and think- wow, Róisin… she’s not average… every negative thought gone…

I am not going to type bullshit if my time with the journalism society has taught me anything. The doors did not open present my ambitions to me.

My personal life turned into the Titanic on speed when the Leaving Cert came around. And the neat blue lines of the exam booklets had no sympathy marks to give. I didn’t get the results I wanted. The State Examinations Commission said you’re not good enough, the days, the months, the YEAR you spent was as worthless as the paper the results are printed on.

I got my dream course because I got lucky. Any other year… let’s not think of that.

My Leaving Cert is worthless now. Lecturers don’t mention it and us students squint and cringe about it, rarely.

I have learned to stop wishing and writing sloppy coming of age stories that made me sick with boredom. I write about my life now and the world around me. I send my drafts to the UCC Express or the Motley to connect with other students. So far I haven’t got a no, just edits. and ‘you can do it.’ And I am happy. The tiny achievements college has offered me have given me more than six years and two exams ever could.

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: Friday 28th September, 9.30am & 1pm

As part of the Patrick Hough exhibition programme at the Solstice Arts Centre, post-primary schools are invited to take part in a curriculum linked visual arts workshop. Join Creative Arts Facilitator and Prop-Maker Caitriona McGowan for an intriguing tour of the exhibition and create a 3-Dimensional bust using a variety of techniques such as templating and plaster casting. Caitriona will provide students with a unique insight into the model-making industry and her own career as a prop-maker working in film, theatre and street performance.

This workshop comes with an additional resource that covers the Gallery Question of the Leaving Certificate, Art Appreciation course and can be downloaded from the Solstice Arts Centre website.

For further information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/schools/exploring-patrick-hough-through-prop-building-design.2703.html

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

Youth, the Internet and Fiction – Blog 2

There are millions of stories on Fanfiction.net. 791K of those stories alone are listed under Harry Potter.

Meaning: Thousands of mostly young people around the world using their keyboards to enter the writing world. All because of words someone else has written.

I think that sounds amazing.

But attach the label ‘fanfiction’ and people start cringing.
Why?

Using the incorrect form of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ shouldn’t automatically make you a joke. Writing isn’t easy. And I can relate.

On my way to becoming a writer, I went through the terrible years of primary and early secondary school feeling average. I had nothing in front of me, so much energy and nowhere to put it.

According to school there are only three categories to slot into. Athletic, brainy or social butterfly and if you aren’t a superstar at one of those things – tough shit. To the end of the pecking order, please!

One day, out of boredom, I typed 500 words on my phone and called it a first (bad) chapter. I wanted nineteen years later to be more than a just happy ending at a train station. Those 500 words turned into 230,000 words and counting. And that, I can safely say, drew me to more books, made me see things from multiple perspectives and start to question things. English class didn’t improve my editing skills, get me into the Young Playwrights Programme or give me the opportunity to write this blog. Writing something I loved did.

Yes, there are the scandalous stories but isn’t there Mills and Boons lining the shelves of every library? You just need to know where to look. The most followed stories on the site are under the genre adventure and are longer than any of the books I have on my shelf.

The readers and writers work together. They learn to improve their writing technique by editing and even beta-ing. People constructively break down each other’s work and work together to build each other up. Even the reviews are kind and supportive for the most part.

You wouldn’t believe the number of teen writers testing the waters and spreading their wings. They are trying to teach themselves. They want guidance and acknowledgement.

If you type fanfiction into any search engine late-night talk show segments will show up trying to get a cheap laugh and articles trying to teach parents what it is like in the depths of the community will appear. No one on the sites cares. That’s the outside world. The writers and readers do what they do with confidence. Confidence that would be benefitable to schools and societies in this cynical world.

And I’ll end this first blog with the lessons online writing has taught me. Lessons I should’ve learned in school:

Ability, even a magical ability like creativity takes works.
And
The only way to really succeed is to push forwards through the shitty phase every writer goes through and post that next update.

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 4: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects to tell our story through the medium of a museum. Its subject is the lives of students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In my last blog post I detailed how I worked with a group of first year CSPE students and asked them to invest in the stories behind their rights – and learn about their rights in reality.

In our next session, I presented a simple everyday object to the group – I used a shoe. I like to gather the participants around the object in a circle. First I asked them to make objective observations: what can we say for certain just by looking at it? For example; “it’s a shoe”, “it’s got white laces”, “it’s black” “there’s dirt on it”. I kept this going, correcting them if they brought in any subjective observations (eg. “They look like they’ve been used to go running” or “They’re ugly”). Keep it to the facts that you can tell just by looking.

Once I’d just about exhausted this, I asked them to make subjective observations. I prompted them; who might have owned these shoes? What might they have used them for? Did they value them? And with each answer, I asked them to support their claim with evidence that they can see.

Then I placed the shoes on a raised platform (I used a bin but asked them to imagine it was a plinth in a museum!) and I asked them if that changed the way they saw it? Did it make it seem more important? Why? What could possibly be so important about this pair of shoes that they would be in a museum? I asked them to imagine that there was a label on it that said “Plastic and canvas shoes. Shoe size 5. 2017. Syria.” and then I asked them what they thought of them then. What would they think about the story of these shoes and who wore them?

I put the shoes away and then put another object on our “plinth”. This one was of personal importance to me – a pair of cufflinks displayed in their box. But I didn’t tell the participants anything about them yet. Again I asked them to make objective observations, then subjective observations (“is this important to the owner? Why do you say that?” “Are these expensive? Why do you say that?” “When were they made?” etc.) I then told them what they were, the story behind them and why they were important to me. Then I asked them all to bring in an object that was important to them, look at their UNHCR which we’d been working on, and relate what was important to them about the object back to an article in the charter.

Now we were facing the task of putting together an exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Our questions for this were; how do we represent the work and the participants’ learning in that space for members of the public to see? And how do we invite the public to actively engage with the ideas within it?

We decided to keep it simple; we photographed all the participants with their chosen object and asked them why it was important to them and what right(s) it related to. We then got Sarah Moloney, a graphic designer (although this could have been done by me or someone who had time to learn Photoshop) to lay out the photographs with quotations from the students laid over the image, along with the text from the UNCRC that were relevant. Each of these was printed on A2 card and was displayed on the walls of the exhibitions space. This allowed all of the students who had taken part to be represented in the exhibition.

There were three large windows in the space; the middle one we printed the text of the UNCRC and on the two sides windows we wrote “What would be in your Rights Museum?” and invited the public to write on the windows in liquid chalk pens which we provided. This allowed the public to actively engage in the ideas that the Right Museum was provoking.

The Museum kindly lent us a display case, for which I chose eight objects that were representative of the whole group, to be displayed for the duration of the exhibition. This was the centre piece of the Rights Museum and showed the seemingly everyday objects, contributed by young citizens, enjoying the prestige and equal importance that is given to the treasured objects in the National Museum’s collection.

The power of this statement seemed to resonate with those we told about it and we had an enthusiastic response to our invitation to the opening of the exhibition. The opening was attended by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton, Director of the National Museum Raghnall Ó Floinn and the Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon, as well as national media including RTE news and the Irish Times. Two students from Larkin Community College, Ciarán Hayden and Isabella Anthony, spoke about their experience of the process at the podium, alongside the Minister, Director, and Ombudsman for Children. A number of students led guided interpretive tours of the exhibition for our guests.

I’d count among the Rights Museums successes; the way that it was able to facilitate learning about children’s rights in an active and personal way, that it succeeded in placing, on equal footing, the objects and stories of the young people alongside the artefacts of the National Museum, and the wide reach that the Rights Museum had to the public, through the media and from those who visited it.

The main challenges were in finding time and space with the young people to work in a way that was outside of the curriculum – although there are important curricular subjects being addressed. I am eternally grateful to the staff of Larkin, particularly Máire O’Higgins for facilitating that. Another challenge I found was a lack of understanding, of and buy-in to, the idea of human rights by the young people that I worked with. I picked up on a prevailing perception, before I started working with them, that human rights were a

My takeaways from this projects are many but the main ones that jump to mind

1. That artists have a different approach to working that the students can benefit from that perspective. The artists way is often a more circuitous, process and enquiry based approach than students are used to in mainstream education. It’s one that’s comfortable with the state of ambiguity you find yourself in while you’re working, one that allows one to say “I don’t know what this is yet” and for that not to be a bad thing. That’s not to say artists are the only people who can demonstrate that way of working, but it is something that artists can do because of the way many of us work.

2. That as an artist working in a school, it’s important that that’s what I remain – an artist. My job is to be an artist, not an Art or CSPE teacher or anything else. The job is artist and that has value.

3. That the framing of work by young people has a profound impact on how it’s perceived by people, but most importantly themselves. The way their work (whether it be a copy book, or a sculpture or a story told in class) is handled by the people in the world around them, subconsciously tells them something about it’s value. And my feeling is there is a huge artistic and social potential in subverting expectations of that value – as we did in small way by displaying “ordinary” objects in a museum.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has commissioned an education pack that features a guide on how to create your own rights museum in your school or community, and it will be available from their website in the autumn 2018 term.

If I may, I’d like to thank the Arts in Education portal for offering me this chance to share the process; Rebecca Mclaughlin and Niall Muldoon in the OCO for their support and vision in making this happen; Helen Beaumont and Lorraine Cormer in the National Museum’s Education Department for all that they did in hosting the exhibition, giving it a platform and providing expert facilitation on museum curation to the students; Richard Bruton for officially opening the exhibition; the students at Larkin Community College, and staff Siobhán Mckenzie, Declan Quinn, Emma O’Reilly, and Principal Thomas Usher. In particular I would like to thank Assistant Principal Máire O’Higgins, without whose drive, vision and passion for education and art, this wouldn’t have started and would have fallen at the first hurdle.

 

The Young Playwright’s Programme

Date: 2pm 22nd June, 2018

The Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award recipient project the Young Playwright’s Programme to showcase at The Everyman as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.

The Young Playwrights’ Programme brought together nine aspiring young writers to develop and hone scriptwriting skills, supported by professional playwright mentors John McCarthy and Katie Holly at Graffiti Theatre Company as part of Fighting Words Cork.

The project culminates in a presentation of their work as staged readings at the Everyman for Cork Midsummer Festival. The process which these young people have engaged with was truly transformative, far more powerful than the simple assembly of words on pages. This enriching collaborative environment has acted as a catalyst for the unique voices of the Young Playwrights and led to the creation of these nine compelling pieces.

Graffiti/Fighting Words Cork are really proud to be working with these wonderful young people in collaboration with The Everyman, Landmark Productions and The Cork Midsummer Festival as part of a programme of events in connection with Asking For It funded through the Arts Councils Open Call Awards.

This event is free but ticketed.

To RSVP you can just call the Everyman box office at 021 450 1673 or emailing info@everymancork.com

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 3: Rights Museum

In my last blog post I detailed “Phase 1” of the process in which I facilitated drama and storytelling workshops with the 2nd year Art students at Larkin Community College, and the work-in-progress of the Rights Museum project which we presented in Croke Park for the OCO’s UNCRC25 Launch.

Although the presentation in Croke Park was supposed to be a “work-in-progress”, any readers who have done works-in-progress themselves will know there’s an inevitable sense of completion that sets in afterwards. Our challenge for “Phase 2” of the Rights Museum project was finding something new in executing the same idea. At the same time, the Art teachers Declan Quinn and Siobhán Mackenzie (who had been an essential energetic and creative force through the process from the beginning) started to feel the gravitational pull of the curriculum on their time, and thought that to continue with the process would be consume more time than they could afford to give. So, it was with some difficulty that we decided to draw a line under the phase 1 with the second year art students. This, I’m sure is a challenge and a decision many educators reading this will understand.

In order to continue, Máire O’Higgins, Deputy Principal and coordinator of artistic partnerships, needed to find an enthusiastic teacher and a group students who could benefit from the work. This she found in abundance in Emma O’Reilly and her first year CSPE class.

The task now was to recreate the process of phase one with a new group. This time, given that they were a CSPE class, we decided to find our way in through the UNCRC. Emma O’Reilly gave an introduction class to the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child, supported by me and Máire O’Higgins. Human Rights is one of the core pillar concepts of their CSPE course which they would normally cover in second year, so there was a curricular link there.

In our next session we asked the students to pick what they considered to be the most essential article in the UNCRC and to say why. We found their answers tended to cluster around the articles relating to family (and this was a theme we saw bare out in the objects they chose for the museum later). As the students told us which articles they thought were essential , my job as facilitator was to foment debate and dissent.

I used an exercise called “The Continuum” in which we cleared away the tables and chairs, nominated one end of the room to be “strongly agree” and the other side to be “strongly disagree” with “unsure” in the middle. When I said a statement, the students had to place themselves in the room, depending on how they felt about the statement. So, for example I might say “’Article 24; you have the right to healthcare’ is the most essential right” and the students would place themselves in the room depending on whether they agreed or strongly disagreed or somewhere in the middle. Then I would call on people who had taken the most extreme positions to say why. As they listened to the conversation and opposing points, students were encouraged to change their positions in the room as they changed their minds.

In this way, the students learned, from each other, the importance of their rights through the personal anecdotes they shared; they learned about their rights in reality. Choosing extreme statements to polarise opinion at the start and then allowing them to tease out the nuances among themselves.

In my next, and final, blog post I’ll describe how we applied this knowledge to museum curation; how one can tell stories and create meaning through selecting  and placing objects. I’ll describe the process of working with the National Museum of Ireland, the launch of our completed Rights Museum exhibition in the National Museum at Collins Barracks and the Education Pack being commissioned by the OCO based on the Rights Museum.

Creative Engagement

Deadline October 25th 2018

The Arts and Culture Committee of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is once again launching its annual arts-in-education scheme for second level schools. The Creative Engagement programme 2018-19 begins in October 2018.  Funding has been secured for the 2018-19 school year from both the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council.

At the core of the Creative Engagement scheme is the collaboration between student, teacher and artist as set out in Artist~Schools (Arts Council 2006). It’s about tapping into the imagination of the young person while giving both an incentive and a framework for the work to thrive.

Application Forms and further information can be downloaded from www.creativeengagement.ie

What is our aim:

The selection criteria:

Financial considerations

Partnerships:

Since 2005 NAPD has established working partnerships with The Department of Education and Skills, The Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Poetry Ireland, The Heritage Council, Poetry Ireland, The National Museum, The National Gallery, IMMA, Amnesty International, Local authority Arts Officers and Cavan Monaghan ETB local arts in education Partnership.
Deadline October 25th 2018

 

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

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 2: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In the last post I described the beginnings of the project idea and the partners who came together to make in happen; Larkin Community College, The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the National Museum of Ireland.

I began work on “Phase 1” of the project in September 2017 with two second-year Art classes, along with teachers Siobhán McKenzie and Declan Quinn. I facilitated four weekly hour-long workshops  on Wednesday afternoons outside of class time. I also worked with the students in their art classes with their teachers.

The workshops used drama and storytelling techniques to three main aims; to surprise and entertain, to get them cooperating as a group, not just individuals; and to introduce new forms of self-expression. That work included a simple ball throwing and catching exercise (acknowledging the stress that it causes, allowing ourselves to drop the ball, and focussing on the thing that mattered; that we were all working together calmly to the get the ball around the circle). We also stood in a circle and played what I call “Kung Foo” (of which there’s many variations including “zip, zap, boing”) We also played a game in which 5 participants sit in a row, and then take turns standing up and saying “My name is X” followed by something that’s true. The aim is to always have someone standing and sating something, to act on the impulse to fill a gap where it occurs and to say anything that’s true, however mundane, that come into your head. This exercise allows for back-and-forth conversations to emerge, (eg. “My name is Dan and I have two brothers” followed by “My name is Stacy and I also have two brothers”) and for the participants to get to know each other better and have a way of expressing themselves through the exercise.

In two Art classes a week, I focussed more directly on the task of creating a Rights Museum. That time was devoted to introducing the concepts of the UNCRC (supported by a workshop delivered by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office) and a focus on objects and what story they can tell (supported by a “If Objects Can Talk” workshop in National Museum of Ireland).

The students were asked to pick an object that was meaningful to them and to bring it in to class.

They were asked to “free-write” about it.

They were asked to stand up and share why it was meaningful to them and what articles in the UNCRC it referred to.

This process lead the students to share among the following objects with their class:

In their other session each week, Ms McKenzie’s class divided into 4 groups. Each group took a theme of the UNCRC and created a large mind-map illustrating that theme and the rights that it represented. Mr Quinn’s class also divided into 4 groups and created interactive paper fortune tellers which illustrated the four themes.

The culmination of phase 1 was a work-in-progress presentation of the Rights Museum took place in Croke Park as part of the OCO’s launch of the UNCRC25 celebrations in September 2017. It featured :

The participants reported their surprise and delight at how their objects and artwork were displayed just like in a professional museum. They also reported experiencing a thrill at seeing other people coming to view their objects and read their writing, and a great sense of achievement in what they’d produced.

The work-in-progress was intended to mark the end of phase 1 and the beginning of another, but we were soon to discover that it had the sense of an ending in and of itself. For phase 2 of the work, we would be starting again with a new set of students and finding a way to join the work that both groups had done.
 

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.

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 1: Rights Museum

Can our objects tell us about the state of our rights?

Can they show our rights upheld? The rights we’re denied?

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

The project is led by me, in my capacity as Director of Collapsing Horse. I am an artist, a producer, director and writer for theatre. Collapsing Horse is a theatre and festival production company that makes work that arises out of collaboration and purposeful play. Sometimes the work we make is for and with young people.

It originated when I was approached by Máire O’Higgins, Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College and asked if I would be interested in working with the students there, if I had an idea of what I would do. She described examples of some of the remarkable work that had been created by the students with professional artists. I was familiar with Larkin from work I had done there with the Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education Department and had admired the school’s commitment to the arts as a key part of the holistic development of their students. This commitment is upheld in the face of frequent adversity. Máire made no bones about it – Larkin is a school that is on the front lines of a community that has experienced generations of lack of opportunity and neglect.

Around about the same time Rebecca McLaughlin, from the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), approached me with the idea of collaborating on something for the 25th anniversary of Ireland’s ratification of the UNCRC. It seemed serendipitous! It was obvious to put the two ideas together – I would lead the Rights Museum project in Larkin Community College, which would also serve as pilot programme that could be written about in an education pack and replicated in other schools and communities for the OCO’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. Later, the National Museum of Ireland came on board as enthusiastic supporters, making it clear they would help in whatever way we could.

The goal from the outset was clear. We would empower a group of young people to create an exhibition illustrating their experience of their rights enshrined in the UNCRC. What wasn’t clear, was how we were going to do it.

The Civic Theatre, Tallaght

Schools Performances – Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Original plays, written by 15/16 year old playwrights, provide a unique glimpse into the world of our young people; articulating their experience and their reality.

TENDERFOOT, meaning neophyte, newbie, greenhorn, is The Civic Theatre’s apprentice theatre programme for transition year students.  Now in its eleventh year the programme provides students from eight different schools in the South County Dublin region the opportunity to create and perform original work for the stage. From January 25th to 27th this work can be seen in The Civic Theatre.  Plays written by young people, telling their stories, presenting the world as they see it.  These diverse and exciting plays, the work of young theatre makers, include –

The End of the Beginning by Tadhg Slye, an exploration of male friendship in a world of exams and first girlfriends and exploding toasters.

Plastic by Jordan Lee, a supernatural chiller guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat.

Seaside Story by Aidan Kelly, a comedy about families, holidays and global warming.

And Just for the Cracked by Chloe O’Flaherty which takes a fly on the wall look at a group of young people who find their friend unconscious and unresponsive at a party.

Tenderfoot Performances 2018

Schools Performances Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Admission €10 / €5 concession

Booking 01 4627477  www.civictheatre.ie/ whats-on/tenderfoot-new- writing-showcase-2018/

Roscommon Arts Centre

This spring Roscommon Arts Centre will host a series of films for schools:

Goodbye Berlin – IFI TY/Senior Cycle German Film

Maik is a daydreamer who goes unnoticed by his classroom crush; Andrej is an oddball kid from Russia with an eccentric taste for Hawaiian shirts. The two form an unlikely bond when Andrej shows up at Maik’s door with a “borrowed” blue Lada, and the prospect of an impromptu road trip beckons. Based on the bestselling German novel Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, Tschick is a funny, endearing, coming-of-age film with fresh verve of its own. TUESDAY 20th FEBRUARY | 11am | €2

My Life As A Courgette – IFI TY/Senior Cycle French Film

Nine-year-old Icare, nicknamed Courgette, moves to a foster home, a place full of rejected kids fighting for survival among the rest of the bullies, loners and misfits. Adapted from a YA novel by Girlhood director, Celine Sciamma. TUESDAY 24th APRIL | 11am | €2

The Golden Dream – IFI TY/Senior Cycle Spanish Film

A group of Guatemalan teenagers attempt to make their way to the U.S.A., dreaming of the better life that the country promises, but they are ill equipped, both physically and emotionally, for the challenges they face getting there. This is an absorbing and suspenseful drama, excellently acted by its three non-professional leads. TUESDAY 20th MARCH | 11am | €2

For more information and bookings go to www.roscommonartscentre.ie

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. It is a mainstream school and offers Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Blog 4 – December 2017

It is six months since we finished the Reimagining Education showcase and exhibition with students and staff from Larkin Community College and the Gaiety School of Acting.

The showcase and exhibition were a great success. The discussions after each showcase were enlightening and exciting. It was heartening to hear what young people thought about their own education. It was poignant to hear what older adults remembered about their often limited creative engagement with education.

Did we succeed with this partnership project? Yes, on so many levels.

The work was a celebration of a year of hard work and focused engagement with the theme of reimagining education. It gave a voice to young and old and allowed them to express their opinions about education. Students developed skills in independent research, collaborative learning, planning an event, Theatre Making and curation. Students mirrored the world of work by modelling best practice in curation and theatre making.

However a lot of the good work that was done to ensure a strong aesthetic standard in performance and in curation, was done in teachers’ and facilitators’ own time. And that is not sustainable. This sad reality shines a light on what is currently the reality in our education systems at second level, in particular in second level DEIS schools (a DEIS school is a school that receives more funding from the Department of Education and Skills to deliver equality of opportunity in schools).

I hope that in naming what that reality is, we can help to reimagine a new and exciting DEIS model.

In the year of our partnership project with the Gaiety School of Acting, teachers and facilitators had two classes a week for one hour at a time, to research, devise, rehearse and produce a showcase about reimagining education. They also had two classes a week for one hour at a time to create exhibits and a catalogue for an exhibition. Outside of this time teachers met with each other and with facilitators from the Gaiety School of Acting in their own time, to plan and reflect on processes and prepare for the exhibition and showcase. We loved the experience but it took its toll.

The key to the project’s success was twofold:

We all bought into the vision for the project and we were able to check in with each other as we progressed, to make sure that we were all still clear on that vision.

This work as I have stated was done in our own time. We were happy to give of our time voluntarily but this way of working is not sustainable in a wise education system. Volunteering in a school community is important but it should not form the core work of creative engagement in education. If the core work relies on volunteerism it will quickly move to adhoc provision of best practice in education.

Sadly for this project, none of what the students did could be formally assessed in education last year. This year with the new Junior Cycle, we can thankfully now record similar processes and outcomes and formally acknowledge this type of work. That is great news.

However for us to continue to engage creatively in education with partners is challenging for a myriad reasons.

For instance, teachers are often now on year to year contracts. This makes it difficult to plan a project with a colleague until we know that they will be working with us the next year.

We cannot apply for funding until we know who may be engaging with the projects.

Funding then does not often come in to the school until the middle of the first term.

All of this means that is really hard to plan projects for the academic year.

An exciting model for education would be one where teachers and artists are supported and empowered to create a strategic direction for a school for five years. This would allow us to deepen practices and develop innovative programmes that can nurture creativity in education for stakeholders and for young people.

It is hugely time consuming trying to fundraise and plan and build experience amongst teachers so that we can best serve young people.

Working in a DEIS school, we work with young people from areas of socio-economic disadvantage. One of the factors that contribute to instability in the lives of the young people we work with is the often chaotic patters they encounter in their personal lives. These include constant changes in the home, breakdown of family relations as well as addiction outcomes such as unpredictable behaviour in the home. Change happens too frequently and causes instability for our young people.  It is a real pity then that they find that their school life mirrors this with a high turnover of staff annually due to employment structures in education. Offering five year contracts to those who work in DEIS schools would support wise planning and sustainable structures in DEIS schools and create stability for our young people. Teachers and partners could plan, fundraise, build research components and evaluations, reflect and reiterate best practices in creative engagement. I firmly believe that this would begin to address equity and equality in some of our most deprived communities in Ireland.

Mind the Gap

Workshops to take place between January – March 2018

Mind the Gap‘ is a development education arts project based in Cork offering fully funded arts based workshops for post-primary schools and Youthreach programmes exploring global justice issues such as Human Rights, refugees, interdependence and Intercultural understanding. Offering performances, workshops and residencies in schools.

‘Mind the Gap’ is funded by Worldwise Global Schools, a sector of Irish Aid and is managed by ‘Head, heart & hands Ltd’.

Interested teachers please email us at gapmindthe@gmail.com.

 

Barnstorm Theatre Company & Watergate Theatre

Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December

Post-primary schools in the south-east are in for a theatrical treat this November and December!

Due to the success of last year’s first Curriculum Play Live co-production with the Watergate Theatre: Brian Friel’s Translations, Barnstorm Theatre Company’s second Curriculum Play is Seán O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’.

These productions are in response to requests over the years from post-primary schools to produce a curriculum play and to give students the opportunity to see the play that they are studying as live theatre, and not solely as a text to be studied in the classroom.
The Plough and the Stars is one of the greatest in the Irish canon and one that Barnstorm and the Watergate are proud to present as the second Curriculum Play. (Barnstorm values input from teachers about our next curriculum play.)

Watergate Theatre:
Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December; performances nightly at 8pm.

School performances:
Thursday 29 November – 10.30am
Friday 1 December – 10.30am

Tickets :

€10 –  student groups of 10+

€18 / €15 concession

Watergate Box Office:  056 7761674

For more www.watergatetheatre.com

 

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

Derek O’Brien, Teacher: This is my second year to be involved in the National Architects in Schools Initiative. We worked with two different architects in that time and this year we worked with Emily Power. I have taught Construction Studies and DCG for 10 years now. I had been interested in participating for a number of years but only got around to it for the first time last year. Getting involved has been eye opening. I am more practically minded and feel I lack on the creativity side of things, which is the reason why I wouldn’t attempt to deliver a programme like this on my own and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an architect with a range of skills such as Emily. I wanted to bring in someone with new ideas and new ways of doing things and hopefully learn as much as the students. Myself and Emily worked very well together during the course of the programme which was essential to the delivery of the initiative.

Emily Power, Architect: This was my third time taking part in the National Architects in Schools Initiative but my first time collaborating with a woodwork teacher and working in a mixed (boys and girls) school. As an architect it is an excellent opportunity to work outside the traditional role of the architect and to bring the world and language of architecture to students. The first few workshops were used to look at what an architect does and to introduce the students to the language of architecture. The students began by interacting with the language of architecture through small construction projects and problem solving exercises such as mapping the school building and constructing stools out of cardboard. Shifting scale the students then looked at how the public move through Tramore. Through their mapping of public transport routes and public spaces of congregation they identified a need for shelter. Seven sites were chosen, mostly along the coastline and the students created pavilions specific to each site that improved the space for the user.

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

Derek: I was delighted with the practical approach that Emily took to the project. From week one she got the students engaged. The group started off looking at different buildings of architectural significance around the world and researched the buildings and the architects which they found interesting. We looked at shape, colours, form, materials as well as the inspiration behind the buildings. From there the students designed chairs/stools that could only be made out of cardboard with no adhesives etc. This was a fantastic exercise to see the imagination and creativity of the group. There was great fun when it came to testing out their success (or not). Following on from this Emily based our main element of the project around the locality of Tramore. She brought in old OS maps over the years right up to the present day to show the development of the area. The students looked at areas of interest, routes around the town, significant buildings and eventually came up with the idea of designing shelters in different public areas with the theme of sustainability and the sea. As it was so much linked to their own lives and interests, they really engaged with the design and came up with six fantastic models.

Emily: I worked closely with Derek in creating a programme that could be facilitated by both of us. It was excellent to work with a teacher who was as enthusiastic as I was. It was also very clear that the students respected and liked Derek and everything worked very smoothly. Derek provided excellent support during the sessions and in my absence when there was work to be completed between sessions.

The following gives an overview of some of the tasks/activities that the students worked on:

Box & Stool Study: Using only a cardboard box the students had to transform the box into a load bearing stool. They could only use cutting implements and could not use any adhesives or tape. The students were instructed  to draw their box using the language of architecture. They had to consider structure, loads and think of methods to strengthen the cardboard e.g. folding and rolling. At the end of the session we had a group review where the students got to test their stool and see if they could withstand their weight.

Mapping the School: In order to emphasise the importance of observation I tasked the students with drawing different areas of the school with no plans and no measuring tools. Working in small groups they used their bodies, strides and objects like a sweeping brush, to measure the areas. They then produced drawings that were accurate and to scale…though not a traditional one!

Analysing Tramore: We needed to devise a design brief to inspire the project that the students would take on over the 12 hours of allocated workshop time. Ardscoil Na Mara were lucky enough to be in a new school building that was meeting their needs pretty well, so we looked outside to the local area of Tramore to see where we could find ways of improving the built environment. Using various maps of Tramore, recent and historical we looked at the evolution of the public and social space. They also tracked how people move through the town and identified spaces where the public congregate, both locals or tourists. Through these exercises they managed to identify seven areas that could benefit from a design intervention to improve people’s experience of those places.

Design Project: The students identified seven sites in Tramore that would benefit from a design intervention. Six of these were in picturesque areas along the coastline that are popular with locals and tourists. The final site is a park adjacent to the church and schools where students wait for parents and churchgoers meet after mass.

Design brief – the final design had to:

In their design the students considered wind direction, waterproofing, sunlight, ground conditions, materials, end users, storage, privacy, access, signage, and exposure. In order to convey their ideas they implemented the skills that they learned over the course of the programme. They sketched over photos, drew plans, sections and elevations and made models to represent their designs.

Breakdown of sessions: The Irish Architecture Foundation’s school resource pack My Architecture Design Journalis given to every student, teacher and architect participating on the National Architects in Schools Initiative. The journal sets out an engaging and useful set of project guidelines to support the participant’s journey on the project.

There are ten chapters to take participants through a design process from research, surveying space, designing, presenting ideas, discussion and reflection. The project guidelines encourage active learning and students can choose from a variety of creative methods including drawing, writing, model making, mapping, sketching, film and photography. Project themes guide teachers and students through social, aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture, encouraging research into local and international examples.

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

Emily: I thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with the students. The sessions are really enjoyable, hectic but very creative. For the students it is a different type of class, one that is not so structured. It can be challenging to encourage students to think creatively when traditionally they are expected to come up with one solution to a problem; this is a much more creative and expansive field of learning. We had to create a space where all ideas were encouraged. It took some time to get the students to open up to creative thinking and to work together. For some students this was their first experience of group work, experience in this is invaluable for their future education. In working with TY students you get to reconnect with the fundamentals of architecture and design. For the students it was an excellent opportunity for them to engage with their local community. I believe that they were empowered to see that they had the ability to design something that would benefit the wider community.

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

Derek: We displayed our projects in the school and invited local Senator Grace O’Sullivan to attend and to view our work. This was a great success. The studets got to present their ideas and she was able to ask the students interesting questions and engage them in a discussion about their projects. She was blown away by the designs. A group of architects and builders visiting the school that day also attended and engaged with the students about their ideas.

Emily: The students worked together in groups to design their pavilions for public spaces in Tramore. The worked culminated in an exhibition that we put on in the school for teachers, the principal and local Senator Grace O’Sullivan. I thought it was an excellent exercise for the students as they had to work together to come up with an oral presentation. They got to talk through their design ideas and inspirations and answer the questions the Senator had. The students also got to display their projects at the National Exhibition of the Architects in Schools Initiative in Tullamore organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. This provided another opportunity to share and discuss their projects with other schools from all over Ireland and to see how other students approached their projects.

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

Derek: From working with this initiative both myself and the students have a new found appreciation of the local area, design, architecture and sustainability. I personally have learned new ways of presenting topics to my classes as well as engaging with them actively and would be hopeful we continue the programme in the school into the future.

Emily: Taking part in the programme has given me a new perspective on how the public can engage with architecture. It is encouraging to see the students take interest in architecture and the impact design can have on how they interact with the built environment.

The IAF is looking for architects and architectural graduates to participate in the National Architects in Schools Initiative 2017-18. For more info click here

www.architecturefoundation.ie/project/naisi/

www.mydesignjournal.ie/

twitter.com/NASI_Ireland

facebook.com/irisharchitecturefoundation/

 

Call out to Schools and Artists.

The Arts and Culture Committee of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is once again launching its annual arts-in-education scheme. The Creative Engagement programme 2017-18 begins in October 2017.  Funding has been secured for the 2017-18 school year from both the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council. At the core of the Creative Engagement scheme is the collaboration between student, teacher and artist as set out in Artist-Schools (Arts Council 2006). It’s about tapping into the imagination of the young person while giving both an incentive and a framework for the work to thrive.

Application Forms and further information can be downloaded from www.creativeengagement.ie

What is our aim:

The selection criteria:

Financial considerations.

Partnerships:

NAPD has established working partnerships with The Department of Education and Skills, The Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Poetry Ireland, The Heritage Council, Poetry Ireland, The National Museum, The National Gallery, IMMA, Amnesty International, Local authority Arts Officers and Cavan Monaghan ETB local arts in education Partnership.

Deadline October 24th 2017

Tom Dalton

Tom Dalton is an artist and arts worker at Mayfield Arts Centre, Cork. The arts centre is a unique, dedicated arts space based in the heart of Mayfield in Cork city, at Newbury House Family Centre. Mayfield Arts provides opportunities for participants to connect, learn, reflect and act through creative processes. It is an example of best practice in the fields of community arts, social inclusion, non-formal and community education. Mayfield Arts develops, manages and delivers arts programmes, training and education in consultation with the local community and provides access to art activities and processes that facilitate personal and community development to people of all abilities.  A graduate of CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Tom’s role in the arts centre is to support the artistic and creative development of the Cúig studio artists through individual and group mentoring. Cúig artists are five artists in supported studios in Mayfield Arts Centre. The Cúig project, supported by POBAL, has been running at Mayfield Arts Centre since 2008, and is the only supported studio of its kind in the country. Tom also coordinates and facilitates outreach projects to school and community groups throughout the city.

“What I Do When I Feel Blue”

The teenage years and early adulthood can be particularly tricky times to navigate in life. According to the ‘My World’ National Survey of Youth Mental Health one in three young people have experienced mental health difficulties at some point (Headstrong and UCD School of Psychology, 2012).

Developing coping strategies and building self-esteem can offer a strong protection as young people move into adulthood. A secondary school setting offers an opportunity to reach young people in their formative years and provide tools for mental and emotional resilience, equipping them with skills to cope with the bumps in the road into adulthood and beyond. Funded through Creative Engagement (NAPD) and St. Patrick’s College, “What I Do When I Feel Blue” is a collaborative animation project between Mayfield Arts Centre and St. Patrick’s College in Cork.

June McCarthy, Transition Year coordinator, identified a desire on behalf of the school to engage students in areas of mental health, wellbeing, peer support, community and belonging. St. Patrick’s College has a strong history with Mayfield Arts, having engaged in many Creative Engagement Projects over the years. An introductory meeting with June allowed us to get a sense of the student group as a whole, learn about their previous experiences with art and to get an idea of what they and the school hoped to achieve through this project. Film was something previously unexplored in St. Patrick’s College and seemed particularly appropriate for a project of this kind. Video and stop-motion are communicative, accessible and fun mediums to work within. The potential to share their film through social media and Youtube also gives potency to the work of the students.

Every Friday for six weeks, a group of twelve transition year girls made the short journey up the road to Mayfield Arts. For most of the girls it was their first time inside the building. On day one students were introduced to basic principles of filming and stop-motion using slideshows, demonstrations, examples and warm-up exercises. Once the group was familiar with the process, we all sat together, drank tea and chatted about their ideas for the project. Students were invited to name and respond to important issues that impact their lives and that of their peers. I was taken by the openness of the girls in sharing their stories. Through facilitated discussions, it became clear that the group wanted to create something positive that could help their friends and others experiencing difficulties.

We went about compiling a list of things they do when they are feeling down; things that can help lift them out of difficult times. We quickly filled an entire blackboard with suggested actions; ‘go outside!’, ‘eat chocolate!’, ‘Ring your friends!‘ Through a voting system the group arrived on the six top things they do to make themselves feel better when feeling down. We then brainstormed how we might illustrate these suggestions through animation. Roles within the group formed naturally; some were eager to be in front of the camera, while others prefered ‘out of frame’ activities like setting up cameras, framing shots, controlling light and directing actors. The girls worked great as a team, generating ideas, sharing equipment, helping each other and discussing their outcomes. Footage was collected and reviewed in groups with editing carried out with support from facilitators. Regular feedback was sought from groups to access progress and offer support where needed.

The final film, a three-minute animation that acts as a ‘tool-kit’ for resilience, was launched and screened during the school’s Transition Year closing ceremony. A couple of the girls introduced the project, sharing their ideas, methods and processes with their peers, teachers and parents. Once uploaded to Youtube, the film and its message began to spread beyond the school grounds.

Feedback from the group was really positive and there was a tangible sense of pride in what had been achieved.

“I liked everything about this project but especially that we could do it all by ourselves with just a little bit of help.”

 “I wouldn’t change anything, it was very interesting and fun.”

 Take a look at the girls’ film here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cku_n_IJ4w

This project was funded by Creative Engagement (NAPD) and St. Patrick’s College, Gardiner’s Hill. For more information visit mayfieldarts.ie

 

 

 

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 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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_2355_editKieran 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.2

Since my last post, my school took part in the ‘State of the Art’ campaign, which was organised by the (ATAI) Art teachers Association of Ireland. Schools across Ireland got involved in the action day, to draw attention to the outdated senior cycle art syllabus. Three of the local Drogheda schools got together, over 100 students met in the centre of town and marched, with black balloons and placards, accidentally scaring a few elderly shoppers along the way, to the local gallery, the Highlanes Gallery. Students, read out myths and facts about the current leaving certificate, and asked for change. It looks like, art students and teachers across the country had been heard, as the Senior Cycle Art syllabus has been recalled to the NCCA and work will begin on developing a new syllabus this year.

Again in the Highlanes Gallery, an exhibition which I was working with my students and another local school, is due to close on Saturday the 28th of January. You can read all about the project on this website, as two of our students have wrote some blog posts discussing their project and journey. ‘In Sense of Place’ was a huge success. The exhibition was opened by Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphrey’s. The exhibition got great press coverage; students appeared on the local radio station, LMFM, rte news and in the Irish Times. At times this project was very difficult to balance class work and commitment to this once off project, but the enthusiasm from the gallery’s Director, Aoife Ruane made it seem easy. Feedback from my fellow teachers, and students who visited the exhibition has been very positive.

Inside of my class room I am currently trying to get my head around the changes to the senior cycle syllabus, the ‘10 week project’. The still life section is great, easy to figure out; the important introduction of a brain storm including practising object composition and experimentation with materials is a welcome change. It allows students to really think about why there are selecting their objects, the composition and the materials.  However I am finding the craft section more difficult to understand in particular the Poster. With practise I’m hoping to resolve this issue. What alarms me is the lack of clarity in terms of examination, how will the work book be examined, what percentage of marks is allocated to the workbook versus the finished piece. We need the clarification soon, as our current fifth years are due to sit this exam in January next, leaving very little time to practise a 10 week project.

20170124_163657_edit

It is also a busy time of year for exam classes ‘mock exams’ are due to take place the week before midterm. Due to the nature of the current leaving certificate, we teachers have to try and timetable and correct four exams (3 practical and one written), between now and after midterm. our sixth year students are all working on their still-life exam this week, using 2.5 hours of their class time to create a finished still life, an exam which I won’t miss when the revised curriculum come into effect. It can be a challenge to cover all aspects for the mocks, but it is essential to show students how they are progressing and what needs to be improved on for May.

I am lucky to have a very energetic class of 24 second year girls, no boy to be seen in the class. They are very enthusiastic and love to work on large scale projects. We are currently building floating cities, which we will suspend from the high ceiling rafters in my room. The cities will be constructed out of recycled cardboard, the theme is open however they must explain their choice of building shapes and state their influences.  To inspire them I introduce them to the contemporary female artist Julie Mehretu and the architectural wonders of Zaha Hadid. Their energy the loudness and lively enthusiasm is a nice contrast to the serious atmosphere in the above exam classes.

 

 

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. It is a mainstream school and offers Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Thursday 26th January 2017

Planning is crucial when engaging with partners. However, to paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!’ Flexibility is paramount.

As our project has progressed we have been mindful of how best we can deliver on our aims and objectives for the project while adapting to suit changing scenarios during the project.

To this regard, in the time that we have been working on the project a few things have happened.

We have had to say goodbye to one of the Gaiety School of Acting facilitators, Gillian Mc Carthy.

We have struggled to connect with the organisers of TED ED TALKS with whom we had hoped to record the manifestos for the project. We have decided to make our own video of manifestos. The Gaiety School of Acting have a resident photographer / videographer Tom Maher. Tom will lead the video making for the exhibition for the project.

Another development that has impacted on our project has been the announcement by the Government in December 2016 of a five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. In line with this exciting initiative, which is called Creative Ireland, we have refined the scope and the theme of our partnership project to the following:-
“Reflecting & Re-Imagining Creative Education for a Creative Ireland -One school’s perspective.      

Reflections and Blue Sky Thinking with students, staff, partners and friends of Larkin Community College in collaboration with the Gaiety School of Acting.”

Creating Manifestos

And so we are in the throes of preparing manifestos and performance pieces on this theme for presentation at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum on Thursday the 30th March.

Eighty 1st year students are working on drafts of their manifestos.

They have started by looking at what they dislike about the school system they are currently in.

Here is a flavour of their complaints:-

School furniture is bad for your back! Why can’t students spend more time outdoors during school time? Schoolbags are too heavy! Why do we do so much homework? Why is the school day so long? Why do we spend so much time at a desk writing?
The students have solutions: moveable walls that change colour to suit the lesson; green for storytelling, white for writing solutions to Maths conundrums, blue for meditation. Leather chairs on wheels. Green spaces to break out into every hour and so on…. 
Now that students have had an opportunity to voice their objections to the systems as they are in education, they are currently working on blue sky thinking to re-imagine an education that they would like for secondary students in Ireland.
The next phase of our work will be to edit, rehearse and combine their manifestos to create performances and presentations.

Devising performances

The Arts classes are working with Michelle Fallon to dramatise their perspectives on education – then, now and in future.

This is an extract from Michelle’s documentation of the process:-

In Tuesday’s classes, I asked students to create a monologue/speech around their own perception of education. To begin with I asked them to think of a hook to draw in the attention of an audience- so a funny personal anecdote/ statistic/personal opinion/rhetorical question or quotation etc..  A lot of interesting opinions about their own educational experience to this point, emanated from this discussion.                                                                                                    

Next, I asked the students to think about the education they received during their primary schooling and compare and contrast what they thought were most and least effective and what elements of primary could be easily adapted to their secondary schooling to make their experience less restricted.     

I then showed them the short video ‘I sued the school’ and this generated further discussion. One of the first years said it gave her goosebumps! 

Perhaps we could do something similar in this particular vein? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqTTojTija8

Michelle went on to write:-
These are some of the issues that were highlighted by Tuesday’s classes:

Another new partner – the local Elderly Day Care Centre

Michelle took her 3rd year Arts class to the Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly to conduct interviews around education in the past. The class will then compare and contrast the perceptions of now and then in other Arts classes.

And another new partner!

Two teachers from the Art Department in the school have now come on board with 1st year and Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students and they are preparing artworks to respond to blue sky thinking about what an ideal education might look like.

Early February 2017

The team of teachers and partners from the Gaiety School of Acting are meeting with Kate Canning who is the Manager of the Mill Theatre, to decide on layout, structure and design for our event.

The challenge for us for the next few weeks is to find cover for teachers so that they can continue to work together on this project. This is an ongoing challenge in education. Collaboration, team teaching and cross curricular learning are central tenets of good educational practice but in reality these are hard to manage and cost a lot of money as substitution has to be provided for teachers so that they can meet to collaborate and plan ahead. Our staff members are good at working this way and teachers are kind and generous with their time and willingness to facilitate these processes.

A voice for everyone

In the video we are hoping to include the voices of teachers, students, partners and friends of the school. We would like them to articulate their ideas for an ideal education.

An invitation will be sent by email to all staff, students and partners asking them to respond in 1 minute on camera, to the statement:-
“Reflecting & Re-Imagining Creative Education for a Creative Ireland -One school’s perspective.”    – my thoughts (1 minute)

They will also be asked if they might like to create a visual response to the theme.

We will include their responses in the exhibition in the Mill Theatre as part of our project outcomes. The exhibition and the performances will showcase our school’s perspective on the potential future of education.
 Save the date…. Thursday 30th March 2017 1pm in the Mill Theatre Dundrum….

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. We are a mainstream school. We offer Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Monday 7th November 2016

The project work in the classroom hadn’t started yet and I had a light bulb moment over the weekend. I whatsApped Anna and Michelle to suggest we turn the students’ Manifesto speeches into TED Talks for the final presentations in March 2017. They both loved the idea.

The beauty of working with a partner outside of the school is that the partner can sometimes have the time to research aspects of a project. Anna is going to investigate how a school can run a TED Talks. She will also talk to Kate Canning the Manager of the Mill Theatre to see if this idea sits well with her.

Gill from the Gaiety School of Acting starts her work with Michelle and the Arts classes this week.

Tuesday 8th November 

A potential new partner for our project – a writer in residence….

We have had a lot of bereavements in the local community where our school is. It has been a hard few months for students and teachers and other staff. In this sad context we have had a lovely development. Last year we set up a Youth Theatre with the help of the National Association for Youth Drama. Carol Rooney, one of our Drama Teachers, ran a small and exciting Youth Theatre group. They performed a poignant piece in the Sean O’Casey Theatre in East Wall Dublin 3. Tony Bates of Jigsaw and Phil Kingston of the Abbey Theatre came to see it and thought it was a powerful production. As did all of us who saw it. The devised piece dealt with young people and mental health. This year John Dunne, another Drama teacher, set up a second youth theatre group. Now we have two small thriving youth theatre groups. They meet after school on a Wednesday. Dublin City Council Arts Office gave us a start up grant to help us get up on our feet with the Youth Theatre. We set up a committee and an ArtsTrain graduate Ceri O’Hagan joined us to help us run the Youth Theatre. Yesterday I was speaking to the Dublin City Arts Officer Ray Yeates. He was delighted at the success and growth of the youth theatres. He suggested that our school might like to look at a residency for a writer. I thought it would be a great idea for us to welcome a writer into the school for a period so that he or she could observe how we are and who we are and then create a piece of work out of this. If we are successful in getting the funding from the Arts Office and in finding a suitable writer in residence, it will be an act of trust for staff to welcome the writer into their classes and into the staffroom. I think it would be great. I also think that if the writer was to keep in mind the Manifesto project we are doing with the Gaiety School of Acting the ideas that emerge for the writer may fit nicely into a performance piece as part of the conference on education in the Mill Theatre in March 2017. I will be meeting with Ray Yeates in the coming weeks.

Wednesday 9th November

Yesterday Gillian Mc Carthy from the GSoA had a good session with the 1st year Arts students. She did one hour with them. Michelle discovered that there was a misunderstanding around the class contact the artist would have with the class. Jill thought it was twice a week for an hour at a time. Michelle thought it was one hour a week at an hour at a time. This is why it is so important to have planning meetings as well as a liaison person to oversee the project in the school and a manager of the project externally. What I now need to do is go through the dates that Anna put on Google drive and check them and then at a senior management team meeting give these dates to the Principal for the school calendar. That way students are less likely to be taken out of class for other activities when the GSoA project is on.

Friday 18th November 

Anna has sent me a text update on the TED TALKS idea. She is waiting to hear from TED TALKS to find out how best to set up a TED TALKS EDUCATION event. Getting the text from Anna keeps me up to date on progress for the project.

Tuesday 22nd November

Gillian Mc Carthy sent an email asking Michelle Fallon and her Arts students to research the following questions and statements for the project. As requested at the start of the project all correspondence for the project goes to Michelle, Anna, the artists and myself. That way we are all aware of how things are progressing. The research questions and statements that Gillian sent are:-

1 The Irish education system from 1917 to present: the major changes that have taken place over the last hundred years.

2 The pros and cons of the current education system.

3 What is the Department of Education’s vision for the future? What would be the students’ vision of a brilliant education system? What changes would they make?

4 Questions for students who are interested in interviewing older relations and teachers about their experiences of school:-

In the same email Gillian asked if she and I could meet for a chat today. We didn’t get to do that. I have found out over the years that it is always better to agree a brief meeting to discuss the project rather than relying on ‘catching’ each other. So I will email Gillian and suggest a time to meet when she is next in the school.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. We are a mainstream school. We offer Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

In the first of her blog series Máire discusses funding, partnership and documentation as part of the Theatre Making and Citizenship Programme with the Abbey Theatre.

October 25th 2016

I have the good fortune of working in a variety of jobs within my permanent teaching post over twenty six years. I worked in theatre before I switched to teaching so I carried my love of the creative engagement with me into teaching.

The school I am currently in has excelled at creative engagement since its inception in 1999. We have done some terrific work and also made some spectacular mistakes. I am learning to call them iterations!  Isn’t that what educational entrepreneurship is all about, iterating and reiterating, planning, trying out, reflecting, trying again and on it goes. Isn’t that too what happens in the real world, the world after school ends?

From November this year to March 2017 we are working with the Gaiety School of Acting and the DLR Mill Theatre in Dundrum on a Theatre Making and Citizenship Manifesto Project. Larkin Community College has been doing Theatre Making and Citizenship programmes for three years now. The Theatre Making and Citizenship Programme model was developed with the College by Sarah Fitzgibbon and supported by Phil Kingston and his education team at the Abbey Theatre. This year we have a group doing the second part of the Theatre Making and Citizenship programme with the Abbey and a new Theatre Making Programme, which shares outcomes with the Abbey programme. This one is with the Gaiety School of Acting and the DLR Mill Theatre Dundrum.

Anna Kadzik-Bartoszewska of the Gaiety School of Acting has developed the project concept and guidelines. The project is called “The right to know”. It will look back at aspects of the education of young people from 1917. It will explore aspects of the education of young people in 2017. It will also look forward and imagine the future for education and young people in 2027. The project will focus on the creation of innovative play using the existing practice of “Manifesto”. Manifesto is an empowering style of theatre making that we hope will give our young people a voice to express their opinions and attitudes towards their own education that others have shaped for them. The project will be run by Michelle Fallon an English and History teacher in Larkin Community College. Michelle also coordinates the Arts Programmes for the College. I will support Michelle in her work and liaise with Anna and the Gaiety School of Acting, as well as other partners that may emerge as we work on the project.

The performances, developed by the students and teachers of Larkin Community College, the local community, older people from the Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly in Sean Mc Dermott Street and arts professionals, will be the part of a conference on education planned for March 2017 at the DLRMill Theatre in Dundrum South Dublin. The conference hopes to feature speakers from Barnardos, Amnesty International, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Arts Council of Ireland, other policy makers and interested parties.  The conference will explore the theme of appropriate education for young people – looking at its different manifestations thematically and setting it within a global, national and local context.

During the conference students speakers will tell their stories through performances. Their theatre pieces will champion the contribution that young people make to society as young people in their own right and their entitlement to be heard on that basis.

This project will focus on theatre as a tool for raising awareness about issues that matter to young people, specifically around education. The project will also look at how theatre can motivate and move young people to action regarding human rights and issues in education that need to change.

Students stories will hopefully open up a dialogue between policymakers and professionals and will create an opportunity for everyone to ask questions, share experiences, and build connections.

Anna planned to hire artists through the Gaiety School of Acting, to work on the project. By the time Anna secured funding for the project, the lead artist that Anna had hoped we would work with – Liz Tyndall – was not able to commit to the project for the first month. Anna then brought in Gillian Mc Carthy to start the project. Both Liz and Gill are Drama and Theatre Teachers with the Gaiety School of Acting.

Michelle Fallon will work with the artists and 60 students. These students are on dedicated Arts programmes in the College as part of the Junior Cycle programme.

Anna’s team will work for one hour a week with three separate Arts groups. Our classes are one hour long and the project fits nicely into the hour long lessons.

The role of the Partnerships Coordinator / Liaison person for the school

My job is to check in with Michelle to see that she is happy with the way the project is going. My job is also to organise permission letters, transport and whatever timetabling needs emerge for the project, as well as to support Michelle as she works with the artists to create the Manifestos with students.

My role is to liaise with Anna too and make sure that the project aims and objectives reflect and fulfil Junior Cycle curriculum needs as well as other educational needs. In this regard my role is to source cross-curricular links that the project might connect with, particularly in English classes, Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) classes and Religion classes.

It is also my job to check in with all participants to see that they are enjoying themselves.

I usually manage the budgets for creative engagement projects in the school with the help of our school administrator Janet Rooney. Thanks to Anna too I don’t have the usual headache of paying the artists as Croke Park Community fund have agreed to pay the grant for the project directly to the GSoA. We have also applied for and received funding from Creative Engagement for the project. Creative Engagement is a Department of Education funded body and therefore the grant we receive from them will need to go directly to the school. Janet will manage the accounts and Michelle and I will decide with Anna, how the money will be spent.

As the project grows it will be my job to manage the calendar and communicate matters with the Principal of the school and inform staff of progress on the project.

I will also help Anna to build an invitation list for the Conference in March.

The role of the Principal

Our Principal Aoife Kelly Gibson is fully supportive of the project and loves the arts and culture. She trusts us to plan and deliver the project. This is important as she allows us great freedom to do the work.

Artists Schools Guidelines

I have asked Anna to ask her team to read the artists schools guidelines to help her team to have a sense of what we expect from the partnership engagement. The Artists Schools Guidelines were initiated by Lorraine Comer during her time in the Arts Council and developed in collaboration with teachers, policy makers, artists and young people. They form the framework for our planning meetings with all partners prior to starting a project in the school.

Garda vetting

The CDETB school we work in requires that all people working with young people in the College must be Garda vetted. This takes time to process so we put the paperwork in train as early as possible once we knew we had the funding for the project. Janet manages this for us.

Funding

Last year Anna along with Michelle Fallon and myself applied for Croke Park Community funding https://crokepark.ie/stadium/community/croke-park-community-fund  and got it, for a 1916 project. The project was a great success

Julianne Savage of the Croke Park Community Fund has kindly supported us for this project too, to the tune of €3000.

Dermot Carney the Director of Creative Engagement at www.creativeengagement.ie/ also funded this project to the tune of €1000. We have been lucky.

How does a school succeed in getting this amount of money for an arts in education initative? 

For years we did creative engagement work without a budget and we built a reputation for doing good work that could be sustained. Then we applied over and over again for funding. We often didn’t succeed. We kept applying. I kept applying. I wrote the applications in my own time because I was passionate about the work I was doing. Sadly the regular school day does not allow time for teachers to spend time on the application process.

I found that by sticking with the application processes I got better at filling out forms and we eventually did succeed in getting funding.

I have learnt over the years to be careful with funding applications, to read carefully the questions that are being asked on the application and to respond appropriately. I learnt to make sure that (a) I could do and really wanted to do what I was promising that we could do (with flexibility for change built into the planning) and (b) that I had the time to manage the project or build in costs for a manager, or be as lucky as we are in Larkin on this project, to find a manager like Anna who takes care of the project as part of her brief as a partner on the project.

Partnership

I found that we need to know who our partners are when we decide to work together and to figure out what they expect from us and from the project as well as what it is we expect from them. I have learnt over the years that we need to work out what our aims and objectives and expected outcomes of the project are before applying for project funding. So often I have found that the partners on a project had different expectations to the ones we had in Larkin and it caused unease as we progressed. I have learnt to be clear and to articulate what we agree that all parties want, to check with the students that it is what they want, to build in the time to meet to discuss how things are going during the project and to address challenges as they arise. Communication is central to good partnership work and sustainable partnerships in education. We did a five year project with the education team at the National Museum of Ireland and I learnt so much about negotiating partners’ wishes, managing budgets and managing expectations. We were fortunate to work with an extraordinary team in education at the Museum, led by Lorraine Comer. The partners on the projects we engaged with over the five years were Poetry Ireland, NCAD, The Curriculum Development Unit, Macnas, Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly, Localise as well as individual artists (Mikel Murfi, Helen Lane, Clare Muireann Murphy, Pete Casby), philanthropists and funders. It was a wonderful project that taught me a lot about how to develop and sustain meaningful partnerships in education for young people and teachers.

Documenting the work

Aghhh! During the planning process, we said we would look into photographing and videoing the work as we went along. We did get all students to sign a permission form to allow us to do this. For Child Protection reasons this is critical.

I forgot about the documentation process in the busy life of school. We will work on this going forward (November 23rd 2016).

Too often we have forgotten to document great work we have done. More accurately we have not had the time to do so. So much of theatre making is written in the sand. That is the nature of theatre work. It is like meditation! It is in the moment that we experience it. However documenting a project visually can provide lovely memories. It can also help with further funding applications. It has helped us in the past to explain models of good practice. It has helped us too to reflect on challenges that emerge.

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.

img_2355_editKieran 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 No1

Like all art teachers, the past two weeks have been a productive and busy period. School is well underway; my students and I are well settled into the first term. Apart from the typical art room duties that we have been creatively working on, we had an art trip to ‘Sculpture In Context’ with 56 of our fifth year students, open night, October assessments, exhibition ‘In sense of place’ meetings and organisation of the #startoftheart campaign.

The most interesting project, which I have been working on with a group of fifth year students, is the curation project in collaboration with the Highlanes Gallery, the British Council’s Art Collection, and Our Lady’s College, Drogheda. This project came about as a result of a number of other smaller projects and visits to the Highlanes Gallery. Their Director, Aoife Ruane, approached me last year with the idea of getting students to select and curate an exhibition to coincide with their 10th birthday celebrations. Since May of last year a group of students and myself met in the gallery to start planning the exhibition. The students have been extremely dedicated to the project, meeting three times over the summer holidays and every Thursday after school, for two hours, since the start of term. We are currently in the process of selecting the artwork for the VAI, postcards and posters, so keep an eye out. The exhibition opens on Friday the 25th of November. I will speak more about this project next time.

Thanks to the above project, I have linked with another school in town. They set up a WhatsApp group and we are in the process of organising some sort of event in town to mark the #stateoftheart campaign, which is looking at the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and asking the question, why has art has been forgotten? It seems crazy, especially in a time where such buzz words as creativity and innovation are being used so widely. The main aim of this campaign is to get the attention of the Department of Education, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examination Commission to apply gentle pressure on them to implement a new, modern Leaving Cert curriculum; one that address the disconnect between the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and exam and the entry requirements into third level Art and Design colleges. In our school we are going to cover up all the artwork that is displayed throughout the school. For the larger town collaboration project? I will discuss it next time.

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

Cleo Fagan – Superprojects, Curator

‘I think that the teenage years can be an exciting time in people’s lives, when they often have a keen intellectual or creative curiosity and are open to complex ideas, given the right conditions. As a curator who works with young audiences and contemporary art and artists, it made sense to me that certain contemporary artists would work really well with young people to explore ideas related to the rich context of the commemorations of The 1916 Rising. I approached Julie Clarke of Fingal Arts Office with these ideas back in early 2015. Luckily, our objectives aligned with each other, in wanting to work on something that allowed young people to engage with the commemorations in a fresh and creative way.  We took it from there, approaching artists Ruth Lyons, Eoghan Ryan, Sean Lynch and Clodagh Emoe

Julie Clarke – Fingal Arts Office, Youth & Education Arts Officer

‘The opportunity was open to all post-primary schools in Fingal.  We were delighted to receive interest from Fingal Community College in Swords and Hartstown Community School in Dublin 15, as both schools and art teachers were known to us and a strong working relationship existed. Cleo and I met with the art teachers, Siobhan Lynch and Anne Moylan, to discuss the artistic possibilities and to plan for an enjoyable learning experience for the students. Supported by this partnership we were able to give artistic freedom to the artists to design an initial presentation that would introduce the students to contemporary art practices, challenging topics, and invite them to think about the role of art in our society’.

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

Cleo Fagan and Julie Clarke visited each participating school to talk with the students and teachers about the artists they would meet during the project.  Cleo gave a presentation which included several compelling images and video clips of the artists’ works to ignite curiosity among the students before the artists arrived.

Each of the artists involved – Ruth Lyons, Sean Lynch, Clodagh Emoe, Eoghan Ryan – was invited to devise a set of workshops in response to the context of the commemorations with input from the art teachers. The fascinating workshops that resulted touched on ideas of political and cultural zeitgeist; commemoration; collective power; public art and provocation; humour as protest; personal identity; government and everyday life; time and energy; and representation and nationalism.

Workshops all involved rich discursive, creative and educational elements via opportunities to discuss opinions, to learn about contemporary art practice, to learn new artmaking skills (eg mold making and resin casting). The students created and presented their own artwork to the teachers and artists for an informal critique in front of the school principal and project partners. In some sense, it was an approach that gave a flavour of studying art at third level.

The working group extended to include Distinctive Repetition and writer Sue Rainsford who respectively designed the graphic and wrote a piece of text for the Waves poster which is now available. Jenny Brady filmed the process and the students really enjoyed sharing their work and thoughts on camera.

Clodagh Emoe – Artist

‘My workshops were about ‘people power’ and I began with a presentation showing various examples of artistic strategies and collective power visible in history. The students worked in clusters and amongst themselves identified and debated issues that affect them today. We had a democratic vote to select one contentious issue and using artistic strategies we explored and exposed that specific issue’.

Ruth Lyons – Artist

‘My workshop was on using silicone mold making and resin casting processes to make individual memorial sculptures. The students made these commemorative, decorative artworks by picking an object that represented an essential material in their everyday life. They cast these objects in a clear resin, immortalising this object for hundreds of years’.

Sean Lynch – Artist

‘The workshop I did at Fingal Community College involved looking at how public art works in terms of the spaces we live in, and the times we encounter it nowadays. Many people are familiar with the monuments and statuary of 1916 but there are many different types of artistic methodologies that have come along since then and the idea of the workshop was to share them and celebrate them with the school and the great students involved. We worked with devising a series of speculative proposals. These were based in conversations that were had on the nature of the everyday and the objects that are encountered in the everyday, and what they might become if they were considered a monument to the contemporary times that we live in.’

Eoghan Ryan – Artist

‘When I approached devising the workshop I thought about the question ‘what is holding us together?’. I thought I would focus on flags as they are confusing as a material. Addressing the material culture surrounding flags, what they could mean, if they were important and how to add some kind of individual, subjective importance to update them or undermine them. Everyone was invited to collaboratively make their own flags.  We then destroyed the flags and talked about destroying flags in a demonstrative or rebellious context – what that act means, what you’re doing.’

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

The creative partnership between the teachers, artists, curator, Fingal Arts, and students resulted in great work being made.

The students would like to share their experience:

Student Feedback

‘I really liked taking part in the workshops. I liked learning from people who were actually artists by profession. I liked that we could do whatever we wanted to do without confines – because even though that’s what art is all about we don’t get to do that in school.’

– Student, 17

‘I really enjoyed being able to voice my opinions on issues such as inequality etc. I really enjoyed learning about the apartheid and other monumental issues in history that have helped shape the world today’

– Student, 16

‘We were able to explore something new, which is not in the Leaving Cert programme. We learned many new things from the artists, even that art can be in any shape or form, as shown by different examples in the slideshow. I really liked using the resin and seeing how everyone’s ‘memento’ turned out.’

– Student, 16

‘After the workshops, I feel a lot more comfortable with my art. I like how I can draw, paint or use any form of medium to talk about what I want, how I want, and when I want. The workshops helped me feel at ease with my art. A picture can show a thousand words, I can see what that means now.’

– Student, 15

‘I especially enjoyed learning about the work the artists had already completed. I loved making the items and it really allowed me to use my full creativity and imagination. I am much more observant now…. Art is a broad topic and I can’t wait to learn more about it.’

– Student, 17

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

Julie Clarke – Fingal Arts Office, Youth & Education Arts Officer

The film really captures the significance of the project and there is so much to choose from –  the students were challenged by the type of art that they saw and the type of art that they had to produce, but equally the students’ capacity for intelligent dialogue on emotive topics was very striking.  A number of students stated that they would take more of an interest in politics and our society if adults listened to them.  They expressed an interested in lowering the voting age so they too could have their say on issues that matter to them on polling days.

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

Siobhan Lynch, Art Teacher, Fingal Community College

‘The project has changed the way I as an educator approach teaching and learning within my classes. I have really embraced group work within the art room and have encouraged and allowed students to develop their creativity through risk-taking and experimentation with new media and by looking at how contemporary artists approach problems and find creative solutions to them.’

Anne Moylan, Art Teacher, Hartstown Community School

‘I received a great insight into the students own political concerns and issues that are real and live to them, which often doesn’t happen in a classroom situation.  As their art teacher it was a great opportunity and it will impact on our future work together’.

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

Veronica:

Tenderfoot originated, with the support of South Dublin County Council, in The Civic Theatre in Tallaght ten years ago. Bríd Dukes, the Artistic Director of The Civic, wanted to develop a programme to involve transition year students in the art of theatre. Tenderfoot @ The Civic, the parent programme, annually provides forty five students from eight different schools the opportunity to learn about theatre in a hands on way. Tenderfoot operates on a model of apprenticeship. Students learn by doing. They learn about theatre by making theatre under the guidance of working theatre professionals. Each year a number of the students, usually sixteen, write original plays for the stage. A selection of these plays are then produced and students can opt to act, do costume design, take part in the film for theatre module or they can be part of the stage management team. The final productions are seen by two distinct audiences. A general theatre audience and an audience of the students’ peers. Over the years the reaction of the peer audience to the work, work made by people their own age, has been remarkable. It has resulted in a profound level of engagement. Tenderfoot @ The Civic is entering its tenth year.

Tenderfoot is a replicable model and Tenderfoot @ The Garage, championed by Niamh Smyth of CMETB, is the first reiteration. Tenderfoot @ The Garage serves schools in the Cavan/Monaghan region. Five schools participated in the inaugural year with a focus on writing. Twenty students wrote original plays for the stage. Five of those plays were publicly acknowledged in rehearsed readings in The Garage Theatre. Audience was twofold – general theatre and peer audience.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

I was lucky enough to be teaching in Rathcoole when the Tenderfoot programme was first set up. My school was one of the South Dounty Dublin schools chosen to partake.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I was delighted that our school was accepted onto the Tenderfoot programme following our application through the Garage Theatre. The project had appeal due to its emphasis on creativity, and integration with others, coupled with learning about teamwork and skills required for writing and performing outside of the school timetable. I was also excited about our students being guided, nourished and encouraged by theatre professionals and out of school drama facilitators. Veronica was encouraging and her visit to our school whetted the students’ appetite.

How did the ideas develop? How did the children, artist and teacher work together?

Veronica:

Apprenticeship is the model upon which Tenderfoot runs. The students learn alongside experts in their field so, for instance, professional writers facilitate the students’ learning about writing for the stage. Students are provided with a structure within which they can give voice and form to their own creative ideas. Students are not censored. They can write about any topic. They can utilise any form. The guiding principle for Tenderfoot mentors is to enable students realise the best version of their work.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Very simply, many of our students blossomed. They learned new skills, and many uncovered hidden talents in writing and acting. All of them gained confidence and a greater sense of self-assurance. They made fantastic friends and even better memories. They were a part of something special and very few will ever forget the Tenderfoot experience.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I noticed a remarkable growth in confidence and self-assurance in the five selected students who quickly adapted to the project and to the process of meeting deadlines and submitting required pieces when asked. The rehearsed readings on the day of performance were absorbing and entertaining.

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

Veronica:

The young people make me smile. Their enthusiasm, their engagement and their work. The work they produce is very often surprising. It can be sobering. It can be eye opening. It is really interesting to see the world through their eyes. And I feel that something important is happening in that space where young people encounter the theatrical work of their peers. This is a unique space. Also, the willingness and enthusiasm of the countless teachers I deal with restores my faith in the education system. Year after year I deal with teachers who care only for the best interests of their students. The only major challenge I can think of is the ongoing battle to maintain funding.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

I love the annual January trip to see the plays created by the students. Their peers and I, always come away from the theatre impressed and awestruck about what their classmates have achieved. I don’t find any aspect of the process challenging.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I smiled at the independence of my students strolling out onstage to take their seats and perform in different roles in different plays. Yes, some themes were challenging and clearly revelatory of their needs and focus in this period of their young lives. Sex, freedom of behaviour and speech, rejection of social norms that seem to apply pressure on teenagers were among the challenging themes addressed in their short plays.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Veronica:

It is really valuable for young people to have opportunities to learn in contexts outside of school and in ways different to how they learn in school. An important feature of Tenderfoot is that each group is taken from a number of schools and the work environment is a professional arts environment – The Civic Theatre in Tallaght and The Garage Theatre in Monaghan. The value of such an experience is immeasurable. It provides those students lucky enough to take part an opportunity to see themselves in a new light.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Tenderfoot offers students a more relaxed environment to express themselves. This can sometimes contrast to the school environment where as teachers, we have to place restrictions on bad language or on adult subject matter. This can be a liberating experience for a lot of students and can help greatly in their development of self-confidence.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

Overall, most worthwhile as evidenced by the close attention paid by the attentive and engrossed teenage audience who sat through one and a half hours of readings without asking for a break!

Response from Robert Barrett/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Tenderfoot was easily the highlight of transition year. There was never a dull day; they ranged from doing improvisations in the little theatre upstairs, to building a full sized guillotine. It was a unique experience to see plays, some of which were my own, go from their most conceptual stage in the writers minds, to first drafts and then go through production.”

Response from Seoid Ní Laoire/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Writing A Piece Of Me developed me as a writer, but it was watching the director shape my words into something new, something physical and outside of myself that I learnt the most. My writing’s weak points were suddenly glaringly obvious, as were its strengths. I remember peeking out from backstage and seeing the audience respond to words I had written and experiencing a connection that is impossible to achieve from a page. It is difficult for me to adequately describe the impact of my few weeks with Tenderfoot. It was one of those experiences that, when I look back on my life so far, carves out a milestone.

Sarah Hannon/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Tenderfoot made me come out of my comfort zone and most of all have confidence in my writing. It was one of the most fun and rewarding things I did throughout my secondary school experience and I’m very glad I got the opportunity to do it, and I greatly appreciate and am thankful to the people of Tenderfoot for seeing potential in me when I did not, both then and still to this day.

Tenderfoot is a replicable model and Tenderfoot @ The Garage, championed by Niamh Smyth of CMETB, was the first reiteration. Tenderfoot @ The Garage served schools in the Cavan/Monaghan region in 2015. Five schools participated and twenty students wrote original plays for the stage. Five of those plays were publicly acknowledged in rehearsed readings in The Garage Theatre. Audience was twofold – general theatre and peer audience.

Response from Levana Courtney/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

Thanks a lot for the wonderful experience you’ve given me and helping me along the way. It’s been a brilliant couple of weeks and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’ve learnt a lot of new things, had so much fun and made a lot of new friends who I won’t forget. Before tenderfoot I would have never spoken in front of a crowd, so I really appreciate the confidence it has given me.

Response from Caspar McCabe/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

You can really tell a lot about a person based on what they write about: their experience, their beliefs, their thoughts, their opinions, their dreams … it’s extremely insightful. When you’re writing, even if you have the clearest idea of what you’re going to say, your words take on their own mind and you can end up writing something that is totally different than what you intended to. Knowing how to accept criticism is important, but so is knowing how to accept praise.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Veronica

Each year the students who take part in Tenderfoot are changed by their experience. Some find new interests. Many find new levels of confidence. In a number of cases some even find their future professions.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Many of them grow in confidence. In terms of their education, a better understanding of drama helps with their study of drama at senior cycle. For the budding writers and actors, there is almost always a greater desire to be involved in their chosen field after completion of the Tenderfoot project. They will often go on to engage in drama or writing outside school.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I noted a growing maturity in my five participants. It was good for them to be pushed beyond their usual boundaries.

Response from Caspar McCabe/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

Taking part in Tenderfoot has developed my social skills: I realised while taking part how truly complex everyone is, how everyone has their own individual thoughts and experience and beliefs and this has helped me to connect with people and make friends.

National Architects in Schools Initiative

The project, part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s National Architects in School Initiative (NAISI), involved an Architect working with a Transition Year group of 25 mixed students and a Design and Technology teacher.

Students from Colaiste Cholim, undertook a wealth or tours and visits investigating many facets of architecture in their town of Ballincollig and the wider city of Cork. Starting from this perspective of how architecture relates to community, the students narrowed the focus for the design project, developing their own personal room for the garden of a semi detached house. As a fitting end to a project the students held an exhibition of their work in the local shopping centre of Ballincollig.

Engagement process:

The students began with a life drawing exercise to develop their observation skills. From here they were encouraged to develop their own opinions on architecture through research and discussion of the work of inspiring architects. There then followed a series of exploratory tours:

Development Process:

Having gleaned ideas, insights and an understanding of the diversity inherent in architecture, the student were set the task of designing a personal room in the back of a semi-detached sub-urban house. Designs based on a variety of personal interests emerged including an art studio, a cinema, a dance room and a chill out room. Using card, foam board and balsa wood the student made scale model of their designs for exhibition at the local shopping centre in Ballincollig, Cork.

Most useful activities:

Jerry Buttimer TD opened an Architecture Exhibition by students of Coláiste Choilm, of work produced during the IAF’s National Architects in Schools Initiative, at Ballincollig Shopping Centre. Each studetn presented their final project to a public audience and discussed individual projects with the TD and visitors including IAF Education Curator.

From the students:

I learned about design process + daily job and how jobs come about. I enjoyed making models and thinking of ideas for what to do for the project.
Student, 15
We’d done set projects before but this time we were able to use our own ideas and solve problems along the way. Felt more like a real designer!
Student, 16

From the Teacher:

Having taught a transition year construction module for a number of years, aspiring to develop an awareness and appreciation of the student’s environment, particularly their built environment, I heard of the Architecture in Schools initiative through the Cork Education Centre and decided to apply. My motivation initially was personal, as I have a great interest in architecture and was very interested in working with an architect. I also believed that if I could develop my own skills and knowledge it would ultimately benefit my students. I applied and was very fortunate to be paired with architect Seán Antóin Ó Muirí. We got on very well, both personally and professionally. This, in my opinion, was key to the success of the initiative. This is our second year working together and I have learned a great deal working with Seán.

Typically, we adopt a practical approach to student learning. The students learn through observation, sketching, discussion, research, presentation, and problem solving amongst other techniques. The students visit buildings of architectural significance locally, where they observe, record, present and discuss their experiences. They also watch videos, research architects and their work, and present their observations to their classmates. Another important part of their development is the visit to the Cork School of Architecture. This presents the students with a unique opportunity to view and discuss the work and course with college students and experience what life as a student of architecture is like. Also, the students are presented with a number of design challenges devised by Seán, from which they develop their own unique responses. These are varied in complexity, and time required for completion, and always have specific objectives.

I have learned significantly from my involvement in this initiative and particularly working with Seán. As a teacher with more than twenty years experience, I found I have become very focussed on “the end game”, which is the examination and marks in the Junior Cert and marks and points in the Leaving Cert for my students. I try to incorporate different teaching and learning experiences. However I am restricted in so far as the course must be covered, projects must be completed and time is limited.

Seán has an entirely different approach. He focuses very much on the process and allows the student the freedom to pursue their ideas. He guides, encourages and advises each student, and allows them to pursue their own ideas even if he disagrees with them. They are allowed the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. The students are also encouraged to find out things for themselves, for example, if they require the size for a door, they measure the door in the room. This leads to collaboration between students and an excellent learning environment.

The students are enthusiastic and have learned a great deal. Their increased awareness of architecture is great. However the skills and confidence they have developed as a consequence of participating in this course is the real benefit of incorporating this initiative in a transition year program.

Danny Moynihan, Teacher

From the Architect:

I was motivated to particpate in the architects in schools programe because I am simply interested in architecture so I am always interested in getting other people’s perspectives and thoughts on the subject.
I took a lot of heart from the conceptual thinking that some of the students displayed in realising their projects, this is always very encouraging. The project was the first time I had taught architecture at secondary school level this was a new and good experience. There is a lot of energy to be sourced from working with other people, as I work on my own this was good to tap into this energy twice a week. I was blown away by some of the designs produced by some of the students, because the class was so big (25 students) it was very hard to give much time to any one student, so to see some of the designs produced with very little direction was very inspiring.
The students’ work is of a standard you’d expect from third level student projects, they demonstrated exceptional ability and commitment to the project. Support from the teacher, Danny Moynihan who has an incredible passion and interest in architecture also made it this project a great experience.

Seán Antóin Ó Muirí, Architect.

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about?

The Abbey Theatre provides opportunities for young citizens to express feelings about their world and their State using the theatre arts. We want the students to feel a civic ownership of their National Theatre. To achieve this aim, we strive to raise awareness among young people of the rich civic, cultural, social and creative connections that emerge through engagement with theatre and theatre making. This course was developed by Sarah FitzGibbon, in collaboration with Maire O’Higgins, Larkin Community College under the auspices of The Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education Department. The course was piloted in Larkin College from September 2013 until May 2015 with class 103. Over the two years and 100 hours, the students develop their competence in six key skills, 16 of the 24 statements of learning with clear literacy, oracy (Oral Literacy) and numeracy strategies.

There are three strands:In Strand 1, the young people get to grips with the 4 Key Concepts in CSPE; Human Dignity, Interdependence, Rights and Responsibilities and Democracy; an introduction to theatre making; review a piece of theatre and make a speech on ‘Theatre is an important tool for citizens to be able to express themselves.’ In Strand 2, we use the story of Romeo and Juliet as a vehicle through which we explore the effect of a feud on a community. This is then developed into a performance piece where we seek to exploit the learning potential of the production process as a ‘real life work’ simulation with designated roles, responsibilities, deadlines, teamwork and collaboration. In Strand 3, students developed their own piece of theatre to raise awareness of a social issue that affects their community. The students direct a lot of their own learning with self-motivated research tasks that form the basis of their script. It is this model of script development that you will be taken through today. In the Pilot, the students chose the issue of homelessness (which exemplifies the concept of Human Dignity). This was a recurring theme in our citzenship discussions since the students had seen Silent by Pat Kinevane in Strand 1. Homelessness was an issue they felt passionate about as it directly affected their inner city school community. The students researched the causes of homelessness; the State’s response to those experiencing homelessness; the community response to the issue; its coverage in the media and who they wished to express their message to. The students interviewed political theatre makers who had dealt with the issue of homelessness with the homeless community. They also interviewed a Simon Community Key Worker. They visited the Pebbledash exhibition in The National Museum and assisted the school’s First Year and Transition Year students in creating and distributing care parcels to the homeless in their area. When the group wrote their own play out of their research and discussions in class, they then created a list of policy makers and groups they wished to invite to attend their awareness raising performance. This list included invitations to the clients of homeless services and policy makers to attend the performance in The Abbey Theatre, their National Theatre. While researching an issue in preparation for a performance, the students are set the challenge of developing a speech or performance piece based on a character that they create who is directly affected by the issue. The performance piece is created from these characters. It is based on any interactions, monologues, or songs inspired by the students indepth research. Facts and data discovered can be included too. The structuring of the performance script is quite straight forward.

Who was involved? How did you begin?

Participants: The Abbey Theatre Education Department and a First Year CSPE class in Larkin Community College. In 2011 we began in conversations with our local secondary school which is Larkin Community College. Throughout 2012, we had a year of discussion and planning between the artist and the teacher.

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

While we had a structure designed we were constantly reviewing it with the young people. We also constantly asked them for feedback on how they felt they were progressing in the course. When it came to the creation of the artwork it was a very collaborative approach, with the teacher and artist as the final arbiters on the text to be performed. That said the young people had to give an agreement to perform it and tweaks were made.

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

Observing those “aha” moments when concepts were understood and tasks achieved. It was also a pleasure watching the students grow in confidence in their ability to have an opinion and express it.

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

Young people are sophisticated thinkers. Young people can affect change in their communities. Teacher can grow as an artist working alongside an artist teacher in the classroom. The work of an artist is strengthened when she has an arts organization to support her in the delivery of the programme.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

The National Theatre has committed to actively engaging in Theatre Making in Secondary Schools and support the inclusion of Theatre Arts in the Curriculum.

Students have made a difference in the lives of vulnerable groups in their community by raising awareness of issues and by fundraising.

Máire:

• Students have developed a strong sense of connectedness with each other and an increased level of self-esteem.
• The Abbey Theatre has transformed the lives of young people in their local community.
• Young people have developed an appreciation for Theatre.
• Students’ creative writing skills have been deepened and expanded.
• There has been a substantial improvement in students’ oral literacy skills with an increase in vocabulary and more developed sentence structures (eg longer sentences, clearer narratives …).
• Presentation skills are of a higher standard as a result of rehearsals and regular debates and presentations in class. Higher order questioning formed the basis of interaction and interrogation with guest speakers. The sophistication of the questioning emerged from rigorous research and enquiry.

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

Jennie:

In early 2014 I received the Thinking Visual Residency Award, run by Wicklow County Council & Mermaid Arts Centre. I proposed a new type of residency within Blessington Community College, where artists John Beattie, Sven Anderson and myself as project curator would work with transition year students to explore activities that lay between producing new artwork and developing a conceptual framework within which to present it. This residency provided a unique experience for both the students and the school to focus on this process-driven phase of contemporary art production, and highlight vital links between the artist as researcher and students as inventive learners. John Beattie gave a focus to moving image work and Sven Anderson evolved sonic frames of reference with the students.

Sven:

The curator Jennie Guy invited me to take part in a six-week residency programme working with transition year students in Blessington Community College in County Wicklow, in late 2014. Between October – December, I met with the students, Jennie Guy, and the art teacher Turlough Odonnell once a week.

Much of my practice is focused on contemporary sound art practices, so I initiated the project with an energetic workshop based on physically manipulating vinyl LPs. Using blades, electrical tape, and sandpaper, the students made physical marks on the surfaces of records that I sourced in a bargain bin in a charity shop in Dublin. Most of the students had never been near a record before .. and immediately we found ourselves having conversations about media manipulation, the sense of hearing, noise and silence, and what distinguishes noise from music from art.

I spent the next sessions presenting a variety of material to the students – some of it interactive, some of it more based on creating the time and space to listen to and comment on significant artworks in this field. These conversations crossed many boundaries by addressing subjects and techniques that were outside of what many of the students would consider as art. Each week provided the chance for another listening session – and we listened to works by Max Neuhaus, Bill Fontana, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Christina Kubisch, Sam Auinger, and Luc Ferrari (amongst others).

After one particular conversation about sound installations in public places, the students began to express a strong interest in making a sound installation for their school. We quickly focused on conducting site surveys of the schools grounds (looking for the right site to work into), developing a concept for the work’s structure and content, and going over all of the practical aspects of making such an installation. We invited the school’s principal to the next workshop and the students themselves made a presentation proposing the installation, and asking for permission to construct it.
On the final day of the residency, I spent the entire day at the school working on the installation.

The final sound installation (installed by the students with help from their teachers from art, woodworking, metalworking, and the school’s maintenance staff) is formed by four boards spanning over 40 ft, mounted overhead in the outdoor passageway. The boards are fitted with sound transducers, transforming the boards into resonating speakers. The students choose combinations of sounds from an online database of field recordings uploaded by various sound artists that drift between boards throughout the day (played back from a computer / hardware setup installed in one of the classrooms), providing a backdrop to the everyday sounds taking place outside their school. This piece is still installed outside of the school in early 2015.

Turlough:

Between September and December 2014 Jennie Guy (Art School / Mobile Art School) curated an artist residency in Blessington Community College. The residency consisted of six workshops for the Transition Year students. There are two classes in Transition Year in Blessington, one class worked with artist Sven Anderson and the other class worked with artist John Beattie. Over the six weeks students were introduced to the work of their resident artist, experimental workshops were carried out where students explored the processes involved in Sven and John’s work. From these explorations proposals for works in video and sound were developed. These proposals were then presented to the School Management and ultimately art works were produced with the artists working closely with the students at all times.

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

Jennie:

As each subsequent week of the residency went by I looked forward to each residency session as I knew that there would a lot of unexpected laughs generated by each artist’s session. John Beattie really pushed the boundaries of the students perceptions of experimental moving image works. He gave the groups he worked with such freedom that they were able to devise and follow through with their ideas from session to session. Seeing the students achieve such experimental works was really exhilarating for me as an observer and really fun for the students. At times I felt quite challenged at the end of each session in trying to describe what had happened from the artists and students perspective. I knew the ideas and research that the artist was trying to evolve but somehow trying to make it relevant to this student audience I would begin to stutter in my round-up. Turlough O’Donnell the art teacher has a really unique talent of being able to process the ideas the artist was bringing to his classroom and school but somehow contextualise it as a teacher and then re-present each session with great articulation to his students that I felt that I was learning a lot from him.

John:

During my third session with the students, I set a self motivated brief for the day, to give the students an opportunity to experiment with ideas independently using the camera & lens, throughout the grounds of the school. The students explored ideas and methods discussed and demonstrated from previous sessions. At the end of the task, students gathered in the art room, and I projected all images the students had shot large scale for all to view and critique. To my delight, a group of students had created a sequence of images, illustrating one of their peers “flying” steadily, in the air, through the school building. Using a Stop-Motion camera technique, the students discovered an imaginative approach, which later became the central focus of the projects final video. A fantastic moment.

Working with large groups of mixed teenagers can be very challenging to ensure that each individual feels apart of the process. Also, monitoring how engaged students are, and if students are engaging at all. It’s crucial for me that I create that space for students to feel comfortable and confident to come forward and be involved in the creative process. This was the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of the project.

Sven:

There were so many moments working on this project that made me smile. One of the funniest moments occurred when we were talking about the artist / composer John Cage, in particular his composition 4 minutes 33 seconds. This piece is a performance in which the audience (and performer) remains silent for this exact duration of time, highlighting the ambient sounds of the performance space and demonstrating that there really is no such thing as silence – and that many incidental sounds can become ‘material’ when given appropriate focus. We were in the middle of uploading our own version of this piece via a new 4’33” iPhone App – sitting in a circle, listening to the sound of nothing – of our breath, of the creak of chairs, the subtle passing of cars outside. This duration can feel like a long time for a group of teenagers – sitting still, trying not to laugh, trying to stay quiet. One of the students was holding a ‘virtual baby’ / ‘infant simulator’ – one of these fake baby dolls that the students have to take care of, tending to their needs. Suddenly – in the middle of our silence – the baby let out a computerized cry. The laughter that had been hiding behind the silence suddenly broke and we were all laughing, the sound being uploaded to the app to be stored with hundreds of other ‘silences’ recorded around the world.

There were many moments like this – in which our focus on listening, and on the medium of sound, forced us to negotiate with many aspects of space and experience that we would never have had to confront if we were working in a more visual medium. By the end of the residency, I felt that we had a strong group dynamic, and a good understanding of how we could work together as a group both to understand more difficult concepts, and to work towards producing a significant impact on our environment – as evidenced through the successful installation of the sound installation outside of the school.

Turlough:

Seeing the student’s reaction to appearing in the video work really made me smile, particularly because the young girl who became the focus for the main video piece is a very quite student, and she got a real kick out of making the piece. Also the first video piece involved another student being given the power to move chairs with his mind this also was very funny to see his performance in front of the students.

In the sound work shop seeing all the students engage with the artist made me smile. I and the students really enjoyed the field recording trip to Dublin also. On this trip we recorded the everyday sounds of the city; these sounds were later incorporated into a piece of sculpture the students had made in response to Sven’s sound workshop. The whole project / residency challenged the students notions of what is and what is not art and they now have a broader appreciation of what is involved in contemporary art practise.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Jennie:

I must acknowledge the strength and benefit of forming strong background relationships that substantiate residencies like this. For example, without the backing, support and most importantly the creative vision of Wicklow Country Arts Office and Mermaid Arts Centre this project would never happen. My approach to creating firm and supportive relationships has deepened even more, this does take more time but now that I can see how exciting ongoing connection with schools can emerge from this type of relationship gives everybody involved in this type of project a great sense of achievement. The same approach goes for really involving the artist as early as possible before a project, either in conversation and or doing site visits and being able to communicate as much as possible before a project starts. This project has given a lot of confidence to approach new contexts.
John: I heard from the schools art teacher that after one of our sessions, a usually quite student came up to him and said that the session and work done was; “poetry in motion”.

Another aspect worth sharing from the project, is the careful and considered level of detail carried out by curator Jennie Guy, with the school and art teacher Turlough, to co-ordinate and manage this process. The atmosphere and fundamental creative environment, had been set in place and in motion, making this an extremely smooth and successful project.

I think there is a large number of things that have changed as a result of the project, some measurable, many others not so easy to measure: For the school, Principal, art teachers, and most importantly the students, to experience a sense of what is possible, what can be done, of how to step outside of the school curriculum and produce innovative and challenging work. I feel people’s perspective and perceptions changed in relation to art within the secondary level education system. This also goes for myself as an artist and educator, that we can bring dynamic, relevant, and engaging art practices into the school education system, and produce work and working relationships, where the integrity of project is completed with the highest level of engagement.

Sven:

The project’s structure – established by the curator Jennie Guy – was quite a substantial framework to begin with. I have had experiences with workshops in which the artist is completely responsible for establishing frames of reference with the teaching staff, the school, and the students. In this case, the curatorial framework that Guy established with Turlough ODonnell (the art teacher) set the ground for more adventurous work within the residency – in which I was free to develop my own ideas in response to the students’ interests as they emerged / developed over the course of the residency. The resulting environment (within these sessions) allowed us to move very quickly and to cover quite a bit of ground in six weeks, and the support and exchange with the students, the art teacher, and the curator all felt substantial and easy to balance.

I sense that the impact of having the sound installation – quite a substantial experiential structure – built outside of the school in Blessington marked a significant change in all of our expectations concerning how far we might go with this kind of experimental learning framework. This was not an expected outcome of the project – and beyond the process of producing what I consider to be a considered artwork, our experience working together and learning to ask for a chance to shape or author our environment – in this case the environment of the school – was quite significant. I believe that enabling the students to make a legible mark on their surroundings is a valuable experience in breaking down the borders between self / space (environment) / and authority, resulting in a more active approach to establishing democratic spaces.

Turlough:

The approaches of both artists have given the students great insight into the working practices of contemporary artists. Sven’s work in the field of sound sculpture has the potential to create a greater awareness in students to their surrounding particularly to the sound environment of the school. As a teacher the engagement with both artists has had a very positive effect on my own approach to teaching. I believe that it is very important as a teacher to open the subject up and by getting professional artists into the art room with the students has an energising effect.

I think that students will be more open minded as a result of the project. Some students have even started to explore new media on their own. One group of students created their own video piece in and entered it in a competition called “Youth Connect”. Their work was short listed to 12 which were screened in the Savoy cinema last week. I have no doubt that the video residency with John would have influenced and informed their approach.

Students’ report

Our names are Shona O’Connor and Aoife Mescall, we were students involved in the residency who worked with Sven in the area of sound sculpture.
On the day we were introduced to Jennie and Sven, Sven told us about his area of work and told us what he wanted us, as a class, to learn from the residency. To introduce us to the basics of sound, he brought us in old records with very different genres and sounds and played them on his record player, which he also taught us how to use throughout the day. As an experimental activity, we each chose a record at random and used tape, sand paper and knives to mark and scratch the record to make different sounds and interruptions on the track when it played.

Following up on working with records, Sven gave us the task of making some sort of sculpture using the record covers. The class decided to build a ‘sound tower’ by taping the covers together in various different ways and installing small speakers to the sculpture.

After a couple of weeks, along with Sven, the class came up with the idea of making putting up a semi-permanent sound installation somewhere in the school to make others aware of the sounds around them. We came up with the concept of attaching four small speakers to four long planks of wood that would go up on the ceiling of the shelter outside the first year corridor.

In preparation for proposing our idea to Mr Burke, our principal, we had to plan to tell him what we wanted to do, how we were going to do it and what we wanted to get out of this project. We chose two pupils to help Sven to pitch the idea to Mr Burke and from the very start he was on board with helping us complete the task. Different people were given different jobs that they had to complete as their part-taking in the completion of the project. Some were in charge of preparing the wood for the speakers to be securely installed and others helped in choosing the sounds we were going to play.

At first no-one could really hear the sounds we were trying to make noticeable, so Sven and Mr O’Donnell worked on fixing it and making it louder.
On the last week in the residency, Sven came in and helped us put everything together. Outside Sven helped other pupils feed wires and cables through the wall to ensure we would be able to connect the speakers to electricity, while the rest of the students helped Donal, our care taker, secure the planks to the ceiling of the shelter to be ready to be connected. Other students stayed inside to make a final decision on the sound they were going to play and what went well together. Everything was just about finished when the final bell of the day rang. To thank Sven and Jennie for all their hard work and time they had spent with us, we presented them with a bottle of wine as a small token of our appreciation.

When people were beginning to become aware of the sounds being played, confusion was their initial reaction. They were curious as to where it was coming from, as they were not aware we had been working on this project. However when they got used to it, they listened closely and carefully to the sounds and tried to figure out the type of sound that was being played.

We feel our class really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about how art is not just in pictures and paintings. We all got along really well with Sven and found it a very interesting and new experience. We were also thought about how interesting it is to stop and listen to how versatile the sounds in a particular environment can be.

Overall we think the project was a massive success and really enjoyed working in such a different area of art.

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:


!!!! Architects in Schools Programme: Call for Architects & Architectural Graduates

Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) 
Deadline: Friday, 6 August 2021

The Irish Architecture Foundation invites applications from architects and architectural graduates to participate in the 2021/22 Architects in Schools initiative. Starting in September 2021, it is a great opportunity to gain CPD points while sharing your knowledge of architecture with young people and teachers in a fun and engaging way.

You will work directly with students in their school, supporting them as they learn how to explore, research, design and communicate their ideas about architecture and the built environment. You will also collaborate with students and teachers to select work for the annual Architects in Schools exhibition in the Museum of Country Life, Mayo, in May 2022.

The Architects in Schools programme is entering into its 9th cycle. It is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. In 2020/21 the programme reached 63 schools nationwide (up from 28 in 2019/20). 36 dedicated architects delivered workshops in a wide range of school types nationwide.

There are two programme options for schools. Architects can work across a combination of these options if working with a number of schools:

Programme A: (Full)

Programme B: (Introductory)

If you have good communication skills and are looking for exciting ways to expand your practice, we would love to hear from you!

For further information and to access the online application form go to architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2021-2022-open-call-for-architects/. 

For questions email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

 

!!!! I-Stem Project Teacher Resource – The Gaiety School of Acting

The Gaiety School of Acting

Despite the fact that scientific developments permeate and enrich the lives of young people on a daily, or even hourly basis, studies across Europe are identifying pockets of this demographic that are struggling to relate to and engage with the science curriculum in the classroom. According to Science Foundation Ireland’s 2015 Science Barometer report, young women from less affluent backgrounds are less inclined to identify with science education at second level. This has a direct impact on the number of students from this demographic advancing to third level and ultimately working within the field.

Drilling down further into the statistics, researchers have found that young women from a cultural minority background or who identify as LGBTQIAP+ are even less likely to develop a positive scientific identity, meaning a far reduced number of people from these societal groups tend to aspire to careers in science.

With the aim to address these gaps in science engagement, The Gaiety School of Acting has teamed up with partners from Ireland, Finland, Poland and Holland to investigate ways in which performance, and specifically comedy improvisation, can be utilised by science educators to impact on their students in a new and dynamic way. The three year I-Stem  project, supported by the Erasmus Plus fund, began on September 1st 2020.

In its first publication ‘Creative Methods in Science Teaching – Ways Forward!’ an e-book resource for teachers, STEM subjects are related to arts. Use of arts in education tell us something about society: our educational systems and its angles of entry are creating the scientists of tomorrow. The combination of arts and science gives us a better starting point to develop our full potential which is needed when creating something new.

The publication has a preface video from Dr. Niamh Shaw, to view go to istem-project.eu/e-book/

This publication presents research and best practices of using arts as a means of improving pedagogy and classroom practice in STEM education. In these pages “STEAM” represents STEM plus the arts–humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media. It draws on theoretical understandings of arts in STEM disciplines to illustrate how researchers and practitioners are using creative initiatives to promote inclusive teaching approaches.

The e-book is aimed at post-primary school teachers who are currently using arts within their teaching practice or have an interest in doing so in the future. Examples of STEAM teaching in Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Finland are given. It is not intended to provide a fully comprehensive exploration of all aspects of arts in STEM disciplines. The I-Stem Project acknowledges the necessary limitations of this resource, but trusts that it will serve its purpose of guiding you through the main relevant concepts, and that it will give you insights and inspiration for your teaching.

To download the resource go to istem-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/I-STEM_e-book.pdf

!!!! Opportunity: Choral Postcards Young Composers’ Online Summer Project

Chamber Choir Ireland
Deadline: 5pm, 24 June, 2021

This July, a group of aspiring composers age 15-18 will have the opportunity to work remotely with professional composers and singers to create their own Choral Postcards—short pieces of music written for four-part choir, in a joint project with Chamber Choir Ireland and the Contemporary Music Centre.

All sessions will be held via Zoom and it is free to participate.

To apply, please send the following to education@chamberchoirireland.com:
1. Any examples of music you’ve written, either for choir or any other instrument/combination of instruments
2. A note outlining your reasons for applying
3. A recommendation from your school music teacher, instrumental/vocal teacher, or choir conductor, outlining your capacity to be involved in a choral composition project with Chamber Choir Ireland

Deadline: 5pm Thursday 24th June, 2021

For more information, see: www.chamberchoirireland.com/learning-participation/choral-postcards/

!!!! Architects in Schools Panel Discussion at London Festival of Architecture

Irish Architecture Foundation
Date: 2pm, Friday 25 June

In collaboration with the London Festival of Architecture, Irish Architecture Foundation will host a live, virtual panel discussion entitled Together We Care About Public Spaces as part of their ‘Architects in Schools’ initiative 2021.

The panel will include Blaithin Quinn (Irish Architecture Foundation), Muhammad Achour (Places of ARcture), Frank Monahan (Architecture at the Edge) and students and teachers from Holy Faith and Synge Street secondary schools in Dublin, Ireland, and focus on imaginary public realm projects as part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s ‘Architects in Schools‘ initiative 2021.

In their collaborative work with the students, Muhammad and Frank focused on care, co-creation, pride, citizen engagement and ownership in the design of public space. How we care for our public realm is always relevant, even more so now as we adapt to life in a post-pandemic world.

‘Architects in Schools’ is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Department of Education and Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Date: 2pm, Friday 25 June

For more information, see: https://architecturefoundation.ie/event/architects-in-schools-at-london-festival-of-architecture-together-we-care-about-public-spaces/

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Architects in Schools 2021/22

Irish Architecture Foundation
Deadline: 6pm, June 4 2021

The IAF are delighted to announce that applications are now open for schools to take part in the 2021/22 cycle of Architects in Schools programme. The programme is entering into its 9th cycle, and the IAF will be collaborating with the National Museum of Ireland (Museum of Country Life, Mayo) for the annual exhibition of student work in May 2022.

An architect will facilitate hands-on design workshops in your school. Dates, times and workshop duration will be arranged between the designated teacher / TY coordinator and the assigned architect. Workshops must take place between 1 September 2021 and 4 March 2022. All architects will be fully Garda Vetted and will sign our Child Protection Policy. There is no cost for schools to participate (apart from providing some art materials).

There are two options for participation:
Option A: Full Programme
30 schools can participate in the full programme
20 hours with an architect / architectural graduate, consisting of 12 hours of workshops & 8 hours of preparation time for the architect
Option B: Introductory Programme
A new strand introduced in 2020/21, up to 40 schools can avail of introductory workshops
1 x 3 hour workshop per school, with an architect / architectural graduate

Deadline: 6pm, June 4th 2021

For more information and to apply online please visit https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-call-for-schools/

!!!! Opportunity for Young People: Source Arts Centre Online Workshops

Source Arts Centre
Date: 24 April

The Source Arts Centre is hosting a series of online workshops until June as part of their ‘Y’ Arts Programme. The ‘Y’ Arts Programme encourages young people aged between 13 and 18 to create new works of art using a task and challenge based approach. The programme aims to encourage an understanding of contemporary art and avant-garde art.

Workshop : Dream Like Maya Deren
12pm-1pm, 24th April 2021

Maya Deren was a Ukrainian-born American experimental filmmaker  in the 1940s and 1950s. In this workshop, participants will look at her most famous film ‘Meshes Of The Afternoon’ and examine how dream states or the subconscious are depicted in art.

For more information, see here: www.thesourceartscentre.ie/events/info/dream-like-maya-deren-workshop

!!!! Opportunity: Music Generation Callout for Musicians

Music Generation 
Deadline: 30 April 2021

Music Generation invites individual or groups of professional musicians to tender to lead and develop distinct Communities of Practice with musicians that deliver Music Generation programmes; and to lead, develop and create new work for children and young people with musicians involved in Music Generation Communities of Practice.

Music Generation is Ireland’s National Music Education Programme that gives children and young people access to high-quality, subsidised performance music education. Initiated by Music Network, Music Generation is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Local Music Education Partnerships.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 30th April 2021

For more information on how to apply, see: www.musicgeneration.ie/news/request-for-tenders-professional-musicians-provision-of-services

 

 

!!!! 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 for Schools: Ennis Book Club Festival Workshops for Schools

Ennis Book Club Festival
Dates: 2 – 5 March

Ennis Book Club Festival invites post-primary school students and teachers in County Clare to a series of online workshops scheduled as part of their wider book club festival taking place from 2 – 7 March.

The workshops include:

For more information on how to book, see https://www.ennisbookclubfestival.com/ebcf-2021-events

!!!! New Architecture Learning Resource for Schools: IAF DIY Studio

Irish Architecture Foundation

The IAF have produced an online resource ‘DIYStudio’ for teachers and secondary school students.

DIYStudio introduces you to architecture and is perfect for secondary schools students who might be curious about the process of design. Follow the five stages – Explore, Research, Design, Present, Reflect to design your own architectural space, learning and experimenting along the way. All you need to get started is internet access, paper and a pencil.

Students can start and finish anytime, DIYStudio is an ongoing project.

For further information go to architecturefoundation.ie/event/diystudio/

If you have any questions please email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

!!!! Research Launch: Mapping Youth Arts Provision in Youth Work Settings

National Youth Council of Ireland

Date: 4 February 2021

NYCI commissioned UCC to carry out an independent mapping of youth arts provision in youth work settings in Ireland. Join NYCI at the virtual launch of the research to find out:

Why Attend?

Who Should Attend
Youth work managers, youth workers, youth arts practitioners, ETB youth officers, arts officers and anyone working with young people, academics in the field of youth studies, youth work students, policy makers, stakeholders from relevant government departments.

Who You’ll Hear From
Eileen Hogan, University College Cork
Eileen Hogan is a Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork. She is Course Director of the Masters in Youth Arts and Sports Education, which won the grad Ireland/HEA award for Best Postgraduate Course (Arts and Humanities) in 2017. Eileen is also Deputy Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Youth Work.

Through these roles, she is involved in the professional development of youth workers and youth arts practitioners and has strong connections with youth work organisations. Eileen is also a member of the Board of Directors at Youth Work Ireland Cork. She is also Chairperson of the IndieCork Film and Music Festival, which is a volunteer-led organisation that supports youth arts as an element of its broader cultural programme.

NYCI have a an exciting panel lined up to join Dr Hogan in reacting to and dissecting the research and what it means for your work.

For further information and to register go to www.youth.ie/event/research-launch-mapping-youth-arts-provision-in-youth-work-settings/?mc_cid=bc2c636276&mc_eid=a6a29c2666

!!!! Call Out for young people in Sligo/Leitrim area with an interest in LGTBQI+ issues!

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Calling young people in Sligo/Leitrim with an interest in LGBTQI+ issues…

Do you want to be part of a new art and writing project that explores gender and sexuality?

Do you want to stimulate dialogue and capture the imagination of your local community through the creation of strong messages and powerful imagery?

Kids’ Own in partnership with SMILY – offers an exciting creative process in summer/autumn 2020 with a writer, artist and graphic designer that will support you to have a voice and influence on the issues that matter to you.

Weekly workshops will take place in Sligo.

This programme is FREE and open to young people aged 13–18.

No previous art or writing experience is necessary.

For further information and to sign up go to www.kidsown.ie.

To find more information about SMILY, visit: facebook.com/SMILY.LGBT.Northwest

!!!! Youth Youth Theatre Ireland Announces 2 Supporting Grants

Youth Theatre Ireland

Deadline: 5pm, 14 September 2020

Youth Theatre Ireland is pleased to announce two grant schemes to offer assistance to Youth Theatres in these challenging times, with the generous support of the Creative Ireland Programme. The first, “Include YT – COVID Relief Inclusion Grant”, is available to affiliated theatres and the second “Join In – Youth Theatre Inclusion Grant” is available to developing Youth Theatres.

The Include YT grant will provide a maximum of €3,000 to help affiliated theatres to increase young people’s access to youth theatre and address exclusion on social or disability grounds. Emerging from Covid-19, youth theatres’ capacity to include new members may be severely challenged as they face additional costs and extended workshop programmes in order to comply with public health measures and social distancing guidelines. This grant is designed to help youth theatres keep social inclusion at the heart of their practice by resourcing approximately 6 youth theatres to engage with young people who have difficulty accessing youth theatre on social or disability grounds.

During these extraordinary times, this once-off grant is designed to support youth theatre inclusion initiatives in the Sept – Dec term 2020 and will assist with many measures including bursaries to cover membership fees for young people whose families are facing challenging circumstances, resources or additional staff to support the participation of members with disabilities or additional needs. The total fund available to youth theatres through this scheme is €18,000.

The “Join In – Youth Theatre Inclusion Grant” will provide a maximum of €3,000 to  developing youth theatres operating in areas of social deprivation, to help increase young people’s access to youth theatre. During these extraordinary times, this once-off grant is designed to support the development of new youth theatres that are addressing social exclusion and that aim to affiliate in 2020. The total fund available to youth theatres through this scheme is €15,000.

Rhona Dunnett, Acting Director of Youth Theatre Ireland said, “Youth Theatre Ireland is delighted to be working with the Creative Ireland Programme to offer these once-off grants to youth theatres. Like many sectors, youth theatre is facing difficult financial circumstances in 2020 and these grants will support youth theatres to keep inclusion at the heart of their practice and increase young people’s access to youth theatre in socially disadvantaged areas. In these challenging times, young people need youth theatre more than ever to help them feel connected and give them a safe, creative space to express themselves and their ideas.”.

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday, September 14th 2020.

For further information and application details go to www.youththeatre.ie/news/press/youth-theatre-ireland-announces-2-supporting-grants.

 

!!!! Opportunity for Schools – Architects in Schools 2020/21 Open Call

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: Friday 19 June 2020

The Irish Architecture Foundation are delighted to announce that applications are open for the 2020/21 Architects in Schools programme.

The Architects in Schools initiative for Transition Year students places architects and architectural graduates in schools across Ireland. Students learn how to research, design and communicate architectural ideas, always reimagining the spaces around them and sometimes even affecting change in their local built environment.

Check out Architect Frank Monahan’s guest blog series here on the Portal about his experience on the initiative.

For further information and to apply go to https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2020-2021-open-call-for-schools/. 

Or email learning@architecturefoundation.ie for queries.

Closing date Friday 19 June

!!!! Students are invited to the Careers in Screen Day 2020

Irish Film Institute

Date: 4 March 2020

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) and the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, in association with Screen Skills Ireland, will once again offer an inspiring and innovative day of events for young people interested in finding out more about working in the film and tv industries.

This event, aimed at Senior Cycle second-level students aged 15 to 18, is an opportunity for students to hear from a whole variety of film industry practitioners, to learn about their work, how they got there and what advice they might give to young people starting out. Whether it’s the craft side of the industry, working in front of the camera or behind, as well as other areas such as production or casting, there will be something for every interest.

A number of third-level institutions will also be on hand to offer guidance on the day.

Last year’s guests included director Lenny Abrahamson, producer Ed Guiney, costume designer Consolata Boyle and DOP Cathal Watters.

Booking essential. See www.ifi.ie/schools

 

!!!! ‘Asking For It’

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

In February 2018 Landmark Productions and Everyman Theatre Cork approached us to ask what ancillary activities would we be organizing around the production of ‘Asking For It’ they were planning to stage in June and which would subsequently transfer to the Abbey in November.

We all saw the necessity to involve young people in the story and so aside from the Abbey’s usual provision of post-show talks and podcasts we decided to take the work into schools as directly as possible. We planned a structure of pre and post show workshops to support any school who was going to see the play. We also committed to the creation of a teachers study pack which could appeal to many levels of ability.

After speaking about schools visits to Louise O’Neill, the author of the novel on which the play was based, it became clear that we needed specific training in dealing with this project. Louise’s disturbing experience had been that in nearly every school she had visited herself at least one young woman had disclosed she had experienced sexual assault.

On 24th July we hosted a workshop by Tender UK a theatre company that specializes in exploring issues of abuse with post primary students. On their advice we changed the original plan of having a sole female facilitator to having workshops run by both a male and female so they could model healthy gender relationships. That’s when I stopped just managing the project and stepped in as co-facilitator.

Based on her previous work with the Abbey we contacted actor and facilitator Aoibheann McCaul and she and I planned the post-show workshop together. Aoibheann also attended a training session at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

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

Aoibheann and Phil started visiting schools in October using applied drama to explore the students’ sense of the characters involved in the story and any links they had to students’ own sense of gender roles, friendship dynamics and sexual consent. These pre-show workshops were introductory and often didn’t go into the ethics of consent or even the plot of the play if the students’ weren’t already aware of the story. We wanted the students to experience it theatrically. For those that were aware of the book though, we found that for some the issues of assault were still unclear, “Well she took him into the room so she was asking for it, wasn’t she?”

The groups went to performances of ‘Asking For It’ at the Abbey Theatre and met a couple of the cast afterwards.  The actors had all volunteered to talk to the students and were eager to engage with their responses. These ranged from the shy and practical (“How do learn your lines?”) to more in depth enquiries “How do you play someone so nasty?” “Why did you choose to do this particular play?” “What’s it like having to play Emma over and over again?”. One all-girl’s school which had been skeptical about assault changed their view completely and demanded their teachers give them better sex education in future especially about consent.

Aiobheann and Phil then returned do the schools for a two hour long post show workshop that built on the previously introduced techniques of statues, tableaux and walking in character to explore how both the characters and the students themselves had changed over the course of the evening.

As with the pre-show workshops we used a basic drama technique to encourage recollection  of a lived moment e.g. “How did you feel at the interval of the play?” or “What moment do you remember most about the beginning of the show?” and then encouraged others to ‘read’ these and reflect upon them.  The majority of the workshop was taken up with creating tableaux of the most striking moments of play and then exploring what could have been going through the characters minds at the time. This meant we could explore many of the themes of the work –gender dynamics, peer pressure, sexual consent, family tension – from inside realistic illustrations of how these manifest in behavior. Some highlights of this were the complex dynamics of single gender friendship groups, what was going through the minds of the young men while they were assaulting Emma, how Emma’s father uses emotional blackmail to reinforce her decision to drop the charges.

We also looked at how characters’ lives were changed by the events of the play and again found quite a range of responses from those who thought e.g. Zoe would be 1/ glad that she could now “Take over Emma’s place as top girl.” to  “/ Zoe will be even more cowed by the knowledge her assailant, Dylan, has avoided prosecution for a second assault. It was in this section that the students really got to see the differences in their views.

There was quite a range of responses with the majority of students becoming more understanding and articulate about the circumstances that led to Emma’s choices and how she had been raped. Our touchstone was whether they saw Emma’s encounter with Paul at the party as consensual or not (Emma is plainly on drugs and asks him to wait which he ignores). Before the show this encounter separated out those who had considered the theme of consent in any depth from those who followed conventional option.

Generally the more depth of engagement with the story and characters resulted in a more sympathetic response to the play and more varied and satisfying discussion. One school was already putting on their own play about consent looking at an incident from different viewpoints and our work here became much more do do with teasing out the nuances of motivation in the subsidiary characters e.g. why the mother was drinking, or how the father was avoiding responsibility when asking Emma if she really wanted to drop the charges.  We were surprised to find in another school they still felt Emma had been “asking for it” because she had taken drugs and therefore implicitly consented. In this school there was less empathy for the characters and many of them talked about Emma as ‘a girl like that would’ indicating the distance they felt to her. The work here was harder because the students seemed entrenched in their positions and surprised and resistance to being asked to question them.

The most dramatic changed came with one all girls school who in the pre-show had felt Emma had encouraged Paul. By the end of the show and in the post show workshops they were clear that the sexual double standards evident in society and the lack of appropriate sex education in the field of content were unacceptable.

At the time of writing this we have two more schools to visit. One, a private male only boarding school, will offer the most challenging work as some of the pupils were already defensive and dismissive of the whole premise of the story, believing it to be unrealistic and diverting the debate with arguments that some women lie, men get raped too etc….we were specifically asked to work here by an existing teacher because they felt attitudes towards women needed to be challenged.

For follow on work we created a Study Pack with an analysis of the play and its themes but also extra ancillary material on the history of consent in Ireland, plans of the pre and post show workshops, blogs by students form Cork who’d seen the original production and an example of a homegrown consent workshops. We also asked the pack’s main author, critic and activist Saoirse Anton, to contribute an essay on the connection between consumer culture and rape culture.

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

Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

After speaking to Louise I had concerns about the work triggering traumatic experiences in the participants while remaining convinced it was essential young people be given a chance to engage with the issues directly; no amount of older generations talking about the topic of consent was going to make nearly as much difference as exploring it with their peers. I saw this clearly when attending a town hall meeting arranged by the Everyman Theatre and Land mark productions in Ballincollig where teacher Tim Burke arranged for his class to discuss the play with Louise O’Neil, Mary Crilly of the Cork Rape Crisis Centre. It was obvious the students previous discussions contributed to the depth and sympathy of their opinions as well as their intolerance of the lazy, self interested and vicious social forces that perpetuate rape culture.

So the visit of Tender UK was an eye opener about the depth of ignorance and indifference to young women’s agency they had encountered in schools already.  This prepared me for the casualness with which both young men and young women dismissed lead characters Emma’s behaviour as “asking for it”. It was still a challenge though especially when revisiting one inner city school after the play to find that many of the students opinions hadn’t changed and that “girls like that are half responsible”.

Methodologically all six schools proved so varied in responsiveness that we had to continually adapt our approach. This is more a highlight than a challenge because one of the pleasures of applied drama are those in-the-moment improvisations that help coax a non-responsive teenage into someone passionately arguing their point of view. It was also a pleasure to work closely with another facilitator, to be able to hand on to them and observe the different spin the took on what the young people were producing, to debrief and discuss afterwards and to have the space observe the students out of the main focus while your partner led.

All the groups became more responsive and engaged as the workshops went on, often prompting surprised teachers to exclaim how certain pupils were ‘coming out’ of themselves or asserting themselves more than usual. This may have been to do with the kinesthetic aspect of the work unlocking some student’s expressiveness ( a common enough result for applied drama) but also, especially with the young women, a reflection that the topic of gender inequality and consent was important enough to them to ‘raise their game’.

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

Seeing the play, which is very clear that the protagonist does not explicitly consent, wasn’t always enough to cut through the view that young women who take drugs, dress with sexual confidence and have sexual appetites must take responsibility if they are raped.

Every teacher we talked to was adamant their charges needed to be talking about this topic and as early in their school lives as possible.

There was one all boys schools that we were explicitly asked to visit because of the teachers’ concern about attitudes to women. The young men were indeed defensive and quick to offer counter examples of women lying about rape and we had to be clear the book and play of Asking For It are unequivocal in their depiction of an actual assault. The instinct to deflect the discussion then took an unusual route when they started to dismiss the story itself as unrealistic (“Those pictures would never have been left up there for so long”) and therefore not needing to be engaged with.

Despite having been worried, as mentioned previously, and prepared for the possibility that some participants might disclose that they had experienced assault the fast moving and generally fun nature of the workshops meant we never got to a space where this might have happened. We ensured that schools counsellors were aware of the work and many of them attended or kept in close communication. While the topics weren’t treated frivolously there was more a sense of the young people appreciated the respect shown by having them discuss them.

We were also worried that rules about reporting young people under 17 who revealed they had active sex lives would inhibit the discussion. This never happened and we managed to talk at length and in depth through the lens of the play and its characters without compromising any of the individuals involved.

Students Responses

‘The play had a huge effect on my awareness of my surroundings and really made me appreciate the life I have as the struggles portrayed in the play were devastating’. 

‘When the play was over it made me think how the word ‘rape’ is not being discussed as a problem. People are uneducated about the topic when they should’.

‘The play was very intense, the actors were very good at acting out their roles. By them doing this, it made the play very realistic’. 

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

A renewed enthusiasm to work with young people on ‘difficult’ topics.

A desire to continue to co-facilitate where resources allow.

A plan to use young people’s voice s more in the creation of study packs

Update from Phil Kingston, Community & Education Manager & Co-Facilitator

Facilitator Johanna Webb and I returned to the all boys school and were told a third of the class were in Australia on a school trip and this meant our two workshops would be smaller.

This was a very different encounter with these privileged and, mainly, self-confident young men. Before, with larger groups of 20-25, the atmosphere had been alternately raucous and resistant with obvious leaders asserting their authority and more introverted personalities being muted by the sheer size and testosterone levels.

This time there wasn’t any possibility of hiding and Joanna and I chose to take a very candid approach in the hope it would create openness all round. We told them how concerned we had been at the previous workshops, how genuinely interested in their responses we were and how we appreciated the difficult position they were in (that they had little contact with young women and that they might feel attacked by the topics we were discussing). After moving through some responses obviously designed to give us what we wanted they started to actually say what they thought, prefaced with such remarks as ” I know this is an unpopular opinion but..” Once they saw they weren’t getting jumped on the whole workshop took off.

(My thanks here to Louise O’Neill who sent me an article about sex education in America which prompted us to focus more on these young men’s ignorance than their antagonism.)

We kept to our existing structure of exercises which explored the play ( walking around as different characters at different points in the story, making tableaux of significant moments) and the commitment was as mixed as any group but really these were just a springboard to keep discussing the themes of the play. Some preoccupations emerged – how culpable are you for your actions if you are drunk, how inhibited by convention the parents were, how over the top the lads were presented. The turning point was asking them, if were they Conor, would they take advantage of Emma’s offer to have sex in the second half of the play. Their outraged refusals introduced the idea of conscience and by the end of each workshop they had all agreed that really you always ‘know’ if you are overstepping the bounds of respect for another person’s autonomy regardless of how drunk you are.

The final exercise is choosing lines from the play (spread out on the floor in front of them) and talking about why they are significant. Several of these are from Emma when she is doubting her own position “e.g. Maybe I am a slut”. They were all clear this was an example of someone betraying themselves out of a desire to ‘get back to normal’. They also talked about their own fears of how to approach the whole area of sex and when two exchange students from France and Spain talked with obvious experience of having reflected on these topics you could see, past the odd embarrassed titter, that the Irish boys were impressed less at the achievement and more at the maturity. They all acknowledged the urge to brag about sexual conquests and how difficult it was to talk with the sensitivity they were displaying now when in the company of other young men. We did point out they were doing it there and then.

They came across as frightened, confused and tender-hearted, with no problem individually understanding Emma’s situation but also subject to a culture that made this empathy almost impossible to act upon. They seemed glad to have had the chance to talk openly and were noticeably more honest in the first workshop when we were left unsupervised for the last ten minutes.

Out of a possible 30 we only worked with 20 but these included the young man who’d previously called one of the characters ‘a pregnant bitch’ ( showing not only casual misogyny but a complete misunderstanding of the play) and another who’d been disruptively cynical. Both these behaviours disappeared quickly in the atmosphere of seriousness that the topics demanded. The teachers were amazed by how responsive some of the boys were but I wasn’t surprised that once they were listened to they re-discovered this sense of responsibility.

Before, after first visiting this school, I felt I’d seen the breeding ground for not only the rugby players in the Belfast rape trial but also the barristers who so calmly used their privileged education to spin the events to their clients’ advantage. Now I saw young men who could be advocates for more compassionate attitudes. So long as they resist the pack mentality.

!!!! Careers in Screen: First Steps Event for Post-Primary students at the Irish Film Institute

Irish Film Institute (IFI)

Date: 18 December 2019

In advance of the Irish Film Institute’s (IFI) annual Careers in Screen Day, 2020, IFI Education, in partnership with Screen Skills Ireland, is offering a First Steps morning event, to introduce participants to the world of short filmmaking, through presentations from three flourishing filmmaking companies.

Presenting samples of their work and talking about their paths into the industry, guest speakers from Paper Panther Productions, Tailored Films and Failsafe Films, will each discuss their own career and answer participants’ questions relating to their work and their roles in the industry. The event is ideally suited to young people who are exploring different career options, perhaps considering third level courses in film, media or TV, or keen to learn from Irish filmmakers about working in the thriving screen industries.

Admission costs €5 per person and tickets are strictly limited. Suitable for ages 15-18. Event will last approx. 75 mins.

For further information go to ifi.ie/careers

 

!!!! Creative Careers Day for post-primary students at National Gallery of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 14 November, 2019

Save the date! Join the team at the National Gallery of Ireland for a day of inspirational talks, activities and practical advice to get you thinking about what a creative career might mean for you!

Meet gallery staff members and learn about careers in areas such as curatorial, conservation and education. Special guests from other creative fields will also talk about their work and how they got to where they are today.

Suitable for post-primary students (4th Year – 6th Year).

More details to follow, and tickets available from September.
Contact codonnell@ngi.ie for more information.

!!!! 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: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 3

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

 

Learning from the power of place – Blog 3

“I walk because it confers- or restores- a feeling of placeness …I walk because, somehow, it’s like reading …” 

Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin wrote a while ago about the modern man, who walked the city in order to explore its history, the architecture, the changing environment.

That idea of exploring and thinking is about making sense of things, the places and people we encounter, and this approach can also be applied to adolescence children in their world, by interacting, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining their ideas.

Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local— the unique local history, environment, economy, culture, landscapes, and architecture of a particular place – in mapping the students’ own “place” or immediate schoolyard, neighborhood, town or community. And walking is like mapping with your feet.  It can promote a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing for all.

Following an introduction to the IAF Architects in Schools Programme to the TY students at St. Raphael’s College, Loughrea we started by asking the students a little about the town, the whereabouts of where they live and by what means had they travelled to the school that day. I wanted to find out about their lived experience and connection to the place. From this informal survey it soon became clear that the majority lived in either peripheralhousing estates or ribbon development on the towns fringes – the exception a few living on farm settlements in the environs of the county side. Not one it seemed lived within the town itself. I suggested walking the town together would allow us to stop – take a detour – and explore the form of that built environment.

Finding a historic street map from the local library and placing a glass, rim down, onto the map, we drew round its edge. We then instructed the students to pick up the map, go out into the town, and walk the circle, and keeping as close as they can to the curve, record their observations. This also helped them to get an idea of where we were in the context of the place.  Loughrea town is compact and so in short, the walk would show us all the key places in the town, and help us see some hidden gems in the process. By walking  – not only do you get great exercise –  you won’t miss details and you’re much more likely to go in different buildings, squeeze down alleyways, etc.

Loughrea lies at a number of boundaries, both historic and geographic and its pattern and form of development has been shaped by these features at the various stages of its development. The lake and medieval moate are wonderful but one could easily pass through Loughrea without noticing either. Its existing street plan closely follows that of a medieval layout. Many tall narrow properties on either side of the Main Street occupy burgage plots laid out in the 13th century.

The Temperance Hall / Barracks road complex is a palimpsest in which the layered history of Loughrea is revealed. Signs of the walled town, the original Gate House and successive military occupations are evident at even a quick glance. Behind the Temperance Hall, built c1780s as a Cavalry Barracks, we found a complex of buildings enclosed by fragments of a defensive wall. The site backed up to the lake with picturesque views out to the crannogs and surrounding landscape beyond. Student research later revealed the arrangement had once also included a hospital, infirmary and forge. Part currently provides social, cultural and educational services for the people of the town. This was the chosen site for the student’s design project. One of the first tasks we set in carrying out the survey was to photograph and to draw these buildings.

The aim, to adapt the assembly of buildings and introduce / incorporate new housing typologies into it to form a new ‘piece of town’. One that faced the lake but which also utilized the existing network of lanes which connect back from here into the town proper. The project was somehow about revitalizing this forgotten space, repopulating it and in so doing, assist in remedying the vacancy seen in the adjacent streets at the town center.

Adopting this strategy, the workshops which followed were designed to place the student at the center of this process, and resulted in propositions for a new linear public park, a café on the crannog and a new mixed residential community. All this, a clear demonstration for the potential of architecture to enhance the experience of living and working in the 21st century Irish town, coming from the students themselves.

It goes to show that if we start with small steps …. to support novice viewers become more observant and more thoughtful about what they are looking at then this can empower them to present an alternative vision for their existing built environment. It is so vital that our towns are living vibrant places, of social and cultural exchange, community and interactions and so they must be constantly maintained as adaptive changing entities.

We see that legacy of bad planning in towns like Loughrea. It’s one symptomatic of the challenges facing many small communities in Ireland – contradictory forces in the commercial landscape due to changing consumer behavior patterns, with resultant accepted sprawl of housing leading to vehicular predominance, and the changing demographics  – have pulled and shaped the town, and continue to do so resulting in increased vacancy at its core. In the context of climate change walkable and compact small towns have so much to offer us. The aim must be to shift the narrative from ‘conserving’ or ‘preserving’ small town settlements to ‘re-thinking’ and ‘championing’ them.

The students demonstrated an understanding of how these challenges faced by smaller communities can be overcome through sensitivity, creativity, collaboration and long-term stewardship. The projects demonstrate the possibilities of working in historic fabrics, re-connecting town centers to their surroundings and integrating a mix of uses into town centers. They arrived at a way of living which might suggest a more flexible approach to the town plot. It’s about creating a learning experiences that leverage the power of place. In fostering students’ connection to place, help their understanding of where they live and how taking action in their own backyards helps to take care of the world around them.

 

 

 

!!!! 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.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 2

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Cities Need Old Buildings – Blog 2

‘Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind—no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be—there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.’

From; The Death and Life of Great American Cities , Jane Jacobs

In my last blog I described how we extended the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) – Architects in Schools learning programme at The Bish into engagement beyond the school gate. Incorporating urban sketching on Nuns Island and other activities within the workshop itinerary in an attempt to encourage and allow the students an opportunity to examine their city from another perspective … to be creative. To be imaginative.

With the school located on part of the under-utilized parcel of land at the edge of Galway City center, the regeneration of Nuns Island lands need careful and detailed consideration it being directly between the City and NUI Galway it easily facilitates an expansion of the University campus or an expansion of the City creating a civic space to carefully bring both City and University together. NUI Galway and Galway City Council recently launched a public consultation for this very purpose. The aim here is to transform Nuns’ Island into a new quarter that will enable the city to capitalize on its creativity, enterprise and quality of life. The masterplan is being prepared by internationally-renowned planners BDP, business strategy advisors Colliers International and quantity surveyors AECOM. It is supported by the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund. Focusing on this regeneration of Nuns Island we were delighted that Gareth McGuire, Architect Director BDP agreed to lead the students on a mapping exercise.

So we took a walk through their Island, mapping the existing spaces and their functions, recording the grain of the place and also seeking out opportunities for future interventions.

Amongst the key programmatic functions identified by the students in this process a number of themes evolved;

Amongst these functions one of the activities identified by the students is the sight every July of the Big Blue Tent at Fisheries Field, erected for the duration of GIAF Arts Festival. It’s a signifier of the festival status which is core to the public life of the city and a landmark for the summer. We discussed with the students about this ‘creative arts entertainment’ intervention and the potential for other spaces on the island, such as the old derelict Persse’s Distillery Building for adaptive reuse purposes. What might those buildings and spaces become? Student accommodation? With the meeting of ‘Town and Gown’ perhaps a shared library building for the city would be useful? Or a new Distillery? A Contemporary Art Gallery? Co-working spaces to foster a creative community? The students could quite readily foresee that in the creative use of these spaces lies the key to regeneration for the entire masterplan.

GIAF Big Top

GIAF Big Top

During the process I was reminded of a famous line from the late great urbanist Jane Jacobs: “New ideas must use old buildings.” So how to interpret and translate that into a way which might allow the students to engage directly in the process of reimaging Nuns Island?

Attending the Galway International Arts Festival 2019 programme launch last Thursday, the Artistic Director Paul Fahy, referred to the lack of cultural infrastructure in the city, reaffirming the festivals need to ‘Adapt old spaces and turn them into something new … ’he announced that as in previous years having utilized the former Connacht Tribune Printworks for the Festival Gallery, and this now being is no longer available, (again its being repurposed but now as an indoor food market),  GIAF is out of necessity appropriating and re-adapting the old GPO Sorting Office for the Festival Gallery 2019. Situated just off William street this building is just one other city center site which has lain vacant and idle for many years. Out of sight and just screaming for rejuvenation!!

The GIAF festival have always been the cultural pioneers in this city whom out of necessity occupy overlooked and abandoned spaces and transform them into vibrant active places. They understood that a former printing works, or an GPO sorting office can accommodate exactly the kind of framework needed for a creative hub /district. Both examples demonstrate a pragmatic response, creating flexible public buildings that give scope for further development. That kind of loose-fit re-apportion of space does not dictate how it should be used, the potential for revival is already there in the infrastructure and Galway has the cultural riches to attract people in the first place. It’s a matter of turning it to the right purpose. To look at the seeming familiar from another perspective …

As Architects we are often challenged to respond to these kinds of circumstances by conceiving new ideas for the design or re-design of existing spaces. In this process architects can become both activist and educator, championing the cause and helping to galvanize the support of the local community.

This was the approach taken with the students at the Bish. Bringing the class out into the town to explore and experience spaces and familiar places on their door step. To invite them to contribute and make decisions on what buildings or spaces they would like to create in their own local area. You could sense the excitement among the student participants in engaging as stakeholders themselves in that process which shapes their environment, in opening up new ways of looking and engaging with the world, and just perhaps pathways to creative careers as master planners or cultural pioneers for a few.

!!!! Schools invited to apply for the Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline Date: Friday 31 May 2019

Applications are now open for schools to participate in the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative. An initiative aiming to encourage collaboration between architects and teachers, giving Transition Year students a hands-on design experience.

Now in its seventh year, Architects in Schools has been delivered in over 80 schools nationwide to date, with students exploring how design and architecture affect their school and local environment, learning a range of skills and gaining insight into a range of career options. The initiative begins with a skills sharing day for all participating teachers and architects in late September, projects/workshops are delivered in classrooms in terms 1 and/or 2 and the initiative culminates with a national exhibition in mid April.

Places on the initiative are limited to 30 schools per year, and the IAF selects schools through an application process, aiming for a broad geographic spread, a mix of school types and a balance between new and returning schools. To give your school the best chance of participating, apply online by Friday 31 May.

For more information, visit the IAF website at architecturefoundation.ie/ news/architects-in-schools- 2019-20-open-for-school- applications/

To apply online go to  https://docs.google. com/forms/d/e/ 1FAIpQLSf9ZICqLfJ- CdcHVH8buyWLfdpNk1LyixWF7FS7CW XUrJEenw/viewform

!!!! Guest Blogger: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 1

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Threshold – Blog 1

TY students from schools around the country completed their IAF Architects in Schools project this month with a presentation at GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus to IAF, GMIT staff and Architect Dermot Bannon. Devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation, this initiative provides students with first-hand experience of the design process under the guidance of design professionals.

This was my third year participating in the programme, and alongside architect Sybil Curley returning to my alma mater at St. Josephs College, ‘the Bish’, Galway we undertook to deliver a series of workshops which might allow the students to develop their visual spatial skills. Art is not taught as part of the curriculum at the school, so it was important that we find a way to allow the students the opportunity to express their inherent creativity. The teacher was keen for us to assist the students to work on design concept development that would prepare them for Design Communication and Graphics (DCG) subject challenges. To this aim, prompting visual research was very important as it helped the students investigate that process. Taking steps to intentionally address any lack of confidence in their own creativity the students surveyed areas of the school and recorded observations on materials, light levels, circulation etc. Critical thinking and visual awareness was encouraged throughout the course.  Exploratory site visits further increased the students’ visual vocabulary and ability to convey design concepts through sketching.

In the first year we explored the idea of ‘Threshold’ in creating an aedicule, between the school institution and the city. There are plans to relocate the school away from Nuns Island and out of the city to a new site in the coming years so the idea was to think about designing a ‘gateway’ into the new institution. Starting with an exercise to create their own school motto to place above the entrance to the existing school building we brought the students out to sketch the Spanish Arch and other historical approach’s to the city. Following mapping exercises of the schools existing entrances and reception areas as well documenting the access roads/bridges onto the Island in which the school is located the students constructed a 1:100 physical model of the school upon which they could place designs of their own ‘aedicule’ interventions.

The following year we continued this exploration of that kind of creative flexibility which extended into how we can engage with the city beyond the school. Inspired by dePaor Architects refurbishment of Druid theatre, the students reimagined the adaptive reuse of their existing school building, turning it towards the river, and incorporating the adjacent Nuns Island Theatre into the schools buildings programme.  Careful consideration was made to how best retain the character of this building, a former Methodist Church repurposed as an arts venue, and how this might give greater flexibility for improvements throughout the entire schools built infrastructure.

The design brief encouraged them to practice a culture of sustainability in our built environment through adaptive reuse of existing building stock located in and around the school’s current location at Nun’s Island. This initiative has the potential not only to encourage the students to better understand their built environment and gain skills in design, sketching, photography, model making & computer graphics. But also to encourage them to explore their local history & geography, engage in environmental studies, develop knowledge of material & construction studies as well as a practical use for ICT skills. The ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions—is being recast as a prized and teachable skill.

I find that these experiences have not only reinforced my belief in the importance and benefits to be found in ‘learning from making’ for a student’s development, but it has enabled them develop their own identity/interests, skills, sense of self confidence, and the possibilities for integrating this into all aspects of their learning process.

When we think about communicating something essential about the world be it through art/drama/storytelling etc. to young people in particular, it does not help to be didactic, to focus on technical or technological skill. I would encourage an emphasis on the enjoyment and the value of the process of making more than the result or final product. What is of benefit to the youth is found in the freedom, experimentation and exploration that went into their creation. Expect to make mistakes. There is no right way or wrong way. It is in finding solutions that make the value of creative imagination most valuable. My approach would be to get something across playfully. To equip students with valuable life tools which enhance their public speaking and communication skills, social development, emotional development as well as the cognitive benefits. Actually, to get playfulness itself across.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Fiona Lawton Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher – Blog No. 3

Fiona Lawton TeacherFiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Working Together – Blog 3

As Spring slowly emerges with its brighter days and new beginnings, we too are delighted to get started with our new creative project in Scoil Bernadette.

After lots of planning and negotiating with calendars, our first visual arts workshop started on the 8th March with ten enthusiastic students, one from each class group, ready to pick up their pencils and get drawing.

During our first workshop we were introduced to our facilitators, Ailbhe Barrett and Rosaleen Moore who showed us some of their work and told us about their professional careers as artists. Ailbhe and Rosaleen are two artists who work in a supported studio as part of the Gasp programme. Gasp artists meet on Tuesdays in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork and are facilitated by Mairead O’Callaghan (More information on supported artists and this project can be found here (www.crawfordartgallery.ie/Learn-and-Explore-Crawford-Supported-studio-Artists) We were certainly impressed to see their beautiful paintings and to hear of their celebrity appearances on the Late Late show.

We played a few icebreaker games to settle the nerves and to get to know each other a little better. Soon we were ready to get down to the busy work of creating. We each chose a word that represented the feeling of being at the workshop. Some of the words chosen were ‘happy’,’ listening’,’ together’, and ‘Cork’. It was the first step in expressing ourselves within the group. We then drew our words on paper, decorating them to our liking.

We finished the workshop with another fun game where in a circle we threw a ball of string from one person to another. We ended up with a visual representation of a very connected group. As one student remarked, it was all about ‘teamwork’.

The following workshop re-enforced this theme of working together. We were divided into two groups. Each group had to build a structure as high as they could. It was challenging, stressful, but lots of fun!

On the 22nd March the group set off for the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork City to get some inspiration. Here we met with Julie who gave us an extensive tour of the gallery where we viewed and interacted with the current exhibitions. We met with Ailbhe and Rosaleen there and got to visit the studio space where they work. We were lucky enough to have time to do some drawing in the Art Gallery at the end of our tour, taking inspiration from the paintings and installations we had seen.

So far the project is going well. The students look forward each week to having extra time in the school timetable to draw, build and create, taking inspiration from each other and the work of professional artists. After three weeks of working together, I feel that the group has bonded well and there is a collegial and supportive atmosphere which adds to the enjoyment of the workshops.

We have three weeks left to continue this work of creative collaboration. We are eager to continue to develop our skills and to discover our talents.  We hope to have a day of celebration in the coming months to display the finished and unfinished work to parents, friends and the rest of the school community. We are proud to be a creative school.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Fiona Lawton Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher – Blog No. 2

Fiona Lawton TeacherFiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Making Connections – Blog 2

Since our return to school in the New Year, we have begun the next stage of our Creative Schools journey, which is developing our school plan. In mid-January, I met with Naomi Cahill (Creative Schools Associate) to discuss our aims and objectives for the near future as a creative school. Using the framework provided, we were enabled to assess our current strengths and weaknesses in the following areas: Teaching and Learning; Leadership and Management; Children and Young People and Opportunities and Networks.

The process of writing the school plan has renewed our school’s commitment to the creative arts and also has highlighted the areas we would like to develop in the near future. We have committed to providing CPD (Continued Professional Development) for teachers in the next academic year. We will receive training on how best to use drama as a teaching methodology which can be integrated with all subjects across the curriculum.

Scoil Bernadette has a strong focus on the arts already and is involved in a number of extra-curricular creative projects including, dance, music, and theatre. In keeping with our overall objective, which is to enable all students to access a broad range of creative activities whilst in school, we have decided to organize additional visual arts workshops this year.

As Scoil Bernadette is a special school it is vital that all activities are accessible and inclusive for all students. Naomi has been invaluable in providing the school with links with a variety of organisations and practitioners that have experience in working with students with disabilities. It is important for us a school to expand our community network and provide as many opportunities as possible for our students to participate in activities that will aid their journey as lifelong learners.

We have made links with Mairead O’Callaghan in Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. Mairead facilitates visual arts workshops with a number of supported artists each week. (More information on supported artists and this project can be found here (www.crawfordartgallery.ie/Learn-and-Explore-Crawford-Supported-studio-Artists.html)

On 14th February 2019 Naomi, Mairead and I met to develop a plan where a series of six art workshops could be run in Scoil Bernadette during March and April. The workshops will be led by Mairead and co-facilitated by Rosaleen Moore and Ailbhe Barrett, two supported artists that attend the Crawford each week.

It is envisaged that this project will be collaborative and student-led. A group of ten to twelve students from Scoil Bernadette, one from each class, will attend each Friday in the school. The workshops will also involve a visit to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork City. Together the students will decide on how the project will take shape. We hope to document the process with photographs which can be used to form part of an exhibition to be held in the school.

The workshops will begin on 8th March. We are looking forward to welcoming Mairead, Ailbhe, and Rosaleen to our school and beginning this new adventure.

We are excited to make new links with our local community which hopefully will expand both current and future possibilities for students in Scoil Bernadette.

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Naomi Cahill Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Director of Bespoke Productions – Blog No.3

Naomi Cahill works as a Creative Associate for Creative Schools and is founder and director of Bespoke Productions. She is an experienced and qualified drama teacher of primary, second level and adult education as well as children with special needs and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities. Naomi graduated with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies from University College Cork. She further completed the Higher Diploma in Arts in Drama Education and was awarded‘Highest Academic Achievement’ from the Leinster School of Music & Drama. Through Bespoke Productions, Naomi leads drama courses in Ireland and abroad which are aimed at building confidence, self-esteem and developing communication skills. She most recently directed a modern version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at Teatro Re Grillo, Licata, Sicily. Having performed both on stage and in film, she enjoys sharing her experience with her students. She is delighted to be working as a Creative Associate for the Creative Schools programme.

 

Creative Schools: New Beginnings in 2019 – Blog 3

Step Two: ‘Develop’

2019 has been great so far with the continuation of the Creative Schools Project. Having completed the ‘Understand’ stage, I have moved onto the next stage: ‘Develop’. Using the planning framework, I work with schools to firstly develop a ‘Creative Schools Vision’. This is a long-term vision for placing the arts and creativity at the heart of the school. It should be aspirational but realistic. It is used to enable the school to develop aims, success criteria and activity plans. The aims state what the school ideally hopes to achieve by introducing the plan. As I previously mentioned, the voice of young people is of key importance to all stages of the project. The school must outline the role of young people in the development of their plan. The success criteria must then be detailed which states how the school will know if their plan is having the desired impact on the school and wider community.

The next step I take is to work with schools to develop a ‘Creative School Plan’. This plan is used to support the ‘Creative Schools Vision’. It includes key areas for development which should be implemented over a number of years. It is used to support the following areas for development: children and young people, teaching and learning, leadership and management & school environment, opportunities and networks. The work completed to date in the ‘Understand’ stage is used directly to the benefit of the ‘Develop’ stage.

I also work with the school to develop an activity plan. The school uses this plan to detail the exact arts and creative activities they wish to undertake this year. A series of questions must be answered which ensure schools think thoroughly about the long-term benefit of chosen activities for example: Which areas of the curriculum are involved (including the potential for collaboration/integration across subject areas)?

Linking Schools to Opportunities:
Every school is unique and they each have particular strengths and arts/creative areas which they wish to develop. I am now working to link schools to relevant opportunities according to their plans. Some activities which have come up so far include: staff undergoing CPD training in drama education to learn how process drama can be used in a cross-curricular fashion as a means to enhance learning in a practical, engaging way. Another includes: students working with a street artist over a series of weeks to create their own work. There has been a fantastic response from arts/creative organisations and artists to the project. Some of the links I have made so far include: artists (in a variety of disciplines), Arts Officers, Creative Ireland Officers, Education Officers (from arts organisations), art galleries, university drama department, music organisations and dance companies.

Student Advisory Group:
To ensure students play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of the project I work with schools to set up a ‘Student Advisory Group’. This is a cross-section of students from different class groups that I engage with on a regular basis. These students give us a valuable insight into their own artistic & creative interests. Their views must be taken on board in the development, implementation and evaluation of the project.

Arts in Education:
This project is raising the level of importance of the arts and creativity in education across the board. It is not only creating opportunities for schools but also for artists that are highly skilled and trained with vast experience. Personally speaking, my career to date has revolved around creativity. On a regular basis, I hear about the benefits creativity has to mental health and well-being. Exposure to the arts and creativity is something which needs to be made possible through the education system in order to ensure equal opportunity to young people. In a world that is constantly changing, creativity is needed more than ever.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Fiona Lawton Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher – Blog No. 1

Fiona Lawton Profile Image Fiona Lawton has been teaching secondary students in Scoil Bernadette Special School for the last ten years. She graduated with a Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies in UCC in 1999. During that period Fiona has been involved in writing, directing, acting and producing plays around Cork. In 2005 she played the part of the Magistrate in the award winning film ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’. In 2008 Fiona returned to UCC to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling and subsequently in 2013 completed the Higher Diploma in Primary Education with Hibernia College. In school Fiona teaches a variety of subjects but has a passion for drama. Each year she works with a group of LCA students to devise, produce and perform a play. Fiona strongly believes in the importance of educating through the arts where creativity and collaboration are central to the learning process.

 

Creative Schools: Creative Coordinator – Blog 1

My Name is Fiona Lawton and I have been teaching in Scoil Bernadette for the last ten years. Scoil Bernadette is a special school in Cork that caters for students with mild general learning disabilities. The school aims to make each student be as independent as they can be.

We do this by providing a secure, caring and supportive environment through the provision of a broad curriculum of social, personal, academic, sporting, vocational and relevant life-skills programmes.

I teach a range of subjects in Scoil Bernadette and have a keen interest in drama, I am a graduate of the Masters in Drama and Theatre at UCC. My learning there has taught me the value of creativity in an educational setting. As teachers in Scoil Bernadette we are consistently looking for new ways to engage our students and make learning fun.

We have a strong focus on the arts in Scoil Bernadette. We have a choir that performs in school, at fundraising events and in an annual Christmas Concert each year. Our students are involved in a Samba drumming group and they participate in the Music Mash Up community arts programme where they learn instruments and singing. We have an annual visit from GMC rapper who works with our final year students in creating their own rap. We are also very involved in the dramatic arts. We are good friends with the Everyman Theatre in Cork and attend their musical theatre productions each year. We also regularly attend workshops and performances with Graffiti Theatre and Cyclone Productions. Our Fifth years create their own drama production where they devise, produce and perform their own show over a period of four months.

This is just a small selection of the creative activities that we are involved with. As you can imagine we were delighted to be chosen to participate in the Creative Schools programme. For us, it provides us with a forum to celebrate and consolidate the work we have been doing and it also gives us an opportunity to take stock, evaluate and plan how we can develop our school as a creative learning community.

Attending the in service for the Creative Schools Coordinators was an exciting and encouraging start to the year. It was great to meet all the other teachers and youth workers who are involved in the programme. The day was informative, hands on and great fun. The enthusiasm showed by the facilitators and participants was infectious. It was a great reminder of how we learn best when we are active and collaborating. This belief is one of the core teaching methodologies that we would like to promote in Scoil Bernadette as a creative school.

I did my best to recreate the days learning (albeit a condensed version) at our own staff planning day. We all did the envelope activity which required us to think ‘outside the box’ and engage with our creative sides. We don’t always have the opportunity to consider these things together so it was nice to discuss and share ideas about what creativity means to us as a staff. We also did an inventory of the creative activities that we are currently doing. It was great to acknowledge the many creative activities we are involved with already.

It was a pleasure to finally meet our Creative Schools Associate, Naomi. Naomi came up to meet with a group of our students and did a fantastic workshop with them where they were given an opportunity to consider what creative activities they are currently involved with and what they would like to do in the future. Naomi also distributed surveys to the staff so that we could give our thoughts on our current strengths, challenges and hopes for Scoil Bernadette as a creative school. Naomi’s enthusiasm for the project is evident and we are delighted we have her expertise to guide us through the planning process.

I feel that the wheels have been set in motion and we are off to a good start. I am looking forward to the next stage of the process where we can start planning and making decisions about where to go next.

It will be exciting to make links with other schools and expand our thinking and share experiences. We are delighted to be involved with this project and are looking forward to the rest of the year.

Read Naomi Cahill, Creative Schools Associate blog series at the links below:

Naomi Cahill – Guest Blog 1

Naomi Cahill – Guest Blog 2

!!!! Opportunity for Teachers: CPD Training with Narrative 4

Narrative 4

Narrative 4 is inviting post-primary school teachers in the Mid-West to take part in their innovative story based CPD training, enabling teachers to run their creative wellness and storytelling module “The Story Exchange” in their classrooms. This module has already been delivered in 18 schools in the region, and has been piloted in Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh for the last 2 years. It was developed in the USA as a means of building empathy and breaking down social boundaries through personal stories, and is now also in schools Mexico, Canada, the UK, Palestine, Israel and South Africa.

Funded by the Creativity Fund Programme from Creative Ireland.

Training Location: Narrative 4, 58 O’Connell Street, Limerick.

Proposed dates:

4th and 5th February (Two full days)

April and July TBC

Additional dates in the coming months to be scheduled

To book your place or to find out more information please email community@Narrative4.ie or phone 061-315656.

Or go to narrative4.com/ireland/

!!!! Guest Blogger: Róisin O’Donnell Young Playwrights’ Programme – Blog No. 4

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights’ Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

College has changed the way I write… – Blog 2

I write this blog like a stereotypical college student, with a deadline looming, on a tiny computer, in a big academic library. Eight months ago I was accepted into the Young Playwrights Programme and four months ago my first play took to life on the stage. Do I miss the programme? Short answer: Yeah.

In college, I am constantly reminded of the time I spent at Graffiti – not to jinx it. Just like then I am surrounded by people I like with my trusty keyboard only a stretch of my arm away.

A lot of things that I did not expect happened when I became a first-year student at UCC.

I can stare/glare/laugh at the ‘world’ now. And feel comfortable enough in it. John and Katie always encouraged us to say what we are- writers. An obvious title. But up until this new chapter of my life, I was waiting. Waiting for proof that I could post on Instagram and make everyone stop scrolling for a second and think- wow, Róisin… she’s not average… every negative thought gone…

I am not going to type bullshit if my time with the journalism society has taught me anything. The doors did not open present my ambitions to me.

My personal life turned into the Titanic on speed when the Leaving Cert came around. And the neat blue lines of the exam booklets had no sympathy marks to give. I didn’t get the results I wanted. The State Examinations Commission said you’re not good enough, the days, the months, the YEAR you spent was as worthless as the paper the results are printed on.

I got my dream course because I got lucky. Any other year… let’s not think of that.

My Leaving Cert is worthless now. Lecturers don’t mention it and us students squint and cringe about it, rarely.

I have learned to stop wishing and writing sloppy coming of age stories that made me sick with boredom. I write about my life now and the world around me. I send my drafts to the UCC Express or the Motley to connect with other students. So far I haven’t got a no, just edits. and ‘you can do it.’ And I am happy. The tiny achievements college has offered me have given me more than six years and two exams ever could.

!!!! Explore Prop Building & Design at the Solstice Arts Centre

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: Friday 28th September, 9.30am & 1pm

As part of the Patrick Hough exhibition programme at the Solstice Arts Centre, post-primary schools are invited to take part in a curriculum linked visual arts workshop. Join Creative Arts Facilitator and Prop-Maker Caitriona McGowan for an intriguing tour of the exhibition and create a 3-Dimensional bust using a variety of techniques such as templating and plaster casting. Caitriona will provide students with a unique insight into the model-making industry and her own career as a prop-maker working in film, theatre and street performance.

This workshop comes with an additional resource that covers the Gallery Question of the Leaving Certificate, Art Appreciation course and can be downloaded from the Solstice Arts Centre website.

For further information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/schools/exploring-patrick-hough-through-prop-building-design.2703.html

!!!! Guest Blogger: Róisin O’Donnell Young Playwright Programme – Blog No. 2

Róisin O’Donnell is a 19 year old leaving cert survivor and writer. She was a participant in the first ever Young Playwrights Programme. Her play ‘Bernie’ premiered through the programme. She lives in Cork, where she spends her time writing fiction and plays, obsessing over books and her dog.

Youth, the Internet and Fiction – Blog 2

There are millions of stories on Fanfiction.net. 791K of those stories alone are listed under Harry Potter.

Meaning: Thousands of mostly young people around the world using their keyboards to enter the writing world. All because of words someone else has written.

I think that sounds amazing.

But attach the label ‘fanfiction’ and people start cringing.
Why?

Using the incorrect form of ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ shouldn’t automatically make you a joke. Writing isn’t easy. And I can relate.

On my way to becoming a writer, I went through the terrible years of primary and early secondary school feeling average. I had nothing in front of me, so much energy and nowhere to put it.

According to school there are only three categories to slot into. Athletic, brainy or social butterfly and if you aren’t a superstar at one of those things – tough shit. To the end of the pecking order, please!

One day, out of boredom, I typed 500 words on my phone and called it a first (bad) chapter. I wanted nineteen years later to be more than a just happy ending at a train station. Those 500 words turned into 230,000 words and counting. And that, I can safely say, drew me to more books, made me see things from multiple perspectives and start to question things. English class didn’t improve my editing skills, get me into the Young Playwrights Programme or give me the opportunity to write this blog. Writing something I loved did.

Yes, there are the scandalous stories but isn’t there Mills and Boons lining the shelves of every library? You just need to know where to look. The most followed stories on the site are under the genre adventure and are longer than any of the books I have on my shelf.

The readers and writers work together. They learn to improve their writing technique by editing and even beta-ing. People constructively break down each other’s work and work together to build each other up. Even the reviews are kind and supportive for the most part.

You wouldn’t believe the number of teen writers testing the waters and spreading their wings. They are trying to teach themselves. They want guidance and acknowledgement.

If you type fanfiction into any search engine late-night talk show segments will show up trying to get a cheap laugh and articles trying to teach parents what it is like in the depths of the community will appear. No one on the sites cares. That’s the outside world. The writers and readers do what they do with confidence. Confidence that would be benefitable to schools and societies in this cynical world.

And I’ll end this first blog with the lessons online writing has taught me. Lessons I should’ve learned in school:

Ability, even a magical ability like creativity takes works.
And
The only way to really succeed is to push forwards through the shitty phase every writer goes through and post that next update.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.4

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 4: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects to tell our story through the medium of a museum. Its subject is the lives of students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In my last blog post I detailed how I worked with a group of first year CSPE students and asked them to invest in the stories behind their rights – and learn about their rights in reality.

In our next session, I presented a simple everyday object to the group – I used a shoe. I like to gather the participants around the object in a circle. First I asked them to make objective observations: what can we say for certain just by looking at it? For example; “it’s a shoe”, “it’s got white laces”, “it’s black” “there’s dirt on it”. I kept this going, correcting them if they brought in any subjective observations (eg. “They look like they’ve been used to go running” or “They’re ugly”). Keep it to the facts that you can tell just by looking.

Once I’d just about exhausted this, I asked them to make subjective observations. I prompted them; who might have owned these shoes? What might they have used them for? Did they value them? And with each answer, I asked them to support their claim with evidence that they can see.

Then I placed the shoes on a raised platform (I used a bin but asked them to imagine it was a plinth in a museum!) and I asked them if that changed the way they saw it? Did it make it seem more important? Why? What could possibly be so important about this pair of shoes that they would be in a museum? I asked them to imagine that there was a label on it that said “Plastic and canvas shoes. Shoe size 5. 2017. Syria.” and then I asked them what they thought of them then. What would they think about the story of these shoes and who wore them?

I put the shoes away and then put another object on our “plinth”. This one was of personal importance to me – a pair of cufflinks displayed in their box. But I didn’t tell the participants anything about them yet. Again I asked them to make objective observations, then subjective observations (“is this important to the owner? Why do you say that?” “Are these expensive? Why do you say that?” “When were they made?” etc.) I then told them what they were, the story behind them and why they were important to me. Then I asked them all to bring in an object that was important to them, look at their UNHCR which we’d been working on, and relate what was important to them about the object back to an article in the charter.

Now we were facing the task of putting together an exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Our questions for this were; how do we represent the work and the participants’ learning in that space for members of the public to see? And how do we invite the public to actively engage with the ideas within it?

We decided to keep it simple; we photographed all the participants with their chosen object and asked them why it was important to them and what right(s) it related to. We then got Sarah Moloney, a graphic designer (although this could have been done by me or someone who had time to learn Photoshop) to lay out the photographs with quotations from the students laid over the image, along with the text from the UNCRC that were relevant. Each of these was printed on A2 card and was displayed on the walls of the exhibitions space. This allowed all of the students who had taken part to be represented in the exhibition.

There were three large windows in the space; the middle one we printed the text of the UNCRC and on the two sides windows we wrote “What would be in your Rights Museum?” and invited the public to write on the windows in liquid chalk pens which we provided. This allowed the public to actively engage in the ideas that the Right Museum was provoking.

The Museum kindly lent us a display case, for which I chose eight objects that were representative of the whole group, to be displayed for the duration of the exhibition. This was the centre piece of the Rights Museum and showed the seemingly everyday objects, contributed by young citizens, enjoying the prestige and equal importance that is given to the treasured objects in the National Museum’s collection.

The power of this statement seemed to resonate with those we told about it and we had an enthusiastic response to our invitation to the opening of the exhibition. The opening was attended by the Minister for Education Richard Bruton, Director of the National Museum Raghnall Ó Floinn and the Ombudsman for Children Niall Muldoon, as well as national media including RTE news and the Irish Times. Two students from Larkin Community College, Ciarán Hayden and Isabella Anthony, spoke about their experience of the process at the podium, alongside the Minister, Director, and Ombudsman for Children. A number of students led guided interpretive tours of the exhibition for our guests.

I’d count among the Rights Museums successes; the way that it was able to facilitate learning about children’s rights in an active and personal way, that it succeeded in placing, on equal footing, the objects and stories of the young people alongside the artefacts of the National Museum, and the wide reach that the Rights Museum had to the public, through the media and from those who visited it.

The main challenges were in finding time and space with the young people to work in a way that was outside of the curriculum – although there are important curricular subjects being addressed. I am eternally grateful to the staff of Larkin, particularly Máire O’Higgins for facilitating that. Another challenge I found was a lack of understanding, of and buy-in to, the idea of human rights by the young people that I worked with. I picked up on a prevailing perception, before I started working with them, that human rights were a

My takeaways from this projects are many but the main ones that jump to mind

1. That artists have a different approach to working that the students can benefit from that perspective. The artists way is often a more circuitous, process and enquiry based approach than students are used to in mainstream education. It’s one that’s comfortable with the state of ambiguity you find yourself in while you’re working, one that allows one to say “I don’t know what this is yet” and for that not to be a bad thing. That’s not to say artists are the only people who can demonstrate that way of working, but it is something that artists can do because of the way many of us work.

2. That as an artist working in a school, it’s important that that’s what I remain – an artist. My job is to be an artist, not an Art or CSPE teacher or anything else. The job is artist and that has value.

3. That the framing of work by young people has a profound impact on how it’s perceived by people, but most importantly themselves. The way their work (whether it be a copy book, or a sculpture or a story told in class) is handled by the people in the world around them, subconsciously tells them something about it’s value. And my feeling is there is a huge artistic and social potential in subverting expectations of that value – as we did in small way by displaying “ordinary” objects in a museum.
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office has commissioned an education pack that features a guide on how to create your own rights museum in your school or community, and it will be available from their website in the autumn 2018 term.

If I may, I’d like to thank the Arts in Education portal for offering me this chance to share the process; Rebecca Mclaughlin and Niall Muldoon in the OCO for their support and vision in making this happen; Helen Beaumont and Lorraine Cormer in the National Museum’s Education Department for all that they did in hosting the exhibition, giving it a platform and providing expert facilitation on museum curation to the students; Richard Bruton for officially opening the exhibition; the students at Larkin Community College, and staff Siobhán Mckenzie, Declan Quinn, Emma O’Reilly, and Principal Thomas Usher. In particular I would like to thank Assistant Principal Máire O’Higgins, without whose drive, vision and passion for education and art, this wouldn’t have started and would have fallen at the first hurdle.

 

!!!! Documentation Award Update – Young Playwrights’ Programme Showcase at the Cork Midsummer Festival

The Young Playwright’s Programme

Date: 2pm 22nd June, 2018

The Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award recipient project the Young Playwright’s Programme to showcase at The Everyman as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.

The Young Playwrights’ Programme brought together nine aspiring young writers to develop and hone scriptwriting skills, supported by professional playwright mentors John McCarthy and Katie Holly at Graffiti Theatre Company as part of Fighting Words Cork.

The project culminates in a presentation of their work as staged readings at the Everyman for Cork Midsummer Festival. The process which these young people have engaged with was truly transformative, far more powerful than the simple assembly of words on pages. This enriching collaborative environment has acted as a catalyst for the unique voices of the Young Playwrights and led to the creation of these nine compelling pieces.

Graffiti/Fighting Words Cork are really proud to be working with these wonderful young people in collaboration with The Everyman, Landmark Productions and The Cork Midsummer Festival as part of a programme of events in connection with Asking For It funded through the Arts Councils Open Call Awards.

This event is free but ticketed.

To RSVP you can just call the Everyman box office at 021 450 1673 or emailing info@everymancork.com

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.3

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 3: Rights Museum

In my last blog post I detailed “Phase 1” of the process in which I facilitated drama and storytelling workshops with the 2nd year Art students at Larkin Community College, and the work-in-progress of the Rights Museum project which we presented in Croke Park for the OCO’s UNCRC25 Launch.

Although the presentation in Croke Park was supposed to be a “work-in-progress”, any readers who have done works-in-progress themselves will know there’s an inevitable sense of completion that sets in afterwards. Our challenge for “Phase 2” of the Rights Museum project was finding something new in executing the same idea. At the same time, the Art teachers Declan Quinn and Siobhán Mackenzie (who had been an essential energetic and creative force through the process from the beginning) started to feel the gravitational pull of the curriculum on their time, and thought that to continue with the process would be consume more time than they could afford to give. So, it was with some difficulty that we decided to draw a line under the phase 1 with the second year art students. This, I’m sure is a challenge and a decision many educators reading this will understand.

In order to continue, Máire O’Higgins, Deputy Principal and coordinator of artistic partnerships, needed to find an enthusiastic teacher and a group students who could benefit from the work. This she found in abundance in Emma O’Reilly and her first year CSPE class.

The task now was to recreate the process of phase one with a new group. This time, given that they were a CSPE class, we decided to find our way in through the UNCRC. Emma O’Reilly gave an introduction class to the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child, supported by me and Máire O’Higgins. Human Rights is one of the core pillar concepts of their CSPE course which they would normally cover in second year, so there was a curricular link there.

In our next session we asked the students to pick what they considered to be the most essential article in the UNCRC and to say why. We found their answers tended to cluster around the articles relating to family (and this was a theme we saw bare out in the objects they chose for the museum later). As the students told us which articles they thought were essential , my job as facilitator was to foment debate and dissent.

I used an exercise called “The Continuum” in which we cleared away the tables and chairs, nominated one end of the room to be “strongly agree” and the other side to be “strongly disagree” with “unsure” in the middle. When I said a statement, the students had to place themselves in the room, depending on how they felt about the statement. So, for example I might say “’Article 24; you have the right to healthcare’ is the most essential right” and the students would place themselves in the room depending on whether they agreed or strongly disagreed or somewhere in the middle. Then I would call on people who had taken the most extreme positions to say why. As they listened to the conversation and opposing points, students were encouraged to change their positions in the room as they changed their minds.

In this way, the students learned, from each other, the importance of their rights through the personal anecdotes they shared; they learned about their rights in reality. Choosing extreme statements to polarise opinion at the start and then allowing them to tease out the nuances among themselves.

In my next, and final, blog post I’ll describe how we applied this knowledge to museum curation; how one can tell stories and create meaning through selecting  and placing objects. I’ll describe the process of working with the National Museum of Ireland, the launch of our completed Rights Museum exhibition in the National Museum at Collins Barracks and the Education Pack being commissioned by the OCO based on the Rights Museum.

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Creative Engagement invite applications for 2018/19

Creative Engagement

Deadline October 25th 2018

The Arts and Culture Committee of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is once again launching its annual arts-in-education scheme for second level schools. The Creative Engagement programme 2018-19 begins in October 2018.  Funding has been secured for the 2018-19 school year from both the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council.

At the core of the Creative Engagement scheme is the collaboration between student, teacher and artist as set out in Artist~Schools (Arts Council 2006). It’s about tapping into the imagination of the young person while giving both an incentive and a framework for the work to thrive.

Application Forms and further information can be downloaded from www.creativeengagement.ie

What is our aim:

The selection criteria:

Financial considerations

Partnerships:

Since 2005 NAPD has established working partnerships with The Department of Education and Skills, The Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Poetry Ireland, The Heritage Council, Poetry Ireland, The National Museum, The National Gallery, IMMA, Amnesty International, Local authority Arts Officers and Cavan Monaghan ETB local arts in education Partnership.
Deadline October 25th 2018

 

!!!! 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

!!!! Guest Blogger: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.2

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 2: Rights Museum

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

In the last post I described the beginnings of the project idea and the partners who came together to make in happen; Larkin Community College, The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the National Museum of Ireland.

I began work on “Phase 1” of the project in September 2017 with two second-year Art classes, along with teachers Siobhán McKenzie and Declan Quinn. I facilitated four weekly hour-long workshops  on Wednesday afternoons outside of class time. I also worked with the students in their art classes with their teachers.

The workshops used drama and storytelling techniques to three main aims; to surprise and entertain, to get them cooperating as a group, not just individuals; and to introduce new forms of self-expression. That work included a simple ball throwing and catching exercise (acknowledging the stress that it causes, allowing ourselves to drop the ball, and focussing on the thing that mattered; that we were all working together calmly to the get the ball around the circle). We also stood in a circle and played what I call “Kung Foo” (of which there’s many variations including “zip, zap, boing”) We also played a game in which 5 participants sit in a row, and then take turns standing up and saying “My name is X” followed by something that’s true. The aim is to always have someone standing and sating something, to act on the impulse to fill a gap where it occurs and to say anything that’s true, however mundane, that come into your head. This exercise allows for back-and-forth conversations to emerge, (eg. “My name is Dan and I have two brothers” followed by “My name is Stacy and I also have two brothers”) and for the participants to get to know each other better and have a way of expressing themselves through the exercise.

In two Art classes a week, I focussed more directly on the task of creating a Rights Museum. That time was devoted to introducing the concepts of the UNCRC (supported by a workshop delivered by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office) and a focus on objects and what story they can tell (supported by a “If Objects Can Talk” workshop in National Museum of Ireland).

The students were asked to pick an object that was meaningful to them and to bring it in to class.

They were asked to “free-write” about it.

They were asked to stand up and share why it was meaningful to them and what articles in the UNCRC it referred to.

This process lead the students to share among the following objects with their class:

In their other session each week, Ms McKenzie’s class divided into 4 groups. Each group took a theme of the UNCRC and created a large mind-map illustrating that theme and the rights that it represented. Mr Quinn’s class also divided into 4 groups and created interactive paper fortune tellers which illustrated the four themes.

The culmination of phase 1 was a work-in-progress presentation of the Rights Museum took place in Croke Park as part of the OCO’s launch of the UNCRC25 celebrations in September 2017. It featured :

The participants reported their surprise and delight at how their objects and artwork were displayed just like in a professional museum. They also reported experiencing a thrill at seeing other people coming to view their objects and read their writing, and a great sense of achievement in what they’d produced.

The work-in-progress was intended to mark the end of phase 1 and the beginning of another, but we were soon to discover that it had the sense of an ending in and of itself. For phase 2 of the work, we would be starting again with a new set of students and finding a way to join the work that both groups had done.
 

!!!! 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: Dan Colley, Dramaturg & Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre – Blog No.1

dan_colley_headshot_editDan Colley is a director, dramaturg and programmer from Dublin. As Director of Collapsing Horse Theatre he has directed The Water Orchard (with Eoghan Quinn, co-produced by Project Arts Centre) The Aeneid, Bears in Space, Conor: at the end of the Universe, Human Child, Distance from the Event and Monster/Clock. With Collapsing Horse, Dan is Theatre Artist in Residence in Draíocht and co-Artistic Director of Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival.  As a dramaturg Dan has worked with Macnas, Dublin Fringe Festival, WillFredd and Sugarglass Theatre among others. Dan has a degree in English and Philosophy from NUI Galway and studied Youth Theatre Facilitation with Youth Theatre Ireland. Dan was a recipient of the Next Generation Bursary in 2016.

Blog post 1: Rights Museum

Can our objects tell us about the state of our rights?

Can they show our rights upheld? The rights we’re denied?

The Rights Museum is a participatory art project that attempts to allow our objects do just that. Its subject is the lives of the second-year Art students in Larkin Community College and how the rights enshrined in the UNCRC intersect with their actual lived experience. Or don’t.

The project is led by me, in my capacity as Director of Collapsing Horse. I am an artist, a producer, director and writer for theatre. Collapsing Horse is a theatre and festival production company that makes work that arises out of collaboration and purposeful play. Sometimes the work we make is for and with young people.

It originated when I was approached by Máire O’Higgins, Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College and asked if I would be interested in working with the students there, if I had an idea of what I would do. She described examples of some of the remarkable work that had been created by the students with professional artists. I was familiar with Larkin from work I had done there with the Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education Department and had admired the school’s commitment to the arts as a key part of the holistic development of their students. This commitment is upheld in the face of frequent adversity. Máire made no bones about it – Larkin is a school that is on the front lines of a community that has experienced generations of lack of opportunity and neglect.

Around about the same time Rebecca McLaughlin, from the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), approached me with the idea of collaborating on something for the 25th anniversary of Ireland’s ratification of the UNCRC. It seemed serendipitous! It was obvious to put the two ideas together – I would lead the Rights Museum project in Larkin Community College, which would also serve as pilot programme that could be written about in an education pack and replicated in other schools and communities for the OCO’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. Later, the National Museum of Ireland came on board as enthusiastic supporters, making it clear they would help in whatever way we could.

The goal from the outset was clear. We would empower a group of young people to create an exhibition illustrating their experience of their rights enshrined in the UNCRC. What wasn’t clear, was how we were going to do it.

!!!! The Civic Theatre – Tenderfoot performances for schools

The Civic Theatre, Tallaght

Schools Performances – Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Original plays, written by 15/16 year old playwrights, provide a unique glimpse into the world of our young people; articulating their experience and their reality.

TENDERFOOT, meaning neophyte, newbie, greenhorn, is The Civic Theatre’s apprentice theatre programme for transition year students.  Now in its eleventh year the programme provides students from eight different schools in the South County Dublin region the opportunity to create and perform original work for the stage. From January 25th to 27th this work can be seen in The Civic Theatre.  Plays written by young people, telling their stories, presenting the world as they see it.  These diverse and exciting plays, the work of young theatre makers, include –

The End of the Beginning by Tadhg Slye, an exploration of male friendship in a world of exams and first girlfriends and exploding toasters.

Plastic by Jordan Lee, a supernatural chiller guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat.

Seaside Story by Aidan Kelly, a comedy about families, holidays and global warming.

And Just for the Cracked by Chloe O’Flaherty which takes a fly on the wall look at a group of young people who find their friend unconscious and unresponsive at a party.

Tenderfoot Performances 2018

Schools Performances Thursday 25th at 12 pm & Friday 26th January at 10am and 2pm

Admission €10 / €5 concession

Booking 01 4627477  www.civictheatre.ie/ whats-on/tenderfoot-new- writing-showcase-2018/

!!!! Films for schools at Roscommon Arts Centre

Roscommon Arts Centre

This spring Roscommon Arts Centre will host a series of films for schools:

Goodbye Berlin – IFI TY/Senior Cycle German Film

Maik is a daydreamer who goes unnoticed by his classroom crush; Andrej is an oddball kid from Russia with an eccentric taste for Hawaiian shirts. The two form an unlikely bond when Andrej shows up at Maik’s door with a “borrowed” blue Lada, and the prospect of an impromptu road trip beckons. Based on the bestselling German novel Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, Tschick is a funny, endearing, coming-of-age film with fresh verve of its own. TUESDAY 20th FEBRUARY | 11am | €2

My Life As A Courgette – IFI TY/Senior Cycle French Film

Nine-year-old Icare, nicknamed Courgette, moves to a foster home, a place full of rejected kids fighting for survival among the rest of the bullies, loners and misfits. Adapted from a YA novel by Girlhood director, Celine Sciamma. TUESDAY 24th APRIL | 11am | €2

The Golden Dream – IFI TY/Senior Cycle Spanish Film

A group of Guatemalan teenagers attempt to make their way to the U.S.A., dreaming of the better life that the country promises, but they are ill equipped, both physically and emotionally, for the challenges they face getting there. This is an absorbing and suspenseful drama, excellently acted by its three non-professional leads. TUESDAY 20th MARCH | 11am | €2

For more information and bookings go to www.roscommonartscentre.ie

!!!! Guest Blogger: Máire O’Higgins – Teacher’s Blog No.4

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. It is a mainstream school and offers Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Blog 4 – December 2017

It is six months since we finished the Reimagining Education showcase and exhibition with students and staff from Larkin Community College and the Gaiety School of Acting.

The showcase and exhibition were a great success. The discussions after each showcase were enlightening and exciting. It was heartening to hear what young people thought about their own education. It was poignant to hear what older adults remembered about their often limited creative engagement with education.

Did we succeed with this partnership project? Yes, on so many levels.

The work was a celebration of a year of hard work and focused engagement with the theme of reimagining education. It gave a voice to young and old and allowed them to express their opinions about education. Students developed skills in independent research, collaborative learning, planning an event, Theatre Making and curation. Students mirrored the world of work by modelling best practice in curation and theatre making.

However a lot of the good work that was done to ensure a strong aesthetic standard in performance and in curation, was done in teachers’ and facilitators’ own time. And that is not sustainable. This sad reality shines a light on what is currently the reality in our education systems at second level, in particular in second level DEIS schools (a DEIS school is a school that receives more funding from the Department of Education and Skills to deliver equality of opportunity in schools).

I hope that in naming what that reality is, we can help to reimagine a new and exciting DEIS model.

In the year of our partnership project with the Gaiety School of Acting, teachers and facilitators had two classes a week for one hour at a time, to research, devise, rehearse and produce a showcase about reimagining education. They also had two classes a week for one hour at a time to create exhibits and a catalogue for an exhibition. Outside of this time teachers met with each other and with facilitators from the Gaiety School of Acting in their own time, to plan and reflect on processes and prepare for the exhibition and showcase. We loved the experience but it took its toll.

The key to the project’s success was twofold:

We all bought into the vision for the project and we were able to check in with each other as we progressed, to make sure that we were all still clear on that vision.

This work as I have stated was done in our own time. We were happy to give of our time voluntarily but this way of working is not sustainable in a wise education system. Volunteering in a school community is important but it should not form the core work of creative engagement in education. If the core work relies on volunteerism it will quickly move to adhoc provision of best practice in education.

Sadly for this project, none of what the students did could be formally assessed in education last year. This year with the new Junior Cycle, we can thankfully now record similar processes and outcomes and formally acknowledge this type of work. That is great news.

However for us to continue to engage creatively in education with partners is challenging for a myriad reasons.

For instance, teachers are often now on year to year contracts. This makes it difficult to plan a project with a colleague until we know that they will be working with us the next year.

We cannot apply for funding until we know who may be engaging with the projects.

Funding then does not often come in to the school until the middle of the first term.

All of this means that is really hard to plan projects for the academic year.

An exciting model for education would be one where teachers and artists are supported and empowered to create a strategic direction for a school for five years. This would allow us to deepen practices and develop innovative programmes that can nurture creativity in education for stakeholders and for young people.

It is hugely time consuming trying to fundraise and plan and build experience amongst teachers so that we can best serve young people.

Working in a DEIS school, we work with young people from areas of socio-economic disadvantage. One of the factors that contribute to instability in the lives of the young people we work with is the often chaotic patters they encounter in their personal lives. These include constant changes in the home, breakdown of family relations as well as addiction outcomes such as unpredictable behaviour in the home. Change happens too frequently and causes instability for our young people.  It is a real pity then that they find that their school life mirrors this with a high turnover of staff annually due to employment structures in education. Offering five year contracts to those who work in DEIS schools would support wise planning and sustainable structures in DEIS schools and create stability for our young people. Teachers and partners could plan, fundraise, build research components and evaluations, reflect and reiterate best practices in creative engagement. I firmly believe that this would begin to address equity and equality in some of our most deprived communities in Ireland.

!!!! ‘Mind the Gap’ Project opportunity for schools in Cork

Mind the Gap

Workshops to take place between January – March 2018

Mind the Gap‘ is a development education arts project based in Cork offering fully funded arts based workshops for post-primary schools and Youthreach programmes exploring global justice issues such as Human Rights, refugees, interdependence and Intercultural understanding. Offering performances, workshops and residencies in schools.

‘Mind the Gap’ is funded by Worldwise Global Schools, a sector of Irish Aid and is managed by ‘Head, heart & hands Ltd’.

Interested teachers please email us at gapmindthe@gmail.com.

 

!!!! The Plough and the Stars – Curriculum co-production by Barnstorm Theatre Company with Watergate Theatre

Barnstorm Theatre Company & Watergate Theatre

Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December

Post-primary schools in the south-east are in for a theatrical treat this November and December!

Due to the success of last year’s first Curriculum Play Live co-production with the Watergate Theatre: Brian Friel’s Translations, Barnstorm Theatre Company’s second Curriculum Play is Seán O’Casey’s ‘The Plough and the Stars’.

These productions are in response to requests over the years from post-primary schools to produce a curriculum play and to give students the opportunity to see the play that they are studying as live theatre, and not solely as a text to be studied in the classroom.
The Plough and the Stars is one of the greatest in the Irish canon and one that Barnstorm and the Watergate are proud to present as the second Curriculum Play. (Barnstorm values input from teachers about our next curriculum play.)

Watergate Theatre:
Wed 29 November to Sat 2 December; performances nightly at 8pm.

School performances:
Thursday 29 November – 10.30am
Friday 1 December – 10.30am

Tickets :

€10 –  student groups of 10+

€18 / €15 concession

Watergate Box Office:  056 7761674

For more www.watergatetheatre.com

 

!!!! IAF National Architects in School Programme

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

Derek O’Brien, Teacher: This is my second year to be involved in the National Architects in Schools Initiative. We worked with two different architects in that time and this year we worked with Emily Power. I have taught Construction Studies and DCG for 10 years now. I had been interested in participating for a number of years but only got around to it for the first time last year. Getting involved has been eye opening. I am more practically minded and feel I lack on the creativity side of things, which is the reason why I wouldn’t attempt to deliver a programme like this on my own and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an architect with a range of skills such as Emily. I wanted to bring in someone with new ideas and new ways of doing things and hopefully learn as much as the students. Myself and Emily worked very well together during the course of the programme which was essential to the delivery of the initiative.

Emily Power, Architect: This was my third time taking part in the National Architects in Schools Initiative but my first time collaborating with a woodwork teacher and working in a mixed (boys and girls) school. As an architect it is an excellent opportunity to work outside the traditional role of the architect and to bring the world and language of architecture to students. The first few workshops were used to look at what an architect does and to introduce the students to the language of architecture. The students began by interacting with the language of architecture through small construction projects and problem solving exercises such as mapping the school building and constructing stools out of cardboard. Shifting scale the students then looked at how the public move through Tramore. Through their mapping of public transport routes and public spaces of congregation they identified a need for shelter. Seven sites were chosen, mostly along the coastline and the students created pavilions specific to each site that improved the space for the user.

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

Derek: I was delighted with the practical approach that Emily took to the project. From week one she got the students engaged. The group started off looking at different buildings of architectural significance around the world and researched the buildings and the architects which they found interesting. We looked at shape, colours, form, materials as well as the inspiration behind the buildings. From there the students designed chairs/stools that could only be made out of cardboard with no adhesives etc. This was a fantastic exercise to see the imagination and creativity of the group. There was great fun when it came to testing out their success (or not). Following on from this Emily based our main element of the project around the locality of Tramore. She brought in old OS maps over the years right up to the present day to show the development of the area. The students looked at areas of interest, routes around the town, significant buildings and eventually came up with the idea of designing shelters in different public areas with the theme of sustainability and the sea. As it was so much linked to their own lives and interests, they really engaged with the design and came up with six fantastic models.

Emily: I worked closely with Derek in creating a programme that could be facilitated by both of us. It was excellent to work with a teacher who was as enthusiastic as I was. It was also very clear that the students respected and liked Derek and everything worked very smoothly. Derek provided excellent support during the sessions and in my absence when there was work to be completed between sessions.

The following gives an overview of some of the tasks/activities that the students worked on:

Box & Stool Study: Using only a cardboard box the students had to transform the box into a load bearing stool. They could only use cutting implements and could not use any adhesives or tape. The students were instructed  to draw their box using the language of architecture. They had to consider structure, loads and think of methods to strengthen the cardboard e.g. folding and rolling. At the end of the session we had a group review where the students got to test their stool and see if they could withstand their weight.

Mapping the School: In order to emphasise the importance of observation I tasked the students with drawing different areas of the school with no plans and no measuring tools. Working in small groups they used their bodies, strides and objects like a sweeping brush, to measure the areas. They then produced drawings that were accurate and to scale…though not a traditional one!

Analysing Tramore: We needed to devise a design brief to inspire the project that the students would take on over the 12 hours of allocated workshop time. Ardscoil Na Mara were lucky enough to be in a new school building that was meeting their needs pretty well, so we looked outside to the local area of Tramore to see where we could find ways of improving the built environment. Using various maps of Tramore, recent and historical we looked at the evolution of the public and social space. They also tracked how people move through the town and identified spaces where the public congregate, both locals or tourists. Through these exercises they managed to identify seven areas that could benefit from a design intervention to improve people’s experience of those places.

Design Project: The students identified seven sites in Tramore that would benefit from a design intervention. Six of these were in picturesque areas along the coastline that are popular with locals and tourists. The final site is a park adjacent to the church and schools where students wait for parents and churchgoers meet after mass.

Design brief – the final design had to:

In their design the students considered wind direction, waterproofing, sunlight, ground conditions, materials, end users, storage, privacy, access, signage, and exposure. In order to convey their ideas they implemented the skills that they learned over the course of the programme. They sketched over photos, drew plans, sections and elevations and made models to represent their designs.

Breakdown of sessions: The Irish Architecture Foundation’s school resource pack My Architecture Design Journalis given to every student, teacher and architect participating on the National Architects in Schools Initiative. The journal sets out an engaging and useful set of project guidelines to support the participant’s journey on the project.

There are ten chapters to take participants through a design process from research, surveying space, designing, presenting ideas, discussion and reflection. The project guidelines encourage active learning and students can choose from a variety of creative methods including drawing, writing, model making, mapping, sketching, film and photography. Project themes guide teachers and students through social, aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture, encouraging research into local and international examples.

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

Emily: I thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with the students. The sessions are really enjoyable, hectic but very creative. For the students it is a different type of class, one that is not so structured. It can be challenging to encourage students to think creatively when traditionally they are expected to come up with one solution to a problem; this is a much more creative and expansive field of learning. We had to create a space where all ideas were encouraged. It took some time to get the students to open up to creative thinking and to work together. For some students this was their first experience of group work, experience in this is invaluable for their future education. In working with TY students you get to reconnect with the fundamentals of architecture and design. For the students it was an excellent opportunity for them to engage with their local community. I believe that they were empowered to see that they had the ability to design something that would benefit the wider community.

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

Derek: We displayed our projects in the school and invited local Senator Grace O’Sullivan to attend and to view our work. This was a great success. The studets got to present their ideas and she was able to ask the students interesting questions and engage them in a discussion about their projects. She was blown away by the designs. A group of architects and builders visiting the school that day also attended and engaged with the students about their ideas.

Emily: The students worked together in groups to design their pavilions for public spaces in Tramore. The worked culminated in an exhibition that we put on in the school for teachers, the principal and local Senator Grace O’Sullivan. I thought it was an excellent exercise for the students as they had to work together to come up with an oral presentation. They got to talk through their design ideas and inspirations and answer the questions the Senator had. The students also got to display their projects at the National Exhibition of the Architects in Schools Initiative in Tullamore organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. This provided another opportunity to share and discuss their projects with other schools from all over Ireland and to see how other students approached their projects.

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

Derek: From working with this initiative both myself and the students have a new found appreciation of the local area, design, architecture and sustainability. I personally have learned new ways of presenting topics to my classes as well as engaging with them actively and would be hopeful we continue the programme in the school into the future.

Emily: Taking part in the programme has given me a new perspective on how the public can engage with architecture. It is encouraging to see the students take interest in architecture and the impact design can have on how they interact with the built environment.

The IAF is looking for architects and architectural graduates to participate in the National Architects in Schools Initiative 2017-18. For more info click here

 

!!!! Creative Engagement 2017-18. Apply Now!

Call out to Schools and Artists.

The Arts and Culture Committee of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) is once again launching its annual arts-in-education scheme. The Creative Engagement programme 2017-18 begins in October 2017.  Funding has been secured for the 2017-18 school year from both the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council. At the core of the Creative Engagement scheme is the collaboration between student, teacher and artist as set out in Artist-Schools (Arts Council 2006). It’s about tapping into the imagination of the young person while giving both an incentive and a framework for the work to thrive.

Application Forms and further information can be downloaded from www.creativeengagement.ie

What is our aim:

The selection criteria:

Financial considerations.

Partnerships:

NAPD has established working partnerships with The Department of Education and Skills, The Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Poetry Ireland, The Heritage Council, Poetry Ireland, The National Museum, The National Gallery, IMMA, Amnesty International, Local authority Arts Officers and Cavan Monaghan ETB local arts in education Partnership.

Deadline October 24th 2017

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tom Dalton, Artist & Arts Worker – Blog 1

Tom Dalton

Tom Dalton is an artist and arts worker at Mayfield Arts Centre, Cork. The arts centre is a unique, dedicated arts space based in the heart of Mayfield in Cork city, at Newbury House Family Centre. Mayfield Arts provides opportunities for participants to connect, learn, reflect and act through creative processes. It is an example of best practice in the fields of community arts, social inclusion, non-formal and community education. Mayfield Arts develops, manages and delivers arts programmes, training and education in consultation with the local community and provides access to art activities and processes that facilitate personal and community development to people of all abilities.  A graduate of CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Tom’s role in the arts centre is to support the artistic and creative development of the Cúig studio artists through individual and group mentoring. Cúig artists are five artists in supported studios in Mayfield Arts Centre. The Cúig project, supported by POBAL, has been running at Mayfield Arts Centre since 2008, and is the only supported studio of its kind in the country. Tom also coordinates and facilitates outreach projects to school and community groups throughout the city.

“What I Do When I Feel Blue”

The teenage years and early adulthood can be particularly tricky times to navigate in life. According to the ‘My World’ National Survey of Youth Mental Health one in three young people have experienced mental health difficulties at some point (Headstrong and UCD School of Psychology, 2012).

Developing coping strategies and building self-esteem can offer a strong protection as young people move into adulthood. A secondary school setting offers an opportunity to reach young people in their formative years and provide tools for mental and emotional resilience, equipping them with skills to cope with the bumps in the road into adulthood and beyond. Funded through Creative Engagement (NAPD) and St. Patrick’s College, “What I Do When I Feel Blue” is a collaborative animation project between Mayfield Arts Centre and St. Patrick’s College in Cork.

June McCarthy, Transition Year coordinator, identified a desire on behalf of the school to engage students in areas of mental health, wellbeing, peer support, community and belonging. St. Patrick’s College has a strong history with Mayfield Arts, having engaged in many Creative Engagement Projects over the years. An introductory meeting with June allowed us to get a sense of the student group as a whole, learn about their previous experiences with art and to get an idea of what they and the school hoped to achieve through this project. Film was something previously unexplored in St. Patrick’s College and seemed particularly appropriate for a project of this kind. Video and stop-motion are communicative, accessible and fun mediums to work within. The potential to share their film through social media and Youtube also gives potency to the work of the students.

Every Friday for six weeks, a group of twelve transition year girls made the short journey up the road to Mayfield Arts. For most of the girls it was their first time inside the building. On day one students were introduced to basic principles of filming and stop-motion using slideshows, demonstrations, examples and warm-up exercises. Once the group was familiar with the process, we all sat together, drank tea and chatted about their ideas for the project. Students were invited to name and respond to important issues that impact their lives and that of their peers. I was taken by the openness of the girls in sharing their stories. Through facilitated discussions, it became clear that the group wanted to create something positive that could help their friends and others experiencing difficulties.

We went about compiling a list of things they do when they are feeling down; things that can help lift them out of difficult times. We quickly filled an entire blackboard with suggested actions; ‘go outside!’, ‘eat chocolate!’, ‘Ring your friends!‘ Through a voting system the group arrived on the six top things they do to make themselves feel better when feeling down. We then brainstormed how we might illustrate these suggestions through animation. Roles within the group formed naturally; some were eager to be in front of the camera, while others prefered ‘out of frame’ activities like setting up cameras, framing shots, controlling light and directing actors. The girls worked great as a team, generating ideas, sharing equipment, helping each other and discussing their outcomes. Footage was collected and reviewed in groups with editing carried out with support from facilitators. Regular feedback was sought from groups to access progress and offer support where needed.

The final film, a three-minute animation that acts as a ‘tool-kit’ for resilience, was launched and screened during the school’s Transition Year closing ceremony. A couple of the girls introduced the project, sharing their ideas, methods and processes with their peers, teachers and parents. Once uploaded to Youtube, the film and its message began to spread beyond the school grounds.

Feedback from the group was really positive and there was a tangible sense of pride in what had been achieved.

“I liked everything about this project but especially that we could do it all by ourselves with just a little bit of help.”

 “I wouldn’t change anything, it was very interesting and fun.”

 Take a look at the girls’ film here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cku_n_IJ4w

This project was funded by Creative Engagement (NAPD) and St. Patrick’s College, Gardiner’s Hill. For more information visit mayfieldarts.ie

 

 

 

!!!! 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 – 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: 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Kieran Gallagher – Art Teacher Blog Post No.2

img_2355_editKieran 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.2

Since my last post, my school took part in the ‘State of the Art’ campaign, which was organised by the (ATAI) Art teachers Association of Ireland. Schools across Ireland got involved in the action day, to draw attention to the outdated senior cycle art syllabus. Three of the local Drogheda schools got together, over 100 students met in the centre of town and marched, with black balloons and placards, accidentally scaring a few elderly shoppers along the way, to the local gallery, the Highlanes Gallery. Students, read out myths and facts about the current leaving certificate, and asked for change. It looks like, art students and teachers across the country had been heard, as the Senior Cycle Art syllabus has been recalled to the NCCA and work will begin on developing a new syllabus this year.

Again in the Highlanes Gallery, an exhibition which I was working with my students and another local school, is due to close on Saturday the 28th of January. You can read all about the project on this website, as two of our students have wrote some blog posts discussing their project and journey. ‘In Sense of Place’ was a huge success. The exhibition was opened by Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphrey’s. The exhibition got great press coverage; students appeared on the local radio station, LMFM, rte news and in the Irish Times. At times this project was very difficult to balance class work and commitment to this once off project, but the enthusiasm from the gallery’s Director, Aoife Ruane made it seem easy. Feedback from my fellow teachers, and students who visited the exhibition has been very positive.

Inside of my class room I am currently trying to get my head around the changes to the senior cycle syllabus, the ‘10 week project’. The still life section is great, easy to figure out; the important introduction of a brain storm including practising object composition and experimentation with materials is a welcome change. It allows students to really think about why there are selecting their objects, the composition and the materials.  However I am finding the craft section more difficult to understand in particular the Poster. With practise I’m hoping to resolve this issue. What alarms me is the lack of clarity in terms of examination, how will the work book be examined, what percentage of marks is allocated to the workbook versus the finished piece. We need the clarification soon, as our current fifth years are due to sit this exam in January next, leaving very little time to practise a 10 week project.

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It is also a busy time of year for exam classes ‘mock exams’ are due to take place the week before midterm. Due to the nature of the current leaving certificate, we teachers have to try and timetable and correct four exams (3 practical and one written), between now and after midterm. our sixth year students are all working on their still-life exam this week, using 2.5 hours of their class time to create a finished still life, an exam which I won’t miss when the revised curriculum come into effect. It can be a challenge to cover all aspects for the mocks, but it is essential to show students how they are progressing and what needs to be improved on for May.

I am lucky to have a very energetic class of 24 second year girls, no boy to be seen in the class. They are very enthusiastic and love to work on large scale projects. We are currently building floating cities, which we will suspend from the high ceiling rafters in my room. The cities will be constructed out of recycled cardboard, the theme is open however they must explain their choice of building shapes and state their influences.  To inspire them I introduce them to the contemporary female artist Julie Mehretu and the architectural wonders of Zaha Hadid. Their energy the loudness and lively enthusiasm is a nice contrast to the serious atmosphere in the above exam classes.

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Máire O’Higgins – Teacher’s Blog No.3

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. It is a mainstream school and offers Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Thursday 26th January 2017

Planning is crucial when engaging with partners. However, to paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!’ Flexibility is paramount.

As our project has progressed we have been mindful of how best we can deliver on our aims and objectives for the project while adapting to suit changing scenarios during the project.

To this regard, in the time that we have been working on the project a few things have happened.

We have had to say goodbye to one of the Gaiety School of Acting facilitators, Gillian Mc Carthy.

We have struggled to connect with the organisers of TED ED TALKS with whom we had hoped to record the manifestos for the project. We have decided to make our own video of manifestos. The Gaiety School of Acting have a resident photographer / videographer Tom Maher. Tom will lead the video making for the exhibition for the project.

Another development that has impacted on our project has been the announcement by the Government in December 2016 of a five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. In line with this exciting initiative, which is called Creative Ireland, we have refined the scope and the theme of our partnership project to the following:-
“Reflecting & Re-Imagining Creative Education for a Creative Ireland -One school’s perspective.      

Reflections and Blue Sky Thinking with students, staff, partners and friends of Larkin Community College in collaboration with the Gaiety School of Acting.”

Creating Manifestos

And so we are in the throes of preparing manifestos and performance pieces on this theme for presentation at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum on Thursday the 30th March.

Eighty 1st year students are working on drafts of their manifestos.

They have started by looking at what they dislike about the school system they are currently in.

Here is a flavour of their complaints:-

School furniture is bad for your back! Why can’t students spend more time outdoors during school time? Schoolbags are too heavy! Why do we do so much homework? Why is the school day so long? Why do we spend so much time at a desk writing?
The students have solutions: moveable walls that change colour to suit the lesson; green for storytelling, white for writing solutions to Maths conundrums, blue for meditation. Leather chairs on wheels. Green spaces to break out into every hour and so on…. 
Now that students have had an opportunity to voice their objections to the systems as they are in education, they are currently working on blue sky thinking to re-imagine an education that they would like for secondary students in Ireland.
The next phase of our work will be to edit, rehearse and combine their manifestos to create performances and presentations.

Devising performances

The Arts classes are working with Michelle Fallon to dramatise their perspectives on education – then, now and in future.

This is an extract from Michelle’s documentation of the process:-

In Tuesday’s classes, I asked students to create a monologue/speech around their own perception of education. To begin with I asked them to think of a hook to draw in the attention of an audience- so a funny personal anecdote/ statistic/personal opinion/rhetorical question or quotation etc..  A lot of interesting opinions about their own educational experience to this point, emanated from this discussion.                                                                                                    

Next, I asked the students to think about the education they received during their primary schooling and compare and contrast what they thought were most and least effective and what elements of primary could be easily adapted to their secondary schooling to make their experience less restricted.     

I then showed them the short video ‘I sued the school’ and this generated further discussion. One of the first years said it gave her goosebumps! 

Perhaps we could do something similar in this particular vein? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqTTojTija8

Michelle went on to write:-
These are some of the issues that were highlighted by Tuesday’s classes:

Another new partner – the local Elderly Day Care Centre

Michelle took her 3rd year Arts class to the Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly to conduct interviews around education in the past. The class will then compare and contrast the perceptions of now and then in other Arts classes.

And another new partner!

Two teachers from the Art Department in the school have now come on board with 1st year and Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) students and they are preparing artworks to respond to blue sky thinking about what an ideal education might look like.

Early February 2017

The team of teachers and partners from the Gaiety School of Acting are meeting with Kate Canning who is the Manager of the Mill Theatre, to decide on layout, structure and design for our event.

The challenge for us for the next few weeks is to find cover for teachers so that they can continue to work together on this project. This is an ongoing challenge in education. Collaboration, team teaching and cross curricular learning are central tenets of good educational practice but in reality these are hard to manage and cost a lot of money as substitution has to be provided for teachers so that they can meet to collaborate and plan ahead. Our staff members are good at working this way and teachers are kind and generous with their time and willingness to facilitate these processes.

A voice for everyone

In the video we are hoping to include the voices of teachers, students, partners and friends of the school. We would like them to articulate their ideas for an ideal education.

An invitation will be sent by email to all staff, students and partners asking them to respond in 1 minute on camera, to the statement:-
“Reflecting & Re-Imagining Creative Education for a Creative Ireland -One school’s perspective.”    – my thoughts (1 minute)

They will also be asked if they might like to create a visual response to the theme.

We will include their responses in the exhibition in the Mill Theatre as part of our project outcomes. The exhibition and the performances will showcase our school’s perspective on the potential future of education.
 Save the date…. Thursday 30th March 2017 1pm in the Mill Theatre Dundrum….

!!!! 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: Máire O’Higgins – Teacher’s Blog No2

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. We are a mainstream school. We offer Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

Monday 7th November 2016

The project work in the classroom hadn’t started yet and I had a light bulb moment over the weekend. I whatsApped Anna and Michelle to suggest we turn the students’ Manifesto speeches into TED Talks for the final presentations in March 2017. They both loved the idea.

The beauty of working with a partner outside of the school is that the partner can sometimes have the time to research aspects of a project. Anna is going to investigate how a school can run a TED Talks. She will also talk to Kate Canning the Manager of the Mill Theatre to see if this idea sits well with her.

Gill from the Gaiety School of Acting starts her work with Michelle and the Arts classes this week.

Tuesday 8th November 

A potential new partner for our project – a writer in residence….

We have had a lot of bereavements in the local community where our school is. It has been a hard few months for students and teachers and other staff. In this sad context we have had a lovely development. Last year we set up a Youth Theatre with the help of the National Association for Youth Drama. Carol Rooney, one of our Drama Teachers, ran a small and exciting Youth Theatre group. They performed a poignant piece in the Sean O’Casey Theatre in East Wall Dublin 3. Tony Bates of Jigsaw and Phil Kingston of the Abbey Theatre came to see it and thought it was a powerful production. As did all of us who saw it. The devised piece dealt with young people and mental health. This year John Dunne, another Drama teacher, set up a second youth theatre group. Now we have two small thriving youth theatre groups. They meet after school on a Wednesday. Dublin City Council Arts Office gave us a start up grant to help us get up on our feet with the Youth Theatre. We set up a committee and an ArtsTrain graduate Ceri O’Hagan joined us to help us run the Youth Theatre. Yesterday I was speaking to the Dublin City Arts Officer Ray Yeates. He was delighted at the success and growth of the youth theatres. He suggested that our school might like to look at a residency for a writer. I thought it would be a great idea for us to welcome a writer into the school for a period so that he or she could observe how we are and who we are and then create a piece of work out of this. If we are successful in getting the funding from the Arts Office and in finding a suitable writer in residence, it will be an act of trust for staff to welcome the writer into their classes and into the staffroom. I think it would be great. I also think that if the writer was to keep in mind the Manifesto project we are doing with the Gaiety School of Acting the ideas that emerge for the writer may fit nicely into a performance piece as part of the conference on education in the Mill Theatre in March 2017. I will be meeting with Ray Yeates in the coming weeks.

Wednesday 9th November

Yesterday Gillian Mc Carthy from the GSoA had a good session with the 1st year Arts students. She did one hour with them. Michelle discovered that there was a misunderstanding around the class contact the artist would have with the class. Jill thought it was twice a week for an hour at a time. Michelle thought it was one hour a week at an hour at a time. This is why it is so important to have planning meetings as well as a liaison person to oversee the project in the school and a manager of the project externally. What I now need to do is go through the dates that Anna put on Google drive and check them and then at a senior management team meeting give these dates to the Principal for the school calendar. That way students are less likely to be taken out of class for other activities when the GSoA project is on.

Friday 18th November 

Anna has sent me a text update on the TED TALKS idea. She is waiting to hear from TED TALKS to find out how best to set up a TED TALKS EDUCATION event. Getting the text from Anna keeps me up to date on progress for the project.

Tuesday 22nd November

Gillian Mc Carthy sent an email asking Michelle Fallon and her Arts students to research the following questions and statements for the project. As requested at the start of the project all correspondence for the project goes to Michelle, Anna, the artists and myself. That way we are all aware of how things are progressing. The research questions and statements that Gillian sent are:-

1 The Irish education system from 1917 to present: the major changes that have taken place over the last hundred years.

2 The pros and cons of the current education system.

3 What is the Department of Education’s vision for the future? What would be the students’ vision of a brilliant education system? What changes would they make?

4 Questions for students who are interested in interviewing older relations and teachers about their experiences of school:-

In the same email Gillian asked if she and I could meet for a chat today. We didn’t get to do that. I have found out over the years that it is always better to agree a brief meeting to discuss the project rather than relying on ‘catching’ each other. So I will email Gillian and suggest a time to meet when she is next in the school.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Máire O’Higgins – Teacher’s Blog No1

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-14-36-32Máire O’Higgins is a teacher and an Assistant Principal at Larkin Community College Dublin 1. She also coordinates partnerships for the College and is the school Chaplain. Máire is 26 years working in the north east inner city. Before she became a teacher she worked as an actor and a Theatre Director.

Larkin Community College is a second level CDETB DEIS Band 1 school in the north east inner city of Dublin. It is a co-educational school with 430 students and a staff of 48. Students come from all over areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Dublin to attend the school. We are a mainstream school. We offer Arts, Soccer, Basketball and Academic Scholarship Programmes.

In the first of her blog series Máire discusses funding, partnership and documentation as part of the Theatre Making and Citizenship Programme with the Abbey Theatre.

October 25th 2016

I have the good fortune of working in a variety of jobs within my permanent teaching post over twenty six years. I worked in theatre before I switched to teaching so I carried my love of the creative engagement with me into teaching.

The school I am currently in has excelled at creative engagement since its inception in 1999. We have done some terrific work and also made some spectacular mistakes. I am learning to call them iterations!  Isn’t that what educational entrepreneurship is all about, iterating and reiterating, planning, trying out, reflecting, trying again and on it goes. Isn’t that too what happens in the real world, the world after school ends?

From November this year to March 2017 we are working with the Gaiety School of Acting and the DLR Mill Theatre in Dundrum on a Theatre Making and Citizenship Manifesto Project. Larkin Community College has been doing Theatre Making and Citizenship programmes for three years now. The Theatre Making and Citizenship Programme model was developed with the College by Sarah Fitzgibbon and supported by Phil Kingston and his education team at the Abbey Theatre. This year we have a group doing the second part of the Theatre Making and Citizenship programme with the Abbey and a new Theatre Making Programme, which shares outcomes with the Abbey programme. This one is with the Gaiety School of Acting and the DLR Mill Theatre Dundrum.

Anna Kadzik-Bartoszewska of the Gaiety School of Acting has developed the project concept and guidelines. The project is called “The right to know”. It will look back at aspects of the education of young people from 1917. It will explore aspects of the education of young people in 2017. It will also look forward and imagine the future for education and young people in 2027. The project will focus on the creation of innovative play using the existing practice of “Manifesto”. Manifesto is an empowering style of theatre making that we hope will give our young people a voice to express their opinions and attitudes towards their own education that others have shaped for them. The project will be run by Michelle Fallon an English and History teacher in Larkin Community College. Michelle also coordinates the Arts Programmes for the College. I will support Michelle in her work and liaise with Anna and the Gaiety School of Acting, as well as other partners that may emerge as we work on the project.

The performances, developed by the students and teachers of Larkin Community College, the local community, older people from the Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly in Sean Mc Dermott Street and arts professionals, will be the part of a conference on education planned for March 2017 at the DLRMill Theatre in Dundrum South Dublin. The conference hopes to feature speakers from Barnardos, Amnesty International, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Arts Council of Ireland, other policy makers and interested parties.  The conference will explore the theme of appropriate education for young people – looking at its different manifestations thematically and setting it within a global, national and local context.

During the conference students speakers will tell their stories through performances. Their theatre pieces will champion the contribution that young people make to society as young people in their own right and their entitlement to be heard on that basis.

This project will focus on theatre as a tool for raising awareness about issues that matter to young people, specifically around education. The project will also look at how theatre can motivate and move young people to action regarding human rights and issues in education that need to change.

Students stories will hopefully open up a dialogue between policymakers and professionals and will create an opportunity for everyone to ask questions, share experiences, and build connections.

Anna planned to hire artists through the Gaiety School of Acting, to work on the project. By the time Anna secured funding for the project, the lead artist that Anna had hoped we would work with – Liz Tyndall – was not able to commit to the project for the first month. Anna then brought in Gillian Mc Carthy to start the project. Both Liz and Gill are Drama and Theatre Teachers with the Gaiety School of Acting.

Michelle Fallon will work with the artists and 60 students. These students are on dedicated Arts programmes in the College as part of the Junior Cycle programme.

Anna’s team will work for one hour a week with three separate Arts groups. Our classes are one hour long and the project fits nicely into the hour long lessons.

The role of the Partnerships Coordinator / Liaison person for the school

My job is to check in with Michelle to see that she is happy with the way the project is going. My job is also to organise permission letters, transport and whatever timetabling needs emerge for the project, as well as to support Michelle as she works with the artists to create the Manifestos with students.

My role is to liaise with Anna too and make sure that the project aims and objectives reflect and fulfil Junior Cycle curriculum needs as well as other educational needs. In this regard my role is to source cross-curricular links that the project might connect with, particularly in English classes, Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) classes and Religion classes.

It is also my job to check in with all participants to see that they are enjoying themselves.

I usually manage the budgets for creative engagement projects in the school with the help of our school administrator Janet Rooney. Thanks to Anna too I don’t have the usual headache of paying the artists as Croke Park Community fund have agreed to pay the grant for the project directly to the GSoA. We have also applied for and received funding from Creative Engagement for the project. Creative Engagement is a Department of Education funded body and therefore the grant we receive from them will need to go directly to the school. Janet will manage the accounts and Michelle and I will decide with Anna, how the money will be spent.

As the project grows it will be my job to manage the calendar and communicate matters with the Principal of the school and inform staff of progress on the project.

I will also help Anna to build an invitation list for the Conference in March.

The role of the Principal

Our Principal Aoife Kelly Gibson is fully supportive of the project and loves the arts and culture. She trusts us to plan and deliver the project. This is important as she allows us great freedom to do the work.

Artists Schools Guidelines

I have asked Anna to ask her team to read the artists schools guidelines to help her team to have a sense of what we expect from the partnership engagement. The Artists Schools Guidelines were initiated by Lorraine Comer during her time in the Arts Council and developed in collaboration with teachers, policy makers, artists and young people. They form the framework for our planning meetings with all partners prior to starting a project in the school.

Garda vetting

The CDETB school we work in requires that all people working with young people in the College must be Garda vetted. This takes time to process so we put the paperwork in train as early as possible once we knew we had the funding for the project. Janet manages this for us.

Funding

Last year Anna along with Michelle Fallon and myself applied for Croke Park Community funding https://crokepark.ie/stadium/community/croke-park-community-fund  and got it, for a 1916 project. The project was a great success

Julianne Savage of the Croke Park Community Fund has kindly supported us for this project too, to the tune of €3000.

Dermot Carney the Director of Creative Engagement at www.creativeengagement.ie/ also funded this project to the tune of €1000. We have been lucky.

How does a school succeed in getting this amount of money for an arts in education initative? 

For years we did creative engagement work without a budget and we built a reputation for doing good work that could be sustained. Then we applied over and over again for funding. We often didn’t succeed. We kept applying. I kept applying. I wrote the applications in my own time because I was passionate about the work I was doing. Sadly the regular school day does not allow time for teachers to spend time on the application process.

I found that by sticking with the application processes I got better at filling out forms and we eventually did succeed in getting funding.

I have learnt over the years to be careful with funding applications, to read carefully the questions that are being asked on the application and to respond appropriately. I learnt to make sure that (a) I could do and really wanted to do what I was promising that we could do (with flexibility for change built into the planning) and (b) that I had the time to manage the project or build in costs for a manager, or be as lucky as we are in Larkin on this project, to find a manager like Anna who takes care of the project as part of her brief as a partner on the project.

Partnership

I found that we need to know who our partners are when we decide to work together and to figure out what they expect from us and from the project as well as what it is we expect from them. I have learnt over the years that we need to work out what our aims and objectives and expected outcomes of the project are before applying for project funding. So often I have found that the partners on a project had different expectations to the ones we had in Larkin and it caused unease as we progressed. I have learnt to be clear and to articulate what we agree that all parties want, to check with the students that it is what they want, to build in the time to meet to discuss how things are going during the project and to address challenges as they arise. Communication is central to good partnership work and sustainable partnerships in education. We did a five year project with the education team at the National Museum of Ireland and I learnt so much about negotiating partners’ wishes, managing budgets and managing expectations. We were fortunate to work with an extraordinary team in education at the Museum, led by Lorraine Comer. The partners on the projects we engaged with over the five years were Poetry Ireland, NCAD, The Curriculum Development Unit, Macnas, Lourdes Day Care Centre for the Elderly, Localise as well as individual artists (Mikel Murfi, Helen Lane, Clare Muireann Murphy, Pete Casby), philanthropists and funders. It was a wonderful project that taught me a lot about how to develop and sustain meaningful partnerships in education for young people and teachers.

Documenting the work

Aghhh! During the planning process, we said we would look into photographing and videoing the work as we went along. We did get all students to sign a permission form to allow us to do this. For Child Protection reasons this is critical.

I forgot about the documentation process in the busy life of school. We will work on this going forward (November 23rd 2016).

Too often we have forgotten to document great work we have done. More accurately we have not had the time to do so. So much of theatre making is written in the sand. That is the nature of theatre work. It is like meditation! It is in the moment that we experience it. However documenting a project visually can provide lovely memories. It can also help with further funding applications. It has helped us in the past to explain models of good practice. It has helped us too to reflect on challenges that emerge.

!!!! 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: Kieran Gallagher – Art Teacher Blog Post No1

img_2355_editKieran 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 No1

Like all art teachers, the past two weeks have been a productive and busy period. School is well underway; my students and I are well settled into the first term. Apart from the typical art room duties that we have been creatively working on, we had an art trip to ‘Sculpture In Context’ with 56 of our fifth year students, open night, October assessments, exhibition ‘In sense of place’ meetings and organisation of the #startoftheart campaign.

The most interesting project, which I have been working on with a group of fifth year students, is the curation project in collaboration with the Highlanes Gallery, the British Council’s Art Collection, and Our Lady’s College, Drogheda. This project came about as a result of a number of other smaller projects and visits to the Highlanes Gallery. Their Director, Aoife Ruane, approached me last year with the idea of getting students to select and curate an exhibition to coincide with their 10th birthday celebrations. Since May of last year a group of students and myself met in the gallery to start planning the exhibition. The students have been extremely dedicated to the project, meeting three times over the summer holidays and every Thursday after school, for two hours, since the start of term. We are currently in the process of selecting the artwork for the VAI, postcards and posters, so keep an eye out. The exhibition opens on Friday the 25th of November. I will speak more about this project next time.

Thanks to the above project, I have linked with another school in town. They set up a WhatsApp group and we are in the process of organising some sort of event in town to mark the #stateoftheart campaign, which is looking at the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and asking the question, why has art has been forgotten? It seems crazy, especially in a time where such buzz words as creativity and innovation are being used so widely. The main aim of this campaign is to get the attention of the Department of Education, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examination Commission to apply gentle pressure on them to implement a new, modern Leaving Cert curriculum; one that address the disconnect between the Leaving Certificate art curriculum and exam and the entry requirements into third level Art and Design colleges. In our school we are going to cover up all the artwork that is displayed throughout the school. For the larger town collaboration project? I will discuss it next time.

!!!! Waves

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

Cleo Fagan – Superprojects, Curator

‘I think that the teenage years can be an exciting time in people’s lives, when they often have a keen intellectual or creative curiosity and are open to complex ideas, given the right conditions. As a curator who works with young audiences and contemporary art and artists, it made sense to me that certain contemporary artists would work really well with young people to explore ideas related to the rich context of the commemorations of The 1916 Rising. I approached Julie Clarke of Fingal Arts Office with these ideas back in early 2015. Luckily, our objectives aligned with each other, in wanting to work on something that allowed young people to engage with the commemorations in a fresh and creative way.  We took it from there, approaching artists Ruth Lyons, Eoghan Ryan, Sean Lynch and Clodagh Emoe

Julie Clarke – Fingal Arts Office, Youth & Education Arts Officer

‘The opportunity was open to all post-primary schools in Fingal.  We were delighted to receive interest from Fingal Community College in Swords and Hartstown Community School in Dublin 15, as both schools and art teachers were known to us and a strong working relationship existed. Cleo and I met with the art teachers, Siobhan Lynch and Anne Moylan, to discuss the artistic possibilities and to plan for an enjoyable learning experience for the students. Supported by this partnership we were able to give artistic freedom to the artists to design an initial presentation that would introduce the students to contemporary art practices, challenging topics, and invite them to think about the role of art in our society’.

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

Cleo Fagan and Julie Clarke visited each participating school to talk with the students and teachers about the artists they would meet during the project.  Cleo gave a presentation which included several compelling images and video clips of the artists’ works to ignite curiosity among the students before the artists arrived.

Each of the artists involved – Ruth Lyons, Sean Lynch, Clodagh Emoe, Eoghan Ryan – was invited to devise a set of workshops in response to the context of the commemorations with input from the art teachers. The fascinating workshops that resulted touched on ideas of political and cultural zeitgeist; commemoration; collective power; public art and provocation; humour as protest; personal identity; government and everyday life; time and energy; and representation and nationalism.

Workshops all involved rich discursive, creative and educational elements via opportunities to discuss opinions, to learn about contemporary art practice, to learn new artmaking skills (eg mold making and resin casting). The students created and presented their own artwork to the teachers and artists for an informal critique in front of the school principal and project partners. In some sense, it was an approach that gave a flavour of studying art at third level.

The working group extended to include Distinctive Repetition and writer Sue Rainsford who respectively designed the graphic and wrote a piece of text for the Waves poster which is now available. Jenny Brady filmed the process and the students really enjoyed sharing their work and thoughts on camera.

Clodagh Emoe – Artist

‘My workshops were about ‘people power’ and I began with a presentation showing various examples of artistic strategies and collective power visible in history. The students worked in clusters and amongst themselves identified and debated issues that affect them today. We had a democratic vote to select one contentious issue and using artistic strategies we explored and exposed that specific issue’.

Ruth Lyons – Artist

‘My workshop was on using silicone mold making and resin casting processes to make individual memorial sculptures. The students made these commemorative, decorative artworks by picking an object that represented an essential material in their everyday life. They cast these objects in a clear resin, immortalising this object for hundreds of years’.

Sean Lynch – Artist

‘The workshop I did at Fingal Community College involved looking at how public art works in terms of the spaces we live in, and the times we encounter it nowadays. Many people are familiar with the monuments and statuary of 1916 but there are many different types of artistic methodologies that have come along since then and the idea of the workshop was to share them and celebrate them with the school and the great students involved. We worked with devising a series of speculative proposals. These were based in conversations that were had on the nature of the everyday and the objects that are encountered in the everyday, and what they might become if they were considered a monument to the contemporary times that we live in.’

Eoghan Ryan – Artist

‘When I approached devising the workshop I thought about the question ‘what is holding us together?’. I thought I would focus on flags as they are confusing as a material. Addressing the material culture surrounding flags, what they could mean, if they were important and how to add some kind of individual, subjective importance to update them or undermine them. Everyone was invited to collaboratively make their own flags.  We then destroyed the flags and talked about destroying flags in a demonstrative or rebellious context – what that act means, what you’re doing.’

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

The creative partnership between the teachers, artists, curator, Fingal Arts, and students resulted in great work being made.

The students would like to share their experience:

Student Feedback

‘I really liked taking part in the workshops. I liked learning from people who were actually artists by profession. I liked that we could do whatever we wanted to do without confines – because even though that’s what art is all about we don’t get to do that in school.’

– Student, 17

‘I really enjoyed being able to voice my opinions on issues such as inequality etc. I really enjoyed learning about the apartheid and other monumental issues in history that have helped shape the world today’

– Student, 16

‘We were able to explore something new, which is not in the Leaving Cert programme. We learned many new things from the artists, even that art can be in any shape or form, as shown by different examples in the slideshow. I really liked using the resin and seeing how everyone’s ‘memento’ turned out.’

– Student, 16

‘After the workshops, I feel a lot more comfortable with my art. I like how I can draw, paint or use any form of medium to talk about what I want, how I want, and when I want. The workshops helped me feel at ease with my art. A picture can show a thousand words, I can see what that means now.’

– Student, 15

‘I especially enjoyed learning about the work the artists had already completed. I loved making the items and it really allowed me to use my full creativity and imagination. I am much more observant now…. Art is a broad topic and I can’t wait to learn more about it.’

– Student, 17

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

Julie Clarke – Fingal Arts Office, Youth & Education Arts Officer

The film really captures the significance of the project and there is so much to choose from –  the students were challenged by the type of art that they saw and the type of art that they had to produce, but equally the students’ capacity for intelligent dialogue on emotive topics was very striking.  A number of students stated that they would take more of an interest in politics and our society if adults listened to them.  They expressed an interested in lowering the voting age so they too could have their say on issues that matter to them on polling days.

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

Siobhan Lynch, Art Teacher, Fingal Community College

‘The project has changed the way I as an educator approach teaching and learning within my classes. I have really embraced group work within the art room and have encouraged and allowed students to develop their creativity through risk-taking and experimentation with new media and by looking at how contemporary artists approach problems and find creative solutions to them.’

Anne Moylan, Art Teacher, Hartstown Community School

‘I received a great insight into the students own political concerns and issues that are real and live to them, which often doesn’t happen in a classroom situation.  As their art teacher it was a great opportunity and it will impact on our future work together’.

!!!! Tenderfoot

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

Veronica:

Tenderfoot originated, with the support of South Dublin County Council, in The Civic Theatre in Tallaght ten years ago. Bríd Dukes, the Artistic Director of The Civic, wanted to develop a programme to involve transition year students in the art of theatre. Tenderfoot @ The Civic, the parent programme, annually provides forty five students from eight different schools the opportunity to learn about theatre in a hands on way. Tenderfoot operates on a model of apprenticeship. Students learn by doing. They learn about theatre by making theatre under the guidance of working theatre professionals. Each year a number of the students, usually sixteen, write original plays for the stage. A selection of these plays are then produced and students can opt to act, do costume design, take part in the film for theatre module or they can be part of the stage management team. The final productions are seen by two distinct audiences. A general theatre audience and an audience of the students’ peers. Over the years the reaction of the peer audience to the work, work made by people their own age, has been remarkable. It has resulted in a profound level of engagement. Tenderfoot @ The Civic is entering its tenth year.

Tenderfoot is a replicable model and Tenderfoot @ The Garage, championed by Niamh Smyth of CMETB, is the first reiteration. Tenderfoot @ The Garage serves schools in the Cavan/Monaghan region. Five schools participated in the inaugural year with a focus on writing. Twenty students wrote original plays for the stage. Five of those plays were publicly acknowledged in rehearsed readings in The Garage Theatre. Audience was twofold – general theatre and peer audience.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

I was lucky enough to be teaching in Rathcoole when the Tenderfoot programme was first set up. My school was one of the South Dounty Dublin schools chosen to partake.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I was delighted that our school was accepted onto the Tenderfoot programme following our application through the Garage Theatre. The project had appeal due to its emphasis on creativity, and integration with others, coupled with learning about teamwork and skills required for writing and performing outside of the school timetable. I was also excited about our students being guided, nourished and encouraged by theatre professionals and out of school drama facilitators. Veronica was encouraging and her visit to our school whetted the students’ appetite.

How did the ideas develop? How did the children, artist and teacher work together?

Veronica:

Apprenticeship is the model upon which Tenderfoot runs. The students learn alongside experts in their field so, for instance, professional writers facilitate the students’ learning about writing for the stage. Students are provided with a structure within which they can give voice and form to their own creative ideas. Students are not censored. They can write about any topic. They can utilise any form. The guiding principle for Tenderfoot mentors is to enable students realise the best version of their work.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Very simply, many of our students blossomed. They learned new skills, and many uncovered hidden talents in writing and acting. All of them gained confidence and a greater sense of self-assurance. They made fantastic friends and even better memories. They were a part of something special and very few will ever forget the Tenderfoot experience.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I noticed a remarkable growth in confidence and self-assurance in the five selected students who quickly adapted to the project and to the process of meeting deadlines and submitting required pieces when asked. The rehearsed readings on the day of performance were absorbing and entertaining.

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

Veronica:

The young people make me smile. Their enthusiasm, their engagement and their work. The work they produce is very often surprising. It can be sobering. It can be eye opening. It is really interesting to see the world through their eyes. And I feel that something important is happening in that space where young people encounter the theatrical work of their peers. This is a unique space. Also, the willingness and enthusiasm of the countless teachers I deal with restores my faith in the education system. Year after year I deal with teachers who care only for the best interests of their students. The only major challenge I can think of is the ongoing battle to maintain funding.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

I love the annual January trip to see the plays created by the students. Their peers and I, always come away from the theatre impressed and awestruck about what their classmates have achieved. I don’t find any aspect of the process challenging.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I smiled at the independence of my students strolling out onstage to take their seats and perform in different roles in different plays. Yes, some themes were challenging and clearly revelatory of their needs and focus in this period of their young lives. Sex, freedom of behaviour and speech, rejection of social norms that seem to apply pressure on teenagers were among the challenging themes addressed in their short plays.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Veronica:

It is really valuable for young people to have opportunities to learn in contexts outside of school and in ways different to how they learn in school. An important feature of Tenderfoot is that each group is taken from a number of schools and the work environment is a professional arts environment – The Civic Theatre in Tallaght and The Garage Theatre in Monaghan. The value of such an experience is immeasurable. It provides those students lucky enough to take part an opportunity to see themselves in a new light.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Tenderfoot offers students a more relaxed environment to express themselves. This can sometimes contrast to the school environment where as teachers, we have to place restrictions on bad language or on adult subject matter. This can be a liberating experience for a lot of students and can help greatly in their development of self-confidence.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

Overall, most worthwhile as evidenced by the close attention paid by the attentive and engrossed teenage audience who sat through one and a half hours of readings without asking for a break!

Response from Robert Barrett/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Tenderfoot was easily the highlight of transition year. There was never a dull day; they ranged from doing improvisations in the little theatre upstairs, to building a full sized guillotine. It was a unique experience to see plays, some of which were my own, go from their most conceptual stage in the writers minds, to first drafts and then go through production.”

Response from Seoid Ní Laoire/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Writing A Piece Of Me developed me as a writer, but it was watching the director shape my words into something new, something physical and outside of myself that I learnt the most. My writing’s weak points were suddenly glaringly obvious, as were its strengths. I remember peeking out from backstage and seeing the audience respond to words I had written and experiencing a connection that is impossible to achieve from a page. It is difficult for me to adequately describe the impact of my few weeks with Tenderfoot. It was one of those experiences that, when I look back on my life so far, carves out a milestone.

Sarah Hannon/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Civic

Tenderfoot made me come out of my comfort zone and most of all have confidence in my writing. It was one of the most fun and rewarding things I did throughout my secondary school experience and I’m very glad I got the opportunity to do it, and I greatly appreciate and am thankful to the people of Tenderfoot for seeing potential in me when I did not, both then and still to this day.

Tenderfoot is a replicable model and Tenderfoot @ The Garage, championed by Niamh Smyth of CMETB, was the first reiteration. Tenderfoot @ The Garage served schools in the Cavan/Monaghan region in 2015. Five schools participated and twenty students wrote original plays for the stage. Five of those plays were publicly acknowledged in rehearsed readings in The Garage Theatre. Audience was twofold – general theatre and peer audience.

Response from Levana Courtney/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

Thanks a lot for the wonderful experience you’ve given me and helping me along the way. It’s been a brilliant couple of weeks and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’ve learnt a lot of new things, had so much fun and made a lot of new friends who I won’t forget. Before tenderfoot I would have never spoken in front of a crowd, so I really appreciate the confidence it has given me.

Response from Caspar McCabe/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

You can really tell a lot about a person based on what they write about: their experience, their beliefs, their thoughts, their opinions, their dreams … it’s extremely insightful. When you’re writing, even if you have the clearest idea of what you’re going to say, your words take on their own mind and you can end up writing something that is totally different than what you intended to. Knowing how to accept criticism is important, but so is knowing how to accept praise.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Veronica

Each year the students who take part in Tenderfoot are changed by their experience. Some find new interests. Many find new levels of confidence. In a number of cases some even find their future professions.

Response from Sarah Doyle/Holy Family Community School Rathcoole

Many of them grow in confidence. In terms of their education, a better understanding of drama helps with their study of drama at senior cycle. For the budding writers and actors, there is almost always a greater desire to be involved in their chosen field after completion of the Tenderfoot project. They will often go on to engage in drama or writing outside school.

Response from Gabrielle Tuomey/Our Lady’s Secondary School Castleblayney

I noted a growing maturity in my five participants. It was good for them to be pushed beyond their usual boundaries.

Response from Caspar McCabe/Participating Student Tenderfoot @ The Garage

Taking part in Tenderfoot has developed my social skills: I realised while taking part how truly complex everyone is, how everyone has their own individual thoughts and experience and beliefs and this has helped me to connect with people and make friends.

!!!! National Architects in Schools Initiative

National Architects in Schools Initiative

The project, part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s National Architects in School Initiative (NAISI), involved an Architect working with a Transition Year group of 25 mixed students and a Design and Technology teacher.

Students from Colaiste Cholim, undertook a wealth or tours and visits investigating many facets of architecture in their town of Ballincollig and the wider city of Cork. Starting from this perspective of how architecture relates to community, the students narrowed the focus for the design project, developing their own personal room for the garden of a semi detached house. As a fitting end to a project the students held an exhibition of their work in the local shopping centre of Ballincollig.

Engagement process:

The students began with a life drawing exercise to develop their observation skills. From here they were encouraged to develop their own opinions on architecture through research and discussion of the work of inspiring architects. There then followed a series of exploratory tours:

Development Process:

Having gleaned ideas, insights and an understanding of the diversity inherent in architecture, the student were set the task of designing a personal room in the back of a semi-detached sub-urban house. Designs based on a variety of personal interests emerged including an art studio, a cinema, a dance room and a chill out room. Using card, foam board and balsa wood the student made scale model of their designs for exhibition at the local shopping centre in Ballincollig, Cork.

Most useful activities:

Jerry Buttimer TD opened an Architecture Exhibition by students of Coláiste Choilm, of work produced during the IAF’s National Architects in Schools Initiative, at Ballincollig Shopping Centre. Each studetn presented their final project to a public audience and discussed individual projects with the TD and visitors including IAF Education Curator.

From the students:

I learned about design process + daily job and how jobs come about. I enjoyed making models and thinking of ideas for what to do for the project.
Student, 15
We’d done set projects before but this time we were able to use our own ideas and solve problems along the way. Felt more like a real designer!
Student, 16

From the Teacher:

Having taught a transition year construction module for a number of years, aspiring to develop an awareness and appreciation of the student’s environment, particularly their built environment, I heard of the Architecture in Schools initiative through the Cork Education Centre and decided to apply. My motivation initially was personal, as I have a great interest in architecture and was very interested in working with an architect. I also believed that if I could develop my own skills and knowledge it would ultimately benefit my students. I applied and was very fortunate to be paired with architect Seán Antóin Ó Muirí. We got on very well, both personally and professionally. This, in my opinion, was key to the success of the initiative. This is our second year working together and I have learned a great deal working with Seán.

Typically, we adopt a practical approach to student learning. The students learn through observation, sketching, discussion, research, presentation, and problem solving amongst other techniques. The students visit buildings of architectural significance locally, where they observe, record, present and discuss their experiences. They also watch videos, research architects and their work, and present their observations to their classmates. Another important part of their development is the visit to the Cork School of Architecture. This presents the students with a unique opportunity to view and discuss the work and course with college students and experience what life as a student of architecture is like. Also, the students are presented with a number of design challenges devised by Seán, from which they develop their own unique responses. These are varied in complexity, and time required for completion, and always have specific objectives.

I have learned significantly from my involvement in this initiative and particularly working with Seán. As a teacher with more than twenty years experience, I found I have become very focussed on “the end game”, which is the examination and marks in the Junior Cert and marks and points in the Leaving Cert for my students. I try to incorporate different teaching and learning experiences. However I am restricted in so far as the course must be covered, projects must be completed and time is limited.

Seán has an entirely different approach. He focuses very much on the process and allows the student the freedom to pursue their ideas. He guides, encourages and advises each student, and allows them to pursue their own ideas even if he disagrees with them. They are allowed the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. The students are also encouraged to find out things for themselves, for example, if they require the size for a door, they measure the door in the room. This leads to collaboration between students and an excellent learning environment.

The students are enthusiastic and have learned a great deal. Their increased awareness of architecture is great. However the skills and confidence they have developed as a consequence of participating in this course is the real benefit of incorporating this initiative in a transition year program.

Danny Moynihan, Teacher

From the Architect:

I was motivated to particpate in the architects in schools programe because I am simply interested in architecture so I am always interested in getting other people’s perspectives and thoughts on the subject.
I took a lot of heart from the conceptual thinking that some of the students displayed in realising their projects, this is always very encouraging. The project was the first time I had taught architecture at secondary school level this was a new and good experience. There is a lot of energy to be sourced from working with other people, as I work on my own this was good to tap into this energy twice a week. I was blown away by some of the designs produced by some of the students, because the class was so big (25 students) it was very hard to give much time to any one student, so to see some of the designs produced with very little direction was very inspiring.
The students’ work is of a standard you’d expect from third level student projects, they demonstrated exceptional ability and commitment to the project. Support from the teacher, Danny Moynihan who has an incredible passion and interest in architecture also made it this project a great experience.

Seán Antóin Ó Muirí, Architect.

!!!! Theatre Making and Citizenship

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about?

The Abbey Theatre provides opportunities for young citizens to express feelings about their world and their State using the theatre arts. We want the students to feel a civic ownership of their National Theatre. To achieve this aim, we strive to raise awareness among young people of the rich civic, cultural, social and creative connections that emerge through engagement with theatre and theatre making. This course was developed by Sarah FitzGibbon, in collaboration with Maire O’Higgins, Larkin Community College under the auspices of The Abbey Theatre’s Community and Education Department. The course was piloted in Larkin College from September 2013 until May 2015 with class 103. Over the two years and 100 hours, the students develop their competence in six key skills, 16 of the 24 statements of learning with clear literacy, oracy (Oral Literacy) and numeracy strategies.

There are three strands:In Strand 1, the young people get to grips with the 4 Key Concepts in CSPE; Human Dignity, Interdependence, Rights and Responsibilities and Democracy; an introduction to theatre making; review a piece of theatre and make a speech on ‘Theatre is an important tool for citizens to be able to express themselves.’ In Strand 2, we use the story of Romeo and Juliet as a vehicle through which we explore the effect of a feud on a community. This is then developed into a performance piece where we seek to exploit the learning potential of the production process as a ‘real life work’ simulation with designated roles, responsibilities, deadlines, teamwork and collaboration. In Strand 3, students developed their own piece of theatre to raise awareness of a social issue that affects their community. The students direct a lot of their own learning with self-motivated research tasks that form the basis of their script. It is this model of script development that you will be taken through today. In the Pilot, the students chose the issue of homelessness (which exemplifies the concept of Human Dignity). This was a recurring theme in our citzenship discussions since the students had seen Silent by Pat Kinevane in Strand 1. Homelessness was an issue they felt passionate about as it directly affected their inner city school community. The students researched the causes of homelessness; the State’s response to those experiencing homelessness; the community response to the issue; its coverage in the media and who they wished to express their message to. The students interviewed political theatre makers who had dealt with the issue of homelessness with the homeless community. They also interviewed a Simon Community Key Worker. They visited the Pebbledash exhibition in The National Museum and assisted the school’s First Year and Transition Year students in creating and distributing care parcels to the homeless in their area. When the group wrote their own play out of their research and discussions in class, they then created a list of policy makers and groups they wished to invite to attend their awareness raising performance. This list included invitations to the clients of homeless services and policy makers to attend the performance in The Abbey Theatre, their National Theatre. While researching an issue in preparation for a performance, the students are set the challenge of developing a speech or performance piece based on a character that they create who is directly affected by the issue. The performance piece is created from these characters. It is based on any interactions, monologues, or songs inspired by the students indepth research. Facts and data discovered can be included too. The structuring of the performance script is quite straight forward.

Who was involved? How did you begin?

Participants: The Abbey Theatre Education Department and a First Year CSPE class in Larkin Community College. In 2011 we began in conversations with our local secondary school which is Larkin Community College. Throughout 2012, we had a year of discussion and planning between the artist and the teacher.

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

While we had a structure designed we were constantly reviewing it with the young people. We also constantly asked them for feedback on how they felt they were progressing in the course. When it came to the creation of the artwork it was a very collaborative approach, with the teacher and artist as the final arbiters on the text to be performed. That said the young people had to give an agreement to perform it and tweaks were made.

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

Observing those “aha” moments when concepts were understood and tasks achieved. It was also a pleasure watching the students grow in confidence in their ability to have an opinion and express it.

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

Young people are sophisticated thinkers. Young people can affect change in their communities. Teacher can grow as an artist working alongside an artist teacher in the classroom. The work of an artist is strengthened when she has an arts organization to support her in the delivery of the programme.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

The National Theatre has committed to actively engaging in Theatre Making in Secondary Schools and support the inclusion of Theatre Arts in the Curriculum.

Students have made a difference in the lives of vulnerable groups in their community by raising awareness of issues and by fundraising.

Máire:

• Students have developed a strong sense of connectedness with each other and an increased level of self-esteem.
• The Abbey Theatre has transformed the lives of young people in their local community.
• Young people have developed an appreciation for Theatre.
• Students’ creative writing skills have been deepened and expanded.
• There has been a substantial improvement in students’ oral literacy skills with an increase in vocabulary and more developed sentence structures (eg longer sentences, clearer narratives …).
• Presentation skills are of a higher standard as a result of rehearsals and regular debates and presentations in class. Higher order questioning formed the basis of interaction and interrogation with guest speakers. The sophistication of the questioning emerged from rigorous research and enquiry.

!!!! Thinking Visual

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

Jennie:

In early 2014 I received the Thinking Visual Residency Award, run by Wicklow County Council & Mermaid Arts Centre. I proposed a new type of residency within Blessington Community College, where artists John Beattie, Sven Anderson and myself as project curator would work with transition year students to explore activities that lay between producing new artwork and developing a conceptual framework within which to present it. This residency provided a unique experience for both the students and the school to focus on this process-driven phase of contemporary art production, and highlight vital links between the artist as researcher and students as inventive learners. John Beattie gave a focus to moving image work and Sven Anderson evolved sonic frames of reference with the students.

Sven:

The curator Jennie Guy invited me to take part in a six-week residency programme working with transition year students in Blessington Community College in County Wicklow, in late 2014. Between October – December, I met with the students, Jennie Guy, and the art teacher Turlough Odonnell once a week.

Much of my practice is focused on contemporary sound art practices, so I initiated the project with an energetic workshop based on physically manipulating vinyl LPs. Using blades, electrical tape, and sandpaper, the students made physical marks on the surfaces of records that I sourced in a bargain bin in a charity shop in Dublin. Most of the students had never been near a record before .. and immediately we found ourselves having conversations about media manipulation, the sense of hearing, noise and silence, and what distinguishes noise from music from art.

I spent the next sessions presenting a variety of material to the students – some of it interactive, some of it more based on creating the time and space to listen to and comment on significant artworks in this field. These conversations crossed many boundaries by addressing subjects and techniques that were outside of what many of the students would consider as art. Each week provided the chance for another listening session – and we listened to works by Max Neuhaus, Bill Fontana, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Christina Kubisch, Sam Auinger, and Luc Ferrari (amongst others).

After one particular conversation about sound installations in public places, the students began to express a strong interest in making a sound installation for their school. We quickly focused on conducting site surveys of the schools grounds (looking for the right site to work into), developing a concept for the work’s structure and content, and going over all of the practical aspects of making such an installation. We invited the school’s principal to the next workshop and the students themselves made a presentation proposing the installation, and asking for permission to construct it.
On the final day of the residency, I spent the entire day at the school working on the installation.

The final sound installation (installed by the students with help from their teachers from art, woodworking, metalworking, and the school’s maintenance staff) is formed by four boards spanning over 40 ft, mounted overhead in the outdoor passageway. The boards are fitted with sound transducers, transforming the boards into resonating speakers. The students choose combinations of sounds from an online database of field recordings uploaded by various sound artists that drift between boards throughout the day (played back from a computer / hardware setup installed in one of the classrooms), providing a backdrop to the everyday sounds taking place outside their school. This piece is still installed outside of the school in early 2015.

Turlough:

Between September and December 2014 Jennie Guy (Art School / Mobile Art School) curated an artist residency in Blessington Community College. The residency consisted of six workshops for the Transition Year students. There are two classes in Transition Year in Blessington, one class worked with artist Sven Anderson and the other class worked with artist John Beattie. Over the six weeks students were introduced to the work of their resident artist, experimental workshops were carried out where students explored the processes involved in Sven and John’s work. From these explorations proposals for works in video and sound were developed. These proposals were then presented to the School Management and ultimately art works were produced with the artists working closely with the students at all times.

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

Jennie:

As each subsequent week of the residency went by I looked forward to each residency session as I knew that there would a lot of unexpected laughs generated by each artist’s session. John Beattie really pushed the boundaries of the students perceptions of experimental moving image works. He gave the groups he worked with such freedom that they were able to devise and follow through with their ideas from session to session. Seeing the students achieve such experimental works was really exhilarating for me as an observer and really fun for the students. At times I felt quite challenged at the end of each session in trying to describe what had happened from the artists and students perspective. I knew the ideas and research that the artist was trying to evolve but somehow trying to make it relevant to this student audience I would begin to stutter in my round-up. Turlough O’Donnell the art teacher has a really unique talent of being able to process the ideas the artist was bringing to his classroom and school but somehow contextualise it as a teacher and then re-present each session with great articulation to his students that I felt that I was learning a lot from him.

John:

During my third session with the students, I set a self motivated brief for the day, to give the students an opportunity to experiment with ideas independently using the camera & lens, throughout the grounds of the school. The students explored ideas and methods discussed and demonstrated from previous sessions. At the end of the task, students gathered in the art room, and I projected all images the students had shot large scale for all to view and critique. To my delight, a group of students had created a sequence of images, illustrating one of their peers “flying” steadily, in the air, through the school building. Using a Stop-Motion camera technique, the students discovered an imaginative approach, which later became the central focus of the projects final video. A fantastic moment.

Working with large groups of mixed teenagers can be very challenging to ensure that each individual feels apart of the process. Also, monitoring how engaged students are, and if students are engaging at all. It’s crucial for me that I create that space for students to feel comfortable and confident to come forward and be involved in the creative process. This was the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of the project.

Sven:

There were so many moments working on this project that made me smile. One of the funniest moments occurred when we were talking about the artist / composer John Cage, in particular his composition 4 minutes 33 seconds. This piece is a performance in which the audience (and performer) remains silent for this exact duration of time, highlighting the ambient sounds of the performance space and demonstrating that there really is no such thing as silence – and that many incidental sounds can become ‘material’ when given appropriate focus. We were in the middle of uploading our own version of this piece via a new 4’33” iPhone App – sitting in a circle, listening to the sound of nothing – of our breath, of the creak of chairs, the subtle passing of cars outside. This duration can feel like a long time for a group of teenagers – sitting still, trying not to laugh, trying to stay quiet. One of the students was holding a ‘virtual baby’ / ‘infant simulator’ – one of these fake baby dolls that the students have to take care of, tending to their needs. Suddenly – in the middle of our silence – the baby let out a computerized cry. The laughter that had been hiding behind the silence suddenly broke and we were all laughing, the sound being uploaded to the app to be stored with hundreds of other ‘silences’ recorded around the world.

There were many moments like this – in which our focus on listening, and on the medium of sound, forced us to negotiate with many aspects of space and experience that we would never have had to confront if we were working in a more visual medium. By the end of the residency, I felt that we had a strong group dynamic, and a good understanding of how we could work together as a group both to understand more difficult concepts, and to work towards producing a significant impact on our environment – as evidenced through the successful installation of the sound installation outside of the school.

Turlough:

Seeing the student’s reaction to appearing in the video work really made me smile, particularly because the young girl who became the focus for the main video piece is a very quite student, and she got a real kick out of making the piece. Also the first video piece involved another student being given the power to move chairs with his mind this also was very funny to see his performance in front of the students.

In the sound work shop seeing all the students engage with the artist made me smile. I and the students really enjoyed the field recording trip to Dublin also. On this trip we recorded the everyday sounds of the city; these sounds were later incorporated into a piece of sculpture the students had made in response to Sven’s sound workshop. The whole project / residency challenged the students notions of what is and what is not art and they now have a broader appreciation of what is involved in contemporary art practise.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Jennie:

I must acknowledge the strength and benefit of forming strong background relationships that substantiate residencies like this. For example, without the backing, support and most importantly the creative vision of Wicklow Country Arts Office and Mermaid Arts Centre this project would never happen. My approach to creating firm and supportive relationships has deepened even more, this does take more time but now that I can see how exciting ongoing connection with schools can emerge from this type of relationship gives everybody involved in this type of project a great sense of achievement. The same approach goes for really involving the artist as early as possible before a project, either in conversation and or doing site visits and being able to communicate as much as possible before a project starts. This project has given a lot of confidence to approach new contexts.
John: I heard from the schools art teacher that after one of our sessions, a usually quite student came up to him and said that the session and work done was; “poetry in motion”.

Another aspect worth sharing from the project, is the careful and considered level of detail carried out by curator Jennie Guy, with the school and art teacher Turlough, to co-ordinate and manage this process. The atmosphere and fundamental creative environment, had been set in place and in motion, making this an extremely smooth and successful project.

I think there is a large number of things that have changed as a result of the project, some measurable, many others not so easy to measure: For the school, Principal, art teachers, and most importantly the students, to experience a sense of what is possible, what can be done, of how to step outside of the school curriculum and produce innovative and challenging work. I feel people’s perspective and perceptions changed in relation to art within the secondary level education system. This also goes for myself as an artist and educator, that we can bring dynamic, relevant, and engaging art practices into the school education system, and produce work and working relationships, where the integrity of project is completed with the highest level of engagement.

Sven:

The project’s structure – established by the curator Jennie Guy – was quite a substantial framework to begin with. I have had experiences with workshops in which the artist is completely responsible for establishing frames of reference with the teaching staff, the school, and the students. In this case, the curatorial framework that Guy established with Turlough ODonnell (the art teacher) set the ground for more adventurous work within the residency – in which I was free to develop my own ideas in response to the students’ interests as they emerged / developed over the course of the residency. The resulting environment (within these sessions) allowed us to move very quickly and to cover quite a bit of ground in six weeks, and the support and exchange with the students, the art teacher, and the curator all felt substantial and easy to balance.

I sense that the impact of having the sound installation – quite a substantial experiential structure – built outside of the school in Blessington marked a significant change in all of our expectations concerning how far we might go with this kind of experimental learning framework. This was not an expected outcome of the project – and beyond the process of producing what I consider to be a considered artwork, our experience working together and learning to ask for a chance to shape or author our environment – in this case the environment of the school – was quite significant. I believe that enabling the students to make a legible mark on their surroundings is a valuable experience in breaking down the borders between self / space (environment) / and authority, resulting in a more active approach to establishing democratic spaces.

Turlough:

The approaches of both artists have given the students great insight into the working practices of contemporary artists. Sven’s work in the field of sound sculpture has the potential to create a greater awareness in students to their surrounding particularly to the sound environment of the school. As a teacher the engagement with both artists has had a very positive effect on my own approach to teaching. I believe that it is very important as a teacher to open the subject up and by getting professional artists into the art room with the students has an energising effect.

I think that students will be more open minded as a result of the project. Some students have even started to explore new media on their own. One group of students created their own video piece in and entered it in a competition called “Youth Connect”. Their work was short listed to 12 which were screened in the Savoy cinema last week. I have no doubt that the video residency with John would have influenced and informed their approach.

Students’ report

Our names are Shona O’Connor and Aoife Mescall, we were students involved in the residency who worked with Sven in the area of sound sculpture.
On the day we were introduced to Jennie and Sven, Sven told us about his area of work and told us what he wanted us, as a class, to learn from the residency. To introduce us to the basics of sound, he brought us in old records with very different genres and sounds and played them on his record player, which he also taught us how to use throughout the day. As an experimental activity, we each chose a record at random and used tape, sand paper and knives to mark and scratch the record to make different sounds and interruptions on the track when it played.

Following up on working with records, Sven gave us the task of making some sort of sculpture using the record covers. The class decided to build a ‘sound tower’ by taping the covers together in various different ways and installing small speakers to the sculpture.

After a couple of weeks, along with Sven, the class came up with the idea of making putting up a semi-permanent sound installation somewhere in the school to make others aware of the sounds around them. We came up with the concept of attaching four small speakers to four long planks of wood that would go up on the ceiling of the shelter outside the first year corridor.

In preparation for proposing our idea to Mr Burke, our principal, we had to plan to tell him what we wanted to do, how we were going to do it and what we wanted to get out of this project. We chose two pupils to help Sven to pitch the idea to Mr Burke and from the very start he was on board with helping us complete the task. Different people were given different jobs that they had to complete as their part-taking in the completion of the project. Some were in charge of preparing the wood for the speakers to be securely installed and others helped in choosing the sounds we were going to play.

At first no-one could really hear the sounds we were trying to make noticeable, so Sven and Mr O’Donnell worked on fixing it and making it louder.
On the last week in the residency, Sven came in and helped us put everything together. Outside Sven helped other pupils feed wires and cables through the wall to ensure we would be able to connect the speakers to electricity, while the rest of the students helped Donal, our care taker, secure the planks to the ceiling of the shelter to be ready to be connected. Other students stayed inside to make a final decision on the sound they were going to play and what went well together. Everything was just about finished when the final bell of the day rang. To thank Sven and Jennie for all their hard work and time they had spent with us, we presented them with a bottle of wine as a small token of our appreciation.

When people were beginning to become aware of the sounds being played, confusion was their initial reaction. They were curious as to where it was coming from, as they were not aware we had been working on this project. However when they got used to it, they listened closely and carefully to the sounds and tried to figure out the type of sound that was being played.

We feel our class really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about how art is not just in pictures and paintings. We all got along really well with Sven and found it a very interesting and new experience. We were also thought about how interesting it is to stop and listen to how versatile the sounds in a particular environment can be.

Overall we think the project was a massive success and really enjoyed working in such a different area of art.

!!!! 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: