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Pallas Projects

Pallas Projects have produced an online resource ‘Art @ Home’ for teachers and primary school students.

This year to coincide with Pallas Projects Online Periodical Review X Exhibition, they have teamed up with artist and education curator Liliane Puthod to create an activity pack for students to do at home or in school. Each of the four activities are relevant to all ages, and relate to a work in their online exhibition.

Pallas Projects/Studios is a not-for-profit artist-run organisation dedicated to the facilitation of artistic production and discourse, via the provision of affordable artists studios in Dublin’s city centre, and curated exhibitions. Pallas Projects is dedicated to the making and showing of visual art to our peers as well as a wide and diverse audience: via exhibitions, talks and tours.

For more information and to download the activity resource, see here: pallasprojects.org/news/art-home-activity-pack-pallas-projects-resources-for-schools

Music Generation 
Deadline: 23 April 2021

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) invites applications for the position of Music Generation Development Officer (Fingal). They will be responsible for managing a programme of performance music education on behalf of Fingal Local Music Education Partnership. This is a five-year fixed term contract.

The successful candidate will have a broad understanding of the diversity of effective, contemporary approaches across the diversity of performance music education – and will have the skills and experience to develop a programme that responds to the specific needs of young people in disadvantaged communities.

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: 4pm Friday 23rd April 2021

For more information on how to apply, see: www.musicgeneration.ie/news/job-opportunity-music-generation-development-officer-fingal

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

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

 

In 2020 ‘The Lonely Traveller’ Project was one of the recipient’s of the Portal Documentation Award. View the project documentation video here.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The initial aim of the project was simple: increase the access that deaf children have to the music and find new ways of delivering and differentiating the music curriculum for this cohort of pupils.  I enrolled on the Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) CPD summer course at Limerick Education Centre with the specific purpose of gaining a residency with a musician in order to achieve what I set out to do.

After being paired with Limerick composer Fiona Linnane we got the opportunity to get to know one another and discuss our project ideas at length during the TAP lead facilitator training which we were both chosen to attend. With an initial very loose plan/structure in place we kicked off the school based part of our project with a trip to University Concert Hall, Limerick to attend a “Music in the classroom” performance with the pupils.

A lot of background work was undertaken in the classroom prior to our engagement with Fiona. As my pupils had differing levels of hearing loss from mild and moderate to severe and profound it was important to explore with them how sound travels and how we can all experience sound in different ways ie some with ears and hearing some with hands and touch. It was important also to make the children aware that being deaf was not a barrier to experiencing, enjoying and producing music. In our english lesson we wrote to Dame Evelyn Glennie, a world famous percussion artist from Scotland who herself is deaf. The children were thrilled when Evelyn wrote back to them offering words of encouragement and praise. Ms.Glennie proved to be a very positive role model for all the pupils throughout the course of this project and her composition “The Lonely Traveller” became the central point around which our project evolved.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

Much of my preparation for this project involved meeting the students and gaining perspective on their experience of sound and music; the mix of abilities within the group; and how I would need to refine my practice to maximise the impact of the workshops for the group. This ranged from managing my communication style to allow for the use of ISL within the classroom to leaving more space in each session for students to move at a pace that worked best for them. I joined the teachers and students as they attended a “Music in the Classroom” performance at the University Concert Hall, Limerick and this provided me with great insight into how these children would respond to musical ideas.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Fiona took the lead by facilitating engaging and experimental weekly workshops which were loads of fun. Both myself and the class SNA’s were on hand to assist with ISL and the provision of additional support to any pupil that needed it. After the first couple of sessions the pupils became very familiar and at ease with Fiona and after this point we all very much worked as a unit and in partnership with one another developing ideas and expanding on themes. Much of my curriculum planning for other curricular areas was influenced by the enjoyment that the children were experiencing in Fiona’s workshops. We chatted at length about “The Lonely Traveller” who it might be and where they might be travelling to/from in our oral language sessions. In history we explored the voyages of St. Brendan and the Imram tradition and in SPHE we spoke lots about how being deaf is no barrier to achieving one’s dreams as Dame Evelyn Glennie had illustrated.  Our workshops with Fiona influenced our class work and equally our class work across other curricular areas influenced the direction of our workshops with Fiona.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I first designed and facilitated a series of workshops on experimental composition starting with simple rhythm exercises and graphic notation. Once I had established where the students were in their musical development, we began to plan a theme for our project. By linking in with the student’s interest in the work of Evelyn Glennie I introduced a simple piece (by Glennie) which I felt we could work within the framework of the project. Using chime bars and the graphic notation learned in the first phase of the project, we began writing songs and improvisation using The Lonely Traveller as a starting point. The students immediately responded enthusiastically to songwriting and so I began to look at ways to expand on this.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

This was an incredibly successful project on so many different levels. Fiona was a joy to work with. She was always so patient, kind and enthusiastic. She brought an open mind, in depth knowledge and a great sense of fun to the project. She engaged with learning ISL from the pupils and  always followed their lead no matter where it went. We very quickly established a three way partnership between pupils, artist and teacher which worked for everyone. This project started out as something quite simple and small but very quickly grew to become a fairly ambitious project. We had secured funding from Limerick Education Centre for a follow on workshop with local Puppeteer Emma Fisher to develop the visual aspect to our project. Unfortunately with the arrival of the covid 19 pandemic, extended school closures and no visitors policies we were unable to go ahead with this. However a promise is a promise and when schools reopened I took what little knowledge of shadow puppetry I had gained from my conversation with Emma and made this the focus of our art classes to complete the visual aspect of our project. The film was made with a mix of live acting and shadow puppetry. Working with deaf pupils in near darkness wearing visors and masks whilst maintaining social distance and pod groupings was challenging indeed but we got there in the end and we all agreed on seeing the final piece it was worth it.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

This project’s success was driven by the investment by the teacher, Jacintha Mullins.  It is difficult, as an artist to attempt to link in the topic your are covering with the subjects in the classroom as we are only physically in the classroom for the sessions.  Jacintha immersed the class in the project by linking it with other aspects of her teaching.

The usual challenge of engaging all students, even reluctant ones, was present but not to the same extent as other projects.  Again, I feel this was thanks to Jacintha’s leadership.

Obviously the big challenge arrived in the form of schools being closed in March.  We had just enough material already recorded to put the film together but plans to continue our work together had to be put on hold.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The increased levels of self esteem and confidence that our pupils displayed both during and after this project were incredible. They were immensely proud of the work they had done and what they had achieved. Singing was something that these children had always done primarily with their hands through ISL. Hearing them spontaneously burst into song with their own compositions on a regular basis in our classroom and around our school is something really special indeed.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I listened to the announcement of school closures in my car just before what would be our final session.  It was an especially poignant session – I remember feeling a sense of calm in the classroom, while chaos ensued in the world around us.  It would be my last engagement with a school for the rest of the year and, most likely, until September 2021.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Working in partnership with a professional in the area of the curriculum that I found challenging was a very valuable experience. It showed me the value of arts in education and how bringing someone into the classroom can open up endless possibilities and new ways of teaching and learning for all involved. I will be seeking out opportunities to engage in further partnerships in the future.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I recognise the importance of real engagement by the teacher.  Also not to feel like everything about the project is my responsibility, allow others to cover their areas of expertise.

On the flip side in future I will allow myself to be more involved in the artistic outcome.  Before this I had always allowed the students complete control over the final work, however, as I finished editing the sounds we had recorded it occurred to me that if I take on the more technical work myself it allows more time for the students to explore the more creative aspects of the projects.

 

VISUAL Carlow 

Dates: Throughout February & March

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

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

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

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

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I had run similar intergenerational projects in Kerry in the past, using music, songwriting, singing, and visual art to express ideas and feelings about our own stories. These projects always received great support from local partners and the press, and culminated in a public exhibition and/or a performance. The interaction between the generations was a most important part of this project.

I moved from Kerry to Cork in 2016, and I was touring two one-woman shows. One of the characters in the shows is my Jewish grandma, and there was a lot of audience interest in this character. I started researching the Cork Jewish community as it was in the early 1900s, and writing a musical play on the subject. I’ve always played Jewish music, and I saw great interest in Cork in its Jewish historical past, which I wanted to know more about, and to share my knowledge of. This had not been evident in my 28 years in Kerry, as there was no Jewish community in Kerry previously.

I had built up a relationship with the Arts Officer in Cork County Council, Sinead Donnelly who suggested running the project in two areas, Youghal and Bandon.

We worked with Bandonbridge Primary School sixth class pupils and their teacher, Freda O’Neill and the Bandon Daycare Centre, with support from Bandon Library.

The project took place over four Tuesdays in September and October 2019. Two workshops would take place in each centre (the schoolchildren had their workshops in Bandon Library), one visit by the children to the Daycare Centre, and a visit by the daycare participants to the school for the concert day. In the end, I visited Bandon a total of 7 times – two introductions, the four planned dates, and one evaluation day.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The children completed a number of workshops with Ruti, in the local library, in school and at the day-care centre. The goal was for both groups, the children and the day-care patients to compose and perform a song for each other and to enjoy a singsong and each other’s company at the final performance.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I worked with the principal, the teacher, the daycare staff, and the 2 groups (older and younger).

In the first workshop,  I introduced each group to a little bit of Jewish Irish history and Jewish culture, I taught them a song in Yiddish, and we had a little jam with me on accordion and them playing percussion. I then asked them to think about how it might be to move to another country, and about any experiences they had themselves of living in other places, or moving from one place to another. I asked the groups to say out loud how they might feel if they moved to a different place. These words were written up on a flipchart. We used chime bars (each person gets a note to play, from a kind of xylophone) to work out a melody that might be nice for a song. Then we fitted some of the words that the group had come up with into the melody, and with a bit of adaptation from myself, we worked the words and melody into two songs. One verse only was developed that week. I also taught the children the song In My Town, a song I wrote and recorded on my CD for children, Stomping in the Woods.

The following week, the children came to the Daycare Centre to meet the older people. We had a singsong, which I facilitated as I had brought song lyrics, my accordion, and some percussion, and the children had prepared questions to ask the older group about where they went to school, did they ever travel, etc. One lady had brought some instruments that she had bought in Ghana years before, and she passed them round to everyone. I had brought apples and honey with me as it was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and this is a traditional food for this festival, so everyone had a slice of apple with some honey.

It was a lovely intergenerational, intercultural sharing. Everyone really enjoyed it, and the older people commented on how polite the children were. The groups sang their song verse to each other, and they shook hands and looked forward to meeting again.

The next week was a workshop where each group completed the song, with my help, and we added instrumentation to it. The children brought in violin, tin whistle, keyboard, and guitar, and I brought percussion instruments and chime bars.

A lot of work at home followed, as I wrote out precise arrangements for the teacher to work with the children on, and recorded both songs, and sent them to the schools.

The final week, I arrived early at the school, with the film maker Dervla Baker, and ran through the original song, and the Yiddish song, with the children, while Dervla set up the video camera. The older group arrived, and about 20 of the children’s parents, and two other classes from the school, and their teachers, so the hall was packed. The new songs were sung, as was a Yiddish song that I had taught the children, and a song about Bandon Town that the older group sang. Then there was dancing to live klezmer (Jewish wedding music) as my band, Pop-Up Klezmer, came from Cork to take part in the concert. It was great to see the children and adults of all ages singing along and dancing and clapping to the music. And to give the older and younger groups a chance to perform original songs. All agreed it was a great experience. After the audience left, the children chatted with the older people and shook hands again before everyone left.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The children chose to work on their lyrics first and then to add in the melody and instruments afterwards. They worked in small groups initially and then Ruti helped them to collaborate to create a whole class edition. We practised on a daily basis leading up to the final performance. Some of the children worked through a couple of lunchtimes to perfect their parts.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

The challenges were mostly weather, as the children had a long walk to the daycare centre and library, although they weren’t deterred. For me the biggest challenge was setting up the project, as it was a complicated project, and it was quite tricky communicating with the funders, as one of the arts officers was off sick. So the admin side took a lot of time and energy.

Although it was lovely working with both groups, there were challenges with the older group, as one or two of the participants were partially deaf, or just didn’t have the energy to participate very much. But most of them were delighted to take part.

The feedback from the Daycare Centre group was that they enjoyed the interactions with the children, but that they could have done with more workshops to prepare them for the concert, and that it took them a while to be clear what the project was about. They enjoyed playing different instruments, hearing great musicians, and the chats with myself and each other. The staff said it was challenging to get the participants confidence up for singing in public.

The feedback from the school children was that they enjoyed learning the dances, playing the instruments, meeting the daycare group, learning about Jewish culture and religion, hearing the klezmer band, learning new songs,  and the final performance. They would have liked longer with the older group, and more time to learn the song lyrics and instrumental parts.They would have liked more musical styles and more younger children attending the concert. The feedback from the teacher, Freda, was that the children loved it, the venues worked well, the final performance was fantastic, positive, and seeing the interactions between the groups was lovely.

My personal experience of the project was very positive. Everyone involved saw the benefits of so many aspects of the project – making music, creating new music, discussing ideas, and the interaction between the generations.

Both groups and all staff agreed that they would like to do a project like this again.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The project was a great success. The children really enjoyed the music side of the project but mostly responded very positively to the intergenerational element. It was wonderful to see how both groups interacted so pleasantly with each other.

A challenge may have been the time allowed for this project. Another couple of meetings and practices with Ruti would have been worthwhile.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

Intergenerational interaction, composition in groups, arranging music, and performance  – these are all aspects of this project that I would like to highlight as significant. Composing in groups means working together to create something interesting, meaningful, and hopefully, beautiful. This is a good team-building exercise, and just a lot of fun. Also great for confidence and interaction. Performing one’s own composition in public, and getting recognition for its value, is one of the most uplifting things I enjoy as a performer, and I think that this was so for the participants also. The Jewish aspect was also meaningful to me – to teach children a song in Yiddish – a language they have never heard before – and to lead them in dancing to klezmer music, was a privilege.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

Sixth class were enthusiastic and happy while participating in this project which made it quite easy to manage for me as their teacher. As mentioned above, the most significant part was how well both groups responded to one another.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I have more confidence in bringing Jewish material to schools (although I have been doing this in different ways, eg candlemaking workshops at Chanuka, for many years anyway). I bring my interests into the classroom, and I do quite complex projects, even though it is a lot of work and tires me. I put a lot of energy in, and often don’t feel that I am earning enough to warrant the amount I put in. But that is my journey. I have been very lucky to be supported along the way by a lot of lovely people. It’s worth it!

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

I would definitely be open to taking part in a project like this again. Also, the inclusion of the older generation in some school activities would be something I would consider more now.

 

The National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline: Friday 5 February 2021

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

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

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

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

The closing date: Friday 5 February 2021

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

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

 

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards        

Deadline extended: 31 May 2021

INSPA 2020/21 sees the fourth open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition and Positive Primaries Programme which introduces Creative Well-being into the lives of primary schools and their communities by engaging with the magic and art of photography.

This year’s theme ‘Accessible Places | Safer Spaces’ is run in association with the Children’s Rights Alliance and is looking for images that focus on giving a voice to children in their new and changing environments. Therefore, we are calling on students and teachers in primary level education, to once again, get creative and integrate the camera into their school day. To begin your Positive Primaries Journey and participate in the awards you must register your school at www.inspa.ie

The INSPA’s are having a massive impact in classrooms across Ireland, helping to boost the well-being of students by simply integrating the camera into your school day.  Participating in the awards helps your students increase their Confidence, Resilience, Connection, Kindness and Readiness. It also gives a platform for teachers to creatively explore their wider curriculum, allowing students from all backgrounds to actively engage with subjects in new and exciting ways.

Once you activate your school account, you will be able to upload your school activities, share ideas and engage with other Positive Primaries as they prepare to enter the awards. You will also be able to access our free and easy-to-follow Creative Well-being Activities. These will help you integrate the camera into your school-day and allow the children to lead the way.

This year, the awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for the whole school community including; Weekend breaks away to the Amber Springs Resort Hotel, free Instax cameras and printers, Positive Portrait fundraising days, certificates and of course your schools Positive Primaries Flag. All entries will be judged by a national panel including Mary Magner (INTO President), Colm O’Gorman (Director: Amnesty International Ireland), Damian White (IPPN President), Karla Sánchez (Curator, Art Historian & Educator), Áine Lynch (CEO of National Parents Council Primary), and Richard Carr (Artist & Partnerships Manager for INSPA).

In whatever way you choose to respond to this year’s theme, be creative, take lots of photos and most importantly have fun. We look forward to seeing all your schools’ entries and all those positive changes you are making in your school. If you think your school could become one of Ireland’s next Positive Primaries, register as soon as possible at; www.inspa.ie

For further information and to apply to go www.inspa.ie.

The Ark

Date: 7 November Saturday 

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

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

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

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

Date: 10.30am-12.30pm, 7 November Saturday

Tickets: €15 (€13.50 for ArkEd Members)

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

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

The Ark in collaboration with Dublin Fringe Festival

Dates: 5 – 20 September 2020

Take a rain walk accompanied by the voices of children from across Ireland and the UK in The Ark’s first ever collaboration with Dublin Fringe Festival.

With their guidance, the rainfall will become your own private theatre, a space in which to observe, imagine and play.

Because The Ark’s team are no better at predicting when it might rain than you are, everything you need to experience the show is contained within a little box that will be delivered to you when you purchase a ticket. Keep it safe until the weather turns.

Then, whether in a drizzle or a deluge, alone or with friends or family, the team invite you to step outside, feel the rain on your face, and think about your place in a world that is changing so swiftly around you.

As a leader in child participation practice, The Ark is excited to join forces with artists Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, whose imaginative performance projects are all about enabling children to interact with adults and voice their feelings about the world they live in and how they would like it to change for the better.

Now, with support from The Ark, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Place, London, Andy and Beckie will collaborate with children from across Ireland and the UK, setting challenges that involve thinking, imagining, writing and recording their voices. The results will be combined to create an audio track that will guide you on your interactive walk in the rain as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2020: Pilot Light Edition.

Recommended for families with children aged 6+ and grown-ups of all ages

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/a-rain-walk.

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

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

Teacher Brenda Binions 

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

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

 

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

Deadline: 12 noon, 27 August 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards

The INSPA team would like to congratulate every school who participated in the 2019/20 National School Photography Awards. The national winner is Dominika Ilecko from Stepaside ETNS who submitted the photo entitled Two Chairs into the Senior Category of the awards. The winner of the Junior Category is Jack Kelly Sharkey from Courtnacuddy NS with his entry Old Phone Box Library.

Dominika Ilecko, Two Chairs, Stepaside ETNS, Senior Category

Dominika Ilecko, Two Chairs, Stepaside ETNS, Senior Category

INSPA is the national children’s photography competition and online academy which is open to all primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. This year, young creatives from around the country were encouraged to engage with digital technologies and the creative process to explore the theme; Second Life.

The awards are having a massive impact in classrooms and homes across Ireland as they provide an inclusive model for children of all backgrounds and abilities to get involved. Through photography, INSPA introduces creative well-being into the lives of primary school students while building a future generation of people who are confident, resilient, connected, kind and ready.

The awards are free and offer a range of fantastic prizes including trips and stays at the Amber Springs Resort for principals, teachers, pupils and families, cameras for winners and schools, framed photographs, certificates and national recognition as a Positive Primary School. All entries are judged by a national panel of experts and over 300 primary schools have already registered their accounts.

We would like to take this opportunity, once again, to congratulate Dominika from Stepaside ETNS and Jack from Courtnacuddy NS on their recent successes and we look forward to working with all finalist schools when they re-open in September.

If your school would like to begin its Positive Primary Journey and participate in the 2020/21 awards, you can register your school at the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie

Gaiety School of Acting

Recognising the struggle so many parents are currently facing as they broach the mountainous task of home schooling their children during the Coronavirus restrictions, the Gaiety School of Acting has released a series of comprehensive and fun lesson plans to inject a little creativity and some POSITIVE drama to your household.

With 34 years experience in drama training, the Gaiety School of Acting teaches over 2000 children across their Young Gaiety schools in Bray, Malahide and Temple Bar annually, in a range of classes from Parent and Toddler Drama to Musical Theatre Company, Acting for Camera to an eclectic offering of seasonal camps.

Our Home Drama Resources have been developed by the GSA’s education team, and in addition to creative drama, provide a selection of science, craft and film-making activities for you and your children to explore a variety of themes, have fun, and escape from reality!

Every Thursday a new resource is released with the following themes already available on the website: The Lion King, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Monsters from the Movies, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

For further information and to access downloadable resources go to gaietyschool.com/home-resources/

 

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Deadline: 14 May 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership are delighted to announce that Open Space, the action research report on the Virtually There arts in education project, researched and written by Dr Bryonie Reid, is now available to read online!

Open Space was launched last month by Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast, at the opening of our Virtually There exhibition at Ulster University, Belfast.

This publication is the result of two years of independent action research conducted by Dr Bryonie Reid, commissioned by Kids’ Own, and made possible by funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The aim of the research was to explore the impact of the Virtually There on all its participants: artists, teachers, and children. One of the wonderful things about this research is that it tells the story of the project, of those involved in the project, and in the relationships and collaborations that were so central to the project’s success. As Bryonie notes in her introduction: “These stories give a much fuller, more comprehensive picture of how the project worked and what the project has meant than could statistics”. Jo Holmwood, Creative Director of Kids’ Own, commended Bryonie’s approach to the project, saying “Kids’ Own’s work is about recognising all children as individuals with their own uniqueness of experience, and as such, a homogenised statistical analysis of the project would make no sense. This offered space for real richness of detail and allows the reader to come — in my view — to a closer understanding of how the project was experienced by those involved.

To read the full publication click here.

For further information go to kidsown.ie/read-new-kids-own-publication-open-space-online/

Children’s Book Ireland

Children’s Book Ireland in partnership with An Post invites you to join the #ImagineNation campaign which brings together leading Irish children’s authors and illustrators and YOU!

The #ImagineNation playbook is overflowing with activities for primary school children in drawing, writing and mindfulness exercises from leading creatives including Oliver Jeffers, Chris Haughton, Sarah Crossan, Don Conroy, Niall Breslin, Niamh Sharkey and many more, the book will be accessible to all children to download as well as being delivered free by An Post to thousands of houses around the country.

As part of the campaign, a live draw along Facebook event with Don Conroy will encourage children to get involved.

Children from all over the country are encouraged to get creative using the ImagineNation playbook downloadable at www.anpost.com/ImagineNation and https://childrensbooksireland.ie/resources/imaginenation/. Also post their creations on social media using the #ImagineNation hashtag and tag An Post and Children’s Books Ireland.

An Post and Children’s Books Ireland believe that everyone can be creative – no one more so than children – and that every child can be a reader.

Right now, so much is being asked of families who are staying home and staying safe.

The playbook has activities, puzzles, poems and short stories from some of Ireland’s best children’s writers and illustrators that they hope will delight, entertain and spark creativity. 90,000 copies of the playbook for 6 to 10-year-olds will be distributed to homes in the coming days and also to family hubs and centres of Direct Provision.

For more information go to childrensbooksireland.ie/resources/imaginenation/

Fighting Words

Send Your Creative Writing to Fighting Words!

During this time when we might find ourselves with more time,  it’s time for more stories! Fighting Words is inviting children and young people to write and share their writing with us..

Primary School Age Writers (Age 6-12): The Fighting Words Story-Starter

Fighting Words have invented the Story-Starter, which they hope will spark your imagination and help you get started on a story.  You can change anything you want in the story – you don’t have to include all the ideas generated in the Story-Starter.

How do I submit my writing?

After you have written your story, ask your parent/guardian to send it to info@fightingwords.ie. IMPORTANT: Please include the words Primary Story in the subject line.

Happy writing!

For further infromation and submission guidelines go to www.fightingwords.ie/news/we-want-your-stories-send-your-creative-writing-fighting-words

 

 

 

FÍS Film Project

Home Movies Anyone? Let’s Have Some Fun While Learning At Home!

FÍS Film Project would like learners to use the current COVID-19 social distancing policy as an opportunity to learn film-making skills for making really cool home movies!

Their new blog series #MakeFilmsAtHome is aimed at children and their families who might like to try their hand at making a stop motion animation or short live action film during the stay home phase and beyond.

With two separate blog postings per day. 1 for animation and 1 for live-action film-making. Presented in a simple easy to use format, with sample films made by Irish primary school children for the FÍS (film in schools) project and are accompanied by short video tutorials made by undergrad students at the National Film School in IADT.

Film-making is a fun, creative, imaginative and educational process and FÍS hope that families will find the tips and tools provided useful. They are encouraging parents / guardians a child or children who make a film to upload to you tube, vimeo, instagram or similar platform to share.

All you need is a mobile phone or tablet device and lots of imagination!

So, let’s have some fun and get filming!

To view the blog go to fisfilmproject.ie/blog/

The Ark

If you’re looking for some creative ideas for educational activities (primary level) at home during the school closure then check out some of The Ark’s classroom activities & resource packs. These have been have created to accompany some of The Ark’s programmes, including their ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ season which has been curtailed due to the current closure.

Lots of them work even without having seen the show or exhibitions so do take a look – they are available to download for free and use at the link below:

ark.ie/schools/classroom-resources

The Portal Team are delighted to announce the first recipient of the 2020 Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award. We are very excited to be working with each recipient in the coming months to document their projects. These projects will be showcased on the portal as the documentation progresses.

About the recipients….

Project title: The Lonely Traveller (Brenda’s Voyage)

The Lonely Traveller began as a Teacher Artist Partnership (TAP) between teacher Jacintha Mullins and composer Fiona Linnane in collaboration with pupils at the Mid-West School for the Deaf, Limerick, with support from Dr. Carmel O’Doherty director of Limerick Education Centre. The initial aim of the project was simple; make the primary music curriculum more accessible to deaf pupils and explore paths of engagement with music for profoundly deaf children.

The Lonely Traveller is an ongoing project which has grown both legs and wings since its inception. The project drew inspiration from the Immram tradition and, in particular, The Brendan Voyage (however the children gave the story a 21st century update by renaming the main protagonist Brenda).

During this project Brenda, the lonely traveller, has explored the length and breadth of the music curriculum. She has wandered along a cross-curricular path through Music, History, English, Irish Sign language, Science, SPHE, Maths, Drama, ICT and Visual art. She has reached out to both world-famous artists (Dame Evelyn Glennie) and local artists (Puppeteer Emma Fisher) alike. She has challenged teachers to walk behind while she takes the children by the hand and brings them on exciting adventure into the world of creativity. She has given us valuable insight into the amazing creative abilities of children with SEN and shown us how to explore the potential and possibilities that exist in the field of arts in education.

Brenda will take the lead role in a short film which will be written, directed and produced by the children of the middle and upper primary classes at the Mid-West School for the Deaf. Our short film will encompass original song writing, soundscapes, vocal and musical performance as well a shadow puppetry. We will also be introducing the children in our school to digital filming, video editing and sound engineering.

Teacher:  Jacintha Mullins

Jacintha qualified from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a degree in Fine Art. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Interactive Media after which she qualified as a primary school teacher and completed specialised training and qualification as a teacher of the deaf. Jacintha currently teaches children aged 8-12 years at the Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick.

As a teacher of children with a wide variety of hearing impairments and special needs Jacintha is constantly employing her artistic skills to deliver the curriculum in a way that is active, engaging and relevant to the children in her classes. Jacintha understands the importance that the visual environment holds for deaf children. She is also acutely aware of the need that these children have to find ways in which they can express themselves.

Jacintha endeavours to provide an arts rich approach to teaching and learning at the Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick. In 2019 she undertook the TAP summer course and trained as a TAP facilitator later that same summer. She will be delivering CPD to teachers on the TAP summer course in July 2020 and is also currently working as a creative associate within the creative schools initiative.

Artist: Fiona Linnane

Fiona Linnane is a composer based in County Limerick.  Fiona has been working with Primary schools for over 15 years including projects under the Artist in Schools schemes for Tipperary, Clare and Limerick Arts Offices.  In 2020 she was appointed to the Heritage Council’s Panel of Specialists for the Heritage in Schools scheme.  Her workshops are enthusiastic, energetic and fun while aiming to give students a new perspective on sound, music and composition.

Fiona is very active in community music and is widely sought after for commissions and to lead projects. In 2013 Fiona was appointed composer in residence for Bells Across The Burren, an Arts Council of Ireland Artist in the Community project, which included an exhibition and music trail at the Burren College of Art and commissions for locals music groups.

Fiona was awarded the Limerick City and County Council Individual Arts Bursary in 2018, and again in 2019, for work in the field of opera and Art song.   Current projects include development of an opera inspired by No.2 Pery Square, Limerick in collaboration with Opera Workshop and funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: 7 March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 4th, 5th, 6th – 9th of March 2020

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ by Tom Swift.

Alice spends virtually all her time in Wolf Wood. You know, the world’s deepest, darkest online game. Why not? Her dad isn’t around, her mother’s gone to Canada to meet a lumberjack and her best friend’s dumped her for a YouTube star.

But what happens when the people you meet online come looking for you in real life? Who can you trust, and who is the Big Bad Wolf? This re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story is a digital fairy tale that’s deliciously funny and full of dangerously dark twists.

Workshop
For County Kilkenny schools attending the play, we offer two in-school workshops:

These sessions are optional and capacity is limited, therefore they will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Teachers’ Resources
A resource pack will be provided to participating teachers. Linked to the SPHE syllabus, the pack will provide a focus for exploration and discussion of themes raised through the play.

Performances of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny.

Dates & Times

Wednesday 04 March at 11.30am
Thursday 05, Friday 06 and Monday 09 March 2020 at 10.00am & 12.30pm

School Group Rate €10, one teacher free with each booking of 12

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873615598

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

CRAFTed aims to provide skills for life through positive, collaborative and joyful engagement with craft and design processes. By emphasising the making journey rather than finished products, CRAFTed allows space for experimentation, active learning and personal growth. It focuses on harnessing the creativity of every child, valuing individual creative expression.

Inspired by their chosen theme of Irish Myths & Legends, 3rd class children of Scoil Bhríde explored the fabric of storytelling with fashion designer Aoife Thomas and arts enthusiast-teacher Mandi Mc Daid. In project development, the group explored processes of weaving, wet felt making, block printing, applique and relief casting within the classroom. In discovering new processes, the group had new means of illustrating and bringing to life elements from the Irish Myths & legends they were covering in other subjects on the curriculum.

Aoife Thomas, Designer:

Our approach to the CRAFTed project at Scoil Bhríde was to explore the children’s chosen theme through the fabric of storytelling. As designer/ maker, I would share knowledge of design and craft processes. Through first developing thematic, cross curricular work in class with teacher Mandi Mc Daid, the group was equipped with the stimulus to generate authentic, creative work. They would illustrate their individual thoughts and ideas around the chosen theme in process led classes.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher:

The students collaborated with Aoife and I at the initial meeting stage and offered their ideas as to what theme they would like to work on for their CRAFTed project over the term. There were many similarities in their suggestions and they tied in well with Irish Legends, three of which I planned to cover during the term. So, the theme was set. We embarked on class trips to Glenveagh and Drumboe woods to back up class lessons, collecting natural woodland materials for learning about in class and for use in various art, craft and design activities.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer:

The group compiled visual research, visiting Glenveagh Castle and Drumboe Woods in Donegal as inspiration for our project. Like Finn Mac Cumhaill the group foraged, collecting items of interesting shape, texture and colour: leaves, cones and bark. Alongside studies of three Myths and Legends, the class created drawings, rubbings and studies of their visual research. We incorporated the items collected at a later stage, adding as surface decoration to a large scale group-weaving piece developed by the children. The group imagined the woven piece to represent the cape worn by Finn Mac Cumhaill, hunter gatherer and leader of the Fianna. The project grew and developed in ongoing discussions and through a reflective process, focused around the theme of Myths and Legends. Each child could choose what element of the theme they wished to focus on whilst actively learning a new process.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

The children studied a selection of Irish Legends in preparation for our work with Aoife. These included Setanta – CúChulainn, Oisin and Niamh in Tír na nÓg and Fionn MacCumhaill.

Aoife supplied materials for each visit and for learning a new process. Aoife explained the creative processes involved, in steps. As teacher, I clarified these instructions where necessary and together, Aoife and I supported the children as necessary in their work.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

The success of this project for the collaborators lay in the group’s exposure to a number of new ways of sharing and illustrating individual ideas. The children could see that there were new and interesting ways to create work by hand in fabric and fibre through learning a new process in a supportive and encouraging environment. The teacher had a great relationship with the children which I think laid the foundation for the child led development of the project.

Meeting the children and teacher Mandi Mc Daid prior to commencing our project in order to have a group brainstorming session, allowed the children to direct the project from the outset. It offered a chance for each voice to be heard with support from the designer and teacher when setting the aims of the collaborative project with the children.

Having created initial work on the theme through complimentary studies, the children had many ideas for what they wanted to create or illustrate when learning a new process. As a group, we moved forward together in steps in active learning. This method allowed time for the teacher, classroom assistant and myself as craftsperson, to support individual children as needed when working on the ‘next step’ in the process. This approach gave the children an opportunity to help and support each other as equal collaborators and contributors on this project.

Documentation of the process led approach was challenging at times. The approach was child centred with a focus on each participant being happy, content and engaged in their process led work within a supportive environment. Due to this, at an opportune moment we would capture elements of the process led environment through photography.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

It was lovely to see the children expressing their knowledge of the Irish Legends in such a unique way, exploring textures, fabrics and fibers; experimenting with skills that were new to them. I have gained knowledge and confidence in new art techniques that I will be able to use in my own future teaching also. It was lovely to work with Aoife, an expert in the area of fabric and fiber, which is an area of the arts curriculum that sometimes feels neglected due to lack of resources, ideas or expertise.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

As an arts and craft enthusiast in the classroom, Mandi was interested in gaining knowledge and inspiration for the Fabric and Fibre strand as it was an area she wanted to build upon personally. For this reason, our aims and objectives for the project included that each child would explore a number of different processes, and that teacher Mandi would gain inspiration for delivering future lesson plans in fabric and fibre.

The children were familiar with voicing their ideas and were familiar with creating their own individual work. They could question and suggest ideas with confidence. This allowed for us to explore many different processes in an authentic and meaningful way.

Due to Mandi’s cross curricular approach in the classroom, the children could bring together knowledge, ideas and creative process to illustrate their thoughts using new found methods within a process led environment.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

Following the showcase for CRAFTed along with other schools and artists in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, the children have since displayed their project work in our own school to share the project with other classes and teachers. In this way, the ideas and skills developed in our classroom were made accessible to all other classes. It gave the children a chance to review their work and explain about how their work was created and the processes involved, to the other children in the school.

The CRAFTed experience was very enjoyable and educational for all involved in our school.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

Each interaction in a learning environment has an impact on my personal practice as I am constantly learning regarding methods and approaches to take forward.

From gaining newfound inspiration in working with a new group on a particular process or gaining inspiration from the sheer enthusiasm from participants when discovering the output as they learn a new craft or design process; working on creative collaborations has a profound impact on my professional practice and continuing professional development.

Each collaborator shares their own experience and approach when working on a project, meaning there are resounding benefits in every new collaboration.

In particular, with this collaboration I benefited personally from working with Teacher, Mandi and her 3rd class group. Teacher Mandi Mc Daid had a child-centred focus established within the classroom and this aligned with the aims of CRAFTed in enabling each child to develop their natural abilities in a supportive and fun environment. Providing all those who engaged with the project with skills for life through positive, collaborative engagement.

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Date: 11 – 20 February 

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre invites toddler groups, playschools, junior and senior infants to a guided experience of Art in Action. An interactive exhibition where artists have used images, objects, actions to communicate with their surrounding world.

An interactive, multimedia exhibition for children with work by Basia Bańda + Tomasz Relewicz, Ewa Bone + Ewa Kozubal, Tomasz Madajczak, Krzysztof Matuszak, Aleksandra Ska and Hubert Wińczyk. Curated by Bartosz Nowak in collaboration with MOS: Municipal Art Centre, Gorzów Wielkopolsk, Poland. http://www.mosart.pl/ wystawy-2019/detail,nID,6164

This exhibition is a meeting of children and artists. The eight visual artists included in the exhibition have created interactive artworks that involve children in the co-creation of the works presented in the gallery. Encouraging children to participate in their construction and reconstruction allows them to experience artistic processes in action.

The exhibition and accompanying events are focused on enabling children to develop creativity, self-confidence and curiosity, explore the world, to communicate and to think critically, demonstrating that art is primarily a way of experiencing and building mutual relations with the environment, other people and oneself

Your group can book a guided experience led by one of the exhibiting artists Tomasz Madajczak. Group bookings are free of charge and can be made by telephone on 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

 

EVA International

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information go to www.eva.ie

Grow from Seeds Programme

Date: 17 January 2020

The Grow from Seeds project intends to provide a programme designed to foster intercultural dialogue in Primary Schools recognising European Parliament priorities to address anti-social behaviour through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and the empowerment and participation of pupils. The methodology used to deliver this education programme adopts multiple strands of Creative Drama, storytelling and performing arts which are proven to be highly motivating, multi-sensory and active learning tools. The Grow from Seeds project engages partners from Ireland, Germany and France, and is supported by Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.

Teachers, policy makers, researchers, artists, drama practitioners and academics are invited to attend the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools to explore new ways of understanding Intercultural Education in Primary Schools and the use of the creative arts as a tool to foster intercultural dialogue in primary schools..

Keynote Address

The conference event will include a keynote talk from Joe Little, RTÉ Religious and Social Affairs correspondent. The event will also showcase the work from the Grow from Seeds project as well as presentations and contributions from practitioners and educators through a panel discussion.

Venue: Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

Date: 17th January 2020, 9.30am registration

RSVP by January 6th to educate@gaietyschool.com

 

 

The Hunt Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Glucksman

Dates: 14-26 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Museum of Literature Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fingal County Council Arts Office

Date: 29 October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date & Time:  

Tuesday 29 October 2019, 10am – 3pm

Location:

Draíocht, Blanchardstown

Facilitator:

Artist Jane Fogarty

The Ark 

Dates: 10 October – 2 November 2019

The Ark invites schools to the world premiere of a brand new show by Wayne Jordan and Tom Lane for Ages 8+.

Labhraidh Loingseach has a secret. He wears his hair long and he has it cut only once a year. Once a year on the same night in the same place and in the same style. But never by the same barber.

The Haircut is a cautionary tale with a live musical soundtrack. The Haircut is a fairytale remixed and retold.

The Haircut is a play about secrets and about creativity stifled. About fighting for what you believe in and standing up to power.

About music and magic and hair.

Set in a magical modern day Ireland, The Haircut is a new commission written by Wayne Jordan, delivered with ineffable charm by bright new talent Thommas Kane Byrne and accompanied by Tom Lane’s vibrant score played by three outstanding musicians.

Classroom Activity Pack

A new Classroom Activity Pack is available for teachers is available to download to accompany the production.  Created by Joanna Parkes and Anita Mahon – renowned specialist facilitators for educational drama and music programmes – the pack uses the show’s rich themes and ideas as a starting point for a range of engaging classroom activities and is a useful resource to teachers, whether or not they have seen the performance.

To download the full Classroom Activity Pack for The Haircut! go to ark.ie/news/post/just-released-the-haircut-classroom-activity-pack

Dates & Times

10 October – 2 November

School Days
Wednesday 16, Friday 18, & Wednesday 23, Friday 25 Oct @ 10.15am & 12.15pm

Mid-Term Break
Tuesday 29 October – Friday 1 November @ 2pm
Wednesday 30 October @ 7pm

Relaxed Performance Wednesday 30 October @ 2pm

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/the-haircut

 

 

 

The Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

This final blog post is from Joan Whelan, the Chairperson of the Irish Forest School Association. She  reflects on the opportunities  within Forest School for adults to reaffirm their own creativity in their approach to teaching, drawing on her experience of introducing Forest School to the primary school where she was principal and on her current PhD research on the distinctiveness of Forest School as a pedagogical approach.              

“Lie down, lie down, that way is best” – Blog 4

Participating in a Forest School (FS) session recently with a group of senior infants, I had one of those ‘light-bulb’ moments that happen every now and again and give pause for thought. Our eyes had been drawn towards the tree canopy by the fleeting sight of a grey squirrel bounding up the trunk of a scots pine.

‘Lie down, lie down,’ urged one of the children in a commanding but quiet voice. ‘That way is best’.

And we did. We lay down. Three 6-year olds and myself, flat out on the damp slightly muddy floor of a small and not very loved corner of woodland in Dublin city.  And there was quiet, as we searched the tree canopy for the elusive squirrel, for perhaps a minute. Later that same day, having made charcoals from the leftover embers of the fire, a child asked to finger paint stripes on my face…and I had no hesitation.  The experience remained with me.
I realised that in 36 years of teaching, I had never fully encountered this kind of immersive, embodied, child-initiated experience that felt very powerful and right.  And I thought myself progressive and innovative as a teacher.  What made this possible? Was it being in nature? Was it being suitably attired? Was it the small group? Was it the opportunities for child-led activity? Was it the leadership of the FS leader? Was it the safety that the session provided to explore and to ‘be’? Was it all of these?

It seems to me that a very profound opportunity exists for adults to reflect on their practice through participation in FS.  We cannot promote creativity in children without being open to making new connections for meaning as adults. FS gives us permission to take a step aside, unlocking a more playful approach to learning which in turn promotes curiosity, exploration and innovative cross curricular connections that surely comprise the possibility for deep and creative connection and meaning making across the curriculum. FS seems to enable us to move from being teachers and pupils to being learners together.

In the context of the Arts in Education, FS provides a foundational, cross curricular pedagogical approach. The woodland provides the tools to enable risks to be taken safely, curiosity to be satisfied and boundaries to be tested. The transformative nature of this kind of learning for wellbeing, creativity and innovation is not easily accessible elsewhere in formal learning contexts. In an era of increasing focus on outcomes, rather than process, FS can help re-position children and adults, not the curriculum, at the core of deeper learning in the primary school.  FS pedagogy can help to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between the human world and the natural world, a theoretical thread that can be traced back to Rousseau, who regarded a connection to nature as fundamental to optimal human functioning.  However, FS must be approached within a theory of change perspective. In other words, the importance of school communities articulating a vision for their pedagogical approach, based on their educational purpose, is non-negotiable.

And when was the last time you placed your hands in wet mud?

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards

Deadline: Tuesday 21 January 2020

INSPA 2019/20 sees the third open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. This year, the awards are brought to you by the INSPA team in partnership with ReCreate.ie, FujiFilm Instax Camera’s and the Amber Springs Resort Hotel.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free entry to the Amber Springs Easter Train Experience for the overall winner and their classmates, FujiFilm INSTAX cameras for winners and their schools, a year’s membership for the winning school to ReCreate’s ‘Warehouse of Wonders’, a two night stay in the Amber Springs for the Principal of the winning school, a one night stay in the Amber Springs for the teacher of the winning class, INSPA certificates, framed photographs and an #INSPAsmiles School Photography Fundraising Day in aid of the 2019/20 charity theme partner; ReCreate.ie

This year’s theme is titled ‘Second Life’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day, allowing their students explore their classrooms, corridors and schoolyards. We are specifically looking for fun images that focus on the wonders of waste while utilising the creative techniques of photography to transform spaces/places or give a new lease of life to familiar objects/things.

All entries will be judged by a national panel including Cristín Leach (Art Critic: The Sunday Times Ireland), Feargal Brougham (INTO President), Cathy Baxter (Manager: Green Schools), Páiric  Clerkin (CEO of IPPN), Anya von Gosseln (Curator & Co-Founder of Kamera8 Gallery), Ángel Luis González Fernández (CEO Photo Ireland Foundation), Mandy O’Neill (Visual Artist) and Richard Carr (Artist & Partnerships Manager for INSPA).

If you think your school has Ireland’s next top creative, all you have to do is register your school at the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie. The deadline for entries is midnight on Tuesday 21st January 2020. However, make sure you register your school asap to give yourself time to activate your school account and upload your students’ entries.

For further information go to www.inspa.ie

 

The Glucksman

Date: 19 October 2019

Join curators, academics and artists as we explore the new Glucksman digital toolkit for educators. In this masterclass, teachers will investigate ways to engage their students in artistic processes that creatively encounter, explore and understand our responsibility towards the environment.

Current issues of education and communication of climate change and sustainability are complex, multi-faceted and potentially overwhelming unless the problems can be scaled down and re-framed. This masterclass focuses on peatlands, an important part of our biodiversity and an example of ways that individual and collective effort can be valuable for climate action.

Date & Time: Saturday 19 October 2019, 10am -1pm

Places are Free but booking is required.

For further information and booking go to www.glucksman.org/events/art-teachers-masterclass

The Ark 

Date: 16 November 2019 

The Ark are delighted to invite Primary School educators to join dance educator Emma O’Kane for this enjoyable CPD course that to deepen and expand the understanding of Dance within the P.E. curriculum with an emphasis on creativity. In a relaxed and playful atmosphere teachers will be provided with the necessary tools to deliver dance activity with confidence for all ages and classes. The course will demystify dance for teachers and focus on the exploration, creation and performance of dance through easy exercises and manageable approaches.

Working within an integrative approach the course will explore how dance can also support learning across the curriculum in relation to SPHE, English and other subjects.

Suitable for all levels of confidence. No experience necessary.

Date & Time: Saturday 16 November, 10.30am-1.30pm

For further details and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-creative-dance

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

Initially in 2017, Cleo Fagan, curator of Superprojects, approached Maeve Mulrennan, curator of Galway Arts Centre about doing a project for children that explored the body and consciousness.  Out of this conversation, the idea for working with the artist Siobhan McGibbon emerged, who had previously worked with young audiences as part of GAC’s Red Bird Collective. Siobhan’s work very much centres on the human body and she has extensive experience working with children and young people. Galway Arts Centre have worked with Scoil Chroí Íosa previously and the close proximity to GAC, combined with their enthusiasm for working on arts projects and the efforts and skills of the students themselves, made the school the ideal partner to work with.

Working over 9 sessions, Siobhan and the students have used collage and sculpture to explore transhuman themes, resulting in an exhibition (15th – 27th October 2018) in Galway Arts Centre for Baboró International Arts Festival for Children.

Siobhan McGibbon’s own practice combines arts practice, narrative and scientific research to imagine the future of the human species. In 2015 she created the world of the Xenothorpeans, a hybrid race of post-humans who were able to enhance their anatomy and genetic make-up with medical therapies. This fictional narrative evolved from research undertaken by her whilst on residency in the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM). Through the development of hybrid figures she articulates her hopes and fears concerning medical technology and the future of the human.

With this in mind, she has worked collaboratively with the pupils from Scoil Chroí to develop a speculative science fiction. This work was exhibited in Galway Arts Centre in October 2018. As a way to further expand on and explore the ideas in Siobhan and the children’s work, Education curator Katy Fitzpatrick and Professor of Education Aislinn O’Donnell worked with Siobhan to develop a series of creative, experiential workshops in response the exhibition at Galway Arts Centre. These were supported by the children-artists from Scoil Chroí Íosa who were joined by  2nd and 5th Class students from another local Galway school – Claddagh NS. The Art & Philosophy workshops developed an experimental range of exercises that were centred on the voice, ideas, experiences, and imaginations of children as they responded to work in the exhibition and the ideas provoked by that encounter.

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

As a starting point, I introduced the students to my practice. I talked about the origins of my ideas, explaining how I take inspiration from the biological sciences and use narrative and animal metaphors to think about what this research means.  I told the class that a scientist would host a workshop about the regenerative capacity of sea animals and together we would respond to the science through storytelling.

In the initial stage, we talked about domestic animals and thought about the way dogs and cats live in the world. We thought about how these animals are similar and different to humans. As many of the students have cats and dogs as pets, they had lots to contribute. It was an accessible model to think about different ways of being in the world.

Following this, the scientist from CURAM hosted an interactive workshop, in which the students learnt about emerging science inspired by animal biology. The workshop involved lots of discussions, including all the students, class teacher Rachel and me. In the workshops after this, we thought about how this new science could change their lives. Through drawing and storytelling, we thought about the consequences of regeneration and immortality through speculative scenarios.

As the project developed, we explored case studies of more unusual animals that contribute to medical research, through a presentation of video clips, images and facts we thought about what life would be like if we were a hybrid of this animal. Each student explored this through drawing, collage and storytelling, which they presented it to the class. Following this, the class asked questions about the story and, together with teacher Rachel, we teased out the ideas that arose from these artworks. These group discussions led the workshops in new directions, new insights from each animal study contributed to the next, and in each workshop, we delved deeper into speculative ways being.

The Art and Philosophy Project involved working with Katy and Aislinn to respond to the rich and complex range of ideas and imagery that was generated through the school’s residency.

Education curator Katy Fitzpatrick and Professor of Education Aislinn O’Donnell

Through diverse arts-based, sensory, and philosophical methodologies, the children and their teachers: experienced the exhibition through a range of lens. These ranged from VTS and inquiry based philosophical approaches, considering the key concepts within the work, to children putting themselves imaginatively in the shoes of a chosen hybrid, generating choreographies to express that identity, engaging in sensation, touch and blind drawing exercises, debating whether it’s better to be a jellyfish that is immortal or a human who dies, and doing meditation exercises imagining the sensory experience of being starfish or a frog. The exercises supported a deeper engagement with the exhibition and opened up their imaginations and thinking. It was important to involve the children who had created the work in the school project, to describe their engagement in making the work, but also to co-facilitate and actively take part themselves, in particular in facilitating the philosophical conversations about ‘big questions’.

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

Cleo Fagan, Curator

I think Siobhan as an artist who has such an imaginative and research-based art practice, works really well in the primary educational context. Siobhan’s research includes the analysis of animal biology and behaviour and then makes big imaginative leaps that lead to strange but fascinating speculative conclusions. The way children think is highly imaginative and they often love the peculiar, so what better people to go on an artistic journey into the world of transhumanism! I think it’s very exciting to engage children in such a complex and rich area of research. Not only does Siobhan have these highly relevant research interests, but she also has strong interpersonal skills and a good sense of humour – very useful qualities for working with  children.

The Art & Philosophy programme in Galway Arts Centre, worked with students from Claddagh NS, as well as some of the original Scoil Chroí Íosa students (co-creators of the exhibited artworks and in this instance they supported in a co-facilitation role). This enquiry was another project in itself. The programme used a number of different learning methodologies, to provide students the opportunity to develop their own considered responses to the artworks, as well as the ensuing big ideas that led from this process of engaging with the artworks. This excellent and intricate programme took the students on a dynamic intellectual and creative journey, a process that is well illustrated in the documentation film.

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

‘Explorations of hybrid configurations from mythology to science fiction underpin my practice. I’m interested in the symbolism and metaphor embedded within the iconography and the hybrids endless mutability to think about ways of being in the world and alternative ways of being in the future.

This was the first time I explored this ‘framework for thinking’ with children. Each student created hybrids that embodied their ideas and speculations about the emerging science that they learnt in the workshop with the scientist.

I was amazed at how quickly the students grasped the concept and I was delighted by their dynamic hybrids. It was fascinating to listen to their science-fiction narratives, in which they placed their own experience at the centre and imagined the future. Each student had different approaches to thinking with their hybrids; some created hybrid languages while others thought about what it would be like to move with these re-configured anatomies.’

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

At the moment I am in a phase of Phd research, so until I go back into the studio I won’t know the answer to this!

Cleo Fagan, Curator

Yes, working in the combined classroom and gallery context has resulted in some insights on making work for the public, that I think may enhance future work in this area.

In reading research studies on art education over the years, it has come to my attention that children and young people can get more meaning from artmaking activities when they exhibit the resulting work in public. As mentioned, as part of the project, the children had their work exhibited in the main space at Galway Arts Centre, and they took evident pride in this.  I believe that the Art & Philosophy programme further enhanced the meaningfulness for the participating children in having their work exhibited publicly, in that it allowed them to collectively and discursively investigate the potential experience of art for the viewer and the type of intellectual and creative journey that encountering an artwork can stimulate. The fact that some of the Scoil Chroi Iosa children had an active facilitation role with the children from Claddagh NS, was also significant.

The danger of working towards an outcome such as a public exhibition, is that the focus can be on the product, and not on the process. However, as Siobhan had 9 full sessions with the students in which to develop a significant creative enquiry, and perhaps because the children didn’t have clear ideas about what an art exhibition was, they remained engaged in the creative process in each session.

In my work as a curator, I would like to continue to work with this balance between quality of process, co-creation between artists and children, and public outcome.

 

 

Galway Educate Together National School

Dates; deadline for application for Stage One is Friday, September 20th 2019 at 12 noon

Galway Educate Together National School invites proposals for the commission of an artwork/artworks to be funded under the Per Cent for Art Scheme in connection with Galway Educate Together National School, Thomas Hynes Road, Newcastle, Galway. Artists are invited to tender for the project in a two-stage process outlined in the attached brief. Proposals are welcome from both individuals and collectives, and from those working in any creative media/discipline and across a broad scope of creative approaches. The overall budget for this commission is €35,000 including V.A.T.

Deadline for application for Stage One is Friday September 20th 2019 at 12 Noon. Please see the attached Brief and Expression of Interest Form

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Reflecting on the first year of Creative Schools – Blog 4

Alongside the workshops that we held during May and June, the Creative Schools Teacher committee had come up with a Menu of Activities to accompany the workshops. The Children’s Panel also came together to add their suggestions for the Menu. This Menu was designed to be a list of easy classroom activities that the teachers could engage in at times and days of their choosing, to compliment activities that they may have been thinking of doing anyway. All of the activities were based on our theme of Food, Cooking and Nature. Some of the activities included links to Food Science websites; inviting parents into classroom to engage in cooking activities; ideas for nature based art; healthy shared lunches and forest and beach picnics. A copy of this Menu was delivered to each classroom for a four week period and all teachers were encouraged to engage with the programme.

During the last week of term, we invited our children’s panel to come and give us some feedback on the programme and how it was for them. Yvonne laid out big sheets of paper and had specific questions to provide information she was looking for. This proved a very fruitful if not a humbling experience. Each classroom and each class level had experienced varying levels of engagement with the programme, depending on each classes packed schedule. Therefore, the children all had varying feedback. As we all know children to be, the feedback was honest, and some of it wasn’t all that flattering!

As a whole jigsaw piece, the Creative Schools programme was successful in its aims and objectives for this year. But when you break the jigsaw into individual pieces, it didn’t feel that that success had filtered down to all of the children in all of the classes. This was disappointing for both myself and Yvonne, as there had been a huge investment in the programme all year. It’s all about the children at the end of the day, and if the children didn’t benefit, well then there were questions to be asked. Myself and Yvonne had a good chat about it all, and agreed that if we had decided to focus in on one class grouping for example, and showered all of our Creative Schools programme on just those children then undoubtedly the feedback may have been different, but that is not what we chose to do. Instead, we needed to focus on the whole completed jigsaw, celebrate the success and look ahead to how we can build on it next year.

We intend our focus next year to switch to teachers professional development in creative practices. We see a great opportunity next year to spend our time researching cross curricular creative practices, as we feel that in order for maximum children to benefit from the Creative Schools Programme, we need to up skill our own practices and thus all children will benefit. We feel very excited about this new aspect to the programme and we are looking forward to continuing this creative journey next year

Yvonne

Yvonne Cullivan is a visual artist and educator based in the West of Ireland. She has fifteen years experience in Fine Art practice, Arts Education, Public & Participatory Arts and Arts Management. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, and an M.Sc. in Multimedia from Dublin City University. Yvonne is a Lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, on the First Year Fine Art & Design Programme and in the Fine Art Media Department. She is also currently engaged as a Creative Associate with the Creative Schools Programme.


Working across a broad range of documentary-style media, including sound, video, photography, interview/conversation, drawing and writing, Yvonne’s practice is underpinned by a strong participatory and collaborative approach. She often works within communities of place, rooting the engagement in site-specific research and interdisciplinary knowledge generation. Sustained processes of observation, documentation, collaboration and experiential engagement with place, lead to the creation of new work that is reflective of, appropriate to and shaped by the process.

 

Blog 4 – Reflect and Refine

My first year working as a Creative Associate on the Creative Schools Programme with my three allocated schools has ended. Nothing feels finished however; it feels as if we are just starting. While creative activities took place in each school as a direct result of the consultation process, I view this years work as research and development and I won’t be surprised if year two feels like more R&D. The consultation process in each case was very thorough and the conversations with the coordinators and, less frequent but equally important, with management, were robust and wide-reaching. Through evaluation with a selection of children from each school, for the most part, they report having both enjoyed and learned from their participation in the programme so far.

In my mind, the role of the Creative Associate is to assist in embedding creative approaches to teaching and learning (one could say to thinking and being) within the school environment. Reflecting on this, it would be easy to be disappointed with the years work, it falls far short of achieving that aim. There were small disappointments; not all teachers participated in the organised activities, not all children made the connection between the opinions they put forward in the consultation process and the resulting activities that they participated in, some of the planned activities didn’t materialise, some people didn’t enjoy the activities. There were larger logistical issues at play too; the late commencement of the programme combined with the lengthy intensive consultation process meant that most activities took place at the very time of year when schools are most busy. This had the most impact at G.E.T.N.S. where we developed and implemented an ambitious whole school programme of activities in May and June. The whole school cohesiveness we needed to realise the holistic nature of this programme got lost in the end of year ether. I choose to reflect on all of this as learning.

My three schools and I are building relationships together, we are reaching levels of understanding, finding out what works and what doesn’t in each setting. We are journeying. As a result of this long-term attitude and shared vision for trying to go a level deeper into creativity within the school environment, we have clear pointers for 2019/20. A large part of our work together will be investing in creative professional development for teachers. This would appear to be the most necessary and sustainable use of our time together. Our main challenges will be freeing up staff time and reaching beyond the arts curriculum. G.E.T.N.S. will engage in a Per Cent for Art project that will hopefully build, in a very exciting way, on our work together this year; the boys at Athenry are leading us toward a programme around creative play and the outdoor environment; Eglish are going to further their digital skills acquisition. The process is creative and child-led and this makes sense to me.

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

In full swing – Blog 3

School days in May and especially June are incredibly busy. It always seems to creep up unexpectedly, but yet every year is the same! This business presented our biggest challenge when it came to implementing our Creative Schools programme. Starting up a creative programme for the whole school community at the same time and at this time of the year isn’t ideal. Myself and Yvonne had made a conscious decision that every single child would have access to the creative programme, and thus we spread it over 15 classrooms and over 400 children, rather than focusing in on a smaller cohert of children, and delivering a more comprehensive, focused programme. We decided this because we felt it was in line with our ethos of equality and inclusion and we didn’t want there to be a feeling that some children were accessing the creative schools programme when others were not. The reality of this decision was that we had to try hard to fit everything in to what was an already packed end of year schedule.  There were successes, but undoubtedly there were also some disappointments.

The stand alone workshops were a great success. The infant classes had workshops with Down to Earth Forest schools, who demonstrated wonderfully creative ways to use our outdoor school environment to engage the children. First Class had workshops related to the importance of bees and pollination. Second Class went to visit an organic farm and brought back with them a box of organic vegetables that they cooked up creatively. Third Class designed nests for bees, and designed an outdoor area for sowing wildflower seeds. Fourth and Fifth classes visited woods near our schools and managed to forage over 15 different types of plants growing in our woods. Afterwards, they made some tinctures and elderflower cordial from their pickings. Sixth class had a workshop with Yvonne, discussing food production and the methods that Yvonne used to create her visual short film.


The workshops brought a great buzz to each class level and certainly opened the children’s minds to environmental issues as well as seeing how to creatively utilise the resources that we have easy access to in our immediate environment. Feedback for the workshops was universally positive from the children. We held a feedback meeting with the children’s creative committee and I will discuss the outcomes from this feedback meeting in the next blogpost.

The Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

Angie Kinsella of Nature Way (www.naturway.ieis a passionate Forest School leader and sustainability teacher who have a firm belief in nature pedagogy. Angie feels that connecting with nature on an experiential level and encouraging learning in the outdoors is becoming ever more important in this increasingly digital age. Angie also works for Heritage in Schools.

Creative Experiences in a year at Forest School – Blog 3

Creative experiences this year at Forest School took on a slightly different feel for me and the children.  I chose to fully immerse myself into celebrating and living with and through the Celtic calendar, also known as the Celtic Wheel. The Celtic calendar is focused on the cyclical change of seasons.  Seasonal changes were very important to the Celts, who depended on the Wheel of the Year to dictate when to plough, sow, harvest, and rest.  The turning of the Wheel represents the continuing birth, death and rebirth of nature. I felt the integration of this ancient way of being was appropriate for how I wanted to work in Forest School this year. I felt it was a helpful tool to inspire us to re-member, re-claim and re-weave our ancient heritage and what better place to share this than within the holding of the forest.

September was the return to school for children and also the month where we begin a new cycle around the Celtic Wheel.  I started a long-term Forest School programme in the West of Ireland at the beginning of September. The first few weeks we entered into the woods and the children started to get to know the lay of the land. The forest floor still had plenty of flora present and the trees were full of leaves. The days were mostly warm and bright which helps, I feel, on many levels for myself, the children and their teachers.

I was met with a huge diversity of cultures within this group of children, which was such a delight; to witness the universal language of play that softly unfolds in a natural setting with the support of the Forest School principles. I witnessed children whose language skills may have been a challenge in a classroom setting blossoming in this environment. Some of these children had never been to a forest although it was only 10 minutes away from their school.

One girl joined us each week in her wheelchair with the incredible support and encouragement of her school teachers who were determined to make Forest School  all-inclusive.

She would often spend time with other students crafting, or sometimes just take time out to relax in the hammock. There was always allocated time for free play. To climb trees, build forts, whittle sticks, or simple take time to be in the forest, alone or in groups, to relax in the hammock, to enjoy the canopy of the trees.

As we moved into October, I began to share and explore through fireside stories and crafts the meaning of Samhain, more commonly known as Halloween. I shared with the children how on this land we once celebrated ‘New Year’ at this time, how we honoured our ancestors, and how it was time to prepare ourselves for the winter ahead.

We made incredible sand helters stick skeletons. We whittled wands and swords and bows and arrows. We developed our fire lighting skills. We learned about wild foods and how to prepare wild foraged teas and cook feasts on the fire. We also explored how the fauna and flora of the land are preparing themselves and responding to the changing seasons. We crafted hapa zome (eco plant printing) with autumn berries, an explosion of colour. We also made nature journals so we could take note of the changes in the woods through drawing and words.

Each week that we met I asked the children to keep a close eye out and to feel the changes they noticed. As the leaves started to change colour on the trees and drop, I could certainly sense Nature starting to drop back into the underground. As the months passed and the darkness grew, I observed a shift in all our energy.

And then through Spring and now as the wheel continues through this time of blossom where we come close to Summer solstice. I feel the calling to play more energetic games and crafts that weave in the summer flora and fauna. I have learnt and continue to grow through this creative journey in the forest, in rhythm with the Celtic Wheel.

I recently received this feedback from a teacher who attended some of these sessions with her class. “The children grew mentally, physically and emotionally. They laughed and cried and sang and screeched and splashed and pushed themselves and explored and shared and learned so much about themselves and each other.” I feel this is a wonderful summary of our time in Forest School and the possibility it offers for creative expression for children, and for adults.

The Ark

Dates: 12 – 16 August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Getting the Show on the Road….. – Blog 2

This second part of the process, putting together a programme of events on our theme of Food, Cooking and Nature, is a really exciting and energising process. It felt like it took such a long time to get to the point of settling on a theme that reflected the needs and wants of the children, their parents, and school staff. There was so much to choose from, the net was very wide. When we finally settled on the theme, it was really exciting to be able to brainstorm and come up with ideas that would reflect the needs of the school community in a programme of activities.

Yvonne had been busy behind the scenes putting the feelers out and getting in touch with artists and professionals working in these circles. All of the professionals that Yvonne contacted were very enthusiastic about participating in the Creative Schools Programme and delighted to link in with our primary school in a sustainable way. We have now arranged for every class level to have a workshop/trip off site, which could only have been achieved as a result of the funding we received as part of this process. We are very grateful to have had access to this funding and it’s a wonderful asset to have for our second year programme as well. Through these workshops the children will be bug hunting, foraging in our local woods, making tinctures, becoming Bee Aware and making our school grounds pollinator friendly, visiting an Organic Farm and a workshop with Yvonne on some short films she made around the butter making process.

Our Creative Schools panel of teachers and children also brainstormed together and came up with a “Menu of Activities” (pardon the pun!) that every classroom can engage with over the next few weeks. These activities range from Science experiments with food items, setting classroom up as a restaurant and having a healthy shared lunch; inviting parents in to classroom to bake with the children or to share their skills, screenings of food related programmes and documentaries. We are hoping to document the activities that the children are engaging in over the next couple of weeks so that we can celebrate this creativity when we come back after the summer holidays. It’s going to be an action packed few weeks and we are looking forward to it immensely!

Lucy Elvis is a director of CURO, a not-for-profit organisation committed to public philosophy. CURO helps communities think together more effectively by inviting them to become Communities of Philosophical Inquiry. CURO works in schools, libraries, galleries and festivals as well as organising clubs and camps that include scholarship streams for children from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds. They like to get people thinking in places where they least expect it and to listen to the ‘big ideas’ that matter to groups who often aren’t given a voice.

When Lucy isn’t engaged in public philosophy, she is completing her PhD thesis and lecturing in Philosophy at NUI Galway. She is also an independent visual art curator and a board member of the TULCA Festival of Visual Art.

Talking about thinking and thinking about Talking – Blog 2

Sometimes, our young philosophers’ work can appear deceptively low tech. Walk in on a CPI (a community of philosophical inquiry) and you’ll find children sitting in a circle, some speaking, some listening and sometimes a cuddly toy, or a ball being used to indicate who should be talking. But, in these seemingly straight-forward talking shops, mind-bending ideas are explained, exchanged, and even worlds reimagined.

So far, so not-so-different from ‘circle time,’ right? However, there’s much more happening in philosophical dialogue than ‘talking.’ Unlike conversation, where I might share some news, and then hear from someone else, content in the CPI is anchored in a philosophical question (a ‘big’ ‘tricky’ ‘contestable’ and ‘open’ question) that the community have voted on together. In the CPI our learners are trying to solve ‘big problems’ together. This requires careful critical thinking before making a contribution. In answering big questions like ‘Should we always be punished for stealing?’ I have to decide my overall position (yes/no) and the reason why I think so.

If the only goal of a CPI were sharing opinions, then the result would be a straight-forward debate. But, undertaking philosophical inquiry together, means finding the best possible answer we can to our ‘big question’- a tally of yesses and nos won’t cut it. We will have to test the consequences of any overall position we adopt, and this might mean imagining scenarios, (‘what about stealing something small from your sister?) adjusting them, (‘what about stealing something back?) or clarifying what you mean by using analogies to point at similarities and differences (‘stealing something back is like creating fairness.’*)

The creativity described here needs critical thinking too, to support the new possibilities it imagines, and to create boundaries for creative thinking to ‘go-beyond.’ Because of the ways being critical and creative work together, the CPI allows our young learners to see how thinking from radically different areas of the curriculum work together, and how, scientific discovery and creative expression are both united by care and curiosity that powers our passion to ‘find out more.’

The CPI is a place for talking through, exploring and building possible answers together. Making thinking about concepts or big questions’ share-able’ can be a challenge, and demands creativity, and a rethinking of what ‘being creative’ can be, if we can move from just sharing ideas to making and revising them together.

*The examples here are based on a workshop with Ballyroan National School, at Ballyroan Library, who asked the question: ‘Should we be punished for stealing’ after they read ‘The Whopper’ by Rebecca Ashdowne together.

Yvonne

Yvonne Cullivan is a visual artist and educator based in the West of Ireland. She has fifteen years experience in Fine Art practice, Arts Education, Public & Participatory Arts and Arts Management. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, and an M.Sc. in Multimedia from Dublin City University. Yvonne is a Lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, on the First Year Fine Art & Design Programme and in the Fine Art Media Department. She is also currently engaged as a Creative Associate with the Creative Schools Programme.


Working across a broad range of documentary-style media, including sound, video, photography, interview/conversation, drawing and writing, Yvonne’s practice is underpinned by a strong participatory and collaborative approach. She often works within communities of place, rooting the engagement in site-specific research and interdisciplinary knowledge generation. Sustained processes of observation, documentation, collaboration and experiential engagement with place, lead to the creation of new work that is reflective of, appropriate to and shaped by the process.

 

Collate and Prioritise – Blog 2

I collected a lot of information from the schools I have been working with as part of my role as Creative Associate on the Creative Schools Programme; written notes, visuals, statistics, survey information. The biggest school (Galway Educate Together on Newcastle Road) has over 500 pupils and 50 staff. Regardless of the size of the school, everyone was asked for their opinions. This took time and investment from myself, the coordinators, staff, voluntary Children’s Creativity Panels and, at G.E.T.N.S., a voluntary Staff Creativity Panel. Questions were asked such as: What are the challenges to being creative in the classroom? What are the opportunities for this Creative Schools Programme? If you were the principle of this school and had money to spend, what creative things would you spend it on? Age-appropriate surveys were completed with in-depth questions regarding the level of engagement with creativity in the classroom, staff planning, allocation of funding, parental awareness of creative activities etc. There were votes, by all parties, in relation to areas of interest and creative media to explore. Everywhere I went I brought colored sharpies and hundreds of colored post-its, blue-tack and masking tape, large sheets of paper and visual aids. The workshops were active and inclusive and very enjoyable.

I then worked through the valuable information, stored on sheets and post-its or documented through photographs, in the same way that I would with research for any project; by laying it all out and finding the overlaps and patterns within it. I moved post-its around, joined them with arrows and written notes. Through this process of collating and prioritising (staff were involved to a certain extent during workshops), I produced a visual mind-map for each school. I returned to present the findings and discuss suggestions as to how we might address the prioritised information. My hope in each case was to find a way to marry the medium / media of choice with a methodology through which prioritised learning could be imparted and to also encompass the larger contexts, aims and ambitions, outlined by each school. Context, method, medium, not necessarily in that order, are the three strands that merge to inform and form my own artistic practice and individual projects and are the main elements of my teaching methodology.

There followed a consultative process involving staff, staff panels, children and children’s panels, through which my suggestions were padded and shaped collectively. In each case we made decisions on ‘projects’. These projects have a beginning, middle and end, however they are not stand-alone. Rather, they have been devised as a way to carry experiential learning on a number of levels and to keep this learning open so that it can be expanded upon. They have also been devised in collaboration with specific artists; the ‘who’ is as important as the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. In each case I approached particular people and engaged them in conversations, alone and then with the schools, to further shape what might happen. We are now at that wonderful point where the work is starting to unfold.

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 1 July – 5 July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IFSA Kerry WalkerThe Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

In this second blog post, Kerry Walker talks about how the Forest School principles can be used to unlock creative potential in children (and adults!)

Kerry Walker is a passionate Forest School Practitioner and Art Therapist. Her appreciation for nature and art has brought her on creative journeys around the world. She has facilitated creative arts programmes with a focus on using art and nature as a tool for integration, connection and awareness. Kerry is the co-founder of Down to Earth Forest School, a nature based educational programme where children are supported to learn and create through nature. (www.downtoearthforestschool.com)

Unlocking Creativity through the Forest School Principles – Blog 2

The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. – Loris Malaguzzi

The Irish Forest School Association follows six guiding principles set out by the Forest School Association in the UK in 2011. These principles form the foundation that gives the learner the freedom to choose how they approach challenges and activities in natural spaces.  Forest School, based on these principles, creates a space to encourage and support us to think critically and creatively. I am going to look at each of the principles and highlight how they are key to unlocking and supporting the creative development of children, as well as promoting resilient and independent learners.

In short, Forest School:

 

By using a woodland setting for Forest School sessions, we are providing an open-ended natural environment for the children to explore. The Forest School setting is abundant with sticks, leaves, soil, stones, and many more natural objects. They are materials that can be carried, moved, combined and redesigned – they are what Simon Nicholson (1971) referred to as loose parts. He proposed that access to loose parts encourages children’s creativity and provides a greater range of opportunities (Nicholson, 1971).The woodland setting is also providing the learner with continuous access to the natural environment where they are able to immerse themselves in the creative stimulation that nature so freely provides.

Ensuring that Forest School is a long term process of regular sessions is an important factor. As the sessions are continuous, the children are given time to return to their woodland site on a weekly basis throughout the seasons. With this time, they are afforded the opportunity to work on a certain craft or skill at their pace, and develop and share their own ideas. They are not rushed or told to have a final product; they get to experience the process of creating something over time.

By using a range of learner-centred processes, Forest School aims to create a community for development and learning.It provides a platform for all learning preferences. Play and choice are an integral part of the Forest School learning process, and play is recognised as vital to learning and development at Forest School (FSA, 2011). Child-led play is central to Forest School and play facilitates a creative response in us all.

Promoting holistic development and opportunities for supported risk taking are considered central to Forest School and also to enhancing creativity. Forest School aims to develop, where appropriate, the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner (FSA, 2011). It encourages children to lead activities, it can help improve fine motor skills, promotes self-awareness and gives the child ownership of the sessions. Forest School encourages children to step out of their comfort zone. In doing so, the children are able to become more aware of their physical and mental limits and are more able to assess situations. They are supported to think creatively and to trust themselves.

Qualified FS Practitioners are aware of the importance of child-led activities and so they do not teach or tell children what to do. Instead they provide ideas, activities and resources and facilitate opportunities for children to pursue their interests. Over time this supports the children’s confidence and fosters creative thinking.

By providing children a long-term learning process within a woodland setting, while supporting risk and holistic development, and by creating a community for learning with a qualified practitioner the Forest School principles are key to unlocking and supporting creativity in children.

Gill, Tim, (2007) No Fear: growing up in a risk adverse society

Nicholson, Simon (1971) The Theory of Loose Parts, An Important Principle of Design and Methodology. Open University.

 

 

Baboró 

Dates: 1st – 5th July 2019

Baboró releases final spaces for ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, an EPV approved Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course for educators, therapists and artists.

A limited number of tickets are now available for Baboró’s annual Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course, Drama Tools for the Classroom, taking place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Develop practical, fun and engaging teaching methodologies in this EPV approved CPD course; delivered by teacher, dramatist and facilitator Irene O’Meara, B.Ed., LLSM, MA Drama & Theatre Studies.

The week-long course of workshops is designed for primary school teachers but is also open to educators, therapists, artists and facilitators. It is for those who value the art of communication, empathy and co-operation, and wish to use drama and the creative arts to effectively engage children in teaching a range of topics.

The course will cover all the required teaching methodologies such as Active Learning; Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Discussion and Use of Environment, while also developing skills that can be used in a multitude of settings with many subject areas. Participants will then be guided through the processes of using drama as a methodology that supports the Using, Understanding and Communicating as per the New Primary Language curriculum.

Booking and Event Details:
Course cost of €70.00.
Taking place from 9.30am – 2.00pm Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Tickets available on Eventbrite at bit.ly/2JbUBG0. Places are limited and advanced booking is required.

For further information go to www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2019

This is an EPV Department of Skills and Education approved course and participants will receive a certificate of completion. For further information contact admin@baboro.ie or call 091 562 667

National Gallery of Ireland

Dates: May & June 2019

Spanning 250 years, Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland comprises artworks by fifty artists, exploring the relationship between people and the natural world.

In addition to artists of the past, such as George Barret, Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats, it includes contemporary practitioners like Dorothy Cross, Willie Doherty, Kathy Prendergast and Sean Scully, as well as Niamh O’Malley, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Samuel Laurence Cunnane and others.

Encompassing a range of artistic media and perspectives, this exhibition examines different land types and uses, revealing the significant role artists have played in visualising aspects of human impact on the environment.

Shaping Ireland for Schools

The exhibition presents an opportunity for cross-curricular learning, and the  accompanying schools programme focuses on the environmental issues raised by the exhibition. 

School Tours

Dates: Tuesday – Friday in May & June

Schools from across the island of Ireland can avail of free tours of the exhibition in English and Irish. To book, email tours@ngi.ie or phone + 353 1 663 3510

Primary Schools Workshops

Dates: Tuesdays & Wednesdays in May & June
Time: 10am – 12pm
Cost: €150 per workshop (Max. 30 students per group)

Explore the exhibition with artist Emily Robyn Archer, and discover the important role of bees and other pollinators in the Irish ecosystem. This cross-curricular workshop will take students outside into Merrion Square to creatively explore the local environment. Students will make seedbombs to take home and help spread flowers across Ireland! To book click here

Primary Schools Resource: Art and the Environment

Teacher Sinéad Hall has developed a resource pack inspired by the exhibition, and designed to be used in the classroom, showing how art and creativity can be embedded across the primary curriculum. To download click here.  

For further information and booking go to https://www.nationalgallery.ie/art-and-artists/exhibitions/shaping-ireland-landscapes-irish-art/education-programme

 

 

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Creative Schools:  An Exciting New Journey – Blog 1

Our school was delighted  to hear about this new Creative Schools initiative and were eager for our school to participate. Our school has traditionally been very lucky to have creative teachers and parents who have shared their talents with the children over the years. Schools have changed dramatically over the years, the advent of technology means that the wider world has become much more accessible to children, and any amount of content is now available at the other end of their fingertips. The information presented on the training day for Creative Schools was so relevant and interesting. The notion that 65% of jobs our current cohort will be doing as adults have not yet been created blew my mind. That the World Economic Forum lists Creativity third in the top ten list of skills that our young people will need to navigate their future highlights how much skills development is now required in schools into the future.

We have been working in close collaboration with Yvonne Cullivan, our Creative Associate all year and this has been a great experience for our school. Yvonne has been successfully able to help us as a school identify the relationship we have with creativity through the eyes of the teachers, the children and the parents. What emerged out of that process was that as a school, we have a lot to celebrate, much to communicate and a great roadmap for how we can develop further as a school. There was a huge amount involved in the information gathering stage of the project, due in part to our large school population – surveying, collating and analysing over 1000 opinions was a long process.  We were relieved to hear that there would be another year to engage with the project, as we felt that we would need a lot more time to embed the learning from the information gathering, and having another year next year will allow us to do that.

The outcomes for our school are that all members of the community wish to engage more with creativity and the arts, we wish to engage with each other and the wider community more, we wish to see more cross curricular creativity and we wish to communicate and celebrate the many wonderful aspects of creative work that we already engage in. The children voted to do more work around cooking, nature and horticulture, so myself, Yvonne and the other wonderful teachers on our Creative School committee are currently working to put together a programme to run over the course of May and June. I look forward to sharing how we are getting on in the next blog post!

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

For more information click here.

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP)

Deadline dates vary per region – please contact Local Authority Arts Service 

Announcing a wonderful opportunity for Artists to broaden their practice, receive training and project fees, develop creative partnerships with teachers, and transform the lives of children in every County in Ireland

The Teacher-Artist Partnership CPD programme (TAP) is a Creative Ireland, Department of Education and Skills led and approved Summer Course offering training and in school residency opportunities for artists.

Artists must 

Artists can apply to be part of the programme in the first instance via the Arts Officer of the Local Authority in which the full-time Education Centre is located. Expressions of interest should then be sent to the relevant address of the Local Full-time Education Centre.

Expressions of interest should be in the form of a letter of max 600 words, accompanied by a CV or short Bio with links to images or samples of relevant work. The letter should set out:

  1. Where you trained
  2. A very brief description of your practice
  3. Why you might wish to work in partnership with a teacher and with children in a school setting
  4. What you think qualifies you to take up this opportunity.

Places on this national Creative Ireland CPD initiative, taking place in the local full-time Education Centre training programmes, are limited to four artists per year – 4 Artists per Summer Course. Final decision on offers of places will be taken by the Director of the local Education Centre in collaboration with the Local Authority Arts Office.

For further information including the relevant deadline date for applications contact your Local Authority Arts Service – a list and contact details are available on the Portal Directory here.

All completed Expressions of Interest/Applications must be returned to your Local Education Centre – Education Centre contact details can be found here.

 

The Glucksman

Date: Friday 29th March 2019

The Glucksman is delighted to invite you to join them to mark the culmination of ‘The Classroom Museum’ a project with rural schools in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford on Friday 29th March at 11am. The celebration will be marked by Professor John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Registrar at University College Cork and will be followed by a meet and greet with the participating school students, teachers and with artists Billy Foley, Fiona Kelly and Dara McGrath.

The Classroom Museum initiative enables school children in rural Ireland to participate in an imaginative programme of creative learning based around contemporary artworks from the UCC art collection. Through the short-term loan of artworks and collaborative activities, the children and their teachers have the opportunity to interact with art in their own surroundings and to develop the skills and confidence to express themselves in educational and public contexts. The initiative facilitates the loan of artworks into the classroom space, and develops the presence of this original work through a structured programme of activities with the schoolchildren overseen by the Glucksman’s Senior Curator of Education + Community.  The programme includes a visit by the artist to the school, a collaborative art project by the children and an exhibition of this work in the Glucksman.

This event is an opportunity to recognise the creativity of the young participants and to hear about their journey of creative learning.

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

A partnership project by Fingal County Council & Superprojects

Date: 1st – 5th July 2019

The Artful Classroom is facilitated by Aoife Banim, Anne Bradley, Clare Breen, Catriona Leahy and Beth O’Halloran

This CPD programme The Artful Classroom facilitates primary school teachers to enrich their work in the classroom by exploring contemporary art and architecture, as fascinating resources ripe for use as inspiration and departure points for creative enquiry. Together, the group will explore the national and international practices of artists and architects, through imagery and discussion, and playfully consider how they can be applied to the primary school classroom. Workshop sessions will take place in Draíocht Arts Centre Blanchardstown and The Irish Museum of Modern Art Kilmainham where participants will have an opportunity to explore the work of exciting contemporary artists.

The learning focus will be on processand creative thinking; rather than producing fixed outcomes. Facilitated by Clare Breen, Catriona Leahy, Beth O’Halloran, Anne Bradley and Aoife Banim, the course draws on the expertise of both teachers (with experience of art/architecture) and artists (with experience of education). Each day will be led by a different course facilitator who will share their experience of working creatively with children and demonstrate how they translate their own creative/artistic interests into classroom practice in visual art, and other areas across the curriculum. Participants will creatively explore these practices daily, through a diverse range of hands-on activities.

Schedule and session descriptions

Dates: Monday 1st – Friday 5th of July 2019
Time:  10am – 3pm daily

Locations:
Mon/Thur/Fri: Draíocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.
Tues/Wed: The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham, Dublin 8.

To book go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-artful-classroom-tickets-46498361852
There are only 20 places so please book early to avoid disappointment!

Cost €45 plus booking fee
This programme is financially supported by Fingal County Council’s Arts Office & Superprojects.

 

Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre

Nationwide tour begins March 30th

Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre tour their new children’s show Hatch, focusing on the transformational cycles of life with a special educational resource and activity pack has been developed for the show linking to the curriculum and is available to primary schools.

Hatch tells the story of Bláithín, she loves caterpillars, moths and butterflies. She joins her Uncle Rusty on an adventure to find Pearl, the most extraordinary butterfly with the most exquisite colourful wings. Learn all about two little caterpillars and their journey to fly as moths and butterflies.

Hatch weaves Irish language, Irish dancing, music, comedy, theatre, contemporary dance and aerial dance into this wonderful story for 4 – 10 year olds.

The show tours nationwide from March 30th, tour dates and venues can be found at www.fidgetfeet.com/touring/

The show is made in association with Siamsa Tíre and Shortworks Network, Ireland and support from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Touring Nationwide

What is considered “typical” or “normal” behaviour for girls and for boys? Highly energetic, fun and whimsical,Princesses can be Pirates, playfully questions our gender preconceptions.

Two versatile performers join forces as they journey into unknown territory, where play is everything and everywhere. In a series of hilarious scrapes and lively escapades, they swap toys and activities in their quest to defy stereotypes and break the norm.

The world holds endless possibility for us to discover who we are and who we want to be, and this duet celebrates it all. A dynamic and humorous dance performance – created for children but inspiring for all. Talks and workshops will follow the performance to engage with children and teachers.

School Performances

For further information go to www.facebook.com/Monica-Munoz-Marin-Dance-1050022975170040/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 6th – 9th of March 2019

School Shows: 10am & 12.30

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ by Mike Kenny. Directed by Philip Hardy, the play deals with migration, focusing on the stories and cultural touchstones that sustain a young boy on his perilous journey to Ireland. The play has been written specifically for children aged 8-12 but is an interesting and thought-provoking piece that can be explored by all.

Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who undertook many perilous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach the safety of his brother in Dublin. Naz teams up with Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him dodge soldiers and find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the mire of a city slum.

A gripping tale of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children in other parts of the world, and the lengths to which they must go to reach safety in the relative security of a country like Ireland.

A resource pack, developed in association with Ann Murtagh (Teacher/Tutor at Kilkenny Education Centre) , will be provided to participating teachers. The pack with provide a focus for exploration of the themes that arise throughout the play.

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Performances of Boy With a Suitcase will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from the 6th-9th of March.

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873602052

 

IMMA

Date: 2nd March 2019, 10:00am to 12:30pm

Explore contemporary art, particularly construction, during a studio workshop and enjoy a guided tour of IMMA Collection: ‘A Fiction Close to Reality’.  Artist Rachel Tynan will lead this practical workshop during which primary teachers will discover multiple links to the visual art curriculum.

This workshop is free. Booking is essential. Places are limited; booking is on a first come, first served basis. No prior knowledge or experience of art-making is needed. This is the final CPD workshop for primary teachers at IMMA during this academic year.

For bookings go to imma.ie/whats-on/for-primary-teachers/

For more information about the exhibition ‘A Fiction Close to Reality’ go to imma.ie/whats-on/imma-collection-a-fiction-close-to-reality-exhibition/

Eva International

EVA International is delighted to announce ‘Better Words’, a new educational initiative which seeks to empower children’s access and understanding of contemporary art through creative language.

Over the course of a five week programme of workshops between March and May 2019, school groups aged 8 to 12 will develop new word-forms that articulate their experience and encounter of contemporary art. Led by workshop coordinator Maeve Mulrennan and developed in consultation with Patrick Burke (Dept. of Language and Literacy Education, MIC, Limerick) the workshops will involve visits to galleries and meetings with practicing artists, in addition to classroom-based activity.

The selected schools are:

A publication of new art terms developed through the workshop process will be published by EVA International in Autumn 2019, featuring a foreword by author Kevin Barry. Better Words is developed with support from Creative Ireland’s National Creativity Fund.

For more information go to www.eva.ie/project/better-words/

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Deadline for bookings: Friday 29th March 2019

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre is delighted to offer West Cork Primary Schools an opportunity to engage with our Dance Artist in Residence, Mairéad Vaughan in a short summer project – Mapping the Divide.

Mapping the Divide is a creative exploration into the effects of technology on our body, mind and environment.

Uillinn invites three primary school groups to take part in a short series of workshops at school and at Uillinn. Two will take place in the school and one at Uillinn and will creatively investigate the impact that technology, and in particular the use of mobile phones, can have on us.

Students will be invited to journey into the body and out to the landscape, to bring awareness of the direct sensory and kinaesthetic relationship we have with our environment. Using gathered materials chosen from the landscape, they will explore textures, patterns, smells, sights and sounds. Then movements will be choreographed from this investigation to create a site-specific, pop-up performance.

About Mairéad Vaughan

As an artist, I am passionate about the transformational power of dance and creativity. My teaching practice highlights the need to reconnect with body-mind, specifically through cultivating sensory awareness (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste). I teach a practice called ‘Attuning’ which develops all of these aspects. This practice is the result of my PhD research and highlights the need for inclusive arts education.

Project Details:

Ages:  The workshops are suitable for 5th and 6th class groups, aged 10 to 13 years. Limited to 22 children.

Venue: Your school for two workshops and Performance Space at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre,  Skibbereen for one workshop.

Dates / Times:  Workshops will take place on Wednesday afternoons during May / June, duration 60 to 90 minutes. Dates and times to be arranged to suit the schools involved.

Clothing: Children should wear loose clothing like tracksuit bottoms, rather than school uniform when taking part in the workshops.

Booking Details:

Fee for series of three workshops is €2 per person

Closing date for bookings is Friday 29 March 2019

To find out more or to book your class please contact Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre on 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

The Ark in partnership with Mark Create Innovate

Date: 9th March 2019

This engaging workshop will provide you with an introduction to hands-on, simple creative technology tools that support cross- curricular learning through play for STEAM subjects at Primary level – particularly in Science, Technology, Arts and Maths.

You will work in teams with Make Create Innovate to design and develop your own prototype games. You will be introduced to creative technology such as MaKey MaKey and learn about more advanced uses of software such as Scratch. You will see first-hand how games can teach students about competition and cooperation as well as supporting the development of concentration, perseverance and other skills through ‘fine-motor play’. For students, including those with special needs, the design of games and the process of rule- making are ideal ways to explore ethics. It gives the opportunity to reflect on their own values, motivations and behaviour as well as society’s. This can reinforce the strands within history, geography and SPHE relating to human intervention.

For further information and booking to go ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-gaming-in-the-classroom

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

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

Away Day – Blog 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ark

Dates: 28th February – 31st March

The Ark presents ‘PEAT’ the world premiere of a brand new theatre show for ages 8+ by Kate Heffernan. Directed by Tim Crouch.

Delivered with lightness and humour, this new play for children asks big questions about life, death, time and history. A conversation between two 11-year olds who find themselves standing on top of everything that has ever happened, it is a story of friendship, loss, and finding our place in the world. The production will be performed by Curtis Lee Ashqar and Kwaku Fortune. The creative team includes lighting by The Ark’s Franco Bistoni alongside set & costume design by Lian Bell and sound design by Slavek Kwi, two acclaimed artists making their debuts at The Ark. The Ark invited consultation with children at several junctures throughout the process. The childrens’ input, including input from The Ark’s Children’s Council, greatly influenced the direction of the piece and has been at the very heart of this production.

School Days
6th -29th March (Wednesday-Friday) @ 10.15am & 12.15pm. (No show Wednesday 20th March)

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/peat

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Date: Until 2nd March 2019

Elemental an exhibition with interactivity, tactility and spacial enquiry, where children are the primary audience.

School Group bookings available. 

Aimed especially at children aged 4-12, Elemental is an exhibition that invites children and people of all ages to encounter contemporary art through touch and movement, as well as sight. Leading artists Caoimhe Kilfeather and Karl Burke are transforming the galleries with their interactive, tactile sculptures and installations that explore scale, texture, space and light.

Primary school groups of all levels are encouraged to come and experience this artwork throughout the exhibition.  A tour of the work is not necessary, teachers can bring along their school group to spend time in the galleries interacting and investigating the artwork and then take time to The Make Space – by practising primary school teacher and trained artist Anne Bradley – a calm room where children can take time to creatively respond to the themes and materials of the works on exhibition; using materials such as sand, small objects, pieces of wood and fabric to explore pattern, visual order, touch and more.

Charlotte Donovan, Uillinn’s Artists in Residence for Learning and Engagement will be available for schools on Friday’s to facilitate a workshop where the children can respond to their experience in the gallery and make their own work to take away.

Elemental contains a major commission from Caoimhe Kilfeather, with artworks that suggest an imagined forest of both indoor and outdoor elements. One element, created from hundreds of metres of green Indian silk, hanging 3 metres high, will offer pockets of space for children to inhabit. A tree house will perch 5 metres high overlooking the exhibition space, and the floor will be covered with cushions and ‘leaves’ fashioned from organdie, with brooms and sweeping brushes to tidy up. In the upstairs gallery, children will be able to walk around and through a steel sculpture by artist Karl Burke (entitled ‘Taking a Line’), which stands 2.5 metres high, and creates a very subtle optical illusion that implies density in empty space. Both Caoimhe and Karl have also each made interactive works that speak to children’s oft held desire to creatively arrange objects found in nature.

During the final weeks of the exhibition, a number of additional artworks will be exhibited throughout the gallery. These commissioned works will be made collaboratively by local primary school children from Dromore National School Bantry and artist Siobhán McGibbon, who will be working together over eight sessions in Uillinn to research, experiment and create their own artworks, responding to the exhibition themes.

Curated by Superprojects

To book your free visit, just call 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

To find out more about the artists go to www.westcorkartscentre.com/Elemental

Further images of work available on Superprojects website at www.superprojects.org/projects/#/elemental/

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

For more information click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claire Halpin, Artist 

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

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

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

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

Vera McGarth, Teacher 

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

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

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

 

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

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

WECHO FM – Blog 3

A new school year, a new ‘Virtually There’ project!

The majority of the children were meeting John for the first time. They were unsure what to expect as a lot of them had never experienced or used video-conferencing technology before.

After a few technical difficulties on my end, we finally connected to John. Introductions were made by John and the children, we got straight into introducing our new project theme … RADIO!

The children discussed their knowledge of radio … Tyrell said that it was “where you could listen to things, like a music box.” Aidan said he thought of it as a “jukebox” to listen to songs. Sam stated that different types of sounds could come from it, not only music but also advertisements. Daniel, Adam and Charley thought that even though it played music there were other programmes on the radio such as the news, weather forecasts or traffic reports. Adam also said that he had listened to documentaries on the radio. The children were asked what they thought we would be creating during the project, to which they replied, “A RADIO SHOW!”

Not only were we going to create a radio show, we were going to create our own Radio Station.

We discussed the different programmes that could be on our radio station, ideas for programmes included Music, Documentaries, Cartoon or comedy shows, discussions about the news and about our interests such as gaming. With an idea of the content, we were set the task of developing our visual identity. John displayed a number of symbols that the children all were able to recognise easily, e.g. the Nike swoosh, the golden arches, the apple mac symbol.

He told us that we would begin the process of developing a visual identity through the exploration of sound. The children began this process by listening to a variety of sounds that John had created; they then had to interpret them as a drawing. They generated a lot of great ideas, which included random symbols and jagged lines that varied in sizes. John then asked us to interpret drawings that he had created as sounds. Kevin, Sam, Daniel and Kyle all had a go at trying to interpret these drawings, with lots of different and random sounds and noises being made.

In the final part of the process, the children had to name each of the sounds that John created. He explained that the name could be a made-up word or a series of letters. The children found this extremely entertaining and generated a lot of random words for the sounds, including wobe, weeoloublue, breeeeee, dweenen, dulllung, dener, dedzen, wecho, bler and weow. After a short selection and voting process, the children picked WECHO, as our radio station name. WECHO FM was born.

The children were then set the task of creating our visual identity and the background for our radio station. We had to choose two colours, one would be for our background and the other colour would be used to create our visual interpretation for the sound of WECHO.

Each child explored the sound WECHO in their own unique way. This session was great fun and challenged the children’s ideas on what art could be. As the project develops, we hope to explore different aspects of the radio station such as, DJ names and identities, jingles and radio sweepers, sound effects and different radio programmes. At the end of the process we hope to visit a local radio station to gain a better understanding of the inner workings as well as possibly playing our own jingles and songs.

Baboró International Arts Festival

Dates: October 15 – 21 2018

This year’s Baboró International Arts Festival for Children takes place in Galway in just over two weeks’ time (October 15-21) and there are a number of cultural experiences for school children to enjoy. Whether you’d like to bring your class to see a show, take in a workshop or visit an exhibition, Baboró has it covered.

One of the cornerstones of Baboró’s foundation is the right of each child to enjoy arts and culture. Baboró believes the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect.

Baboró enables children to experience first hand the transformative power of the creative arts, while at the same time developing their creative, problem-solving and collaborative skills; skills that are necessary for developing fully rounded young people.

Artists and companies from Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Scotland and England will present shows at this year’s festival. Full schools programme is here https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/event-type/schools

For full details of how to apply to bring your school to Baboró see here

https://www.baboro.ie/schools-1/schools-2

WORKSHOPS FOR TEACHERS

Are you a teacher who would like to explore ways of connecting theatre back into the classroom or would you like to learn some tricks of the trade on how to foster an environment of imagination in the classroom? The following workshops might be of interest to you:

Creative Learning

https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/creative-learning

Creativity in the Classroom

https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/creativity-in-the-classroom

For further information and bookings go to www.baboro.ie

The Glucksman, University College Cork

Saturday 20 October 2018, 10am – 1pm

Join curator Tadhg Crowley and artist Fiona Kelly for a masterclass that explores our new Digital Toolkit (www.glucksman.org/discover/digital/toolkits) for teachers. The session will focus on the environment and how online resources can enable creative activities for your classroom.

Cost €25. Booking required

For more information go to http://www.glucksman.org/discover/education/teachers

Or contact + 353 21 4901844 / education@glucksman.org to book a place.

Online Ticket Bookings at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/primary-teachers-masterclass-tickets-48732211356

National School Photography Awards (INSPA)

Deadline for Entries: Midnight Friday 25th January 2019

INSPA 2018/19 sees the second open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. This years’ awards are brought to you by Image Masters Photography in partnership with LauraLynn; Ireland’s Children’s Hospice, INSTAX Instant Photography and the Amber Springs Resort Hotel.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free entry to the Amber Springs Easter Train Experience for the overall winner and their classmates, FujiFilm INSTAX cameras for winners and their schools, a two night stay in the Amber Springs for the Principal of the winning school, a one night stay in the Amber Springs for the teacher of the winning class, INSPA certificates, framed photographs and an #INSPAsmiles School Photography Fundraising Day in aid of this years’ charity theme partner; LauraLynn.

This years’ theme is titled ‘CONNECTIONS’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day, allowing their students explore their classrooms, corridors and schoolyards, seeking out new found or old connections. For example ‘Pen & Paper’, ‘Socks and Shoes’, ‘Black & White’, ‘Rough & Smooth’ or ‘Parent & Child’. All entries will be judged by a national panel including Joe Kileen (INTO President), Tanya Kiang (CEO: Gallery of Photography), Liam Magee (President: Cumann na mBunscol), Linda Shevlin (Curator: Roscommon Art Centre), Michael Fortune (Artist, Folklorist, Filmmaker, Researcher), Niamh Doyle (Community Fundraising Executive: LauraLynn) and Richard Carr (Artist, School Liaison & 2018 Cultural Ambassador for Co. Wexford).

If your school would like to get involved they can request their schools access codes from the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie – here you will be able to activate your school account and begin uploading your students’ entries. The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday 25th January 2019 so make sure you have activated your school account well in advance of this date.

For further information go to http://www.inspa.ie

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership 

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership are delighted to announce the publication of “A Strong Heart – A book of stories and dreams for the future by Syrian and Palestinian children living in County Mayo”.

Over five weeks, in April and May 2018, the group of children, who live in communities in County Mayo, came together with artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward and writer Mary Branley at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, to develop the body of work that was to be brought together in their book.

Initiated and developed by Kids’ Own – and supported by the St Stephen’s Green Trust, Mayo County Council and South West Mayo Development Company – the project was part of a vision to offer a space for migrant children to develop their creativity and self-expression through an artistic process, and to publish a book that would foreground and give credence to their voices, lives and experiences.

In relation to the project, Kids’ Owns Acting Director, Jo Holmwood, says:

“Kids’ Own is deeply committed to publishing and developing children’s work in Ireland. We believe that children’s contribution to our culture and our society, as artists and writers, needs to be more widely valued and recognised. Kids’ Own is delighted to publish this brand new book, which is such a rich celebration of children’s resilience, ambition and cultural identity.

Image copyright Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership – Minister Zappone presenting ‘A Strong Heart’ to Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration.

In July, Kids’ Own were thrilled when the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone shared the stories from ‘A Strong Heart’ at her UN Security Council address on ‘Children in Armed Conflict’.

“As Minister I am particularly proud that half of the 1,883 persons accepted into Ireland under resettlement and relocation programmes are children fleeing war and conflict.

In addition Ireland is providing care for 79 children who arrived alone at our ports and airports.

All of these children, from countries experiencing conflict such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, are making Ireland their home.

They speak for themselves in a collection of stories and art created by Syrian and Palestinian children now living in Mayo in the West of Ireland.

Through the book ‘A Strong Heart’ they tell of the beauty of their new home-towns, the local rivers, mountains and even the world famous salmon.

They express their passion for Irish sport, their sense of fun and their hopes and dreams.

12-year old Khaled in Claremorris writes, “My Dream for the future is to be a footballer first and play for Ireland. When I’m thirty-three I will be a teacher and go back to Syria to teach English.” 

Khaled and his classmates, Irish, Syrian and Palestinian, are flourishing. They are our future”.

Minister Zappone also presented the publication to Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration, following a discussion on child migrants.

For more information and to purchase the publication go to kidsown.ie/shop/theme/by-kids/a-strong-heart/

 

 

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: Thursday 11th & Friday 12th October

As part of the Patrick Hough exhibition programme at the Solstice Arts Centre, primary school students are invited to take part in an intriguing exploration of the exhibition. Students will investigate the meaning of art, object and replica whilst touring the exhibition and examining The Bronze Age Handling Box, based on the Museum of Archaeology’s Bronze Age collection. This workshop is designed to promote curiosity, understanding and discussion about visual art and history.

A curriculum linked Primary School resource and activity will be available to download.

For more information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/schools/handling-histories.2704.html or email ecox@solsticeartscentre.ie

 

The Ark

Dates: 20 Aug – 24 Aug 2018

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

The Ark, Dublin are excited to present a new five day arts-science summer course led by scientist and theatre-maker Dr. Niamh Shaw, aimed at primary teachers of 1st-3rd classes.

Discover STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) anew through a range of enjoyable and accessible creative drama processes designed to lift these subjects off the page and bring them to life for both teachers and students.

The course is created and led by the inspiring Dr Niamh Shaw – an engineer, former science academic and a theatre maker as well as one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists. Niamh’s scientific knowledge and warm engaging style will help you in finding exciting new ways of communicating science themes to your students.

This practical hands-on course will improve your confidence in teaching STEM subjects as well as Drama and how to meaningfully link and integrate these in the classroom. A range of relevant STEM curricular areas will be explored through Drama including Mathematics, Geography, and of course Science.

The course is aimed at teachers of all levels of STEM and drama knowledge and experience.The course content and aims include:

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/5-day-teachers-course-bringing-stem-alive-in-the-classroom-through-drama

The Ark

Dates: 13 Aug – 17 Aug 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

CoisCéim BROADREACH

Primary Schools in the Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown area are invited to apply to participate in SHORELINE

A Choral Song And Contemporary Dance Project For People Aged 8 to 80+

Led by CoisCéim BROADREACH Director Philippa Donnellan and renowned composer Denis Clohessy, in association with the DLR LexIcon Library and Pavilion Theatre, SHORELINE invites people from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown to embark on an oceanic journey of discovery – to share their stories and experiences about the sea.

The project begins in September 2018 in a creative dance/song workshop project that brings together children from 1 primary school, a local choir, and people aged 50+ and culminates in 3 sea-themed performances by participants at the DLR LexIcon Library on Saturday 25 November 2018 at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm.

What’s Involved

The project begins at the end of September and includes:

 

Application Requirments

 

Selection Criteria

Selection will be made by CoisCéim BROADREACH and criteria are based on articulating a clear rationale as to why your school

would like to participate in SHORELINE – and a demonstrable ability that you are able to:

For further information and application form please go to coisceim.com/shoreline-2018/ or email philippa@coisceim.com

 

The Glucksman, University College Cork

Date: 10am – 2:30pm, Monday 2 – Friday 6 July 2018

Learning through Creativity is a 5-day course accredited by Drumcondra Education Centre that enables primary teachers to consider how an engagement with visual art can enhance learning in other strands of the curriculum. The course offers a blend of art appreciation, art interaction and art making exercises and participants will have the opportunity to work with professional artists and curators throughout the week.

10am – 2:30pm, Monday 2 – Friday 6 July 2018

€75. Booking essential. To book go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/learning-through-creativity-summer-course-for-primary-teachers-tickets

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

 

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

In 2016 Christopher and his Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership ‘Virtually There’ project. ‘A virtual artist in residence project which explores the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology’. (Orla Kenny, Creative Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership). Now in their 2nd year, artist John D’Arcy has been working collaboratively with Christopher and his class at St Colman’s P.S as virtual artist-in-residence. 

Art as a Gateway – Blog 2

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper, discussed the importance of prehistoric art. In particular, that of the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The art critic, Jonathan Jones, was examining the significance of the findings that Neanderthals had painted on cave walls in Spain 65,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years before Homo sapiens. The Neanderthal artwork in question was a stencilled red ochre handprint on rock. It wasn’t the discussion about whether or not Neanderthals were the first true artists or if this honour should belong to another early human species, Homo erectus, or because of the quality of the representational artwork by Homo sapiens, they should be considered the first ‘true’ artists, that piqued my interest, it was the significance that art had on moulding a species. That ‘art’ constituted the beginnings of intelligence, the “capacity to imagine and dream” and within our own species Homo sapiens “the birth of the complex cathedral of the modern mind … [opening] the way, in modern human history, to everything from writing to computers” (Jonathan Jones, 2018). – read the full article www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/feb/23/neanderthals-cave-art-spain-astounding-discovery-humbles-every-human

Within the education sector, the Northern Ireland Curriculum has been developed to cater for all subjects, allowing children access to a varied education. The reality is, that as children progress through primary school, teachers can be under pressure delivering the curriculum, often focussing on the areas of numeracy and literacy to the detriment of other curricular areas, particularly art. This can be evident in Primary 6 and the first term of Primary 7, when a substantial amount of time is spent preparing the children for the GL and AQE transfer tests. These pressures can sometimes be self-imposed, a teacher perhaps feeling that it is important for the children to develop these skills and after the tests have been completed, delivering those other areas or perhaps they can be pressures by other stake-holders within the school community. Regardless of this, the Guardian article reinforced my own view that Art should be on-a-par with those supposedly ‘key subjects or areas.’ If, works of art have been “held up as proof of the cognitive superiority of modern humans,” this should mean that art can play an important role in the curriculum.

As a Special Educational Needs teacher, teaching Primary 6/7 pupils, the pressures of the GL and AQE tests are not applicable to the children that I teach. Like all primary teachers the delivery of the Northern Ireland Curriculum is still essential. However, without these testing constraints, there is an opportunity to embed art throughout the curriculum to a greater extent. It does not need to simply be an add on or linked to a world around us topic. My project work with Kids’ Own has been successful in facilitating this. As I detailed in my last post, I am now in my second year of working within the Kids’ Own project and in-particular working with the artist John D’arcy.

At the beginning of Year 2, we set about choosing a word that would encompass everything. The word we chose was Hacking. This would be the jumping off point, from which all mini-projects or lessons would stem from. John and I found that this liberated our planning, allowing for greater flexibility. When we discussed the word with the children, it ignited their enthusiasm, prompting new avenues of learning that John and I had not previously considered.

Throughout the Hacking project, we have included aspects of numeracy and literacy. A particular favourite being a session exploring ‘codes and language’. This session included: Semaphore, Morse code, the phonetic alphabet, emoji’s and Makaton. After the session had been completed, I was amazed to see children with difficulties in sequencing the alphabet testing one another on the use of Makaton and the symbol to letter correspondence. The project has also allowed the children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. They have become more expressive when discussing topics, themes or their own work. This has had an impact in other avenues such as their social and emotional well-being.

I began this post, examining the importance that art had on our evolution as a species. So, I feel it is relevant to question, if it had such a bearing on our evolution, then why can it not have the same impact upon our education of young children?

 

 

 

 

The Ark & The Dublin Dance Festival 

Schools Performances Fri 18 May @ 10.15am & 12.15pm.

The Ark and Dublin Dance Festival 2018 are delighted to present ‘Hocus Pocus’ – a magical performance for schools.

Created by Philippe Saire (Switzerland), this magical children’s show for ages 7+ explores how images conjure vivid emotions, sensations and experiences.

Taking the audience on a fantastical voyage, two brothers dive into dreamlike adventures: a contortionist’s escape from a spider’s web; a journey in a damaged flying machine; and underwater encounters with fabulous aquatic creatures.

The unique set design creates a playful game of appearance and disappearance. As light is painted across the stage to reveal everything it touches, the dancers’ bodies seem to emerge from a black hole before being swallowed up again. These visual mysteries cast a spell, suspending our disbelief and unleashing our imagination.

Suitable for 2nd – 6th Class

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/hocus-pocus

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 were looking for a primary school in the area local to programme sponsors Central Bank of Ireland and were delighted to find O’Connell School. It is a really interesting school with a rich history, and a very supportive learning environment, which was fantastic to work with. Artist Maria McKinney was a natural choice for working on this project. Her practice is often focused around ecology and I thought this would be a good fit for the primary school age range. Maria brought with her a wealth of experience in working collaboratively with diverse fields of inquiry and a sensibility to materials which made her very suitable for this residency.

Maria McKinney, Artist

I was aware of the Temple Bar Gallery & Studios education programme from seeing some of the previous projects on social media and speaking to the artists that took part. I was very happy when Jean then approached me to do their autumn 2017 session in O’Connell School. I had only recently moved into my studio in Temple Bar and was excited to be involved in their programme so early on.

One of the first things I was told about O’Connell School, in addition to it being a boys’ primary school, was that is was directly below Croke Park. The seating of the stadium almost hangs right over the school. This in itself made it very unique. Then I remembered seeing a news article about birds of prey that are put to work in Croke Park to keep away other animals such as rats and pigeons who might eat the freshly sown grass seeds on the pitch. I wondered whether the boys at the school knew that these very special birds existed right next door to them. I also realised this would be a good opportunity for the boys to learn a little about ecology and habitats of birds and nature in general. I was cognisant of this being an urban school, and wanted to open up a space for the boys to think about other animals.

Around this time I was also involved in an artist-in-school project in Maynooth with Kildare Arts Office and Art School. I decided I would use both opportunities to make work in relation to Birds of Prey. I think this made for a richer project overall as it developed over a longer period of time.

Pupil C

It started by going to Temple Bar Gallery. Her [Maria’s] studio was very neat. She had everything organised. Then we spent weeks making origami. It was great fun and a great experience.

Pupil D

First we went to visit Maria in her studio and we learned more about her. It was about us having fun and working together. Maria, Jean, 4th class in O’Connell, Barry [the falconer], Kayla [the Harris hawk] and teachers were involved. In class we started drawing and learned origami.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

We got involved through a member of staff that was in contact with Jean and Maria. The children were making origami pieces to have as a sculpture that a hawk could land on. The two 4th Classes and teaching staff were helped by Maria and Jean.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The residency began with pupils visiting Maria in her TBG+S Studio to see where she works, and get an insight into her methods, motivations and inspirations as an artist. From there, Maria began an enquiry into birds of prey with the children, through various exercises in drawing, origami, movement/performance and inhabiting the psyche of the bird. This developed into creating a collaborative sculptural piece which functioned as a bird stand, for the Harris hawk, Kayla, to land on. A final photograph was taken by Maria to document this process. The pupils were extremely open and inquisitive about the hawks and worked really hard to make the origami pieces which made up the base for the sculpture. All the school staff were very encouraging and accommodating throughout the residency.

Maria McKinney, Artist

The project started off by the boys coming to Temple Bar to visit the gallery, and then up to my studio on the first floor. Myself and Jean introduced ourselves and I went on to show them some images of my work on a monitor. I told them just the name of the work, and then asked them to name all the different materials and objects they could see (I use a lot of different materials and everyday items). I then emptied a box of objects that I had made to allow them to handle some of my work. A lot of them were long strand type objects made by weaving straws. These very quickly became lightsabers which made me laugh.

The following sessions in the school consisted of teaching the boys how to make claws and beaks with paper and origami. It was well timed around Halloween so the boys could re-appropriate the claws for scary costumes. The teachers would help the boys make them, though once they had gone through the process a couple of times they needed no more help and could make loads.

We also looked at some other artists’ work that involved birds, including Marcus Coates Dawn Chorus, and Sean Lynch’s work Peregrine Falcons visit Moyross. In the latter, we see the footage from a camera attached to the back of a Peregrine Falcon, who then flies around Moyross Estate. At a certain point, the bird lands on a lamp post, looks around for a while, then takes off again. The boys lined up in pairs, and I asked them to close their eyes and imagine they were the bird on top of the lamp post, to think about their claws, wings and beaks, and prepare to take off again. The boys would then swoop through the room with great direction and style. Through making the different body part (claws and beaks) and then the boys using them, I was coaxing them to think about the anatomy of the bird, and in relation to their own physicality.

Pupil K

Ideas were developed through using different materials and also looking at Maria’s work. The teachers and Maria helped us make origami. Maria worked with bulls before this and we worked with a hawk.

Pupil B

We wore hats and wings and put together the claws and beaks and made a hawk stand. So the hawk can stay on it.

Pupil A

We all folded the paper and we got help from our friends, teachers and SNAs who showed us how to do origami and it was fun.

Pupil C

We worked together making origami and drawing pictures of hawks. We then put the origami onto the stand.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Two 4th classes came together to complete the six-week course. The artists had use of the art room where they had tables set up for each activity. They also had great powerpoints set up here.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

Two 4th classes did the course together. The artist had tables set up and the resources provided for the children. The children all got involved as they were enjoying it. The teaching staff helped to keep the children on task.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

I felt this was a very successful project in terms of engagement and pitching to primary level students. Sessions in the school were active and fun with all children participating enthusiastically. Maria brought the pupils on an incredible journey of inquiry and art-making which culminated in meeting the Harris hawk, Kayla. As a result, pupils had the most imaginative and interesting questions for the hawk handler Barry and the experience no doubt left them with a new-found appreciation for the wildlife that is in their local urban environment.

Maria McKinney, Artist

I felt it was important to leave enough room for the participants’ input into the work, as well as for the unexpected occurrences that often come about through process-led engagement. However, I also had to make sure I had prepared enough activity for each session, so that we would not all be standing around looking at one another not doing anything. It is a fine balance to try and strike.

The success of the project was most definitely the boys’ energy and enthusiasm for doing something different. I really looked forward to my time with them. The staff were also really fantastic and got fully involved in what we were doing. It makes a big difference when the teachers are fully engaged and supportive of what you are doing, as this is unconsciously communicated to their students, and really affects how they respond to you, the visitor.

Another great success was Barry the falconer, whose birds work in Croke park, agreeing to take one of his birds to visit the boys in the school. This really made for a special day and everyone was so excited. As the artist this was also the most stressful time, as I was hoping everything would go to plan.

The boys and the birds behaved perfectly. However I have realised my own skill in group photography needs a lot of work. I had hoped to pose the boys as a group around the bird, while they were wearing the large paper wings/claws/beaks they had made. However I couldn’t organise them well enough, and it was a cold windy day. The boys worked really hard but I think I could have planned this part a bit better.

Pupil A

My favourite part was when we were wearing the art and I was like a hawk.

Pupil D

My experience of the project was amazing. I never got to see a hawk in real life, I loved it. My favourite part was when I saw Kayla because I never got to see a hawk in real life.

Pupil K

My personal favourite part was when we wore the wings and started to dance around with them on.

Pupil F

My favourite experience was building the sculpture. The teachers helped us and the boys came up with brilliant ideas that we put on the sculpture. The sculpture became a success but coming up with the ideas was a bit of a challenge.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Children really enjoyed the course. It was a new experience, one which won’t be forgotten. The trip to the artist’s gallery was an eye opener for the children. Challenges – would be the amount of time taken for each session, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

Children all enjoyed it and are still talking about the experience. Something different for them rather than us teaching all the time.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

This was a project where the unexpected was encouraged and allowed to unfold. Pupils had an experience of artmaking which gave them an expanded view of what art can be. Maria guided pupils calmly through this process, beginning with the more familiar terrain of drawing, through to the introduction of a live hawk. Students themselves became part of the artwork in the wearing of large origami pieces to flank the bird on her perch for the final photograph of the residency. The reception to the project was palpable within the school,  with pupils and staff excited about the final event of the residency, and meeting the hawk.

Maria McKinney, Artist

While I talked to the boys about ecology and habitat, we were referring to the food chain of these birds in their natural environment.

However, I realised the working bird that was to come into the school to visit them, is involved in a very different network – one that is entirely at the behest of humans and our culture of sport, entertainment, cultivation, media, security (these birds are also used to keep drones away)…

Pupil F

I had a great experience of being a great young artist.

Pupil E

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Pupil C

The experience of touching and seeing a hawk. I loved it from start to finish!

Pupil J

Having fun and learning new skills with origami and our drawing improved. It was an unusual exciting experience – I would tell other schools to do it.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

It was great working with an artist. Children may have never visited a gallery or got an insight into the life/ideas of an artist. Origami is also an area we would not have thought about too much in school. This was new and exciting.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

The children got to experience what a gallery was/looked like. They were making origami pieces that they would not have learned otherwise. They got to see and understand what an actual artist does and could ask questions. Great experience for the children and very enjoyable.

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

Maria McKinney, Artist

It has made me think more about the human–animal relationship, in particular working animals. In an urban context the only working animal I would have been able to name before this project is a guide dog or sniffer dog at the airport. I am looking up more these days.

Pupil K

I feel I can follow more steps and am better at drawing and following things, and my imagination has grown. I have signed up for art club in my school now that I like art more. I feel like I can listen more.

Pupil D

I got better at following instructions and my drawing got better. I am starting to get into art. I can now work as a team.

Pupil A

I can listen in class and fold stuff and I signed up for art club because of the project.

Pupil F

I feel a lot better at doing step by step projects and I’ve improved on my drawings and I got better at working as a team. I enjoyed the art experience so much I signed up for the school’s art club.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Teachers’ and childrens’ outlook on art had changed since taking on this project. We got to see that art is a lot more than just painting and drawing. We also got to see at first hand how art can be used in the environment around us.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

We are a lot more aware of using our environment for art purposes. It is not simply painting a picture. Origami pieces have been brought into other sections of our school life, i.e. the school play etc.

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

Virtually There Year 1 – Blog 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Caitlin – Monkey

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

Oscar – Parrots

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

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

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

The Ark

Date: Saturday 10th March

Teachers are invited to enjoy a morning exploring a range of simple and accessible drama processes for the classroom using the Irish language. Using The Ark’s season theme of Me & the City and aspects of the primary curriculum as a bouncing off point, you will have the chance to develop confidence and skills in working thematically through drama in Irish. The workshop will focus on activities suitable for 2nd-6th class. It will be presented bilingually and is suitable for teachers at all levels of confidence in working through Irish.

Saturday 10 March @ 10:30 am to 1.30pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-drama-sa-seomra-ranga-drama-in-the-classroom

The Ark

Date: 6th – 22nd March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Wed 21st – Fri 23rd February 

Rooting through an old trunk, Barney and his dad find more than they bargained for and a few things that set them wondering. Who makes the rules? What happens if you break the rules? And who is the lady with the beard?

Join them as they spread their wings in this comic tale of forgotten memories and future possibilities.

Written by award-winning children’s writer Brendan Murray and directed by Martin Drury, founder of The Ark – A Cultural Centre for Children.

‘Barney Carey Gets His Wings’ is a world-premiere of a new play for children in 1st to 4th classes, their teachers and families.

2 teachers free per class.

For bookings contact Watergate Theatre at www.watergatetheatre.com

For further information go to www.barnstorm.ie

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

Sleeper Creeper was a collaborative creation between Robbie Perry (musician), Annie Callaghan (artist) and Philip Doherty (playwright) and was performed in Townhall Cavan at the end of 2016 as part of their seasonal programming for children. The success of the show duly inspired Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) to approach Robbie and Annie and adapt Sleeper Creeper for a pilot project to run in two selected primary schools, one in Cavan and one in Monaghan. The original show was quite complex in its clever use of artistic disciplines. From live and improvised music being layered throughout, the use of loop machines to projected shadow puppetry involving unique, as well as, everyday objects. All of this was performed with no dialogue and told the story of an old and lonely inventor who miraculously creates a living being from parts that he finds amongst junk. Their friendship grows from their collaborative performances and zany situations they find themselves in.

Rather than try to create the same performance for young students, Robbie and Annie chose an entirely new story titled, Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream in which Paddy Red Downey fishes for junk and finds himself transported to a world beyond his wildest dreams eventually hearing an old women’s voice calling him to return home and share his new found wonders with everyone.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

The Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream project was easily one of the most effective projects I have been involved in. Initial conversations with Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) and meetings with Robbie and Annie entailed planning, organising and ensuring all requirements were met e.g. garda vetting, school space, curriculum linkage etc. Robbie and Annie also met with the children to introduce themselves and explain the project.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The ideas were developed as a direct result of the principles of Sleeper Creeper. A multidisciplinary approach to art form and the themes based around recycling and repurposing of everyday materials and junk. The story itself was created as a catalyst for inspiring young minds. Using the story as an opening for the project workshops, we were able to demonstrate to the young audience aspects of theatre, drama, storytelling, music and shadow puppetry that they would in turn learn to use over a two day period for their own collective performance.

The teacher allowed Robbie and Annie to bring the children around the school grounds to examine and collect, in pairs, any objects they found of interest. These objects were then projected through the use of an analog overhead projector and discussed openly and collectively on how their appearances changed with our changing perceptions. This example facilitates a validation process for the individual in what they later view as art and how it can then be manipulated and viewed to help create a story.

Then began a separation of the group into two halves. One half facilitated by Annie and the shadow puppetry and the other half by Robbie and music creation as a means to underscore the students very own production.

The teacher’s role within this workshop was almost only to observe and maintain any control if needed. It cannot be overstated how important this approach was to the project overall. Conversations and shared opinions with the teacher, revealed aspects and qualities of each student’s character as they worked closely and intensely with the artists that were keenly observed and somewhat enlightening to the teacher.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The project itself was quite experimental. We hadn’t taken something as complex as our performance, and adapted it with a workshop in mind ever before. Also, there were many challenges such as time needed for the students to learn multiple skills with a final performance, questions regarding the suitability of their classrooms, rather than a hall for the workshops etc. We were very pleased to find that we coped quite favorably with all these challenges which were also challenges for the schools. The fact that we could work within the classroom meant no upset to the rest of the school in organizing or rearranging scheduled use of alternative rooms. Also, the fact that the hours we put in were arranged for an intense two days consecutively meant a greater opportunity for all involved to focus and achieve a fully immersive creative experience.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

One of the activities that I felt really supported the children’s confidence with regards to the music aspect was the time in which they were allowed to explore the different instruments. I found that at the age the children were at doing the projects, they were conscious of whether or not they were “good at” something. It can often be hard to try and get them to engage fully in something if they feel it is on an area that they aren’t talented in. However, the vast arrange of musical instruments that were available to them allowed them to try out their musical abilities on them. I found that my class would often associate musical talent as to whether or not you could play the piano etc. However, with the way in which they were able to explore the vast array of instruments and create backing music for a story, it was a whole new side to music for them. It was also something that after we had engaged with in the workshop, they wanted to do it more in class. The more exposure they get to experience this, the more confident they will grow in it.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

Probably the most significant thing for us was the true potential of each and every student to achieve in an extremely short but significant amount of time, an entire production. From inception until final performance in front of an audience, the entire class worked as a team with individuals quickly finding their strengths and how best they could contribute to the group as a whole. It was wonderful to observe, for example, two students that were much happier to be a part of the technical projection work rather than perform music or drama. This revealed for us the complex range of interests within any given group and reinforces the idea that we need projects that provide more opportunities which exercise the potential for total inclusivity.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

Telling of a story is something most children love to do. Some I have found can find it difficult telling a story when they have to write it- for many different reasons. E.g. some might find spelling difficult and get so caught up on whether a word is spelt correctly or not hinders their story telling ability as they don’t get their story finished. The way in which the children were allowed to tell a story through art and music really developed confidence in not only the children who love writing stories but also in the children who find that hard. While doing this they were also developing their Drama skills- even though they may not have realised that. They were able to use their imagination and tell a story not only with their drawings but just by using environmental objects- again, allowing those who didn’t feel confident in their artistic abilities to still their artistic confidence by using environmental objects in an artistic way. It was something that they really enjoyed. They developed so many different skills by doing the project, learnt lots of new things without realising it.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This process of choice supported confidence in its own right. The children learned through many different methodologies that suited all learners. Robbie and Annie facilitated so appropriately but still allowed the children to have responsibility for their own learning.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

It has only further increased my belief in the creative potential of children and the potential of group orientated creative projects

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

It has changed the way in which I teach arts education as it reminded me how important it is to not only teach the subjects but to allow them to co-exist with each other, to use them together as a way to allow for further exploration as to what they can achieve when combined.

It has given me more confidence in doing projects like this, integrating the Arts subjects- along with others, in the classroom

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This project has given me the confidence as an educator to give the children much more responsibility for their learning. My Arts lessons are less structured which has resulted in a smoother flow to lessons. The power of integration throughout the Arts subjects was evident throughout the ‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’   project hence I have increased integration throughout Drama, Art, Music and Physical Education.

‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’ was a wonderful project where I witnessed children growing in self-confidence, learning and having so much fun!

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

Blog 4

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

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

exciting!

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

– challenging! 

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

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

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

MAKER

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

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

(EDUCATOR)//TRACKER

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

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

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

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

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

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

I arrive at my wording for the blurb:

WORKSHOP

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

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: January to March 2018

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

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

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

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

Mary Bennett, Teacher

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

Helen Barry, Artist

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

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

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

Mary Bennett, Teacher

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

Helen Barry, Artist

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

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

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

Mary Bennett, Teacher

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

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

Helen Barry, Artist

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

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

Mary Bennett, Teacher

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

Helen Barry, Artist

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

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

Mary Bennett, Teacher

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

Helen Barry, Artist

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

 

Graffiti Theatre Company

Touring: November – December 2017

‘The world may be in miniature but the story is universal …’

Walking Man tells the tale of a man who has spent his whole life in pursuit of success.  He has always rushed headlong through life, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to the best job on the top floor of the tallest building in the whole city. And when he has done all that, with Walking Woman and little Walking Baby at his side, something doesn’t feel quite right …

So, Walking Man must go on an entirely new journey, which takes him far from home.

Walking Man is a charming allegory, which will captivate its audience. With the help of an original live music score, the actor brings us into the miniature world of the Walking Man, a tiny wooden figure.

Walking Man is designed for 1st, 2nd & 3rd classes and performs to one class at a time (up to a maximum of 35 students). The accompanying Teacher Resource Book (available online) links carefully with the curriculum across a range of subject areas.

Please note: Graffiti Theatre can give your school the exciting opportunity to attend a performance in their fully equipped Theatre on Assumption Road. If the performance is booked to take place in your school please contact Graffiti for space requirements.

Cost: Thanks to their funders, Graffiti Theatre Company can offer this production for just €150 per performance (and €100 for a second performance on the same day).

For more information & booking: tel. 021 4397111,  email:bookings@graffiti.ie

www.graffiti.ie

The Ark

Date: School Day performances: Fri 1-Thu 21 Dec

Back by popular demand this Christmas, follow The Henry Girls into an enchanting world of winter!

From sparkling icicles to wolves in the forest, the joy of sledding at high speed or the wonder of the Aurora Borealis on a frosty night, discover the magic and mysteries of the festive season.

Perfect for all primary school classes, this show is an ideal opportunity to explore the Listening & Responding, Composing and Performing strand units of the Music curriculum. Attending this live music performance means children will see and hear outstanding Irish musicians performing brand new music on a range of instruments including piano, harp, voice, accordion, fiddle and double bass as well as percussion.

A free downloadable classroom pack is available to teachers which will provide a range of accessible music activities and creative approaches connected to the theme of the show. The activities will encourage music making projects in the classroom and support imaginative music responses to the performance which are relevant to the composing and performing music curriculum strands.

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-exploring-winter-through-music

The Ark

Date: Saturday 11th November, 10:30 am to 1.30pm

Refresh your music repertoire for this wintry time of year as you discover a number of great new seasonal songs that children will love as well as a range of creative ideas for using them in the classroom to deliver both the Performance and Composing strands of the music curriculum. Along the way you’ll be encouraged to throw out any preconceptions you may have about having a good or bad voice and nurture your love and passion for singing. With Lorna’s guidance you will explore how to work creatively with music in the classroom within a winter theme alongside exploring a number of ideas presented in our free teachers’ resource pack that accompanies the show.

Lorna McLaughlin, who is a member of the band The Henry Girls, will lead teachers in a hands-on music workshop working with songs and music material from our winter music show Tracks in the Snow which was commissioned by The Ark and written by The Henry Girls especially for young audiences.

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-exploring-winter-through-music

 

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

Jane Hayes, Artist 

The ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’ project is a programme for early years and their parents that focuses on the creative exploration of the five senses: taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight, and like all my projects was developed to enliven children’s disposition for wonderment, excitement, curiosity, and perseverance.

I designed and developed the programme for Scoil Chroí Íosa with the aim of engaging the children in an immersive, child-centred, art-rich learning environment that would aid their early learning and development, and complements the school’s Aistear and Síolta Frameworks.

Scoil Chroí Íosa is known in Galway for its commitment to delivering a rich creative arts programme and aiming to provide the children in the school with an education that is rich in creative thinking, learning and activity. They provide a holistic approach to education and give each child an opportunity to express themselves creatively through a range of arts activities and programmes. For these reasons I approached the school directly with the project, which was instantly received with enthusiasm.

Colin Barry, Principal

Scoil Chroí Íosa is a growing school of roughly 110 children who come from a variety of multi-cultural backgrounds. This gives our school a distinctly vibrant feel and makes it an important hub for the local community. We aim to provide for the holistic education of all our students through a variety of modern, research-based methodologies. One of the most effective teaching methodologies we have found is to teach children through the medium of the creative arts. We believe this transcends cultural differences, language barriers and academic aptitude. We, as a whole school community, decided to proactively move in this exciting new direction about 4 years ago.

In this challenging endeavour, we sought guidance and support from many fantastic arts organisations and individual creative practitioners based in and around Galway City. Jane Hayes was one such artist and educator who we were delighted to have work with our students. Jane’s project “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” was designed specifically for our younger pupils to engage actively with over a sustained period. The children were not engaged with a template-based approach, but rather were encouraged and supportively facilitated to use their own ideas creatively to make wonderful visual art.

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

Jane Hayes, Artist

The title was obviously inspired by the classic children’s story, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, but the ideas for the project came from my experience of young children’s ability to see the world around them from such a unique perspective, for example how they explain sounds, how they draw smells, how they talk about textures. While introducing them to activities designed to stimulated their senses, I wanted to allow them the space to explore the theme of the senses in a very open way, that would facilitate their natural creativity.

Each week I would facilitate 50 minute workshops with the three youngest classes in the school, where teachers and parents of the children were also encouraged to participate. The weekly workshops involved a range of interesting indoor and outdoor arts experiences, many of which took place in the school’s unique garden classroom. I developed these activities as a means to channel the children’s attention to the world around them, to encourage them to recognise the power of their senses, and to help them explore those senses creatively.

Students were encouraged to actively explore their world, gain independence by working independently, and also develop a sense of team work through group projects. Some of the activities undertaken included; making “tools” to see and hear, sensory play in the garden, largescale projection for storytelling, creating collaborative large-scale paintings with unexpected tools, nature walks with observation and creative reporting, creating visual landscapes of the senses, and constructing “musical instruments”.  Key to the process was encouraging children to take the lead and develop their own understanding of “the brief”. This was a little difficult at first, as children naturally turn to adults for instruction, especially in an educational setting. However, as the project progressed the young children became much more confident in making their own decisions.

There was an interesting dynamic between all the participants; the children, myself, parents and teachers. In the beginning teachers felt the need to guide the students, and parents the need to do things for the children, however, my role was to facilitate child-led engagement, and to model that interaction as a means to encouraging and enabling teachers and parents to do the same. It was a gradual process, with the adults needing time to adapt to a very open approach.  The children on the other hand easily adapted to their role as ‘leaders’ and showing their parents how to do things. The role reversal really worked, and a partnership approach to the projects really began to develop.

Sue Doherty, Teacher 

As a school, we had decided to promote all aspects of the creative arts in education and this project, ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’, was a perfect match for our new direction.

The project centred on the involvement of parents in their own child’s experience of creating and participating in collaborative art. We encouraged parents to come in to the school during Jane’s visits so that they themselves could also participate in the creation of art and work with their own child, exploring their senses, their world, and their feelings about art.

The actual process was a hugely positive experience for all.  It allowed parents and teachers to engage actively with the children’s imaginations and innate creative abilities, using immersive child-centred activities to create and explore art. Although the exhibition in June 2017 was an impressive celebration and showcase of the children’s work, the real success of the project was defined by the qualitative value of the social, emotional, educational and artistic aspects of the children’s experiences.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’, such an approach to art in education cannot come more highly commended.

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

Jane Hayes, Artist

Central to my approach is educating parents, teachers and the community about the importance of creativity in our lives and the lives of our children. I work to remove the fear and feelings of inadequacy that many adults have around creativity, and so this programme also worked to encourage and empower parents and teachers to engage in creativity with their children by including them in the process.  There were some really positive results.

Parent

I love the projects you have done with the children, they are actually quite easy, but I can see how much she enjoys this, and how much she loves when I work with her too.

As current research highlights, creative engagement from an early age is the most effective way to break down gender imbalance in creativity, is a powerful tool in improving children’s wellbeing, and helps aid personal development and build self-esteem.  However, in the school system anecdotal evidence suggests to me that it is older children that are often those selected for participation in arts in education projects. As I am especially committed to working within the early years remit I was dedicated to focusing on the youngest students in Scoil Chroí Íosa something that Principle Colin Barry was very positive about.

Colin Barry, Principal

“We are lucky to have lots of opportunities to collaborate with artists here, however, oftentimes when artists work in collaboration with schools they gravitate towards the older classes, 3rd and 4th for example.  The younger groups are often not as well catered for, so this is exactly what we need”.

It was clear that being gifted a significant time period to deliver the project resulted in a very rich experience for students, parents, teachers and myself the artist.  The fact that the workshops ran over an 11-week period meant that trust could be formed, greater understanding gained and richer engagement accomplished.  It was noted by the principle that having projects that allow for more meaningful engagement has greater long term effects, and that this approach allowed Teachers themselves to learn activities and approaches that they would be able to implement in the classroom themselves.

Ailbhe O’Donnell, Teacher

Jane was a great facilitator and allowed the children to experiment independently as much as possible, which they love to do. What was most exciting for the children is that their parents were invited along. Watching the children interact with parents was very interesting, as you usually only get to see them in the classroom environment. It was lovely to see parents getting stuck in helping, and also creating some Artwork themselves.

It was great to see the class work on collaborative pieces in a respectful, encouraging and creative way. The children had so much fun creating the large scale pieces together. Having the children focus on process rather than product kept them engaged and in control over their own work. I particularly liked the length of this project, which ran for 11 weeks in total. The children got into a creative routine every Thursday morning, which was great. They really took control over their own creativity. So much so, in fact, that they would be planning a week ahead in their minds what it was they would be creating the following Thursday.

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

Jane Hayes, Artist

One of my key objectives of “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” was to prioritise process over product. It can be challenging to shift teachers’ and parents’ focus away from finished pieces of art, but this project was successful in demonstrating how powerful, and creative, simply letting children explore, discover and enjoy the process can be. As a compromise to an exhibition of the children’s work, we ended the series with a Showcase, which was supported by the NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Institute (CKI) and Arts Office. The Showcase, mainly feature photos documenting the children’s experience, but also included a small selection of finished and unfinished pieces and research material.

Since completing the project I am more cognisant of how rich and valuable the process of making art can be, and have been working to shift my focus away from what the end product might be or do. I have commenced a new series, which is inspired by the “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” project and working with the children of Scoil Chroí Íosa, and am dedicating more time to exploring, discovering and enjoying. I am also working in a variety of settings, getting outside more, having seen what a positive impact that had on the children of Scoil Chroí Íosa and their creativity.

Participating Child

It’s just fun to play around, I really like this kind of art!

Participating Child

I love looking for flowers in the garden, it’s fun out here, it makes me happy.

Participating Child

I never knew you could make pictures with stones, that’s cool.

Participating Child

I love how the rice feels, it makes me feel relaxed

 

Tom Dalton headshotTom Dalton is an artist and former arts worker at Mayfield Arts Centre, Cork. 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 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 was 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 was also involved in coordinating and facilitating outreach projects to school and community groups throughout the city. Tom is currently retraining in furniture design and manufacture.

Collaborative Mural Project at Terrence McSwiney Community School, Cork

The Kabin Studio at Knocknaheeny is a much loved and utilized building. Tucked inside the grounds of Terrence McSwiney Community School, this little hut is home to GMC Beats, the creative initiative of Garry McCarthy. GMC Beats deliver workshops in creative songwriting, rapping, singing and music production. Working mostly with schools and youth groups, these workshops give people the confidence and skills in putting their own thoughts, words and voices into action through performing and recording their own songs. Over 600 tracks produced by various community groups have come out of this space over the last 5 years, often garnering local and national radio and media attention.

Although a hive of activity on the inside, the exterior of the building had begun to look a bit tired and was in dire need of some sprucing up. Norrie Louise Ross, Art Teacher at Terrence McSwiney Community School Art got in touch with us at Mayfield Arts Centre with the idea of working with her students to breathe new life into the building. The school was looking for a mural, created by the students and staff, that would reflect the energy and output coming from this small cabin.

Walking through the hallways of Terrence McSwiney Community School, its clear that staff and management there understand the value an engagement with art has on the life and learning of their students. Perched on an elevated site overlooking the city, light fills the building, illuminating walls filled with student work. A spirit of collaboration and partnership between the school community and various local artists and groups has produced much of these works.

The school was approaching the end of the academic year and Ms Ross was keen to introduce an element of teamwork and fun into the school’s activity in order to maintain student engagement at a time when attendance can wain. A group of seventeen 2nd year students were selected to be part of the project, many of whom Mayfield Arts Centre had gotten to know over the years through other projects. Mayfield Arts staff Wayne Ford and I were joined by Ms Ross, JCSP Librarian Anne Masterson, Garry McCarthy and SNA staff in carrying out the mural alongside the students.

Every Wednesday for three weeks our team of staff and students gathered at the cabin, donned our white painting jumpsuits and got to work. Given the short time frame for the project we devised a framework whereby the mural would be designed ‘on the go’ and carried out by our team from the moment we stepped onsite.

The first part of this plan involved geometric ‘drawing’ on the wall surfaces using masking tape. Each team member was handed a roll of masking tape and a single line of tape was ran diagonally across the cabin wall. From here the group used their rolls of tape to divide up the space into intersecting shapes of triangles, lozenges, diamonds and rectangles. Members spread out over three of the sides of the building, their design growing and changing as more tape was added.

Now and again we would all stand back and as a group, discuss how things were going; how was our design looking? Did it have balance? Did we need to add more lines? Or take some away?

Once a consensus was reached each person was handed gloves, a small tub of paint and a brush. We selected chalky greys, dusty whites and charcoal blacks to give it a graphic aesthetic, but this palette also acted as a neutral ground for other graffiti works to join the wall into the future.

The group moved around the building painting in the shapes made by the tape, swapping colours between themselves. Once all the spaces were filled and the paint had time to dry the tape was peeled back revealing the patterned surface. Over the course of the few days this processes was repeated, adding shapes over shapes, and carving the space up in different ways.

G-MC Mural 0517 (16)_edit

It was wonderful to see both students and staff at the school working shoulder to shoulder. Kitted out in our painting jumpsuits we were all equal members of the same team. The Kabin now stands out in all the right ways, and there is a renewed sense of ownership of the space among the students at the school.

To find out more about the work that goes on at The Kabin visit gmcbeats.com

Mayfield Arts Centre would like to thank Norrie Louise Ross, Anne Masterson, Principal Phil O’Flynn, Gary McCarthy and all the students for their support and commitment to the project.

For more information visit mayfieldarts.ie

 

 

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

Leanne Kyle, Teacher

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

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

Lisa Cahill, Artist

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

And so our journey unfolded.

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

Leanne

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leanne

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

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

Lisa

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

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

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

Leanne

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

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

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

Lisa

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

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

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Leanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa

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

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

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

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

I think there are different ways of thinking about this.

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

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

Recognise

Acknowledge

Acceptance – acceptance of where someone is right now.

A non-linear approach to learning and achievement.

What is between the teacher and the artist?

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you know now?”

“How are you now?”

This year sees the inauguration of Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. These awards are brought to you by Image Masters Photography in partnership with Dublin Zoo, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and MummyPages.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time subtly educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free Entry to Dublin Zoo for the overall winner and their classmates, digital cameras for winners and their schools, framed photographs, certificates of achievement and school photography fundraising days in aid of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

This years’ theme is titled ‘Making Memories’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day to generate discussion and understanding around the idea of memory/memories. All entries will be judged by a national panel including John Boyle (INTO President), Ronan Smith (Chair of ASI Irish Dementia Working Group), Aideen Howard (Director: The Ark, Dublin), Catherine Bowe (Visual Art Manager: Wexford Art Centre) and Richard Carr (Artist & School Liaison).

If your school would like to get involved they can request their schools access codes from the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie – here you will be able to activate your school account and begin uploading your students’ entries.

The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday 19th January 2018 so make sure you have activated your school account well in advance of this date.

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

Blog 3 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leanne Troy is a primary school teacher based in the Midlands. She told us that she has a great passion for art both inside and outside the classroom. ShLeanne Headshote attended Learning through Creativity educational course at the Glucksman Art Gallery this summer

I am very enthusiastic about visual art and its impact on education. I challenge myself to try and be as creative as possible in all my approaches to teaching each subject area. Thematic teaching allows me to integrate subjects more freely and use more hands on visual methods. An example of this is the Craft Ed project I recently undertook through my local education centre (a fantastic scheme that unfortunately very few teachers know about). For this project I was paired with a local artist who came to my school to complete a six week project. The wood carving artist and I team taught my class in 2 hour blocks. The children from my 1st class were delighted to be handed chisels and pieces of wood! We based the project on a trip to Lough Boora Sculpture park in Co.Offaly, where the children learned all about the local wildlife and the history of the bog . Each child chose an animal to write a report on and also drew an accompanying image. This image was then transferred onto the wood and carved out. The results were amazing. We created our very own ‘Sky Train’ which is proudly on show at the front of our school.

My experiences with Craft Ed have even further heightened my interest in art education and so I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas and ways to upskill and develop my artistic abilities. I try to attend as many local art workshops as I can in areas such as ceramics, mosaics as well as art education classes in the Glucksman Art Gallery in University College Cork. A particularly strong influence is the art classes I attend with Hazel Greene in Shinrone Co.Offaly, where we paint mostly landscapes using acrylics. We also complete silk paintings and palate knife paintings. I also gain a lot of experience and inspiration from the childrens’ summer camp I run each year.  I am the co-founder of an art and alternative sports camp, named Da Vinci’s Frisbees, with my partner Liam. Our camp is in its fourth successful summer and it is based in Offaly and Cork. The art activities focus on the process of art making and creativity.

So this week I was delighted to get the opportunity to attend my own summer camp, in the form of the Learning through Creativity educational course run by Tadhg Crowley at the Glucksman Art Gallery. The bright, airy spacious gallery is the perfect space to facilitate our week long voyage of discovery.  Even with the end of the summer holidays looming, I was very excited. Throughout the week we have looked at art and the possibilities for integration with other subject areas on the primary curriculum.  We have explored various examples of artists that could be used to facilitate the creative combination of Art with Maths, English, History, Science and SPHE. Each afternoon we were also lucky enough to work with different artists to put into practice the theory from the morning session.

Initially we started off our discussion on the impact of art on education. Just like when you read a good book, art education allows you to develop empathy, different points of view and it awakens your senses.  Tadhg introduced the concept of creativity to us as an essential part to education and a unique human factor which allows us to show case our individuality. Everybody is creative in some shape or form whether it’s through your sense of fashion or how you hang the clothes on the washing line! Creativity is even fast becoming one of the most desired characteristics for employers who are seeking to employ innovative problem solving employees. Children are the future so let us prepare them as best we can!

I particularly enjoyed the caricature depicted by Ann Bamford, the art educator, which really highlighted the importance of teachers developing creative teaching methodologies in order to differentiate for the children in their class. There is a line of zoo animals in front of a tree.  Maybe there was an elephant, a lion, a monkey, a seal and a zebra. The teacher tells the class, ‘Now climb the tree’.  We discussed how as educators, we sometimes ask all of our class to do the same thing, using the same method, when there are many different capabilities and skills present in every classroom. By making the effort to offer a variety of imaginative approaches we will have a much more beneficial impact on the education of our students. We were also told about the impressive project in Harvard Medical school, ‘Training the Eye: Improving the Art of Physical Diagnosis’. In this project a group of doctors were split into two groups. Group A received an art education course and group B didn’t.  Both groups were observed during their medical careers and it was found that group A had a much higher diagnosis rate with their patients. We discussed how art education can make you become more aware of your surroundings and awaken your senses and this was clearly evident for the doctors in group A who were demonstrating these skills.

I also thoroughly enjoyed working with Cork based artist, Cassandra Eustace, who outlined numerous invaluable creative activities linking art and language. These simple tasks included drawing simple still life objects using a blinder on the pencil. This took all of the stress out of drawing and some of the control. It really made you focus your attention and become aware of the lines and what you were looking at.  We also used a view finder and an acetate sheet to draw our hands. Both of these tasks took a lot of concentration but they were fun and you did not have to be ‘good’ at drawing. Everyone can find their artist!  Following this we then had to pick an object in the room and write a description about it without giving the name of the object away. For example, I chose a fire extinguisher and described it as a hard, cold, bright metal object with a beak that made me feel safe. These descriptions were then swapped with a partner. Based on the descriptive piece of writing that you received, you then had to create a collage of words and images, which made for some very interesting results! Another appealing activity was highlighting the use of drawing as a way of communicating and expressing ourselves. Using simple notebooks we had to respond to words that Cassandra said, firstly through non representative lines and then using symbols or images.  A series of words were used like, bored, angry, peaceful etc. All of the activities used very little materials and took very little organisation or tidying up, which will make them attractive to a lot of teachers. But also they provided a chance for children to express themselves in very creative ways.

Artists such as, Josef Albers, Sol Lewitt and Bridget Riley provided inspiration for our maths based art activities with artist, Dominic Fee. Dominic has an excellent website which links numerous artists to the world of maths and he outlined links to various strands in the curriculum, especially around the area of shapes, spatial awareness and tessellations. I enjoyed layering 2d shapes using textured wallpaper and ink. This was then passed through a printing press. For most schools, there is not the luxury of a printing press, so Dominic showed us how the taped down acetate sheet and paper can be covered in paper and a poly pocket and then a wooden/metal spoon can be rubbed vigorously on top to create the print.

We then examined the links between art and history. Tadhg outlined how art works can tell us about the clothes, politics, social situations and living conditions at different periods of time. As a cross curricular activity we had to arrange a number of paintings into a time line (which I found very challenging!)  Tadhg went on to highlight William Kentridge, Rita Duffy and Kerry James Marshall as artists who could be used to discuss themes such as conflict and human rights. This approach would be an imaginative visual way of tackling history in a classroom.

Later in the week with the guidance of artist Kevin Mooney, we studied some pictures of ancient artefacts and responded to the various images through painting. It was interesting to mix the various patterns seen in the images and collaborate African statues, the Book of Kells and New Grange into the one piece. One of my favourite activities that Kevin outlined was painting in response to a text. This simple idea could be used with any age group. We underlined the adjectives in a descriptive section about Cuchulainn and then depicted the words through painting and mark making.

As we were in the renowned architecturally designed gallery, it was only fitting that we also had a tour of the current exhibition, Now Wakes the Sea. I really feel that the pieces of art would mean little to me if I did not get the history and background of them and begin to fully appreciate the process that went in to making the piece of art. I was very impressed by the stories that went with each piece. This led to some interesting discussions for the group, for example, we discussed who decides what art is worthy of hanging in a gallery. I think that an established artist can justify his/her pieces through outlining the process of the production and the idea behind it’s creation which in most cases turns out to be fascinating, even if the end piece sometimes does not seem impressive. Without the tour and information I feel that I could have been staring mindlessly at the art wondering what I was supposed to be looking at! This experience made me become more aware of my surroundings, engaging all of my senses in the process of looking at the art. Perhaps most importantly as a teacher it further developed my sense of empathy for the art making process, as opposed to just the final piece of art. This outlook allows me to appreciate art, (and life more generally) from different viewpoints and perspectives, a skill which I feel would be hugely beneficial for the children in my classroom.

The gallery tour also made me question what is it that can be described as art, the possibilities are endless. I am starting to develop a broader concept of more non-traditional examples of art work. As a very interesting activity we had to choose a piece of art from the current exhibition, Now Wakes the Sea, and develop a set of questions that could be used with children. This process of really looking at the art, identifying how it was made, the materials used, the colours, shapes and lines present in the piece as well as the whole thought process behind the piece, made me become much more aware of what I was looking at. My list of questions for my class became longer as I thought about what the children might see and how I could broaden their perspectives when studying a piece of art. For example, what is your first impression when you look at this art, how does it make you feel, what is the mood/tone, does it remind you of anything, what is the focal point, what title would you give this piece etc.

Tadhg went on to discuss the benefits of using a 3d object like a sculpture or an artefact to initiate a lesson. An object would make for an interesting starting point for engaging the children in a lesson. A visual stimulus like this could be multi-sensory and accommodate various learning needs in the class. It would also help to develop visual literacy in children as well as their capacity for careful critical observation of their world. I think that I would have to practice this approach myself to build up my confidence before introducing it to my classroom. However, I can see how it would create a buzz of excitement in the classroom to place some strange sculpture on the table and start the journey of exploration through the senses.

A highlight of the course was working with Killian, when we were integrating Art with Science. We developed photograms! In the dark room, I arranged my jewellery on a special sheet of light treated paper and placed a lamp directly above it for about five seconds. The piece of paper was then put in a tray of water with the chemical developer until the image appeared. The paper was then lifted into the water mixed with the chemical fixer for thirty seconds, before being rinsed off. I was both shocked and amazed at how simple the process was to create such a cool piece of art. I was so delighted to realise how cheap and easy it would be to set up a dark room in a school store room.  My third class are in for a treat this year! Bring on September, I can’t wait to try out some of my new ideas!

Tom Dalton is an artist and former arts worker at Mayfield Arts Centre, Cork. Mayfield Arts provides opportunities for participTom Dalton headshotants 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 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 was 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 was also involved in coordinating and facilitating outreach projects to school and community groups throughout the city. Tom is currently retraining in furniture design and manufacture

‘Parting Memories’: St. Patrick’s Girls National School Mural

Making the move from Primary to Secondary School can be a big deal. In 6th class you’re the big fish in the pond – you know the school like the back of your hand, younger kids look up to you and you have mastery of your environment.  When I meet the 6th Class year group of at St. Patrick’s Girls National School, Gardiners Hill, the countdown to the end of the school year is underway. There is a buzz in the air – mostly of excitement, but with a little trepidation stirred in also. As eager the girls are to be approaching summer holidays there is an understanding that this is the last few weeks of their time within the walls of the school. The girls will surely miss this place – the colourful hallways, the sounds of the playground, the generosity of their teachers, the friendships they’ve formed. While many of the girls will continue on with their education just a short hop across the yard at St Patrick’s College, others are enrolled in other schools across the city – It’s the last few weeks they will all be together as a group.

Principal of St. Patrick’s Girls National School, Mrs Eileen Kelly, got in touch with us at Mayfield Arts to help devise an art project that would engage the 6th class girls creatively in this time of transition in their lives. There is a strong ethos of the holistic development of all children in St. Patrick’s Girls National School; ‘Our school is a happy, active, safe environment where we include, encourage and respect each other.’

Mrs Kelly wished to involve her students in something that would pay tribute to those ‘pupils and staff who have passed through our school, each making a difference.’ Mrs Kelly led me to a light filled corridor in the school and proposed it as the site of our project.

‘Parting Memories’ is a three dimensional wall mural composed of hundreds of origami butterflies individually created by the girls. A key motivation in designing the project was to provide an opportunity for reflection on time spent in the school; to recall, recount and visualize shared memories. It was hoped that this process of shared reflection on time spent together could make this time of change smoother for the girls; the process of remembering acting like a talisman for the crossing into the next phase of their lives.

Arts workers Wayne Ford and I, with support from Cuig artists Ailbhe Barrett and Bríd Heffernan made four trips to the school over the month of May, conducting workshops with Ms Dunne and Ms Conran’s classes of twenty five students.  Each student was asked to design and make two little paper butterflies. Each butterfly contains a memory between its folds – this could be a story, a memory or a wish for the future.

Origami can take a bit of time to get the hang of. Some of the girls mastered the butterfly shapes quickly, while others took more time. Once one or two had gotten the hang of things it was lovely to see the girls offer help to others in the group. The learning of this new skill spread and soon the tables and floor were scattered with little paper butterflies.

Once the technique was learned, each person was handed two squares of thick paper – one lined in either blue or red, reminiscent of copy book paper, the other blank. Instructions were simple; on the lined paper the girls were asked to recount a story or memory from school. Students were encouraged to ‘write outside the lines’, incorporating the lines of the page into their designs. Some stories spiralled through the lines, others fanned out in multiple directions. Once folded into shape the lines of the paper form geometric patterns, with the stories and memories tucked up inside.

On the second sheet the girls had free reign in visualising a memory from the past six years. Some of the work represented their involvement in school activities such as sport, drama and science, others depicted the forming of friendships, the natural surrounding the school or patterned abstraction. Once completed each butterfly was coated in a hardening medium and affixed to the wall. The installation resembles butterflies taking flight, symbolising the girl’s departure from the school – flocking together, yet moving on their own path through life.

The mural was kindly opened by Micheál Martin TD during a visit to the school in June. He told the girls that the mural reminded him that art is for everybody and is a reminder that it is the individuality of each of the girls that makes the school so special.

The real magic in this project for me is in witnessing what emerges when people are provided with time and space for reflection and exploration. There was a hum of conversation throughout the workshops as the girls drew out stories from one another. The success of the mural lies in the collective; the coming together of individual parts to make a whole. Mrs Kelly tells me that ‘every time I look at the mural a new butterfly stands out’. I think that’s lovely.

This project was generously funded by St. Patrick’s Girls National School, Gardiner’s Hill.

Mayfield Arts would like to thank principal Mrs Kelly, and teachers Ms Conran and Ms Dunne for their support during this project.

For more information visit mayfieldarts.ie or stpatricksgirls.net

Claire is a visual artist, curator and arts educator based in Dublin. Over the last twenty years Claire has worked with a range of grouOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAps across many age groups from Primary School children through to Second and Third level students, teachers, community groups, intellectual disability groups and older people. These projects have taken place in a range of settings and contexts including museum gallery based, classroom, library, healthcare, local authority and community settings and over a range of timescales. Claire is represented by Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin and is currently curating Concerning the Other – an artist collaborative project with the gallery in September 2017.

Visual Thinking Strategies with DCC Neighbourhood Schools – St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview

In my last blog post I outlined the DCC Neighbourhood Schools Visual Thinking Strategies project with which I am co-ordinator and VTS Facilitator. The aim and structure of the VTS: Neighbourhood Schools project is to continue to use Visual Thinking Strategies to add to the knowledge of the arts and build on the sense of place and experience that the children in Central Model N.S have and to share that experience with their neighbours through working in close collaboration with two schools (St. Mary’s N.S, Fairview and St. Vincent’s B.N.S, Ballybough) with trained VTS practitioners in each of the schools.

As mentioned previously I completed the VTS Beginners Practicum Training in September 2016 and was very enthusiastic about trying out VTS facilitation with a class group over a number of sessions. With the support of DCC Arts Office I approached St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview. The aim of a series of sessions was for me to practice VTS in its pure form in St Mary’s N.S., Fairview – a school where I have been working as artist in residence for 5 years practicing art making with the children. The purpose of this was to model the VTS method for the class teacher and to evaluate how VTS works for me as practicing artist in education, the children, and the classroom teacher, in order to inform the school Principal and DCC Arts Office.

Eibhlín McGarry, Principal and Evita Coyle, 4th Class teacher were hugely supportive and enthusiastic about the project and from the outset we agreed that at least half of the sessions would be exhibition visits to The LAB, Hugh Lane Gallery and exhibitions of contemporary art.

In a lot of ways this project differs to how the VTS Programme’s are run in the US. And as the project is developing we are encountering these differences and complexities. A VTS Programme in the US with a beginners group would usually comprise six sessions with a class group over 6 months – ie. once a month. The VTS facilitator would work from the “curriculum” of carefully selected images that have been “tested” for VTS facilitation with groups in the classroom and would include just one museum or gallery visit.

With St.Mary’s N.S and the VTS Neighbourhood Schools Project, the emphasis is on exhibition visits and encountering the best of contemporary art by Irish artists and using VTS to look at this work. From the initial sessions where it felt more like a guessing game of “Did we get it right?” with observation and notation of imagery, subject in the artwork and little reading of the work beyond that to sessions now with engaged discussions around content, materials, scale and artists intent. From my initial introduction to Visual Thinking Strategies it was explained that people like to tell stories, people like to tell you what they know, their experiences. With a 4th Class group you might think that they would have limited experience and reference points. But bearing in mind this is a 4th Class group from Dublin 3, mainly living in Eastwall, Summerhill, Ballybough and the inner city with a demographic of 24 nationalities in the school – the social and cultural diversity and extent of their references and experience is far reaching.

As a practicing visual artist it has been hugely enlightening and enriching to experience exhibitions with a group through facilitating these VTS sessions. It has made me reflect on my own artworks in a different light and how I view artworks and exhibitions. I am intrigued by the observations, theorising and discussions that happen in the sessions. Also seeing the development within the classgroup – their oral language, articulation, observations as well as confidence. This has quite naturally spilled over into other subjects in the classroom. Evita (class teacher) has observed that the class are now very naturally using “I agree with” and “I think that because”. More importantly they are recognising acknowledging there can be more than one meaning, and multiple perspectives on a subject.

The wider impact of the VTS Project with this class group is a work in progress. The project is twofold – it is a Visual Thinking Strategies Project but also a project where the class are visiting, experiencing and familiarising themselves with the best of contemporary Irish art in contemporary galleries. They encounter artworks with an engagement and enquiry that is refreshing and inspiring. The exhibitions and works that we are viewing and experiencing are challenging and complex – the girls are undaunted by this and comfortable and confident in discussing works and visiting galleries and meeting artists and discussing their work as recently with Aideen Barry at The LAB.

We are looking forward to meeting with the other class groups, teachers and VTS Practitioners from St. Vincent’s BNS and Central Model Senior School to share and exchange experiences in the next stage of the project commencing in September 2017.

Links:

Dublin City Arts Office

DCC Project 2020

St.Mary’s N.S, Fairview

Claire Halpin

 

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Claire is a visual artist, curator and arts educator based in Dublin. Over the last twenty years Claire has worked with a range of groups across many age groups from Primary School children through to Second and Third level students, teachers, community groups, intellectual disability groups and older people. These projects have taken place in a range of settings and contexts including museum gallery based, classroom, library, healthcare, local authority and community settings and over a range of timescales. Claire is represented by Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin and is currently curating Concerning the Other – an artist collaborative project with the gallery in September 2017.

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Blog Post 2

Drawing Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Blog Post 1:

Art enables a magical way of being in the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher/Artist Partnerships: supporting and enhancing Arts Education in Primary Schools

This is a unique summer course offering teachers the opportunity to explore the nature and educational value of partnerships between teachers and artists in supporting arts education in schools.

This course, which has the potential to improve literacy, numeracy and well-being in all schools including DEIS, will be offered across the Education Centre Network in 2017. It is supported by the Department of Education & Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. Many schools across the country are engaged in projects with artists, in a variety of art forms, ranging from one-off artist visits to longer term projects. If you are currently engaged in such a project, or are planning one for the coming year, then this course will be of interest to you. This course looks at the ways in which working with an artist in school can be enhanced in order to provide meaningful experiences for children and a lasting impact on school practice. Particular emphasis will be on the role of the teacher and artist, their unique contributions to projects and the significant benefits that can accrue from a dynamic teacher/artist relationship in the planning and implementation of projects. Placing the teacher/artist project within the overall Arts Curriculum in schools and exploration of related practical issues will be central to the course.

The course draws on research in the field and looks at practical teacher/artist projects and partnerships that have been undertaken in schools recently. Various art forms will be explored and participants will have opportunities to explore their own creativity throughout the week. Course tutors are teachers and artists who have been involved in such projects and participants on the course will include both teachers and local artists. Artists participating in the summer course are nominated through their local authority arts offices.

Are you looking to improve your understanding of arts education, to improve Arts Curriculum integration in your classroom, to work with a partner in the field of ‘The Arts’, to engage with a professional artist as a way of improving your own arts teaching skills? Would you welcome the input and insight of a practising artist while teaching the children in your care?

Schools Principals might consider this course in the context of the Government’s Creative Ireland Programme 2017-2022, featuring “Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child” in Pillar 1 (creativeireland.ie), the upcoming launch of a Creative Children plan in September 2017 and the overall development of arts education your school community. It may be useful to consider more than one teacher attending from a school or even whole school participation.

A Teacher/ Artist Residency programme will be available to a limited number of the schools which participated in this summer course in the school year 2017-2018. While there is no guarantee that your school will have access to a residency in 2017-2018, this course will provide you with the skills and knowledge to support you and your school in your implementation of the Arts Curriculum.

Date & Venue: Please contact your local Education Centre (Teachers will receive EPV days). The course is free.

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

CREATIVE DANCE TALES is storytelling through dance. It began as a pilot workshop series supported by The Ireland Funds in 2015, and ran in parallel with David Bolger’s production THE WOLF AND PETER by CoisCéim Dance Theatre. The workshops were delivered to over 300 children in 8 primary schools around Ireland, giving children an imaginative, kinaesthetic learning experience in dance. Two professional development workshops for educators were also held in Dublin and Galway. In part CREATIVE DANCE TALES emerged from requests made by teachers in primary schools. It was supported by CoisCéim’s Arts Council funded residency at The School of Arts, Education and Movement, Institute of Education, St Patrick’s Campus, DCU, and as a legacy to the three year residency, was developed by CoisCéim Broadreach and the Physical Education Unit.

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

The project evolved through working with children in different primary school settings nationwide, and through working with the Physical Education Unit and undergraduate student teachers from The Institute of Education, formally St Patrick’s College, on an in-school creative dance project as part of the physical education major specialism.

In autumn 2015, Philippa Donnellan (Director of CoisCéim BROADREACH) worked with children in different primary school settings nationwide in parallel with a national tour of CoisCéim Dance Theatre’s production of The Wolf and Peter by David Bolger, the Artistic Director. In spring 2016 she then commenced work with the Physical Education Unit and undergraduate student teachers from The Institute of Education DCU, formerly St Patrick’s College, on a creative dance project as part of their physical education major specialism studies. Content and ideas drew from the musical score and the choreographic and dramatic material of The Wolf and Peter. Philippa led the work, building on the students’ previous work in creative dance as part of their PE modules. Following on this, the students were supported teaching dance to local primary school children using the Creative Dance Tales draft lesson plans. These were subsequently revised based on observations of the student teachers planning and teaching as well as the responses of children. The lesson plans provide detailed and easy to follow guidance on creative dance activities inspired by Peter’s dance, the dance of the Hunters and of course the Wolf dance. The Creative Dance Tales digital resource is the culmination of this work involving children, an artist, student teachers and teacher educators.

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

From the point of view of the DANCE ARTIST – The success of the project was witnessing how fully the children engaged and enjoyed working creatively in dance. Almost without exception, their enthusiasm and excitement in ‘becoming the wolf’ or animating the character of Peter and dancing together demonstrated how positive dance activity as a mode of learning. Challenges have included developing a fully comprehensive digital resource, which maintains artistic integrity within a clear education framework, and is engaging and accessible for teachers and dance artists alike.

From the point of view of the LECTURERS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION – The successes from our perspective included the engagement of the student teachers with the CREATIVE TALES DANCE workshops and the quality of their work. Observing the progression in the student teachers teaching of the dance lessons to the local primary school children was encouraging. The student teachers pedagogical skills improved, as well as the quality of the children’s performances. The student teachers confidence and understanding to teach creative dance was evident in their comments and reflective diaries.  The opportunities for the students, staff, local primary school children and their teachers to see the performance of THE WOLF AND PETER at the St. Patrick’s Campus auditorium was a positive and enriching community event. Challenges included the administration involved in the various aspects of the project, the time required to write, design, and edit the resource.

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

The project helped to link the Physical Education lecturers, student teachers, teachers, children, CoisCéim and other curriculum staff members on a joyful, meaningful, visual and practical dance journey, which was linked to the Irish Primary School Curriculum (1999).  The CREATIVE DANCE TALES digital resource is a significant teaching support available on the Arts Portal website for teachers, student teachers and others.

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

From the point of view of the DANCE ARTIST – As the lead Dance Artist on this project, the experience and understanding gained from working in varied formal educational settings – has clarified my own dance education work. In particular I believe it has simplified, yet focused my teaching skills and the different methods I employ in guiding children to grow and learn creatively.

From the point of view of the LECTURERS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Having the CREATIVE DANCE TALE resource will support physical education dance work with student teachers. Having the resource available in digital format allows easy access for the student teachers to teach the lessons while on school placement. They can inform teachers in their school placement schools of the availability of the resource. The Physical Education Unit and The Irish Primary Physical Education Association can share the link to the resource on their respective websites.

To download the resource pack, click here.

For individual teacher lesson plan

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_1.pdf

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_2.pdf

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_3.pdf

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_4.pdf

The Ark presents an engaging selection of arts summer courses for primary school teachers and a concert for school groups.

Concert for School Groups:

Shakespeare’s Music Mix – Fri 23 June @ 10.15am & 12.15pm (1st-6th Class)

Teacher’s Summer Courses:

Creative Writing & Special Educational Needs – 3-7 July 2017

A Visual Arts Approach – 14 Aug – 18 Aug 2017

Creative Music & Drama – 21-25 August 2017

For more information please contact (01)6707788/boxoffice@ark.ie

 

 

 

CREATIVE DANCE TALES is storytelling through dance. It began as a pilot workshop project in 2015 which ran in parallel with CoisCéim Dance Theatre’s THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger and its three year-long residency at DCU (formerly St. Patrick’s College).

Supported by The Ireland Funds, CoisCéim BROADREACH conducted 26 workshops in 8 primary schools at 6 locations around Ireland with over 300 children taking part. Two specialist seminars for educators were held in Dublin and Galway. CREATIVE DANCE TALES gave children an imaginative, kinaesthetic learning experience in dance and highlighted the power of storytelling through performance.

Emerging in part from requests made by teachers, the CREATIVE DANCE TALES DIGITAL RESOURCE was developed together by BROADREACH and the Physical Education Unit, The School of Arts Education and Movement, Institute of Education, DCU, and funded through the residency by the Arts Council of Ireland.

It is a celebration of the work of children, students, teachers, teacher educators and dance professionals. Distributed free of charge through the Arts in Education Portal in Ireland and www.dcu.ie, the lesson plans are designed to act as a starting point to stimulate creative thinking for teachers and children alike.

To download the resource pack, click here.

For individual teacher lesson plan

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_1.pdf

 

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_2.pdf

 

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_3.pdf

 

https://artsineducation.ie/wp-content/uploads/CDTLesson_4.pdf

 

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

Helen Barry, Artist: During my introductory meeting with the teacher Ms. Smyth, Sharon offered the brief “I would like the children to do something that they would normally never do in the classroom”. The children were in senior infants and aged between 5 and 6 years. The introductory session is extremely important in understanding the context of the school, the previous arts experience of the school and teacher and the schools based experience of the artist. I would like to highlight the word ‘Space’ as used in our title. We literally explored all possible definitions of the word and still continue to do so as we have a few sessions left. It was not an intentional theme but one that grew very organically from the moment I entered the classroom. The children’s classroom was the biggest space that I have ever worked in; it was Autumn and the children were exploring intergalactic space. My first actual workshop with the children focused on spatial awareness creating spaces using huge rolls of metallic foam and moving about in these temporary spaces. I had also brought with me a variety of materials to play with and included four pieces of white polystyrene that formed the main body of our rocket. We cannot give credit to any one being for this decision other than being a something that was on everyone’s mind in the classroom so it just all happened in a split second.

Through designing and building the rocket together the children began to understand structure and stability. With these new skills and a wide range of materials we further explored scale and constructions both inside and outside of the classroom. We built different spaces focusing on dome structures, a dominant shape that frequently appears throughout my work. As we constructed our structures we were met with many challenges. As we were ‘testing’ with materials and designs it was often the children who offered the solutions to building more stable pieces. Again I found that Sharon was really positive when met with these sort of challenges, when things collapsed she felt that this is where the children learnt more as it demanded more from them and often displayed a strong voice from children who often remained in the background. One of our domes has been given a permanent home in the school grounds. We have planted a willow dome that will grow with the children throughout their primary school journey with them. The children will tend to the willow dome in the coming years and I will maintain my relationship with Sharon, the children and the school.

Sharon Smyth, Teacher: The offer of applying for the program was put forward by our school principal. Having read up on the initiative and what was involved I put my name forward to be considered. I felt that it was a great opportunity to offer my class something beyond that which my ability and confidence might allow if I were to tackle such a project on my own. During our initial meeting Helen spoke of construction, incorporating the classroom tables and chairs, rockets flying into space and using the top half of the room (from the ceiling down) to explore ‘Space’. I knew that a truly unique and exciting experience was possible for my girls, it just required a little leap of faith!

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

HB Artist: The immediacy of what we created in the first session provided the impetus for what developed over several months. Each idea rolled seamlessly into the next. We tested a number of ideas that came from discussions with the teacher and the children. Our rocket claimed centre stage as its design was carefully and enthusiastically managed by the children. The process demanded group work and teaming building. Often children as young as this can struggle with group decision-making. This group of senior infants rose to the challenge and seemed to grow in maturity and independence as the weeks progressed. Their teacher Sharon provided the space for the children and I to totally explore the ‘unknown’. Sharon has such a wonderful belief in each child’s abilities and is very open to discovering new ways of learning. She also proved that she was possibly more open than I was at times to leaving structure and routine aside and just going with the flow.

SS Teacher: Helen immediately looked to tie her work in with what the class were already learning about. This gained their attention and focus while at the same time taking their learning in a new and exciting direction. I watched (in awe) from week to week as my class became more efficient in teamwork, understanding of each other’s needs and willingness to take on the ideas of those around them (a very tricky task in the world of the ego centric 5/6year old!)

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

HB Artist: From the outset the scale of the materials we were working with demanded teamwork. Explaining to each team or group what they had to do I initially found challenging but as the work developed the children worked brilliantly in small teams, responding well to each other and supporting each other’s ideas and designs. So much so that when they were working on individual activities the children would automatically offer their assistance when they saw that someone needed it. The class size was large with 30 students. Initially the children seemed very young and the dynamic could heighten very easily but very quickly they became more capable and independent as the project developed.

SS Teacher: Initially I was a little at sea as to my role within the program/sessions. I wasn’t sure how much I was to observe or work hands-on with what the class were engaging with. As the weeks passed I felt that the more I tried the various activities, got involved and even on some occasions offered advice or help, the easier and more confident I became. While I hoped my own teaching would grow in this way through the program I am delighted that I would now have the confidence to try projects and lessons that are larger in scale and ‘space’ than I would ever have dared before.

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

HB Artist: The willow dome has provided a new material and timeframe for how I work. Planting willow cuttings has given root to another similar project. Since planting the willow dome with the children in St. Raphaela’s I have planted a second willow dome with children in St. John The Baptist P.S. in Belfast. This experience has demonstrated the openness of the primary school classroom. Sharon, along with so many teachers, has proven time and time again the willingness to engage with and support the arts and creativity in the classroom.

SS Teacher: I honestly don’t know where to begin in putting into words the value and worth of what my class has gained from their (and my) entire experience with Helen. Helen is not only an outstanding artist but she possesses an incredible understanding and appreciation of how her profession and skills can be brought to life within the classroom. While I have always loved to paint and ‘do art’ with classes I have taught I now realize that my vision and understanding of what ‘art’ teaching is has never truly reached its full potential. I sincerely believe that a product is not necessary at the end of a lesson but that the process is what is important but now I embrace this even more wholeheartedly.

Our space rocket, with its initial design, exploration of materials and slow but steady assembly took many weeks to complete before it managed to hang majestically (the word chosen by my class) from the middle of our ceiling. Alongside the many artistic lessons the girls engaged in, it was also a lesson in PATIENCE. I do not mean the patience required until it is your turn to stick or glue, cut or offer an idea. It was the patience of allowing the spaceship to build and come together over time. This required hours of collaboration, compromise and debate as week by week another element was added. Indeed at one point the wings of our spaceship were thought to be stained glass windows for Christmas by those passing by the room! To have rushed this project so as to have a ‘product’ by the end of two or three sessions would have meant missing out on a world of learning and discovery.

From our rocket we moved on quite seamlessly to building domes. Again we took this step by step exploring how best to support them – building foundations, securing poles side by side. It is how this was approached that I was enthralled by. One session saw the class link themselves together and learn how to form strong bonds between each loop. How much deeper is this learning than just ‘let’s build a dome’. What has come of this in the most organic way (planting our own dome) is absolutely fascinating. Over the coming years the dome will grow and develop alongside the girls. Helen has agreed to return to the school each year and work with the class in a number of sessions to shape and maintain the structures. The learning and integration that will occur across the curriculum as both the girls and structures progress will be a very special experience and we are very grateful to Helen for her commitment of time and expertise in the project.

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

HB Artist: Experiment and exploring with new ideas and materials naturally results in some things that do not work. At times I find this quite unnerving if somewhat stressful feeling that I let the children down. Sharon is very skilled in demonstrating and supporting ‘mistakes’ that don’t always turn out to have been for the best. I hope to be able to use her perspective in how I deal with challenging situations in the future. Planting willow has been a new departure in using materials. The maintaining of the willow dome will enable or demand that I will be working on a project that will grow and change over many years.

SS Teacher: The biggest thing I feel that has changed in my work as a teacher is that I would now be happy to allow my art lessons carry for a number of weeks without feeling the pressure to ‘have something on the wall’ or ‘a picture to send home on a Friday’. So many of our lessons were tied into building our rocket and yet they splintered off more often than not into lessons of their own, producing space asteroids one week and pasta based constructions another. It has also reiterated for me how paramount it is to allow children engage in as many mediums for learning as possible. What best appeals to one child’s ability to learn will not appeal to another. On so many occasions I witnessed children who struggle in the day-to-day lessons of the classroom excel in the hands-on tasks put before them. Their confidence and self-belief literally grew in front of me as they mastered new skills and understanding

Learning through Creativity is a 5-day course accredited by Drumcondra Education Centre that enables primary teachers to consider how an engagement with visual art can enhance learning in other strands of the curriculum. Working with the Glucksman Curatorial Team and professional artists, participants will learn practical art making skills across a range of mediums and develop their own art integration lesson plans for use in the classroom.

This course is designed around the 5th/6th class Primary School Curriculum.

Monday 21st August – Friday 25th August 2017, 10am -2:30pm

€75. Booking essential.

+353 21 4901844 / education@glucksman.org

 www.eventbrite.ie/e/teachers-masterclass-tickets-33520592996?aff=es2

Tadhg Crowley

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

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

Blog 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

“Build Your Own Unknown” is a collaboration between Artist Louise Manifold, Cregmore NS and TULCA partnering with The Marine Institute.

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

Joanna McGlynn, Education Coordinator / Project Developer, TULCA

TULCA OFFshore is a unique collaborative project whereby students, teacher, artist and scientist, learn and work together in the classroom as co-creators and collaborators. At the core of the project is engaging with and understanding the essential principles and fundamental concepts of ocean science literacy in a meaningful way, through the Arts. Beyond a wide range of materials, practices, histories and techniques, concepts and theoretical frameworks, artists – like scientists – are trained to use a unique set of skills, processes and methodologies. Learning through the Arts, is the essential ‘other’ of STEM education, in developing a unique set of holistic skills, transferable across multiple sectors in preparation for adult life. Young students will have the opportunity to connect STEM skills through core processes of interpretation, communication, analysis and synthesis, resulting in a broader awareness of complex ocean issues and its relevance in our everyday. TULCA and the Marine Institute are uniquely positioned to provide collaborations between some of Ireland’s leading artists and marine scientists, creating a platform of connection and interdisciplinary reach in an educational environment. For this pilot project, TULCA are delighted to partner artist Louise Manifold and scientist Dr. Andy Wheeler with Cregmore National School, Co. Galway. The project began in February 2017 and will run until July with 10 in school working sessions culminating in a public exhibition at SeaFest 2017. This Project/Partnership represents the process to date.

Louise Manifold, Artist

Build Your Own Unknown was developed in response to TULCA’s OFFshore proposal to create an art project with 4th class, Cregmore National School that responded to the recent discovery of a field of hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during a research voyage led by Dr Andy Wheeler on the Celtic Explorer. In response to the call, I proposed to develop a series of workshops that will result in the production of a mini sci-fi film, in which students will work  together to design, build and create their own sci-fi narrative reenacting the discovery of Moytirra – the name of the ridge of hydrothermal vents.

Stephanie Herwood, Teacher

Myself and my class were approached last year to see if we were interested in a new film project. The film project was of huge interest to us because I believe film and animation are a brilliant and innovative new way to encourage children to communicate stories, ideas and concepts in a creative and original way.  The class have experience producing a film, when they created an animation film on ‘The Miracle of Milk’ in October 2016. The production of the film gave the class a taste for film making and the processes involved. When we heard the theme of the project was the Moytirra discovery, we knew straight away it was going to be a very exciting adventure. Water is such a big part of our lives here in Galway and this project is only one of many water projects the school have engaged in. ‘Something Fishy’ is another project the class are working on and this has introduced the class to The Lifecycle of the Salmon and Water all around the World. The two projects have complemented each other nicely and gave the children a good foundation before embarking on Build your own Unknown. Myself and the class had an opportunity to meet Louise Manifold and Joanna McGlynn and straight away the class warmed to the two ladies and a rapport was established. Louise introduced us to some of her work and her earlier projects. We sat down together and decided on a timetable and a schedule so we could get started on the project.

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

Joanna McGlynn

In developing a project like this, it is essential to recognise all collaborators as experts in their own fields, with each contributing resources for the generation of new ideas in the classroom thus  recognising the children as authors of their own imaginations. In support of this cross-disciplinary process a definite structure was put in place to include four phases;  research and development, engagement, final production and installation /exhibition. Artist, teacher and student participate collectively in realising each project phase. Having passed through the R & D phase, the project is now in the exciting process of hands on making.

Louise Manifold

One of the central themes within my artistic practice explores how society uses fiction in order to understand fact. The result of this exploration has developed into a process I frequently use to work with ideas in educational contexts. I am fascinated by the relationship between science and cinema, with particular reference to how scientific discoveries, that are beyond human encounter, have been retold in early sci-fi film. Considering this, the project takes reference from one of the earliest science fiction films: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902) created by turn-of-the-century French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Drawing from this genre and linking it to the popular DIY science projects (such as miniature erupting volcanoes), the project titled Build Your Own Unknown asks the students to work collectively to create a deep-sea ecosystem film set for their own sci-fi film production. It will work with early cinematic techniques of stop motion animation and compositing as a means to reinterpret marine science discovery into cultural forms of storytelling, sculptural and role play. Students are working in four teams and have been asked to develop their set designs in response to a number of real and imaginary sources to include: actual digital film footage of the vent field sourced from the ROV Holland research expedition; interviews with real scientist such as Dr Andrew Wheeler and Rosemarie Butler (vessels operator at the MI); sensory and embodied exercises; investigating the creatures that live there and the Irish mythology of Moytirra. The students will also get to work with Galway Atlantaquaria, to develop underwater aspects of the film and to document deep sea environments for underwater scenes and sonic recordings as part of the creation of a surreal underwater landscapes. Students are encouraged to work together using a number of resources and strategies to solve problems. In this way the project aims to emphasise collaborative learning and to create a sense of ownership on how the work will be delivered as an outcome.

Stephanie Herwood

Our first step in the project was research.  We learned as much as we could about the ‘Moytirra’ discovery, the field of Hydrothermal vents along the Mid Atlantic Ridge, The Celtic Explorer and Dr. Andy Wheeler. During our early sessions with Louise Manifold and Joanna McGlynn, the children discovered all the main facts and details about the discovery. The visits involved dividing children into groups and sharing their ideas and facts in a group setting.  Based on the facts learned children engaged in creative writing lessons, drama activities and art classes. The early lessons shaped and refined their knowledge and understanding. We also had the opportunity to experience sea life first hand when a skype call was organised with Louise on board the Celtic Explorer. Prior to the call the children engaged in brainstorming activities within their groups on appropriate questions to ask Louise. This call gave children a real feel for life on board the ship and it was definitely a highlight of the project to date. In the later sessions the children started building their sets in their groups and creating story boards for their film. The class also had the opportunity to film in the Galway Aquarium in a selected number of tanks using go pros. Groups also started recording sounds in the Aquarium which will be used throughout the project. All of the lessons have been very well structured with clear objectives and learning outcomes set out in every time slot.

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

Stephanie Herwood

Collaborative work in the classroom has huge benefits which range from building self esteem, developing oral communication skills, enhancing student satisfaction and the learning experience and above all it retains the children’s attention in the classroom. One huge success of this project will include the ability to share the knowledge and findings easily with their peers in the school and the world. I believe this will be a fantastic starting point for building up ties and a sense of community across borders with students around the world. The whole school are behind the class and are very excited to see the final film. The class have also gained huge experience using equipment they have not worked with before e.g. go pro cameras and hand-held recording devices. This project also provides an exciting and dynamic platform to learn about a new topic. Students are engaging with new and exciting people, which are exposing them to new knowledge and new pathways in life. Since this project started many members of the class have expressed an interest in becoming a Marine Scientist, an Artist, an Explorer etc. The main challenge I have encountered in the class is time. I would love to dedicate more time to this project but unfortunately there is a very large curriculum of work to cover so three hours a week will have to suffice for now.

Louise Manifold

The project so far has been extremely successful. I feel there is a very strong connection and support network between all the partners involved in the project. The children have responded well to multiple sources of information in developing their project ideas. Initially I was concerned that the length of our workshop time might be a challenge however this is not the case. We work 3 hours in the classroom a week per session – 1.5 hours would be a typical session time of previous projects I worked on with young students.  So far this added durational aspect has provided an opportunity for more student led direction into the nature of the research, including devising their own sets of questions to interview Dr. Andy Wheeler directly. It also adds to the project’s momentum providing an opportunity for a deeper engagement with both artistic and scientific enquiry and importantly really helps my role and relationship in the class as I got to know the group much quicker.

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

Joanna McGlynn

As the project is mid process, it is only beginning to reveal itself but I am excited by the possibility of working through a collaborative approach.  Linking technology into the project and creating unique opportunities such as a live SKYPE to Louise on board the Celtic Explorer from the classroom and filming off-site using GoPro camera, outside of the school environment have injected an excitable energy of discovery into the project. TULCA propose to co-develop a set of cross disciplinary lesson plans informed by this process which will be made available online through the Explorers Education Programme™, extending the legacy of this unique project into other schools and classrooms nationwide.

Louise Manifold

What makes the project significant to me is the sense of creative possibility. I feel the number of stakeholders in the project allow for a greater diversity of input and contribute to this sense of possibility. There is a very strong support network between both TULCA and the school, which has really encouraged the ambition of the project’s development. It is also a really interesting subject to respond to as an artist.

Stephanie Herwood

The most significant thing about the project I think that is worth sharing is the joy that the class are experiencing during this project. No two days have been the same and the class are completely and utterly absorbed in the information and lessons. I was always a huge believer in collaborative learning but this project has reinforced the huge advantages that can be seen in group work. I also believe that all students should learn about the new world that has been discovered deep under the ocean. I had not heard about the discovery before I was introduced to the project and I would love the findings to be shared with as many people around the world.

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

Louise Manifold

In respect to where we are right now in the project I would have to say that I am still understanding the value of the work. I can say so far it has given me a deep awareness on the value of creativity as a means for young children to understand often complex scientific discoveries and the use of art process as a means to think through and invite curiosity on environments that are inaccessible to us.

Stephanie Herwood

This project has opened up my ideas on art lessons within the class. Louise has introduced us to so many materials which I have never worked with before e.g. plaster of paris and chicken wire. This project has given me the confidence to expand my ideas when it comes to art and themes within the class. We have also engaged in more Skype calls since the beginning of the project. Skype has allowed us to connect with experts in so many different fields and the children are constantly coming up with new people to contact and learn about. This will definitely be a tool I will use more of in the future.

 

 Blog 2

Peat began as an impulse to explore a story and a history for a specific audience, and an impulse to rigorously develop my writing for young audiences.

After an initial workshop focus on story, storytelling and myth, I returned to Third Class in Sacred Heart Portlaoise to ask them to think about stories for the stage. The conversations that emerged from sharing, re-sharing and changing stories had sparked discussion around memory, history, shared stories, becoming a character, and who in society has permission to speak on behalf of another.

Here, these opened into a discussion on theatre – beginning with a discussion about the roles, responsibilities and skills of writers, directors, actors, designers. We talked: about how playwright meant playmaker; about beginnings, middles and endings; about storytelling versus drama; about dialogue versus monologue, narration versus conversation; about sets, costumes, props; about audience interaction and fourth walls.

Towards the end of that workshop, groups had debated and settled on one personal story that would become the story of their group. Focusing on collaboration, armed with script samples prepared by teacher Jennifer Buggie, groups were tasked with transforming this text into a story for the stage.

Working effectively in the classroom was a learning curve. I was finding my feet, and the support, expertise and enthusiasm of collaborating teacher Jennifer Buggie was invaluable. At the end of the series of workshops, in thinking about my practice, Jennifer and I have discussed building on this relationship, discussing future projects, interrogating the approach in order to refine and improve the quality of engagement.

Experiences in the classroom greatly informed the next stage of development – ideas around agency, voice, engagement, emotion, depth. In June 2016, with the support of The Ark A Cultural Centre for Children, I spent a week developing the text with director Maisie Lee and performers Nyree Yergainharsian and Lloyd Cooney. As development progressed and continues to progress, through working directly with young audiences, the elk itself started to take a back seat. The bigger questions about life and death that had lingered below the surface were grounded by experiences in the classroom at Sacred Heart.

The text which began to emerge is a sort of metaphysical conversation rooted in the world and perspective of two 12 year olds. On a peatland plain on the edge of an island, a boy and girl meet to bury a cat in its preserving earth. As they sit and dig the boggy grave, what follows is a conversation about life, fate, extinction, migration, mortality.

After four days, we shared a 15-minute piece with The Ark’s Children’s Council, in what was their first experience of a work-in-progress presentation. The responses of these 11-year old Council members were frank – they told us exactly what from their point of view worked and didn’t, what was engaging, what was funny, what was moving.

They responded enthusiastically to the characters use of the Would You Rather? game, answering the questions the characters posed to each other for themselves (some silently, some aloud, some later that day). From the beginning, and throughout the work in the classroom, I wanted Peat to try and equalise the relationship between stage and audience, to create in its audience the urge to enter the space, to engage in conversation with the characters, to find out more. Following the Council’s feedback, Would you Rather? remains a key structuring device.

The following month, we presented this work-in-progress showing of Peat at On the Edge World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences in Birmingham to an audience of artists, producers and presenters.

Development continues in 2017.

Initial development was enabled by the Arts Council’s Young People Children and Education Bursary. Development in 2016 was supported by The Ark A Cultural Centre for Children. With the support of The Ark, Theatre for Young Audiences Ireland and Culture Ireland, a work-in-progress showing was presented at On the Edge Birmingham, the World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (directed by Maisie Lee, performed by Lloyd Cooney and Nyree Yergainharsian)

Elk skeleton at the Dead Zoo, Dublin

Elk skeleton at the Dead Zoo, Dublin

 

Blog 1

On the east coast, right on the edge of Ireland, there is a bog known as The Elk Graveyard. Here, hundreds and hundreds of ancient elk skeletons were dug from the peat.

Megaloceros Giganteus. Giant Irish Deer. The last megafauna on an island of, well, non–megafauna. Twelve feet tall from tip of toe to top of antler, the giant deer disappeared from Ireland about 10,500 years ago, the reasons uncertain: it or its antlers became too big; it was over-hunted; its food sources disappeared as the world grew colder. The Great Irish Elk lived across Europe and Asia, its continental cousins drifting eastward, sunward, in search of a better life. As the Ice Age descended, the ones who lived on this island were the first to disappear. Trapped, with nowhere to go as the snow stopped melting.

In 2015, I set out to rigorously explore and develop my writing for young audiences. After an initial year spent in solo research, exploring the real history of this elk in order to find the possibilities of story, I began a phase of research in collaboration with Third Class at Sacred Heart Portlaoise, and teacher Jennifer Buggie.

I was drawn to the subject matter of Peat for this age group for their ability to deal with complex ideas and the reality of the oftentimes dark world we live in. Peat’s spiderwebby resonances were broad and weighty: climate change, carbon footprints, death, extinction, migration: adult ideas that children of this age group encounter daily. And closer to home: what it means to belong; what it feels like to be living in a body and a world that is changing faster than you’d like.

I focused on a series of classroom workshops on writing for theatre rather than the subject matter itself, and developed the approach around a number of initial questions: in terms of story, how might a piece of theatre recognise and respect the sophisticated thought processes and complex emotions of its audience?; how might it provoke an open and frank conversation about the vast world we live in, while at the same time offering a steady and sympathetic guide to navigating that vastness?; how might the theatrical form suggest a different way to think visually – to provoke the audience to see their world not just as something which contains them, but as something that can be influenced, manipulated, created?

As a writer, I am preoccupied with the complexity of culture, society, history – in how story and history is told, recalled, contained, in how things form the deep past very often seem so close to us. I can’t help but poke holes in history to see what leaks through.

An initial workshop thus focused on the nature of stories, storytelling and myth. I began by reading a piece of theatrical storytelling to the eyes-closed class – an excerpt from Complicite’s The Encounter in which the main character remembers the moment he became completely lost in the jungle. We discussed the images it conjured and the senses it sparked. We talked about memory, about how it was a key tool in a writer’s toolbox.

Students were provoked to think of a time when something in their own world changed. In pairs, they shared this memory with their partner, and we talked about how memory is transformed when we tell it as a story to someone else. Each was then asked to share their partner’s story with their table-group, prompted to be true to the details they heard but permitted embellishment in form and content that would make it a good story for an audience. From this, we talked about how stories are changed in their retelling, and how myths are born.

The stories the students shared and re-shared grappled with life, death, loss, love, joy and sadness in ways that showed an enormous variance in emotional maturity. Their responses to being asked to take responsibility for telling the story of another ranged from sensitive respect, to mischievous joy, to indignation and protest that they would rather share their own. This itself raised interesting discussion on a table-by-table basis about collective memory, shared stories, narration, becoming a character, and who in society has permission to speak on behalf of another.

The final provocation was based on a question that emerged from these discussions: how do we choose the stories we tell? Each table thus entered into a debate, in order to choose one story that would become the story of their group.

I returned several weeks later to work with the students on transforming their story into a piece of theatre.

Initial development was enabled by the Arts Council’s Young People Children and Education Bursary. Development in 2016 was supported by The Ark A Cultural Centre for Children. With the support of The Ark, Theatre for Young Audiences Ireland and Culture Ireland, a work-in-progress showing was presented at On the Edge Birmingham, the World Festival of Theatre for Young Audiences (directed by Maisie Lee, performed by Lloyd Cooney and Nyree Yergainharsian)

Elk skeleton at the Dead Zoo, Dublin

Elk skeleton at the Dead Zoo, Dublin

Minister for Education and Skills Mr Richard Bruton T.D. officially launched “Exploring Teacher-Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD for Supporting and Enhancing Arts Education in Ireland: A Research Report” on 8th March 2017 in the Clock Tower at the Department of Education and Skills.

Officially launching the Research Report, Minister Bruton said: “I am very pleased to officially launch Exploring Teacher-Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD for Supporting and Enhancing Arts Education in Ireland: A Research Report at such an exciting time for the integration of the arts in education, when there is now a national ‘Creative Ireland’ programme to enable the creative potential of every child.

“The research report we are launching today provides evidence-based recommendations to foster and develop teacher-artist partnerships in innovative ways. I believe this model of teacher professional development has enormous potential to transform approaches to arts education in schools. In particular, it highlights the importance of supporting arts and education partnerships through professional development so as to create high quality arts experiences for children. In the research report, Dr Kenny and Dr Morrissey continually point to the complementary knowledge and skills that both teachers and artists bring to arts education in schools”.

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys T.D. said “Creative Ireland is an invitation to the entire country to get involved in something truly inspirational. This hugely ambitious all-of-Government initiative puts culture and creativity at the centre of public policy. Creative Ireland will ensure that children can participate in the arts from an early age, and it will drive cultural engagement in every county nationwide. This is a bold and ambitious initiative, and it is particularly appropriate and significant that our priority in this first year of Creative Ireland is children and young people.

“We already know that children who engage in the arts are happier and they perform better at school. I welcome the findings of this Research Report on the Teacher-Artist Partnership model and look forward to working with our colleagues in the Department of Education and Skills and the Arts Council of Ireland, both of whom have been instrumental in bringing this piece of work to fruition, on developing the Creative Children plan. This report provides very valuable insights into the importance of this approach to creative learning and contributes to the strong foundations upon which the Creative Ireland Programme is built.”

Minister Bruton finished by saying, “I congratulate Dr Kenny and Dr Morrissey on the quality of this excellent evidence-informed research report. I am delighted that the initiative has continued and is now at a stage where it will be delivered as a Summer Course in each of the 21 Education Centres in summer 2017. I wish the overall initiative continued success and I am now delighted to formally launch the research report”.

The report can be viewed and downloaded at this link.
For more information about the Creative Ireland programme, click here.

 

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Carmel is a 5th class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry, a large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils. Carmel and her class, a mixed group of boys and girls, are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

Blog No.2

We as teachers are becoming preoccupied with generating art which looks well on a display board and has no imperfections. In my experience the children aren’t engaging with this routine and are craving more freedom to make mistakes, try things more than once and use lots of different materials. It’s difficult to unearth an exciting art lesson for every week, particularly with older classes as they have made or used many of the lessons with other teachers. When my principal suggested Virtually There to me I was intrigued, yet I was also hesitant to take on such a project due to the need to have good IT experience and how limited our technology is in the classroom.

Virtually There orientation involved an enjoyable day of artist and teacher pair work. This was a fantastic way to become acquainted before we attempted to organise the project itself. Initially, I thought the project was going to be difficult to coordinate as my artist for the project, Lucy Hill, was based in Westport, Co. Mayo while I teach in Tralee, Co.Kerry. With emails and phone numbers exchanged with set about arranging when and how we would do the art with the children in my 5th Class. I needn’t have worried. Lucy was willing and excited to visit us and work around our daily schedule. We trialed Skype a few times before our start date and it worked perfectly. However, throughout the project we had many dropped calls and in particular the last day, being a particularly windy day on the west coast of Ireland,  meant we had to resort to using our phones. In spite of this I felt the project worked brilliantly and both Lucy and I continued with the art while keeping in touch using whatever technology was available.

My class loved the project, mostly exploring new textures and materials, while being given the freedom to use them in any way possible. There was movement, freedom, learning, inventing and fun. Each week there was a novel idea to inspire the children. Lucy would firstly explain the idea, next they would give their responses and suggestions before setting to work. Throughout each element of the lesson the children would approach Lucy on the laptop screen to show their progress, ask questions and get suggestions for any design concepts. This was an effective part of Virtually There which ensured the children were thoughtful in formation and it gave them a guideline as to how they would achieve the goal in the art time. The children also looked forward to hearing Lucy’s interpretation of what they had made each time and her input inspired them further or helped them to see what they had made in a new light.

The opportunity to blog about our experience throughout Virtually There was one of the most appealing aspects of the project for me. Combining some literacy skills to the project and blogging about an important topic relevant to the children was something I had envisaged they would love. However the children weren’t as excited about the blogging process as I had hoped. This may have been due to limited time we could spend doing the blogging due to other classroom subjects and constraints. I also found Word Press time consuming to use in adjusting images etc. and I often had to spend a long time myself formatting the page layout. If we were lucky enough to be involved in Virtually There or another similar project again, I would try to give more time to the blogging and allow the children more freedom to do all the adjustments, possibly with a different group in charge of each weekly blog.

I feel Virtually There has definitely inspired me to allow children to get messy through art, to give them opportunities to use all sorts of materials, to encourage them to use their own imaginations and be creative rather than make a carbon copy of an art piece.

FullSizeRender_editCarmel is a 5th Class teacher in Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh, Tralee, Co. Kerry. A large school with three streams of each year group and over six hundred pupils.  Carmel and her class a mixed group of boys and girls are currently participating in the Virtually There project.

 

Virtually There Project with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Virtually There began with a gathering of artists, teachers and organisers in the Portlaoise Education Centre.  In advance, we, the teachers and artists, had to prepare a short presentation about ourselves and in this I gave the reasons why I wanted my class to become involved. I recall wanting my class to feel free to be creative, imaginative and explore materials and their uses. In particular I wanted my class to move away from producing carbon copies of whatever art I showed them.  I also wanted to diversify my own teaching habits and step away from the routine of painting a picture for art class. Based on the presentation given by all involved, teachers were then paired with an artist. This was a key component in the success of the Virtually There project in my opinion. I found my pairing with Castlebar based artist Lucy Hill allowed for the freedom and stimulating art classes I had wished for in my initial presentation.

As with all new projects I wondered if the class would respond well and engage with the process.  Lucy had come up with great ideas, we had decided on the times and schedules, however the art was going to be quite different to what the children had been used to and they would be the designers, architects and inventors of what they were to make.  Making our first day of Virtually There a full day of art, with Lucy present in person for it all, helped the children to understand that  creating whatever felt natural to them was all a part of Virtually There.

Day one introduced the children to some famous artists who work with a variety of materials. This was followed by stations of exploration with 2D, 3D and colour work as an option. There were no restrictions or limitations on what station the children could go to or what materials they could use. They were giddy with excitement and were amazed that they were allowed to use whatever they wanted. It was fantastic to see children who normally need a lot of guidance working independently and because we were not focused on what the finished product would be, there was no apprehension about producing something that looked perfect.

Our first virtual art lesson with Lucy was live on Skype for the duration of the lesson. What I loved about our second session was the variety in processes in a short amount of time. This will inform many an art lesson for me in the future. The children did some time drawing using markers, they focused on how materials could be combined together to form something new, they photographed their ideas using light and background and finished up by combining and photographing their creations in the outdoor environment. Working outdoors was a highlight for the children with ideas being formed using unforeseen weather, surroundings and visual stimuli.
The children became very comfortable working in this art environment, where problem solving and engineering were a factor in leading their designs and they now had the confidence to try new materials and methods for themselves. Virtually There involved individual, paired, small group and large group work within almost every session. There was at least five different art ideas in each session and as I had hoped Lucy and I were facilitating the children’s creativity rather than telling them what to do.

In a short space of time my class have been hugely inspired and have awakened their imaginations. I have a wealth of ideas to inform my future lessons in art and my goals for the class during Virtually There have been achieved. Lucy built a great relationship with the children and they looked forward to each week immensely. Although Lucy was on Skype during our art lessons the children never felt Lucy wasn’t a part of their art class, following any moments of art creation the children would present and explain their work to Lucy via Skype. Bringing skills to a classroom virtually is an inspired decision which helps us as teachers to provide children with a varied and current education.

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

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

First virtual visit.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The publication is available from kidsown.ie.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, The Glucksman

Our Place was a project that sought to offer a marginalized section of our community a creative and positive experience within a museum environment. Over six weeks in early 2016 the Glucksman hosted art workshops for a group of children from two direct provision centres in Cork City. During the six sessions, the group were encouraged to create artworks that looked at ‘place’ both imaginative and real using a wide variety of materials from film, print, drawing, painting, animation and collage. The workshops were framed within a larger project ‘Once Upon a Place’ run with Laureate na nÓg and Children’s Books Ireland which brought together school and community groups to the Glucksman to create artworks that reflected on their sense of place. This project culminated in a public exhibition at the Glucksman in March 2016 and was launched with a storytelling session by Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer.

Central to the Glucksman’s Education Policy is a commitment to work with community groups, enabling people of all ages and abilities to access different aspects of visual art. We first met with Mike Fitzgibbon and Eileen Hogan at University College Cork to discuss the possibility of an art project with children living in Direct Provision back in the spring of 2015. Even at that early stage, without any funding, clear numbers or dates we were all determined that we would find a way to make this project work. Around the same time the Glucksman was named one of the host locations for a reading by Laureate na nÓg, Eoin Colfer as part of the Once Upon a Place project. Once Upon a Place sought to bring storytelling to children all over Ireland focusing specifically on communities who may not have access to libraries, storytellers, writers in schools etc. These readings were to be held in extraordinary places that would help bring stories to life. The timing of the Once Upon a Place project and the proposed project with children in Direct Provision couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Mike FitzGibbon, Lecturer – International Development, Food Business and Development Department, UCC

The art project had its origins in discussions a group of University College Cork staff and students had with staff of the Glucksman. I had described in an earlier email some of the awful experiences of people, and in particular children, living in the Direct Provision system. Staff in the Glucksman responded to this, offering to work with us in putting a programme in place that would offer some relief from the system, some break from the mundanity, and might provide outlets for expression and enjoyment for these children. It took a number of months to organise, but the programme began at the end of 2015, with three workshops before the end of year, and three in early 2016.

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

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, The Glucksman

Working with partners who knew the residents, the needs of the children and the expectations of a project was crucial. The relationships that our colleagues in UCC have developed over 15 years with residents of direct provision centres meant that they had garnered a trust and understanding that we at the museum would have been unable to achieve in such a short period of time.

Children’s sense of place was the perfect theme for the group but also a delicate topic that needed to be navigated appropriately. Speaking with Mike he gave me an idea of the centres and the living conditions that children were exposed to. Understanding the places where these children lived meant that to ground our projects in real life place had the potential to unearth difficult and complex emotions for the children. The focus of the workshops was to be on joy and to offer a small moment to escape reality. And so we looked at the what if? What place you could be living/visiting? With no restrictions and no limits – where was your place?

We had wanted to ensure that the interests of the children were demonstrated in the projects and activities that we undertook. Alongside a number of shorter activities each week we had three core projects. In each session we completed between five and six activities. We looked to incorporate as many mediums as possible, particularly using materials and techniques that the children may not have been exposed to in school. And also crucially children had an opportunity to bring their colourful creations back to their centres.

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

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, The Glucksman

This was a new experience for all of us. Controlling and channeling the children’s dynamism was the most challenging aspect to the workshops. We found that the group’s attention would fall-off very quickly and so having multiple short activities worked best. It was easier to return to our core projects over a number of weeks rather than attempting to see a project through during a single session. Over the six sessions we saw the physical and mental impact that life in Direct Provision was having on these children. On certain days some of the children would be drowsy, despondent and unresponsive to projects. These same children the following week would be full of life and enthuased about everything we were doing. These shifts in mood and energy were apparent across a large number of children. We sought to stimulate the children by undertaking short exercises and involving them in tasks around filmmaking and documenting workshops.

We had two sessions prior to Christmas and during the second workshop we gave each child an art pack with sketchbook and materials. After Christmas when we met back up, one of the older boys showed me his sketchbook that he had been working on. Even in a few weeks there was a marked improvement in his drawing ability, he spoke about his delight at having these materials to create with and how he’d spend time every evening working on his sketches. For this boy and others in the group the opportunity to interact with extracurricular activities and to get creative was having a considerable impact.

Mike FitzGibbon, Lecturer – International Development, Food Business and Development Department, UCC

Their enjoyment of the workshops was reflected in their huge enthusiasm to return each week. The exhibition afterward was beautiful – and the pleasure that the children took in showing their work to their parents and others was wonderful. Challenges we experienced with this were quite different to other areas that I work or volunteer in. What seem like simple things, such as finding suitable dates for the workshops came with complications, such as needing to find times that didn’t intersect with other life activities, such as religious events. The flexibility shown by the Glucksman around this was emblematic of their commitment to it, as was the quality of their work and engagement with the children every week.

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

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, The Glucksman

The Irish Refugee Council has reported that young people living in direct provision centres are more prone to depression and suicide due to their restrictive and ostracized living situation. Its report also states that Direct Provision is NOT a natural family environment. Our University colleagues have campaigned for the end to DP since its inception.

To have the opportunity to positively impact on these children’s lives was a wonderful opportunity for the Glucksman and one which aligned itself with our education policy and mission statement. Working with partners like Children’s Books Ireland and UCC Amnesty International Society allowed us to develop a project and exhibition that these children would value and remember. The experience of exhibiting their work alongside that of their peer group and for once in their lives to be the centre of attention under a positive gaze provided a special moment for the children living in DP.

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

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, The Glucksman

When we first met I remember Mike speaking about that moment after a day’s activities with the children when you have to send them back to the centre and how difficult that can be. Over the weeks I began to realize what he meant, as I got to know the children and the reality of their home lives it became increasingly difficult.

Working with the children living in Direct Provision has been in equal measures some of the most rewarding and yet most heartbreaking work we’ve undertaken at the museum. These children are incredibly brave, generous and kindhearted. Their lives have been ones of struggle, distress and in some cases trauma yet their determination and positivity shines through. These children need some fragments of light in their lives, some moments to be creative, to feel optimistic and to feel good about themselves.

Mike FitzGibbon, Lecturer – International Development, Food Business and Development Department, UCC

All of our engagements with the asylum-seeking communities in Direct Provision have had terrific support from students, societies and all areas of staff in UCC, and this was no different. The programme and other events couldn’t and wouldn’t happen without that support. Many staff and students gave up most of their Saturdays for the programme’s duration. UCC Amnesty society sponsored transport, a significant cost each week.

It is worth mentioning that because of our involvement with this, other projects and engagements have come about: one project involved working with women in direct provision on ceramics projects; another is ongoing with women engaging in different activities such as yoga, knitting etc.; we have had another art-for-teenagers project; we will have another young children’s programme. All have happened as a result of the running of this first programme for children by Tadhg and his colleagues. Seeing its success motivates me, and others, to continue to advocate for and work with people condemned to live in Direct Provision. The really hard part each week was seeing these beautiful young people leave to return to their Direct Provision centres.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Martina Galvin, Artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marina Galvin, Artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

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

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

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

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

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

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

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

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

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

 

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

Maria Svensson, Artist

It all started when Marie and I met during the Department of Education & Skills’ summer programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This summer course was one element in a wider exploration of Teacher/Artist Partnership as a model of CPD for enhancing and supporting arts education in the Primary school.

When course finished we decided to apply for funding for a partnership project to facilitate us to apply the course learning in practice. An application to the Kerry County Council 1916 Commemoration Fund was considered and discussions took place with The Education Centre, Tralee, on how we might progress this. The teacher had been nominated by The Education Centre and I had been nominated by the Arts Office of Kerry County Council.

Our aim was to work with the 3rd class at Ardfert National School, focusing on the students’ enjoyment of movement and their ability to express themselves freely through movement and dance whilst exploring the history of the Easter Rising. Moreover we wanted this work to culminate in a public showing, i.e. a dance performance. Finally, our aim was to develop teacher competence and confidence around dance.

The development of children and teachers through this art form using a Partnership approach was supported by The Education Centre, Tralee and Kerry County Council. Marie and I scheduled a workshop with the school’s Principal and staff in Ardfert NS to incentive and introduce the project. We began to plan the initiative and set out the objectives for teacher, artist and student learning. We also started planning what to do with the students, where and when we would meet, where the performance could take place etc. I had 10 sessions with the students, each lasting 2 hours. For some part of that time, the students would write in their reflective journals while Marie and I would have a chance to talk about what to do next or reflect ourselves on how things were going.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, I felt that this initiative presented a great opportunity for the pupils to work with a dance artist and experience the art of dance. They did not have such an opportunity previous to this. I also felt it would be a great opportunity to support my own continuous professional development, to deepen my knowledge of the art of dance and to learn how to approach a theme through the art form.

The use of reflective journaling by the children was most revealing as it provided insight into the childrens’ learning journey within the context of the initiative and captured some of the impact and response. The journals contained written and pictorial reflections on the development of the project. In this way it introduced the children to the notion of reflective practice and the sharing of those reflections developing their skill and knowledge base. 

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

Maria Svensson, Artist

After the workshop with the Principal and teachers it was decided that the school would organise a concert in the community centre, where other students could perform as well. The theme throughout would be The Easter Rising.

During the first couple of sessions with Marie’s class, I aimed at getting to know the students and exposing them to different movement exercises. Marie laid the groundwork, looking at the history around the time of The Rising and how people lived then. She introduced a folder with gathered stories about The Rising aimed at 3rd-4th class. I received a copy of this myself and knew then what the students were learning with regards to the theme. In the dance and movement classes I would look at expressing emotions related to stories and images from that time. I did not want to teach the students moves they would copy and learn off by heart. Instead, I used ways of working so the movements would come from the students themselves. They were very willing and creative and gained confidence as we went along. One of the teachers in the school recommended music for us and helped practice with the students. We decided the students would start and end the piece by singing Mise Éire and there was another song called Fionnghuala, which they would sing in the middle of the piece. Ideas were developed as the project went along, such as duration, costume, format etc. The music found its place, as did the various movement tasks we had been working on, such as phrasing, moving like statues etc. In the lead up to the performance, Marie would practice the piece with the students outside the set dance classes to give them a chance to remember where to go and what to do next. Marie would join in the exercises and tasks, when she wasn’t managing the video camera, and her presence was extremely beneficial for the students as they saw this class was to be taken seriously, just like any other class. Marie also supported the students in writing their own Proclamation, which we used in the piece.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher I worked through the topic of 1916 at an age appropriate level for the children. I felt it was important to focus on an area that the children could identify with to make the 1916 experience relevant for them, as they are quite young. We focused on the lives of children from 1916 and how it differed from their own lives, we then led onto the Proclamation of 1916. This in itself was a difficult piece of writing for the class to comprehend but after teasing it out we decided to write our own class proclamation. All children were involved in teasing out the ideas for this piece of writing and they were very proud of the ideas they came up with in the end. This piece of writing became part of the dance performance and worked well with the movements to change the overall mood of the dance.

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

Maria Svensson, Artist

The aspect of the project that made me smile were the times I could clearly see the students enjoying simply moving and overcoming any fear around performing/dancing in front of others. I enjoyed reading the students’ notes after each class, which were copied and posted to my house. This was always a treat because they were usually extremely positive. I was also very happy to hear the Proclamation which was their own and written by them.

There were many aspects of the project that challenged me. To begin with I didn’t know much about the theme we had chosen and I had to do a lot of research. This unfolded quite naturally as the whole country started to immerse itself in the history of 1916 in various ways. To start off with, I had no idea how we were to create a dance piece around the theme with thirty one 9-10 year olds. It is a delicate subject but it turned out that dance was a perfect way of looking and dealing with the history.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher, the most difficult part for me was creating a starting point for the project once we decided it was on the 1916 theme as the children are quite young and the topic is quite advanced and complicated. But once we got started it all seemed to fall into place. Working with Maria was great as dance seemed to fit with the topic in terms of  facilitating the children to express their feelings so well and she was able to reach their level so easily. It was lovely to see the project coming together so well and to get the opportunity to work with somebody else as this is not the norm for a teacher.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Maria Svensson, Artist

My insight would be that anyone can dance and express themselves even after only a few sessions (maybe some people don’t even need that, confidence and willingness goes a long way). The students embodied the tasks I gave them and managed to not only improvise in front of more than 200 people but to do it with  confidence and brilliance, which is a massive achievement.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

As the teacher it was great to see my pupils being so enthusiastic about working on this project. They really took it on board and each one of them gave 100% to it.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Maria Svensson, Artist

The way this project was structured made me change my way of teaching dance in other schools. It made me require more from teachers I work with to create more of a partnership and collaboration.

Marie O’Connell, Teacher

I feel reflections are a very important part of education. It was very interesting to read the pupils’ reflections after each dance session. Many of them were the same and they were happy with the way things were going but every now and again a child might suggest something that you had never thought of. Hearing the child’s voice and responding to it is very important when teaching. Working in partnership, while challenging, affords new insights and has the potential to change perspectives for both the teacher and the artist.

Comments from the children’s reflective journals, Ardfert NS

“What surprises me most about like 100 years ago is that there were pencils. And that British army stayed in Dublin Castle.”

“It was fun exciting, emotional, slow and fast.”

“I enjoyed doing the past when you talk in dance.”

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

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

The project aims to:

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

Who was involved?

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

The 12 primary schools included;

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

How did you begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer Mary Branley

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

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

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

Pupils from Gaelscoil na Bhfál, Belfast

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

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

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

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

Artist Ann Donnelly

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

Writer Mary Branley

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

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

Teacher Linda O’Sullivan

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

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Writer Mary Branley

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

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

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

 

 

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

Vanya:

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

Marie:

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

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

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

Vanya:

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

Marie:

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

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Vanya:

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

Marie:

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

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Vanya:

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

Marie:

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

Other information.

Vanya:

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

Marie:

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

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

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinéad Toomey, Fifth Class Teacher Scoil Bhríde Cailíní

What aspects of the project made you smile?

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

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

What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

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

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

Artist Orla Kelly ~ Reflections on Room 13

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

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

How do you feel about Room 13?

Scoil Bhríde Cailíní NS,  10 – 11 yrs

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

Aoife Coffey, Arts Coordinator, Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS

What aspects of the project made you smile?

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

Anne Cradden, Artist ~ Reflections on Room 13

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

Tyrrelstown Educate Together NS Students, 10 – 11 yrs

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

What’s next for the project?

Julie Clarke, Fingal Arts Office

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

Documentation

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

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

Context

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

Timeframe

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

Our Vision

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

Documenting

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

The Teacher

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

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

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

The Children

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

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

The Artist:

WE ARE

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

Helen Barry 2015

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

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

What was the project about?

This project took place between St. Mary’s National School in Blessington, Co Wicklow (teacher Judy Lawler) and artist Ciara Harrison. Please see attached Appendix for background and further details of the workshops.

The project is part of the CRAFTed initiative run by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. The main media we are working with is fabric and fibre, experimenting with fabric dyeing, tie-dye, embroidery and printed textiles. The project is process-led enabling the children to explore and experiment at their own pace through facilitated workshops. We decided jointly that the project should be documented both with the use of photography and film as well as through the children’s reflections, thus enabling the children’s voice and thoughts to be heard and seen throughout this project. This was done in the form of notebooks or artists journals, including text and drawings as well as samples from workshops.

Who was involved?

It was a collaboration between twenty four senior infants of St. Mary’s National Junior School, Blessington, teacher Judy Lawler, and artist Ciara Harrison.

How did it get started?

The collaboration came about through the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCOI) CRAFTed initiative. This is an arts-in-education programme, specifically for primary schools where a craftsperson is paired with a teacher and students of a primary school.

We initially met at a collaborative evening organised by the DCCOI in the Kildare Education Centre. The evening was facilitated by a craftsperson, who gave us a presentation on the work of CRAFTed, its ethos, aims and objectives. Teacher and Artist were then paired together where we were given time to brainstorm a theme for the project and potential activities which could be undertaken.

The idea is that the craft project theme coincides with the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education curriculum in the school (history, geography and science). We decided to base our theme on native plants, animals, trees, leaves and insects as the students were learning about these throughout the year.

What aspects of the project made you smile?

Ciara:

On the first day of the project I presented a PowerPoint to the students. This included images of my work along with text to describe my processes. I also introduced the children to the land artist Andy Goldsworthy and images of his work. The children’s reaction to his work was of awe and enthusiasm. Their questions and interpretations of the work created huge energy and in turn inspired the children in their activity afterwards. That was a very precious moment for me.

Judy:

Ciara brought along fabric samples of her work, which were passed around the classroom. Touching and looking at the fabrics was lovely for the children and it introduced them to some processes they may encounter during future workshops. The group work went well, children were collaborating and cooperating during the process and they generated many ideas through the discussion.

What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Ciara:

As I had not done these workshops with children of this age before I was unsure of the level of language I could use with them and how in depth I could or should go with terminology.

As it was a large group to be working with it was at some points challenging to give assistance to everyone. We did a stitching workshop one day and as this was a new activity for all the children they required a lot of one-on-one assistance. I found by pairing up the children who were more able with ones who were less so meant they were explaining the process in their own words and I think the children appreciated having that responsibility.

There are certain materials such as bleach, which I use in my work to create effects on fabric. This would not have been an unsafe material to use with the children so we had to brainstorm alternative products that would be suitable. It was very helpful to have Judy’s assistance for this as I was in charge of getting the materials for the workshops.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Judy:

The presentation and talk that took place on the first workshop was a very important time for the students and Ciara to become familiar with each other. It was also very important for the students to air their thoughts and interpretations and ask questions of the work they were being shown. Plenty of time was given to allow this to happen.

The talk and discussion that took place about the work of Ciara and Andy Goldsworthy inspired the children in their activity afterwards. Within the activity the chalk outlines gave form to the children’s temporal designs, using natural materials to collage their designs. The activity itself and the materials used are very accessible to children and many will be inspired to incorporate this art making into outdoor play.

The children also enjoyed the novelty of using special fabric crayons, fabric markers, fabric paint and material dyes. They were very enthusiastic about using these new materials and were very engaged in the process.

Throughout the process the children have learnt descriptive vocabulary to describe both their work and the work of other artists. It has been wonderful to hear this in the classroom. It was very interesting to look for the learning experiences in each art lesson and to learn what the children are gaining from the process.

I think the process was spurred on by the timeline that Ciara and myself were working within. We planned the workshops as we went. We would set certain objectives to achieve for the next one. Workshops were high energy and highly motivated – lots of fun for the children.

Ciara:

Judy and I stayed in regular contact by email in the lead up to the project and we continued this throughout the project. This allowed for evaluating the workshops and learning from eachother what we felt worked and could be improved on. It is also now a source of documentation, which can be used for future workshops as we will both have learnt the best ways to go about the activities from experience. Regular contact has been a very important aspect to the project.

Although Judy and I came up with a structure for the project at our initial planning evening we allowed for flexibility within this. The children’s level of participation and enjoyment was what determined how long each activity was. At the beginning of each session I explained to the class what activity we would be exploring that day e.g. tie-dye, stitching, drawing and we allowed for time for questions and stories from the children. Sometimes this introduction would be accompanied by a PowerPoint. Other times it was simply a conversation. This gave the children an opportunity to express their own ideas in what we hoped was an informal setting.

I think an important aspect of the collaboration between teacher and artist is the respect given to each others’ expertise. As Judy was most familiar with the children she could look after the discipline of the classroom and time-keeping of the activities while I could set up the workshops and assist the children in their making. This was an essential part of this project being such a success.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Judy:

The children have used the skills they have learnt and developed, in particular with the chalk and natural materials as a form of outdoor play in their own time. The project has been a means of enabling the children to gain confidence in their own ideas and abilities.

This was the first time I ever endeavored making an artist’s notebook ‘woodland diary’ with the children. I thought it was very successful and it was an activity, which integrated totally with the English and SESE curriculum as well as the art curriculum. The children gather lots of natural materials and found objects for the class and the nature table throughout the year, I am more aware of the possibilities of reusing these objects in creating art. This way the gathering and collecting becomes more purposeful and meaningful for the children.

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

The story began with a play, After Dark, by Olivier Award-winning English playwright, Mike Kenny. It is about fear of the dark and plays to First and Second Class pupils in primary schools. Graffiti first produced the play in of Spring 2015 accompanied by a short workshop. The company has a long track record of developing workshops using educational drama methods linked to the curriculum and to supporting teacher and pupil practice. The second time we produced the play we decided to build a substantial workshop around the play that could also function as a stand-alone workshop related to science.

We thought it was interesting to relate Drama to Science. Doctor Darkness could help investigate things related to nighttime. It began with nocturnal animals. This is part of the ‘Living Things’ Strand of the curriculum for First and Second Class and the Strand Unit is ‘Plants and Animals’. It also allowed us to use the Curriculum Skills of Predicting, Hypothesising and Investigating – all key skills in Science.

For some reason we immediately came up with something which made us smile! Doctor Darkness immediately offered roles for the teacher (Chief Scientist), pupils (Investigators and Specialist Expert Groups of Scientists) and Doctor Darkness, who desperately needs their help to restore the world’s faith in the value of darkness!

We trialed Doctor Darkness with the help of six schools with whom we were about to begin another research project that involves teachers and pupils in active collaboration and research. We felt that this curriculum rich workshop helped establish confidence in the use of drama methods and developed good and sharing relationships with teachers and pupils. From our point of view, by building on the teacher’s own practice and by ensuring support in the teacher’s use of very light role, we are building confidence in the use of role in the classroom.

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

Educational Drama creates a world in a classroom where the exploration of a fictional hypothesis allows everyone to have a voice, to share authority and to explore ideas.

Each of the four groups of children in their classroom were experts in their fields, the teacher the instigator and monitor of the investigations and consultant authority on the dark, and the facilitator had a problem which could only be answered with the help of the experts.

Each class has its own atmosphere and dynamic and because there are no absolute answers authority is given to the children to decide and to follow up. All participants are explorers together.

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

There was a lot to smile about for all participants and it was one of those special projects where there were few challenges. That’s not to be complacent – a lot of hard work and stepping out of comfort zones happened.

There really is very little training for teachers in the use of drama as a teaching method and teachers frequently fear that they will make fools of themselves, lose control, not have the confidence and so forth. It takes courage to take the first step into role.

By having a support adult in role and by taking on a role very similar to that of a teacher the pressure is eased and the teacher is more free to try things out. With this challenge came great positivity and a willingness to engage which made this a really enjoyable experience for all.

What insights from the project are worth sharing?

Creating an atmosphere of shared responsibility, mutual respect and mutual support, trust and daring is at the center of collaborative exploration and invention.

Ways in which this came about include:-
1. Being open to discussion – e.g., willing to be flexible with the workshop
2. Setting clear learning objectives and learning outcomes
3. Being passionate about the use of drama to support learning development
4. By building on the teacher’s own practice
5. By using clear curriculum links
6. By working in partnership with teachers, children and schools
7. By observing and sharing best practice
8. By giving the teacher and the children an active and exploratory role in the session, eliciting prior knowledge and extending learning/teaching

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

The relationship with teachers, pupils and management has been enhanced and that has given us and, we hope, them a firm ground to move into our collaborative research project, Raising My Voice, which we mentioned earlier.  Raising My Voice is based on the Young People’s Voices in Decision Making document from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Further Feedback from the Teachers.

Throughout the workshop, children took on new roles, explored their creativity and enjoyed the freedom to decide things for themselves. The inclusive and safe atmosphere that was created enabled quieter children to freely express themselves and contribute their own solutions to the problems that emerged.

The children benefited from engaging with a variety of drama methods at the hands of experts. The children gained confidence and competence from seeing a teacher being creative and ‘becoming’ a different character – just like themselves.

The classroom set-up is usually children and teacher. By crashing through the barrier, whereby children and teacher engage with a third entity (in this instance Graffiti Theatre Company), the usual boundaries were crossed creating a unique and powerful opportunity for growth and development. The teacher became one of the children in a sense, and this had a tangible effect on the quieter, less outgoing children who really relaxed and engaged.

Cubes & Compromise – Visual artist Helen Barry engaged in a 12-week collaborative residency with 1st class children in the Muslim National School, Clonskeagh. Together they explored components of Islamic art and design using a cross-curricular approach. The project was child-led; the children had much broader ambitions of what could be explored through art and creativity. One of the objectives for Helen was to clarify her methodology and approach to collaborative practice within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. The residency was supported by The Arts Council’s bursary awarded to Helen in 2013/14.

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

Helen Barry, Artist

My decision to approach the Muslim National School was instigated by key themes of my own studio work. I use many of the principals of geometry and symmetry found in Islamic art and architecture in the design and creation of my own work. A strong aspect of my work examines the architectural spaces of sacred buildings and the communities that use these spaces. I had also just completed another residency with senior infants in Rathfarnham Educate Together National School and I wanted to base myself in a school that had a completely different ethos. It seemed a natural choice to invite children of a similar age and a teacher from the Muslim National School to join me in a 12-week collaborative residency.

I asked the children’s teacher June Kelly to feed directly into the sessions and guide me as to the relevance of what we were doing in relation to the curriculum. I am interested in learning about the pedagogical development of children and how creativity can enhance cross-curriculum learning. My work with early years children had become an integral part of my practice and I wanted to challenge my approach to and understanding of collaboration and how this impacted on my work and why I was compelled to work this way.

One of the objectives was to clarify my methodology and approach to collaborative work within the context of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. This residency was made possible through The Arts Council’s young peoples and children’s bursary award scheme I received in 2013/14.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Helen Barry arrived to our school, The Muslim National School, last September beaming with enthusiasm to complete a 12-week collaborative residency. The children took to her immediately and she developed a very strong rapport with them. The focus of the project initially was geometry and symmetry. Both geometry and symmetry are a major focus in Islamic Art and Islamic architecture. On Helen’s first visit, when we got to see samples of her work, it was clear that there were strong parallels between her work and Islamic Art.

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

Helen Barry, Artist

Initially I had proposed to explore elements of maths, geometry and Islamic design with the children and very quickly it was clear that the children had their own ideas of how we would actually do this and lots of other things. My approach to collaborative work allows the children to lead the direction and content of the work; this in turn influences the overall process and techniques we use. As my own work primarily focuses on sculpture we started with exploring and constructing 3D spaces. We used a lot of non-traditional art techniques and materials as we moved about measuring the room together; we asked a lot of questions, chatted, laughed, shared stories, worked in pairs and we rarely seemed to sit down. I tend to work on a very large scale with children; using our entire bodies in the creative process from lying on the ground to climbing into spaces, exploring under the tables to building installations. This also demands the practical involvement of the teacher, which was given enthusiastically and consistently by teachers, staff and, at times, assistance from older children.

Even though I was keen to use maths and geometry as strong central themes we veered off through many different areas of the curriculum that demonstrated the richness of the children’s skills and interests. The children’s oral skills were particularly strong. They had a wonderful ability to present images of family life and how important it was to share. Their imaginations had few boundaries and the groups’ playful dynamic supported me to be more open to their ideas and to test out new media. As the weeks progressed I realized that it is not only the children and teachers who must be open to the process of experimenting but the artist too as things do not always go according to plan. We used shadow puppetry to explore their strong sense of storytelling, filming their characters coming to life using the sunlight streaming into the classroom. English was not a first language for many of the children yet they created a varied narrative for their plays overcoming many language difficulties.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

On Helen’s first visit she showed samples of her work from her website. The children were completely in awe. Over the twelve weeks the children made shadow puppets and created their own shadow puppet performances and they also helped created the spectacular stained glass effect silhouette cubes. It felt like Helen was merely guiding the children and they came up with most the ideas and did a lot of the work. Mrs Altawash, Ms. Davin-Park and I also helped guide the whole process along.

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

Helen Barry, Artist

There were many elements that made me smile throughout the residency from the children’s enthusiasm and their delight in trying to teach me Arabic, Sarah’s Story telling of her Uncle’s bee hives on the roof of a building in North Africia and producing enough honey for his family, Ms Asiyo Altawash’s practical solutions to my overly complex ones and much more. Throughout all my residencies I need to ensure that what we are doing is relevant to my own work. We followed a number of different lines of enquiry and I often found it challenging to correlate one strand with another and where it related to my own work. The children were curious, playful and very giving and I wanted to capture this essence in what we would create. I struggled with how this would come together with what we were exploring and where it sat with my own work. As we created our final pieces two women who walked through the space we were working in each week observed that our cubes were reflective of ‘The Kabba’ in Mecca and the images reminded them of the energy of children. I could not have had more positive feedback.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

I thoroughly enjoyed the children’s puppet shows, using shadow puppets. It was great to see them so motivated and engaged during their performances. I also enjoyed watching the children when they used the quills for writing. Their curiosity and enthusiasm was infectious.

I found the spontaneity of process quite challenging, in that I am so used to planning my lessons with an end vision or product in mind. I had to take a step back as the children played a huge role in deciding what direction this project would go in. It was a huge and effective learning curve for me.

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

Helen Barry, Artist

The children were at different levels, for some languages proved to be an initial obstacle but there were children in the class who had special needs and I found that when using a creative approach, it was not apparent as to who these children were. I always ask the children what do they know about ‘artists’. The children in the Muslim National School were the first to say artists were men and women, in all other schools the children say artist are men.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

Sometimes as teachers we may over-plan activities and lessons and in doing so we are perhaps guilty of curtailing the children’s creativity.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Helen Barry, Artist

I have become more confident in allowing the process to go in directions that are new both in terms of the mediums we use and more importantly the content of what we are exploring. I am more open to allowing the children have stronger role in where we are going to go.

I have returned to the Muslim National School to do a second residency, this time with younger children in Junior Infants and this is running concurrently with a second residency with the Dominican National School in Dun Laoghaire. This residency is being supported by The Arts Council YPCE Bursary award 2015.

June Kelly, Class Teacher

For me personally, I think something has changed. I am hopeful that I will be more confident in allowing the children have much more input into my art lessons. It’s okay to deviate from the plan and never to underestimate their ideas and input. I also hope in future in my art lesson to completely restrict my use of templates in order to further the children’s opportunity to be more creative.

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

Lisa Cahill, Artist
An invitation was sent to Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich requesting a teacher to work in partnership with the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education’s Dance Artist in Residence. This school was chosen because of its long and active engagement with The School Placement Committee at the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University. Triona Stokes, the Residency Co-ordinator supported the management and administration of the project from the very beginning.

Tracey Kirrane, teaching Second Class pupils at the Gaelscoil accepted the invitation and we arranged a meeting. From the start, Tracey’s energy and openness was evident and it was clear that we shared a real excitement about the project and its possibilities.

On visiting the Gaelscoil, I was immediately taken with Joe Butler’s Fish sculpture at the front of the school. This work was made as part of the Per Cent per Art scheme about three years previously. This sculpture became a stimulus for the development of the dance work.

The aim of the project was to create a number of creative outcomes between all collaborators. I envisioned that this body of work would illustrate the context of the project, the creative processes and the learning that was taking place between all collaborators. These creative outcomes would include an integrated dance performance (students and children dancing together) and a film element. I also wanted the documentation methods and outputs to became part of the final sharing. These outputs would include recorded interviews, journals, reflections (both written and using art materials) and photographs.

Tracey and I set up Thursday morning weekly sessions in the school for the children. Sessions were scheduled for an hour.

Two students of the  Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University were scheduled to accompany me on a rotating basis. Their role was to participate as dancers and develop their own relationships with the children. They were also involved in the planning and evaluation of the workshop with me. They took on active, fluid roles in both leading group dance tasks but also following and learning from the children. This balance became an important element of our co-operative approach. All of us as participants needed time and space to learn from others, and to lead and share with our collaborators.

Tracey Kirrane, Teacher
One of the teachers in the school approached me asking if I would be interested in taking part in a dance project with Maynooth University. He knew I had a keen interest in dance and music. I always like to give the children in my class movement breaks and I find that dance can be a great way to do this. I had a meeting with both Triona and Lisa in the school and they explained the whole process. Instantly I thought this would be an interesting and exciting project to be part of . On that day we discussed what information needed to be sent to the children’s parents and we arranged that we would do hour long sessions on a Thursday morning.

On the first session Lisa arrived, she did movement exercises with the children. The children were instantly engaged and I knew from then on that they would enjoy the journey we were about to begin. After returning to the class after this session the children were very excited and couldn’t wait for the next session.

Louise Young, Student
At the beginning I must admit that I was finding it hard to visualise the finished piece, but as the structure and story became more apparent the performance itself came together into a terrific piece.

Claire Casey, Student
I wanted to take part in this project as I thought it would be a challenging experience that would enable me to take part in something I’d never had experience in before. I would always jump at being involved in something with children outside of our normal placement and I am really glad that I took part in this project.

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

Lisa Cahill, Artist
The ideas developed through shared and separate work involving dance and reflection over 13 weeks.

The layers of the project included:

1.    My own exploratory work in the studio and planning meetings with Triona Stokes;
2.    Sessions with the children (led by Tracey and/or the artist)
3.    Sessions with the students (facilitated by the students themselves or led by the artist)
4.    Integrated workshops with the children and students together. This took place at the school with small number of students. Workshops also took place on the Maynooth University Campus. There were three whole group workshops/ rehearsals. This included the class of 30 children with the six student teachers who committed to the performance element of the project. These sessions took place at the University and were supported by the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education Dance Residency Committee and a large body of student assistants;

The development of the work is exemplified through the partnership with Laura Thornton, who encouraged me to deepen our collaborative exploration of line. Laura Thornton is an art lecturer at Froebel. She supported me in broadening my artistic tools in this exploratory process. I used both the body and art materials in our investigation of line.

I introduced the examination of line to the children and students. We created lines in our bodies through shape, we drew lines using a variety of body parts through the space. We studied, drew and photographed lines and shapes on the Fish sculpture. From the ‘line drawings’ the children began to speak about following a map and finding treasure. Discussions and playful work developed around this idea. We traced and followed our maps through the space. Children spoke about great and small journeys they had been on. They recalled times when they had followed maps or watched their parents follow maps. The children introduced challenges and obstacles that one might meet along a journey. Real and imagined journeys were shared, danced and written about.

Tracey encouraged me to consider what the story of the dance was. She talked about a story we are all familiar with, ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. From here, we began to clarify and refine how our story/ journey would be structured and organised. I appreciated and listened to Tracey’s experience and her gentle reminders to communiciate clearly the intention of our work and the intention of our dance.

The dance evolved into a final performance called ‘Finding our Way’, “Ag lorg Slí”  The performance illustrated moments of a journey. This was articulated through live dance performance, film and photographic work.

A note from the performance programme read, ‘The dance journey reveals the discoveries the performers made throughout the creative process of this project. With trust and a light heart, we find our way together.’

Is trí dhamhsa, scannánaíocht agus grianghrafadóireacht a léiríonn “Ag lorg slí” giotaí d’aistear. 

‘Aistear is ea “bogadh ó áit go háit”.  Cruthaíonn na rinceoirí scéal an aistir trí chomhghníomhaíochtaí simplí maraon le damhsa drámatúil.  Soiléirítear an próiséis cruthaitheach tríd an damhsa. Nochtar na fionnachtain atá aimsithe ag na rinceoirí le linn an aistir cruthaitheach don tionscnamh seo.’

Tracey Kirrane, Teacher
Lisa and I discussed ideas together and a lot of them came naturally from watching the children participate in the sessions. Being a teacher, I like structure on things, as I feel that the children need guidelines to follow so they know what my expectations are. I knew that there needed to be definite stages in our dance with very clear transitions so children could easily participate in the process. I first thought of the story ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen as it is a very clear depiction of a journey made up of individual sections. I discussed this with Lisa.

Lisa really liked the sculpture of the fish outside the school. This is where she got the idea of curved and straight lines. Children were taught to move in a variety of ways including different directions and heights, using various parts of the body.

Myself and Lisa had several meetings together to gather and share our ideas. I really felt we needed to start putting a plan in place as I felt we had a huge amount of ideas and there was no way that they could have been all incorporated into one dance.

Niamh Jordan, Student
Something I really liked, was the fact that the creative dance process overlapped and integrated with drama so much. The children were thinking creatively the entire time, embodying a character at times, and using movement and dance to express their emotions and feelings. In fact, I came to realise during the process, that there is so much scope for integration across the curriculum through the medium of creative dance. The use of the fish sculpture in this project as a stimulus for the creative dance, brought visual art into the process.

Tadhg (Child)
What I know now about dance? You can make anything of dance.

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

Tracey Kirrane, Teacher
I really enjoyed seeing the shy or nervous children getting really involved. They trusted the process and each week they engaged more and more. It was very important that the sessions didn’t go on too long as I could see the children’s attention was fading and it would not be beneficial to continue.

Lisa Cahill, Artist
The project was a bilingual project. This both terrified and excited me. I facilitated as much as I could through the language of Irish and encouraged the children to support me. I often had to pause and rely on body language or fewer words to describe tasks. I think this had an impact on how we used our bodies throughout the project. I did not always understand the children/ students or Tracey’s words. They slowed down, utilising their bodies to help me to understand. Towards the final stages of the project, I needed to speak more and more English. It did make me smile though as the students and children continued to speak in Irish to each other. It was a perfect collaboration in action.

Lauren O’ Callaghan, Student
I especially enjoyed the communication between myself and the children, particularly as it was through Irish and I love to speak Irish with children. I felt like I had helped a lot after the session, and I felt I had begun to build a relationship with the children.

Marie Casey, Student
The fact that the project was done mainly through Irish was also a great experience as it allowed me to see the power of creative dance and the ability to create dance in any language.

Lisa Cahill, Artist
A challenge I faced in this project was managing and threading together the ideas and movements, created by the children and students during their separate sessions. I used a variety of improvisation tasks to encourage the dancers to explore and tune into their own movement responses. This was balanced with taught sequences and opportunities for mutual learning. I utilised the working concept of ‘translation’. This concept requires you to consider how participants are doing something, not what they are doing. This philosophy is central to choreographer Cecilia Macfarlane’s practice and her work with Crossover Intergenerational Dance Company in Oxford, England. It meant that as part of our process all ideas were translatable across all the bodies and all ages. This is supported by careful selection of language in the framing of the ideas. I believe that the real value of this philosophy and working concept is that it allows for a shared ownership of the choreography and empowers participants to make choices.

As I look back at the project now, I smile with pride as I recall dancing with Tracey. In the final performance we danced a short duet together. I know that it meant the world to the children and student teachers to witness Tracey and I dance together. Like the children and students, we were dancing our ‘journey’ also.

Niamh Jordan, Student
Something that made me smile during this project was during one of our rehearsals in the university with the children. I had the opportunity to work with a small group of children (the map girls) as they were practicing their piece in the dance. I remember standing back and watching them practice and perform, and thinking how wonderfully they were working together as a group, and coming together to perform a piece. It was an eye-opener as to how inclusive creative dance can be to all children in the class, as it does not rely on academic ability at all. The girls were working together and relying on each other to remember the sequence and the dance that they had created themselves. It was really lovely to be a part of this.

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

Lisa Cahill, Artist
A personal objective I set for myself in this project was to pay close attention to my engagement with the other bodies.

In wishing to open up to the possibility of interaction with the teacher, children and students, I endeavoured to pay equal attention to my ‘self’ (my own process and learning) and to that of the other(s). I wanted to ‘receive’ in equal attention to ‘giving’. So I explored the framing and structuring of my own attention. I did this through journalling, studio time, drawing and art work, play time for myself with the sculpture, meetings with the Residency Co-ordinator and through discussions with the lecturers at The Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University who had expertise in a variety of areas (Art, Geography, Music and Irish). I met informally and interviewed formally the sculptor of the Fish, Joe Bulter. I also interviewed the former principal of the school Máirín Ni Cheileachar and  the current principal Neil Ó Tarráin, , owing to a change in school leadership within the duration of the project.
Both Máirín and Neil were active partners in the project. I had regular meetings with Tracey and weekly email conversations. I enjoyed tea with the students and we discussed how we could support their engagement with the project within a very busy college schedule.

In engaging with the collaborators, I returned to a question in our shared dialogues throughout the project:
‘What do you know about dance now?’
‘What do I know about dance now?’
‘What do we know about dance now?’

Learning through practice was a key working philosophy for my own artistic practice and facilitation throughout the project. I endeavoured to trust and invite the knowledge that each individual has in their own body. I encouraged this in myself, the children, the students and Tracey. Making things our own, as a way to achieve deep learning. We all explored together and in separate spaces. Each person kept journals and had opportunities to share their reflections and considerations.

Louise Young, Student
In terms of dance as part of the curriculum, I found that there is so much scope in PE for dance outside the typical dances. Dance is an art and a set of lessons could easily be created around a theme or a concept, and this can develop throughout the weeks, giving the children the freedom to shape the dance and help it evolve. Dance can also be integrated into drama as an effective methodology, as well as SPHE as a means of self-expression.

Claire Casey, Student
I loved the way the children’s suggestions and ideas were taken on board as this meant that they had such an integral part in the whole project and they were really a part of it from the beginning to the end.

Richard (Child)
Dancing is like a different language, but your body does the talking.

Eoghan (Child)
I like dancing with everybody. They are good and I am.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Tracey Kirrane, Teacher
I can see a notable difference in the children’s confidence in relation to movement and dance and also in their confidence in speaking out and sharing their opinions and ideas. When some children started out they were very reluctant to engage as they felt it may have seemed silly. But as the weeks went by they gained confidence in their abilities and were less conscious of others around them. The children worked very well in their groups and some proved to be great group leaders.

On the morning of the performance the children were so excited and some a little nervous. They always knew there was no such thing as making a mistake and that if things didn’t go according to plan that they could continue on regardless. They astounded their parents during the performance and you could see how proud they were of their children. The video of the performance was shown at a whole school assembly. The children were in awe at what they saw and my class were so proud of all they had accomplished. I was extremely happy that I agreed to take part in this project and would most definitely recommend any class / school to participate in a dance project in the future.

Lisa Cahill, Artist
I would say now that my ambitions and aspirations have been heightened following this project. I notice that when I speak and write about this particular project, my spine lengthens and my back broadens. I notice a feeling of absolute resolution, a feeling of muscular activation through my whole body, but a softening in the left side of my chest, my heart open and warm. I believe in the partnership model, artist and teacher, student teacher and child, artist and child, etc. I believe in building a relationship through the acknowledgment of the unknown and the known. I recognise and acknowledge the child, the teacher and the artist within me – within each of us. I wish to receive the facets of each individual in relationship. At the centre of the partnership is our physical selves- the body. The dance of each body; the dance of two bodies relating – evolving and responding, trusting and growing.

In response to the question, ‘what is my response following this project?’ I can state: ‘a determination to continue to build dancing partnerships within our educational settings, a determination to continue to follow my interests and a need to listen and observe, respond and reflect.’

Marie Casey, Student
I have seen first hand the children becoming creative agents in the dance project, becoming integral to the project itself and the performance. As a teacher, I feel more comfortable in exploring dance with a class (on my most recent placement following this dance project I decided to teach creative dance during PE lessons) and I feel much more confident that maybe one day I could engage a class in a project like this, using their own experiences, using their environment and personalities to create a vibrant, interesting and memorable performance with the children’s work at its core.

Oisín (Child)
“Everyone in the world can dance.”

Senan (Child)
“I now think dancing is really fun. […] The story is about a big adventure.”

“It’s all about doing adventure stuff and doing different shapes along the way.” (Child participant)


!!!! For Schools: Art @ Home Activity Pack for Primary Schools

Pallas Projects

Pallas Projects have produced an online resource ‘Art @ Home’ for teachers and primary school students.

This year to coincide with Pallas Projects Online Periodical Review X Exhibition, they have teamed up with artist and education curator Liliane Puthod to create an activity pack for students to do at home or in school. Each of the four activities are relevant to all ages, and relate to a work in their online exhibition.

Pallas Projects/Studios is a not-for-profit artist-run organisation dedicated to the facilitation of artistic production and discourse, via the provision of affordable artists studios in Dublin’s city centre, and curated exhibitions. Pallas Projects is dedicated to the making and showing of visual art to our peers as well as a wide and diverse audience: via exhibitions, talks and tours.

For more information and to download the activity resource, see here: pallasprojects.org/news/art-home-activity-pack-pallas-projects-resources-for-schools

!!!! Opportunity: Music Generation Development Officer (Fingal)

Music Generation 
Deadline: 23 April 2021

Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) invites applications for the position of Music Generation Development Officer (Fingal). They will be responsible for managing a programme of performance music education on behalf of Fingal Local Music Education Partnership. This is a five-year fixed term contract.

The successful candidate will have a broad understanding of the diversity of effective, contemporary approaches across the diversity of performance music education – and will have the skills and experience to develop a programme that responds to the specific needs of young people in disadvantaged communities.

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: 4pm Friday 23rd April 2021

For more information on how to apply, see: www.musicgeneration.ie/news/job-opportunity-music-generation-development-officer-fingal

 

!!!! Opportunity: Creative Schools 2021 Applications Open for Schools and Centres

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadline: 17:30, Thursday 6 May 2021

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

 

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – The Lonely Traveller

In 2020 ‘The Lonely Traveller’ Project was one of the recipient’s of the Portal Documentation Award. View the project documentation video here.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The initial aim of the project was simple: increase the access that deaf children have to the music and find new ways of delivering and differentiating the music curriculum for this cohort of pupils.  I enrolled on the Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) CPD summer course at Limerick Education Centre with the specific purpose of gaining a residency with a musician in order to achieve what I set out to do.

After being paired with Limerick composer Fiona Linnane we got the opportunity to get to know one another and discuss our project ideas at length during the TAP lead facilitator training which we were both chosen to attend. With an initial very loose plan/structure in place we kicked off the school based part of our project with a trip to University Concert Hall, Limerick to attend a “Music in the classroom” performance with the pupils.

A lot of background work was undertaken in the classroom prior to our engagement with Fiona. As my pupils had differing levels of hearing loss from mild and moderate to severe and profound it was important to explore with them how sound travels and how we can all experience sound in different ways ie some with ears and hearing some with hands and touch. It was important also to make the children aware that being deaf was not a barrier to experiencing, enjoying and producing music. In our english lesson we wrote to Dame Evelyn Glennie, a world famous percussion artist from Scotland who herself is deaf. The children were thrilled when Evelyn wrote back to them offering words of encouragement and praise. Ms.Glennie proved to be a very positive role model for all the pupils throughout the course of this project and her composition “The Lonely Traveller” became the central point around which our project evolved.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

Much of my preparation for this project involved meeting the students and gaining perspective on their experience of sound and music; the mix of abilities within the group; and how I would need to refine my practice to maximise the impact of the workshops for the group. This ranged from managing my communication style to allow for the use of ISL within the classroom to leaving more space in each session for students to move at a pace that worked best for them. I joined the teachers and students as they attended a “Music in the Classroom” performance at the University Concert Hall, Limerick and this provided me with great insight into how these children would respond to musical ideas.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Fiona took the lead by facilitating engaging and experimental weekly workshops which were loads of fun. Both myself and the class SNA’s were on hand to assist with ISL and the provision of additional support to any pupil that needed it. After the first couple of sessions the pupils became very familiar and at ease with Fiona and after this point we all very much worked as a unit and in partnership with one another developing ideas and expanding on themes. Much of my curriculum planning for other curricular areas was influenced by the enjoyment that the children were experiencing in Fiona’s workshops. We chatted at length about “The Lonely Traveller” who it might be and where they might be travelling to/from in our oral language sessions. In history we explored the voyages of St. Brendan and the Imram tradition and in SPHE we spoke lots about how being deaf is no barrier to achieving one’s dreams as Dame Evelyn Glennie had illustrated.  Our workshops with Fiona influenced our class work and equally our class work across other curricular areas influenced the direction of our workshops with Fiona.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I first designed and facilitated a series of workshops on experimental composition starting with simple rhythm exercises and graphic notation. Once I had established where the students were in their musical development, we began to plan a theme for our project. By linking in with the student’s interest in the work of Evelyn Glennie I introduced a simple piece (by Glennie) which I felt we could work within the framework of the project. Using chime bars and the graphic notation learned in the first phase of the project, we began writing songs and improvisation using The Lonely Traveller as a starting point. The students immediately responded enthusiastically to songwriting and so I began to look at ways to expand on this.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

This was an incredibly successful project on so many different levels. Fiona was a joy to work with. She was always so patient, kind and enthusiastic. She brought an open mind, in depth knowledge and a great sense of fun to the project. She engaged with learning ISL from the pupils and  always followed their lead no matter where it went. We very quickly established a three way partnership between pupils, artist and teacher which worked for everyone. This project started out as something quite simple and small but very quickly grew to become a fairly ambitious project. We had secured funding from Limerick Education Centre for a follow on workshop with local Puppeteer Emma Fisher to develop the visual aspect to our project. Unfortunately with the arrival of the covid 19 pandemic, extended school closures and no visitors policies we were unable to go ahead with this. However a promise is a promise and when schools reopened I took what little knowledge of shadow puppetry I had gained from my conversation with Emma and made this the focus of our art classes to complete the visual aspect of our project. The film was made with a mix of live acting and shadow puppetry. Working with deaf pupils in near darkness wearing visors and masks whilst maintaining social distance and pod groupings was challenging indeed but we got there in the end and we all agreed on seeing the final piece it was worth it.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

This project’s success was driven by the investment by the teacher, Jacintha Mullins.  It is difficult, as an artist to attempt to link in the topic your are covering with the subjects in the classroom as we are only physically in the classroom for the sessions.  Jacintha immersed the class in the project by linking it with other aspects of her teaching.

The usual challenge of engaging all students, even reluctant ones, was present but not to the same extent as other projects.  Again, I feel this was thanks to Jacintha’s leadership.

Obviously the big challenge arrived in the form of schools being closed in March.  We had just enough material already recorded to put the film together but plans to continue our work together had to be put on hold.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

The increased levels of self esteem and confidence that our pupils displayed both during and after this project were incredible. They were immensely proud of the work they had done and what they had achieved. Singing was something that these children had always done primarily with their hands through ISL. Hearing them spontaneously burst into song with their own compositions on a regular basis in our classroom and around our school is something really special indeed.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I listened to the announcement of school closures in my car just before what would be our final session.  It was an especially poignant session – I remember feeling a sense of calm in the classroom, while chaos ensued in the world around us.  It would be my last engagement with a school for the rest of the year and, most likely, until September 2021.

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

Jacintha Mullins, Teacher

Working in partnership with a professional in the area of the curriculum that I found challenging was a very valuable experience. It showed me the value of arts in education and how bringing someone into the classroom can open up endless possibilities and new ways of teaching and learning for all involved. I will be seeking out opportunities to engage in further partnerships in the future.

Fiona Linnane, Composer

I recognise the importance of real engagement by the teacher.  Also not to feel like everything about the project is my responsibility, allow others to cover their areas of expertise.

On the flip side in future I will allow myself to be more involved in the artistic outcome.  Before this I had always allowed the students complete control over the final work, however, as I finished editing the sounds we had recorded it occurred to me that if I take on the more technical work myself it allows more time for the students to explore the more creative aspects of the projects.

 

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: VISUAL Carlow Online Workshops

VISUAL Carlow 

Dates: Throughout February & March

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

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

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

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

!!!! Songs For Our Times – An Intergenerational Intercultural Music Project.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I had run similar intergenerational projects in Kerry in the past, using music, songwriting, singing, and visual art to express ideas and feelings about our own stories. These projects always received great support from local partners and the press, and culminated in a public exhibition and/or a performance. The interaction between the generations was a most important part of this project.

I moved from Kerry to Cork in 2016, and I was touring two one-woman shows. One of the characters in the shows is my Jewish grandma, and there was a lot of audience interest in this character. I started researching the Cork Jewish community as it was in the early 1900s, and writing a musical play on the subject. I’ve always played Jewish music, and I saw great interest in Cork in its Jewish historical past, which I wanted to know more about, and to share my knowledge of. This had not been evident in my 28 years in Kerry, as there was no Jewish community in Kerry previously.

I had built up a relationship with the Arts Officer in Cork County Council, Sinead Donnelly who suggested running the project in two areas, Youghal and Bandon.

We worked with Bandonbridge Primary School sixth class pupils and their teacher, Freda O’Neill and the Bandon Daycare Centre, with support from Bandon Library.

The project took place over four Tuesdays in September and October 2019. Two workshops would take place in each centre (the schoolchildren had their workshops in Bandon Library), one visit by the children to the Daycare Centre, and a visit by the daycare participants to the school for the concert day. In the end, I visited Bandon a total of 7 times – two introductions, the four planned dates, and one evaluation day.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The children completed a number of workshops with Ruti, in the local library, in school and at the day-care centre. The goal was for both groups, the children and the day-care patients to compose and perform a song for each other and to enjoy a singsong and each other’s company at the final performance.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I worked with the principal, the teacher, the daycare staff, and the 2 groups (older and younger).

In the first workshop,  I introduced each group to a little bit of Jewish Irish history and Jewish culture, I taught them a song in Yiddish, and we had a little jam with me on accordion and them playing percussion. I then asked them to think about how it might be to move to another country, and about any experiences they had themselves of living in other places, or moving from one place to another. I asked the groups to say out loud how they might feel if they moved to a different place. These words were written up on a flipchart. We used chime bars (each person gets a note to play, from a kind of xylophone) to work out a melody that might be nice for a song. Then we fitted some of the words that the group had come up with into the melody, and with a bit of adaptation from myself, we worked the words and melody into two songs. One verse only was developed that week. I also taught the children the song In My Town, a song I wrote and recorded on my CD for children, Stomping in the Woods.

The following week, the children came to the Daycare Centre to meet the older people. We had a singsong, which I facilitated as I had brought song lyrics, my accordion, and some percussion, and the children had prepared questions to ask the older group about where they went to school, did they ever travel, etc. One lady had brought some instruments that she had bought in Ghana years before, and she passed them round to everyone. I had brought apples and honey with me as it was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and this is a traditional food for this festival, so everyone had a slice of apple with some honey.

It was a lovely intergenerational, intercultural sharing. Everyone really enjoyed it, and the older people commented on how polite the children were. The groups sang their song verse to each other, and they shook hands and looked forward to meeting again.

The next week was a workshop where each group completed the song, with my help, and we added instrumentation to it. The children brought in violin, tin whistle, keyboard, and guitar, and I brought percussion instruments and chime bars.

A lot of work at home followed, as I wrote out precise arrangements for the teacher to work with the children on, and recorded both songs, and sent them to the schools.

The final week, I arrived early at the school, with the film maker Dervla Baker, and ran through the original song, and the Yiddish song, with the children, while Dervla set up the video camera. The older group arrived, and about 20 of the children’s parents, and two other classes from the school, and their teachers, so the hall was packed. The new songs were sung, as was a Yiddish song that I had taught the children, and a song about Bandon Town that the older group sang. Then there was dancing to live klezmer (Jewish wedding music) as my band, Pop-Up Klezmer, came from Cork to take part in the concert. It was great to see the children and adults of all ages singing along and dancing and clapping to the music. And to give the older and younger groups a chance to perform original songs. All agreed it was a great experience. After the audience left, the children chatted with the older people and shook hands again before everyone left.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The children chose to work on their lyrics first and then to add in the melody and instruments afterwards. They worked in small groups initially and then Ruti helped them to collaborate to create a whole class edition. We practised on a daily basis leading up to the final performance. Some of the children worked through a couple of lunchtimes to perfect their parts.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

The challenges were mostly weather, as the children had a long walk to the daycare centre and library, although they weren’t deterred. For me the biggest challenge was setting up the project, as it was a complicated project, and it was quite tricky communicating with the funders, as one of the arts officers was off sick. So the admin side took a lot of time and energy.

Although it was lovely working with both groups, there were challenges with the older group, as one or two of the participants were partially deaf, or just didn’t have the energy to participate very much. But most of them were delighted to take part.

The feedback from the Daycare Centre group was that they enjoyed the interactions with the children, but that they could have done with more workshops to prepare them for the concert, and that it took them a while to be clear what the project was about. They enjoyed playing different instruments, hearing great musicians, and the chats with myself and each other. The staff said it was challenging to get the participants confidence up for singing in public.

The feedback from the school children was that they enjoyed learning the dances, playing the instruments, meeting the daycare group, learning about Jewish culture and religion, hearing the klezmer band, learning new songs,  and the final performance. They would have liked longer with the older group, and more time to learn the song lyrics and instrumental parts.They would have liked more musical styles and more younger children attending the concert. The feedback from the teacher, Freda, was that the children loved it, the venues worked well, the final performance was fantastic, positive, and seeing the interactions between the groups was lovely.

My personal experience of the project was very positive. Everyone involved saw the benefits of so many aspects of the project – making music, creating new music, discussing ideas, and the interaction between the generations.

Both groups and all staff agreed that they would like to do a project like this again.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

The project was a great success. The children really enjoyed the music side of the project but mostly responded very positively to the intergenerational element. It was wonderful to see how both groups interacted so pleasantly with each other.

A challenge may have been the time allowed for this project. Another couple of meetings and practices with Ruti would have been worthwhile.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

Intergenerational interaction, composition in groups, arranging music, and performance  – these are all aspects of this project that I would like to highlight as significant. Composing in groups means working together to create something interesting, meaningful, and hopefully, beautiful. This is a good team-building exercise, and just a lot of fun. Also great for confidence and interaction. Performing one’s own composition in public, and getting recognition for its value, is one of the most uplifting things I enjoy as a performer, and I think that this was so for the participants also. The Jewish aspect was also meaningful to me – to teach children a song in Yiddish – a language they have never heard before – and to lead them in dancing to klezmer music, was a privilege.

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

Sixth class were enthusiastic and happy while participating in this project which made it quite easy to manage for me as their teacher. As mentioned above, the most significant part was how well both groups responded to one another.

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

Ruti Lachs, Artist

I have more confidence in bringing Jewish material to schools (although I have been doing this in different ways, eg candlemaking workshops at Chanuka, for many years anyway). I bring my interests into the classroom, and I do quite complex projects, even though it is a lot of work and tires me. I put a lot of energy in, and often don’t feel that I am earning enough to warrant the amount I put in. But that is my journey. I have been very lucky to be supported along the way by a lot of lovely people. It’s worth it!

Freda O’Neill, Teacher

I would definitely be open to taking part in a project like this again. Also, the inclusion of the older generation in some school activities would be something I would consider more now.

 

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Your Gallery at School with the National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland

Deadline: Friday 5 February 2021

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

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

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

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

The closing date: Friday 5 February 2021

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

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

 

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Ireland’s National School Photography Awards Open for Entries

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards        

Deadline extended: 31 May 2021

INSPA 2020/21 sees the fourth open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition and Positive Primaries Programme which introduces Creative Well-being into the lives of primary schools and their communities by engaging with the magic and art of photography.

This year’s theme ‘Accessible Places | Safer Spaces’ is run in association with the Children’s Rights Alliance and is looking for images that focus on giving a voice to children in their new and changing environments. Therefore, we are calling on students and teachers in primary level education, to once again, get creative and integrate the camera into their school day. To begin your Positive Primaries Journey and participate in the awards you must register your school at www.inspa.ie

The INSPA’s are having a massive impact in classrooms across Ireland, helping to boost the well-being of students by simply integrating the camera into your school day.  Participating in the awards helps your students increase their Confidence, Resilience, Connection, Kindness and Readiness. It also gives a platform for teachers to creatively explore their wider curriculum, allowing students from all backgrounds to actively engage with subjects in new and exciting ways.

Once you activate your school account, you will be able to upload your school activities, share ideas and engage with other Positive Primaries as they prepare to enter the awards. You will also be able to access our free and easy-to-follow Creative Well-being Activities. These will help you integrate the camera into your school-day and allow the children to lead the way.

This year, the awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for the whole school community including; Weekend breaks away to the Amber Springs Resort Hotel, free Instax cameras and printers, Positive Portrait fundraising days, certificates and of course your schools Positive Primaries Flag. All entries will be judged by a national panel including Mary Magner (INTO President), Colm O’Gorman (Director: Amnesty International Ireland), Damian White (IPPN President), Karla Sánchez (Curator, Art Historian & Educator), Áine Lynch (CEO of National Parents Council Primary), and Richard Carr (Artist & Partnerships Manager for INSPA).

In whatever way you choose to respond to this year’s theme, be creative, take lots of photos and most importantly have fun. We look forward to seeing all your schools’ entries and all those positive changes you are making in your school. If you think your school could become one of Ireland’s next Positive Primaries, register as soon as possible at; www.inspa.ie

For further information and to apply to go www.inspa.ie.

!!!! A Celebration of Wintertime – Visual Arts CPD for Teachers with The Ark

The Ark

Date: 7 November Saturday 

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

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

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

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

Date: 10.30am-12.30pm, 7 November Saturday

Tickets: €15 (€13.50 for ArkEd Members)

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

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

!!!! Take a Rain Walk with The Ark & Dublin Fringe Festival

The Ark in collaboration with Dublin Fringe Festival

Dates: 5 – 20 September 2020

Take a rain walk accompanied by the voices of children from across Ireland and the UK in The Ark’s first ever collaboration with Dublin Fringe Festival.

With their guidance, the rainfall will become your own private theatre, a space in which to observe, imagine and play.

Because The Ark’s team are no better at predicting when it might rain than you are, everything you need to experience the show is contained within a little box that will be delivered to you when you purchase a ticket. Keep it safe until the weather turns.

Then, whether in a drizzle or a deluge, alone or with friends or family, the team invite you to step outside, feel the rain on your face, and think about your place in a world that is changing so swiftly around you.

As a leader in child participation practice, The Ark is excited to join forces with artists Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, whose imaginative performance projects are all about enabling children to interact with adults and voice their feelings about the world they live in and how they would like it to change for the better.

Now, with support from The Ark, Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Place, London, Andy and Beckie will collaborate with children from across Ireland and the UK, setting challenges that involve thinking, imagining, writing and recording their voices. The results will be combined to create an audio track that will guide you on your interactive walk in the rain as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2020: Pilot Light Edition.

Recommended for families with children aged 6+ and grown-ups of all ages

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/a-rain-walk.

!!!! Weaving the Walk

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

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

Teacher Brenda Binions 

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

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

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

Artist Annabel Konig

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

Teacher Brenda Binions

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

 

!!!! Open Call Out for Artist/Facilitator for the Three Muses Arts Education Programme

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

Deadline: 12 noon, 27 August 2020

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

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

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

!!!! Curious Minds – Resources for Teachers created by Visual Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

Curious Minds Pollinator Project

!!!! Ireland’s National School Photography Awards – Winners Announced

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards

The INSPA team would like to congratulate every school who participated in the 2019/20 National School Photography Awards. The national winner is Dominika Ilecko from Stepaside ETNS who submitted the photo entitled Two Chairs into the Senior Category of the awards. The winner of the Junior Category is Jack Kelly Sharkey from Courtnacuddy NS with his entry Old Phone Box Library.

Dominika Ilecko, Two Chairs, Stepaside ETNS, Senior Category

Dominika Ilecko, Two Chairs, Stepaside ETNS, Senior Category

INSPA is the national children’s photography competition and online academy which is open to all primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. This year, young creatives from around the country were encouraged to engage with digital technologies and the creative process to explore the theme; Second Life.

The awards are having a massive impact in classrooms and homes across Ireland as they provide an inclusive model for children of all backgrounds and abilities to get involved. Through photography, INSPA introduces creative well-being into the lives of primary school students while building a future generation of people who are confident, resilient, connected, kind and ready.

The awards are free and offer a range of fantastic prizes including trips and stays at the Amber Springs Resort for principals, teachers, pupils and families, cameras for winners and schools, framed photographs, certificates and national recognition as a Positive Primary School. All entries are judged by a national panel of experts and over 300 primary schools have already registered their accounts.

We would like to take this opportunity, once again, to congratulate Dominika from Stepaside ETNS and Jack from Courtnacuddy NS on their recent successes and we look forward to working with all finalist schools when they re-open in September.

If your school would like to begin its Positive Primary Journey and participate in the 2020/21 awards, you can register your school at the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie

!!!! Gaiety School of Acting brings a little drama to your home

Gaiety School of Acting

Recognising the struggle so many parents are currently facing as they broach the mountainous task of home schooling their children during the Coronavirus restrictions, the Gaiety School of Acting has released a series of comprehensive and fun lesson plans to inject a little creativity and some POSITIVE drama to your household.

With 34 years experience in drama training, the Gaiety School of Acting teaches over 2000 children across their Young Gaiety schools in Bray, Malahide and Temple Bar annually, in a range of classes from Parent and Toddler Drama to Musical Theatre Company, Acting for Camera to an eclectic offering of seasonal camps.

Our Home Drama Resources have been developed by the GSA’s education team, and in addition to creative drama, provide a selection of science, craft and film-making activities for you and your children to explore a variety of themes, have fun, and escape from reality!

Every Thursday a new resource is released with the following themes already available on the website: The Lion King, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Monsters from the Movies, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

For further information and to access downloadable resources go to gaietyschool.com/home-resources/

 

!!!! Kids’ Own Visual Thinking Team: Call for Participants!

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Deadline: 14 May 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Kids’ Own ‘Open Space’ Action Research Report Available Online

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership are delighted to announce that Open Space, the action research report on the Virtually There arts in education project, researched and written by Dr Bryonie Reid, is now available to read online!

Open Space was launched last month by Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast, at the opening of our Virtually There exhibition at Ulster University, Belfast.

This publication is the result of two years of independent action research conducted by Dr Bryonie Reid, commissioned by Kids’ Own, and made possible by funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The aim of the research was to explore the impact of the Virtually There on all its participants: artists, teachers, and children. One of the wonderful things about this research is that it tells the story of the project, of those involved in the project, and in the relationships and collaborations that were so central to the project’s success. As Bryonie notes in her introduction: “These stories give a much fuller, more comprehensive picture of how the project worked and what the project has meant than could statistics”. Jo Holmwood, Creative Director of Kids’ Own, commended Bryonie’s approach to the project, saying “Kids’ Own’s work is about recognising all children as individuals with their own uniqueness of experience, and as such, a homogenised statistical analysis of the project would make no sense. This offered space for real richness of detail and allows the reader to come — in my view — to a closer understanding of how the project was experienced by those involved.

To read the full publication click here.

For further information go to kidsown.ie/read-new-kids-own-publication-open-space-online/

!!!! Get Involved in #ImagineNation with Children’s Books Ireland and An Post

Children’s Book Ireland

Children’s Book Ireland in partnership with An Post invites you to join the #ImagineNation campaign which brings together leading Irish children’s authors and illustrators and YOU!

The #ImagineNation playbook is overflowing with activities for primary school children in drawing, writing and mindfulness exercises from leading creatives including Oliver Jeffers, Chris Haughton, Sarah Crossan, Don Conroy, Niall Breslin, Niamh Sharkey and many more, the book will be accessible to all children to download as well as being delivered free by An Post to thousands of houses around the country.

As part of the campaign, a live draw along Facebook event with Don Conroy will encourage children to get involved.

Children from all over the country are encouraged to get creative using the ImagineNation playbook downloadable at www.anpost.com/ImagineNation and https://childrensbooksireland.ie/resources/imaginenation/. Also post their creations on social media using the #ImagineNation hashtag and tag An Post and Children’s Books Ireland.

An Post and Children’s Books Ireland believe that everyone can be creative – no one more so than children – and that every child can be a reader.

Right now, so much is being asked of families who are staying home and staying safe.

The playbook has activities, puzzles, poems and short stories from some of Ireland’s best children’s writers and illustrators that they hope will delight, entertain and spark creativity. 90,000 copies of the playbook for 6 to 10-year-olds will be distributed to homes in the coming days and also to family hubs and centres of Direct Provision.

For more information go to childrensbooksireland.ie/resources/imaginenation/

!!!! #CreateAtHome: The Fighting Words Story-Starter for Primary School Writers

Fighting Words

Send Your Creative Writing to Fighting Words!

During this time when we might find ourselves with more time,  it’s time for more stories! Fighting Words is inviting children and young people to write and share their writing with us..

Primary School Age Writers (Age 6-12): The Fighting Words Story-Starter

Fighting Words have invented the Story-Starter, which they hope will spark your imagination and help you get started on a story.  You can change anything you want in the story – you don’t have to include all the ideas generated in the Story-Starter.

How do I submit my writing?

After you have written your story, ask your parent/guardian to send it to info@fightingwords.ie. IMPORTANT: Please include the words Primary Story in the subject line.

Happy writing!

For further infromation and submission guidelines go to www.fightingwords.ie/news/we-want-your-stories-send-your-creative-writing-fighting-words

 

 

 

!!!! FÍS Film for Schools Project – #MakeFilmsAtHome

FÍS Film Project

Home Movies Anyone? Let’s Have Some Fun While Learning At Home!

FÍS Film Project would like learners to use the current COVID-19 social distancing policy as an opportunity to learn film-making skills for making really cool home movies!

Their new blog series #MakeFilmsAtHome is aimed at children and their families who might like to try their hand at making a stop motion animation or short live action film during the stay home phase and beyond.

With two separate blog postings per day. 1 for animation and 1 for live-action film-making. Presented in a simple easy to use format, with sample films made by Irish primary school children for the FÍS (film in schools) project and are accompanied by short video tutorials made by undergrad students at the National Film School in IADT.

Film-making is a fun, creative, imaginative and educational process and FÍS hope that families will find the tips and tools provided useful. They are encouraging parents / guardians a child or children who make a film to upload to you tube, vimeo, instagram or similar platform to share.

All you need is a mobile phone or tablet device and lots of imagination!

So, let’s have some fun and get filming!

To view the blog go to fisfilmproject.ie/blog/

!!!! Creative Arts in Education Ideas for Primary Level from The Ark

The Ark

If you’re looking for some creative ideas for educational activities (primary level) at home during the school closure then check out some of The Ark’s classroom activities & resource packs. These have been have created to accompany some of The Ark’s programmes, including their ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ season which has been curtailed due to the current closure.

Lots of them work even without having seen the show or exhibitions so do take a look – they are available to download for free and use at the link below:

ark.ie/schools/classroom-resources

!!!! Part 1 – Announcing the 2020 Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award Recipients

The Portal Team are delighted to announce the first recipient of the 2020 Arts in Education Portal Documentation Award. We are very excited to be working with each recipient in the coming months to document their projects. These projects will be showcased on the portal as the documentation progresses.

About the recipients….

Project title: The Lonely Traveller (Brenda’s Voyage)

The Lonely Traveller began as a Teacher Artist Partnership (TAP) between teacher Jacintha Mullins and composer Fiona Linnane in collaboration with pupils at the Mid-West School for the Deaf, Limerick, with support from Dr. Carmel O’Doherty director of Limerick Education Centre. The initial aim of the project was simple; make the primary music curriculum more accessible to deaf pupils and explore paths of engagement with music for profoundly deaf children.

The Lonely Traveller is an ongoing project which has grown both legs and wings since its inception. The project drew inspiration from the Immram tradition and, in particular, The Brendan Voyage (however the children gave the story a 21st century update by renaming the main protagonist Brenda).

During this project Brenda, the lonely traveller, has explored the length and breadth of the music curriculum. She has wandered along a cross-curricular path through Music, History, English, Irish Sign language, Science, SPHE, Maths, Drama, ICT and Visual art. She has reached out to both world-famous artists (Dame Evelyn Glennie) and local artists (Puppeteer Emma Fisher) alike. She has challenged teachers to walk behind while she takes the children by the hand and brings them on exciting adventure into the world of creativity. She has given us valuable insight into the amazing creative abilities of children with SEN and shown us how to explore the potential and possibilities that exist in the field of arts in education.

Brenda will take the lead role in a short film which will be written, directed and produced by the children of the middle and upper primary classes at the Mid-West School for the Deaf. Our short film will encompass original song writing, soundscapes, vocal and musical performance as well a shadow puppetry. We will also be introducing the children in our school to digital filming, video editing and sound engineering.

Teacher:  Jacintha Mullins

Jacintha qualified from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a degree in Fine Art. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Interactive Media after which she qualified as a primary school teacher and completed specialised training and qualification as a teacher of the deaf. Jacintha currently teaches children aged 8-12 years at the Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick.

As a teacher of children with a wide variety of hearing impairments and special needs Jacintha is constantly employing her artistic skills to deliver the curriculum in a way that is active, engaging and relevant to the children in her classes. Jacintha understands the importance that the visual environment holds for deaf children. She is also acutely aware of the need that these children have to find ways in which they can express themselves.

Jacintha endeavours to provide an arts rich approach to teaching and learning at the Mid-West School for the Deaf in Limerick. In 2019 she undertook the TAP summer course and trained as a TAP facilitator later that same summer. She will be delivering CPD to teachers on the TAP summer course in July 2020 and is also currently working as a creative associate within the creative schools initiative.

Artist: Fiona Linnane

Fiona Linnane is a composer based in County Limerick.  Fiona has been working with Primary schools for over 15 years including projects under the Artist in Schools schemes for Tipperary, Clare and Limerick Arts Offices.  In 2020 she was appointed to the Heritage Council’s Panel of Specialists for the Heritage in Schools scheme.  Her workshops are enthusiastic, energetic and fun while aiming to give students a new perspective on sound, music and composition.

Fiona is very active in community music and is widely sought after for commissions and to lead projects. In 2013 Fiona was appointed composer in residence for Bells Across The Burren, an Arts Council of Ireland Artist in the Community project, which included an exhibition and music trail at the Burren College of Art and commissions for locals music groups.

Fiona was awarded the Limerick City and County Council Individual Arts Bursary in 2018, and again in 2019, for work in the field of opera and Art song.   Current projects include development of an opera inspired by No.2 Pery Square, Limerick in collaboration with Opera Workshop and funded by the Arts Council of Ireland.

!!!! The Gallery as a Classroom – CPD for Primary School Teachers

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: 7 March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Barnstorm Theatre presents ‘Alice and the Wolf’ – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 4th, 5th, 6th – 9th of March 2020

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ by Tom Swift.

Alice spends virtually all her time in Wolf Wood. You know, the world’s deepest, darkest online game. Why not? Her dad isn’t around, her mother’s gone to Canada to meet a lumberjack and her best friend’s dumped her for a YouTube star.

But what happens when the people you meet online come looking for you in real life? Who can you trust, and who is the Big Bad Wolf? This re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story is a digital fairy tale that’s deliciously funny and full of dangerously dark twists.

Workshop
For County Kilkenny schools attending the play, we offer two in-school workshops:

These sessions are optional and capacity is limited, therefore they will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Teachers’ Resources
A resource pack will be provided to participating teachers. Linked to the SPHE syllabus, the pack will provide a focus for exploration and discussion of themes raised through the play.

Performances of ‘Alice and the Wolf’ will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny.

Dates & Times

Wednesday 04 March at 11.30am
Thursday 05, Friday 06 and Monday 09 March 2020 at 10.00am & 12.30pm

School Group Rate €10, one teacher free with each booking of 12

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873615598

!!!! Irish Myths & Legends

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

CRAFTed aims to provide skills for life through positive, collaborative and joyful engagement with craft and design processes. By emphasising the making journey rather than finished products, CRAFTed allows space for experimentation, active learning and personal growth. It focuses on harnessing the creativity of every child, valuing individual creative expression.

Inspired by their chosen theme of Irish Myths & Legends, 3rd class children of Scoil Bhríde explored the fabric of storytelling with fashion designer Aoife Thomas and arts enthusiast-teacher Mandi Mc Daid. In project development, the group explored processes of weaving, wet felt making, block printing, applique and relief casting within the classroom. In discovering new processes, the group had new means of illustrating and bringing to life elements from the Irish Myths & legends they were covering in other subjects on the curriculum.

Aoife Thomas, Designer:

Our approach to the CRAFTed project at Scoil Bhríde was to explore the children’s chosen theme through the fabric of storytelling. As designer/ maker, I would share knowledge of design and craft processes. Through first developing thematic, cross curricular work in class with teacher Mandi Mc Daid, the group was equipped with the stimulus to generate authentic, creative work. They would illustrate their individual thoughts and ideas around the chosen theme in process led classes.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher:

The students collaborated with Aoife and I at the initial meeting stage and offered their ideas as to what theme they would like to work on for their CRAFTed project over the term. There were many similarities in their suggestions and they tied in well with Irish Legends, three of which I planned to cover during the term. So, the theme was set. We embarked on class trips to Glenveagh and Drumboe woods to back up class lessons, collecting natural woodland materials for learning about in class and for use in various art, craft and design activities.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer:

The group compiled visual research, visiting Glenveagh Castle and Drumboe Woods in Donegal as inspiration for our project. Like Finn Mac Cumhaill the group foraged, collecting items of interesting shape, texture and colour: leaves, cones and bark. Alongside studies of three Myths and Legends, the class created drawings, rubbings and studies of their visual research. We incorporated the items collected at a later stage, adding as surface decoration to a large scale group-weaving piece developed by the children. The group imagined the woven piece to represent the cape worn by Finn Mac Cumhaill, hunter gatherer and leader of the Fianna. The project grew and developed in ongoing discussions and through a reflective process, focused around the theme of Myths and Legends. Each child could choose what element of the theme they wished to focus on whilst actively learning a new process.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

The children studied a selection of Irish Legends in preparation for our work with Aoife. These included Setanta – CúChulainn, Oisin and Niamh in Tír na nÓg and Fionn MacCumhaill.

Aoife supplied materials for each visit and for learning a new process. Aoife explained the creative processes involved, in steps. As teacher, I clarified these instructions where necessary and together, Aoife and I supported the children as necessary in their work.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

The success of this project for the collaborators lay in the group’s exposure to a number of new ways of sharing and illustrating individual ideas. The children could see that there were new and interesting ways to create work by hand in fabric and fibre through learning a new process in a supportive and encouraging environment. The teacher had a great relationship with the children which I think laid the foundation for the child led development of the project.

Meeting the children and teacher Mandi Mc Daid prior to commencing our project in order to have a group brainstorming session, allowed the children to direct the project from the outset. It offered a chance for each voice to be heard with support from the designer and teacher when setting the aims of the collaborative project with the children.

Having created initial work on the theme through complimentary studies, the children had many ideas for what they wanted to create or illustrate when learning a new process. As a group, we moved forward together in steps in active learning. This method allowed time for the teacher, classroom assistant and myself as craftsperson, to support individual children as needed when working on the ‘next step’ in the process. This approach gave the children an opportunity to help and support each other as equal collaborators and contributors on this project.

Documentation of the process led approach was challenging at times. The approach was child centred with a focus on each participant being happy, content and engaged in their process led work within a supportive environment. Due to this, at an opportune moment we would capture elements of the process led environment through photography.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

It was lovely to see the children expressing their knowledge of the Irish Legends in such a unique way, exploring textures, fabrics and fibers; experimenting with skills that were new to them. I have gained knowledge and confidence in new art techniques that I will be able to use in my own future teaching also. It was lovely to work with Aoife, an expert in the area of fabric and fiber, which is an area of the arts curriculum that sometimes feels neglected due to lack of resources, ideas or expertise.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

As an arts and craft enthusiast in the classroom, Mandi was interested in gaining knowledge and inspiration for the Fabric and Fibre strand as it was an area she wanted to build upon personally. For this reason, our aims and objectives for the project included that each child would explore a number of different processes, and that teacher Mandi would gain inspiration for delivering future lesson plans in fabric and fibre.

The children were familiar with voicing their ideas and were familiar with creating their own individual work. They could question and suggest ideas with confidence. This allowed for us to explore many different processes in an authentic and meaningful way.

Due to Mandi’s cross curricular approach in the classroom, the children could bring together knowledge, ideas and creative process to illustrate their thoughts using new found methods within a process led environment.

Mandi Mc Daid, Teacher :

Following the showcase for CRAFTed along with other schools and artists in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, the children have since displayed their project work in our own school to share the project with other classes and teachers. In this way, the ideas and skills developed in our classroom were made accessible to all other classes. It gave the children a chance to review their work and explain about how their work was created and the processes involved, to the other children in the school.

The CRAFTed experience was very enjoyable and educational for all involved in our school.

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

Aoife Thomas, Designer :

Each interaction in a learning environment has an impact on my personal practice as I am constantly learning regarding methods and approaches to take forward.

From gaining newfound inspiration in working with a new group on a particular process or gaining inspiration from the sheer enthusiasm from participants when discovering the output as they learn a new craft or design process; working on creative collaborations has a profound impact on my professional practice and continuing professional development.

Each collaborator shares their own experience and approach when working on a project, meaning there are resounding benefits in every new collaboration.

In particular, with this collaboration I benefited personally from working with Teacher, Mandi and her 3rd class group. Teacher Mandi Mc Daid had a child-centred focus established within the classroom and this aligned with the aims of CRAFTed in enabling each child to develop their natural abilities in a supportive and fun environment. Providing all those who engaged with the project with skills for life through positive, collaborative engagement.

!!!! Schools & Early Years Groups are invited to ‘Art in Action’ at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Date: 11 – 20 February 

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre invites toddler groups, playschools, junior and senior infants to a guided experience of Art in Action. An interactive exhibition where artists have used images, objects, actions to communicate with their surrounding world.

An interactive, multimedia exhibition for children with work by Basia Bańda + Tomasz Relewicz, Ewa Bone + Ewa Kozubal, Tomasz Madajczak, Krzysztof Matuszak, Aleksandra Ska and Hubert Wińczyk. Curated by Bartosz Nowak in collaboration with MOS: Municipal Art Centre, Gorzów Wielkopolsk, Poland. http://www.mosart.pl/ wystawy-2019/detail,nID,6164

This exhibition is a meeting of children and artists. The eight visual artists included in the exhibition have created interactive artworks that involve children in the co-creation of the works presented in the gallery. Encouraging children to participate in their construction and reconstruction allows them to experience artistic processes in action.

The exhibition and accompanying events are focused on enabling children to develop creativity, self-confidence and curiosity, explore the world, to communicate and to think critically, demonstrating that art is primarily a way of experiencing and building mutual relations with the environment, other people and oneself

Your group can book a guided experience led by one of the exhibiting artists Tomasz Madajczak. Group bookings are free of charge and can be made by telephone on 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

 

!!!! School Opportunity: Better Words – A Field Guide to Contemporary Art and Culture for Primary Schools

EVA International

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information go to www.eva.ie

!!!! Artists & Teachers invited to the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools

Grow from Seeds Programme

Date: 17 January 2020

The Grow from Seeds project intends to provide a programme designed to foster intercultural dialogue in Primary Schools recognising European Parliament priorities to address anti-social behaviour through social cohesion and inclusion, active citizenship and the empowerment and participation of pupils. The methodology used to deliver this education programme adopts multiple strands of Creative Drama, storytelling and performing arts which are proven to be highly motivating, multi-sensory and active learning tools. The Grow from Seeds project engages partners from Ireland, Germany and France, and is supported by Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership.

Teachers, policy makers, researchers, artists, drama practitioners and academics are invited to attend the International Conference in Intercultural Education for Primary Schools to explore new ways of understanding Intercultural Education in Primary Schools and the use of the creative arts as a tool to foster intercultural dialogue in primary schools..

Keynote Address

The conference event will include a keynote talk from Joe Little, RTÉ Religious and Social Affairs correspondent. The event will also showcase the work from the Grow from Seeds project as well as presentations and contributions from practitioners and educators through a panel discussion.

Venue: Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

Date: 17th January 2020, 9.30am registration

RSVP by January 6th to educate@gaietyschool.com

 

 

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: The Three Muses: exploring art and identity programme

The Hunt Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Invitation to The Classroom Museum Exhibition at The Glucksman

The Glucksman

Dates: 14-26 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

!!!! New Primary School Creative Programme at the Museum of Literature Ireland

Museum of Literature Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

!!!! Final Call for Registration for a CPD Opportunity for Primary School Teachers

Fingal County Council Arts Office

Date: 29 October 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date & Time:  

Tuesday 29 October 2019, 10am – 3pm

Location:

Draíocht, Blanchardstown

Facilitator:

Artist Jane Fogarty

!!!! The Ark invites schools to a new production – The Haircut!

The Ark 

Dates: 10 October – 2 November 2019

The Ark invites schools to the world premiere of a brand new show by Wayne Jordan and Tom Lane for Ages 8+.

Labhraidh Loingseach has a secret. He wears his hair long and he has it cut only once a year. Once a year on the same night in the same place and in the same style. But never by the same barber.

The Haircut is a cautionary tale with a live musical soundtrack. The Haircut is a fairytale remixed and retold.

The Haircut is a play about secrets and about creativity stifled. About fighting for what you believe in and standing up to power.

About music and magic and hair.

Set in a magical modern day Ireland, The Haircut is a new commission written by Wayne Jordan, delivered with ineffable charm by bright new talent Thommas Kane Byrne and accompanied by Tom Lane’s vibrant score played by three outstanding musicians.

Classroom Activity Pack

A new Classroom Activity Pack is available for teachers is available to download to accompany the production.  Created by Joanna Parkes and Anita Mahon – renowned specialist facilitators for educational drama and music programmes – the pack uses the show’s rich themes and ideas as a starting point for a range of engaging classroom activities and is a useful resource to teachers, whether or not they have seen the performance.

To download the full Classroom Activity Pack for The Haircut! go to ark.ie/news/post/just-released-the-haircut-classroom-activity-pack

Dates & Times

10 October – 2 November

School Days
Wednesday 16, Friday 18, & Wednesday 23, Friday 25 Oct @ 10.15am & 12.15pm

Mid-Term Break
Tuesday 29 October – Friday 1 November @ 2pm
Wednesday 30 October @ 7pm

Relaxed Performance Wednesday 30 October @ 2pm

For further information and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/the-haircut

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Joan Whelan, Chairperson of the Irish Forest School Association – Blog No.4

The Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

This final blog post is from Joan Whelan, the Chairperson of the Irish Forest School Association. She  reflects on the opportunities  within Forest School for adults to reaffirm their own creativity in their approach to teaching, drawing on her experience of introducing Forest School to the primary school where she was principal and on her current PhD research on the distinctiveness of Forest School as a pedagogical approach.              

“Lie down, lie down, that way is best” – Blog 4

Participating in a Forest School (FS) session recently with a group of senior infants, I had one of those ‘light-bulb’ moments that happen every now and again and give pause for thought. Our eyes had been drawn towards the tree canopy by the fleeting sight of a grey squirrel bounding up the trunk of a scots pine.

‘Lie down, lie down,’ urged one of the children in a commanding but quiet voice. ‘That way is best’.

And we did. We lay down. Three 6-year olds and myself, flat out on the damp slightly muddy floor of a small and not very loved corner of woodland in Dublin city.  And there was quiet, as we searched the tree canopy for the elusive squirrel, for perhaps a minute. Later that same day, having made charcoals from the leftover embers of the fire, a child asked to finger paint stripes on my face…and I had no hesitation.  The experience remained with me.
I realised that in 36 years of teaching, I had never fully encountered this kind of immersive, embodied, child-initiated experience that felt very powerful and right.  And I thought myself progressive and innovative as a teacher.  What made this possible? Was it being in nature? Was it being suitably attired? Was it the small group? Was it the opportunities for child-led activity? Was it the leadership of the FS leader? Was it the safety that the session provided to explore and to ‘be’? Was it all of these?

It seems to me that a very profound opportunity exists for adults to reflect on their practice through participation in FS.  We cannot promote creativity in children without being open to making new connections for meaning as adults. FS gives us permission to take a step aside, unlocking a more playful approach to learning which in turn promotes curiosity, exploration and innovative cross curricular connections that surely comprise the possibility for deep and creative connection and meaning making across the curriculum. FS seems to enable us to move from being teachers and pupils to being learners together.

In the context of the Arts in Education, FS provides a foundational, cross curricular pedagogical approach. The woodland provides the tools to enable risks to be taken safely, curiosity to be satisfied and boundaries to be tested. The transformative nature of this kind of learning for wellbeing, creativity and innovation is not easily accessible elsewhere in formal learning contexts. In an era of increasing focus on outcomes, rather than process, FS can help re-position children and adults, not the curriculum, at the core of deeper learning in the primary school.  FS pedagogy can help to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between the human world and the natural world, a theoretical thread that can be traced back to Rousseau, who regarded a connection to nature as fundamental to optimal human functioning.  However, FS must be approached within a theory of change perspective. In other words, the importance of school communities articulating a vision for their pedagogical approach, based on their educational purpose, is non-negotiable.

And when was the last time you placed your hands in wet mud?

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Ireland’s National School Photography Awards Open for Entries

Ireland’s National School Photography Awards

Deadline: Tuesday 21 January 2020

INSPA 2019/20 sees the third open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. This year, the awards are brought to you by the INSPA team in partnership with ReCreate.ie, FujiFilm Instax Camera’s and the Amber Springs Resort Hotel.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free entry to the Amber Springs Easter Train Experience for the overall winner and their classmates, FujiFilm INSTAX cameras for winners and their schools, a year’s membership for the winning school to ReCreate’s ‘Warehouse of Wonders’, a two night stay in the Amber Springs for the Principal of the winning school, a one night stay in the Amber Springs for the teacher of the winning class, INSPA certificates, framed photographs and an #INSPAsmiles School Photography Fundraising Day in aid of the 2019/20 charity theme partner; ReCreate.ie

This year’s theme is titled ‘Second Life’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day, allowing their students explore their classrooms, corridors and schoolyards. We are specifically looking for fun images that focus on the wonders of waste while utilising the creative techniques of photography to transform spaces/places or give a new lease of life to familiar objects/things.

All entries will be judged by a national panel including Cristín Leach (Art Critic: The Sunday Times Ireland), Feargal Brougham (INTO President), Cathy Baxter (Manager: Green Schools), Páiric  Clerkin (CEO of IPPN), Anya von Gosseln (Curator & Co-Founder of Kamera8 Gallery), Ángel Luis González Fernández (CEO Photo Ireland Foundation), Mandy O’Neill (Visual Artist) and Richard Carr (Artist & Partnerships Manager for INSPA).

If you think your school has Ireland’s next top creative, all you have to do is register your school at the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie. The deadline for entries is midnight on Tuesday 21st January 2020. However, make sure you register your school asap to give yourself time to activate your school account and upload your students’ entries.

For further information go to www.inspa.ie

 

!!!! Primary Teachers Masterclass at The Glucksman

The Glucksman

Date: 19 October 2019

Join curators, academics and artists as we explore the new Glucksman digital toolkit for educators. In this masterclass, teachers will investigate ways to engage their students in artistic processes that creatively encounter, explore and understand our responsibility towards the environment.

Current issues of education and communication of climate change and sustainability are complex, multi-faceted and potentially overwhelming unless the problems can be scaled down and re-framed. This masterclass focuses on peatlands, an important part of our biodiversity and an example of ways that individual and collective effort can be valuable for climate action.

Date & Time: Saturday 19 October 2019, 10am -1pm

Places are Free but booking is required.

For further information and booking go to www.glucksman.org/events/art-teachers-masterclass

!!!! Creative Dance in the Classroom CPD at The Ark

The Ark 

Date: 16 November 2019 

The Ark are delighted to invite Primary School educators to join dance educator Emma O’Kane for this enjoyable CPD course that to deepen and expand the understanding of Dance within the P.E. curriculum with an emphasis on creativity. In a relaxed and playful atmosphere teachers will be provided with the necessary tools to deliver dance activity with confidence for all ages and classes. The course will demystify dance for teachers and focus on the exploration, creation and performance of dance through easy exercises and manageable approaches.

Working within an integrative approach the course will explore how dance can also support learning across the curriculum in relation to SPHE, English and other subjects.

Suitable for all levels of confidence. No experience necessary.

Date & Time: Saturday 16 November, 10.30am-1.30pm

For further details and ticket booking go to ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-creative-dance

!!!! Human Being and Human Becoming

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

Initially in 2017, Cleo Fagan, curator of Superprojects, approached Maeve Mulrennan, curator of Galway Arts Centre about doing a project for children that explored the body and consciousness.  Out of this conversation, the idea for working with the artist Siobhan McGibbon emerged, who had previously worked with young audiences as part of GAC’s Red Bird Collective. Siobhan’s work very much centres on the human body and she has extensive experience working with children and young people. Galway Arts Centre have worked with Scoil Chroí Íosa previously and the close proximity to GAC, combined with their enthusiasm for working on arts projects and the efforts and skills of the students themselves, made the school the ideal partner to work with.

Working over 9 sessions, Siobhan and the students have used collage and sculpture to explore transhuman themes, resulting in an exhibition (15th – 27th October 2018) in Galway Arts Centre for Baboró International Arts Festival for Children.

Siobhan McGibbon’s own practice combines arts practice, narrative and scientific research to imagine the future of the human species. In 2015 she created the world of the Xenothorpeans, a hybrid race of post-humans who were able to enhance their anatomy and genetic make-up with medical therapies. This fictional narrative evolved from research undertaken by her whilst on residency in the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM). Through the development of hybrid figures she articulates her hopes and fears concerning medical technology and the future of the human.

With this in mind, she has worked collaboratively with the pupils from Scoil Chroí to develop a speculative science fiction. This work was exhibited in Galway Arts Centre in October 2018. As a way to further expand on and explore the ideas in Siobhan and the children’s work, Education curator Katy Fitzpatrick and Professor of Education Aislinn O’Donnell worked with Siobhan to develop a series of creative, experiential workshops in response the exhibition at Galway Arts Centre. These were supported by the children-artists from Scoil Chroí Íosa who were joined by  2nd and 5th Class students from another local Galway school – Claddagh NS. The Art & Philosophy workshops developed an experimental range of exercises that were centred on the voice, ideas, experiences, and imaginations of children as they responded to work in the exhibition and the ideas provoked by that encounter.

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

As a starting point, I introduced the students to my practice. I talked about the origins of my ideas, explaining how I take inspiration from the biological sciences and use narrative and animal metaphors to think about what this research means.  I told the class that a scientist would host a workshop about the regenerative capacity of sea animals and together we would respond to the science through storytelling.

In the initial stage, we talked about domestic animals and thought about the way dogs and cats live in the world. We thought about how these animals are similar and different to humans. As many of the students have cats and dogs as pets, they had lots to contribute. It was an accessible model to think about different ways of being in the world.

Following this, the scientist from CURAM hosted an interactive workshop, in which the students learnt about emerging science inspired by animal biology. The workshop involved lots of discussions, including all the students, class teacher Rachel and me. In the workshops after this, we thought about how this new science could change their lives. Through drawing and storytelling, we thought about the consequences of regeneration and immortality through speculative scenarios.

As the project developed, we explored case studies of more unusual animals that contribute to medical research, through a presentation of video clips, images and facts we thought about what life would be like if we were a hybrid of this animal. Each student explored this through drawing, collage and storytelling, which they presented it to the class. Following this, the class asked questions about the story and, together with teacher Rachel, we teased out the ideas that arose from these artworks. These group discussions led the workshops in new directions, new insights from each animal study contributed to the next, and in each workshop, we delved deeper into speculative ways being.

The Art and Philosophy Project involved working with Katy and Aislinn to respond to the rich and complex range of ideas and imagery that was generated through the school’s residency.

Education curator Katy Fitzpatrick and Professor of Education Aislinn O’Donnell

Through diverse arts-based, sensory, and philosophical methodologies, the children and their teachers: experienced the exhibition through a range of lens. These ranged from VTS and inquiry based philosophical approaches, considering the key concepts within the work, to children putting themselves imaginatively in the shoes of a chosen hybrid, generating choreographies to express that identity, engaging in sensation, touch and blind drawing exercises, debating whether it’s better to be a jellyfish that is immortal or a human who dies, and doing meditation exercises imagining the sensory experience of being starfish or a frog. The exercises supported a deeper engagement with the exhibition and opened up their imaginations and thinking. It was important to involve the children who had created the work in the school project, to describe their engagement in making the work, but also to co-facilitate and actively take part themselves, in particular in facilitating the philosophical conversations about ‘big questions’.

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

Cleo Fagan, Curator

I think Siobhan as an artist who has such an imaginative and research-based art practice, works really well in the primary educational context. Siobhan’s research includes the analysis of animal biology and behaviour and then makes big imaginative leaps that lead to strange but fascinating speculative conclusions. The way children think is highly imaginative and they often love the peculiar, so what better people to go on an artistic journey into the world of transhumanism! I think it’s very exciting to engage children in such a complex and rich area of research. Not only does Siobhan have these highly relevant research interests, but she also has strong interpersonal skills and a good sense of humour – very useful qualities for working with  children.

The Art & Philosophy programme in Galway Arts Centre, worked with students from Claddagh NS, as well as some of the original Scoil Chroí Íosa students (co-creators of the exhibited artworks and in this instance they supported in a co-facilitation role). This enquiry was another project in itself. The programme used a number of different learning methodologies, to provide students the opportunity to develop their own considered responses to the artworks, as well as the ensuing big ideas that led from this process of engaging with the artworks. This excellent and intricate programme took the students on a dynamic intellectual and creative journey, a process that is well illustrated in the documentation film.

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

‘Explorations of hybrid configurations from mythology to science fiction underpin my practice. I’m interested in the symbolism and metaphor embedded within the iconography and the hybrids endless mutability to think about ways of being in the world and alternative ways of being in the future.

This was the first time I explored this ‘framework for thinking’ with children. Each student created hybrids that embodied their ideas and speculations about the emerging science that they learnt in the workshop with the scientist.

I was amazed at how quickly the students grasped the concept and I was delighted by their dynamic hybrids. It was fascinating to listen to their science-fiction narratives, in which they placed their own experience at the centre and imagined the future. Each student had different approaches to thinking with their hybrids; some created hybrid languages while others thought about what it would be like to move with these re-configured anatomies.’

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

Siobhan McGibbon, Artist

At the moment I am in a phase of Phd research, so until I go back into the studio I won’t know the answer to this!

Cleo Fagan, Curator

Yes, working in the combined classroom and gallery context has resulted in some insights on making work for the public, that I think may enhance future work in this area.

In reading research studies on art education over the years, it has come to my attention that children and young people can get more meaning from artmaking activities when they exhibit the resulting work in public. As mentioned, as part of the project, the children had their work exhibited in the main space at Galway Arts Centre, and they took evident pride in this.  I believe that the Art & Philosophy programme further enhanced the meaningfulness for the participating children in having their work exhibited publicly, in that it allowed them to collectively and discursively investigate the potential experience of art for the viewer and the type of intellectual and creative journey that encountering an artwork can stimulate. The fact that some of the Scoil Chroi Iosa children had an active facilitation role with the children from Claddagh NS, was also significant.

The danger of working towards an outcome such as a public exhibition, is that the focus can be on the product, and not on the process. However, as Siobhan had 9 full sessions with the students in which to develop a significant creative enquiry, and perhaps because the children didn’t have clear ideas about what an art exhibition was, they remained engaged in the creative process in each session.

In my work as a curator, I would like to continue to work with this balance between quality of process, co-creation between artists and children, and public outcome.

 

 

!!!! Per Cent for Art Scheme Commission Call for Proposals

Galway Educate Together National School

Dates; deadline for application for Stage One is Friday, September 20th 2019 at 12 noon

Galway Educate Together National School invites proposals for the commission of an artwork/artworks to be funded under the Per Cent for Art Scheme in connection with Galway Educate Together National School, Thomas Hynes Road, Newcastle, Galway. Artists are invited to tender for the project in a two-stage process outlined in the attached brief. Proposals are welcome from both individuals and collectives, and from those working in any creative media/discipline and across a broad scope of creative approaches. The overall budget for this commission is €35,000 including V.A.T.

Deadline for application for Stage One is Friday September 20th 2019 at 12 Noon. Please see the attached Brief and Expression of Interest Form

!!!! Guest Blogger: Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher- Blog No. 4

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Reflecting on the first year of Creative Schools – Blog 4

Alongside the workshops that we held during May and June, the Creative Schools Teacher committee had come up with a Menu of Activities to accompany the workshops. The Children’s Panel also came together to add their suggestions for the Menu. This Menu was designed to be a list of easy classroom activities that the teachers could engage in at times and days of their choosing, to compliment activities that they may have been thinking of doing anyway. All of the activities were based on our theme of Food, Cooking and Nature. Some of the activities included links to Food Science websites; inviting parents into classroom to engage in cooking activities; ideas for nature based art; healthy shared lunches and forest and beach picnics. A copy of this Menu was delivered to each classroom for a four week period and all teachers were encouraged to engage with the programme.

During the last week of term, we invited our children’s panel to come and give us some feedback on the programme and how it was for them. Yvonne laid out big sheets of paper and had specific questions to provide information she was looking for. This proved a very fruitful if not a humbling experience. Each classroom and each class level had experienced varying levels of engagement with the programme, depending on each classes packed schedule. Therefore, the children all had varying feedback. As we all know children to be, the feedback was honest, and some of it wasn’t all that flattering!

As a whole jigsaw piece, the Creative Schools programme was successful in its aims and objectives for this year. But when you break the jigsaw into individual pieces, it didn’t feel that that success had filtered down to all of the children in all of the classes. This was disappointing for both myself and Yvonne, as there had been a huge investment in the programme all year. It’s all about the children at the end of the day, and if the children didn’t benefit, well then there were questions to be asked. Myself and Yvonne had a good chat about it all, and agreed that if we had decided to focus in on one class grouping for example, and showered all of our Creative Schools programme on just those children then undoubtedly the feedback may have been different, but that is not what we chose to do. Instead, we needed to focus on the whole completed jigsaw, celebrate the success and look ahead to how we can build on it next year.

We intend our focus next year to switch to teachers professional development in creative practices. We see a great opportunity next year to spend our time researching cross curricular creative practices, as we feel that in order for maximum children to benefit from the Creative Schools Programme, we need to up skill our own practices and thus all children will benefit. We feel very excited about this new aspect to the programme and we are looking forward to continuing this creative journey next year

!!!! Guest Blogger: Yvonne Cullivan Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Visual Artist – Blog No.4

Yvonne

Yvonne Cullivan is a visual artist and educator based in the West of Ireland. She has fifteen years experience in Fine Art practice, Arts Education, Public & Participatory Arts and Arts Management. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, and an M.Sc. in Multimedia from Dublin City University. Yvonne is a Lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, on the First Year Fine Art & Design Programme and in the Fine Art Media Department. She is also currently engaged as a Creative Associate with the Creative Schools Programme.


Working across a broad range of documentary-style media, including sound, video, photography, interview/conversation, drawing and writing, Yvonne’s practice is underpinned by a strong participatory and collaborative approach. She often works within communities of place, rooting the engagement in site-specific research and interdisciplinary knowledge generation. Sustained processes of observation, documentation, collaboration and experiential engagement with place, lead to the creation of new work that is reflective of, appropriate to and shaped by the process.

 

Blog 4 – Reflect and Refine

My first year working as a Creative Associate on the Creative Schools Programme with my three allocated schools has ended. Nothing feels finished however; it feels as if we are just starting. While creative activities took place in each school as a direct result of the consultation process, I view this years work as research and development and I won’t be surprised if year two feels like more R&D. The consultation process in each case was very thorough and the conversations with the coordinators and, less frequent but equally important, with management, were robust and wide-reaching. Through evaluation with a selection of children from each school, for the most part, they report having both enjoyed and learned from their participation in the programme so far.

In my mind, the role of the Creative Associate is to assist in embedding creative approaches to teaching and learning (one could say to thinking and being) within the school environment. Reflecting on this, it would be easy to be disappointed with the years work, it falls far short of achieving that aim. There were small disappointments; not all teachers participated in the organised activities, not all children made the connection between the opinions they put forward in the consultation process and the resulting activities that they participated in, some of the planned activities didn’t materialise, some people didn’t enjoy the activities. There were larger logistical issues at play too; the late commencement of the programme combined with the lengthy intensive consultation process meant that most activities took place at the very time of year when schools are most busy. This had the most impact at G.E.T.N.S. where we developed and implemented an ambitious whole school programme of activities in May and June. The whole school cohesiveness we needed to realise the holistic nature of this programme got lost in the end of year ether. I choose to reflect on all of this as learning.

My three schools and I are building relationships together, we are reaching levels of understanding, finding out what works and what doesn’t in each setting. We are journeying. As a result of this long-term attitude and shared vision for trying to go a level deeper into creativity within the school environment, we have clear pointers for 2019/20. A large part of our work together will be investing in creative professional development for teachers. This would appear to be the most necessary and sustainable use of our time together. Our main challenges will be freeing up staff time and reaching beyond the arts curriculum. G.E.T.N.S. will engage in a Per Cent for Art project that will hopefully build, in a very exciting way, on our work together this year; the boys at Athenry are leading us toward a programme around creative play and the outdoor environment; Eglish are going to further their digital skills acquisition. The process is creative and child-led and this makes sense to me.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher- Blog No. 3

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

In full swing – Blog 3

School days in May and especially June are incredibly busy. It always seems to creep up unexpectedly, but yet every year is the same! This business presented our biggest challenge when it came to implementing our Creative Schools programme. Starting up a creative programme for the whole school community at the same time and at this time of the year isn’t ideal. Myself and Yvonne had made a conscious decision that every single child would have access to the creative programme, and thus we spread it over 15 classrooms and over 400 children, rather than focusing in on a smaller cohert of children, and delivering a more comprehensive, focused programme. We decided this because we felt it was in line with our ethos of equality and inclusion and we didn’t want there to be a feeling that some children were accessing the creative schools programme when others were not. The reality of this decision was that we had to try hard to fit everything in to what was an already packed end of year schedule.  There were successes, but undoubtedly there were also some disappointments.

The stand alone workshops were a great success. The infant classes had workshops with Down to Earth Forest schools, who demonstrated wonderfully creative ways to use our outdoor school environment to engage the children. First Class had workshops related to the importance of bees and pollination. Second Class went to visit an organic farm and brought back with them a box of organic vegetables that they cooked up creatively. Third Class designed nests for bees, and designed an outdoor area for sowing wildflower seeds. Fourth and Fifth classes visited woods near our schools and managed to forage over 15 different types of plants growing in our woods. Afterwards, they made some tinctures and elderflower cordial from their pickings. Sixth class had a workshop with Yvonne, discussing food production and the methods that Yvonne used to create her visual short film.


The workshops brought a great buzz to each class level and certainly opened the children’s minds to environmental issues as well as seeing how to creatively utilise the resources that we have easy access to in our immediate environment. Feedback for the workshops was universally positive from the children. We held a feedback meeting with the children’s creative committee and I will discuss the outcomes from this feedback meeting in the next blogpost.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Angie Kinsella, Irish Forest School Association – Blog No.3

The Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

Angie Kinsella of Nature Way (www.naturway.ieis a passionate Forest School leader and sustainability teacher who have a firm belief in nature pedagogy. Angie feels that connecting with nature on an experiential level and encouraging learning in the outdoors is becoming ever more important in this increasingly digital age. Angie also works for Heritage in Schools.

Creative Experiences in a year at Forest School – Blog 3

Creative experiences this year at Forest School took on a slightly different feel for me and the children.  I chose to fully immerse myself into celebrating and living with and through the Celtic calendar, also known as the Celtic Wheel. The Celtic calendar is focused on the cyclical change of seasons.  Seasonal changes were very important to the Celts, who depended on the Wheel of the Year to dictate when to plough, sow, harvest, and rest.  The turning of the Wheel represents the continuing birth, death and rebirth of nature. I felt the integration of this ancient way of being was appropriate for how I wanted to work in Forest School this year. I felt it was a helpful tool to inspire us to re-member, re-claim and re-weave our ancient heritage and what better place to share this than within the holding of the forest.

September was the return to school for children and also the month where we begin a new cycle around the Celtic Wheel.  I started a long-term Forest School programme in the West of Ireland at the beginning of September. The first few weeks we entered into the woods and the children started to get to know the lay of the land. The forest floor still had plenty of flora present and the trees were full of leaves. The days were mostly warm and bright which helps, I feel, on many levels for myself, the children and their teachers.

I was met with a huge diversity of cultures within this group of children, which was such a delight; to witness the universal language of play that softly unfolds in a natural setting with the support of the Forest School principles. I witnessed children whose language skills may have been a challenge in a classroom setting blossoming in this environment. Some of these children had never been to a forest although it was only 10 minutes away from their school.

One girl joined us each week in her wheelchair with the incredible support and encouragement of her school teachers who were determined to make Forest School  all-inclusive.

She would often spend time with other students crafting, or sometimes just take time out to relax in the hammock. There was always allocated time for free play. To climb trees, build forts, whittle sticks, or simple take time to be in the forest, alone or in groups, to relax in the hammock, to enjoy the canopy of the trees.

As we moved into October, I began to share and explore through fireside stories and crafts the meaning of Samhain, more commonly known as Halloween. I shared with the children how on this land we once celebrated ‘New Year’ at this time, how we honoured our ancestors, and how it was time to prepare ourselves for the winter ahead.

We made incredible sand helters stick skeletons. We whittled wands and swords and bows and arrows. We developed our fire lighting skills. We learned about wild foods and how to prepare wild foraged teas and cook feasts on the fire. We also explored how the fauna and flora of the land are preparing themselves and responding to the changing seasons. We crafted hapa zome (eco plant printing) with autumn berries, an explosion of colour. We also made nature journals so we could take note of the changes in the woods through drawing and words.

Each week that we met I asked the children to keep a close eye out and to feel the changes they noticed. As the leaves started to change colour on the trees and drop, I could certainly sense Nature starting to drop back into the underground. As the months passed and the darkness grew, I observed a shift in all our energy.

And then through Spring and now as the wheel continues through this time of blossom where we come close to Summer solstice. I feel the calling to play more energetic games and crafts that weave in the summer flora and fauna. I have learnt and continue to grow through this creative journey in the forest, in rhythm with the Celtic Wheel.

I recently received this feedback from a teacher who attended some of these sessions with her class. “The children grew mentally, physically and emotionally. They laughed and cried and sang and screeched and splashed and pushed themselves and explored and shared and learned so much about themselves and each other.” I feel this is a wonderful summary of our time in Forest School and the possibility it offers for creative expression for children, and for adults.

!!!! Teachers Summer Course at The Ark ‘A Visual Arts Approach in the Classroom’

The Ark

Dates: 12 – 16 August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Guest Blogger: Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher- Blog No. 2

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Getting the Show on the Road….. – Blog 2

This second part of the process, putting together a programme of events on our theme of Food, Cooking and Nature, is a really exciting and energising process. It felt like it took such a long time to get to the point of settling on a theme that reflected the needs and wants of the children, their parents, and school staff. There was so much to choose from, the net was very wide. When we finally settled on the theme, it was really exciting to be able to brainstorm and come up with ideas that would reflect the needs of the school community in a programme of activities.

Yvonne had been busy behind the scenes putting the feelers out and getting in touch with artists and professionals working in these circles. All of the professionals that Yvonne contacted were very enthusiastic about participating in the Creative Schools Programme and delighted to link in with our primary school in a sustainable way. We have now arranged for every class level to have a workshop/trip off site, which could only have been achieved as a result of the funding we received as part of this process. We are very grateful to have had access to this funding and it’s a wonderful asset to have for our second year programme as well. Through these workshops the children will be bug hunting, foraging in our local woods, making tinctures, becoming Bee Aware and making our school grounds pollinator friendly, visiting an Organic Farm and a workshop with Yvonne on some short films she made around the butter making process.

Our Creative Schools panel of teachers and children also brainstormed together and came up with a “Menu of Activities” (pardon the pun!) that every classroom can engage with over the next few weeks. These activities range from Science experiments with food items, setting classroom up as a restaurant and having a healthy shared lunch; inviting parents in to classroom to bake with the children or to share their skills, screenings of food related programmes and documentaries. We are hoping to document the activities that the children are engaging in over the next couple of weeks so that we can celebrate this creativity when we come back after the summer holidays. It’s going to be an action packed few weeks and we are looking forward to it immensely!

!!!! Guest Blogger: Lucy Elvis Director of Curo & Visual Arts Curator – Blog No. 2

Lucy Elvis is a director of CURO, a not-for-profit organisation committed to public philosophy. CURO helps communities think together more effectively by inviting them to become Communities of Philosophical Inquiry. CURO works in schools, libraries, galleries and festivals as well as organising clubs and camps that include scholarship streams for children from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds. They like to get people thinking in places where they least expect it and to listen to the ‘big ideas’ that matter to groups who often aren’t given a voice.

When Lucy isn’t engaged in public philosophy, she is completing her PhD thesis and lecturing in Philosophy at NUI Galway. She is also an independent visual art curator and a board member of the TULCA Festival of Visual Art.

Talking about thinking and thinking about Talking – Blog 2

Sometimes, our young philosophers’ work can appear deceptively low tech. Walk in on a CPI (a community of philosophical inquiry) and you’ll find children sitting in a circle, some speaking, some listening and sometimes a cuddly toy, or a ball being used to indicate who should be talking. But, in these seemingly straight-forward talking shops, mind-bending ideas are explained, exchanged, and even worlds reimagined.

So far, so not-so-different from ‘circle time,’ right? However, there’s much more happening in philosophical dialogue than ‘talking.’ Unlike conversation, where I might share some news, and then hear from someone else, content in the CPI is anchored in a philosophical question (a ‘big’ ‘tricky’ ‘contestable’ and ‘open’ question) that the community have voted on together. In the CPI our learners are trying to solve ‘big problems’ together. This requires careful critical thinking before making a contribution. In answering big questions like ‘Should we always be punished for stealing?’ I have to decide my overall position (yes/no) and the reason why I think so.

If the only goal of a CPI were sharing opinions, then the result would be a straight-forward debate. But, undertaking philosophical inquiry together, means finding the best possible answer we can to our ‘big question’- a tally of yesses and nos won’t cut it. We will have to test the consequences of any overall position we adopt, and this might mean imagining scenarios, (‘what about stealing something small from your sister?) adjusting them, (‘what about stealing something back?) or clarifying what you mean by using analogies to point at similarities and differences (‘stealing something back is like creating fairness.’*)

The creativity described here needs critical thinking too, to support the new possibilities it imagines, and to create boundaries for creative thinking to ‘go-beyond.’ Because of the ways being critical and creative work together, the CPI allows our young learners to see how thinking from radically different areas of the curriculum work together, and how, scientific discovery and creative expression are both united by care and curiosity that powers our passion to ‘find out more.’

The CPI is a place for talking through, exploring and building possible answers together. Making thinking about concepts or big questions’ share-able’ can be a challenge, and demands creativity, and a rethinking of what ‘being creative’ can be, if we can move from just sharing ideas to making and revising them together.

*The examples here are based on a workshop with Ballyroan National School, at Ballyroan Library, who asked the question: ‘Should we be punished for stealing’ after they read ‘The Whopper’ by Rebecca Ashdowne together.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Yvonne Cullivan Creative Associate for Creative Schools & Visual Artist – Blog No.2

Yvonne

Yvonne Cullivan is a visual artist and educator based in the West of Ireland. She has fifteen years experience in Fine Art practice, Arts Education, Public & Participatory Arts and Arts Management. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, and an M.Sc. in Multimedia from Dublin City University. Yvonne is a Lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, on the First Year Fine Art & Design Programme and in the Fine Art Media Department. She is also currently engaged as a Creative Associate with the Creative Schools Programme.


Working across a broad range of documentary-style media, including sound, video, photography, interview/conversation, drawing and writing, Yvonne’s practice is underpinned by a strong participatory and collaborative approach. She often works within communities of place, rooting the engagement in site-specific research and interdisciplinary knowledge generation. Sustained processes of observation, documentation, collaboration and experiential engagement with place, lead to the creation of new work that is reflective of, appropriate to and shaped by the process.

 

Collate and Prioritise – Blog 2

I collected a lot of information from the schools I have been working with as part of my role as Creative Associate on the Creative Schools Programme; written notes, visuals, statistics, survey information. The biggest school (Galway Educate Together on Newcastle Road) has over 500 pupils and 50 staff. Regardless of the size of the school, everyone was asked for their opinions. This took time and investment from myself, the coordinators, staff, voluntary Children’s Creativity Panels and, at G.E.T.N.S., a voluntary Staff Creativity Panel. Questions were asked such as: What are the challenges to being creative in the classroom? What are the opportunities for this Creative Schools Programme? If you were the principle of this school and had money to spend, what creative things would you spend it on? Age-appropriate surveys were completed with in-depth questions regarding the level of engagement with creativity in the classroom, staff planning, allocation of funding, parental awareness of creative activities etc. There were votes, by all parties, in relation to areas of interest and creative media to explore. Everywhere I went I brought colored sharpies and hundreds of colored post-its, blue-tack and masking tape, large sheets of paper and visual aids. The workshops were active and inclusive and very enjoyable.

I then worked through the valuable information, stored on sheets and post-its or documented through photographs, in the same way that I would with research for any project; by laying it all out and finding the overlaps and patterns within it. I moved post-its around, joined them with arrows and written notes. Through this process of collating and prioritising (staff were involved to a certain extent during workshops), I produced a visual mind-map for each school. I returned to present the findings and discuss suggestions as to how we might address the prioritised information. My hope in each case was to find a way to marry the medium / media of choice with a methodology through which prioritised learning could be imparted and to also encompass the larger contexts, aims and ambitions, outlined by each school. Context, method, medium, not necessarily in that order, are the three strands that merge to inform and form my own artistic practice and individual projects and are the main elements of my teaching methodology.

There followed a consultative process involving staff, staff panels, children and children’s panels, through which my suggestions were padded and shaped collectively. In each case we made decisions on ‘projects’. These projects have a beginning, middle and end, however they are not stand-alone. Rather, they have been devised as a way to carry experiential learning on a number of levels and to keep this learning open so that it can be expanded upon. They have also been devised in collaboration with specific artists; the ‘who’ is as important as the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. In each case I approached particular people and engaged them in conversations, alone and then with the schools, to further shape what might happen. We are now at that wonderful point where the work is starting to unfold.

!!!! Art in the Primary School Making and Appreciation Skills – CPD for Primary School Teachers

National Gallery of Ireland

Date: 1 July – 5 July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Guest Blogger: Kerry Walker, Irish Forest School Association – Blog No.2

IFSA Kerry WalkerThe Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) was founded in 2016 and is engaged in the promotion and development of the Forest School (FS) movement in Ireland.  We bring Forest School practitioners together to inspire inclusive, playful learning for all, in nature.  We want to build resilience and relationships, through our connection with each other, and the natural world, while inspiring creativity and supporting wellbeing. More information can be found on our website www.irishforestschoolassociation.ie.

In this second blog post, Kerry Walker talks about how the Forest School principles can be used to unlock creative potential in children (and adults!)

Kerry Walker is a passionate Forest School Practitioner and Art Therapist. Her appreciation for nature and art has brought her on creative journeys around the world. She has facilitated creative arts programmes with a focus on using art and nature as a tool for integration, connection and awareness. Kerry is the co-founder of Down to Earth Forest School, a nature based educational programme where children are supported to learn and create through nature. (www.downtoearthforestschool.com)

Unlocking Creativity through the Forest School Principles – Blog 2

The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. – Loris Malaguzzi

The Irish Forest School Association follows six guiding principles set out by the Forest School Association in the UK in 2011. These principles form the foundation that gives the learner the freedom to choose how they approach challenges and activities in natural spaces.  Forest School, based on these principles, creates a space to encourage and support us to think critically and creatively. I am going to look at each of the principles and highlight how they are key to unlocking and supporting the creative development of children, as well as promoting resilient and independent learners.

In short, Forest School:

 

By using a woodland setting for Forest School sessions, we are providing an open-ended natural environment for the children to explore. The Forest School setting is abundant with sticks, leaves, soil, stones, and many more natural objects. They are materials that can be carried, moved, combined and redesigned – they are what Simon Nicholson (1971) referred to as loose parts. He proposed that access to loose parts encourages children’s creativity and provides a greater range of opportunities (Nicholson, 1971).The woodland setting is also providing the learner with continuous access to the natural environment where they are able to immerse themselves in the creative stimulation that nature so freely provides.

Ensuring that Forest School is a long term process of regular sessions is an important factor. As the sessions are continuous, the children are given time to return to their woodland site on a weekly basis throughout the seasons. With this time, they are afforded the opportunity to work on a certain craft or skill at their pace, and develop and share their own ideas. They are not rushed or told to have a final product; they get to experience the process of creating something over time.

By using a range of learner-centred processes, Forest School aims to create a community for development and learning.It provides a platform for all learning preferences. Play and choice are an integral part of the Forest School learning process, and play is recognised as vital to learning and development at Forest School (FSA, 2011). Child-led play is central to Forest School and play facilitates a creative response in us all.

Promoting holistic development and opportunities for supported risk taking are considered central to Forest School and also to enhancing creativity. Forest School aims to develop, where appropriate, the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner (FSA, 2011). It encourages children to lead activities, it can help improve fine motor skills, promotes self-awareness and gives the child ownership of the sessions. Forest School encourages children to step out of their comfort zone. In doing so, the children are able to become more aware of their physical and mental limits and are more able to assess situations. They are supported to think creatively and to trust themselves.

Qualified FS Practitioners are aware of the importance of child-led activities and so they do not teach or tell children what to do. Instead they provide ideas, activities and resources and facilitate opportunities for children to pursue their interests. Over time this supports the children’s confidence and fosters creative thinking.

By providing children a long-term learning process within a woodland setting, while supporting risk and holistic development, and by creating a community for learning with a qualified practitioner the Forest School principles are key to unlocking and supporting creativity in children.

Gill, Tim, (2007) No Fear: growing up in a risk adverse society

Nicholson, Simon (1971) The Theory of Loose Parts, An Important Principle of Design and Methodology. Open University.

 

 

!!!! Drama Tools for the Classroom – CPD for Primary School Teachers with Baboró

Baboró 

Dates: 1st – 5th July 2019

Baboró releases final spaces for ‘Drama Tools for the Classroom’, an EPV approved Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course for educators, therapists and artists.

A limited number of tickets are now available for Baboró’s annual Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course, Drama Tools for the Classroom, taking place from Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Develop practical, fun and engaging teaching methodologies in this EPV approved CPD course; delivered by teacher, dramatist and facilitator Irene O’Meara, B.Ed., LLSM, MA Drama & Theatre Studies.

The week-long course of workshops is designed for primary school teachers but is also open to educators, therapists, artists and facilitators. It is for those who value the art of communication, empathy and co-operation, and wish to use drama and the creative arts to effectively engage children in teaching a range of topics.

The course will cover all the required teaching methodologies such as Active Learning; Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Discussion and Use of Environment, while also developing skills that can be used in a multitude of settings with many subject areas. Participants will then be guided through the processes of using drama as a methodology that supports the Using, Understanding and Communicating as per the New Primary Language curriculum.

Booking and Event Details:
Course cost of €70.00.
Taking place from 9.30am – 2.00pm Monday 1st to Friday 5th of July at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway.

Tickets available on Eventbrite at bit.ly/2JbUBG0. Places are limited and advanced booking is required.

For further information go to www.baboro.ie/news-events/cpd-2019

This is an EPV Department of Skills and Education approved course and participants will receive a certificate of completion. For further information contact admin@baboro.ie or call 091 562 667

!!!! Schools are invited to ‘Shaping Ireland’ at the National Gallery of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland

Dates: May & June 2019

Spanning 250 years, Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland comprises artworks by fifty artists, exploring the relationship between people and the natural world.

In addition to artists of the past, such as George Barret, Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats, it includes contemporary practitioners like Dorothy Cross, Willie Doherty, Kathy Prendergast and Sean Scully, as well as Niamh O’Malley, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Samuel Laurence Cunnane and others.

Encompassing a range of artistic media and perspectives, this exhibition examines different land types and uses, revealing the significant role artists have played in visualising aspects of human impact on the environment.

Shaping Ireland for Schools

The exhibition presents an opportunity for cross-curricular learning, and the  accompanying schools programme focuses on the environmental issues raised by the exhibition. 

School Tours

Dates: Tuesday – Friday in May & June

Schools from across the island of Ireland can avail of free tours of the exhibition in English and Irish. To book, email tours@ngi.ie or phone + 353 1 663 3510

Primary Schools Workshops

Dates: Tuesdays & Wednesdays in May & June
Time: 10am – 12pm
Cost: €150 per workshop (Max. 30 students per group)

Explore the exhibition with artist Emily Robyn Archer, and discover the important role of bees and other pollinators in the Irish ecosystem. This cross-curricular workshop will take students outside into Merrion Square to creatively explore the local environment. Students will make seedbombs to take home and help spread flowers across Ireland! To book click here

Primary Schools Resource: Art and the Environment

Teacher Sinéad Hall has developed a resource pack inspired by the exhibition, and designed to be used in the classroom, showing how art and creativity can be embedded across the primary curriculum. To download click here.  

For further information and booking go to https://www.nationalgallery.ie/art-and-artists/exhibitions/shaping-ireland-landscapes-irish-art/education-programme

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh Creative Schools Coordinator & Teacher- Blog No. 1

Sinéad Ní Bhrádaigh has worked in Galway Educate Together since 2002. She has a life long interest in the arts, primarily in the musical side of the arts. She plays classical piano to Senior Certificate level and has been involved with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann as a piano and fiddle player and tutor in Dublin and Galway. In 2001, Sinéad completed a Higher Diploma in Arts Administration and gained great experience volunteering with the Town Hall Theatre and Galway Arts Centre. Sinéad established the GETNS school choir in 2004, and now collaborates with another teacher to run a choir with 100 students in the school. The GETNS choir has performed at several Peace Proms, at the Town Hall Theatre and at community events.

Creative Schools:  An Exciting New Journey – Blog 1

Our school was delighted  to hear about this new Creative Schools initiative and were eager for our school to participate. Our school has traditionally been very lucky to have creative teachers and parents who have shared their talents with the children over the years. Schools have changed dramatically over the years, the advent of technology means that the wider world has become much more accessible to children, and any amount of content is now available at the other end of their fingertips. The information presented on the training day for Creative Schools was so relevant and interesting. The notion that 65% of jobs our current cohort will be doing as adults have not yet been created blew my mind. That the World Economic Forum lists Creativity third in the top ten list of skills that our young people will need to navigate their future highlights how much skills development is now required in schools into the future.

We have been working in close collaboration with Yvonne Cullivan, our Creative Associate all year and this has been a great experience for our school. Yvonne has been successfully able to help us as a school identify the relationship we have with creativity through the eyes of the teachers, the children and the parents. What emerged out of that process was that as a school, we have a lot to celebrate, much to communicate and a great roadmap for how we can develop further as a school. There was a huge amount involved in the information gathering stage of the project, due in part to our large school population – surveying, collating and analysing over 1000 opinions was a long process.  We were relieved to hear that there would be another year to engage with the project, as we felt that we would need a lot more time to embed the learning from the information gathering, and having another year next year will allow us to do that.

The outcomes for our school are that all members of the community wish to engage more with creativity and the arts, we wish to engage with each other and the wider community more, we wish to see more cross curricular creativity and we wish to communicate and celebrate the many wonderful aspects of creative work that we already engage in. The children voted to do more work around cooking, nature and horticulture, so myself, Yvonne and the other wonderful teachers on our Creative School committee are currently working to put together a programme to run over the course of May and June. I look forward to sharing how we are getting on in the next blog post!

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – Cave Dweller

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

For more information click here.

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

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

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

John Busher, Artist

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

Liselott Olofsson, Teacher

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

!!!! Call Out for Artists: Teacher Artist Partnership CPD & Residency 2019

Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP)

Deadline dates vary per region – please contact Local Authority Arts Service 

Announcing a wonderful opportunity for Artists to broaden their practice, receive training and project fees, develop creative partnerships with teachers, and transform the lives of children in every County in Ireland

The Teacher-Artist Partnership CPD programme (TAP) is a Creative Ireland, Department of Education and Skills led and approved Summer Course offering training and in school residency opportunities for artists.

Artists must 

Artists can apply to be part of the programme in the first instance via the Arts Officer of the Local Authority in which the full-time Education Centre is located. Expressions of interest should then be sent to the relevant address of the Local Full-time Education Centre.

Expressions of interest should be in the form of a letter of max 600 words, accompanied by a CV or short Bio with links to images or samples of relevant work. The letter should set out:

  1. Where you trained
  2. A very brief description of your practice
  3. Why you might wish to work in partnership with a teacher and with children in a school setting
  4. What you think qualifies you to take up this opportunity.

Places on this national Creative Ireland CPD initiative, taking place in the local full-time Education Centre training programmes, are limited to four artists per year – 4 Artists per Summer Course. Final decision on offers of places will be taken by the Director of the local Education Centre in collaboration with the Local Authority Arts Office.

For further information including the relevant deadline date for applications contact your Local Authority Arts Service – a list and contact details are available on the Portal Directory here.

All completed Expressions of Interest/Applications must be returned to your Local Education Centre – Education Centre contact details can be found here.

 

!!!! Invitation to Celebrate The Classroom Museum Project at The Glucksman

The Glucksman

Date: Friday 29th March 2019

The Glucksman is delighted to invite you to join them to mark the culmination of ‘The Classroom Museum’ a project with rural schools in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford on Friday 29th March at 11am. The celebration will be marked by Professor John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Registrar at University College Cork and will be followed by a meet and greet with the participating school students, teachers and with artists Billy Foley, Fiona Kelly and Dara McGrath.

The Classroom Museum initiative enables school children in rural Ireland to participate in an imaginative programme of creative learning based around contemporary artworks from the UCC art collection. Through the short-term loan of artworks and collaborative activities, the children and their teachers have the opportunity to interact with art in their own surroundings and to develop the skills and confidence to express themselves in educational and public contexts. The initiative facilitates the loan of artworks into the classroom space, and develops the presence of this original work through a structured programme of activities with the schoolchildren overseen by the Glucksman’s Senior Curator of Education + Community.  The programme includes a visit by the artist to the school, a collaborative art project by the children and an exhibition of this work in the Glucksman.

This event is an opportunity to recognise the creativity of the young participants and to hear about their journey of creative learning.

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

!!!! The Artful Classroom – CPD for Primary School Teachers

A partnership project by Fingal County Council & Superprojects

Date: 1st – 5th July 2019

The Artful Classroom is facilitated by Aoife Banim, Anne Bradley, Clare Breen, Catriona Leahy and Beth O’Halloran

This CPD programme The Artful Classroom facilitates primary school teachers to enrich their work in the classroom by exploring contemporary art and architecture, as fascinating resources ripe for use as inspiration and departure points for creative enquiry. Together, the group will explore the national and international practices of artists and architects, through imagery and discussion, and playfully consider how they can be applied to the primary school classroom. Workshop sessions will take place in Draíocht Arts Centre Blanchardstown and The Irish Museum of Modern Art Kilmainham where participants will have an opportunity to explore the work of exciting contemporary artists.

The learning focus will be on processand creative thinking; rather than producing fixed outcomes. Facilitated by Clare Breen, Catriona Leahy, Beth O’Halloran, Anne Bradley and Aoife Banim, the course draws on the expertise of both teachers (with experience of art/architecture) and artists (with experience of education). Each day will be led by a different course facilitator who will share their experience of working creatively with children and demonstrate how they translate their own creative/artistic interests into classroom practice in visual art, and other areas across the curriculum. Participants will creatively explore these practices daily, through a diverse range of hands-on activities.

Schedule and session descriptions

Dates: Monday 1st – Friday 5th of July 2019
Time:  10am – 3pm daily

Locations:
Mon/Thur/Fri: Draíocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.
Tues/Wed: The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham, Dublin 8.

To book go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-artful-classroom-tickets-46498361852
There are only 20 places so please book early to avoid disappointment!

Cost €45 plus booking fee
This programme is financially supported by Fingal County Council’s Arts Office & Superprojects.

 

!!!! Fidget Feet presents ‘Hatch’ – a new production for primary schools

Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre

Nationwide tour begins March 30th

Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre tour their new children’s show Hatch, focusing on the transformational cycles of life with a special educational resource and activity pack has been developed for the show linking to the curriculum and is available to primary schools.

Hatch tells the story of Bláithín, she loves caterpillars, moths and butterflies. She joins her Uncle Rusty on an adventure to find Pearl, the most extraordinary butterfly with the most exquisite colourful wings. Learn all about two little caterpillars and their journey to fly as moths and butterflies.

Hatch weaves Irish language, Irish dancing, music, comedy, theatre, contemporary dance and aerial dance into this wonderful story for 4 – 10 year olds.

The show tours nationwide from March 30th, tour dates and venues can be found at www.fidgetfeet.com/touring/

The show is made in association with Siamsa Tíre and Shortworks Network, Ireland and support from the Arts Council of Ireland.

!!!! Schools are invited to ‘Princesses can be Pirates’ Nationwide Tour

Touring Nationwide

What is considered “typical” or “normal” behaviour for girls and for boys? Highly energetic, fun and whimsical,Princesses can be Pirates, playfully questions our gender preconceptions.

Two versatile performers join forces as they journey into unknown territory, where play is everything and everywhere. In a series of hilarious scrapes and lively escapades, they swap toys and activities in their quest to defy stereotypes and break the norm.

The world holds endless possibility for us to discover who we are and who we want to be, and this duet celebrates it all. A dynamic and humorous dance performance – created for children but inspiring for all. Talks and workshops will follow the performance to engage with children and teachers.

School Performances

For further information go to www.facebook.com/Monica-Munoz-Marin-Dance-1050022975170040/?modal=admin_todo_tour

!!!! Barnstorm Theatre presents ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Dates: 6th – 9th of March 2019

School Shows: 10am & 12.30

Barnstorm Theatre Company is delighted to present its new production of ‘Boy with a Suitcase’ by Mike Kenny. Directed by Philip Hardy, the play deals with migration, focusing on the stories and cultural touchstones that sustain a young boy on his perilous journey to Ireland. The play has been written specifically for children aged 8-12 but is an interesting and thought-provoking piece that can be explored by all.

Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who undertook many perilous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach the safety of his brother in Dublin. Naz teams up with Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him dodge soldiers and find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the mire of a city slum.

A gripping tale of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children in other parts of the world, and the lengths to which they must go to reach safety in the relative security of a country like Ireland.

A resource pack, developed in association with Ann Murtagh (Teacher/Tutor at Kilkenny Education Centre) , will be provided to participating teachers. The pack with provide a focus for exploration of the themes that arise throughout the play.

For more information or to obtain a resource pack, please contact Barnstorm Theatre at admin@barnstorm.ie, or call us on 056 7751266

Performances of Boy With a Suitcase will take place at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from the 6th-9th of March.

Tickets are available online at watergatetheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873602052

 

!!!! CPD for Teachers: Explore Contemporary Visual Art at IMMA

IMMA

Date: 2nd March 2019, 10:00am to 12:30pm

Explore contemporary art, particularly construction, during a studio workshop and enjoy a guided tour of IMMA Collection: ‘A Fiction Close to Reality’.  Artist Rachel Tynan will lead this practical workshop during which primary teachers will discover multiple links to the visual art curriculum.

This workshop is free. Booking is essential. Places are limited; booking is on a first come, first served basis. No prior knowledge or experience of art-making is needed. This is the final CPD workshop for primary teachers at IMMA during this academic year.

For bookings go to imma.ie/whats-on/for-primary-teachers/

For more information about the exhibition ‘A Fiction Close to Reality’ go to imma.ie/whats-on/imma-collection-a-fiction-close-to-reality-exhibition/

!!!! Eva International announce ‘Better Words’ a new arts in educational initiative

Eva International

EVA International is delighted to announce ‘Better Words’, a new educational initiative which seeks to empower children’s access and understanding of contemporary art through creative language.

Over the course of a five week programme of workshops between March and May 2019, school groups aged 8 to 12 will develop new word-forms that articulate their experience and encounter of contemporary art. Led by workshop coordinator Maeve Mulrennan and developed in consultation with Patrick Burke (Dept. of Language and Literacy Education, MIC, Limerick) the workshops will involve visits to galleries and meetings with practicing artists, in addition to classroom-based activity.

The selected schools are:

A publication of new art terms developed through the workshop process will be published by EVA International in Autumn 2019, featuring a foreword by author Kevin Barry. Better Words is developed with support from Creative Ireland’s National Creativity Fund.

For more information go to www.eva.ie/project/better-words/

!!!! School Opportunity: Uillinn invites Schools to engage with ‘Mapping the Divide’

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Deadline for bookings: Friday 29th March 2019

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre is delighted to offer West Cork Primary Schools an opportunity to engage with our Dance Artist in Residence, Mairéad Vaughan in a short summer project – Mapping the Divide.

Mapping the Divide is a creative exploration into the effects of technology on our body, mind and environment.

Uillinn invites three primary school groups to take part in a short series of workshops at school and at Uillinn. Two will take place in the school and one at Uillinn and will creatively investigate the impact that technology, and in particular the use of mobile phones, can have on us.

Students will be invited to journey into the body and out to the landscape, to bring awareness of the direct sensory and kinaesthetic relationship we have with our environment. Using gathered materials chosen from the landscape, they will explore textures, patterns, smells, sights and sounds. Then movements will be choreographed from this investigation to create a site-specific, pop-up performance.

About Mairéad Vaughan

As an artist, I am passionate about the transformational power of dance and creativity. My teaching practice highlights the need to reconnect with body-mind, specifically through cultivating sensory awareness (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste). I teach a practice called ‘Attuning’ which develops all of these aspects. This practice is the result of my PhD research and highlights the need for inclusive arts education.

Project Details:

Ages:  The workshops are suitable for 5th and 6th class groups, aged 10 to 13 years. Limited to 22 children.

Venue: Your school for two workshops and Performance Space at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre,  Skibbereen for one workshop.

Dates / Times:  Workshops will take place on Wednesday afternoons during May / June, duration 60 to 90 minutes. Dates and times to be arranged to suit the schools involved.

Clothing: Children should wear loose clothing like tracksuit bottoms, rather than school uniform when taking part in the workshops.

Booking Details:

Fee for series of three workshops is €2 per person

Closing date for bookings is Friday 29 March 2019

To find out more or to book your class please contact Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre on 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

!!!! CPD for Teachers: Gaming in The Classroom at The Ark

The Ark in partnership with Mark Create Innovate

Date: 9th March 2019

This engaging workshop will provide you with an introduction to hands-on, simple creative technology tools that support cross- curricular learning through play for STEAM subjects at Primary level – particularly in Science, Technology, Arts and Maths.

You will work in teams with Make Create Innovate to design and develop your own prototype games. You will be introduced to creative technology such as MaKey MaKey and learn about more advanced uses of software such as Scratch. You will see first-hand how games can teach students about competition and cooperation as well as supporting the development of concentration, perseverance and other skills through ‘fine-motor play’. For students, including those with special needs, the design of games and the process of rule- making are ideal ways to explore ethics. It gives the opportunity to reflect on their own values, motivations and behaviour as well as society’s. This can reinforce the strands within history, geography and SPHE relating to human intervention.

For further information and booking to go ark.ie/events/view/teachers-cpd-gaming-in-the-classroom

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 4

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

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

Away Day – Blog 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Opportunity for Teachers: CPD Visual Art Workshop at IMMA

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Schools are invited to ‘PEAT’ – a new theatre show for children at The Ark

The Ark

Dates: 28th February – 31st March

The Ark presents ‘PEAT’ the world premiere of a brand new theatre show for ages 8+ by Kate Heffernan. Directed by Tim Crouch.

Delivered with lightness and humour, this new play for children asks big questions about life, death, time and history. A conversation between two 11-year olds who find themselves standing on top of everything that has ever happened, it is a story of friendship, loss, and finding our place in the world. The production will be performed by Curtis Lee Ashqar and Kwaku Fortune. The creative team includes lighting by The Ark’s Franco Bistoni alongside set & costume design by Lian Bell and sound design by Slavek Kwi, two acclaimed artists making their debuts at The Ark. The Ark invited consultation with children at several junctures throughout the process. The childrens’ input, including input from The Ark’s Children’s Council, greatly influenced the direction of the piece and has been at the very heart of this production.

School Days
6th -29th March (Wednesday-Friday) @ 10.15am & 12.15pm. (No show Wednesday 20th March)

For more information and bookings go to ark.ie/events/view/peat

!!!! Uillinn invites schools to ‘Elemental’ – an exhibition where children are the primary audience

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre

Date: Until 2nd March 2019

Elemental an exhibition with interactivity, tactility and spacial enquiry, where children are the primary audience.

School Group bookings available. 

Aimed especially at children aged 4-12, Elemental is an exhibition that invites children and people of all ages to encounter contemporary art through touch and movement, as well as sight. Leading artists Caoimhe Kilfeather and Karl Burke are transforming the galleries with their interactive, tactile sculptures and installations that explore scale, texture, space and light.

Primary school groups of all levels are encouraged to come and experience this artwork throughout the exhibition.  A tour of the work is not necessary, teachers can bring along their school group to spend time in the galleries interacting and investigating the artwork and then take time to The Make Space – by practising primary school teacher and trained artist Anne Bradley – a calm room where children can take time to creatively respond to the themes and materials of the works on exhibition; using materials such as sand, small objects, pieces of wood and fabric to explore pattern, visual order, touch and more.

Charlotte Donovan, Uillinn’s Artists in Residence for Learning and Engagement will be available for schools on Friday’s to facilitate a workshop where the children can respond to their experience in the gallery and make their own work to take away.

Elemental contains a major commission from Caoimhe Kilfeather, with artworks that suggest an imagined forest of both indoor and outdoor elements. One element, created from hundreds of metres of green Indian silk, hanging 3 metres high, will offer pockets of space for children to inhabit. A tree house will perch 5 metres high overlooking the exhibition space, and the floor will be covered with cushions and ‘leaves’ fashioned from organdie, with brooms and sweeping brushes to tidy up. In the upstairs gallery, children will be able to walk around and through a steel sculpture by artist Karl Burke (entitled ‘Taking a Line’), which stands 2.5 metres high, and creates a very subtle optical illusion that implies density in empty space. Both Caoimhe and Karl have also each made interactive works that speak to children’s oft held desire to creatively arrange objects found in nature.

During the final weeks of the exhibition, a number of additional artworks will be exhibited throughout the gallery. These commissioned works will be made collaboratively by local primary school children from Dromore National School Bantry and artist Siobhán McGibbon, who will be working together over eight sessions in Uillinn to research, experiment and create their own artworks, responding to the exhibition themes.

Curated by Superprojects

To book your free visit, just call 028 22090 or email info@westcorkartscentre.com

To find out more about the artists go to www.westcorkartscentre.com/Elemental

Further images of work available on Superprojects website at www.superprojects.org/projects/#/elemental/

!!!! Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Project – Scoil Náisiúnta Muire gan Smál

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

For more information click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claire Halpin, Artist 

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

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

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

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

Vera McGarth, Teacher 

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

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

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

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 3

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

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

WECHO FM – Blog 3

A new school year, a new ‘Virtually There’ project!

The majority of the children were meeting John for the first time. They were unsure what to expect as a lot of them had never experienced or used video-conferencing technology before.

After a few technical difficulties on my end, we finally connected to John. Introductions were made by John and the children, we got straight into introducing our new project theme … RADIO!

The children discussed their knowledge of radio … Tyrell said that it was “where you could listen to things, like a music box.” Aidan said he thought of it as a “jukebox” to listen to songs. Sam stated that different types of sounds could come from it, not only music but also advertisements. Daniel, Adam and Charley thought that even though it played music there were other programmes on the radio such as the news, weather forecasts or traffic reports. Adam also said that he had listened to documentaries on the radio. The children were asked what they thought we would be creating during the project, to which they replied, “A RADIO SHOW!”

Not only were we going to create a radio show, we were going to create our own Radio Station.

We discussed the different programmes that could be on our radio station, ideas for programmes included Music, Documentaries, Cartoon or comedy shows, discussions about the news and about our interests such as gaming. With an idea of the content, we were set the task of developing our visual identity. John displayed a number of symbols that the children all were able to recognise easily, e.g. the Nike swoosh, the golden arches, the apple mac symbol.

He told us that we would begin the process of developing a visual identity through the exploration of sound. The children began this process by listening to a variety of sounds that John had created; they then had to interpret them as a drawing. They generated a lot of great ideas, which included random symbols and jagged lines that varied in sizes. John then asked us to interpret drawings that he had created as sounds. Kevin, Sam, Daniel and Kyle all had a go at trying to interpret these drawings, with lots of different and random sounds and noises being made.

In the final part of the process, the children had to name each of the sounds that John created. He explained that the name could be a made-up word or a series of letters. The children found this extremely entertaining and generated a lot of random words for the sounds, including wobe, weeoloublue, breeeeee, dweenen, dulllung, dener, dedzen, wecho, bler and weow. After a short selection and voting process, the children picked WECHO, as our radio station name. WECHO FM was born.

The children were then set the task of creating our visual identity and the background for our radio station. We had to choose two colours, one would be for our background and the other colour would be used to create our visual interpretation for the sound of WECHO.

Each child explored the sound WECHO in their own unique way. This session was great fun and challenged the children’s ideas on what art could be. As the project develops, we hope to explore different aspects of the radio station such as, DJ names and identities, jingles and radio sweepers, sound effects and different radio programmes. At the end of the process we hope to visit a local radio station to gain a better understanding of the inner workings as well as possibly playing our own jingles and songs.

!!!! Barboró International Arts Festival 2018 – Events for Schools & Teachers

Baboró International Arts Festival

Dates: October 15 – 21 2018

This year’s Baboró International Arts Festival for Children takes place in Galway in just over two weeks’ time (October 15-21) and there are a number of cultural experiences for school children to enjoy. Whether you’d like to bring your class to see a show, take in a workshop or visit an exhibition, Baboró has it covered.

One of the cornerstones of Baboró’s foundation is the right of each child to enjoy arts and culture. Baboró believes the encouragement of creativity from an early age is one of the best guarantees of growth in a healthy environment of self-esteem and mutual respect.

Baboró enables children to experience first hand the transformative power of the creative arts, while at the same time developing their creative, problem-solving and collaborative skills; skills that are necessary for developing fully rounded young people.

Artists and companies from Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Scotland and England will present shows at this year’s festival. Full schools programme is here https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/event-type/schools

For full details of how to apply to bring your school to Baboró see here

https://www.baboro.ie/schools-1/schools-2

WORKSHOPS FOR TEACHERS

Are you a teacher who would like to explore ways of connecting theatre back into the classroom or would you like to learn some tricks of the trade on how to foster an environment of imagination in the classroom? The following workshops might be of interest to you:

Creative Learning

https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/creative-learning

Creativity in the Classroom

https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/creativity-in-the-classroom

For further information and bookings go to www.baboro.ie

!!!! Primary Teachers Masterclass at The Glucksman

The Glucksman, University College Cork

Saturday 20 October 2018, 10am – 1pm

Join curator Tadhg Crowley and artist Fiona Kelly for a masterclass that explores our new Digital Toolkit (www.glucksman.org/discover/digital/toolkits) for teachers. The session will focus on the environment and how online resources can enable creative activities for your classroom.

Cost €25. Booking required

For more information go to http://www.glucksman.org/discover/education/teachers

Or contact + 353 21 4901844 / education@glucksman.org to book a place.

Online Ticket Bookings at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/primary-teachers-masterclass-tickets-48732211356

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Ireland’s National School Photography Awards Open for Entries

National School Photography Awards (INSPA)

Deadline for Entries: Midnight Friday 25th January 2019

INSPA 2018/19 sees the second open call for Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. This years’ awards are brought to you by Image Masters Photography in partnership with LauraLynn; Ireland’s Children’s Hospice, INSTAX Instant Photography and the Amber Springs Resort Hotel.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free entry to the Amber Springs Easter Train Experience for the overall winner and their classmates, FujiFilm INSTAX cameras for winners and their schools, a two night stay in the Amber Springs for the Principal of the winning school, a one night stay in the Amber Springs for the teacher of the winning class, INSPA certificates, framed photographs and an #INSPAsmiles School Photography Fundraising Day in aid of this years’ charity theme partner; LauraLynn.

This years’ theme is titled ‘CONNECTIONS’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day, allowing their students explore their classrooms, corridors and schoolyards, seeking out new found or old connections. For example ‘Pen & Paper’, ‘Socks and Shoes’, ‘Black & White’, ‘Rough & Smooth’ or ‘Parent & Child’. All entries will be judged by a national panel including Joe Kileen (INTO President), Tanya Kiang (CEO: Gallery of Photography), Liam Magee (President: Cumann na mBunscol), Linda Shevlin (Curator: Roscommon Art Centre), Michael Fortune (Artist, Folklorist, Filmmaker, Researcher), Niamh Doyle (Community Fundraising Executive: LauraLynn) and Richard Carr (Artist, School Liaison & 2018 Cultural Ambassador for Co. Wexford).

If your school would like to get involved they can request their schools access codes from the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie – here you will be able to activate your school account and begin uploading your students’ entries. The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday 25th January 2019 so make sure you have activated your school account well in advance of this date.

For further information go to http://www.inspa.ie

!!!! New Children’s Publication available for Schools – ‘A Strong Heart’

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership 

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership are delighted to announce the publication of “A Strong Heart – A book of stories and dreams for the future by Syrian and Palestinian children living in County Mayo”.

Over five weeks, in April and May 2018, the group of children, who live in communities in County Mayo, came together with artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward and writer Mary Branley at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, to develop the body of work that was to be brought together in their book.

Initiated and developed by Kids’ Own – and supported by the St Stephen’s Green Trust, Mayo County Council and South West Mayo Development Company – the project was part of a vision to offer a space for migrant children to develop their creativity and self-expression through an artistic process, and to publish a book that would foreground and give credence to their voices, lives and experiences.

In relation to the project, Kids’ Owns Acting Director, Jo Holmwood, says:

“Kids’ Own is deeply committed to publishing and developing children’s work in Ireland. We believe that children’s contribution to our culture and our society, as artists and writers, needs to be more widely valued and recognised. Kids’ Own is delighted to publish this brand new book, which is such a rich celebration of children’s resilience, ambition and cultural identity.

Image copyright Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership – Minister Zappone presenting ‘A Strong Heart’ to Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration.

In July, Kids’ Own were thrilled when the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone shared the stories from ‘A Strong Heart’ at her UN Security Council address on ‘Children in Armed Conflict’.

“As Minister I am particularly proud that half of the 1,883 persons accepted into Ireland under resettlement and relocation programmes are children fleeing war and conflict.

In addition Ireland is providing care for 79 children who arrived alone at our ports and airports.

All of these children, from countries experiencing conflict such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, are making Ireland their home.

They speak for themselves in a collection of stories and art created by Syrian and Palestinian children now living in Mayo in the West of Ireland.

Through the book ‘A Strong Heart’ they tell of the beauty of their new home-towns, the local rivers, mountains and even the world famous salmon.

They express their passion for Irish sport, their sense of fun and their hopes and dreams.

12-year old Khaled in Claremorris writes, “My Dream for the future is to be a footballer first and play for Ireland. When I’m thirty-three I will be a teacher and go back to Syria to teach English.” 

Khaled and his classmates, Irish, Syrian and Palestinian, are flourishing. They are our future”.

Minister Zappone also presented the publication to Louise Arbour, UN Special Representative for International Migration, following a discussion on child migrants.

For more information and to purchase the publication go to kidsown.ie/shop/theme/by-kids/a-strong-heart/

 

 

!!!! Explore Visual Art & History at the Solstice Arts Centre

Solstice Arts Centre

Date: Thursday 11th & Friday 12th October

As part of the Patrick Hough exhibition programme at the Solstice Arts Centre, primary school students are invited to take part in an intriguing exploration of the exhibition. Students will investigate the meaning of art, object and replica whilst touring the exhibition and examining The Bronze Age Handling Box, based on the Museum of Archaeology’s Bronze Age collection. This workshop is designed to promote curiosity, understanding and discussion about visual art and history.

A curriculum linked Primary School resource and activity will be available to download.

For more information and booking go to www.solsticeartscentre.ie/schools/handling-histories.2704.html or email ecox@solsticeartscentre.ie

 

!!!! ‘Bringing STEM alive in the classroom through Drama’ at The Ark

The Ark

Dates: 20 Aug – 24 Aug 2018

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

The Ark, Dublin are excited to present a new five day arts-science summer course led by scientist and theatre-maker Dr. Niamh Shaw, aimed at primary teachers of 1st-3rd classes.

Discover STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) anew through a range of enjoyable and accessible creative drama processes designed to lift these subjects off the page and bring them to life for both teachers and students.

The course is created and led by the inspiring Dr Niamh Shaw – an engineer, former science academic and a theatre maker as well as one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists. Niamh’s scientific knowledge and warm engaging style will help you in finding exciting new ways of communicating science themes to your students.

This practical hands-on course will improve your confidence in teaching STEM subjects as well as Drama and how to meaningfully link and integrate these in the classroom. A range of relevant STEM curricular areas will be explored through Drama including Mathematics, Geography, and of course Science.

The course is aimed at teachers of all levels of STEM and drama knowledge and experience.The course content and aims include:

For more information and booking go to ark.ie/events/view/5-day-teachers-course-bringing-stem-alive-in-the-classroom-through-drama

!!!! Teachers Summer Course at The Ark ‘A Visual Arts Approach in the Classroom’

The Ark

Dates: 13 Aug – 17 Aug 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Opportunity for Schools: Take part in SHORELINE with CoisCéim BROADREACH

CoisCéim BROADREACH

Primary Schools in the Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown area are invited to apply to participate in SHORELINE

A Choral Song And Contemporary Dance Project For People Aged 8 to 80+

Led by CoisCéim BROADREACH Director Philippa Donnellan and renowned composer Denis Clohessy, in association with the DLR LexIcon Library and Pavilion Theatre, SHORELINE invites people from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown to embark on an oceanic journey of discovery – to share their stories and experiences about the sea.

The project begins in September 2018 in a creative dance/song workshop project that brings together children from 1 primary school, a local choir, and people aged 50+ and culminates in 3 sea-themed performances by participants at the DLR LexIcon Library on Saturday 25 November 2018 at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm.

What’s Involved

The project begins at the end of September and includes:

 

Application Requirments

 

Selection Criteria

Selection will be made by CoisCéim BROADREACH and criteria are based on articulating a clear rationale as to why your school

would like to participate in SHORELINE – and a demonstrable ability that you are able to:

For further information and application form please go to coisceim.com/shoreline-2018/ or email philippa@coisceim.com

 

!!!! Learning through Creativity – Summer Course for Primary Teachers at The Glucksman

The Glucksman, University College Cork

Date: 10am – 2:30pm, Monday 2 – Friday 6 July 2018

Learning through Creativity is a 5-day course accredited by Drumcondra Education Centre that enables primary teachers to consider how an engagement with visual art can enhance learning in other strands of the curriculum. The course offers a blend of art appreciation, art interaction and art making exercises and participants will have the opportunity to work with professional artists and curators throughout the week.

10am – 2:30pm, Monday 2 – Friday 6 July 2018

€75. Booking essential. To book go to www.eventbrite.ie/e/learning-through-creativity-summer-course-for-primary-teachers-tickets

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 2

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

In 2016 Christopher and his Primary 6/7 class were chosen to take part in the Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership ‘Virtually There’ project. ‘A virtual artist in residence project which explores the potential for creative engagement between artists working from their studio and children and teachers in the classroom using video conferencing technology’. (Orla Kenny, Creative Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership). Now in their 2nd year, artist John D’Arcy has been working collaboratively with Christopher and his class at St Colman’s P.S as virtual artist-in-residence. 

Art as a Gateway – Blog 2

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper, discussed the importance of prehistoric art. In particular, that of the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. The art critic, Jonathan Jones, was examining the significance of the findings that Neanderthals had painted on cave walls in Spain 65,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years before Homo sapiens. The Neanderthal artwork in question was a stencilled red ochre handprint on rock. It wasn’t the discussion about whether or not Neanderthals were the first true artists or if this honour should belong to another early human species, Homo erectus, or because of the quality of the representational artwork by Homo sapiens, they should be considered the first ‘true’ artists, that piqued my interest, it was the significance that art had on moulding a species. That ‘art’ constituted the beginnings of intelligence, the “capacity to imagine and dream” and within our own species Homo sapiens “the birth of the complex cathedral of the modern mind … [opening] the way, in modern human history, to everything from writing to computers” (Jonathan Jones, 2018). – read the full article www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/feb/23/neanderthals-cave-art-spain-astounding-discovery-humbles-every-human

Within the education sector, the Northern Ireland Curriculum has been developed to cater for all subjects, allowing children access to a varied education. The reality is, that as children progress through primary school, teachers can be under pressure delivering the curriculum, often focussing on the areas of numeracy and literacy to the detriment of other curricular areas, particularly art. This can be evident in Primary 6 and the first term of Primary 7, when a substantial amount of time is spent preparing the children for the GL and AQE transfer tests. These pressures can sometimes be self-imposed, a teacher perhaps feeling that it is important for the children to develop these skills and after the tests have been completed, delivering those other areas or perhaps they can be pressures by other stake-holders within the school community. Regardless of this, the Guardian article reinforced my own view that Art should be on-a-par with those supposedly ‘key subjects or areas.’ If, works of art have been “held up as proof of the cognitive superiority of modern humans,” this should mean that art can play an important role in the curriculum.

As a Special Educational Needs teacher, teaching Primary 6/7 pupils, the pressures of the GL and AQE tests are not applicable to the children that I teach. Like all primary teachers the delivery of the Northern Ireland Curriculum is still essential. However, without these testing constraints, there is an opportunity to embed art throughout the curriculum to a greater extent. It does not need to simply be an add on or linked to a world around us topic. My project work with Kids’ Own has been successful in facilitating this. As I detailed in my last post, I am now in my second year of working within the Kids’ Own project and in-particular working with the artist John D’arcy.

At the beginning of Year 2, we set about choosing a word that would encompass everything. The word we chose was Hacking. This would be the jumping off point, from which all mini-projects or lessons would stem from. John and I found that this liberated our planning, allowing for greater flexibility. When we discussed the word with the children, it ignited their enthusiasm, prompting new avenues of learning that John and I had not previously considered.

Throughout the Hacking project, we have included aspects of numeracy and literacy. A particular favourite being a session exploring ‘codes and language’. This session included: Semaphore, Morse code, the phonetic alphabet, emoji’s and Makaton. After the session had been completed, I was amazed to see children with difficulties in sequencing the alphabet testing one another on the use of Makaton and the symbol to letter correspondence. The project has also allowed the children to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. They have become more expressive when discussing topics, themes or their own work. This has had an impact in other avenues such as their social and emotional well-being.

I began this post, examining the importance that art had on our evolution as a species. So, I feel it is relevant to question, if it had such a bearing on our evolution, then why can it not have the same impact upon our education of young children?

 

 

 

 

!!!! The Ark and Dublin Dance Festival are delighted to present ‘Hocus Pocus’

The Ark & The Dublin Dance Festival 

Schools Performances Fri 18 May @ 10.15am & 12.15pm.

The Ark and Dublin Dance Festival 2018 are delighted to present ‘Hocus Pocus’ – a magical performance for schools.

Created by Philippe Saire (Switzerland), this magical children’s show for ages 7+ explores how images conjure vivid emotions, sensations and experiences.

Taking the audience on a fantastical voyage, two brothers dive into dreamlike adventures: a contortionist’s escape from a spider’s web; a journey in a damaged flying machine; and underwater encounters with fabulous aquatic creatures.

The unique set design creates a playful game of appearance and disappearance. As light is painted across the stage to reveal everything it touches, the dancers’ bodies seem to emerge from a black hole before being swallowed up again. These visual mysteries cast a spell, suspending our disbelief and unleashing our imagination.

Suitable for 2nd – 6th Class

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/hocus-pocus

!!!! Creative Generations – O’Connell CBS P.S. with artist Maria McKinney

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 were looking for a primary school in the area local to programme sponsors Central Bank of Ireland and were delighted to find O’Connell School. It is a really interesting school with a rich history, and a very supportive learning environment, which was fantastic to work with. Artist Maria McKinney was a natural choice for working on this project. Her practice is often focused around ecology and I thought this would be a good fit for the primary school age range. Maria brought with her a wealth of experience in working collaboratively with diverse fields of inquiry and a sensibility to materials which made her very suitable for this residency.

Maria McKinney, Artist

I was aware of the Temple Bar Gallery & Studios education programme from seeing some of the previous projects on social media and speaking to the artists that took part. I was very happy when Jean then approached me to do their autumn 2017 session in O’Connell School. I had only recently moved into my studio in Temple Bar and was excited to be involved in their programme so early on.

One of the first things I was told about O’Connell School, in addition to it being a boys’ primary school, was that is was directly below Croke Park. The seating of the stadium almost hangs right over the school. This in itself made it very unique. Then I remembered seeing a news article about birds of prey that are put to work in Croke Park to keep away other animals such as rats and pigeons who might eat the freshly sown grass seeds on the pitch. I wondered whether the boys at the school knew that these very special birds existed right next door to them. I also realised this would be a good opportunity for the boys to learn a little about ecology and habitats of birds and nature in general. I was cognisant of this being an urban school, and wanted to open up a space for the boys to think about other animals.

Around this time I was also involved in an artist-in-school project in Maynooth with Kildare Arts Office and Art School. I decided I would use both opportunities to make work in relation to Birds of Prey. I think this made for a richer project overall as it developed over a longer period of time.

Pupil C

It started by going to Temple Bar Gallery. Her [Maria’s] studio was very neat. She had everything organised. Then we spent weeks making origami. It was great fun and a great experience.

Pupil D

First we went to visit Maria in her studio and we learned more about her. It was about us having fun and working together. Maria, Jean, 4th class in O’Connell, Barry [the falconer], Kayla [the Harris hawk] and teachers were involved. In class we started drawing and learned origami.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

We got involved through a member of staff that was in contact with Jean and Maria. The children were making origami pieces to have as a sculpture that a hawk could land on. The two 4th Classes and teaching staff were helped by Maria and Jean.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

The residency began with pupils visiting Maria in her TBG+S Studio to see where she works, and get an insight into her methods, motivations and inspirations as an artist. From there, Maria began an enquiry into birds of prey with the children, through various exercises in drawing, origami, movement/performance and inhabiting the psyche of the bird. This developed into creating a collaborative sculptural piece which functioned as a bird stand, for the Harris hawk, Kayla, to land on. A final photograph was taken by Maria to document this process. The pupils were extremely open and inquisitive about the hawks and worked really hard to make the origami pieces which made up the base for the sculpture. All the school staff were very encouraging and accommodating throughout the residency.

Maria McKinney, Artist

The project started off by the boys coming to Temple Bar to visit the gallery, and then up to my studio on the first floor. Myself and Jean introduced ourselves and I went on to show them some images of my work on a monitor. I told them just the name of the work, and then asked them to name all the different materials and objects they could see (I use a lot of different materials and everyday items). I then emptied a box of objects that I had made to allow them to handle some of my work. A lot of them were long strand type objects made by weaving straws. These very quickly became lightsabers which made me laugh.

The following sessions in the school consisted of teaching the boys how to make claws and beaks with paper and origami. It was well timed around Halloween so the boys could re-appropriate the claws for scary costumes. The teachers would help the boys make them, though once they had gone through the process a couple of times they needed no more help and could make loads.

We also looked at some other artists’ work that involved birds, including Marcus Coates Dawn Chorus, and Sean Lynch’s work Peregrine Falcons visit Moyross. In the latter, we see the footage from a camera attached to the back of a Peregrine Falcon, who then flies around Moyross Estate. At a certain point, the bird lands on a lamp post, looks around for a while, then takes off again. The boys lined up in pairs, and I asked them to close their eyes and imagine they were the bird on top of the lamp post, to think about their claws, wings and beaks, and prepare to take off again. The boys would then swoop through the room with great direction and style. Through making the different body part (claws and beaks) and then the boys using them, I was coaxing them to think about the anatomy of the bird, and in relation to their own physicality.

Pupil K

Ideas were developed through using different materials and also looking at Maria’s work. The teachers and Maria helped us make origami. Maria worked with bulls before this and we worked with a hawk.

Pupil B

We wore hats and wings and put together the claws and beaks and made a hawk stand. So the hawk can stay on it.

Pupil A

We all folded the paper and we got help from our friends, teachers and SNAs who showed us how to do origami and it was fun.

Pupil C

We worked together making origami and drawing pictures of hawks. We then put the origami onto the stand.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Two 4th classes came together to complete the six-week course. The artists had use of the art room where they had tables set up for each activity. They also had great powerpoints set up here.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

Two 4th classes did the course together. The artist had tables set up and the resources provided for the children. The children all got involved as they were enjoying it. The teaching staff helped to keep the children on task.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

I felt this was a very successful project in terms of engagement and pitching to primary level students. Sessions in the school were active and fun with all children participating enthusiastically. Maria brought the pupils on an incredible journey of inquiry and art-making which culminated in meeting the Harris hawk, Kayla. As a result, pupils had the most imaginative and interesting questions for the hawk handler Barry and the experience no doubt left them with a new-found appreciation for the wildlife that is in their local urban environment.

Maria McKinney, Artist

I felt it was important to leave enough room for the participants’ input into the work, as well as for the unexpected occurrences that often come about through process-led engagement. However, I also had to make sure I had prepared enough activity for each session, so that we would not all be standing around looking at one another not doing anything. It is a fine balance to try and strike.

The success of the project was most definitely the boys’ energy and enthusiasm for doing something different. I really looked forward to my time with them. The staff were also really fantastic and got fully involved in what we were doing. It makes a big difference when the teachers are fully engaged and supportive of what you are doing, as this is unconsciously communicated to their students, and really affects how they respond to you, the visitor.

Another great success was Barry the falconer, whose birds work in Croke park, agreeing to take one of his birds to visit the boys in the school. This really made for a special day and everyone was so excited. As the artist this was also the most stressful time, as I was hoping everything would go to plan.

The boys and the birds behaved perfectly. However I have realised my own skill in group photography needs a lot of work. I had hoped to pose the boys as a group around the bird, while they were wearing the large paper wings/claws/beaks they had made. However I couldn’t organise them well enough, and it was a cold windy day. The boys worked really hard but I think I could have planned this part a bit better.

Pupil A

My favourite part was when we were wearing the art and I was like a hawk.

Pupil D

My experience of the project was amazing. I never got to see a hawk in real life, I loved it. My favourite part was when I saw Kayla because I never got to see a hawk in real life.

Pupil K

My personal favourite part was when we wore the wings and started to dance around with them on.

Pupil F

My favourite experience was building the sculpture. The teachers helped us and the boys came up with brilliant ideas that we put on the sculpture. The sculpture became a success but coming up with the ideas was a bit of a challenge.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Children really enjoyed the course. It was a new experience, one which won’t be forgotten. The trip to the artist’s gallery was an eye opener for the children. Challenges – would be the amount of time taken for each session, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

Children all enjoyed it and are still talking about the experience. Something different for them rather than us teaching all the time.

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

Jean Mann, Creative Generations Education Curator

This was a project where the unexpected was encouraged and allowed to unfold. Pupils had an experience of artmaking which gave them an expanded view of what art can be. Maria guided pupils calmly through this process, beginning with the more familiar terrain of drawing, through to the introduction of a live hawk. Students themselves became part of the artwork in the wearing of large origami pieces to flank the bird on her perch for the final photograph of the residency. The reception to the project was palpable within the school,  with pupils and staff excited about the final event of the residency, and meeting the hawk.

Maria McKinney, Artist

While I talked to the boys about ecology and habitat, we were referring to the food chain of these birds in their natural environment.

However, I realised the working bird that was to come into the school to visit them, is involved in a very different network – one that is entirely at the behest of humans and our culture of sport, entertainment, cultivation, media, security (these birds are also used to keep drones away)…

Pupil F

I had a great experience of being a great young artist.

Pupil E

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Pupil C

The experience of touching and seeing a hawk. I loved it from start to finish!

Pupil J

Having fun and learning new skills with origami and our drawing improved. It was an unusual exciting experience – I would tell other schools to do it.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

It was great working with an artist. Children may have never visited a gallery or got an insight into the life/ideas of an artist. Origami is also an area we would not have thought about too much in school. This was new and exciting.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

The children got to experience what a gallery was/looked like. They were making origami pieces that they would not have learned otherwise. They got to see and understand what an actual artist does and could ask questions. Great experience for the children and very enjoyable.

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

Maria McKinney, Artist

It has made me think more about the human–animal relationship, in particular working animals. In an urban context the only working animal I would have been able to name before this project is a guide dog or sniffer dog at the airport. I am looking up more these days.

Pupil K

I feel I can follow more steps and am better at drawing and following things, and my imagination has grown. I have signed up for art club in my school now that I like art more. I feel like I can listen more.

Pupil D

I got better at following instructions and my drawing got better. I am starting to get into art. I can now work as a team.

Pupil A

I can listen in class and fold stuff and I signed up for art club because of the project.

Pupil F

I feel a lot better at doing step by step projects and I’ve improved on my drawings and I got better at working as a team. I enjoyed the art experience so much I signed up for the school’s art club.

Mr. Gavin, Teacher

Teachers’ and childrens’ outlook on art had changed since taking on this project. We got to see that art is a lot more than just painting and drawing. We also got to see at first hand how art can be used in the environment around us.

Ms. Coyle, Teacher

We are a lot more aware of using our environment for art purposes. It is not simply painting a picture. Origami pieces have been brought into other sections of our school life, i.e. the school play etc.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Chris McCambridge – Teachers Blog No. 1

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

Virtually There Year 1 – Blog 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Caitlin – Monkey

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

Oscar – Parrots

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

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

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

!!!! CPD for Teachers at The Ark: An Drámaíocht sa Seomra Ranga

The Ark

Date: Saturday 10th March

Teachers are invited to enjoy a morning exploring a range of simple and accessible drama processes for the classroom using the Irish language. Using The Ark’s season theme of Me & the City and aspects of the primary curriculum as a bouncing off point, you will have the chance to develop confidence and skills in working thematically through drama in Irish. The workshop will focus on activities suitable for 2nd-6th class. It will be presented bilingually and is suitable for teachers at all levels of confidence in working through Irish.

Saturday 10 March @ 10:30 am to 1.30pm

For more information go to www.ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-drama-sa-seomra-ranga-drama-in-the-classroom

!!!! Me & The City – A Visual Art Programme for Schools at The Ark

The Ark

Date: 6th – 22nd March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

!!!! Barnstorm presents Barney Carey Gets His Wings – a new production for primary school students

Barnstorm Theatre Company

Wed 21st – Fri 23rd February 

Rooting through an old trunk, Barney and his dad find more than they bargained for and a few things that set them wondering. Who makes the rules? What happens if you break the rules? And who is the lady with the beard?

Join them as they spread their wings in this comic tale of forgotten memories and future possibilities.

Written by award-winning children’s writer Brendan Murray and directed by Martin Drury, founder of The Ark – A Cultural Centre for Children.

‘Barney Carey Gets His Wings’ is a world-premiere of a new play for children in 1st to 4th classes, their teachers and families.

2 teachers free per class.

For bookings contact Watergate Theatre at www.watergatetheatre.com

For further information go to www.barnstorm.ie

!!!! Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream

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

Sleeper Creeper was a collaborative creation between Robbie Perry (musician), Annie Callaghan (artist) and Philip Doherty (playwright) and was performed in Townhall Cavan at the end of 2016 as part of their seasonal programming for children. The success of the show duly inspired Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) to approach Robbie and Annie and adapt Sleeper Creeper for a pilot project to run in two selected primary schools, one in Cavan and one in Monaghan. The original show was quite complex in its clever use of artistic disciplines. From live and improvised music being layered throughout, the use of loop machines to projected shadow puppetry involving unique, as well as, everyday objects. All of this was performed with no dialogue and told the story of an old and lonely inventor who miraculously creates a living being from parts that he finds amongst junk. Their friendship grows from their collaborative performances and zany situations they find themselves in.

Rather than try to create the same performance for young students, Robbie and Annie chose an entirely new story titled, Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream in which Paddy Red Downey fishes for junk and finds himself transported to a world beyond his wildest dreams eventually hearing an old women’s voice calling him to return home and share his new found wonders with everyone.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

The Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream project was easily one of the most effective projects I have been involved in. Initial conversations with Joanne Brennan (Arts in Education CMETB) and meetings with Robbie and Annie entailed planning, organising and ensuring all requirements were met e.g. garda vetting, school space, curriculum linkage etc. Robbie and Annie also met with the children to introduce themselves and explain the project.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The ideas were developed as a direct result of the principles of Sleeper Creeper. A multidisciplinary approach to art form and the themes based around recycling and repurposing of everyday materials and junk. The story itself was created as a catalyst for inspiring young minds. Using the story as an opening for the project workshops, we were able to demonstrate to the young audience aspects of theatre, drama, storytelling, music and shadow puppetry that they would in turn learn to use over a two day period for their own collective performance.

The teacher allowed Robbie and Annie to bring the children around the school grounds to examine and collect, in pairs, any objects they found of interest. These objects were then projected through the use of an analog overhead projector and discussed openly and collectively on how their appearances changed with our changing perceptions. This example facilitates a validation process for the individual in what they later view as art and how it can then be manipulated and viewed to help create a story.

Then began a separation of the group into two halves. One half facilitated by Annie and the shadow puppetry and the other half by Robbie and music creation as a means to underscore the students very own production.

The teacher’s role within this workshop was almost only to observe and maintain any control if needed. It cannot be overstated how important this approach was to the project overall. Conversations and shared opinions with the teacher, revealed aspects and qualities of each student’s character as they worked closely and intensely with the artists that were keenly observed and somewhat enlightening to the teacher.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

The project itself was quite experimental. We hadn’t taken something as complex as our performance, and adapted it with a workshop in mind ever before. Also, there were many challenges such as time needed for the students to learn multiple skills with a final performance, questions regarding the suitability of their classrooms, rather than a hall for the workshops etc. We were very pleased to find that we coped quite favorably with all these challenges which were also challenges for the schools. The fact that we could work within the classroom meant no upset to the rest of the school in organizing or rearranging scheduled use of alternative rooms. Also, the fact that the hours we put in were arranged for an intense two days consecutively meant a greater opportunity for all involved to focus and achieve a fully immersive creative experience.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

One of the activities that I felt really supported the children’s confidence with regards to the music aspect was the time in which they were allowed to explore the different instruments. I found that at the age the children were at doing the projects, they were conscious of whether or not they were “good at” something. It can often be hard to try and get them to engage fully in something if they feel it is on an area that they aren’t talented in. However, the vast arrange of musical instruments that were available to them allowed them to try out their musical abilities on them. I found that my class would often associate musical talent as to whether or not you could play the piano etc. However, with the way in which they were able to explore the vast array of instruments and create backing music for a story, it was a whole new side to music for them. It was also something that after we had engaged with in the workshop, they wanted to do it more in class. The more exposure they get to experience this, the more confident they will grow in it.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

Probably the most significant thing for us was the true potential of each and every student to achieve in an extremely short but significant amount of time, an entire production. From inception until final performance in front of an audience, the entire class worked as a team with individuals quickly finding their strengths and how best they could contribute to the group as a whole. It was wonderful to observe, for example, two students that were much happier to be a part of the technical projection work rather than perform music or drama. This revealed for us the complex range of interests within any given group and reinforces the idea that we need projects that provide more opportunities which exercise the potential for total inclusivity.

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

Telling of a story is something most children love to do. Some I have found can find it difficult telling a story when they have to write it- for many different reasons. E.g. some might find spelling difficult and get so caught up on whether a word is spelt correctly or not hinders their story telling ability as they don’t get their story finished. The way in which the children were allowed to tell a story through art and music really developed confidence in not only the children who love writing stories but also in the children who find that hard. While doing this they were also developing their Drama skills- even though they may not have realised that. They were able to use their imagination and tell a story not only with their drawings but just by using environmental objects- again, allowing those who didn’t feel confident in their artistic abilities to still their artistic confidence by using environmental objects in an artistic way. It was something that they really enjoyed. They developed so many different skills by doing the project, learnt lots of new things without realising it.

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This process of choice supported confidence in its own right. The children learned through many different methodologies that suited all learners. Robbie and Annie facilitated so appropriately but still allowed the children to have responsibility for their own learning.

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

Annie Callaghan & Robbie Perry, Artists

It has only further increased my belief in the creative potential of children and the potential of group orientated creative projects

Catherine Mc Guirk, Teacher

It has changed the way in which I teach arts education as it reminded me how important it is to not only teach the subjects but to allow them to co-exist with each other, to use them together as a way to allow for further exploration as to what they can achieve when combined.

It has given me more confidence in doing projects like this, integrating the Arts subjects- along with others, in the classroom

Andrea Malone, Teacher

This project has given me the confidence as an educator to give the children much more responsibility for their learning. My Arts lessons are less structured which has resulted in a smoother flow to lessons. The power of integration throughout the Arts subjects was evident throughout the ‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’   project hence I have increased integration throughout Drama, Art, Music and Physical Education.

‘Paddy Red Downey and the Voice in the Dream’ was a wonderful project where I witnessed children growing in self-confidence, learning and having so much fun!

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 4

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

Blog 4

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

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

exciting!

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

– challenging! 

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

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

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

MAKER

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

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

(EDUCATOR)//TRACKER

One of the  privileges of working in education settings is to be working with the curiosity of young collaborators. Collaborators, in addition to being creators in their own right, contribute much to my practice, becoming part mirror, part joker and part external eye on process. It is this working in tandem that allows flow and mutual enrichment between my practice and the project’s unfolding. Feeling my own way in the dark I am able to see more clearly what others do with the same criteria, what gets thrown up: Whatever the seekers find, and how they communicate their findings will lead us deeper into the project, and into the next phase. It is in the observation of this process that reflection becomes a driving force.

I try to encourage a commentary from participants. The voicing of observations aired during the making process are witness to a wider sensibility. When a maker becomes commentator on the work both commentator and audience are led into an observational position that opens up a reflective dimension. Process becomes foregrounded, motivations become more clear, particular sensitivities and attractions are voiced and often more subtle and unusual connections are made between image, outcome and intention.

A drawing of a dandelion might lead to a conversation about yellow, or sunshine, first experiences of the bitter sap staining hands, folkloric warnings about bed wetting or other knowledge latent within the imaginations of a group of participants. A conversation about a dandelion may begin with its name – what a strange name this flower has! We might research and find that the name is middle English and comes from French dent-de-lion, meaning ‘lion’s tooth’ that’s another image straight away. Discussions might find other routes, the gardener’s phrase that “a weed is a plant out of place” may throw up extended conversations about migration and belonging. We could think of dandelion seasons, perhaps about how a dandelion might support an ecology.  An observational drawing of a dandelion before such a discursive process will be very different from a drawing from the imagination, made after these wanderings (and this is just me thinking aloud).

By recording this commentary we deepen and extend the reflective process. The recording of those observations involves an echoing and a a translation, from an initial drawing, to spoken word to written report, photograph or other kind of document. The choice of media for documentation influences this enquiry. It’s fun to play with different recording methods. …the pressing of the flower, the crushing and collection of sap, the particular material properties and behaviours of dandelion seed heads, stories about dandelion experiences, the folklore of a dandelion, actions with a dandelion.

Translation from one media to another will involve further images, references, words, actions or sounds, and will also throw up different kinds of problems, seeking creative solutions, all of which will augment and colour the work leading it on to new places. Curiosity will drive this process along. I try to remember the voice, I scribble things down on scraps of paper, transferring them later to a notebook. I find that multiple translations help my process, a hasty scribble is wildly different from a concentrated drawing out of an idea, but each has their own qualities.  I use notebooks for ideas that I might try out in studio and I use blogging as a kind of scrapbook for documentation and references to other realms, a blog post might include a bit of research arising from the work in progress, it may be a fragment of video, a link to another artist’s work, something I am reading about, a piece of music, or a random image or connection found online.

Blogging is a perfect space for holding these observations and documenting the process. It is a shared space. Maker, student and teacher can refer to the observations held in the blog, an audio visual record of the territory, a map.

I arrive at my wording for the blurb:

WORKSHOP

The idea is a spark – the spark can be as volatile or as contained as you decide. There will be some parameters which will guide the explorations. Shared knowledge is rich, we will tap into this. The imagination is wild and we will allow this to roam. Other peoples’ ideas are always interesting. Roaming between our own perception, responses to peer work and free expression we will explore the territory together. (71 words)

!!!! ‘Monsters in the Museum’ at The Glucksman

The Glucksman, UCC

Date: January to March 2018

From Frankenstein to the Hulk, Shrek to Beauty and the Beast, monsters who seem to be really frightening often turn out to be misunderstood. This Spring, the Glucksman presents a monster project that invites schools, community groups and children living in Direct Provision to take over the museum with fabulous creatures of their own making. In Monsters in the Museum workshops, participating children will explore ideas of difference and respect, working collaboratively to create artworks for an exhibition that will take over all of Gallery 1. The renowned illustrator Chris Judge will visit the Glucksman to see all the monster artworks on display and to launch the exhibition with a special event for participating children.

If your school or community group would like to get involved in Monsters in the Museum, please email education@glucksman.org.

For more information go to www.glucksman.org

!!!! Myself and My Friends

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Our project began by exploring self-portraits. It wasn’t long before this led us to the realisation that many of the pupils lacked confidence and self-esteem. We decided to try and tackle this through a creative avenue and to link in with SPHE. The pupils used a kaleidoscope camera to take unique pictures of themselves. From there we looked at describing words for ourselves and our peers. The pupils chose their favourite word and it was carved into their self-portrait. They then placed cellophane behind the word to make it stand out. All the pupils’ portraits were suspended from a grid system Helen had created in the classroom which we added to over the course of the year. The installation was very effective and it helped create a very positive atmosphere in the classroom. We also did a printing workshop. The children designed their own printing plate and they got to use a real printing press which was so exciting for them. As the materials Helen had provided were such good quality, the prints turned out beautifully and the pupils were so proud of their work.

Helen Barry, Artist

Our project grew from a week long Training of Trainers Programme, Summer 2016. A unique initiative with the Association of Teachers’/Education Centres in Ireland (ATECI), funded by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG)/Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (DAHRRGA) that supports the Teacher-Artist Partnership as a Model of CPD – 22 artists nominated by arts organisations, and in my case it was IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and 22 teachers representing Education Centres nationwide. In our partnership the organisations were IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and Dublin West Education Centre.

During the week long Training of Trainers programme we had time to discuss and plan potential ideas that would link naturally to the curriculum. Mary had had this particular class in the earlier stage of their primary school education so she knew the girls quite well. As an artist I try to link the theme to areas of my own practice. A key component of my own inquiry is faith and belief, that I was keen to explore as most of them would be participating in a holy sacrament during their final year of primary school. As with many potential themes and ideas these are quickly abandoned when I actually meet the class and get to know the group

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

Helen began by meeting the class and getting a feel for where their interests lay. She planned a lovely introductory session where the pupils got to know her. By the end of session one, the students felt at ease and were very excited about where the project would lead. Myself and Helen liaised with each other and were able to link our project into the curriculum. As it’s so overloaded, it was a great help to be able to integrate in such a creative manner. We initially decided to link in with SPHE in a bid to help build on the pupils’ confidence – a great bonus for pre-teen girls.

Helen Barry, Artist

The time in the summer had provided Mary and I with a good understanding of how we work and most importantly gave us an understanding of each other’s personalities. In my experience it is crucial for a successful artist in residence that the interaction between the artist and teacher is mutually respectful of each other’s professional practice. In this particular incidence it was imperative that I followed Mary’s knowledge of the class. It was evident on my initial meeting of the class that their confidence and self esteem seemed particularly low throughout the whole class. Mary and I had similar aesthetic tastes and though Mary had at times little confidence in her own artistic abilities her enjoyment, enthusiasm and new skills embraced everything we did and the children followed suit.

After my initial meeting with the class Mary and I were able to re-plan a creative programme that centred on building self-esteem that would grow throughout the year with the children.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I learned so much from this experience and overall it was incredibly positive and rewarding for both myself as a teacher and the pupils. By the end, I felt much more confident in teaching the various art forms that we had explored. The pupils grew in confidence in their abilities and were so proud of the work that they had created.

My only challenge was in accepting the importance of, in a sense, allowing the project lead itself. Each week or so, we would re-evaluate and decide where we would be taken, either by something that the pupils spoke about/ enjoyed doing or something that struck us as professionals. As teachers, we tend to be quite regimented regarding our planning and we like to know what we’ll be doing weeks in advance, so it was lovely to allow the creativity to take over and to allow the pupils to play a major part in deciding what we would do.

Helen Barry, Artist

I really enjoyed working on this project and watching it grow and develop in parallel with the children’s growth in confidence and self-esteem. The project really benefited from the time provided for the teacher and artist to get to know each other. The main challenge was parking my specific idea at the classroom door.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

We created a really wonderful installation. It began with the installation of our portraits but that was just the beginning of a piece of work that we added to again and again as the year went on. It really stressed for me the importance of the process as opposed to the product. I was also stuck by how effective it can be to allow simple conversations with the pupils’ guide where a project goes. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can pick up on so much which will bring the project to a place that the children are interested in and will take so much pride in.

Helen Barry, Artist

The dynamic of every class is different and even if the artist can see a potential project that has strong links to his or her own studio enquiry it is imperative to pause and understand where the teacher and class are at. I can honestly say that the children led the direction of the project and enjoyed allowing it to go somewhere that I had to loosen my control of.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Mary Bennett, Teacher

I have become much better at not being so fixated on a plan and have learned to accept that when working on a long-term project, there are bound to be changes and that’s ok. I have learned from Helen that trial and error is all part of the creative process. It’s great for the children to see and experience this too. I’ve become better able to step out of my comfort zone as a result of working with Helen. It was a fantastic opportunity, one that I was so glad to have had the chance to participate in.

Helen Barry, Artist

I spend more time listening to the teacher before overloading them with ideas.

 

!!!! Graffiti Theatre present ‘Walking Man’ by Jody O’Neill

Graffiti Theatre Company

Touring: November – December 2017

‘The world may be in miniature but the story is universal …’

Walking Man tells the tale of a man who has spent his whole life in pursuit of success.  He has always rushed headlong through life, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to the best job on the top floor of the tallest building in the whole city. And when he has done all that, with Walking Woman and little Walking Baby at his side, something doesn’t feel quite right …

So, Walking Man must go on an entirely new journey, which takes him far from home.

Walking Man is a charming allegory, which will captivate its audience. With the help of an original live music score, the actor brings us into the miniature world of the Walking Man, a tiny wooden figure.

Walking Man is designed for 1st, 2nd & 3rd classes and performs to one class at a time (up to a maximum of 35 students). The accompanying Teacher Resource Book (available online) links carefully with the curriculum across a range of subject areas.

Please note: Graffiti Theatre can give your school the exciting opportunity to attend a performance in their fully equipped Theatre on Assumption Road. If the performance is booked to take place in your school please contact Graffiti for space requirements.

Cost: Thanks to their funders, Graffiti Theatre Company can offer this production for just €150 per performance (and €100 for a second performance on the same day).

For more information & booking: tel. 021 4397111,  email:bookings@graffiti.ie

www.graffiti.ie

!!!! Tracks in the Snow – The Henry Girls

The Ark

Date: School Day performances: Fri 1-Thu 21 Dec

Back by popular demand this Christmas, follow The Henry Girls into an enchanting world of winter!

From sparkling icicles to wolves in the forest, the joy of sledding at high speed or the wonder of the Aurora Borealis on a frosty night, discover the magic and mysteries of the festive season.

Perfect for all primary school classes, this show is an ideal opportunity to explore the Listening & Responding, Composing and Performing strand units of the Music curriculum. Attending this live music performance means children will see and hear outstanding Irish musicians performing brand new music on a range of instruments including piano, harp, voice, accordion, fiddle and double bass as well as percussion.

A free downloadable classroom pack is available to teachers which will provide a range of accessible music activities and creative approaches connected to the theme of the show. The activities will encourage music making projects in the classroom and support imaginative music responses to the performance which are relevant to the composing and performing music curriculum strands.

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-exploring-winter-through-music

!!!! Exploring Winter Through Music – CPD for Teachers at The Ark

The Ark

Date: Saturday 11th November, 10:30 am to 1.30pm

Refresh your music repertoire for this wintry time of year as you discover a number of great new seasonal songs that children will love as well as a range of creative ideas for using them in the classroom to deliver both the Performance and Composing strands of the music curriculum. Along the way you’ll be encouraged to throw out any preconceptions you may have about having a good or bad voice and nurture your love and passion for singing. With Lorna’s guidance you will explore how to work creatively with music in the classroom within a winter theme alongside exploring a number of ideas presented in our free teachers’ resource pack that accompanies the show.

Lorna McLaughlin, who is a member of the band The Henry Girls, will lead teachers in a hands-on music workshop working with songs and music material from our winter music show Tracks in the Snow which was commissioned by The Ark and written by The Henry Girls especially for young audiences.

For more information go to ark.ie/events/view/cpd-for-teachers-exploring-winter-through-music

 

!!!! ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Jane Hayes, Artist 

The ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’ project is a programme for early years and their parents that focuses on the creative exploration of the five senses: taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight, and like all my projects was developed to enliven children’s disposition for wonderment, excitement, curiosity, and perseverance.

I designed and developed the programme for Scoil Chroí Íosa with the aim of engaging the children in an immersive, child-centred, art-rich learning environment that would aid their early learning and development, and complements the school’s Aistear and Síolta Frameworks.

Scoil Chroí Íosa is known in Galway for its commitment to delivering a rich creative arts programme and aiming to provide the children in the school with an education that is rich in creative thinking, learning and activity. They provide a holistic approach to education and give each child an opportunity to express themselves creatively through a range of arts activities and programmes. For these reasons I approached the school directly with the project, which was instantly received with enthusiasm.

Colin Barry, Principal

Scoil Chroí Íosa is a growing school of roughly 110 children who come from a variety of multi-cultural backgrounds. This gives our school a distinctly vibrant feel and makes it an important hub for the local community. We aim to provide for the holistic education of all our students through a variety of modern, research-based methodologies. One of the most effective teaching methodologies we have found is to teach children through the medium of the creative arts. We believe this transcends cultural differences, language barriers and academic aptitude. We, as a whole school community, decided to proactively move in this exciting new direction about 4 years ago.

In this challenging endeavour, we sought guidance and support from many fantastic arts organisations and individual creative practitioners based in and around Galway City. Jane Hayes was one such artist and educator who we were delighted to have work with our students. Jane’s project “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” was designed specifically for our younger pupils to engage actively with over a sustained period. The children were not engaged with a template-based approach, but rather were encouraged and supportively facilitated to use their own ideas creatively to make wonderful visual art.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Jane Hayes, Artist

The title was obviously inspired by the classic children’s story, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, but the ideas for the project came from my experience of young children’s ability to see the world around them from such a unique perspective, for example how they explain sounds, how they draw smells, how they talk about textures. While introducing them to activities designed to stimulated their senses, I wanted to allow them the space to explore the theme of the senses in a very open way, that would facilitate their natural creativity.

Each week I would facilitate 50 minute workshops with the three youngest classes in the school, where teachers and parents of the children were also encouraged to participate. The weekly workshops involved a range of interesting indoor and outdoor arts experiences, many of which took place in the school’s unique garden classroom. I developed these activities as a means to channel the children’s attention to the world around them, to encourage them to recognise the power of their senses, and to help them explore those senses creatively.

Students were encouraged to actively explore their world, gain independence by working independently, and also develop a sense of team work through group projects. Some of the activities undertaken included; making “tools” to see and hear, sensory play in the garden, largescale projection for storytelling, creating collaborative large-scale paintings with unexpected tools, nature walks with observation and creative reporting, creating visual landscapes of the senses, and constructing “musical instruments”.  Key to the process was encouraging children to take the lead and develop their own understanding of “the brief”. This was a little difficult at first, as children naturally turn to adults for instruction, especially in an educational setting. However, as the project progressed the young children became much more confident in making their own decisions.

There was an interesting dynamic between all the participants; the children, myself, parents and teachers. In the beginning teachers felt the need to guide the students, and parents the need to do things for the children, however, my role was to facilitate child-led engagement, and to model that interaction as a means to encouraging and enabling teachers and parents to do the same. It was a gradual process, with the adults needing time to adapt to a very open approach.  The children on the other hand easily adapted to their role as ‘leaders’ and showing their parents how to do things. The role reversal really worked, and a partnership approach to the projects really began to develop.

Sue Doherty, Teacher 

As a school, we had decided to promote all aspects of the creative arts in education and this project, ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’, was a perfect match for our new direction.

The project centred on the involvement of parents in their own child’s experience of creating and participating in collaborative art. We encouraged parents to come in to the school during Jane’s visits so that they themselves could also participate in the creation of art and work with their own child, exploring their senses, their world, and their feelings about art.

The actual process was a hugely positive experience for all.  It allowed parents and teachers to engage actively with the children’s imaginations and innate creative abilities, using immersive child-centred activities to create and explore art. Although the exhibition in June 2017 was an impressive celebration and showcase of the children’s work, the real success of the project was defined by the qualitative value of the social, emotional, educational and artistic aspects of the children’s experiences.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be involved in ‘What Big Eyes You’ve Got…’, such an approach to art in education cannot come more highly commended.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Jane Hayes, Artist

Central to my approach is educating parents, teachers and the community about the importance of creativity in our lives and the lives of our children. I work to remove the fear and feelings of inadequacy that many adults have around creativity, and so this programme also worked to encourage and empower parents and teachers to engage in creativity with their children by including them in the process.  There were some really positive results.

Parent

I love the projects you have done with the children, they are actually quite easy, but I can see how much she enjoys this, and how much she loves when I work with her too.

As current research highlights, creative engagement from an early age is the most effective way to break down gender imbalance in creativity, is a powerful tool in improving children’s wellbeing, and helps aid personal development and build self-esteem.  However, in the school system anecdotal evidence suggests to me that it is older children that are often those selected for participation in arts in education projects. As I am especially committed to working within the early years remit I was dedicated to focusing on the youngest students in Scoil Chroí Íosa something that Principle Colin Barry was very positive about.

Colin Barry, Principal

“We are lucky to have lots of opportunities to collaborate with artists here, however, oftentimes when artists work in collaboration with schools they gravitate towards the older classes, 3rd and 4th for example.  The younger groups are often not as well catered for, so this is exactly what we need”.

It was clear that being gifted a significant time period to deliver the project resulted in a very rich experience for students, parents, teachers and myself the artist.  The fact that the workshops ran over an 11-week period meant that trust could be formed, greater understanding gained and richer engagement accomplished.  It was noted by the principle that having projects that allow for more meaningful engagement has greater long term effects, and that this approach allowed Teachers themselves to learn activities and approaches that they would be able to implement in the classroom themselves.

Ailbhe O’Donnell, Teacher

Jane was a great facilitator and allowed the children to experiment independently as much as possible, which they love to do. What was most exciting for the children is that their parents were invited along. Watching the children interact with parents was very interesting, as you usually only get to see them in the classroom environment. It was lovely to see parents getting stuck in helping, and also creating some Artwork themselves.

It was great to see the class work on collaborative pieces in a respectful, encouraging and creative way. The children had so much fun creating the large scale pieces together. Having the children focus on process rather than product kept them engaged and in control over their own work. I particularly liked the length of this project, which ran for 11 weeks in total. The children got into a creative routine every Thursday morning, which was great. They really took control over their own creativity. So much so, in fact, that they would be planning a week ahead in their minds what it was they would be creating the following Thursday.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Jane Hayes, Artist

One of my key objectives of “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” was to prioritise process over product. It can be challenging to shift teachers’ and parents’ focus away from finished pieces of art, but this project was successful in demonstrating how powerful, and creative, simply letting children explore, discover and enjoy the process can be. As a compromise to an exhibition of the children’s work, we ended the series with a Showcase, which was supported by the NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Institute (CKI) and Arts Office. The Showcase, mainly feature photos documenting the children’s experience, but also included a small selection of finished and unfinished pieces and research material.

Since completing the project I am more cognisant of how rich and valuable the process of making art can be, and have been working to shift my focus away from what the end product might be or do. I have commenced a new series, which is inspired by the “What Big Eyes You’ve Got…” project and working with the children of Scoil Chroí Íosa, and am dedicating more time to exploring, discovering and enjoying. I am also working in a variety of settings, getting outside more, having seen what a positive impact that had on the children of Scoil Chroí Íosa and their creativity.

Participating Child

It’s just fun to play around, I really like this kind of art!

Participating Child

I love looking for flowers in the garden, it’s fun out here, it makes me happy.

Participating Child

I never knew you could make pictures with stones, that’s cool.

Participating Child

I love how the rice feels, it makes me feel relaxed

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Tom Dalton, Artist & Arts Worker – Blog 3

Tom Dalton headshotTom Dalton is an artist and former arts worker at Mayfield Arts Centre, Cork. 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 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 was 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 was also involved in coordinating and facilitating outreach projects to school and community groups throughout the city. Tom is currently retraining in furniture design and manufacture.

Collaborative Mural Project at Terrence McSwiney Community School, Cork

The Kabin Studio at Knocknaheeny is a much loved and utilized building. Tucked inside the grounds of Terrence McSwiney Community School, this little hut is home to GMC Beats, the creative initiative of Garry McCarthy. GMC Beats deliver workshops in creative songwriting, rapping, singing and music production. Working mostly with schools and youth groups, these workshops give people the confidence and skills in putting their own thoughts, words and voices into action through performing and recording their own songs. Over 600 tracks produced by various community groups have come out of this space over the last 5 years, often garnering local and national radio and media attention.

Although a hive of activity on the inside, the exterior of the building had begun to look a bit tired and was in dire need of some sprucing up. Norrie Louise Ross, Art Teacher at Terrence McSwiney Community School Art got in touch with us at Mayfield Arts Centre with the idea of working with her students to breathe new life into the building. The school was looking for a mural, created by the students and staff, that would reflect the energy and output coming from this small cabin.

Walking through the hallways of Terrence McSwiney Community School, its clear that staff and management there understand the value an engagement with art has on the life and learning of their students. Perched on an elevated site overlooking the city, light fills the building, illuminating walls filled with student work. A spirit of collaboration and partnership between the school community and various local artists and groups has produced much of these works.

The school was approaching the end of the academic year and Ms Ross was keen to introduce an element of teamwork and fun into the school’s activity in order to maintain student engagement at a time when attendance can wain. A group of seventeen 2nd year students were selected to be part of the project, many of whom Mayfield Arts Centre had gotten to know over the years through other projects. Mayfield Arts staff Wayne Ford and I were joined by Ms Ross, JCSP Librarian Anne Masterson, Garry McCarthy and SNA staff in carrying out the mural alongside the students.

Every Wednesday for three weeks our team of staff and students gathered at the cabin, donned our white painting jumpsuits and got to work. Given the short time frame for the project we devised a framework whereby the mural would be designed ‘on the go’ and carried out by our team from the moment we stepped onsite.

The first part of this plan involved geometric ‘drawing’ on the wall surfaces using masking tape. Each team member was handed a roll of masking tape and a single line of tape was ran diagonally across the cabin wall. From here the group used their rolls of tape to divide up the space into intersecting shapes of triangles, lozenges, diamonds and rectangles. Members spread out over three of the sides of the building, their design growing and changing as more tape was added.

Now and again we would all stand back and as a group, discuss how things were going; how was our design looking? Did it have balance? Did we need to add more lines? Or take some away?

Once a consensus was reached each person was handed gloves, a small tub of paint and a brush. We selected chalky greys, dusty whites and charcoal blacks to give it a graphic aesthetic, but this palette also acted as a neutral ground for other graffiti works to join the wall into the future.

The group moved around the building painting in the shapes made by the tape, swapping colours between themselves. Once all the spaces were filled and the paint had time to dry the tape was peeled back revealing the patterned surface. Over the course of the few days this processes was repeated, adding shapes over shapes, and carving the space up in different ways.

G-MC Mural 0517 (16)_edit

It was wonderful to see both students and staff at the school working shoulder to shoulder. Kitted out in our painting jumpsuits we were all equal members of the same team. The Kabin now stands out in all the right ways, and there is a renewed sense of ownership of the space among the students at the school.

To find out more about the work that goes on at The Kabin visit gmcbeats.com

Mayfield Arts Centre would like to thank Norrie Louise Ross, Anne Masterson, Principal Phil O’Flynn, Gary McCarthy and all the students for their support and commitment to the project.

For more information visit mayfieldarts.ie

 

 

!!!! A Sensory Experience of Place

Tell us the story of your project – What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Leanne Kyle, Teacher

We were working with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership on a project called Virtually There. In this project the artist doesn’t actually come into the classroom. We correspond mostly via the interactive whiteboard. I was ICT coordinator and this project really appealed to me. It was different and offered  a new experience for me and the children.

Initially the artist (Lisa) came to meet us at the school. It was great day because we were able to chat and have a planning session. We went on a walk around the school. We decided to use nature and the actual school environment as a beginning point. I wanted to use the school garden and create links to the eco-school ethos. We tied this all together into a project which focused on the topic of ‘senses’. This topic is very popular and suitable for P2 and 3. Later we narrowed this down further to the sense of touch with many trips outside working with the trees. It was Autumn time so we began to focus on the leaves. Lisa taught a ‘leaf dance’. From here, it just took off with a focus on nature and touch.

Lisa Cahill, Artist

My ‘Virtually There’ journey with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, Leanne Kyle and the P2 & 3 Class of Aughnacloy began in September 2016. At this time I was also Dance Artist in Residence at the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University. The Autumn of 2016 marked the final phase of the three year residency. I had received an Arts Council, Young People Children and Education (YPCE) Bursary Award. The focus of my investigations included the development of frames and activities that engaged the sensory body in the outdoor environment of a school site. Over those Autumnal and Winter months the creative journey with many partners unfolded.

Developing the body’s sensory attunement through engagement with the site is an important element of my practice. I was spending a lot of time outside. I was out in the garden , fields, orchards, forested areas of the University campus. My explorations involved movement, writing, art making, gathering sounds and natural materials, reading and learning more and more about the natural environment that I was in.

I wanted to bring these explorations into the Virtually There project. I really looked forward to sharing these with Leanne and the children. I wanted to notice and hear their responses through multiple and different forms of documentation. I wanted to see what emerged through our collective journey.

Leanne shared my curiousity in this discovery process as we set about investigating:

 

We committed to holding an intention of listening to the needs and responses of each partner. We committed to capturing each of our responses to the tasks and activities. These responses might emerge in different forms, such as verbal, written, a gesture or movement, a photograph, a word, a drawing.

I felt my role was to invite and remind us to return to our body and the sensations and feelings we were experiencing right now in each moment.

And so our journey unfolded.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Leanne

At the first online session, the children introduced themselves to Lisa. They wrote a little about themselves and they read this to Lisa through the interactive whiteboard. We began to work on the leaf dance and talked about the different seasons. We were in the season of Autumn. We went outside and discussed how the leaves were falling and blowing in the trees. Lisa shown us her leaf dance. That really got the children thinking about what they would like to do. They had a lot of input. We created some sensory warm up audio clips with Lisa.

https://soundcloud.com/lisadance/virtually-there-warm-up

She was great to ask the children for their ideas. The children decided that they would like to bring things in from the outside. We played with different ways of using these materials in our warm up clips. This resulted in the children bringing in leaves and things like that. This then resulted in their favourite activity; leaf tattoos. The children loved this. It was so simple, yet so effective. This all tied in well with our topics in school because we look at the different seasons. It tied in with our literacy, particularly poetry. When we arrived at the season of Spring, we wrote poems. We’d explored so much by this stage. We looked at our hands, created drawings of our hands, gone outside to find natural objects to mark make on paper. Actually, this mark making was something they really loved.

The children, in small groups, began to form their own dances. They led the learning at this point. Some of them started to think and dance about trees being chopped down. This led us to a new topic, which I had never done before in school; the topic of deforestation, looking at the Amazon rainforest and the effect of deforestation. The children really led this bit. There were lots of woodcutters chopping down trees. But also planting new trees. This was really the chidren’s own ideas, which came from Lisa’s input. At a later stage in the project, the children made campaign posters to send to the Prince’s Rainforest Trust. We are a UNICEF school and it all tied into the modules of Your Rights and You Have a Right to Have an Opinion. The children had a right to voice their opinion that deforestation is wrong.  They led the learning completely.

I would say it was very collaborative project, a journey in working together.

Lisa

The intention Leanne and I brought to the development of our work together was to listen to each other and the children. In listening, we focused on attuning to the energy and responses of the children. How were they responding? At what moments did energy heighten and flow?

Indeed it was often a great challenge for me to notice and ‘feel into’ the energy of the children, the temperature of the room in response to an activity. My own sensory experience of been in the class room through the interactive whiteboard at times felt frustrating and even at times lonely. Looking at the classroom through the narrow screen of my laptop made me consider other ways of discovering and identifying the information I needed to ‘feel into’ and sense in order to learn about this room full of people. I had to ask specific questions to the children and Leanne to receive their feedback.

I will always remember Leanne’s description of the children’s response to the task of creating leaf tattoos. She described the children’s joy and laughter coupled with their attention in colouring and pressing leaves on their bodies.

Throughout the duration of the project, I continued to share elements and small samples of work from my own practice. From these sharings, Leanne and the children began to develop their own questions, tasks and creative forms of response and reflection.

I found it so exciting to see, hear and feel individual’s process, their ideas, questions and responses.

What aspects of the project made you smile? What aspects of the project made you feel challenged?

Leanne

I’ll start with a challenge. It was session 9. Everything had been going so well on our computer programme, Blackboard Collaborate. But on lesson 9, the technology would not work for us. Lisa couldn’t connect with us. I felt lost. The C2K school network in Northern Ireland is very strict. I couldn’t use facetime or skype to connect with Lisa. So we ended up communiciating via whatsapp. It was a whole new way of connecting with Lisa. We were able to communicate with Lisa using whats app voice messages. We sent photographs of what we did that day (which was a continuation of what we were doing). So when technology fails – that is a challenge.

The highlight was when Lisa came up to the school for two days in April. I will never forget that the time that she spent with them before we went out filming their dances. I will never forget that. The children will never forget that. It was amazing. We spent all this time working collaboratively online.  Then she was there in person. That was a highlight for me and the kids.

Lisa

Indeed, like Leanne, memories of session 9 haven’t softened for me. Our means of communiciation didn’t work. I lost a little confidence with the technology after this point. I felt anxious in the lead up to the next sessions. When technology fails, it definitely poses a big challenge.

But, because of the realisation that we could not rely on our online connection, we began to develop less focus on me as the leader of sessions. I look back now and realise that this was a really important moment of our journey together. After session 9, I think Leanne and the children really took off and entered their full flow. Up to session 9, we spent much time getting to know each other, exploring ideas, trying things out, engaging with our senses indoors and outdoors, experiencing each others small creative forms and experiments. I know that the children had developed skills and knowledge and were full of passion for creative movement and the natural environment around them. In stepping back a little, I created more space for this dynamic partnership (teacher and children) and individuals to embrace their own creativity. When I reflect on this, I smile.

What insights from the project are worth sharing? (These may seem small, but are significant to you)

Leanne

At the start I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. I needed to take a step back and breath. Lisa encouraged us all to concentrate on the simple things. But the simple things turned out to be very effective.

In main stream schools at the minute, it’s all about getting children in touch with their senses again. There are so many children coming into school at the moment with sensory issues. With the warm ups, we focused on the sense of touch. Before each lesson the children were so excited about working with Lisa. The warm ups helped calm the children.

The sensory issue is a big thing at the minute in main stream schools. We recognise the need to support children to return to the basics, being calm in themselves and able to regulate themselves. The warm ups for me were great. They focused on touch and feeling, touching your arm, leg and head. From a sensory perspective, this was significant for me and I thought it prepared them well for their dances.

Lisa

Something I would like to share is how we endeavoured to document the process through gathering multiple means of documentation. Leanne is an avid photographer. She created, gathered and drew our focus to this form of visual documentation.

It feels now, following completion of the project that the engagement with multiple forms of documentation was a really important layer and container for the processes and choices that emerged throughout the project. Methods included: photography, film, writing, art, movement and the gathering of materials. These forms illustrated and offered many entry points for others into the work and processes of the project.

Has anything changed as a result of the project?

Leanne

Yes. The impact of the audio warm ups and our attention to the senses made me take a step back and realise everything in mainstream teaching is done at a pace. You are going at a rate of knots to try and get everything covered because there is so much curriculum to cover. At the end  of the day as society goes on, moves more into technology (and yes our project was based around technology), this project brought out the importance of just been still. Breathing and regulating yourself, mindfulness. Being aware of your space, being aware of your own body and senses, which alot of children at this age are missing. I’d say that has really made me think as a teacher.

Dance does not have to be very structured. It can made so creative and the children proved that. I was thinking where is this going to go with the boys? How are the boys going to get into this? And I not being a dancer, I was thinking, ‘gosh, where is this going to go? I think at times I worried about the end product. But I realise now it’s really about the process. The amount of work the children put into the process of it all was unbelievable. Those dances didn’t happen overnight. The children took ownership of their own process. I loved the days when Lisa worked with small groups, chatting to them about their dances, giving them feedback, hints and tips. The children loved this. It was really about the process but it’s also nice to have an amazing end product. But it really is about the process.

For me the parents really getting on board was important. It was a risk you take. Our sessions took a whole day. It was a whole day out of the normal curriculum; numeracy and literacy. For this day, you are dancing!

It was really important that the parents were on board with this. And they were. They kept involved all the time. Right from the class assembly, when we shared an interview between the children, teacher and artist. They absolutely loved it. They got to see Lisa. They had heard so much about Lisa from the chidlren. But they got to see Lisa and they were so keen to learn more about her. I think that was important, getting the parents on board and getting them involved. We created a DVD as part of our project. The DVD idea wasn’t my suggestion. It wasn’t the childrens or Lisas. It was the parents’ suggestion. Parents came to me after the class assembly and asked me for the footage. We had shown a film of an interview between Lisa and the children. We had two interviewers who asked Lisa questions. They did a super job and their parents were so proud watching the footage of  them confidenctly posing questinos. This project was inclusive of all chidlren in the class and particulary appealed to those chidlren who learn best through kinaesthetic learning.

Our final DVD came from the parents request to see footage of this interview. The parents wanted to see the children’s dances and share it with others. I think this is important. It is not just a partnership between the teacher, children and the artist. It is also a partnership with the parents.

When Lisa came to the school in April, it was amazing to see the parent’s excitement. She got out of her car and they were all saying hello. She had never met them before. But they all felt that they knew her. It’s amazing how you can work with someone all year and ye’re at opposite ends of the country. When something like this comes together, it’s pretty special.

Lisa

I think what I am left with at this stage and what I would like to remember as I go forward with Leanne, the children, families and community of Aughnacloy PS, is my curiousity around makings connections and asking questions.

I have neither an answer or a method as to how to achieve these successfully. But I think we can rely on our intention to listen, trust and be curious.

Here is a note from my journal (which was written throughout the project).

What question(s) can be shared to offer permission for an experience to ‘unfold’.

I think there are different ways of thinking about this.

The possibility of making connections – learning about something and learning about myself simultaneously.

Again, what question(s) encourage openness and curiosity – giving ownership back to the individuals.

Recognise

Acknowledge

Acceptance – acceptance of where someone is right now.

A non-linear approach to learning and achievement.

What is between the teacher and the artist?

The known and the unknown. Staying at this edge. It might feel like a void or a delayed in-between stage.

Developing structures together which are composed from all the sensations of the work and materials.

A sense of intimacy and dialogue with the work – listening to it.

There is a need to explore and create frames and structures, which are away from the demands of an end product or production.

A project where we can all ask questions of each other.

“What do you know now?”

“How are you now?”

!!!! Irelands National School Photography Awards

This year sees the inauguration of Ireland’s prestigious National School Photography Awards [INSPA]. INSPA is a national children’s photography competition which is open to all primary schools located in the Republic of Ireland. These awards are brought to you by Image Masters Photography in partnership with Dublin Zoo, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and MummyPages.

The awards aim to encourage young creatives in primary level education to engage with both digital technology and the creative process to create striking visual images. They will inspire and ignite passion in students, increase engagement with digital arts within primary level education while at the same time subtly educating students about the importance of the creative process.

The awards are offering a range of fantastic prizes for finalists, winners and their schools including; Free Entry to Dublin Zoo for the overall winner and their classmates, digital cameras for winners and their schools, framed photographs, certificates of achievement and school photography fundraising days in aid of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

This years’ theme is titled ‘Making Memories’ which asks both teachers and their students to integrate the camera into the school-day to generate discussion and understanding around the idea of memory/memories. All entries will be judged by a national panel including John Boyle (INTO President), Ronan Smith (Chair of ASI Irish Dementia Working Group), Aideen Howard (Director: The Ark, Dublin), Catherine Bowe (Visual Art Manager: Wexford Art Centre) and Richard Carr (Artist & School Liaison).

If your school would like to get involved they can request their schools access codes from the INSPA website – www.inspa.ie – here you will be able to activate your school account and begin uploading your students’ entries.

The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday 19th January 2018 so make sure you have activated your school account well in advance of this date.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Julie Forrester, Artist Blog 3

blue_mug2016 Julie Forrester is a visual artist based in Cork City. She has been working with all kinds of people in all kinds of settings since her return to Ireland in the 1990s. Her work celebrates process and open ended enquiry into materials and context. Julie Forrester is currently in residence with Kidsown Publishing Partnership at Killard School, Co Down.

Blog 3 –

As the new year unfolds into Autumn I would like to reflect on that heady time, a few short months ago, when the holidays stretched ahead and routine was being dissolved into the long days of summer.

My summer usually begins with a week of creative activity with teachers, as part of their Continuing Professional Development. This CDP Programme run by CRAFTed and the West Cork Education Centre takes place in different host primary school each year and the number of participants is 25. So teachers find themselves in a familiar setting where their roles are reversed, the tables are turned, teacher becomes pupil, and, I have found, they make this switch naturally and with gusto!

Teachers are on a giddy high at this busy time, there is a sense of release as they wind down into the summer and also sense of self evaluation and reflection as they are packing up after a year in the classroom. The CPD programme must address this ‘end of year’ dynamic and the structure and content of the programme allows for this valuable teacher time together, peer to peer, sharing ideas, catching up, meeting new friends and enjoying each other’s company. After a year of routine and responsibility, it is time to be on ‘the other side’ and a chance to allow for loosening up, and a complete freedom to adopt a “what happens?” approach. Our CPD programme allows plenty of time for interactive play while opening up opportunities for sharing, testing and evaluating individual classroom procedures and preferences. It is a place where a process of ‘discovery towards’ something is the modus operandi for all activities, where there is no such thing as a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ format to fall back on/aspire to/comply with/copy. For many teachers, who have a profound sense of responsibility, and who are expected to be in control at all times, and must who achieve measurable results across a classroom of pupils, this artist’s approach can present a daunting task and a leap into the unknown. The discovery approach involves great faith in process and requires some practice, it can meet with both enthusiasm and resistance in a classroom full of disparate personalities and performance pressures. The reward for this open ended practice is a confidence in the ability of the child to meet the challenge of the task at her own level.

So in the spirit of a new term I would like to share here one of my favourite loosening up activities for drawing. This activity comes from copying, or, more grandly put, from observation, and celebrates the capacity for invention. It is a drawing game in the spirit of an old party favourite, Chinese Whispers. In my example the source material came in the form of photographs I had collected of extinct and endangered Irish wild flowers (but the source could easily be from any other kind of ‘category’  and is ideal for focussing closely on any area of research). Each individual is invited to fold their A2 sheet into 8 sections and numbered 1 to 8 (in a room of lively teacher/pupils it quickly became evident that this was a task in itself!)

In the first section, numbered “1” they must make a drawing from their photograph. I set a time limit of 5 minutes for each drawing. Each artist then passes the sheet to the person on their right who must copy their predecessors drawing in the next section. Participants may only look at the previous drawing and must work from the information contained in that section. The drawing goes around the table and comes back to the original draughts-person.

Results are always interesting, we can see the corruption from one drawing to the next we can note changes, omissions and exaggerations and we can think about evolution, design, glitches, copying, originality, perception, imagination, preference and progression that affirm each artist’s hand in the final work. It can be the beginning for al kinds of enquiry and further artwork. This activity touches on the relationship between perfection and invention, itself a profound enquiry. There is no right or wrong and its impossible to dictate a ‘correct’ outcome. Many rules are broken. I love this activity especially because it celebrates copying – one of the cardinal sins of the child’s universe and often the bane of the teacher’s classroom! What’s more, it celebrates copying badly, turning a vice into a virtue. It celebrates collaboration and corruption and all that deviates from the original. It celebrates the original.

After this exercise drawing becomes a whole lot easier for everyone.

!!!! Guest Blogger, Leanne Troy, Primary School Teacher

Leanne Troy is a primary school teacher based in the Midlands. She told us that she has a great passion for art both inside and outside the classroom. ShLeanne Headshote attended Learning through Creativity educational course at the Glucksman Art Gallery this summer

I am very enthusiastic about visual art and its impact on education. I challenge myself to try and be as creative as possible in all my approaches to teaching each subject area. Thematic teaching allows me to integrate subjects more freely and use more hands on visual methods. An example of this is the Craft Ed project I recently undertook through my local education centre (a fantastic scheme that unfortunately very few teachers know about). For this project I was paired with a local artist who came to my school to complete a six week project. The wood carving artist and I team taught my class in 2 hour blocks. The children from my 1st class were delighted to be handed chisels and pieces of wood! We based the project on a trip to Lough Boora Sculpture park in Co.Offaly, where the children learned all about the local wildlife and the history of the bog . Each child chose an animal to write a report on and also drew an accompanying image. This image was then transferred onto the wood and carved out. The results were amazing. We created our very own ‘Sky Train’ which is proudly on show at the front of our school.

My experiences with Craft Ed have even further heightened my interest in art education and so I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas and ways to upskill and develop my artistic abilities. I try to attend as many local art workshops as I can in areas such as ceramics, mosaics as well as art education classes in the Glucksman Art Gallery in University College Cork. A particularly strong influence is the art classes I attend with Hazel Greene in Shinrone Co.Offaly, where we paint mostly landscapes using acrylics. We also complete silk paintings and palate knife paintings. I also gain a lot of experience and inspiration from the childrens’ summer camp I run each year.  I am the co-founder of an art and alternative sports camp, named Da Vinci’s Frisbees, with my partner Liam. Our camp is in its fourth successful summer and it is based in Offaly and Cork. The art activities focus on the process of art making and creativity.

So this week I was delighted to get the opportunity to attend my own summer camp, in the form of the Learning through Creativity educational course run by Tadhg Crowley at the Glucksman Art Gallery. The bright, airy spacious gallery is the perfect space to facilitate our week long voyage of discovery.  Even with the end of the summer holidays looming, I was very excited. Throughout the week we have looked at art and the possibilities for integration with other subject areas on the primary curriculum.  We have explored various examples of artists that could be used to facilitate the creative combination of Art with Maths, English, History, Science and SPHE. Each afternoon we were also lucky enough to work with different artists to put into practice the theory from the morning session.

Initially we started off our discussion on the impact of art on education. Just like when you read a good book, art education allows you to develop empathy, different points of view and it awakens your senses.  Tadhg introduced the concept of creativity to us as an essential part to education and a unique human factor which allows us to show case our individuality. Everybody is creative in some shape or form whether it’s through your sense of fashion or how you hang the clothes on the washing line! Creativity is even fast becoming one of the most desired characteristics for employers who are seeking to employ innovative problem solving em