!!!! Portal Spring Regional Day 2023 – Roundup
Earlier this month, teachers, artists and arts in education professionals gathered together in the beautiful surrounds of the MTU Crawford College of Art and Design across two of their city-centre sites – Sharman Crawford Street and No. 46 Grand Parade. For delegates this was an opportunity to share experience, gather new ideas and network with colleagues. This event, the seventh of our annual Portal Regional Days, showcased arts in education and creative practice in the South-West. Delegates travelled from Counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Waterford and even Dublin to hear presentations from Jane Hayes and Fiona Linnane, participate in a workshop led by Julie O’Hea and visit the partnership Arts in Education exhibition at Sample Studios.
The morning of sharing practice began with socially-engaged visual artist Jane Hayes delving into key moments from her artistic practice which focuses on work for and with Early Years. In her presentation, ‘The Voice of the Child in Creative Decision Making – the Early Years Context’ Jane spoke of career shaping experiences including residencies with Baboro International Arts Festival for Children in Galway, a project with Scoil Chroí Íosa and becoming a Creative Associate which opened up opportunities for conversation and formalised the voice of the child into her practice. Jane elaborated that her projects evolve as choices and connections are made by the children, encouraging them to think and explore materials independently from carefully considered provocations introduced influenced by Jane in the Reggio Emilio style.
The key thing is … to give adequate time and space for those ideas to evolve to allow the project to evolve … to allow the child to become the chief investigator in everything and the classroom almost becomes an artist’s studio for them.” – Jane Hayes
The morning continued with an interactive session from composer Fiona Linnane. Her presentation, ‘Tutti – Exploring pathways to inclusivity for music composition in the classroom’ focused on her experiences in classrooms delivering projects through initiatives such as TAP, Creative Schools and Artist in Schools residencies. She spoke of the challenge and importance of engaging all children regardless of their musical ability through an approach of “experimentation not expectation”. Calling on audience participation, Fiona demonstrated a number of practical exercises and shared her approaches in how to equip children with the skills to experiment.
“For me, it’s about empowering the children just to have that avenue of self-expression in music where even if they’re not the piano prodigy, that they can still express themselves through music and through sound.” – Fiona Linnane
In the afternoon, attendees moved to Number 45 Grand Parade to take part in a practical creative workshop with visual artist Julie O’Hea. In a fun and messy workshop, Julie along with assistant Amaia Ibarbia led a very hands-on creative session on the processes behind ink-making from natural ingredients and hapazome printing, providing participants with many creative ideas to bring back to the classroom.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on the day. For those who missed the mornings discussions, video recordings will be available to watch back online. Registration for viewing is available through the link here.
!!!! Imagine Arts Festival 20th Anniversary: Highlights for Children & Young People
Imagine Arts Festival
Dates: 15 – 24 October 2021
Imagine Arts Festival is a unique celebration of the arts in Waterford City. Now in its 20th year Imagine features live performances, exhibitions and interactive performances for people of all ages, including dance, film, visual art, theatre, spoken word and literature, as well as classical, contemporary and traditional music.
Below are some highlights for children and young people:
The Little Robber Girl
18 – 22 October
A limited audio drama series for children with accompanying posted pack, written and directed by Deirdre Dwyer. The school’s ticket includes a digital teacher’s pack with curriculum-related activities. Join Mattie, her little dog Arthur, and her new friend Finn as they go in search of Mattie’s missing Mammy…and return with much more than buried treasure. Let the listening adventure begin!
School’s Ticket – €50 (limited edition; includes a digital teacher’s pack with curriculum-related activities)
Creative Cluster exhibition
15 – 24 October
Under the theme of ‘Horizons’, five Post-Primary Schools in Waterford, supported by Creative Ireland, have come together to form an innovative ‘creative cluster’ aimed at student participation in the arts. This exhibition will feature creative writing, photography and visual art from the Transition Year students of 2020/2021 of Abbey Community College, Ardscoil na Mara, De La Salle College, Our Lady of Mercy School and St Angela’s Secondary School.
Body Percussion workshop for 8 – 10 year olds
Join Karen from Mini Musos in this FUN and engaging body percussion workshop that uses the body as the instrument to create interesting and creative sounds, through pulse and rhythmic coordination. The workshop will engage memory & sequencing skills as well as promote the use of music as a means of encouraging well-being especially in todays ‘new’ world. By the end of the session the children should be able to perform a short body percussive piece for their friends and families!
Leaflings with Niamh Sharkey and Owen Churcher
A Field Guide to Leaflings, a family event with former Laureate no nÓg Niamh Sharkey and Owen Churcher. Welcome to the world of Leaflings, the secret guardians of the trees. Among the branches and roots of some of our planet’s most important inhabitants, live the leaflings. These tiny creatures protect trees and help manage their interactions, their cycles and tell their stories.
For more information and to see the full programme, visit www.imagineartsfestival.com/index.php/whats-21
!!!! Lismore Castle Arts Launches Artifice Online Exhibition
Lismore Castle Arts
Artifice is an annual exhibition by Lismore Castle Arts which presents works of art created by transition year students from across County Waterford. This year’s theme is “Land Art”, based on Lismore Castle Arts’ main exhibition for 2021 “Light and Language” centred around the work of Nancy Holt, a significant figure in the Land Art movement. Students were invited to explore their relationship with the environment and to express their experience of the lockdown, environmentalism and personal identity.
Over 130 students took part in Artifice 2021, creating new artworks using a variety of media including photography, film, sculpture and painting. The five schools participating in Artifice 2021 are Meánscoil San Nioclás (An Rinn), Ard Scoil na nDéise (Dungarvan), Ardscoil na Mara (Tramore), St. Augustine’s College (Dungarvan) and Blackwater Community School (Lismore).
View the exhibition here: www.lismorecastlearts.ie/education/
!!!! Music Generation Job Opportunity: Administrator, Waterford & Wexford
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board
Deadline: 5.00pm, Tuesday 1 May 2018
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) invites applications from suitably qualified persons for the positions of Administrator, Music Generation Waterford (1 post) and Administrator, Music Generation Wexford (1 post).
Both posts are full-time, 37 hours per week, and the successful candidates will be employed on fixed-term contracts for a period of three years.
Post details and applicant requirements are available to download from www.wwetb.ie/vacancies
The closing date for receipt of applications: 5.00pm, Tuesday 1 May 2018
WWETB is an Equal Opportunities Employer
Music Generation Waterford is part of Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education programme initiated by Music Network, co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills, and managed locally by Waterford Music Education Partnership, led by WWETB in partnership with Waterford City and County Council.
!!!! IAF National Architects in School Programme
Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?
Derek O’Brien, Teacher: This is my second year to be involved in the National Architects in Schools Initiative. We worked with two different architects in that time and this year we worked with Emily Power. I have taught Construction Studies and DCG for 10 years now. I had been interested in participating for a number of years but only got around to it for the first time last year. Getting involved has been eye opening. I am more practically minded and feel I lack on the creativity side of things, which is the reason why I wouldn’t attempt to deliver a programme like this on my own and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an architect with a range of skills such as Emily. I wanted to bring in someone with new ideas and new ways of doing things and hopefully learn as much as the students. Myself and Emily worked very well together during the course of the programme which was essential to the delivery of the initiative.
Emily Power, Architect: This was my third time taking part in the National Architects in Schools Initiative but my first time collaborating with a woodwork teacher and working in a mixed (boys and girls) school. As an architect it is an excellent opportunity to work outside the traditional role of the architect and to bring the world and language of architecture to students. The first few workshops were used to look at what an architect does and to introduce the students to the language of architecture. The students began by interacting with the language of architecture through small construction projects and problem solving exercises such as mapping the school building and constructing stools out of cardboard. Shifting scale the students then looked at how the public move through Tramore. Through their mapping of public transport routes and public spaces of congregation they identified a need for shelter. Seven sites were chosen, mostly along the coastline and the students created pavilions specific to each site that improved the space for the user.
How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?
Derek: I was delighted with the practical approach that Emily took to the project. From week one she got the students engaged. The group started off looking at different buildings of architectural significance around the world and researched the buildings and the architects which they found interesting. We looked at shape, colours, form, materials as well as the inspiration behind the buildings. From there the students designed chairs/stools that could only be made out of cardboard with no adhesives etc. This was a fantastic exercise to see the imagination and creativity of the group. There was great fun when it came to testing out their success (or not). Following on from this Emily based our main element of the project around the locality of Tramore. She brought in old OS maps over the years right up to the present day to show the development of the area. The students looked at areas of interest, routes around the town, significant buildings and eventually came up with the idea of designing shelters in different public areas with the theme of sustainability and the sea. As it was so much linked to their own lives and interests, they really engaged with the design and came up with six fantastic models.
Emily: I worked closely with Derek in creating a programme that could be facilitated by both of us. It was excellent to work with a teacher who was as enthusiastic as I was. It was also very clear that the students respected and liked Derek and everything worked very smoothly. Derek provided excellent support during the sessions and in my absence when there was work to be completed between sessions.
The following gives an overview of some of the tasks/activities that the students worked on:
Box & Stool Study: Using only a cardboard box the students had to transform the box into a load bearing stool. They could only use cutting implements and could not use any adhesives or tape. The students were instructed to draw their box using the language of architecture. They had to consider structure, loads and think of methods to strengthen the cardboard e.g. folding and rolling. At the end of the session we had a group review where the students got to test their stool and see if they could withstand their weight.
Mapping the School: In order to emphasise the importance of observation I tasked the students with drawing different areas of the school with no plans and no measuring tools. Working in small groups they used their bodies, strides and objects like a sweeping brush, to measure the areas. They then produced drawings that were accurate and to scale…though not a traditional one!
Analysing Tramore: We needed to devise a design brief to inspire the project that the students would take on over the 12 hours of allocated workshop time. Ardscoil Na Mara were lucky enough to be in a new school building that was meeting their needs pretty well, so we looked outside to the local area of Tramore to see where we could find ways of improving the built environment. Using various maps of Tramore, recent and historical we looked at the evolution of the public and social space. They also tracked how people move through the town and identified spaces where the public congregate, both locals or tourists. Through these exercises they managed to identify seven areas that could benefit from a design intervention to improve people’s experience of those places.
Design Project: The students identified seven sites in Tramore that would benefit from a design intervention. Six of these were in picturesque areas along the coastline that are popular with locals and tourists. The final site is a park adjacent to the church and schools where students wait for parents and churchgoers meet after mass.
Design brief – the final design had to:
- provide shelter
- be a recreational/meeting space
- be a changing area for swimmers/surfers
- provide a resting area at viewpoints.
In their design the students considered wind direction, waterproofing, sunlight, ground conditions, materials, end users, storage, privacy, access, signage, and exposure. In order to convey their ideas they implemented the skills that they learned over the course of the programme. They sketched over photos, drew plans, sections and elevations and made models to represent their designs.
Breakdown of sessions: The Irish Architecture Foundation’s school resource pack ‘My Architecture Design Journal’ is given to every student, teacher and architect participating on the National Architects in Schools Initiative. The journal sets out an engaging and useful set of project guidelines to support the participant’s journey on the project.
There are ten chapters to take participants through a design process from research, surveying space, designing, presenting ideas, discussion and reflection. The project guidelines encourage active learning and students can choose from a variety of creative methods including drawing, writing, model making, mapping, sketching, film and photography. Project themes guide teachers and students through social, aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture, encouraging research into local and international examples.
What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?
Emily: I thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with the students. The sessions are really enjoyable, hectic but very creative. For the students it is a different type of class, one that is not so structured. It can be challenging to encourage students to think creatively when traditionally they are expected to come up with one solution to a problem; this is a much more creative and expansive field of learning. We had to create a space where all ideas were encouraged. It took some time to get the students to open up to creative thinking and to work together. For some students this was their first experience of group work, experience in this is invaluable for their future education. In working with TY students you get to reconnect with the fundamentals of architecture and design. For the students it was an excellent opportunity for them to engage with their local community. I believe that they were empowered to see that they had the ability to design something that would benefit the wider community.
What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?
Derek: We displayed our projects in the school and invited local Senator Grace O’Sullivan to attend and to view our work. This was a great success. The studets got to present their ideas and she was able to ask the students interesting questions and engage them in a discussion about their projects. She was blown away by the designs. A group of architects and builders visiting the school that day also attended and engaged with the students about their ideas.
Emily: The students worked together in groups to design their pavilions for public spaces in Tramore. The worked culminated in an exhibition that we put on in the school for teachers, the principal and local Senator Grace O’Sullivan. I thought it was an excellent exercise for the students as they had to work together to come up with an oral presentation. They got to talk through their design ideas and inspirations and answer the questions the Senator had. The students also got to display their projects at the National Exhibition of the Architects in Schools Initiative in Tullamore organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. This provided another opportunity to share and discuss their projects with other schools from all over Ireland and to see how other students approached their projects.
Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?
Derek: From working with this initiative both myself and the students have a new found appreciation of the local area, design, architecture and sustainability. I personally have learned new ways of presenting topics to my classes as well as engaging with them actively and would be hopeful we continue the programme in the school into the future.
Emily: Taking part in the programme has given me a new perspective on how the public can engage with architecture. It is encouraging to see the students take interest in architecture and the impact design can have on how they interact with the built environment.
The IAF is looking for architects and architectural graduates to participate in the National Architects in Schools Initiative 2017-18. For more info click here