Our Lady of The Wayside N.S Kilternan

With Visual Artist Jane Groves and Ms Martins 1st Class

Today we talked about ‘Animal architecture’ discussing the amazing constructions animals create. we looked at images of all kinds of animal homes from a whole variety of Bird nests, Beaver dams , bee hives, ant hills, shells, webs etc. discussing the necessity of warmth, protection and camouflage (or sometimes decoration!) etc .we discussed in detail how a bird nest was constructed

Providing each table with a variety of different materials, including clay, sticks, buttons, beads and feathers the children were invited to create their own nests

Adding  materials incrementally the children had to think carefully about how to shape the clay using some methodology they had already acquired and about building structures and adding texture


Everyone had their own style!


we also worked together to investigate the idea of the web. each weaving a small wooden disk with elastic bands

The children were asked to think about shapes and  different depths, the tricky part came when I asked the class to try to join their work together, there was a reluctance to let go of their little pieces, but in the end we decided the ‘sum was the whole of the parts’ and the class started weaving the pieces together


Well done first class for working together and apart !

Our Lady of The Wayside N.S Kilternan

Visual artist Artist Jane Groves and Ms Martins First class

Meeting with the children of Ms Martins First class, together with not one but 2 brilliant  SNAs!, Carol and Aideen was an absolute pleasure, 31 bundles of excitable and engaged pupils together with the equally engaged grown ups!

After introducing myself to the class I showed them a few examples of my work and we talked about the concept of process and of product, hopefully the children started to understand that creativity often evolves through creative problem solving and imaginative play, and although products sometimes evolve from understanding certain methodology often they do not.

we talked about, architecture and about habitat, The children sharing an understanding of the two words. I invited the children to become imaginative architects and provided each of the 5 tables within the class with a variety of reuse materials like cones , foam squares, plant pot filters etc. Id kept these to a minimal palette to encourage emphasis on structure and although there was tape and scissors on hand, the intention was create balance and spatial awareness. I asked each table to create a environment either working alone or together.The children naturally and happily organised themselves and let their imagination fly!


outside the box!

some children preferred to work alone, others in groups, or moved from one way to the other, balancing, counting, measuring, investigating …


Some artist created their own characters!


lots of fun creating the story!

Using the furniture, themselves balancing individual creativity with the groups, each table had a chance to tell the story of the environment they had created!

What a tallented bunch!

And the best bit was they broke down what they had made and tidied everything up themselves.

well done!

Residency at St. Brigid`s GNS, Cabinteely, Artist: Tunde Toth Teacher: Laragh McFeely – Session 1 – 2

St Brigid`s GNS (Cabinteely) — 3rd class

SESSION 1 — 20 November 2018

SESSION 2 — 27 November 2018

We started our residency with two short and connecting sessions in November – so I decided to reflect on these two introductory and discussion based sessions in one post.

Laragh, the class teacher and I started to plan the beginning of our project at the planning evening (Blackrock Education Centre), trying to discuss aspects of our chosen theme PLACE, considering various approaches and creative processes we could bring to the class. We both are keen to create a residency that is collaborative, interactive and participatory as much as possible in a school environment. I`m interested in process led, experimental working methods where the children will be encouraged to develop and express individual ideas, opinions as well as working together with others.

No better way to start this than a session of brain storming and mind mapping! The children were very responsive and there was no shortage of ideas and connections when discussing PLACE. After the general brain storm we tried to break down the responses and associations into 4 groups: nature, buildings, imaginary places and places from memories. The children were asked to write further ideas and responses to these words and make little drawings for each.


Laragh was telling me about the school garden at our initial meeting. Considering the significance of the garden in the school`s life and the school`s location next to Cabinteely Park, we knew that nature-places and the natural environment will probably be important when discussing place and connections with places. we were planning a walk in the garden or the park as part of our session but weather conditions made this impossible. Laragh took out the class for a walk later, between two sessions. The children collected natural materials from the grounds – a large pile of leaves, barks, nuts, flowers, grasses etc.

I suggested a Looking and Responding session for the class, exploring exciting, fun and accessible examples of Land Art. We looked at contemporary works and classic Land Art examples, many from Andy Goldsworthy, and discussed ephemeral pieces that won`t last, the concept of site specific works and various materials that artists use.

Session 1: Tá Cupla Focail Agam!

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Artist: Helen Barry
Teacher: Eoghan O’Neill
Ranga Do: 30 paiste

I did wonder whether I had bitten off a little more than I could chew! This was the first time I had embarked on an artist in residence in a Gael Scoil. The energies of a mixed group of second class children could sometimes be hard to focus without adding another language into the mix. My Irish was yet to be tested but I did know that the level of the children’s Irish was far better than mine. I had made an initial visit to meet the children in Gael Scoil Shliabh Rua pre Christmas to get a sense of what we might do together.

The Gael Scoil has yet to grow into its building hence there are many empty classroom on the first floor. I set up in one of these large empty spaces which still smells of fresh plaster and paint. The children had mentioned they would like to do some construction and this being my preferred medium I headed to the dictionary. Building – ag tógáil, Structure – Struchtúr, stable – seasmhach are a few I started with.

We began the session in the children’s classroom introducing the session with creating a musical pattern or pátrún ceol together. I had brought a ‘sound nest’ a percussion instrument that everyone can play and produce some beautiful sounds from. We used a simple rhythm, based on counting 1,2,3,4 or aon, dó, trí, ceathair. We used clapping and tapping the desks to distinguish the sounds as as we practiced and we substituted the clapping for names and words. Then the words became a task, ‘Ba mhaith limo go roghnódh sibh go leír focal amhain déas/maith/dearfach fút féin.’ /’I would like you to use a positive/nice/good word that describes you’. We explored a variety of words but the children were perhaps not used to finding the words that describe themselves in a positive way. It is something we shall return to.

We moved to the empty classroom our ‘studio space’ and tested out our ability to work as a group, follow instruction, build a large-scale structure and get to know some building terms. I have asked the children to assist me with my Irish. Their teacher Eoghan is on hand to offer any vocabulary when I am stuck and explains more deeply what I have asked the children to do. We had fun, it was surprisingly easier than I thought to communicate through Irish but I was exhausted. The children have requested to do some more construction which we shall do again next week.

I left with a great sense of achievement and with some extra words to add to my Irish vocabulary.

St. Columbanus N.S Loughlinstown

Carmel Murphys 5th/6th Class with Artist Jane Groves.

Session 12….. At the Beach!

We had been lucky enough to choose a beautiful sunny day to explore the materials in our local environment, with the school also fortunate to have a beach only about 15 minutes walk away, using our mindfulness we set off with our partially made clay selfies to interact with the experience of being outside.

Arriving at the beach, it was really beautiful to see the class relax, with huge smiles and lots of laughter. We discussed our proximity to other places near and far and the geology of the beach in the regard to the clay we were using. We set about creating new slip with sea water and utalised materials sourced from the beach to add to our selfies like seaweed, shells and drift wood.

Our intention was to create a sculpture which symbolised the future journey of constant change for the children, the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of nature.recognition of our differences as well as our shared experiences. It was especially poignant for the 6th year students who will be going to a new school next term.

I explained the use of cairns to the children which are used in different places as journey markers.Each pupil created their own cairn on which they placed their ‘selfies´. The cairns we arranged in a semi circle looking out to sea.


Walking back to the classroom I couldn’t help thinking about how much some of the pupils have changed this year,and when we looked over the blog it was interesting to talk about our experiences.

What a fabulous class, well done to all, good luck with all your new creative adventures

Session Ten ‘Testing, Testing 1,2,3 Testing’

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Artist: Helen Barry

Teacher: Bríd McGovern

Class: Junior Infants (4&5yrs)

School: Our Lady Of Mercy School Convent

Session Ten was going to be our final session together. I had really enjoyed working with the children and of course with ‘The One’. I felt that I had learnt so much about teaching practice and how tone and positive language is so important when working with children. I hope to have absorb much of this new learning into my own practice.

For our last session I requested to use the hall. We were going to continue building but using very different materials, very long plumbing piping that demanded a much bigger space than the classroom. I have also been using this piping in my inventions in the studio practice situated in the National Concert Hall. I am designing and building musical installations for early years children (up to 6 years). I wished to show some of these to the children and test out how and what they could build from the same materials I was using.

The plumbing piping is not only safe and light to construct with but it also has wonderful acoustic properties. They resonate really well and conduct sound without distorting it. The pieces I have built are connected to pumps and can produce notes. I brought some of these along too for the children to lay with.

On entering the school hall the children were met with a white construction which was a little like a 2D drawing. The children looked and we tested how the sound worked through talking and listening through the piping. We took a look at how the pipes connected together and what was required to get something to stand up. The instruction tie over each group got the opportunity to build a structure of their own. We went back to working in four small groups again. Whilst one group built the others drew, played with the piping and/or wrote in their diaries.

I was quite impressed with how quickly each group built their structure, each one took a different form. One secure they tested the sound by telling stories through the piping to each other and of course they got to briefly play in it. The session went all too quickly and out time was complete.

The children had with Bríd’s guidance create a beautiful book of their favourite session. It is a wonderful document of the time we spent together. I had almost forgotten some of the things we did. It also seemed that the most popular session was the bridge building. I was also given a gorgeous pink lilies. I shall return to the school to watch the children’s performance of ‘The Ginger Bread Man’ in a couple of weeks. I am really going to miss my weekly session with this class.




Session Nine ‘Being Brave’

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Artist: Helen Barry

Teacher: Bríd McGovern

Class: Junior Infants (4&5yrs)

School: Our Lady Of Mercy School Convent

In our previous session the children really enjoyed leading the design and build of their structures. They had worked in small teams of 5 or 6. Further developing from this we invited the children to construct on a bigger scale in two larger groups. I was a little apprehensive about this as this demands communication and compromise that can often be extremely challenging for 5 and 6 year olds- hence the title for this!

Equipped with our materials we embarked on our constructions. Design would be key but getting an agreed design was definitely a challenge. For the most part the construction happened first that then set the direction for the build and builder as it progressed. Both Bríd and I were fully active and completely hands on participants for the entire session. I think one of the main challenges was communicating an idea to more than 4 or 5 others was almost impossible without intervention from Bríd and I. We each worked with a group.

The builds clearly became very different. One was extremely long and their ambition was to ensure that the entire group could fit it in at one time, a little like being on a train together. The other build centred on providing a structure or environment similar to a house. It had key rooms like the a kitchen, bedroom and a ‘cinema’. This group role-played quite extensively once we were finished the builds. It is very important to give the children the time to play in their constructions before we deconstruct.

If I were to do this again I would use the approach of the previous session, where the groups were smaller which allowed the children more control over the design and build. Using the approach of this session demanded that Bríd and I were too involved in some of the decision-making, taking away from the ownership the children had of their work in Session 8.

After the clean up I secured the colourful