Artist: Helen Barry, School: Muslim N.S. 2nd Class
In the first part of the session we planned to continue the discussion that would further explore ideas of ‘community’, looking specifically at their priorities for building a community. One of the children in the previous session had mentioned ‘generosity’ a word that prompted me to dig further in this direction. The general election is also about to be announced and the children are going to be surrounded by posters of politicians in the coming weeks. The timing of this is particularly good as we question our understanding of what it means to make decisions for and with a community. For the second part of the session we planned to do another construction build but the children became so engaged in the discussion process that we agreed to focus on the planning for our community for this session.
The session opened with what they understood by the word ‘generosity’ in the context of a community. I was aware of the children’s experience of community sharing from my previous work with the group. We worked directly on the floor on one very large sheet of paper. This in itself demanded compromise but also enabled discussion with each other on a one to one basis as they wrote and drew out their ideas and thoughts on our theme. I invited the children to write in Arabic as well as English and Irish. Our very large sheet of paper will serve as our studio wall adding to it and reflecting on it as our ideas progress. I was really impressed at the level of detail in their planning. The discussion covered many areas of what was required in developing a city or community that would provide food and shelter for many. It became very clear that their belief is integral to their thoughts and ideas for their community. The school has a school counsel that made the discussions more relevant. Other areas that drew much debate were ‘water charges’, public transport, exchanging skills and goods instead of money, social housing and support for new people arriving in the city.
How and what will actually happen in terms of the creating of the city or community in 3D will yet have to be realized. This may come from something one child suggests or a number of children say or do or even be informed by my own studio practice. The process was observed my many different people as they passed through the space where we were working. The school’s religious teacher also looked at the content of what we are doing, especially as much of what was presented by the children centred on their faith. I want to ensure that what and how references to their faith are depicted in an appropriate manner. This is also a learning opportunity for me also.