dlr Primary Arts Rathmichael N.S with visual Artist Jane Groves.

8.3.17 Session 9,  ‘We’re all going to the beach’..

As I drove to the school I thought that we’d definitely need our raincoats for our trip to the beach this morning but as we left the classroom all wrapped up and ready, what a delight! the brooding clouds had disappeared revealing a brilliant blue sky and a warm sun to shine upon our adventure! whats more Miss Mccoy, the ever fantastic Steff, the children and I were joined by Sams mum Jana, who happens to teach mindfulness meditation amongst other things! ( many thanks Jana)

Before setting off I had asked the children to bring along their visual diaries to create not only a record of the beach itself but ,maps of the journey, some noted smells, others sounds, some looked at different emotions, colours or signs of spring.

Theres something about a beach that breaths an extra burst of energy into children, the excitement was palpable, so for a bit of grounding we started with a mindfulness exercise led by Jana

After getting a sense of our bearings, from Dublin to Wicklow, looking out to Dalkey island and talking about the people who may have lived there and the marks left behind, I invited the class to create their own mark on the on the beach, looking for treasure around them and collaborating in the creation of a sculpture. The exciting thing about this is that out of the classroom setting  is that the children are not only free fabricate things in a different way but are learning in a experiential  way, asking questions like, ‘ what is this rock made from?’ If you dig down will you find water?’ ‘does the sea break things down?” How do tides work?’ etc


As if I had panned it ( I hadn’t! ) some of the children found a deposit of clay soil on the beach,  we were able to see where clay comes from. I had bought some refined clay with me and invited the children to create some sea creatures with it, together with any stones or shells they could find.

we gathered together again and after talking about the sea changing from land to water ( discussing the petrified forest off this coast) Jana finalised with a little mindfulness meditation before we headed home. taking a lot of inspiration with us! 

l love making art and learning outside its sometimes where the best things happen!


dlr Primary Arts. Rathmichael N.S 2nd Class with visual Artist Jane Groves

1.3.17 session 8… Making shapes.

Today we had a chat about the shapes of our environment, talking about, curves and corners, squares, circles, straight and organic lines.We chatted about the shapes of local buildings, of the mountains, clouds, the shapes of the sea of the rivers and of nearby trees.

I then invited the children to create some sculptures with their bodies using the discussion as a starting point, we had great fun describing landmarks and parts of the environment as mimes,The children worked both alone and together to create visual stories.One of the nicest moments was when a large number of children spontaneously joined hands to describe the sea creating a giant undulating flowing wave of 2nd class artists.

After this lovely playfulness we separated into 3 groups again to experiment in making different types of shapes with some materials they hadn’t worked with before.

Table 1…. This table was working together to experiment in making circles and orbs using willow and tape.I wanted to encourage the children to work in 3D and showed them  how best to manipulate the materials, the children soon found it was best to work with someone else.


Table 2.. This Table were asked to create pyramids and shapes with straight lines and were also encouraged to think in 3D

The children talked about different types of triangles, equilateral, right angle etc.We went on to attach our pyramids and angular shapes together to create a landscape.

Table 3 … Children on table 3 were given small sticks of rattan and balls of clay, Steff worked with them to experiment with creating different shapes.

We had so much fun!! phew! after a review of what we had learnt it was time for the big tidy up!

dlr Primary Arts. Rathmichael NS 2nd class with visual Artist Jane Groves.

15.2.17 ….Its all about the process!

Today we took a moment to reflect on the idea of ‘process’ and the way that our project is a journey! The children discussed different ways of documenting what we have been discovering and creating (including this blog).We had a conversation about our starting point ‘ A sense of Place’ what makes a place unique? what makes us feel attached to our environment? as well as its geography we talked about the way it makes us feel, its history and its marks.We also recapped on some of the types of printing methodology we have been using.

I was also very excited today as I wanted to introduce the small printing press that I have borrowed from DLR, and which we will be using more later.

We separated the class into three with the idea of facilitating some exploring.

Table 1…was looking at language, using words and poems to express their perception of place. Each child was asked to draw around their hand and to create the words inside.


Table 2..was looking at some real maps,I had bought in a selection of maps which depicted Shankhill and its place in Ireland and the larger world, The children made drawings of topographical lines, counties, roads, coastal lines etc


Table 3… Was looking at mark making using the portable printing press using a technique called dry point etching,Using small pieces of acetate, the children used sections of maps or local natural materials as inspiration to create marks and texture, scratching out their designs with a scribe, The acetate was then carefully inked and polished ( so that the ink only remains in the scratched marks) and rolled through the press.

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…. All best plans!! just when we were really getting into our creative stride, The fire alarm went off !! yikes! 

The children left the classroom to line up in the yard, what a pity  there was no more time before lunch as we were really enjoying this,better to be safe than sorry though and its all part of the process, our journey will continue !



dlr Primary Arts, Rathmichael NS 2nd class with visual artist Jane Groves

8. 2. 17.   Session 5 …. Making more Marks….

Today we were joined again by Steff Gallagher,one of the assisting artists, it allowed us to separate the classroom into 3 work stations which explored different types of print and mark making, I wanted everyone to feel engaged and exploitative. I had found 2 bird skulls in the area and bought them to join our collection of natural materials found locally to use as source material.

Table one… was set out as place to sketch and explore the marks the children could use to create images,I provided different papers and mark making materials, charcoal, chalk, pencil and pastel but had limited them to being mainly monochrome.




Table 2…Here we explored how to create simple mono prints, this is where an image is drawn directly onto paper over an inked glass plate and then peeled away to reveal the image on its reverse. The children made some beautiful work in response to the collected objects




Table 3…… we continued with our foam board prints which we had started last week….

The children worked for about half an hour at each table, and kept their attention well, It was a dynamic day, and as each group changed tables we took time to ground ourselves in the moment. When our time was up, we could hardly believe the amount of amazing work produced, 2 drying racks full!! sometimes its like that as an artist, and as much as the process is the most important part, we couldn’t help feeling very excited by our results today.



dlr Primary Arts, RathMichael 2nd class with Artist Jane Groves

1.2.17.  Session 4 , Environmental Prints…..

….‘we’re the official warm welcoming committee`the kids all cheered as I arrived back at the school today, crowding around with huge smiles, thanks children for always making me feel so welcome, its been a long break and we can’t wait to get started again.

Following on from our ideas surrounding the discussion about a sense of place, I had bought some natural objects in found locally, shells and beach stones, pheasant feathers, birds nests, dried seed heads, woodland foliage, also some images of insects and plants, I invited the children to make some drawings from what they saw. We talked about mark making, using expressive mark, dots, line, crosshatching etc to create texture and form


I  demonstrated how to start creating prints by making indentations onto foam board, encouraging the children to use the right pressure.After rolling an image with water based printing inks, Mathew used a dry roller to apply pressure and then birthday boy Albert pealed away the foam to reveal the print



We created a ´wet table’ The children worked on their tables and then came up to ink up their work







Cant wait to continue more experiments next week.

DLR Primary Arts. Rathmichael N.S 2nd class with Artist Jane Groves.

7/12/16  Session 3… Listen.

Arriving in class today,We took a little time to discuss our map making session last week, reflecting on how accurate it was. The class have arranged a castle made with Ms McCoy on the surface of the giant map, I love the way the ‘sense of place’ discussion is fusing into the wider classroom curriculum.

With the high energy associated with the end of term, I decided to take a reflective and relaxed approach today and to expand on the theme of music.

Firstly I talked about mark making and how different marks could reflect different emotions or sensations.

I had chosen several pieces of music which I felt might subtly reflect the local environment and climate, choosing a piece about the mountains, rivers, a piece by local musicians ‘Kila’ from’Song of the sea’, pieces from ‘vivaldis’  winter season and recordings from ‘A Sound map of Dunlaoghaire ‘project

The children were invited firstly to do a small mindfulness exercise following their breath and then told to close their eyes while they made marks in response to the music. Much to the delight of the children we created several ‘sound drawings’ and then with eyes open had a longer time to create an abstract piece in paint.

We talked about the different instruments and the marks we made to respond to them.The children were remarkably sensitive, while listening to the the winter part of the four seasons, one boy said ‘It makes me feel very sad and reminds me of when my granny died’ or in response to the mountains,’my marks are dancing, they’re running faster and faster climbing higher and higher’


We finished off making some sketch books, ready for more shenanigans next term. Many thanks to Steff for washing out all those pallets! Have a great Christmas holiday everyone!

DLR Primary Arts. Rathmichael National school 2nd class with Artist Jane Groves

30/11/16. session 2.  Being Here…..

Arriving at School this morning I found the children playing outside on a blissfully mild, sunny and beautiful Autumns day ,so instead of heading straight into the classroom, I decided to investigate the school space outside. I had intended to explore the children’s sense of place from the perspective of their school and its location but also wanted them to open up their senses and take a valuable moment to be present.

We made a circle outside and talked about where we were, which direction are the mountains? the sea? the motorway ?  I wanted to encourage a sense of the children knowing where they are and how it makes them feel.

We traced our way round the outside wall of the school to the garden I wanted them to look at the shape of the school and to open their senses. Once we were beside the garden I asked the children to take a moment to close their eyes and to listen to the sounds they could hear and from where they were coming from, I encouraged them to start with listening to their own breathing and then to move outwards so they could make sound map’s  of everything they could hear around them.


After absorbing more sounds and looking for different colours we headed back to the classroom to draw some more maps


I asked the children to describe in pictures their journey to school, noting the things they often saw ,smelt or heard .

….then invited them to describe their environment to me in the form of a giant map, I wanted to understand the childrens perception of place, something which we could discuss later, we also used scissors and extra paper to reposition things.

What a great responsive class! can’t wait to see them again! Thanks for having me 2nd class.