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

Rathfarnham ETNS 2nd class – Artist: Tunde Toth, Teacher: Patricia McManus EXHIBITION at the school

The final exhibition took place on the 13th of March, just after the school hours. Patricia, the class teacher organized the whole event with invitations sent to parents and school community, which resulted in a great turn up! She also rearranged the class room to make as much space as possible for exhibits, visitors and the artists – who were prepared to talk about their works, making processes and experiences. I contributed to the installation of the show but the children were actively involved throughout the set up and Patricia made sure they created a very impressive installation! I stayed in the background, observing, listening to the little conversations detailing process and making and took photographs!

Rathfarnham ETNS 2nd class – Artist: Tunde Toth, Teacher: Patricia McManus, Session 10

Our 10th and final session before the children`s exhibition took place in the school on the 26th of February. As we were approaching the end of the residency, I wanted to make sure that we spend some time to revisit and reflect on the project, trying to recall all that happened during the last few months.

After recalling and discussing creative processes, we focused on unfinished works that were waiting in the children`s folders: paper cuttings and dyed papers which gave a great opportunity to revisit techniques of paper folding, pattern drawing and cutting.

We also gave a little more attention to the long wall paper collage piece that the children started at the Project Room of the Lexicon the week before, responding to the exhibition they visited. Taking the collaborative process yet a step further, we assigned the children to a spot by the collage (randomly) and they were asked to add drawings to the piece in a way that they create / recreate / join / re-join images that are already there. I felt that, this time, the process is more fun and less disruptive for the children, somehow they got the idea that they can work on or contribute to other`s works in a positive way. This time nobody was upset about his or her collage being altered by others!

The collection of the paper works in the folders have been tidied up and we talked about the possibility of an exhibition in the class room. This is the first time we mentioned it – and everyone got pretty excited about it! Patricia discussed it with the school and the date of the 13th of March was set for the exhibition.


Rathfarnham ETNS 2nd class – Artist: Tunde Toth, Teacher: Patricia McManus Session 9

On the 20th of February we had a gallery visit (always a highlight of a school based art project!): we went to see “Double Vision” – an exhibition by sisters Diana and Shirley Copperwhite at the Municipial Gallery in DRL Lexicon.  It was a great and very busy outing, the children had fun visiting the Lexicon and were interested and responsive in the gallery space. We walked through the exhibition and looked at patterns, shapes, layers, textures, materials – and tried to find more and more shapes wherever we could!

We had the Project Room set up for a workshop for the class where they participated in a collaborative making process again: creating collages on a long sheet of wall paper using randomly cut shapes of coloured paper. There was one rule: every little piece of paper had to be used, no cut-offs were to left over.


Rathfarnham ETNS 2nd class – Artist: Tunde Toth; Teacher: Patricia McManus Sessions 7 and 8

I decided to combine these two sessions here because this collaborative process took two days to complete

Our 7th session took place over nearly three hours on the 6th of February.

Following a number of previous discussions with Patricia, we decided to introduce collaborative working processes encouraging the children to try to work together and not only alongside each other. The process included the planning of images and collaborative decision making on large scale drawings. The class was divided for 8 groups, so we had 3 or 4 children in each group only, making it all a little easier perhaps. The large scale drawing responded to the theme of  “light in nature”, linking the work to the original broad theme of “light”.

The process proved to be difficult and challenging for many children in the class, they had to spend time to understand that making a picture together, collaboratively doesn`t mean that they work alone using a separate section of the large drawing paper. Once finished, each picture was presented to the class by one member of the group and discussed by the other children.

We didn`t mark group numbers or names on the drawings as we wanted to take this process further to explore ownership and authorship of collaborative works. The pictures were collected and given to a different group to draw large, simple shapes on the back of the paper. These shapes were then cut out without considering or checking the drawing on the other side. Some children felt that this was clearly destroying their previous work and they found it difficult to accept that their ownership of the work is so profoundly questioned. I was hoping to hold onto the fun elements of the process, trying to focus on funny and unexpected outcomes and make sure that it is a good experience for all involved. We regularly discussed what we are doing and frequently reflected on the possible answers that came up when we asked “Who made this picture?”, “Who created this funny image cut in half?” etc.

The 8th session on the 13th of February continued this process by taking the cut-up pieces and reassembling them into a random narrative, using simple story making / story telling in a way you would use the Story Cubes. The groups were rearranged for this again, so each piece of drawing has been now handled and changed by a number of hands along the way. This story making proved also difficult for many children in the class as they had to agree on a story line as much as possible and they were now working in larger groups.

It will be interesting to hear feedback from Patricia now, a couple of months later, to see if this creative process has benefited group dynamics, group work, connections in the class.

Rathfarnham ETNS Project – artist in residence Tunde Toth – SESSION 6

Our 6th session took place on the 23rd of January in the school.

We introduced another another process connected to Batik: using hot wax from burning tea-lights to create images and patterns on paper. There was some silence in the class room!

We set up a space for each child with the burning tea-light, a small paint brush and paper and started a slow drawing process with the melted wax. As the paintbrush and the wax has cooled down relatively quickly, everyone needed all their patience to create their pictures.

The pieces were then painted all over with fabric dyes. A separate, un-waxed sheet of paper was also painted in a pattern or design, decided or chosen by the children.

St. Mary’s, Sandyford – Fourth Class – Session 12 – Friday 11th May 2018 Teacher: Áine O’Connell Artist: Michelle Read – Playwriting

This was our last session and a chance for the children to perform some of their scenes for two of the other classes.

The children spent the first part of the session fixing and finishing their set boxes and then picking partners and rehearsing their scenes. It was like being in multiple rehearsal rooms all at the same time – wonderfully chaotic, but with a very special urgency and intention behind the noise and bustle. It was wonderful to see the children so engrossed as I moved around the room from one story to the next .




Miss O’Connell adds (very kindly)… Our last drama session was very special, it was a culmination of all our hard work, the children got a chance to perform for other classes and the teachers commented on how impressed they were with the project. I was very proud of them and truly grateful to have had Michelle working in my class, I learned so much from her throughout the programme.

I would like to add how much I enjoyed working with, and learning from 4th class. They were a pleasure to meet every Friday and they seemed to really engage with the idea of writing plays and making stories that happen live in front of you. We had a lot of discussion of why live theatre is different from digital and recorded forms and about the impact of being in the same space with the actors and the set and the costumes and lights and sound… Live connections are of course fundamental to human life and it’s exciting to see children connecting with and understanding the power of liveness!

My thanks also to Fergal the head, and Carol the school secretary who extended such a warm welcome to me, and all the teachers at St. Mary’s who happily accepted me into the staff room at break time! But most of all to Miss O’Connell who made it all work and was so interested and supportive.

Here are some of the performances caught in pictures…

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Session Eight ‘Construction on a grand scale.’

Artist: Helen Barry

Teacher: Bríd McGovern

Class: Junior Infants (4&5yrs)

School: Our Lady Of Mercy School Convent

In our previous session we had concentrated on construction, building bridges on a smallish scale and teamwork. Each team consisted of 3 children. Some found this worked well and others found it more challenging. The children are really enjoying the designing and building in 3D hence we are going to focus on this until the end of our time together.

In Session Eight we divided the children into 4 groups keeping the children in their table colours. The children were familiar with the materials of foam piping, cardboard tubes and Velcro straps. They also had a good understanding of the building possibilities of the materials. In our previous sessions the children explored stability and structure so we were off to a good start. We also gave the children the option to turn the tables and chairs upside down. What was very different this time when using these materials was the this would be completely child led. In previous session I invited the children to follow a specific pattern in order to build a specific design, this time the children would do the design and then build.

In some groups the design came first and for other the building offered the potential for the design. I was pleased with how well the children worked in their small teams. Both Bríd and I worked hands on with each of the groups. As each group worked their designs and builds all took their own shape. Some builds focused on high arches, another a long piece and another a low series of sections. As they build the children were eager to play in what they were creating. The children worked fast and their structures stable.

When they had completed their builds I asked the children to draw what they had created. I really enjoyed watching this, on the pages the most beautiful designs for playgrounds appeared. During the break I put transparent fabric over each of the builds. And afterwards the children finished the drawings, ate a snack and got to play in their structures.

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Naturally the deconstruction was as energetic as the build itself.


dlr Primary Arts, 6th Class Kill Of the Grange National School Ms. Breen’s and Students 2nd Post May 2018

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland,  Teacher: Elizabeth Breen

I asked Ms. Breen to ask the students for their reflections/feedback now,  several weeks on from having finished the dance project.

Here is some of the class feedback:

It’s been quite some time since we had the dance workshop, but I still remember each one of the dances.  I really enjoyed doing the dance workshop, every Monday and Thursday we would go down to the hall and we would start dancing. Whenever I was dancing I didn’t think about anything else. I thought the dance workshop worked really well and it always made me happy. I really enjoyed it.

When it came to the performance I felt like we were all amazing, we all danced like no one was watching.

Just before Easter we finished a dance workshop. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t really like dance before because it made me feel awkward. Now at the end I can say that I am more comfortable with dance. At the end we did a performance for 3 classes and I felt really proud. The dance classes are something I will remember about 6th class.

Dance overall was very enjoyable, I feel that it boosted my confidence a lot. The show at the end was very good. We all did very well. Myself, Hayleigh, Zoe and Anna performed it for our hip hop teacher (Robert’s Friend). I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

Dance overall was a very enjoyable experience. We learnt loads of parts of it. From how to leap with the beat to choreographing our own dances. We danced to lots of songs and did a performance at the end for lots of classes.

Dancing was really enjoyable; Robert did really well explaining the science behind muscle memory and remembering all of the dances. He knew all of the dance trends.

My favourite part of dance was when we split into groups and made our own dances. I think    we all enjoyed it and worked hard as a team.

Our 6 weeks of dance were probably my favourite weeks of my entire school year so far. We   got very creative and without moves and I feel very proud of myself and  everyone else.

I really enjoyed the dance sessions. From the moment we started to the moment we finished I have learnt so much about dance and all of the different routines.

The songs we danced to were catchy and the dances themselves were memorable.

Robert was a very good teacher, great at explaining different styles of dancing, very patient and overall a nice guy.