dlr Primary Arts, 3rd Class Carysfort National School  7th Dance Session, 16th March – Abstraction as a Take-Away!

dlr Primary Arts, 3rd Class Carysfort National School 7th Dance Session, 16th March – Abstraction as a Take-Away!

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland
Assistant Artist:  Joan Somers Donnelly

Leaving our choreographies to the side for today, the first part of our session today was classroom-based. Robert asked some questions to start.

What is a collection?
What is a curator?
What does the word abstract mean?

We said that a collection is a group of things that someone has chosen, and that a curator is the person who chooses what goes into a collection. Ms Barry pointed out that a lot of people in this class are curators of pokemon card collections. We talked about what the word abstract can mean – taking something away, or showing part of something (in art) but not as we see it in the world. We can do that in dance as well, abstracting an idea, so that we’re not necessarily telling a story but showing images or movements that represent different ideas.

We had a sneak peek at some of the paintings that we will see in the exhibition in the Lexicon library gallery in Dun Laoghaire in May, and talked about what things from the natural world were represented in them, in what way those features were abstracted, and what the artist might have been trying to say through that representation. One was this painting, by Elizabeth Magill, “Roches and Rooks” which features a flock of birds. We talked about why birds fly in a group (for protection), and said that when geese fly in a V they take turns to lead the flock so that no one bird gets too tired.

We tried to come up with words that related to movement, specifically the flying movements of birds:


For the next part of the session we got on our feet, and after a short warm-up we divided into two groups and practised ‘flocking.’ To flock, everyone in the group had to be close to one another, without touching, and the person at the front led the group in the direction they were all facing. Once the group found itself turning, for example when it was approaching a wall, the person who happened to be at the front, now that everyone was facing a different direction, became the new leader. It took some getting used to, but being attentive enough to be able to change direction and leader as a group, communicating with the body rather than through discussion, made for a more fluid and efficient movement through the room, which was also beautiful to watch.

We finished the session by playing a game called Signatures. Standing in a circle, with music playing, one person did a short dance move. The person beside them then took something from that move, for example the shape or the body part used or the quality of the movement, and created their own move. Then the next person took something from that second move and created their own, third move, and so on all the way around the circle. We did this a few times, so that the group could practise allowing themselves to be influenced by the move that came before as well as adding something original or new. It was lovely to see a ripple of evolving movement go around the circle, a common thread influenced by different movement ‘signatures’ of individuals in the group.

Joan Somers Donnelly

Ballinteer ETNS – Session 6 – Artist: Tunde Toth

13 February 2017

Assistant Arts Practitioner: Kim Jenkinson


Following on from previous conversations and sketches/mind maps in the diary we continued with a fun process of Blind Drawing: children were asked to try to draw each other (connecting to ideas of portraiture) while not looking what they are drawing – we placed a sheet of strong paper over the pencils to create `blind drawings`. As it often happens, some children have been a bit slower to `let it go`, draw without control and `perfection`. Others just had fun straight away, having a good laugh at the outcomes… The important experience of no right or wrong and the acceptance of whatever the outcome combined with the understanding of the senses – and what happens when one of the senses is restricted…


Thanks again to Criona Murray the class teacher: there is another beautiful display awaits everyone in the class room and the spacious corridor area leading to the class room!! She did find the time to select and mount(!) prints by each child for a striking display that truly shows the quality of the work done by the children!


Ballinteer ETNS – Session 5 – Artist: Tunde Toth

6 February 2017

Assistant Arts Practitioner: Kim Jenkinson

PRINT MAKING Session: very very busy, exciting, surprising, fantastic fun, `smudgey` and soooo messy!! – just a few opinions of the day.

We organized a longer session to accommodate this process as it needs a considerable amount of time for set up, demonstration/explaining and clean up. I also wanted to make sure that we have sufficient time to create a number of prints with different colours, different papers etc and allow for a bit of an experimentation and plenty of fun along the way.

We included two print making processes:

  • Collagraph printing (using our previously made plates; relief print combined by intaglio mark making)
  • Stencil printing: using the inked acetate plates with pre-cut paper shapes as stencils

Ballinteer ETNS – Session 4 – Artist: Tunde Toth

30 January 2017

Assistant Artist: Kim Jenkinson

Our fourth session in the school was a bit more structured and focused than the previous ones – this was necessary for this part of the process: finishing the collagraph plates, checking every piece while completing the shapes/drawings and filling remaining spaces.

This was followed my mark making: adding extra texture, decorative markings to the soft foamy shapes with pencils. This will create additional detail in the final prints…

The plates are completed beautifully with plenty of patience from such young artists!!! Ready for a PRINTING SESSION!

Ballinteer ETNS – Session 3 – Artist: Tunde Toth

23 January 2017

Assistant Arts Practitioner: Kim Jenkinson

Our third session started with a little more `looking back`and further discussing shapes. This was a great introduction to the process of developing collagraph plates for our printing sessions: children made simple drawings (that incorporated basic shapes) on mounting board cards. The large shapes/drawings were then filled with little shapes  of pre-cut soft foam in a mosaic style: the small pieces needed to be firmly glued onto the board with little gaps in between and without any overlapping… many instructions to keep in mind! There was also a bit of a difficulty with having to cover the lines of the drawing here and there but everyone had a great start and the colourful images started to emerge by the end of the class!


I would like to include here a few photographs of the impressive class room displays of the previous drawings (already “exhibited”!!) and some of the detailed and very impressive drawings in the project diaries.




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 !