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.