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Pupils build global village

Cousins Breda and Debbie McDonagh at the launch of the Educate Together school’s Global Village project exhibition as part of their artist-in-residence David O’Rourke’s project at Cois na hAbhna. Photograph by John KellyOur Global Village was the theme of an exhibition staged by pupils of Ennis Educate Together in at Cois na hAbhna last week. The exhibition of dwellings, shops and other structures was prepared with the help of the school’s artist in residence, David O’Rourke.

The exhibition was formally opened by Siobhán Mulcahy, county arts officer at Clare County Council, who described the project as a very worthy one and joked that the town planners would do well to take note. She went on to say that the school contains not only budding artists but budding architects of the future as well.
This project started out initially with the artist’s idea of doing something like a Lilliputian village based on Gulliver’s Travels. This evolved into Our Global Village due to the cultural diversity contained within the school. At Ennis Educate Together National School the ethos is multi-denominational and in this atmosphere the moral, intellectual, social and physical growth of the pupils is nurtured.
Principal Sean Ó Confhaola said, “At Ennis Educate Together National School we pride ourselves on our open, family orientated approach to the education of our children. We are also very proud to be part of the new multi-cultural Ireland, where children of all traditions that attend the school are catered for.”
Parental involvement is an essential part of the ethos of the school, where there is a very strong parent-teacher association; this led to the smooth running of the event on the day. Clare hurler Gerry Quinn turned up as a surprise guest on the day to show his support, much to everyone’s delight.
David O’Rourke studied at Stillorgan College of Further Education, where he received a diploma in Art and Design. David then went on to do a Bachelor of Arts in Sculpture at The National College of Art and Design in Dublin, graduating in 2000. He is a prolific artist whose work is held in high esteem.
“The children’s input was central to the project. They collected recyclable material comprising of cardboard boxes in all different shapes and sizes. They then each came up with an idea as to what type of building they would like to construct. These ideas varied from hotels, shopping centres, army barracks and helicopter landing pads, to name but a few. These were glued together in the children’s own unique design and all painted in a base colour (white),” he said.
“Finally, the children chose colours for the buildings with the artist’s input. The older classes chose either cool colours or warm colours and were encouraged to keep within the spectrum. This helped to teach the children about the colour processes in art and which colours work well together. Others chose to mix the two, which as the artist said, “looks very expressive and reflects the personalities of the children”.
The styles were also reflected in the children’s ages and the level of detail, styles, designs and colours changed greatly from one class to the next. For example, some just set about their task while others carefully drew up their ideas before attempting the building process. The artist speaks of the project as being “a happening”. “It is an installation that is a cross between architecture and sculpture but has a level of performance and theatre about it due to the evolutionary course the project took following the children’s influence,” said David.
The exhibition itself was another central part of the project. “This project is unique in the fact that the children of Ennis Educate Together hosted an event that is showcasing their own work. This is normally a solely adult experience.
“I wanted to show them what they are capable of and what is possible, thus encouraging them for the future,” he added.
This is David’s first time using sculpture on a large scale and he is very pleased with the outcome.

 

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