Planet Art

Rounding up our project we decided to make our own online video as if we were making a pilot tv episode called ‘Planet Art’ a title that the children decided. We felt its a good record of our work together.

The children are continuing making the outdoor sculpture and will install it before the school year ends. We are going to check in again online again so I can see the finished artwork.

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Installation art, play and insects

Having looked at the Playground project that Im involved in at VISUAL Carlow, I wanted to do a project with the children connecting to this, installation art and their new school thematic          ‘Mini Beasts’. So we went about designing an interactive installation for insects. We looked at land art and modernist play grounds for inspiration and I showed the children maquettes of sculptures that I had made.


Using self drying clay that would be a durable materials for outdoors we made miniature forms and spaces that insects could play. It was decided that all of the pieces would then be placed outdoors inside a tractor tyre for protection.




At the end of the class we started talking about 

Sitting in my studio making my own set of play spaces for insects out of clay with the camera facing onto my hands, we commented on how like an art tv program this was. I does feel like a TV program as Im beamed into their classroom but the difference is we can see ourselves and each other at the same time as well. So we started considering playing with this idea and making an episode of our own Art tv program. Here are some names the children came up with.

Next week we will visit an exhibition that Im in 20 minutes away from St Colmans. So we are taking the opportunity to do a day trip and meet at Millennium Court Art Space. Its very exciting.

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Art and interactive environments

The weekly ‘studio checkin ‘ is a two way thing now. Each week the children report on how their sculpture is coming along. They are working on it whenever they have some time to give it during the week. The whole community is collecting bottle tops and Miss Byrne has become really fast at drilling them ! It is becoming an ambitious project in its scale and I love that the children are investing in the process and are imagining it in place by the time they finish school this year.

This week I had just installed an installation in the exhibition ‘ The Playground Project’ so I wanted to connect this into our session and also lead it into our new school topic ‘Mini beasts’ which Im linking into.

So we looked at larger scale installation art, interactive environments.

we looked at colorful Crochet Playgrounds by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam




We started looking at the classroom as a site for building a large scale interactive installation. What if we split the classroom space two and create a whole environment above our heads that we could clamber into !?

looking at drawings by the artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam for inspiration the children went about designing and drawing plans for their own installations.

The children has some amazing ideas, I really wish we could build them !


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Installation Art

Back in the studio now we had a weekly ‘studio checkin ‘ and I was showing the children the progress of my steel sculpture for Maynooth University. I was discussing the challenges I was having with the engineering. This work is ongoing and each week the children see images of the work in production along side other projects Im working on. They always have really interesting questions and sometimes suggestions.

Having deciding on making their own Sculptural installation I showed the children some more art installations, focusing on materials used, colour and the process and decision making of the artists. We watched some videos of the artists talking about their work, the children really like watching videos and we discuss observations afterwards.  The children went back to working on their own sculpture and had realised they wanted to make changes maybe after seeing others artworks.

We looked at Yayoi Kusama , Anish Kapoor, Jim Lambie,

Ishi’s Light 2003 Anish Kapoor born 1954 Presented by Tate International Council 2005

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Installation art and recycled materials

Back in Ireland now and at the start of a new year, I decided to visit the children. The children had been collecting waste packaging for a few months now and I decided it would be a good time to go and have a look at how we could use it to make our own Art installation. Armed with tools and different fixings and ties I made a surprise visit. The children were so excited and welcoming. I find it really helpful to meet the children in person and when we meet we talk about the difference between being in the room and on screen. Its often difficult to hear the one to conversations we have on screen so one to one in person definitely benefits building our relationships.  The children seem to have divided opinions about which they prefer but overall the insight onto the studio and my travels is really curious to them. I often think about how much of an impact this would have had on me at their age especially as I had always known I wanted to be an artist.

We talked about the collected materials and how this could be a starting point to think about what we would like to make. We had decided we wanted to make an installation, a sculpture that we could put outside and experience. We wanted to make something that would last a long time , a permanent installation and that we could put outside and that the whole school could experience.

So we sorted through what we had and lots of ideas came to mind. We group similar shapes together and colours together and held them up to the light to see how they behaved and changed in different light. We tried to take labels off and look at the form the objects took.

sorting bottle tops


Through a few experiments of ways to join materials together we decided that a large circular hanging sculpture made from a curtain of bottle tops would be the artwork that we would make. We discussed ways of making it and hanging it and how we would need a lot more bottle tops. Everyone was going to ask friends and family to collect bottle tops, this way lots of people would be involved. We talked about how we could launch the artwork later when complete. This idea was going to take patience and precision to make and was going to take a few months and we were excited about this process.


working drawings of the sculpture

hanging the sculpture to test to out

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Installation Art

I was visiting in Los Angeles where I had an exhibition and was on an artist residency so at 3.30 am from a distance I connected in with the class in St Colmans. The children were so excited about the novelty of this and had many interesting questions to ask me about Los Angeles and what it was like, what people ate, what fuel they used etc the questions were relating to their school theme ‘What a Waste’. I had researched artists from LA who worked with recycled materials and I showed the children some images of artworks that I had seen in galleries and museums there. We focused on installation art and talked about the experience of each art work.
I try to relate the sessions to what Im up to or thinking about at the time, so we also talked about artists residencies and embodied knowledge which was the conference and exhibition I was part of there. I think the ‘studio check’ is really useful for me and the questions from the children are always interesting and leads to what they are interested in exploring further.



At Lacma (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
An artwork made from bottle tops at the Broad museum los Angeles 
At the Broad museum LA
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Day two – Useless

Useless objects. Form and function

We started by doing our ‘Studio Checkin’ where I showed the class images of a sculpture I am currently working on for Maynooth University. There were lots of great questions about the materials and process of making.

Drawing on some of the ideas behind the sculpture I asked the class to draw what they thought was happening in their brains when they were learning something new. The children came up to the ‘portal’ to show me some of their beautiful drawings and ideas about what they imagined to be happening.

Usefulness and Uselessness. 

Continuing from last week we looked a few funny useful inventions one of my favourites being the butter stick .


We then talked about how objects could be useless and what happens when we take away an objects use.  What kind of forms were left and what volumes of materials did they become. The idea is start thinking about the value of objects and materials and how they can become waste.

We looked at examples of objects made useless and thought of objects in the room that we could remove their use. There was lots of laughter and fun and a burst of ideas.



Making objects useless. 

Again using our Argos catalogue and putting pictures from it into our ‘Brain Box’ each of the class took out three images and made them useless. Making drawings of the object and writing about the materials they were made of .

This then triggered ideas for what else they could become, which leads us to next weeks sessions which is about re-use. The children are collecting packaging at home to bring and we will be using this as material to get to know more about and work with.


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first day ‘virtually there’

After a few technical difficulties getting connected, playing around, uploading and writing on the white board to each other we got started.


One of the great things about this project is how the class get to see inside an artists studio and what they get up to and so each week at the start of each class we do a ‘a studio check in’ where I show the class what I’ve been working on each week. This is really helpful for me to. This being our first day we did a walk about the studio. I really want to get to know the children and their names something I realise might take me a while. So each of the children wrote their names on a piece of paper and came up to stand on the ‘Portal ‘ and also tell me something about themselves. I took a screen grab photo so I would have a record of each student to help get to know their names.


Useful objects

Because our chosen thematic for our first project is ‘What a waste’ I decided to start our project by thinking about the objects and materials that surround us everyday and consider how they got to be in the world. We looked at tools and useful objects that we use each day and talked about their evolution. The hammer and hairbrush were discussed in great detail. We talked about creativity, innovation and inventiveness.


Innovative innovators innovating 

We then did an exercise where the class became creative inventors. We cut out images from an Argos catalogue and put into the ‘Brain Box’ . Each small group then picked two images and went about coming up with a new invention based on combining the images. The idea was to then present it to the rest of the class, showing  a poster for their new product idea much like a Dragons den episode. The class can then ask questions. Some really great ideas came about and the children were really excited about the task. All the ideas and drawings went into their project notebooks. Miss Byrne continued on with this after our session so I didn’t get to see the presentations but heard some amazing ideas.

The idea was to start noticing how things were made, what they were made of , how they were thought of , how they were useful or not in the world and could be continuously re-thought and re-invented.




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Visiting St Colmans

I drove up from Dublin to visit St Colman’s school to meet with Helena and the class who were so welcoming and friendly.  They had a lovely comfy chair waiting for me and the class sat on the carpeted floor around me on cushions. There was such a warm and calm atmosphere in the class and the rest of the school.We sat and chatted for quite a while. There were so many great curious questions about what was it like to be an artist and what kind of art and materials I liked best and what art and mediums they liked too. It was clear that there was lots of creativity in the class and many of the children have relations that are makers and artists, mostly younger than me we discovered when they established my age.  We looked at my website and the children picked the projects they wanted to hear more about. We took a group photo together to mark the occasion before I left. I think it really helped meeting the children  in person and experiencing their environment, I guess it felt friendlier, more human and open than just appearing larger than life on a screen.It was strange to think next time we would meet I would be far away still unsure about how this would actually work out. I brought up two coloured carpets that I had made as ‘portals’ to put infront of the white board screen where I would appear over the coming weeks. The coloured ‘portals’ are to stand on when talking to me on the screen. I liked the idea that in a way we could be physically meeting in virtual space and by calling them portals they were points where we could be transported to that meeting space.  Myself and Helena then spent some time planning for the coming weeks and talked about working within the thematics of the school topics for 2016/17, ‘What a waste’ and ‘mini Beasts’ as starting points for our project.  I was really impressed by how thoroughly the subjects were being explored through all subjects, there were some really great ideas already. Talking through what we could do we left the day excited about the potential of our project together.


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