How our virtual communication works

IMG_0373Here is how our virtual experience works. I talked about ipad on tour in a previous post. The ipad is passed from table to table. I can talk to the children on a one to one basis. They can choose to take me on tour and show what the class are doing or just have a chat about their own work. Meadhbh next week will show the class how to use the camera so they can have some input in the images taken.

It is very direct and intimate.

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Talking to a video and not getting answers

Bernie asked me last week where I worked and what does it look like. The internet connection is very slow in the studio space so I made a video tour of the studio and of the work I am making. See link above. Mark was working on a maquette for a large scale public art commission so he had a chat with the children from the kingdom. While the video was playing questions were asked but they were not getting answers. So we had to explain the difference between video and virtual. You don’t get answers from a video. I have promised that Mark will visit them virtually!

Google hang out is working really well on lots of different levels. By joining Google plus it has several apps that allow us share video, whiteboards, and screen capture. It is great to be independent in our means of virtual communication. The moving camera allows intimate connection with the participants on a one to one basis.

In the studio we are working on a sculptural installation for a school in Athy so on the floor in the studio was a flock of welded and fabricated steel. We talked about welding, warm and cold colours and then talked about the birds we see in the school yard.


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Grace and Ozdd on passport control

Lesotho It is officially a Kingdom. It is a landlocked country and enclave completely surrounded by its only neighbouring country the Republic of South Africa. We stayed in a border town and every day as we travelled into Lesotho we had to go through border control and have our passports stamped. In order to travel into the Kingdom of Tallaght each of senior infants has been issued a passport which has to be stamped in order to begin our weekly virtual journey.

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Today on passport control we have Grace and Ozdd. They dressed up in border police costume. They examined the picture in the passport very carefully and checked eye colour and asked questions. We made thumb prints in our passport and we entered the kingdom! Grace and O Z were great border police.

I showed some images of the hats worn in Lesotho. We talked about why they wore the hats. We decided that it kept the sun from burning their heads and kept the sun away from their eyes while they were working.

We then decided to make our own traditional hats for the Kingdom of Tallaght.

We twisted scrunched tore ripped paper and stuck it on to card and watched how patterns emerged. Anyone  entering the kingdom must wear one of our traditional hats.

The technology we are using is Google hangout which is compatible with St Thomas’s I Pads. It is working really well as the senior infants are in control of the location of the I pad as they pass it from table to table. There is a real sense of senior infants making decisions about the communication process. As well as been visible on the I pad I am also on the whiteboard. No escaping my face.


A very direct way of communication leaving me a bit dizzy at times. Meadhbh with the other I pad is taking images which can be streamed directly to my I Phone so I can see immediately the work as it progresses. It’s all I in our kingdom I Pad I Phone IIIIIII.

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mapping- looking closely and looking again

stampsLesotho It is officially a Kingdom. It is a landlocked country and enclave completely surrounded by its only neighbouring country the Republic of South Africa. We stayed in a border town and every day as we travelled into Lesotho we had to go through border control and have our passports stamped. In order to travel into the Kingdom of Tallaght each of senior infants has been issued a passport which has to be stamped in order to begin our weekly virtual journey.Thank you Palissa for leaving us the parcel.

Making our passports

We talked about the features that make us unique.

The colour of our eyes, our hair, the texture and colour of our skin.

Our favourite animal, our favourite colour.

We talked about how we differ from one another. We looked deeply into each other’s eyes.

Tallaght Kingdom News Alert!

King Frissle welcomes you all. He has found his Queen! Queen Nicole!


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Looking closely very closely we looked at our hands and talked about the skinny scratchy curvy squiggly darty fat straight lines we saw.




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We are back welcome to the kingdom!

The kingdom of Tallaght is back. King Frissle welcomes you all. He is in search of a Queen so watch this space!

I was very fortunate through a project called threads of engagement to spend some time in Lesotho in February 2013 which is a country in South Africa with a unique culture, values, costume, colour and rituals. It’s Motto: Peace, Rain, Prosperity! It is officially a Kingdom. It is a landlocked country and enclave completely surrounded by its only neighbouring country the Republic of South Africa. The experience is fresh and real will have many parallels with my work in St Thomas junior infants in Tallaght.

I worked with the same group last year and there is wonderful sense of continuity of relationships. We click, we love story telling, vivid imagination and an openness to seeing where it goes.

Looking at Tallaght there is a sense that it has a strong, unique and cultural identity so we are starting our virtual journey exploring the cultural and visual identity of Tallaght, real and imagined, through the eyes of senior infants St. Thomas Junior School prompted by the visual and video footage of my time in Lesotho.

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Should I stay or should I go now!

Should I stay or should I go now!

Technology let us down today. I could not log on to  elluminate  nor could Fran or  Meadhbh Adrian did not know how long it would be before the issue could be rectified, I decided to jump into the car…we already were 3/4 of an hour into the session. I had prepared a virtual session and had the journey time to shift my approach.

When I arrived work had already started. The marks we made last week were to form a backdrop to the work we would make today…they were our hills and we were going to bring them alive them with animals, trees, tractors, flowers etc…This theme linked in with their current curricular work.

We made our drawings and cut them out to stick onto the backdrop..


We talked about our hills and the work we made

We looked how folding and layering the drawings  made it 3d and not flat

Once we had reached this stage I would have liked to move into 3d work but time was not on our side.

Really beautiful exciting hills faded into the distance as I headed back to the studio. 








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the opposite of virtual is ?

So I had my not virtual session on Friday. I usually blog on the day of the session so this entry is a reflective one and I have been thinking quite a lot about it. I felt surrounded by the energy of the 30 our more personalities. I was taken aback by the depth of connection established with the class virtually. So we gave it time and talked just talked for the first hour, they had so many questions. The question Eddie asked me was did I come in my tractor… I hadn’t the heart to say I didn’t have one.

So we talked about what we had experienced, what was their memory of it, and what did they hear..It was great to be able to converse with out the delay. I wanted to see how much of the concept and process’s they grasped and again I was struck by the depth of understanding and the vocabulary they used to express what they had experienced. We talked about the blog and made some drawings for the St. Thomas N.S. front page.

We made work, we experimented with mark making using paint on a large scale. When virtual it is about the concept and process,  in reality or what do you call it when you are not virtual? it is about first of all convincing security to let me into the car park! a cup of tea with the principal,personality, contact, questioning, hand washing, hands on heads, eyes on me, roll up sleeves, tie laces time, Grace, Troy, Barney, Eddie, Mary, Mercedes, speech therapy, muffin day, golden time, are you coming back time, phone calls from pirates, give back Sue time, guess what miss time?

I stayed on in the school so I could talk to Fran and Meadhbh. I got their photos and reduced them in size so we could make blog entries. I updated the class blog with images of the work they made during the past 5 weeks. It was good to talk and it established clarity especially in relation to the blog.

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Folds Ridges and Grooves

At the moment I am working on a series of drawings marking the movement of sheep in a field usually, while I am listening to John Kelly…This movement is constant. The landscape constantly changing and moving. So today I started by showing images of the landscape from which I draw and make work from. I deliberately chose to eliminate the element of colour and to concentrate on how the mark-making process alone can define form and space within a drawing.

We talked about pattern. We looked at the pictures and drew the shapes we saw. We took away the picture and saw the pattern we made.

We really listened today. Adrian allowed me access to the room a half an hour before we started which allowed me time to upload the whiteboards. This made a huge difference to the interaction that happened during this session and for helping the children grasp the concept.

As the tractor moves though the field it makes wonderful deep, deep marks and ridges in the landscape. It pulls the blanket harrow through the soil rolling, turning and folding the black earth. We got a tray of sand and made marks in the sand with our fingers then with sticks. We made folds ridges and grooves in the sand. In the session after break we each got a ball of clay. We flattened the clay and made marks in the clay using our fingers and tools to create texture and pattern. We imagined we were driving the tractor and leaving patterns in the landscape for me to draw.

Today was a departure on lots of different levels. The first hour the junior and senior infants actively listened and interacted with the whiteboard. I really was amazed at their ability to understand and engage with the concept.The second hour was more action based and lively and energetic and free. Virtually it was difficult to see the marks in the clay. They have grown in confidence and there is a constant stream at the camera ready to show their work and an eagerness to have a chat…


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Magical journey’s and stories to tell


The concept or the idea behind our bubble carpet is inspired by the Brussels Flower Carpet. I haven’t actually seen the carpet but planning to go this August. It amazing examples of collaborative site specific work with universal appeal.

The actual making of the Carpet is based on a plan worked out in advance, consisting of several stages.
Everything starts, often a year in advance, with projects and scale models, illustrating a commissioned theme (such as the commemoration of great events, or the arms and shield of a town, and sometimes the proposals of local horticultural associations).
Once the theme has been produced in representation and symbol, the number of flowers and colour combinations calculated and the outlines finally drawn on the ground, and then the work starts. The skilful, dedicated work of a hundred experienced gardeners and their enthusiasm enables them to put together this giant floral jigsaw in under four hours.

The day before, the spaces between the floral patterns will already have been filled with rolled turf. The flowers are packed together one by one, 300 to every square meter of the ground, (+/- 750.000 flowers!) so tightly (no soil is used at all) that they won’t be blown away by the first puff of wind, and create their own microclimate? In heat waves, the turf has to be watered to prevent it from shrinking, but if the weather is too wet, the grass can grow 4 to 5 centimetres in 3 days?

Our Carpet Our Magical Journey’s

Instead of flowers we  used recycled scrap fabric eat your heart out M&S. We worked collaboratively to make the final piece. Our planning was intuitive but careful. Our installation is not static it will take us amazing journeys inspired by our imagination and the story….Winnie’s magic carpet.

Fran read the story and we talked about it. We made our magic carpet by joining up all the pieces from last week to make our bubble carpet. We all sat around what we had made and took turns to travel on a magical journey. We went through passport control and the driver checked the lights. The rest of the class made wind sounds. The magic dust was sprinkled and we took off. During the stormy weather we had to hold on very tightly. Maree travelled beside us in her space craft.

This week was a performance with sound, imagination and storytelling. It was really magical to watch the journey unfold. I would have liked to have recorded the sound to share the experience, the movement, the energy…

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Day Two Texture, Tactile, Textile

We reviewed last weeks work.

The theme and ideas were to be explored further this session using textiles and foam board. Interesting enough I uses to teach Fran in the N.C.A.D when she studied Textile Design.  The technology worked perfectly this week with no hitches I found we could interact together more fluidly.I used the whiteboard as means of recording the session and interaction with the children as they showed me their work.

I was very impressed by their ability to work in pairs. Collaboration with other artists has a big part to play in my own has its challenges. I left with Fran and Meadhbh a large bag of fabric remnants which they emptied on to the tables for the children to explore the colour, texture and feel of the fabrics.


The fabrics were shiny, colorful, smooth, hairy, rough, stripy and flowery.

We got our foam boards and pushed cut fabric into the board to fill the bubbles we had drawn. The boards were filled with colour and texture.

We tidied up and talked about today’s session.




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