Category Archives: Exhibitions

Creative Engagement Annual Exhibition

Creative Engagement Annual Exhibition

On Saturday I attended the NAPD Creative Engagement exhibition in Collins Barracks, Dublin. This annual exhibition showcases the creative work of post primary schools from all over the country.

There was a great variety of projects on display such as print making, stained glass and ceramics. My favourite project was “Unique” an installation of porcelain buttons made and designed by last years 1st years with Artist-in -Residence, Isobel Egan. Isobel is an Irish ceramist who works with porcelian, for more information about Isobel and her artwork check out her site:

I especially liked the process the students went through to design their buttons, in the form of button shaped notebooks that were also on display. These documented each student’s thought process from brainstorming the theme to designing their buttons.

This would be a great project to do with 1st year students – as was the case here – as it would introduce the design process and some basic ceramic techniques.
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Basket of books unique brainstorm IMG_5436 IMG_5441

Sculpture In Context 2013

Sculpture In Context 2013

Yesterday I went to the Sculpture in Context exhibition in the National Botanic Gardens,Glasnevin, Dublin 9 (3.5 km from the centre of Dublin City). This annual event is the largest outdoor sculpture exhibition in Ireland and runs from 5th September to 18th October, if you are in Dublin during this time, I highly recommend going to see this it. The exhibition showcases 150 artworks made from a wide variety of different media by both Irish and international artists. These artworks are displayed throughout the 50 acre gardens, the glasshouses, Great Palm House, the pond and the gallery space above the visitors’ centre (which displays the Smaller pieces).

The Sculpture in Context exhibition always attracts thousands of visitors especially art students from both third level and secondary schools. It is of particular interest to 5th and 6th year students who often use this exhibition to write about in their final year Art History exam under the Appreciation Section which frequently asks students to write about an art exhibition they have visited. Students also draw from the sculptures and take photographs to use as visual sources for their practical work.

Among favourite Piece was by Dublin sculptor Lucy O’Higgins’ called Tree snails. These consisted of 5 really cool large scale snails made from fused plastic bags strategically placed in two trees. I loved the solid shape these had and the fact that each snail had a different pose as if shown at different stages of climbing the trees.
snails snail

Another outdoor piece I liked was Untitled by Lynda Christian which consisted of about 17 brightly coloured orange metal flowers. These were made from large catering size tin cans cut, shaped and riveted together into the flowers heads. These pieces were then painted primer and enamel paints. I really like the idea of using recycled materials to create something so beautiful as these flowers, they also brighten up the grey walls of this location which also makes them stand out.
Flowers Flower

Indoors I liked Jonathan’s Flock by Dublin textile artist Ciara Foster. It consists of a flock of 5 birds made from mixed media. These were really lovely and to scale of real birds. I loved the variety of materials used such as wood for the beak.
Birds Bird
I think this would be a great idea to try in the classroom and to get students to think of drawing not just on the traditional flat surface that they are used to. If anyone has ever tried this project or something similar to this with a class, feel free to leave a comment, thanks, Ruth 😎

Dublin Traffic Light Box Artwork Project

Dublin Traffic Light Box Artwork Project

Grafiti box side profileFrom my regular walks through Dublin city centre I started to notice that some of the normally painted dull grey traffic light boxes I am used to seeing had been decoratively painted. As you can see from the photo, traffic light boxes tend to regularly attract graffiti and stickers, which make them look bad and the council has to re-paint them on a regular basis which costs a lot of money. It turns out it’s an initiative that started back in June by Dublin City Beta as a pilot program involving the painting of 11 boxes (Some have all sides visible, others are up against walls) in and around the Markets Area in the North inner city (from the river north to King Street and from Church Street east to Capel Street) with artwork. The brief was to design something that could be painted on a traffic light box that reinforced or enhanced the identity of that area of the city. Anyone could submit a design to Dublin City Council for consideration along with an explanation of why you think it strengthens the identity of the area , you don’t have to be a professional artist or art student.

map of traffic boxesThis map shows the location and allocates a number for each box so if a designer had a particular design for a particular box that highlighted an aspect of the history of a particular street or road they could state the traffic box required. The design also had to be considered ‘art’ or ‘information’ and not ‘advertising’ however it could mention the designers name/website/blog etc. at the base to publicise their work. In return, they recieve €111 towards materials as well as the opportunity to make their design a reality.

Below are some photos of some of the traffic light boxes that drew my attention while in town recently. My favourite traffic light box artwork is by Tarsila Krüse who is a Dublin-based illustrator, check out her website here. Her design is called the Dublin Harp Lady and is located on Fishamble Street (outside Christ Church) in Dublin 2. She chose a feminine figure to the represent Ireland and the harp to represent the coat of arms of Ireland. Also the colour Blue makes reference to Dublin colours. I love her cartoon style of illustartion and the contrast in colour between the harp lady and the dark blue background.
Harp playing girl front Harp playing girl side profile Red head box front Red head box sideFox box front Fox box side profileRobot front profile Robot side profile Eye Eye side profile
Is art good ad

It is hoped that the beta project will save the council money and enhance the area. Each artwork will hopefully last for a couple of years but could be repainted grey at anytime and free again for new artwork submissions depending on feedback so the most important thing they ask for is your opinion. To find out more about this great initiative visit their Facebook Page here.

I think this project is a great idea it not only saves the Council money, it enhance the area, making it more attractive as well as providing an outlet for artists to exhibit their work. Wouldn’t it be great to do something similar to brighten up the school grounds. Anyone ever try anything like this in their school? feel free to leave a comment, thanks, Ruth 😎

Art in Granby Park

Art in Granby Park

Yesterday I visited ‘Granby Park’ a temporary transformed vacant Dublin site on Dominick street lower in Dublin city centre. This was created by the non-profit voluntary the importance of creativity in Ireland. For four weeks, there will be art work on display, free arts events, outdoor cinema & theatre performances, live music, educational activities and a pop-up café open to the public.

I was really impressed with all the great work that had been done to create this temporary space. I particularly liked the art work on display. My favourite art installation piece is called ‘Fizzy Flowers’ by Rachel Kiernan and the Eve Estuary Artist Group (a training centre for individuals with intellectual disabilities based in Lissenhall, Swords, HSE Dublin North East). It consisted of 100 brightly coloured flowers made from recycled plastic bottles attached to two weeping Beech trees. I love the contrast in colour between the flowers and the trees. This would be a great 1st year sculpture project, imagine the trees in your school decked out with these colourful flowers.

Granby park IMG_4401

Yellow Daisy Blue daisy Red flower3 Red Flower

Trim Walled Town Festival

Trim Walled Town Festival

Trim CastleYesterday I went to the Trim Walled Town Festival in the carpark of Trim Castle in county Meath. Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and dates back to the 1170s. The Castle also appeared in the film ‘Braveheart’.

I saw some great crafts being demonstrated:  hand carved wooden spoons, handmade pottery, animal bone combs and hand sewn and embroidered purses.

My favourite display was the animal bones whcih had been turned into dice and combs. I was impressed by the skill it must have taken to make the combs which looked so delicate. The drawn carving on the bones was etched using a sharp knife into the surface of the bone, ink made from hazelnuts was painted on and rubbed off, leaving the rich brown colour of the nuts in the groves of the etched drawings.



Sewing the purse close up EmbroideryClay jug CauldronCalf bone Bone combCarving ivory Etched illustration on ivoryCarving the spoons Carved wooden sppons

‘The Bright Side’ Sand Sculpture Exhibition – Dublin Castle

‘The Bright Side’ Sand Sculpture Exhibition – Dublin Castle

1 picture for blog of allToday I went to see the ‘The Bright Side’ annual sand sculpture exhibition in the courtyard of Dublin Castle which focuses on what is good about Ireland and being Irish. It is created by a group of three Irish sculptors (Daniel Doyle, Niall Magee and Alan Magee who are all graduates of Fine Art Sculpture from the DIT) called Duthain Dealbh (pronounced [du-hawn dah-liv] in Irish), meaning Fleeting Sculpture. The group who have worked collaboratively together since 2001, specialize in sculpting ephemeral materials of sand, snow,ice and fire and have attended sculpture festivals all over the world.

I was unfortunately away when the artists started the live carving of the sand sculptures on the 29th of July – and lasted 7 days but I did see them sculpting the sand last year and it is really exciting to watch the forms being built up. This Sand Sculpture Exhibition which attracts thousands of visitors went on display from August 5th and will remain on display until the 27th of August. If you are in Dublin during this time, I highly recommend going to see this work.

My favourite piece is ‘Character Building’ by Daniel Doyle I really like all the fine details, especially the eyes and the carefully sculpted hair. I think the cracks in the face emphasises how fragile we can be but still not break or fall apart.

Description: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ Daniel’s sculpture puts a positive spin on negativity. While we have plenty to complain about in Ireland, both in recent years and historically, it has made us who we are today. ‘Character Building’ doesn’t try to hide the negativity but implores us instead, to embrace its potential’.

‘Character Building’ by Daniel Doyle

‘Character Building’ by Daniel Doyle

Gift of the gab (ability to speak Irish slang)

‘Gift of the gab’ (Irish slang for the ability to speak)

Genorosity by Niall Magee

‘Genorosity’ by Niall Magee

5 Ceol (music in Irish) in the soul

‘Ceol in the soul’

Crochet Fish

Crochet Fish

Display on stepsI love the idea of doing some site specific work with students. While in prague walking along the quays of the river Vltava called Rašínovo nábřeží, I saw these really cute woolen colourful fish which appeared to be made with a variety of knitted and crocheted fish shapes with embellishments such as buttons for eyes and individual wool strands for fins were added. This would be a great 1st or 2nd year textiles project. These would look good if displayed in the art room perhaps with a seascape behind them but I think they really look great displayed on this wall as its greyness really make the bright fish colours stand out. Unfortunately despite all my googling I couldn’t find anything out about the artist who created this work, if anyone else knows anything about it, feel free to leave a comment, thanks, Ruth 😎

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African Masks

African Masks

1 BuildingAs an art teacher, I always keep an eye out for ideas for the classroom. I have just returned from my holidays in Prague. Here are some pictures of some really nice African masks made from terracotta clay that I saw displayed in the window of a school called ‘Základní škola u svatého Štepána’ which translates to ‘Elementary school at St. Stephen’s’.

2 students making african masks 3 cermic african masks skola stephanska
The masks were made by the ‘školního klubu Keramická dílna’ which translates to ‘school ceramic workshop club’ by students from 4th class (age 9-10). I see from their school website that they have some photos showing the students making these masks. It appears that they rolled out slaps of clay and rolled newspaper into a face shape to support the clay at the back. The surface was then decorated with relief pieces, textures and earth coloured slips.

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I love the contrast in colour between the terracotta clay and the coloured slips applied to decorate the masks. This would be a great 1st year ceramic project that could be incorporated into portrait drawing to make it a bit more advanced for the age group.

Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year Festival 2013

Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year Festival 2013
RDS facade

‘Portrait Artist of the year 2013’, RDS.
Source: MURO street art facebook page

On Sunday 14th July I attended the Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year Festival 2013 in the RDS in Dublin. This was a free festival which included the Irish heat of the Sky Arts Portrait of the Year competition and was filmed for a Sky Arts 1 HD series to be broadcast in the autumn. It featured a range of free interactive arts activities including free portraits, portrait workshops and demos, sketching classes, mask making, face painting and multi-media art classes for adults and for children.

In the centre of the room in a circle split into 3 were the models: lethal bizzle (English musician and actor), David Rawle (Irish Actor) and Pauline McLynn (Irish actress, best known as Mrs. Doyle in Father Ted). Each model had 7 artists capture their subjects in their own individual way, it was nice to see all the works in progress as well as their source.

centre stage facebook

Centre stage set-up.
Source: MURO Street art facebook page

3 empty canvases facebook

All 3 completed murals facebook

I was especially interested in the MURO STREET ART: Street artists Jonny Mc Kerr, Danilo Quo Vadis and Morgan each have very individual different styles.

My favourite was Jonny McKerr’s portrait of Joan Bakewell (English journalist, television presenter) because of his free graffiti like style yet he captures a lot of detail.

Joan Bakewell, work in progressCompleted 1st mural, from Facebook
Joan Bakewell,

Joan Bakewell,

The highlight for me apart from watching the competition with the artists all at work was the Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (life drawing class turned cabaret/ Burlesque) which was definitely more interesting than your average life-drawing class! There were plenty of seats for people to sit and try their hand at capturing the unusual poses and themes of the costumed models. Themes including Lichtenstein-Pop Art, Mucha-Art Nouveau and Degas-Impressioinism. Each themed model did several poses for varying lengths of time. I think this would be a great idea for incorporating art history into life-drawing.

Burlesque 2
Burlesque for blog

‘Paper Quays’ Exhibition

‘Paper Quays’ Exhibition
1 Cut out paper Dublin Quays10 for blog

‘Paper Quays’ Exhibition poster:
Cut paper view of CHQ Building

Last August I went to  see the Tall Ships Festival and saw ‘Paper Quays’ exhibition (a Cut Paper Installation of the City Quays) on display in the CHQ Building in Dublin.

Dublin-based animator and illustrator Maeve Clancy was commissioned to create it as part of the Tall Ships festival 2012. The ‘Paper Quays’ was  a stunning 25 metre long cut-paper installation depicting Dublin’s quayside from the Four Courts to the Customs House. Viewers were able to walk around the piece and look through it at various viewpoints to see the amazing architecture and fine details up close, the shadows that the work cast were also beautiful.

Here are some photos that I took. As you can see the work is both visually detailed and delicate.

2 Cut out paper Dublin Quays3 for blog

Four courts

3 Cut out paper Dublin Quays6 ffor blog

Custom House

Her work is truely amazing, for more information on her, check out her website here. After seeing this exhibition, I thought it would be a really cool project to try with an art class. If anyone has ever tried a project similar to this in the classroom, feel free to feel free to leave a comment, thanks, Ruth 😎





4 Cut out paper Dublin Quays11 for blog

Ha’penny Bridge Detail