Art reference

Young Offaly art students graduate as exhibition of their works opens

ART is like a ‘secret language’, says Aine Morris, teacher of the weekly children’s art classes, whose 35 students graduated last Saturday with the opening of an exhibition of their work in Robbins, Tullamore .

Face-to-face classes resumed in September 2021 after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Viewers of the exhibition, which runs throughout this week, will be treated to a selection of children’s prints, line drawings, paintings on canvas, still lifes and more.

The children, aged 5 to 12, were taken on an exploration of three key elements of art – line, shape and color – as well as the works of respective artists, including Paul Klee and Henri Matisse. They also experimented with blind drawing and observational drawing which gave them the opportunity to sit down and draw objects or whatever they were looking at. Ms. Morris explained that three artists were used as reference points for each of the art elements. For example, with Matisse, they used rulers or circular objects to creatively put shapes on paper. For the print module, she said the children were exposed to mono-printing using foam boards instead of lino and skewer sticks to cut out the design. For the youngest, the drawings have been adapted and enlarged as much as possible. She noted that time was given at the end of each class so children could enjoy free drawing or draw whatever they wanted.

The sisters, Naomi and Meabh Sexton, aged 10 and 8 and from Portarlington, said they love to draw and paint. Their mother, Mary, said that during the lessons they could enjoy art and express themselves, as well as learn the basics of art, discover the lives of artists and how to approach art. She said “it’s their own art. It is a skill they will have for life. It also allows them to rest from the stresses of life. My daughters would be very quiet and shy. Naomi won a competition at school last year after working with Aine.

Sophie Duffy, 12, from Tullamore, was one of a dozen pupils in the class who took part in the recent RTE This Is Art competition. The theme was “This is extraordinary”. Sophie received a letter of recommendation, a handmade certificate from one of the judges and a voucher. Her mother, Laura, said: “If it wasn’t for Aine, she wouldn’t have had the confidence to participate. She immediately contacted Aine”. She also said art “is a form of therapy for Sophie.”

Commenting on the competition, Ms Morris said some children struggled to come up with ideas of what they thought would be extraordinary. She said “Sophie speaks through her art” and drew characters she liked to draw. She said “sometimes it’s not about the finished piece. It’s about the process and getting there. You can see a style when you assemble the body of work.

Emma and David Spollen, both pupils of Ballinamere National School, have been attending art classes for four years. Emma said: “It’s really fun to be able to paint things. I like everything.” David agreed that the lessons were fun, adding that “drawing is fun” and that he enjoys working with a pencil and copying from real life. About the lessons, their mother, Amanda, said “It boosts their self-confidence, brings out their creativity. It’s good for them in every way.”

Children with sensory issues and all artistic and learning abilities are catered for in art classes which will resume in September. In the meantime, a small number of places are available for the arts and crafts camps taking place in Robbins from July 19-22 and August 2-5.