Heritage in Schools working with Focus Ireland
The Heritage Council was approached by Focus Ireland early in the summer regarding the possibility of the Heritage in Schools Scheme working with children of inner city Dublin over the summer holidays - the key incentive being to get the children outdoors and away from claustrophobic hotel rooms.
Thanks to funding from Creative Ireland this was made possible and a project was planned around the Creative Ireland Programme for Children and Youths to ‘enable the creative potential of every child’ with emphasis on the role local heritage can play in contributing to a child's sense of identity and place.
Heritage Expert Mary Wallace worked closely with Focus Ireland to deliver a wonderful and engaging programme to a group of children in August. Five visits were conducted to a range of heritage venues in and around Dublin: The Botanic Gardens; the Chester Beatty Library; Dublin Castle; National Museum, Collins Barracks and the National Sealife Aquarium in Bray. Guided/self-guided tours took place in the mornings and each venue had access to outdoor areas for reflection and art in the afternoons.
Each day Mary introduced the children to new art materials and techniques - they experimented with wax resist, print, sponge painting and pottery as well as traditional painting, drawing and using found materials. Mary remarked on how quickly the children settled in as a group although the hadn’t met before:
‘The project was a resounding success. The children were enthusiastic from the get-go and were fascinated by all they saw and learned. Though there was a little shyness at the outset it didn’t take long for them to relax and begin to enjoy themselves – even the shyest one was chatting and smiling happily.’
Feedback from Focus Ireland sums up the success of the project:
‘Bringing these kids to several different cultural locations and allowing them to explore what Dublin has to offer has been so fulfilling for their little lives. The children loved the Art work that Mary had to offer -some of them practicing in the hotel when they got home from such a busy day of learning and Art work.’