Mucking About with Art Materials

May 31, 2011

LANDMARKS: NATURE, ART, SCHOOLS

Week 12 -18 New Participants, St. Finian’s National School, 20 New Participants Monastery National School

Total Individual Children Participants: 247

Total Participation of Children: 447 (Some school classes have returned 2-3 times)

“Pamela had the children in the palm of her hand. As soon as we walked into the “studio” there was so much inspiration, so many things catching the eye. The central display was extremely expressive, I thought at first that it might be distracting when Pamela was talking, but she used the pictures very effectively. The children had to search for samples of artist’s work and show them to others. All the activities were simple yet exciting and interesting. She orchestrated the children to develop their work offering suggestions yet encouraging their own creativity. An enjoyable experience for all the children and an inspiring lesson for me as a teacher (St. Finian’s National School Principal) 

A recent article in Heritage Outlook: The Magazine of the Heritage Council of Ireland  (Summer, 2011) called Running Free: The Importance of Children Enjoying the Outdoors” by Isabell Smyth discusses the effects of children’s participation within nature. She stresses the importance of “mucking about,” as an opportunity for children to explore the wonder of the world in which they are part. Mucking about outdoors, is not about built playgrounds, it is rather a free exploration of landscape and nature. The materials of the natural world – the earth, stones, sticks, trees, flowers, and water – that engage a child’s senses also inspire a child’s creativity.  It can be argued that these natural elements are an entry into the world of land artists, the simplicity of observation, collecting, and building are inherent within nature play and art.

Within the Landmarks project, mucking about with mud, creating prints from trees, stones, pine cones and leaves and working with charcoal (gathered from abandoned campfires) layer textures within children’s artwork. Children are encouraged to work instinctively in the ‘rough.’ The importance of engaging a sense of freedom, and working physically with natural materials, brings feeling and sensation to children’s art.

To the right a photo showing a ‘wood cut’ print, which inspired the printmaking from wood, stones, leaves, etc. with children in Landmarks. There is also a photo of the Malone Room, Ardee Library the ‘studio’ for Landmarks.

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