Wexford Educate Together NS, Wexford Town / Gusserane NS, New Ross, Co. Wexford / Glynn NS, New Ross, Co. Wexford / Rathnure NS, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

In 2013, the Living Arts Project was established as a long term visual arts educational scheme, supporting the existing partnership between Wexford Arts Centre and the Arts Department of Wexford County Council. The aim of this project is to provide children with an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. The Living Arts Project exhibition represents a selection of work produced by the participating primary schools and artists, offering pupils a chance to see their work presented in a professional gallery.

The following artists and schools were selected for this year's programme; John Busher with Wexford Educate Together NS, Wexford Town; Els Dietvorst with Gusserane NS, New Ross, Co. Wexford; Caoimhe Dunn with Glynn NS, New Ross, Co. Wexford; and Rosie O’Gorman with Rathnure NS, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

Through the fourteen week project, the children worked to reflect significant issues surrounding celebrity culture and its connection to bodily perceptions and the notion of self; while storytelling and movement, the role of memory, personal and communal histories and the abstraction of the natural world have also been addressed within their work. The Living Arts Project provided the opportunity for the participating class groups to learn a myriad of visual art techniques; helping to strengthen their confidence, rely on their intuition and develop collaborative skills.

Each artist brought their own unique styles, talents and disciplines to the participating schools, encouraging pupils to think beyond the classroom and respond visually to the world around them. The project challenged the pupils and teachers through the mediums of film making, mixed media sculpture, printmaking, painting and drawing processes. In addition, this year saw the inclusion of clay animation, puppetry, mask-making and storytelling; making this year’s exhibition one of the most unique in the history of the project.

A mentorship programme ran alongside each residency, and each artist nominated an independent artist or curator they felt was relevant to their professional practice. This mentorship helped to ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the programme on an ongoing basis, while also providing positive critique for the resident artist. In addition, the programme helped to refine methods of engaging with the students throughout each residency, ensured that the work and processes were of high quality and the dynamic between artists and pupils was challenging and productive. The following mentors were involved in the 2015/16 project: Michael Fortune, Marc Mac Lochlainn, James Merrigan and Karla Sanchez O’Connell.

An assistant artist’s programme runs in tandem with artists’ residencies thereby creating more opportunities for shared knowledge in relation to creating and mediating contemporary visual art. This year’s assistant artists are Tanya Tierney, Sarah Codd, and Tara McGinn.

The Arts Department of Wexford County Council and Wexford Arts Centre would like to take this opportunity to thank all schools, artists and mentors involved in the project, and the local community for their support and interest in the project to date.

Photography by Frank Abruzzese and Lar O'Toole
Frank Abruzzese: www.frankabruzzese.com or www.cowhousestudios.com
Lar O'Toole: www.lo2l.ie