On Friday last, a six-month-long “Artist in My School” programme came to a wonderful finale at Our Lady of Mercy School in Stradbally. The artist in question is Miranda Corcoran from Bunmahon. She worked with pupils from Junior Infants right through to sixth class on a weekly basis since September last, and the results of their work have been placed on permanent display at the entrance to the school. Working on a brief to create a piece around the theme of Irish legends, much discussion with the children eventually narrowed it down to two pieces that they are learning about this year: The Salmon of Knowledge and The Children of Lir.
It is true to say that the children have benefited greatly from this experience. Teachers have commented that it has given them a greater sense of confidence in their artistic abilities and this also transfers directly to other classroom work. According to school principal, Pádraig de Burca, the benefits will be long-lasting. “I have seen the project grow from an idea to what we have on display here today. It is true to say that every child has learned and developed their skills and their enjoyment of creative art, and this permanent display will have a long-lasting benefit to our school and the pupils who created it. It is their legacy, and will be here long after them”
Speaking to a large gathering of pupils, parents and members of the wider community, Miranda Corcoran thanked the children for their enthusiastic participation, their ideas, and their help to one another during the course of the project. “Towards the end of the project I noticed how the pupils seemed surprised at how all their ideas came together so well in this vibrant artwork. It seems to have given them a huge sense of pride and it certainly is a great achievement by them. Many different techniques were learned along the way including silver leafing and mosaic. They worked really well as a team and as time went on their skills and confidence grew.”
Miranda Corcoran is co-owner of The Art Hand, an art school based near Bunmahon. They have over 40 young students who take part in classes on a weekly basis. They also run an outreach programme for schools where they usually undertake specific art projects.
Back in June 2012 Miranda won a Wonderwoman of Business Award. The Awards were established by The Women’s Enterprise Network to celebrate outstanding women in business in County Waterford. The staff, parents and pupils at Our Lady of Mercy in Stradbally fully endorse her skill and enthusiasm and wish to thank her most sincerely for her magnificent work here since last September. Miranda can be contacted at www.theArtHand.com
My talk to pupils and parents on March 22nd:
I want to welcome everybody here today. It’s a dreary miserable morning outside, but inside there is beauty, creativity and inspiration.
This beauty, inspiration and creativity began back in September 2012. I spoke with my staff and we decided to approach Miranda Corcoran to work with us. We had no real idea of what we might do, but we wanted a dominant piece of mural art for the school. For the first three sessions, Miranda worked only with Mrs Crowley, Mrs. O’Riordan and myself. We narrowed down our ideas. We decided the porch would be the place to use. We wanted it to be linked to schoolwork in some way. We wanted it to be a piece involving every pupil in the school.
The journey from these ideas to what is on display today is nothing short of remarkable. Your child will have told you about the lessons themselves. Your child will have told you about the sense of excitement, the sense of achievement and the sense of pride.
I feel that we have been very fortunate to have had Miranda Corcoran in our school every Wednesday since last September, for a number of reasons. She has been a breath of fresh air. She has awoken a level of creativity in each child that they may not have known was within them. She has inspired us.
I mentioned to Miranda a few weeks ago that I had noticed a very positive art impact in the quality of artwork within my class. Miranda was not at all surprised. There is always a strong spillover effect when confidence and creativity are abundant, she said to me.
Very shortly, we will unveil the two murals. Before we do so, I want to comment on the circular disks already unveiled around the entire porch area. It was our original intention to link these to both main pieces by using decorative Celtic Art. In, fact the boys and girls learned quite a bit about Celtic design, and we were in the process of preparing and painting / decorating each piece.
However, something wonderful happened, and the change happened not because of the adults. The change came about because of the freedom to discuss that is within these children…the freedom to offer suggestions knowing that they will be acknowledged, the freedom to be brave and take a risk. When I think about this, I am proud to be a teacher, because much of this freedom is what life really is all about. In the end, we changed tack. One large disk depicts the school crest. Each of the remaining disks contains a word that represents something within our school that the pupils picked out as being important. They hit the nail on the head. Here are the words:
Play, Fun, Teamwork, Confidence, Creativity, Faithfulness, Inspiration, Friendship, Community, Gratitude, Peace, Knowledge and “Le Chéile”.
What more needs to be said?
As mentioned at the outset, it was a wild wet morning, with strong driving east wind. After finishing and locking up for a well-deserved Easter break, I visited The Art Hand near Bunmahon and on my way back home I stopped in at several beaches to photograph the wild Atlantic. One of my favourite photos is this one, taken at Bunmahon. The “snow” in the foreground is sea foam. In fact, it was wobbling like jelly, and every now and again much of it would “fly”, driven onshore by violent gusts. It looked like snow even when in the air!