09 Aug 2022

Young Offaly art students graduate at opening of exhibition of their works


Twins Hannah and Arwin Brophy with teacher Aine Morris

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

In-person classes resumed in September, 2021 following a two-year interruption 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, canvass paintings, still life and more.  

Children, aged between five and 12, were guided in an exploration of three key elements of art – line, shape and colour – as well as the works of respective artists, including Paul Klee and Henri Matisse. They also experienced blind drawing and observational drawing which provided an opportunity to sit and draw objects or whatever they were looking at. Mrs Morris explained that three artists were used as reference points for each of the elements of art. For instance, with Matisse they used rulers or circular items to creatively put shapes on paper. For the print module, she said that the children were exposed to mono-print using foam boards instead of lino and skewer sticks to cut out the drawing. For younger children, drawings were adapted and made as big as possible. She noted that time was allowed at the end of each of class for the children to enjoy free drawing or to draw what they wanted.  

Sisters, Naomi and Meabh Sexton, aged 10 and eight and from Portarlington, said they liked drawing and painting. Their mother, Mary said that during the classes they get to enjoy art and to express themselves as well as learn the foundations of art, learn about the artists' lives and how to approach art. She said “it’s their own art. It’s a skill they will have for life. It also gives them down time from the stress of life. My girls would be very quiet and shy. Naomi won a competition in school last year after working with Aine.” 

12-year-old, Sophie Duffy from Tullamore, was among a dozen students from the class who entered the recent RTE This Is Art competition. The theme was ‘This Is Extraordinary’. Sophie received a letter of commendation, 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 enter. She connected with Aine straight away”. She also said that art “is a form of therapy for Sophie”.  

Of the competition, Mrs Morris said that some children struggled with coming up with ideas of what they thought was extraordinary. She said “Sophie speaks through her art” and drew characters that 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 put the body of work together.” 

Emma and David Spollen, both pupils at Ballinamere National School, have been attending the art classes for up to four years. Emma said “it’s really fun to get to paint things. I like everything.” David agreed that the classes are fun, adding that “drawing is fun” and he enjoys working with pencil and copying from real life. Of the classes, their mother, Amanda said “it builds up their confidence, brings out their creativity. It is good for them in every way.” 

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

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