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Indepth Arts News:

"Artformations: Organised by the Education and Community Department"
2004-07-21 until 2004-10-10
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Dublin, , IE

An exhibition based on three different projects undertaken by the Irish Museum of Modern Art with teachers, artists, and children opens to the public at IMMA on Tuesday 20 July. The exhibition, entitled Artformations, is organised by the Museum's Education and Community Department as part of its remit of engaging with the primary school, community and education sectors. Artformations includes work resulting from three specific projects, in which the Museum took a leading role, both as an active participant and instigator of projects as well as a resource used independently by arts organisations and teachers.

The first, Breaking the Cycle, which ran in several schools from 1997 to 2000, was undertaken as part of collaboration with the Department of Education and Science, which also co-funded the project. The exhibition includes children's work from classroom sessions with teachers and artists from St Thomas's Junior National School in Jobstown, Tallaght, which grew from long-term contact with artists and artworks at IMMA.

The second project included in the exhibition is Artformations, from which the exhibition takes its title, an action research project with the Abbey Theatre and the Arts Council. This project explored the relationship between writing and fabric and fibre with the artist Lucinda Jacob. During a short-term residency, the artist worked alongside two teachers and two groups of primary school children from the North Dublin National School Project and St Killian's Senior National School, Tallaght. The residency was followed by a visit to the exhibition Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Time at IMMA and to Argentinian artist Gabriel Baggio's studio when he was participating on the Museum's Artists' Work Programme.

The third project, Creativity in the Classroom, an initiative funded by the Department of Education and Science, has been running in six schools from the Canal Communities Partnership area since 1997. Situated in the locality of the Museum, the project used IMMA as a resource for both the teachers and children. Artists worked on 10-week programmes with each class, which were planned with each teacher, and included classroom-based work as well as visits to a number of sites, including the Museum.

Although the children's ages and project timelines vary greatly in each project there are connecting themes, such as the extraordinary use of materials. These range from watercolours and charcoal drawings, created by children from St Thomas's Junior National School, to artwork made from fabric, fibre and stitching in both St Killian's Senior National School and the North Dublin National School Project, to coloured pastel work from the children participating in Creativity in the Classroom.

The staging of an exhibition based on this work serves to underline the importance which the Museum places on making the outcomes of such projects available to a wider public. This policy has been endorsed by the level of interest in such projects shown both by fellow museum professionals within Ireland and internationally, and by the general gallery going public.

Commenting on the exhibition, Helen O'Donoghue, Head of Education and Community Programmes at IMMA, said: "In 1999 the revised Primary School Curriculum was implemented and visual arts was one of the first subject areas to be introduced. Galleries and museums are a critical factor in ensuring that teachers and children have ongoing access to and engagement with a full range of excellent and innovative artwork and artists. IMMA's potential as a resource to a broad range of schools has been extended and enhanced as a result of working in close co-operation with both the Department of Education and Science and the Arts Council. Ongoing collaboration with our sister institution the Abbey Theatre has facilitated IMMA in extending the breath of our work and enabled us to bring children, through their teachers, into contact with artwork and artists of the highest quality."

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