Artists in School programme underway

Five schools have the benefit of an in-house artist this month, as they take part in the 2008 Artist in School Scheme. The scheme is operated by Roscommon County Arts Office and is open to all primary schools in the County. Its aim is to offer children the opportunity to work with a professional artist on a once-off project in visual arts, dance, literature, drama, music, photography, film, etc. for a period of five weeks to three months. The five schools involved in this year’s scheme are, Brideswell National School in Athlone, St. Mary’s National School in Strokestown, Strabraggan National School, in Arigna, Runnamoat National School in Ballymacurley and Abbeycartron National School in Elphin  Brideswell NS will be working with Catherine Simon, director of Roscommon County Youth Theatre and a drama facilitator. Catherine will work on a range of drama skills and students will be given the chance to develop characters, improvise, work with music, devise their own original material and perform to each other. The children will have a chance to work together as a team in a fun environment. St Mary’s in Strokestown will work with Brigitta Varadi a visual artist from Arigna who will be working on the theme of Life in Spring. The children will use recycled and found materials and focus on learning different arts skills such as felt making, print making and clay. They will be making use of local resources by using the garden of Strokestown Park House as inspiration. Abbeycartron National School will be working with Lisa Vandegrift Davala, a visual artist based in Sligo. Lisa has devised a project based around the legend of Queen Medb. The youngest children will write their own version of the story and make a book, the middle children will create puppets and a theatre based on what the younger children have written and the fifth and sixth class students will film the puppet show and make their own dvd. Runnamoat NS will be taking part in a project called ‘Drawing Out Moving About’ with Galway based artist Sharon Lynch. The starting point for this project is the notion of taking note of natural daily activities in the lives of the children of Runnamoat N and through art-making processes elevate and celebrate the everyday. As part of this animation project, children are being encouraged to observe and make drawings of  their own daily activities, playtime and objects from their immediate world. Strabraggan NS in Arigna are working with Kate Wilson. Kate is a visual artist and dancer and will be focusing on the theme of nature which was suggested by the children. Having been on a nature walk to collect leaves, twigs and stones the children learnt to do their first study from life of the collected objects using soft pencils and charcoal on paper. They have been learning about art history from renaissance to modern day and each participant has made a colour copy in oil pastels of a painting of their choice. The residency will culminate in an exhibition of the children’s work at the school and the design and execution of a painted glass mural by the children using designs from their own paintings in the school corridor area. The Arts Office also recently launched a collection of arts resource books to assist teachers in bringing the arts into the classroom. These books cover subject such as literature, dance, drama, visual arts and music and are available on loan through the arts office. Schools can borrow three books at a time for up to four weeks and feedback from teachers who have borrowed them has been very positive. For further information on this collection or to arrange a loan, please contact Avril Carr on (090) 66 32541 or email