Growth is the title of a joyous exhibition of 70 light box lanterns by the pupils of Scoil Naomh Bríd, Ballycastle in North Mayo. The project is the result of a seven-week residency by Mayo artist Cas McCarthy in collaboration with young artists from the primary school and teacher Francesca Scott, funded through Teacher Artist Partnership (TAP), a Department of Education and Skills initiative which is managed by Mayo Education Centre. The exhibition, on display in a darkened gallery space in the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, also features the recorded voices of the young artists talking about their creative process and personal ideas about identity and belonging, which relate directly to the images in the panels.
Laying the groundwork for this project, artist Cas McCarthy and class teacher Francesca Scott attended a week-long training session last summer under the auspices of TAP and the Department of Education. It was from this engagement that the initial relationship between artist and school was built, providing a firm working foundation for the project. Scott and McCarthy are enthusiastic about this strategy, confirming that “this approach really paves the way for a successful project.”
Based on this foundation, a structured programme was instigated with the thematic core of ‘growth’, working mainly with the 5th and 6th class pupils, comprising seven half-day residencies designed and implemented by Scott and McCarthy. The programme involved exploring the theme of Spring as a season of growth and ways of depicting it visually, in terms of representation and materials, whilst also exploring ideas about symbols, metaphors and abstraction. This included a visit to Ballinglen Arts Foundation’s landscape-based exhibition, the way that we went, and also an introduction to the work of artists such as William Crozier, Cy Twombly, Vincent van Gogh and Keith Haring.
Inspired by all these ideas, the young artists created drawings on translucent panels addressing a number of strands such as landscapes and identity – local, personal, and social. Finally, together with McCarthy and Scott, they curated their own display of panels which were then transformed into lanterns.
The enthusiastic and imaginative response by the children involved confirms the success of the project, and the results of this rewarding process of engagement are now ready for all to see and enjoy at the galley and online here on this page.
Artist-in-residence Cas McCarthy and teacher Francesca Scott, Scoil Naomh Bríd, would like to thank Principal Patricia Newman for her continuous support and encouragement throughout this project. Also, Marie Gormley, Michelle McLoughlin, Susan Cummins, Simone Barrett and Catherine Scott from Scoil Naomh Bríd, without the cooperation of this team, we couldn’t have achieved all we have. Thanks to Úna Forde, Ballinglen Arts Foundation, who has been extremely helpful and accommodating throughout the project. We are very grateful to Mayo Education Centre and Mayo North East for their support with this project. Many thanks to Angela O'Kelly, Wildatlanticimagesaok for her wonderful photographs and video.