Busy busting the myths about scary monsters... and all things different

This weekend, a massive exhibition put together by school children from all over Cork runs at the Glucksman art gallery in the grounds of UCC, COLETTE SHERIDAN finds out more
Busy busting the myths about scary monsters... and all things different
Florence Williamson Plumb with the dragon she made when pupils of Rockboro Primary School, Cork, took part in the Monsters In The Museum workshop in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.

MORE than 1,000 primary school children, including some in direct provision centres and Traveller children, are taking part in a project at the Glucksman entitled ‘Monsters in the Museum’ which will culminate in an exhibition at the venue over this St Patrick’s weekend.

Children’s author and illustrator, Chris Judge, will visit the Glucksman to launch the exhibition with a special event on March 15, for a select number of the children who will be the lucky winners of a lottery allowing them to meet Chris.

As Tadhg Crowley, education officer at the Glucksman explains, engaging with children is something the museum has been doing over the last few years.

“This is the third year we’ve run a project like this with an exhibition outcome for the children. The current project is incredibly popular. We have had a really positive response from primary schools and we’re working with children from junior infants up to sixth class.”

The children have attended a session at the Glucksman working with local artists. Prior to this, they did some preparation, reading books on The Gruffalo and other monsters. They then came into the museum brimming with ideas, turning them into art work.

First and second class pupils from Rockboro Primary School, Cork, who took part in the Monsters In The Museum workshop in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.
First and second class pupils from Rockboro Primary School, Cork, who took part in the Monsters In The Museum workshop in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“The children are full of ideas. I think the topic of monsters is easy for them. We chose it because it’s an area that allows for a lot of exploration and it’s an opportunity for children to look at the idea of difference and respect.

“We think of monsters like Shrek or the Hulk. They’re often misunderstood. We want children to realise difference is OK. There is a fear element and sometimes, monsters are monsters. But with this project, we’re looking primarily at the idea of difference.”

Twins Scarlet and Saoirse Collins from Rockboro Primary School with their artwork.
Twins Scarlet and Saoirse Collins from Rockboro Primary School with their artwork.

Children from direct provision centres at Drishane Castle, Kinsale Road and Glounthane have been coming in at weekends to work on the project.

“We have had more sessions with these children than the others so they can squeeze out their ideas a little more. They have the same interests as the other children.”

The Gruffalo is very popular as well as Beauty and the Beast and books by Chris such as The Lonely Beast and The Brave Beasts.

The project arose out of Chris’s books. We wanted the children to respond to his work. We’re looking at creating the environment in which monsters live.”

Pupils (from left) Pearl Norman, Sofia Garotte and Jimena Cruz of Rockboro Primary School, Cork, who took part in the Monsters In The Museum workshop in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Pupils (from left) Pearl Norman, Sofia Garotte and Jimena Cruz of Rockboro Primary School, Cork, who took part in the Monsters In The Museum workshop in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. Picture: Denis Minihane.

The Glucksman has been facilitating children nearly every day for the past seven weeks or so.

“It has been full on. We weren’t quite sure how we were going to display all the work so we got them to do collaborative work on the larger pieces. The children are working on larger scale works than they would at school. Working as a team is part of creating the memory of visiting the museum and growing their own ideas. It’s a different space for the children. All of gallery one will be used to hang the artwork.”

The children are encouraged to take pride in their artwork.

“A huge part of the project is giving the children an opportunity to look at their artwork in a museum and to take pride in what they’ve achieved. It’s important that all young artists have opportunities like this to grow their confidence and creativity.”

The children’s work is mostly figurative: “There’s quite a mix with everything from papier-maché spiders to drawings of the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). It’s great fun for our artists to work with the children. It’s such a rich area.”

Jack Lynch, a pupil of Rockboro Primary School, Cork at the Glucksman workshop.Picture: Denis Minihane.
Jack Lynch, a pupil of Rockboro Primary School, Cork at the Glucksman workshop.Picture: Denis Minihane.

Tadhg is encouraged by the teaching of art in schools.

“Teachers are beginning to see the value of art for children and are trying to make more time for it in the day or during the week. The links between different subjects and art are becoming more apparent and therefore, the value of art is growing.”

While “a lot of the learning that happens in a museum may not have an impact straight away, it’s a slow burner. Learning involves change and change takes time. It’s about instilling ideas in children and hopefully, over time, they’ll come to fruition.”

Ajinkya Shinde, a pupil of Rockboro Primary School, making art work at the Glucksman.
Ajinkya Shinde, a pupil of Rockboro Primary School, making art work at the Glucksman.

Tadhg is delighted that Chris Judge has come on board: “The last two years, we worked Eoin Colfer and PJ Lynch. We’re big fans of Chris Judge here at the Glucksman so we were anxious to pursue him.”

Tadhg is the father of two children; Alice aged nearly two and Jack who’s five months.

“Alice is drawing already but what she draws doesn’t look like what she’s intending to draw!”

The exhibition will open to the public from March 16 to 18.

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