Artists Interviews

November 2014:

Guest Editor Introduction - Helen Barry

Exploring language, here and now and the nature of collaboration in participatory arts practice with early years children

Talking about our ideas

The invitation to be guest editor of for November and December is very timely. It coincides with the final stages of work supported by The Arts Council’s young people and children bursary award granted in 2013; my current residency with the Muslim National School in Clonskeagh and my forthcoming Artist at Work with dlr LexIcon. All three projects focus on my collaborative practice with early years children. Throughout my time as guest editor I plan to share elements of these projects and draw into conversation many of the people with whom I have been fortunate to have collaborated with and who continue to support early years arts practice. 

Through a mentorship and evaluation process following my dlr primary arts artist in residency with Rathfarnham Educate Together National School with Senior Infants I have become very familiar with the Irish Primary School curriculum. It has provided me with a wealth of knowledge of the early years cycle of the education system and the scope and flexibility of the curriculum itself.  It has also provided me with a language to describe to others what my practice is about, how early years arts can benefit and inspire children and teachers and provide evidence where the arts has the potential to support all areas of the curriculum in creative and imaginative ways. I have also been looking at Aistear: the early childhood curriculum framework for all children from birth to six years, both in the context of the primary and pre-school context. I would be very interested to hear from others working in the home or in other contexts.

Helen Barry Seilmide Early Years Arts Project

The Arts Council YPCE bursary has provided me with the time and resources to examine my collaboration practice with early years children, to research and evaluate what it is that I have been doing and how I can best share with others the relevance of early years arts for the child, teacher, caregiver, and parent.  I have also been exploring how this collaborative practice directly impacts my studio practice, teasing out where one influences the other and I am often unable to separate the two. Indeed the two are intrinsically linked. The work evolves naturally and at a rhythm that is specific to each group I work with.  The groups include classes in the early primary school cycle, pre-school, crèches and less formal environments of community and family groups, arts centres and early years arts festivals.

During the next two months I will focus on three areas of early years and would like to invite others into the conversation of my three chosen themes. Through each theme I shall be inviting different perspectives from the artist, care-giver and parent:

-          Language  

-          Here & Now

-          Collaboration

And finally, I am looking forward to the consultation for the new Arts in Education Portal at my local Education Centre. Led by Kids’ Own, this is a brand new national initiative in partnership with the Department of Education & Skills and the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht. The portal is being developed as part of the implementation of the Arts in Education Charter, which was launched by both departments in early 2013.

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