Artists Interviews

November 2014:

Language - Communication

Threading, Helen Barry, artist

Threading - Helen Barry working with early years children

I find that I am continuously grappling with language. Whether this is trying to find a language to describe my own work or find a common language between early years practitioners, teachers, parents, artists working across different disciplines or engaging directly with early years children, each brings its own set of challenges and rewards.

My work with early years children is often non-verbal. Requiring minimum visual instructions to set a construction or build in motion, the initial sense of achievement in itself provides the impetus for the early years child to find its own direction. Using an approach similar to Aistear, I observe their exploration, their curiosity, their attention to detail, what they choose to focus on and what interests them in an environment we have created together. My observations - like those of the crèche worker - become the stimulus for engaging the early years child further.

Helen Barry, artist, children

Conversations - Helen Barry working with children at the Muslim School

As the early years child becomes more familiar with language we can take the time for reflection and discussion with them. My current residency is with a junior infants class and more than half do not share a common first language. This leads to different levels and abilities of communication, interest, comfort and frustration. Together with the teacher and the assistance of the children we listen, watch, point, tear up and stick back together in order to create, inspire and achieve our vision. This demands time and patience which is offered usually to children but not frequently enough to adults whose shared interest and vision is often misrepresented.

Strange as it may seem, sometimes silence is the common language; the silence of a room full of early years children concentrating on creation...

Helen Barry, artist, children

Figuring it out - Helen Barry’s work with early years children


Helen Barry, artist, children

Under the sky - children working with artist Helen Barry

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