The Mercy Family Centre is a family centre providing Early Years education plus adult education, parental support programmes and social service solutions to the community of Dublin 8 and extended areas. We provide a range of parenting and family supports.
This project was developed to participate in the Creative Ireland Programme / RTÉ art Competition This Is Art. The opportunity arose through a past parent of ours advertising the ‘This is Art’ programme and asking us to promote it in the community. We decided to work on a project together and submit a group entry ourselves. What emerged was our project ‘The land of creativity’ where parents, teachers and children all came together, and the three groups integrated creatively. The children that took part in this project are from our afterschool programme. There were 16 children and their parents involved. The children were between five years and eight years old. We look forward to doing more programmes like this which will help parents, children and teachers in a new way through their journey in education and children’s emotional worlds.
The theme of the competition was ‘This is Inspiration!’ While doing this project we explored ideas through cultural days with parents, our global staffing days, and our weekly observational supervision with staff. We observed parents and teachers connecting with the children. When we combined these observations, we learnt that in connecting intellectually and leaving out any emotional difficulties also left out creativity in our thinking.
Consequently, our project came together with a simple structure of meeting with our parents and asking them what inspired them and how they could come to the classroom and bring their stories with them. The stories that parents came with were about things they liked that inspired them, which gave the children and teachers insights into the parents worlds. This also led to parents connecting with other parents and learning about each other. The stories included their own childhood experiences, games they played, traveling, their work, their skills, buildings they lived in, the arts and symbols of their countries, their own educational experiences in school, their relationships with their own parent’s, some of their customs and general things that they liked. It was interesting that it gave the parents an opportunity to connect with each other, reflect on their own experiences and share them with other families.
We then spoke with the children about the project, exploring the word inspiration, what it means to be inspired and their own ideas. At the same time we were telling stories about the history of art, different techniques artists developed and their stories. This brought about curiosity where the children connected with the artist stories. To bring parents, children and teachers together, we arranged for the parents to visit the classroom and tell the children the stories that inspired them in their lives. This connected the parent’s stories and the children’s ideas to help them develop their ideas and connect in a new way to the parents. It brought the knowledge of different artists, parents inspirational stories and their own thinking together. It brought about an energy, curiosity and enjoyment while a flow of thought was happening between the three worlds, parent, child, and teacher.
This helped the children to start their mural and allow their thoughts to flow, exploring the use of textures and paints and the varied materials. They worked together on one large mural, sharing space on the canvas. It was important working together with their different ideas, fluid conversation of the parent’s stories, artist stories and their own. This created a relaxed thinking environment where the socialisation could happen naturally, and the children had space to think. We then connected the parents back into the final stage of the mural with the children and teachers. They all worked freely together on the final stage of the project. This brought about the connections of the emotional world of the parents, children and teachers creating a structure where the three worlds are connected creatively through the experience and secure in the uncertainty. This developed a shift from intellectual thinking and enabled a focus on the relationships with the children, the staff and the parents. It brought children, parents and teachers into uncertainty and allowed the evolution of thoughts and language to be experienced differently. It created a very dynamic flow, and the relationships began to be interpreted in a new and creative way.
To bring a name to the final mural we brainstormed with the children using abstract words they spoke to connect with their experience and ideas in the project and together they brought about the name ‘The Land of Creativity.’ The children, parents, and teachers understood the notion of inspiration and creativity in a unique way from the experience of the project addressing the discomfort of uncertainty. Therefore, intellectualising our thoughts to solutions and narrowing our creative self, bringing security, confidence and motivation to all three groups while integrating diverse cultural influences which showed itself in the final art piece. The project was selected by the judging panel from the Creative Ireland Programme/ RTE art competition ‘This Is Art! One of the judging panel Author and Illustrator Aoife Dooley shared with the group how impressed she was with the artwork. ‘WOW! This piece of art is fun, bright, and energetic! This is a fantastic collaborative work of art, the sharing of stories, cultures, experiences have resulted in a beautiful imaginative piece. I’m sure the experience of creating this work was filled with immense joy. You should all be very proud.”
Please click on the video below to watch our experience of ‘Our Land of creativity’
Project developed by Bernadette Anderson
Director of Services Mercy Family Centre Ltd & Creative Director of the project ‘Our Land of creativity’