Exhibit Me! – Full Text

Exhibit me!

The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, Dublin

“I love the engagement, the challenge, and the dialogue of working with others. I love leaving the studio and coming back changed by that experience. Like my mantelpiece in the studio that is full of collected ideas … each journey away has a return that is different.” Terry O’Farrell – exhibition artist

This exhibition was curated in 2010 as a way to break down the traditional confines of how gallery spaces are viewed, and to make interacting with exhibited art much more stimulating and accessible for children. Conventional galleries are often considered staid – visitors generally view art as voyeurs rather than actively taking part in the artistic process. The Exhibit Me! exhibition, and accompanying visual arts programme, aimed to encourage children to consider art from their own artistic viewpoint while guiding and inspiring their creativity, and supporting them as they become exhibiting artists in the Ark’s gallery space alongside professional artist Terry O’Farrell.

Curated by Ashleigh Downey, The Ark’s Visual Arts Programmer, in collaboration with Terry O’Farrell.

This exhibition gave children the opportunity to spend time with a professional artist, engage with her work, and, with the artists’ guidance create artwork which they could exhibit alongside O’Farrell’s work as part of an evolving exhibition. O’Farrell’s work for this exhibition explored the intimate complexities of familial relationships,memory and emotions. Through the use of ceramics, wire, pattern and form, linear drawings and figurative narratives, she created subtle yet energetic family characters that conjure up memories and untold stories. The theme of family resonates through much of O’Farrell’s work and was the core theme for the work created and presented in this exhibition.

Together O’Farrell and I designed a 6 week workshop programme to reflect the theme of Family. Each week children, young people and their families explored a different artistic media – clay, plaster, cloth, mixed-media, drawing and mark-making, and had opportunity to experience a wide range of techniques and creative processes.

In the Ark’s workshop space – the children’s very own artist’s studio – they were free to express their ideas based and create their very own artwork. All participating artists were invited to display their artworks alongside the work of Terry O’Farrell’s in the evolving exhibition.

At the core of the ‘Exhibit Me’ programme is the idea that children are treated as artists in their own right. They are given the opportunity to produce work that is personal to them rather than being told what or how to creatively express themselves. Exhibit Me! created a space for collaboration between curator, artist and child, both within the workshop space and through the evolving exhibition. The work showcased in the gallery space changed and developed each week, as hundreds of newly created pieces were added.

The exhibition was curated by Ashleigh Downey, The Ark’s Visual Arts Programmer, in collaboration with artist Terry O’Farrell.

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