The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children

The Ark

A Cultural Centre for Children, Dublin

The Ark is a dedicated cultural centre for children. They create opportunities for children, along with their families and friends or with their school, to discover and love art. Through their work with leading Irish and international artists children can enjoy performances in The Ark’s unique purpose design child-sized theatre, view engaging exhibitions or participate in creative workshops.

From 2008-2011 Ashleigh Downey was the visual arts programmer for The Ark. She designed a number of bespoke programmes for children, families, teachers, and specific target groups, including Autism Ireland. Curated programmes include Earth Explorers, Exhibit Me!, and the interactive area and central engagement space for the Mandscape at The Ark exhibition, a national contemporary visual arts touring initiative funded by the Arts Council Touring Experiment.

As Visual Arts Programmer Ashleigh also project managed Crafted Creatures, a partnership between the Crafts Council of Ireland as part of Year of Craft 2011. Crafted Creatures included an exhibition curated by curated by Brian Kennedy and featuring work by 28 contemporary craftspeople; a series of Craft Workshops exploring weekly animal themes using materials like clay, wire, fabric, rubber and plastic; and Crafted Creatures Treasure Trail. Here The Ark and the National Museum of Ireland with support by LUAS teamed up to produce a fun self-guided weekend treasure-hunt trail for families. The trail followed clues from the Crafted Creatures exhibition at The Ark to the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks and in some surprising places along the way. 

Earth Explorers 2009

Earth Explorers is your opportunity to engage creatively with the environment and the impact we have on our surroundings through a range of fun, inspirational and imaginative visual arts activities.

Exhibit Me! 2009

The experience begins in The Ark’s gallery, where work is on view by artist Terry O’Farrell.  Spend time with a ‘live’ artist, sharing stories about her family, her work, and having creative conversations to explore ones own ideas of family. Terry introduces a range of exciting materials and techniques for experimentation through workshops, presented as a studio space for experimentations. Everything you see and touch can be inspiration for a creation of a piece of art, for inclusion in an Evolving Exhibition alongside Terry’s work.

Each week participants make different types of art : Clay Sculptures, Clay Pictures, Drawing, Plaster, Cloth and Mixed Media.
The Evolving Exhibition was curated by Ashleigh Downey, The Ark’s Visual Arts Programmer, in collaboration with artist Terry O’Farrell.

Mandscape at The Ark 2008

An interactive space was introduced to the Mandscape exhibition. Developed by our Visual Arts Programmer Ashleigh Downey, this area is designed to encourage exploration of the exhibition theme (images where mankind is present, or where mankind has left a trace on the landscape) and further audience engagement. This interactive space invites an interactive response to the exhibition, and provides a place to creatively explore the idea of mark-making. This area is an opportunity for children, schools, and families to participate in the theme of leaving a trace on the physical landscape, in this case by making a mark on the temporary walls of The Ark.

The three areas encourage interaction with our audience, and further engage them in contemporary art.
Weaving Wall : This give people a chance to try their hand at weaving, and make their mark using different fabrics.
Drawing Wall : An area for people to mark-make onto large rolls of paper, using various drawing material of varying lengths.
Response Wall : A peg board where for displaying comments and drawings left behind in response to the exhibition.