The beginning inspiration for and the history of “This is Me”
As part of the curriculum of Cheeky Cherubs, every month we explore the works of different artists, such as Van Gogh, Pollock, Mozart and Yeats. By valuing the process rather than the product and showing children our genuine excitement and enthusiasm for their discoveries and attempts, we are preparing them to be creative thinkers, capable of solving problems. Last year, the Preschool children were inspired to create their very own “Preschoo-Lisa”, in honour of observing the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci. Once this group painting was completed, the children decided to display it on a wall in the heart of their room, but the work did not stop there. They wanted to recreate the gallery experience that was visible in the book showing the famous master piece. They made a gold frame around the work, and roped off the area, creating an environment worthy of their creation. Every evening their parents were called in to admire their Mona Lisa. The Pre-schoolers in our City Hall service also show a great interest in the Arts and love going see the exhibitions within City Hall.
As part of our emergent curriculum, we decided to expand on the children’s interest in exhibitions and the Arts. We arranged for children from our three services to visit Crawford Art Gallery with a visual artist, Inge Van Doorslaer. Inge gave an exciting tour of the gallery where we saw and touched the stain glass pieces, by Harry Clarke, explored the paintings, such as those by Jack B Yeats and Louis Le Brocquy, and as well as sculptures and architecture. At the end of each session the children were encouraged to create their own works of art while surrounded by the paintings.
Following ongoing discussions with our team we decided to see if we could organise an art exhibition for the preschool children of Cork. We spoke to other likeminded Early Years Educators and came to the conclusion that there was an interest in having this kind of event and of course we knew that each centre had the expertise required. We made an application to Cork City Council to start an Art Project and hold an Exhibition of children’s work in City Hall. Together with the support of Inge Vandoorslaer, a visual artist, we developed a plan on how to make this vision a reality, resulting in an Early Year’s Art Exhibition showcasing the work of the children of six different Early Years settings- “This is Me”
We held an information evening and workshop for the Early Years teachers who were participating in the experience. We discussed the procedure and expectations. We also had the opportunity to explore the proposed materials to be used; clay, pastels and paint. Dates were set for Inge and Sarah to visit each setting to introduce the children to the event and try to support their teachers.
Little Finger Playgroup was the first to experiment with clay. Their enthusiasm was infectious. The conversations between the children were very entertaining. Their individual works have been combined to create a beautiful instillation, incorporating clay and paper creations, on bales of straw.
Cheeky Cherubs, Workplace Crèche in Cork City Hall was next. They also chose clay. The children pounded and squished the clay, manipulating it into exciting and interesting shapes. Each child made circular pieces and then they were fired in a kiln and painted.
St Anne’s Day Nursery decided to introduce their children to pastels. On the day of the visit they all sat on the floor and experimented with textures and mark making. They’re ability to share their insights was a privilege to behold. Their works are now framed beautifully.
Cheeky Cherubs, Ballincollig, also worked with pastels. They too explored the different marks that pastels make on different surface and even added water to their works. Following our visit they carried on, drawing pictures of themselves and their families.
Another group in Cheeky Cherubs, Ballincollig worked with clay. They made islands, snakes and abstract shapes. Their joy was evident on their faces.
The children from Wallaroo Playschool also worked with pastels and were very expressive in their art work, not only illustrating themselves and their families but also imaginings such as vortexes!
Cheeky Cherubs, Bishopstown made the decision to work with paint. The children observed themselves in mirrors to create their self-portraits. This developed their self-awareness and observations skills. This experience has had a very positive impact on their confidence.
We had the opening of “This is Me” on the 20th of June and it was a great success. The families came in their droves! The children were so excited to see their work displayed where they would ordinarily see other famous exhibition and were so proud to show them off to their families. The families showed their enthusiasm and validated their children’s work by bringing them to the exhibition and discussing their work with them.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all children, families, educators, sponsors, contributors, supporters and volunteers for their support and dedication to this project, the art exhibition,
“This is Me”