County Limerick students ‘spread their wings’ with art and pottery exhibition

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

WITH paint, pottery and a little imagination the students at Templeglantine national school have put together a unique art exhibition, now in display.

WITH paint, pottery and a little imagination the students at Templeglantine national school have put together a unique art exhibition, now in display.

Through the help of professional artist and potter John Sherlock, children at the school have crafted personalised ceramic tiles, each one carrying a painted picture of a butterfly.

The collaboration between Mr Sherlock, who owns the Sugarhill pottery studio in Templeglantine, and the national school was part of the Limerick County Council Arts Office’s ‘artist in residence’ programme.

Mr Sherlock said that working with the local students, one of whom is his own grandson, was “absolutely magical”.

“I’ve always taught adults, so teaching kids and seeing all the smiling faces was absolutely magical. That’s the only way I can describe it.”

As part of the residencies, which last for nine days, each artist is tasked with coming up with a concept that will engage the children and capture their imagination. Mr Sherlock decided to help each child craft a clay tile that would carry their own painting of a butterfly.

“I had the idea of a butterfly. The story I gave the kids was, when they were at home with the mums they were caterpillars. When they come to school, they’re in cocoons, and when the finish sixth class and head out they’ll all have become butterflies.

“I told them that tiles last for thousands of years. When archeologists come digging up Templeglantine, they’ll find them all.”

Each child was given a ceramic tile, which they designed and painted a butterfly on. John then fired each of the tiles in his kiln. There are over 80 in total, and the tiles will be on display at the school for parents, teachers and pupils this Friday night.

Mr Sherlock said that he also taught the children a little about the basics of pottery, from an understanding of clay to how kilns work. For this he drew on his own vast experience in the trade, which he first acquired while living in South Africa. On returning to Ireland in 1999, he opened his own studio, enrolled at the Limerick School of Art and Design and embarked on an award winning artistic career.

Brid Quinn of the council arts office said that they are “thrilled” with the success of the artist in residence programme.

“The enthusiasm that the kids show for it just blows the artists away. A lot of them wouldn’t have worked with children before. The energy and excitement that they have for it is incredible.

“It’s challenging for the artists, because they need to find the best way to engage with the students in a short time. But it’s worked out really well, we’re delighted.”