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Second Class

Day One – 25th September 2023

Worms, slugs, blackberries, trees, signs, cranes, houses, the sea, a boat, an old house, lots of speedy cars under the bridge on the M50, a few horn blasts from trucks, a drone! (to much delight), Killiney obelisk (or ovelisk), a church, a hill, the school, their classroom – are all standout things spotted on the walk starting our project today.

Second class were fantastic at looking and seeing and using “I see, I wonder” taught to them by their teacher, Kathleen.

We made it back to the studio and I was amazed to see their imaginations and what they collected with their special eyes spread out over the large pieces of brown wrapping paper.

Such fantastic patterns, lines, use of colour and expression!

One group joined me again and responded to a sculptural set up I left for them in the studio.  I asked them to take it apart and make something new. They enjoyed the challenge! They took it apart and made their own structures and collections. I asked them to stop and to look at everyone else’s work – to explain to me what they had made. Spaceships, rockets, houses and toilets were all made in the studio today.

I’ve made what I am calling ‘living scaffolding’ out of simple bamboo and rope – they flop and move around a bit but help having something to rest things on and build with other than the cardboard. It’s great to talk to them a bit about the things they see around cherrywood every day – scaffolding, builders, cranes, pipes – I see it coming through in the work they make.

After a few tries in the studio I brought them down to the central courtyard and asked them what could be made to go in there. One answer was a sky rocket! I noticed before we went back to make some more that all of our eyes kept drifting upward to look at the clouds forever changing above …

Day Two – 26th September

Lots of ideas today!

Forts, tents, castles, fortresses, campfires, disco parties, washing lines, beds and windows all became alive and part of the studio. My problem now is that there are too many ideas!

Day Three – 27th September

We finished with second class’s sessions today. They responded so well to the project. The last group made a fantastic fortress with a double layer wall and garden in between. We had a wall made from all the cylinders lined up, a house complete with couch and shower, a beauty salon with a golden and glittery floor!

First Class

The weather was so bad, first class did a walk around the school – looking out of window, passed the storm and finding what they could see. We went out briefly into the yard for a quick rain dance before coming back to the studio to record their findings! They worked away with lots of paint and colour and I loved all of the fantastic mapping they did. A very busy day!

Day Four – Thursday 28th September

Today was another excellent day of making. The two first class groups really delivered so many ideas. I keep thinking that the next group will be the one where my inspiration runs out but each group has come and re-arranged the space in a completely new and unique way – coming up with something that makes me want to sit down and sketch. Today there was a fantastic spiral and double entrance as well as a completely functioning marble run.
None of it is linear – concepts from the group later in the day can be designed with layouts from the first. One group may start an idea in my head and another may solve a problem that idea has brought up. I don’t quite know what I am designing yet but with the help of these kids I have confidence it will be full of joy and imagination.

Day Five – Friday 29th September

End of week one! What a fantastic week. I have made five ‘maquettes’ or models, based off ideas that came up each day. The school is forming and reforming my plan minute by minute and hour by hour. I’ve never fully agreed with the phrase ‘too many cooks’ – for this project we will stick with ‘the more the merrier!’.

Week Two

Monday 2nd October

Senior Infants

Its great to have a fresh head after the weekend and senior infants were brilliant to work with today. My ‘living scaffolding’ structures kind of started to flop towards the end of last week. They’ll be re-used again next week.

On our first class walk the group did some very close looking around – their drawings when we got back featured houses, nettles, trees, suns, rainbows, clouds, roads, dogs, cars, Gráinne, people and lots more in their beautiful distinctive styles.

The first group making made a huge house in the middle of the studio – all working so well together. They did a great job and even some of them became building inspectors, inspecting the walls for cracks with their torch scanners! I’m looking forward to the week ahead and the new ideas to come and change my current ones.

Tuesday 3rd October

What a busy day! We had three of the senior infants groups in and busy in the studio. They were amazing! They worked so quickly together. We had lots of rockets, combination codes to ger into secret doors, sky windows, telescopes, hideouts, and more. They showed me a hibernation area in their yard and told me about slides, water slides, water worlds and fantastic imaginations they wanted in their yard or courtyard! We saw drums and I loved the
idea of incorporating sound into the final piece.

Wednesday 4th October

Cuteness overload today with the junior infants! We learned how to look more closely at all of their surroundings with their ‘special eyes’ – I was impressed with how much they remembered and recorded with their drawings. They are fantastically creative at that age. I loved seeing one child draw a map complete with x’s for treasure – they really have an intuitive understanding of what a ‘place’ is. It’s not just a name or a scrap of land – it is all of
the layers on top of each other – and us humans are here to experience it. It has been such a pleasure mining their vision of this place – and I think I’m getting closer to an idea. I might need a little more help from them though…

Thursday 5th October

I can’t believe it is the end of the second week! I had so much fun with the rest of the junior infants groups! They did so well and even still gave me more ideas! I loved seeing ow much the junior infants groups just wanted to play in the space – they loved making things out of the cardboard and reimagining what each part could be. Castles became cinemas then cinemas became banks. A waterfall out of a window made me think – could a marble run double as a waterfall in the rain?

We have more on the agenda next week and I can’t wait to be back in Cherrywood being inspired again.

Wednesday 24th October 

Things got so busy in week three I never got a chance to sit down and write. I was busy building the sculpture for the exhibition and getting feedback from some of the classes on the work so far. Leading up to the exhibition I was so excited and nervous all at once. I couldn’t wait to open the doors and to allow parents to see how much their creativity had lit up the school.

It soared above my expectations. I really couldn’t have expected so much joy from a two hour event. Everyone I chatted to was so kind and it was so fantastic to meet parents whose child had really enjoyed the process. Each child felt so much ownership over the space and what they made, it showed how much our approach to the project really worked. I could almost see roots shoot out of them and into this brand new building, like this exhibition
stood for a stamp of ownership – a core memory of placemaking. We always aimed that this project would allow for the children to take a deeper root in
Cherrywood, but I never really expected or foresaw how much it would draw me in too.


This week, writing from my studio in Dublin 8 I miss it all – and I feel a small amount homesick for the project and Cherrywood. I know it’s not over by any stretch of the imagination, but over the four weeks I really grew accustomed to the rhythm of the school, the waves of children through corridors, the omnipresent Katie, the staff room chats, Joe who seems to appear and disappear from secret passageways in the walls of the school, the Wednesday
walk and Friday assembly, the sounds of rain in the courtyard, the yells of delight at the end of the day, the little waves around corners and and goodbyes at hometime. I have to try and not eat seven meals a day now but at about 11.50am my stomach rumbles for small break – and for now I will comply!

Thank you again to everyone – every member of staff, every child and every parent who has welcomed me in as part of Cherrywood. Keep being amazing!

Exhibition 18th October 2023

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