The Scandinavians have been using the great outdoors as a learning platform for years and see it as a healthy addition to classroom learning. Now, in Ireland because of the Covid 19 pandemic, schools are having to think outside the box or even outside the classroom. Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna is one such school that is taking some of its classes outdoors, weather permitting of course.
The Scandinavian school children go out into the forest for their lessons. The children of Gaelscoil
Bhaile Munna couldn’t go to the forest but fortunately the forest came to Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna! OK, so it isn’t an actual forest, but rather a sculptural pavilion that represents a woodland dell or clearing in the forest, commissioned under the Percent for Art scheme and created by the public art duo, Eithne Ring and Liam Lavery.
The artwork entitled “Ceannbhrat” is a brightly coloured canopy with seating that curves and snakes like a forest path. The canopy is made from perforated galvanised steel which was produced in Graepels Perforators and Weavers Ltd in Kinsale, Co Cork. When we were developing this idea we were Artists in Residence at Graepels as part of the Business to Arts initiative. There are images of an oak tree and woodland forest creatures which were created by perforating different size holes into the metal.
The school’s crest of a triskel is also “woven” into the imagery with the inclusion of three words; “Dóchas”, “Meas” agus ” Misneach”, which translate as “Hope”, “Respect” and “Courage”, important and inspirational words in these uncertain times.
Another rather enchanting feature of this piece is the way the sun shines through the perforations and casts playful shadows on the timber seating within the canopy. This will happen not only in the summer months but on a sunny January or February day when the sun is low in the sky and the shadows are longer. This interaction with nature and the elements, light and shade is another magical aspect to this outdoor classroom canopy.
It was a stroke of serendipity that the children of the school suggested that they would like a
performance area as one of the criteria when the idea of a sculptural artwork for their new school was being suggested. Lavery and Ring won the competition for the commission back in 2018 but due to building schedule delays the piece was not installed until the summer of 2019 and further delays with the landscaping meant that the site was closed off for the rest of the school year which was a great disappointment for both the school and the artists.
The artwork has now come into its own and will hopefully inspire and make magical memories for the children who use it whether as a performance area, a learning space or when taking a little “sos” (break) from the busy school playground and maybe they will momentarily be distracted by the sun coming out and giving them the fleeting gift of a shadow fox or shadow hare on the seat next to them.
You can find out more about this school projects and other school projects here.
If you would like to see more of Eithne Ring and Liam Lavery’s work or buy an original print please see our online shop