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Summer Days of Limitless Creativity

Summer means long days of endless creativity and beauty, which made Limerick City Gallery the perfect setting for a creative summer camp. In 2019, Creative Health Hub artist Ciara Harrison had the pleasure of working with a group of children, aged 8-12, all living with long term medical conditions.  The gallery exhibitions provided inspiration for the participants to explore and respond to existing art, while also discovering their own creative processes. 

One of the first activities the children experienced was a guided tour of the current exhibitions, exposing them to a variety of artworks and getting their creative juices flowing. The participants seemed to be particularly interested in Robert Ryan’s Forgotten Existence exhibit, and his work became central to many of the activities throughout the three day camp. The children were fully immersed in Ryan’s art, and even began to discuss and interpret the pieces as a group without any prompting. They admired the technique and were fascinated by the mystical creatures depicted in each painting. These conversations became a great ice breaker for the group, allowing them to share their thoughts and ideas with each other comfortably.

Forgotten Existence by Robert Ryan. Photo courtesy of Limerick City Gallery website

After the gallery tour, the children were given the opportunity to respond to the artwork creatively,  exploring different methods of creating or building their own characters over the next two days. They drew and painted images similar to the artwork they had experienced, adding their own artistic spins. They moulded small creatures out of clay and created colourful masks using a treasure trove of art materials that encouraged them to experiment and play. The relaxed and welcoming environment provided the perfect backdrop for friendships to be formed.

Air clay creations. Photo credit: Ciara Harrison

On the third day of the camp, no one could resist the call of the sunshine, as participants spent the morning outside in the People’s Park. Each participant was given a white cotton t-shirt. They all eagerly watched as Ciara mixed fabric dyes and showed them how to make interesting patterns before diving straight in and creating their own unique tie-dye designs for their shirts. One of the participants was already familiar with the fabric dyeing process, and enthusiastically assisted Ciara in demonstrating the process to her fellow participants. 

Fabric dyeing. Photo credit: Ciara Harrison

The various activities and materials used throughout the camp encouraged the children to take ownership of their art, and explore their own creative instincts. By the end of the camp, each young artist had a collection of artwork to take home that they had created themselves. Many of the children were particularly proud of their masks and tie-dyed t-shirts, as these were objects that they could wear or use and show off to their friends and family.

Helium Arts’ Creative Health Hubs are supported by the Arts Council and the Social Innovation Fund Ireland. The Limerick Hub is taking place in partnership with University Hospital Limerick, and Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Culture and Arts Department. The 2019 Summer Camp was funded by the JP McManus Benevolent Fund .

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