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Pulling Faces and Telling Tales

The wet winter weather couldn’t put a damper on Helium’s February camps in Cork. Set in the Mayfield Arts Centre, artist Ciara Harrison facilitated a two-day camp over the midterm break. With the assistance of artist Siobhán Clancy, Ciara led a group of children, aged 6-8, in the mornings, and an older group, aged 9-12, in the afternoons. Focusing on the theme “Pulling Faces and Telling Tales” the children took part in a variety of different creative activities and art projects.

Funny Faces and Human-Animal Hybrid Collages.


The first day began with collage activities for both age groups, using stickers to create bizarre and funny faces on paper. After everyone had a good laugh at all their outrageous creations, the children moved on to inventing their own creatures using cut-outs of animals and humans from National Geographic magazines and ending up with intriguing hybrids. The artwork was used to create a gallery, hanging all of the children’s wonderful and wacky pieces of art on the walls. 

Participants showing off their individual tracings from their group piece.


The children worked collaboratively in the second half of the morning, tracing their bodies on a large piece of paper and overlapping them to make one large combined creature. When all the participants had been traced, the group set upon painting the creature together. Before beginning the painting they all discussed what it meant to work as a team and agreed to participate together, making it a group project that everyone had equal ownership of. The children experimented in mixing different paints to create new beautiful colours, which resulted in a big messy, colourful, fun activity.

A participant gets creative with clay.


On the second day of the camps, the younger group continued with the creature theme.

The first activity involved constructing creatures using plastic hollow tubing that could be stretched and shortened. These tubes were then filled with various materials such as beads, buttons, feathers, fabric and wool. They also used googly eyes to bring the creatures to life.

When they finished creating their creatures, participants worked with air dough clay, which has a  soft texture, allowing for colours to be mixed easily. Participants commented on how fun and relaxing the clay was to work with.

Designing a shirt can require lots of concentration.


The second half of the morning was spent designing and drawing on white t-shirts using

fabric markers, fabric crayons and stencils. This activity allowed participants to

freehand draw or use shapes to mark their t-shirt, resulting in colourful and unique designs. The t-shirts made for a great piece of art to take home along with the rest of their creations from the camp.

Random Ransom Poetry


The older group started the second day differently with an activity called Random Ransom Poetry. Participants cut out fifteen descriptive words from newspapers and magazines. They were allowed to keep their five favourite words while the rest went into a bag to be jumbled up and passed out randomly to the other participants. They then created a poem using all the words they were given. The results ranged from funny to poignant and were certainly random and very individual.

T-Shirt Designing with stencils and graphics.


This group also spent the second half of the session designing t-shirts. Not only did they use fabric markers and stencils, but they were also given fabric paint and spray paint to experiment with. Participants used large stencils of animals and different text as designs to be spray-painted, creating colourful graphics.This group also enjoyed taking their finished t-shirts home along with the rest of their artwork.


Both groups accomplished an incredible amount in just two sessions. Staying true to the theme of the camp, they pulled lots of funny faces along the way and had many tales to tell. They even created a few new ones by the end.

Helium Arts’ Creative Health Hubs are supported by the Arts Council, the Social Innovation Fund Ireland through the Arts to Impact Fund, and Creative Ireland. The Cork Hub is taking place in partnership with Cork University Hospital’s Arts, Health and Wellbeing Programme and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare. 

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