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Group Work making clay sculptures at the Cork Helium Arts Spring Programme 2022

Helium Arts workshop with Ashleigh Ellis at the Togher Family Centre on Saturday 26 March.

Back ‘Live and In-Person’! Review of the Helium Arts Spring Workshops 2022

During March and April 2022, we ran our 6-week Spring art workshops for children ages 6-12 in 4 different venues across Cork, Limerick and Galway.  It was the first time since the pandemic that we got a chance to complete a full series of workshops ‘in-person’.  There was great excitement. The workshops took place every Saturday morning and afternoon, for a period of 6 weeks and 47 children attended.

We spoke to the wonderful artists who ran each programme.

“There was lots of experimentation, lots of mess, lots of chaos but most importantly an abundance of FUN!  It was fantastic to be back face to face.” Helium Artists.


Limerick – Chelsea Canavan

The programme in Limerick was delivered by Chelsea Canavan.  Chelsea is a visual artist interested in understanding narratives and shared experiences. Objects of Wonder was the theme that Chelsea explored during the workshop series.  She encouraged the children to discover inspiration in everyday things, making them wonderous and unique.

Highlights of the workshops included building sculptures with chairs, mashing clay into shapes, or bending wire and gluing cardboard.

“We were building up or tearing down, creating and destroying, taking up space or not; we always returned to playing with the scale of our objects within space. This led us into fascinating discoveries and conversations about how we play, how we interact with normal everyday objects and how it changes our perspective of space and time.” Chelsea Canavan.

Inspiration for the theme and processes was found in the works of Claes Oldenberg, Phyllida Barlow, Lily van der Stokker, and Thomas Hirschhorn.

A sculpture made out of chairs piled high on top of each other

Building a chair sculpture in Limerick

Galway – Sarah Fuller

The programme in the Westside Resource Centre in Galway was delivered by Sarah Fuller.  Sarah is a visual artist and puppeteer.  Sarah is committed to making work for children’s audiences in many forms.  The theme for Sarah’s workshop – ‘Adventures in Dreamland’ was inspired by the children themselves.  When asked what they should call the map they created they suggested ‘Dreamland’.

Highlights of the workshop included puppet making, the creation of short films using stop frame animation, drawing and the completion of a folding book with a collage of images.

“Through a playful process of drawing and collaboration together we created a map of imaginary places. This provides the starting point for locations, journeys, characters, and adventures. Using the medium of stop frame animation to explore and develop ideas about: Where to be, how to get there, the characters that might live there and what could happen.

Dreamland is a free space of the imagination. Anything is possible!” Sarah Fuller


Image of a stop frame animation set up at the Helium Arts workshop in Galway

Stop frame animation set up in Galway

Cork – Ashleigh Ellis

The programme in Togher, Cork City was delivered by Ashleigh Ellis.  Ashleigh is a multi-disciplinary artist who loves material and process-led art, making art in and with nature and drawing as meditation.  The theme for Ashleigh’s workshop was ‘Creative Journeys’.

Ashleigh took the children on a journey, a sensory exploration of materials and objects, mapping and exploring our relationships with our world and investigating the natural world through sounds and objects.  Highlights included lots of giggles as the children celebrated their joyful discoveries, especially with electrical tape!!  (A big thanks to one of our brave volunteers who allowed themselves to be wrapped in tape!)

Image of children having fun with electrical tape at the Helium Arts Workshops Spring 2022

Fun with electrical tape in Cork

A selection of the work created by the participants in the Spring Workshops will feature as part of our upcoming Summer 2022 arts showcases.   These showcases are a brilliant opportunity for anyone with an interest in Helium Arts to see what our amazing participants have created.  Each showcase will have a Family Gathering Day.  Everyone is welcome to come, meet the team and have fun!