6th Class – Holy Family NS – Some Strange Puppets Come Alive….

After last week’s frantic construction of the string and clay puppets I was a little worried to see how they were this week. I met Mr.Watt in the morning, gravely he told me “About half of them didn’t make it….they didn’t pull through….what will we do???” We discussed whether we would make a simpler puppet instead. I believed that this is part of the learning and creative process. In essence the design for the puppets should work – and had worked for around half of the class. So as with any artistic process – we would have a look and review what went wrong and what could be saved or amended and if some needed to remake them we would have learned how to make them better and stronger.

For the puppets who had survived they could now be painted and clothes, hair added. As the clay is not air drying clay but technically should be fired – to make it a bit stronger once they had been painted they should also be painted with PVA glue – this would seal the paint and give a clear varnish. And then we had fabrics which could be cut and pinned to make clothes. Some pretty creepy looking puppets began to emerge….not helping my being slightly freaked out by puppets generally anyway! It’s something to do with the uncanny….

The class worked really well today, getting on with what needed to be done and helping each other – making repairs, painting, strings, sticks as necessary. A very busy day! And here is the big reveal – a sample of some of the creations…..

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Week 7 – First Class, Holy Family NS – Stages and Sets

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Now that our puppets were up and moving, this week we worked on background sets. I had devised a template foldable from an A3 sheet of card. This would a shallow set for the puppet to move within. So with a bit of help we all constructed a background. No sooner had we made one and Ollie asked if he could make a second one and join the two together so he would have a background and a base. What a brilliant idea! So the idea spread quickly through the class as everyone wanted to have a base and background. What a busy morning! Everyone worked really hard and came up with great ideas, adding different elements so they were all very different. After little break we took some time to have a look at what everyone had been doing and the different ideas in the class and to share these ideas with each other.

So now we had the sets we looked again at our puppets to decide if we would like to attach a stick to them so they could be moved from under the set – like Eli had added last week. Or to attach strings and stick so they could be moved from above and also we could attach strings to the hands and move them too. We got bus again attaching strings and sticks. Have a look at some of the puppets and sets above!

Now all we need is some action! Next week we will look at how we can develop a story and short play for the puppets. Looking forward to seeing what will happen next week!

 

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Week 6 – 6th Class, Holy Family NS – Many Many Marionettes!

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So this was the week we were going to embark on making our marionettes. As I explained to the class – I have not made these before using clay so we are really hoping they work out! I had made them previously using folded card but I felt using clay would give them better weight, solidity and movement. We began by making a basic string skeleton of the figure – lots of tying and knotting….which took longer than I anticipated for 6th Class. But we got there with a little bit of help from our friends.

So now was the tricky bit – to create a three dimensional form wrapped around the string and in sections so each body part could move. This was the head, body, upper arms, lower arms, upper leg and lower leg. With a bit of difficulty the group figured out how to best make them with varying degrees of success – we had to revise some of the proportions and the forms to make them more 3D and balanced. The forms are quite rough and unfinished as we had not enough time to refine them. As we are using clay it kind of had to be done in one go as we cannot add wet clay to dry clay.

We possibly should have slowed down the making process altogether and just made some of the body parts and continued with them next week. We will wait and see how they worked out and may need to revise our plans yet! Here are some of the figures that were created. Some students got as far as adding clothes and decoration.

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Week 6 – First Class, Holy Family NS – Super Puppets

It had been two weeks since we had began making our moving figures, so we began the morning by having a look at what we had made and what we needed to do. My plan had been to develop the characters, add personality and features and to begin making background sets for them. Well we got no where near making backgrounds because we had such a busy mornings making, adding and acccessorizing and developing personalities for the figures!

We used card, wool, ribbon, material, tissue paper to create jewellery, hair, suits, coats, dresses, pet dog, pockets, maps, boots, stripy pants, woolly hats, buttons. So inventive and creative! Everyone worked really well together and there was great helping going on too!

Everyone was very proud of what they had created and had been so absorbed in making their own that they had not seen the others. So after lunch we spent some time getting to know them all. I asked each child three questions about their character: Name? Where they live? If they have a superpower?

We met some wonderful characters with some amazing superpowers – from the fire breathing to ice making to helpful and kind powers!

It was so busy I did not get any photos so will await to introduce them next week.

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Week 5 – 6th Class, Holy Family N.S – Clann – Theresa Nanigian exhibition at Municipal Gallery, DLR Lexicon

6th Class came to visit the Theresa Nanigian exhibition Clann at the Municipal Gallery at DLR Lexicon. Full attendance for the first time this term from 6th Class so we had a big group and all in high spirits! Full of energy and chat!

We began by looking around the gallery and then focused on the image of the music band (not sure of the title) because I overheard one of the lads say they recognised someone in the image. So we talked about what were the connections within the group – music as they all had instruments, possibly related as a family or possibly parent and children – but also that they live locally. So this gave a link to the county. On to the Residents – the group reckoned while they were not related to each other but maybe were friends because how close they were to each other. Conversation about whether it was done using a green screen so how the image was composed or created. They are photographs. Suggestion of linking to the group of doctors and nurses – are they the carers of the Residents?

With the 6th Class group I was trying to explore the idea of groups and how groups are formed – for example the swimmers – were they friends before they began swimming together, do they go swimming together or do they just see each other there and have a chat – they are engaged in an activity that links them and connects them. What groups are they a part of? Is it a family group? Are they friends? Is it a sporting team? Is it a group who you go to the cinema with? Hang out with? Do you engage in an activity together? Is there a group you used to be part of? What does it mean to be part of a group?

Mr.Watt was interested in how the class had commented on the work and felt they were not very in depth in their questioning of the work….so he asked them if they could see any stereotypes in the artworks – so discussion around what is a stereotype with examples given by the class. This gave the group another way of reviewing the work – so Mr.Watt set the class the task of looking at the work again and pointing out stereotypes and if the artwork compounds or contradicts the stereotypes. So for example the group in the hospital – all the nurses are female and the doctor is male. Yet we might think that all rescue workers are male and there is a female rescue worker. So we looked at gender balance in the photographs. The swimmers are made up of half male, half female.

We also tried to get the class to examine whether they felt they – as a group of 6th class/ 11-12 year old of multiple nations and ethnicity were represented in the groups portrayed in this exhibition. Is the diversity of their school with approximately 15 nations visible in this exhibition. Tricky question and tricky conversation. Good to try and open up the conversation and get them thinking and their point of view.

Back in the Project Room each student drew a group portrait of a group they are either part of, were part of or would like to be part of (their wording) – these included family, friends, cricket teams, football teams. Hopefully get a chance to have a look at these next week.

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Week 5 – First Class, Holy Family N.S – Clann – Theresa Nanigian Exhibition at DLR LexIcon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Class and Horizons came to visit the exhibition Clann by Theresa Nanigian at the Municipal Gallery, DLR Lexicon. This exhibition is work developed by the artist over two years where she met with groups in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County and photographed them, taking them out of context so the focus is on their connections as a group. We began with the image Residents.  The discussion with the group was initially around pointing out what was the same about the people, what was different, colour hair, clothes, wheelchairs. Were they related? Some felt that they might live together or go somewhere together but that the photograph was taken in a photographic studio. Were they all the same age? All pretty old – between 60 and 100. Maybe they had some people to look after them because they had sore legs.

Then onto the Forty Foot Swimmers – where were they swimming? Were they friends? Yes – maybe they trained together, maybe they were a boys team and a girls team. Through close looking we saw that some might have already been in swimming. But it also looked like it was in a studio. We talked about where you might see these swimmers, what would be behind them – the sea or a swimming pool? And then the chefs from the Yacht Club – firstly it was suggested they were pilots because of their uniforms, then sailiors because they had flags on their uniforms….and maybe a pirate at the back? Then on reading the labels on their jackets it was discovered they were chefs in a restaurant. We talked about whether they were family, friends or work together or maybe work together and are friends.

So having looked at these group portraits we were now going to make mixed up portraits – confused??? Yes everyone was confused!

Start again….fold the paper strips into four parts – head at the top – fold it down – swap with someone else – draw the body – fold it down – swap with someone else – draw the legs – swap with someone else – draw the feet. Open them up and there your have confused and mixed up portraits! I thought there might be some tears and upset in the class as the students have strong ownership over their artworks – but it all happened so quick and the portraits were whizzing around the room so there was no time for tears! And they looked fab!!!

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Week 4 – 6th Class, Holy Family N.S – Who are they? Who is that?

As with First Class group we have had three week break so the focus of this six week block – as discussed with the class as to what they want to work on – puppets and developing sets was suggested at the beginning of the year. And as we are visiting Theresa Nanigian’s exhibition – Clann at Municipal Gallery, DLR LexIcon next week I thought this could be a good starting point to discuss groups, body language, facial expression, gesture, action. We began by having a long discussion about the above photographic artwork by John Byrne. Great discussion around the family connections in the image, who was doing what, who is engaged, what are there emotions, has something happened, is something going to happen, is it a heist on the GPO? Multiple suggestions and observations around possible scenarios.

We then did a short drama exercise – breaking into groups and given the work ESCAPE. The groups had 5 minutes to compose a still image or freeze frame image that expressed the word – using themselves, body language, gesture and action. In the short time given the groups worked quickly and inventively using the classroom as set – with prison escapes, school escapes and bank robbery escapes.

 

 

 

 

Over the next couple of weeks we will be developing a marionette style puppet. (I explained to the class that puppets are not my strong point and I have not made this model of puppet before so we are embarking on this experimental journey together!). In preparation for that and building on the earlier conversations we developed characters breaking it down into head, body, bottom, legs looking at the different shapes used to express the character. We will make a basic model/ template using string and clay and then build on them to individualise them (Fingers crossed!).

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