02 Dec 2021

Art work exhibited by Loreto secondary school pupils in Clonmel portrays what life in lockdown was like for them

Art work exhibited by Loreto secondary school pupils in Clonmel portrays what life in lockdown was like for them

“Life in lockdown” is an exhibition at South Tipperary Arts Centre from students at the Loreto Secondary School, Clonmel. Curated by TY students Selen Slattery and Niamh Daly as part of their work experience module, the exhibition will run until 3 November 30.

TY students Niamh Daly and Selen Slattery have been working with South Tipperary Arts Centre over the past couple of months as part of their Work Experience module and during this time they have worked with our Artistic Director Helena Tobin & Loreto Art teacher Anne Marie Kirby to curate an exhibition of work by their schoolmates with the theme of ‘Life in Lockdown’. 

Students were asked to submit art work that they carried out during the lockdown period, and the team curated a  selection from the many submissions.  They have worked hard over the last few weeks and the resulting exhibition Upstairs @STAC is an eclectic mix of paintings/drawings and mixed media work, including some of the outfits created by the Loreto students for the annual Junk Couture competition.  

The exhibition is now open to the public and can be viewed at the following times:

Mondays: 10-5 

Tuesdays: 2-5 

Wednesdays: 2-5 

Thursdays: 10-3 

Fridays: Not Open

Saturdays: 2-5

Helena Tobin, Artistic Director, STAC 

“Niamh and Selen both separately approached us at the Arts Centre for work experience, and because we wanted to accommodate both of them if possible, I devised a project for their module that would see them work together and give them experience of the work involved preparing, curating and delivering an exhibition from start to finish. I think initially they were both a bit intimidated by the idea, but my colleague Eimear King and I guided and supported them throughout the 10weeks. They also had amazing support from Loreto art teacher Ms. Kirby. 

They came up with a theme, designed a poster to ask for submissions from students, promoted the project within the school, worked with Ms. Kirby to organise logistics of collecting and selecting work, designed a poster to advertise the exhibition and worked with myself, Eimear and Ms. Kirby to curate, install, light and label the exhibition. They really stepped up to the challenge, worked very hard and delivered an exhibition which they should be very proud of, one that showcases the theme they chose and that represents a broad spectrum of the talented art students at Loreto.” 

In conversation with Selen Slattery, one of the curators of the exhibition, she said 

“I decided to go to the art centre for work experience because I wanted to try and get a placement in something I was interested in. I had been in the art centre many times before whether it was for STAG (South Tipperary Art Group) or doing workshops. Helena Tobin the director of the Arts centre floated an idea of creating or own exhibition. I really liked the idea of being able to set up an exhibition that would be based around the Loreto students and that they would get to show off their work for the theme. We discussed suitable and interesting themes during the second day of work experience. We knew this would need to be something that students would be interested in and inspire them to create work for selection in the exhibition. We decided on the theme ‘Life in lockdown’ as we felt students could create new work to respond to this theme or submit work they completed during the lockdowns.  I’m very proud of the exhibition and all the art pieces that had been submitted.”

“I think our biggest challenge was actually planning the exhibition and realising what work was needed to be completed in time for the opening. At first few weeks, we planned the theme, what pieces we would be interested in and how we planned to advertise the exhibition. We originally chose TY’s only as the students who would be submitting work but then decided on opening it up to all students in Loreto. We felt by doing this we would get a larger audience as well as more art pieces from different perspectives. We had a huge help from Eimear and Helena from the art centre as well as our art teacher Ms Kirby, with that help we were able to solve all the problems we encountered.”

“We chose the theme 'life in Lockdown' because we wanted a theme that would be relevant enough during current times and would give the students of Loreto a clear idea of what they could do. We chose the theme on our second week at the art centre which was before the idea of lockdown had come back. We also chose the idea as we thought it would be flexible enough for the students to think of ideas for it but still have a theme that wasn’t too broad. I liked the outcome of this theme as we got many different art pieces, some about lockdowns personal effects on the students and others on what they learnt during lockdown and what their daily routine would be.”

“What I enjoyed most was being able to see all the student’s art pieces all from different year groups. I also really enjoyed looking at the art and seeing which pieces would look good beside each other and whether to group certain art pieces together. I loved that we received all different medias and styles such as painting, lino print, photography, digital art, and mixed media pieces, as well as the Junk Kouture pieces from the previous year.”

Niamh Daly, who co-curated the exhibition said, 

“When I was looking for work experience as part of our TY module, I was recommended to go to the South Tipperary Art Centre.”

“On our first day there, we were told what we would be doing for the following weeks, organising an exhibition! Us TYs were given full creative freedom and we decided on the exhibition to be based on “Life in Lockdown” for students. We chose this theme as we thought that lockdown was coming to an end, and it would act as a reflection of the past year and a half.”

“The biggest challenge for me was completing the exhibition in time.

From this experience I’ve learnt how much work actually goes on behind the scenes of organising an exhibition and a competition that I would never have known about. I also learned the amount of detail that goes in displaying each art piece in the exhibition, from thinking about lighting, to layout, to spacing between art works.”

Ms Kirby Art teacher explains-

“Work experience is an integral part of the Ty programme in our school. Each student needs to find a business or organisation that they feel they can gain experience from. This was the first time that The South Tipperary Arts Centre was asked to take on a student for work experience, never mind two.”

“The project that Niamh, Selen and Helena devised was an ambitious ask, but I can only congratulate them on a fantastic exhibition of a diverse range of student work. This opportunity of experiencing first-hand the stresses, joys and excitement of being a curator was unique and worthwhile on so many levels. I am so proud of the energy, dedication and creativity that both students have clearly shown in organising and presenting an exhibition from start to finish.”

“I would encourage you to come to the upstairs gallery of the South Tipperary Arts Centre while this exhibition is available to view. It is such an achievement for Selen and Niamh and all of the twenty-one different current students who have work on display as part of the exhibition. Exhibition runs from Tuesday 16th November until 30th November.”

Students from 2nd-6th year who submitted their artwork and were successful in having their pieces selected and presented in the exhibition. This is what they had to say:

6th year student Leah Anderson said “Lockdown gave me the opportunity to be more creative which is shown in my piece Surviving Online. I used creativity as a way to escape and create a world of my choosing and found my strength in observational drawing.”

6th year student Eimear O’Sullivan said that “Art was my way of coping through lockdown, and I felt it was an easy way to express my emotions. I feel that my piece shows three types of emotion. Each emotion has its own colour and yet all are intrinsically linked to the last which shows connection.”

Lucy O’ Loughlin a 2nd year student said “Art in lockdown was like an escape for me. Living in the country, me and my family would regularly go for walk in the woods to get out of the house. We would sit and watch the birds and listen to the wind blowing in amongst the trees. It gave me time to reflect and enjoy the peace and serenity, away from the news about Covid cases and when the vaccine would be ready, and it gave me inspiration for my piece in the exhibition. The mediums I used are graphite pencils for my first piece and for my second I used felt tip pens. I am overjoyed and thankful to have my pieces in the displayed in the Arts Centre.”

Abi Fox a 6th year student said “Life in lockdown was a hard and difficult time for many of us. I felt that the only true escape I had was through the books I read. These stories allowed me to escape into another reality in replace of my own. For my artwork submission I chose to do a photograph. This piece fits the theme as during lockdown I was trapped inside my home, and I mainly stayed in my bedroom. The only escape I had was through immersing myself in the pages of the books I own. My photograph is a self-portrait on my bed. Being in a group show and being able to present my work to others is an absolute honour. It’s been great creating my piece and to now have it displayed in a group exhibition is truly incredible.”

“My name is Lauren Kidd, and I am a fifth-year student in Loreto. My friend Tirna Brown and I created a dress as part of Junk Kouture in the beginning of the year, when the world was truly in lockdown. This had a massive impact on the way we had to go about this hands-on project. Our dress was made out of shower scrubs and a bathmat. As we were making this dress at home we decided as a collective that each of us should take on one part of the outfit each, so I made the skirt and Tirna made the bodice. It was so hard not being able to meet up and see how our dress was progressing, facetime was our best friend! When we heard there was going to be a student art exhibition in South Tipperary Arts Centre, we thought the dress would fit perfectly with the theme life in lockdown, as this dress was in fact created during a global pandemic and a resulting lockdown!”

Sophie O’ Donoghue, also in 6th year said “The artwork I presented for the TY curated exhibition is a graphite pencil sketch I completed actually during lockdown. For me during lockdown I had more spare time on my hands, so I decided to improve my artwork. For others lockdown gave them an opportunity to learn new skills, improve on existing skills, find new hobbies online and take some time out of their busy lives. Having my work in an exhibition in the South Tipperary Arts Centre is definitely an incredible achievement. Knowing that something I drew just for myself was seen by others as good enough to be in the exhibition makes me feel very proud.”


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