Drumragh College pupils express their creativity in lockdown with the power of art!

DRUMRAGH Integrated College's Art Department believes in the power of art and the creativity of its pupils to add colour, creativity, originality and healing through their artwork.

Throughout the current lockdown the art department staff have been impressed with the creativity of their students at all levels. Gerry Bradley, head of Art and Design, stated that "students creativity and innovative use of alternative materials has been both refreshing and inspiring."

He said: "It has been challenging for many of our students at all levels as materials and resources at home are often far from what can be accessed in the art rooms of Drumragh".

However, innovation and creative planning have played a key part in keeping students actively engaged.

The Carson Awards scheme was founded by legendary Northern Ireland comedian, the late Frank Carson and his son Tony and reflect their long-standing support of integrated education in Northern Ireland as well as their commitment to celebrating the creative talents of young people.

The Carson Awards provide an exciting opportunity for young people to express themselves creatively under the theme ‘What Integrated Education Means to Me’.

In November 2020, Sinead Ward, a Year 12 GCSE student of art made an application to the Carson Awards. Sinead was subsequently delighted to hear in December that she had been successful in securing a Carson Bursary to finance her idea.

Sinead's proposal was to link in with Omagh Integrated Primary School to produce some artwork on the theme of Superheroes that would look at topics that affect young people and that would in a colourful and comic book style offer the primary school children a message of support, or encourage them to seek out support and guidance if required.

In collaboration with Drumragh's Year nine students, who are working on the Superhero theme, Sinead is aiming to generate a set of superhero designs with topical speech bubbles designed to support, encourage and inform the primary school children. These will ultimately find a home in the corridors and playground of Omagh Integrated Primary School.

When asked about the project recently Sinead said that she is excited and inspired by the work of the Year nine students and hopes to combine their ideas with her own to complete the project. She went on to make the very pertinent point that 'Not all superheroes wear capes' and referenced the outstanding work of our NHS and Keyworkers at this challenging time.

Mrs Lisa McKenna, art teacher at Drumragh College has also been innovative with the themes that she has asked students to work on. The recent theme of 'Sharing the Love' on Valentine's Day saw some very exciting and unique submissions. Mrs McKenna encouraged her students to be inventive and explorative using not only the traditional materials and techniques of art and design but to think 'outside the box'.

Lisa said: "We had some amazing artworks that used a diverse range of materials in all sorts of creative ways. Pupils weaved, arranged, painted, cut and stuck natural and found objects inside their homes and outside, forming their own heart shapes. Our pupils were incredibly resourceful and imaginative in their artistic responses and it was a delight to see them use their artistic skills with originality and a sense of fun, in our attempt to spread joy to others."

Since then Lisa has set up a Mural and Poster design project called ‘Uplift!’

"Year 10 Art and Design pupils are generating fabulous ideas, using chosen imagery, quotes, pattern and colour. Lisa said: "The amalgamation of this artwork could generate powerful large-scale murals which could have such a positive impact on our moods and our school environment. So although lockdown has been difficult in our separate homes, art can unite us in many ways," she continued.

"Year 8 students are to be commended as they engage remotely every week with a delightful energy and enthusiasm, craving to create and learn. Their Oriental Project has allowed them to tap into recording, developing knowledge of colour, producing calligraphy, origami and designing their own Chinese willow tree plate. ‘Lanterns of Hope’ were also skilfully formed and given as gifts or proudly displayed in windows, signifying the ‘light’ and good times ahead!

"As Picasso said 'every child is an Artist’, and in Drumragh we recognise this, and encourage all our students to think as artists do, developing their skills and confidence as they go."

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