‘Lockdown through a young Lens- County Clare Kids Art Exhibition 2020'
Curator’s Note: Rachel Macmanus
How the competition came about.
In March 2020 when Ireland went into lockdown over Covid-19, we decided to run an art competition for primary school age children living in Co Clare. Schools had closed and everyone was asked to stay home as much as possible. Children’s lives were impacted significantly and knowing how cathartic the act of drawing and painting can be, we thought an art competition might help. The theme of the competition was "My life at home" and the goal was for children to provide all the kids in Co Clare another outlet to express themselves right now. We asked the children:
How does it feel to be at home instead of school?
What’s good/ bad about things right now?
Show us how you are feeling in your picture!
Clare Education Centre helped us hugely by distributing the competition brief to every primary school in County Clare. A big thankyou to all the teachers and School principals who promoted the competition amongst their pupils. We had schools sending in entries from over corner of the County.
We then started a Facebook page for the competition and began posting the entries as they came in. The more entries we posted the more awareness was created and more children started responding.
We had 218 entries in all, which were posted, dropped off by car, and emailed in due to travel restrictions at the time. Here in glór today we have a large selection of the entries across the four categories.
Sponsorship and Prizes
The competition was generously sponsored and prizes were donated by a number of local businesses:
Arts & Craft Co, Ennis,
O’ Mahony’s Booksellers Ennis
Bank Of Ireland, Ennis.
And a portrait for the winner of each category was donated by Rachel Macmanus
We were fortunate to get four local judges on board, one for each category, to adjudicate the work. No easy task.
Junior and Senior Infants: Judge: Sinéad Cahill. Gallery & Marketing Manager, glór.
First and Second Class: Judge: Ana Colomer. Artist, Ennis
Third and Fourth Class: Judge: Paul Corey, Photographer, Ennis.
Fifth and Sixth Class: Judge: Eleanor Feely, Clare Youth Theatre Director and Artist in Residence, St Joseph’s Hospital, Ennis.
Significance of the work
As the work accumulated we realised we had something very special on our hands. Here was a body of work with cultural significance, made by the young residents of County Clare about living in County Clare during a historical time, in unprecedented circumstances. The work has an archival quality about it already, and seems like it’s from a time long ago, although it is of course only from the first half of 2020. Through the work we could see the resilience, bravery, stoicism, humour and objective honesty of the children.
We were sent scenes of unbridled joy and energy from the younger children, out playing with their families and pets during the burst of glorious weather we received during those early weeks of the pandemic. We had more thoughtful, internalised pieces sent to us from older children who had a more comprehensive understanding of what was going on. From 6th class children we had poignant drawings and paintings indicating their anxieties over their situation, not yet knowing if they would get any closure to their primary school years. Overall the work was honest and unflinching, and as a body of work showed great creative and artistic talent as well as telling a unique story of this time.
We approached glór about showing the work when the competition was finished. At this time glór, similar to all of Irelands public buildings, had had no choice but to close and was navigating the prospect of a new and uncertain future. glór decided to reopen with this show, of the Children’s art competition, as it is a unique visual acknowledgment of the strange times we collectively experienced and as it showcases the wonderful artistic talent within the community of County Clare. We hope you enjoy this special and uplifting show as much as we do.
Special thanks to
All the children in County Clare who entered the competition
Primary school teachers and principals who promoted the competition
All the parents and guardians who looked after the work and sent in the entries
Clare Education Centre
The Ennis companies who kindly sponsored the competition
The competition judges
The team at glór for recognising and championing this unique body of work