If you were passing Merrion Square Park on Friday 24 February, you would have seen over 300 self-portraits by children in Ireland hanging on the railings.
This outdoor exhibition was an initiative of ours to encourage children from right across Ireland to engage with the idea of portraiture. This comes as we get ready for our new programme in The Ark around portraits where children can create their own self-portraits, see some renowned artists at work, workshops and an exhibition of portraits of children drawn by Brian Maguire last year as part of our spring 2016 programme.
As part of promoting this March programme and our ongoing work to engage directly with as many children as possible across the country we put out a call for children to send in their self-portraits to be enlarged to A3, laminated and displayed in this once off gallery. We chose the park railings as they are renowned for grown-up professional artists showing their work there each weekend. We were very proud to be putting work created by children into this familiar setting.
The response for the callout was phenomenal. While we hoped we would get enough submissions to display 100 portraits, they flooded into The Ark with many people dropping in originals by hand. We had almost 350 portraits in the display! Take a (slightly shaky!) tour of the exhibition in this Facebook live video:
It was fantastic to see the reactions of the children when they saw their work displayed, as well as seeing the smiles on passers by's faces - several people commented on how uplifting it was to see so many children represented in the city centre.
The portraits from this display will now feature in our home in Temple Bar and can be see as part of our free exhibition Put Yourself in the Portrait Gallery every weekend from 4 March - 9 April.
We would like to thank all of the children who submitted their work and everyone who came down to see the exhibition - more than 1250 of you! A huge thank you to Merrion Square and Dublin City Council's Parks & Landscape Services for hosting us.