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Rock, Paper, Scissors: Summer Holidays Programme 25 Jun - 20 Aug 2022

Discover the mysterious world of materials at our free, drop-in summer exhibition and participatory art programme.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is all about playing, experimenting, and creating with different materials.

Come and be inspired by how the artists in our exhibition have worked with their favourite material to create unique and spectacular art. Then try your own playful experiments in our creative response areas.

It’s free to join in!


Did you know that materials have their own rules? Different materials can create some amazing things, but refuse to do others! Our Rock, Paper, Scissors exhibition features beautiful artworks by three very different artists who have three very different material fascinations:

  • Helen Mac Mahon adores light that bends, bounces and shimmers.
  • Jonathan Nangle loves sound that tinkles, beats, and blasts.
  • Róisín de Buitléar is mad about glass that melts, blobs and shatters.

Artists often become fascinated by an individual material in this way, getting to know it by playing with (and often breaking) the rules that a material makes.

Evanesce and Morphé by Helen Mac Mahon


Helen is an artist who loves to work with light. She loves noticing how light behaves in different ways, in the sky, rainbows, sundogs and iridescent clouds. This installation entitled Evanesce consists of a mirrored acrylic triangle. A spotlight shines through the painted disc with transparent glass. As the light shines through it is bounced around the three mirrored sides of the triangles creating a multi layered projection. It creates different triangles of colour that change constantly, one second it's one colour and the next it’s another colour.

Take a look at Evanesce below. Voiced by Children's Council member Torin Ó Baoighill.


Helen thinks light is beautiful as is fleeting, like a rainbow on a sunny day, we can’t hold onto them, we just enjoy them while they last. Morphé has the appearance of an organic form, a living thing, growing, constantly moving and changing. The installation consists of a heavy music stand onto which a metal bowl is mounted. A skin of mirrored mylar (a reflective plastic) is stretched across the surface, a little like the skin of a drum. A spotlight is focused on the reflective surface and the projection is created by the light beam reflecting off the subtle variations of the skin. As Morphé is always changing, it never looks the same, look away and you have missed something!

Take a look at Morphé below. Voiced by Children's Council member Torin Ó Baoighill.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party by Jonathan Nangle

Jonathan is a sound artist and a musician. He finds colours inspiring, but also random unexpected things in everyday life, like his cat lying on the couch. This installation may look like a traditional tea party, but this is a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, where cups, saucers, cutlery and crockery come to life to create music! There are motorised elements which allow drumsticks to move by themselves, bringing the whole installation to life with music!

Take a look at Jonathan's piece below. Voiced by Children's Council member Eloise Tracey.

Melted Heads by Róisín de Buitléar

Róisín de Buitléar is an artist who loves the magic of glass and how when it’s hot, it is soft and fluid like honey and then a few minutes later it can break into a million pieces because it’s rock hard!

These series of glass pieces are called Melted Heads. Róisín has blown these fluid shapes using fire and glass, mixing different colours into each piece. Each piece is beautiful and interesting to look at. Look closely at these objects, the shapes, the colours, the shiny material and reflections in the piece, you see a portrait of yourself and all the other items around you! It’s like a mirror, but you are all wonky!

Take a look at Róisín's piece below. Voiced by Children's Council member Louis O’ Brien.

Response Area

Children and their families are also invited to spend time in our exhibition response area to create more individual work such as drawing and collage, which can be displayed or brought home.

Drop-in Creative Zones

Aimed at ages 5 to 12yrs, but the whole family is welcome to get involved!

Drop in to The Ark’s beautiful Long Room space to create unique, collaborative artworks from fabric, wood, paper or plastic. Members of our creative team will be on-hand to guide and encourage visitors to play and experiment with the different materials and their unique possibilities.

The materials used in our Drop-in Creative Zones will vary from week to week. To view the schedule for the drop-in Creative Zones click here.


We plan, as far as possible, for each material to be re-used, as well as reinvented, across the entire summer programme, dramatically minimising our use and waste of creative materials and resources.

Classroom Activity Pack

Subject Area: Visual Art

The Ark’s Rock, Paper, Scissors programme encourages students to experiment and be creative with a variety of materials to create both two and three dimensional artworks. We have created a classroom pack with complimentary visual arts activities. Adaptable to all class levels.

Download our Rock, Paper, Scissors Classroom Activity Pack

This pack can be used and integrated into lessons however you wish. However, we would encourage you to view videos of exhibited works from the Rock, Paper, Scissors exhibition:

The pack includes a wide choice of visual art activities that have been designed to develop observation skills, creativity and imagination. It aims to encourage children to look at and appreciate the different materials and their different properties and possibilities, opening up many opportunities for self-expression.