Going Online with Ark Access for Schools

This June, The Ark has been working closely with some of our neighbouring city centre schools to deliver bespoke online visual arts and creative writing workshops tailored to each school’s individual needs.

As part of the Ark Access Programme for Schools, The Ark has engaged illustrator Duffy Mooney-Sheppard and novelist Dave Rudden to create and deliver original online workshops in visual arts and creative writing for groups of school children while they are at home due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Duffy Mooney Sheppard’s visual art workshops are inspired by Wilhelma the Tortoise, a sculpture by Imogen Stuart commissioned by The Ark for their Beautiful Beasts collection. Children use basic materials available at home to create a unique pictorial story map of their own. On Saturday 13 June, The Ark also released a video workshop with Duffy based on Wilhelma’s adventures for children aged 5-12 as part of Cruinniú na nÓg, which is available online here.

Dave Rudden’s workshops will focus on the accessibility of creativity. Everybody has what it takes to be a writer. Students will receive tips and prompts that are easily applicable to their own work, as well as feedback and encouragement.

Of his experience working with school groups, Dave Rudden said, “Working in partnership with the Ark has been an incredibly positive experience. The team's mix of efficient logistics and a genuine rapport and relationship with schools has made my job as a workshop facilitator really easy, and their unfailing enthusiasm and energy has made the move to online workshops smooth and stress free. I can't wait to work with them again.

Working closely with Home School Community Liaisons, The Ark are working with 22 school groups. In an effort to bridge the digital divide, The Ark is working with existing digital access initiatives already in place in schools. Many families are unable to participate in a live zoom workshop. In order that we offer access to these workshops to as many children as possible, The Ark, in collaboration with both artists, have created alternative versions of these live online workshops. Other options include activity sheets, which can be emailed and posted to families as well as pre-recorded videos. The Ark is also posting basic drawing and writing materials to those Ark Access participants that need them.

Now, as the school year draws to a close, The Ark is proud to have been able to provide arts-based learning experiences to school groups remotely while children are at home, and we are delighted to have received such a positive response from teachers and pupils alike.

The kids really enjoyed it. Some of them have already messaged me wondering if we could work on the stories tomorrow instead of doing other work. Really enjoyable experience!” – Megan Wynne, 3rd Class Teacher, Rutland St. National School

"Thank you so much for the gorgeous workshops you provided for my class during lockdown. I think you could tell by their excited faces how much they loved them. It will be something they will remember forever." -
Karen Sheridan, 2nd Class Teacher, Gardiner St. National School

Above: Artwork by Cathal & Oisin from Harold's Cross National School