For all school-going kids around the country, thanks to Covid-19, the year 2020 has been unlike any other. Lessons now take place at home (when possible), meetings with friends are on pause, but for the children attending Carrigaline Educate Together National School in Cork, this hasn't stopped the creativity from flowing
Thanks to the creativity of its staff, pupils and their families, the school has its very own collection of incredible quarantine art, all inspired by some of the most famous artwork in the world – and all recreated using household items.
"All schools in Ireland finished so abruptly on March 12th. When Leo Varadkar made the announcement I was teaching my Junior Infants class about Andy Warhol at the time. As time went by, it became increasingly clear that we were not going to be returning to school this academic year. It made me think of all of the other activities, fun and events that schools and their community will be missing," teacher Rory Ward told IMAGE of the inspiration behind the project.
L'innocence (Innocence). Painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
"I saw the Getty museum challenge on Instagram and I thought it would be a great activity to do with my class and something the whole school could contribute to also. It would be fun, exciting and creative and a positive way for our school to mark this unique moment in history. "
Raphael Sanzio - Sistine Madonna, detail - Cherubs, Angels Raffaello
Naturally, parents and families have been a crucial part of the photos as they help the pupils to re-create their own works of art, and their enthusiasm was key – especially given the challenges that come with a new way of teaching and learning during Covid-19. Making memories, he says, is something we can all still do together, even when things are tough, the project being a fantastic example.
The Boy in the Red Vest (Le Garçon au gilet rouge) by Paul Cézanne
"Parents have been so enthusiastic about this project. They really responded so eagerly. Many families created several photos over the course of the project," Rory continued. "One reason this project has been so successful is because of our PA Facebook page which is managed by Laura Stapleton (a parent in our school).
"I think responding to online teaching from home is so difficult and families have had to adapt greatly. This was accessible, fun and creative so every member of the family can be involved and create a happy memory together at this difficult time."
Tea-Time by Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952)
"You see well-known artworks in a completely different, thought-provoking way"
In terms of the trickier elements of trying to co-ordinate such an activity remotely, he explained that it was all about using online technology and then giving families the creative freedom to do as they wished.
"We used Seesaw as our digital online learning tool for distance learning. The trickiest part has been ensuring that all families have access to ICT over the past number of weeks, and we had to guide families on how to download and use the app. Our teacher Owen Hennessy has been so incredibly helpful and patient organising this element.
Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky. Painting by Frida Kahlo
"Once everybody had the app, I was able to upload a lesson about the Quarantine Art Project and share the lesson with the whole school community. Importantly, with GDPR every photo that is shared on social media has parental permission! Our teacher Brid Stack has been crucial in terms of this element."
Laughing Fool, ca. 1500, attributed to Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen
"We then left it very much as a blank canvas for children and families to recreate their own artwork, and people chose their own to recreate. I'm so glad that we did because we have seen such diversity in what has been submitted. I think everybody can learn from looking at the images. You see well-known artworks in a completely different, thought-provoking way. "
American Gothic by Grant Wood
The photos have begun to go viral, something Rory says the school never anticipated. "We genuinely cannot believe the reaction; it's overwhelming. It illustrates what great work schools are doing around the country. Just because schools are physically closed, school communities can continue to thrive," he went on.
The Scream by Edvard Munch
"In a time of sadness and difficulty, this project illustrates that joy, learning, fun and making happy memories can still take place. It is an antidote to the current situation. If we have made you smile, laugh or pause to think for a few seconds with our project we truly feel that we have made a difference and a little impact at a strange time."
You can see more of these brilliant recreations over on the Parent Association of Carrigaline Educate Together N.S. Facebook page