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Art inspiration comes in trees!

Children and teenagers will be encouraged to celebrate nature by creating art, song and stories inspired by the forest around them in a series of workshops.

Artist Madeleine Shinnick will be facilitating the four workshops leading up to Cruinniú na nÓg – the national arts festival for young people – aged three to 18 at the walled garden of Mountbellew forest from this Saturday.

An artist in residence at several schools since she moved to the North Galway countryside, Madeleine says the aim of the project is to get participants to open their imagination to the natural world in every way possible.

“I’ll give them the art materials to facilitate the process, but really anything goes,” she explains.

“In one workshop I’ll show them how to make a frame for their art with twigs, I can show them how to make their own handmade book. As well as making some art, they will be asked to write a story, a song, or play some music in response to their chosen object.

“It can be fantastical and imaginative like a Harry Potter book or historical information on the age of a tree and who would have been living when that tree was planted.

“It’s wide open to their interpretation. It can be about their dog that loves to walk in the woods, a stone, a tree, the house that used to be there, the species of plants found there, the boathouse, bridge or river or the old forge.”

Classes she has run in schools previously have revealed much about the fungus that some scientists believe enables trees to communicate with each other.

“I love the gooky stuff that most people would gag at, the dung beneath the leaves. Children found this fascinating, the fact that trees can flip their leaves before a hurricane or a storm.”

The native of Cork returned to study a Masters in Art in later life on moving to Moylough after a lifetime living abroad. But she has always worked as an artist – her favourite medium is painting with oil on linen.

“I didn’t want to work in secondary schools, I didn’t want to be working with students trying to get points for the Leaving Cert but rather with children engaged in the process of art.”

The free workshops, called Find A Story in the Woods, take place 2pm to 4pm and the fruits of that work will be exhibited on Crunniú na nÓg day, June 15. There is no need to book, and families are encouraged to just rock up.

For further information email:

Pictured: Artist Madeleine Shinnick…facilitating four workshops leading up to Cruinniú na nÓg.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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