In September, Baboró International Arts Festival for Children in association with The Lighthouse Project delivered a series of workshops with two Galway national schools: Claddagh National School in Galway city and Scoil Naisiunta Caomhain on the island of Inis Oírr.
The Lighthouse Project is a site-specific initiative curated by Dani Gill that takes place around Ireland annually featuring writers and artists collaborating to tell a story around lighthouses and their communities. As part of Baboró 2022 the project worked with visual artist Linda Fahrlin and writer Sadhbh Devlin to bring creative workshops to two schools in Galway. Inspired by the ‘flash’/’splanc’ emitted by the lighthouse, young people explored creative writing and print making with the artists over a number of school visits. After the writing workshops with Sadhbh, Linda helped the children use their stories in print making.
“Each person, place and landscape have a story to tell. Linda and Sadhbh did magical work in this special collaboration with Baboró. Empowering young people to be creative and explore their world through the lens of art is so important. Artists are dreamers, children are dreamers, their dialogue is a happy and fruitful one,” said Dani Gill, curator of The Lighthouse Project.
Exploring splanc fhicsean in creative writing workshops
Writer Sadhbh Devlin worked with 5th class in Claddagh National School and all students at Scoil Chaomháin to write flash fiction / Splanc fhicsean pieces inspired by their own lives, landscape, and community. Working with Sadhbh, the young people came up with lots of ideas for their own super-short-stories including very ghostly haunting stories from Claddagh NS! On Inis Oírr, the junior class’ oral story ‘got a bit wild’ and featured a dog, a capybara, a gorilla, who manage to hang-glide off the top of the island’s lighthouse.
In the workshops with the older classes, everyone wrote their own pieces and shared their creations.
“I believe that every individual has a unique view of the world and, like the important messages a lighthouse signals, what each child wants to communicate with their words holds meaning and significance,” Sadhbh said. “I had a great time with the children in Galway. They did wonderful work. Both schools are absolutely lovely and very welcoming. The children in both are amazing.”
Printmaking inspired by the environment
Inspired by the flashing light used by the lighthouse to communicate, visual artist Linda Fahrlin helped the young people to capture a brief moment in time. Working with light and local flora/vegetation, Linda’s workshops encouraged young people to engage with their environment by noticing and collecting things that could be used in the printing process.
The children also created prints based on the texts from their writing workshops with Sadhbh. The print making method, called cyano printing, is a photographic printing method that uses a mixture of iron compounds, which when exposed to UV light and washed in water oxidise to create Prussian Blue images.
Children in each school also collaborated on symbols for a school flag.
“Despite some stormy weather, we managed to gather and print many special items. The children got to explore new (to them) techniques of communication and expressing themselves and their own creative voices,” Linda said. “The cyano prints we made serve as a blueprint for a flash - in the history of time.”
About the Artists
Dani Gill is a curator, producer, writer, and educator, based in Galway. Dani served as Director of events such as Cúirt International Festival of Literature, the Ennis Book Club Festival as well as production and creative roles in theatre and film. As an Audience Development Officer for Words Ireland and LIVE Network, Dani works with venues and arts offices nationwide. She holds a Diploma in Community Development and Youth Work and is motivated by projects that seek to engage, inspire and reflect community. A love of landscape and cross-artform collaborations inspired her to found The Lighthouse Project in 2020.
Linda Fahrlin is a visual artist and illustrator based on the Northwest Coast of Ireland. Linda's artworks are often inspired by her Swedish heritage and Irish nature. From her studio, she works as a visual artist and illustrates children's books, book covers, and commercial illustrations. Her first children's picture book The Great Irish Science Book became an Irish best seller and was nominated for Best Irish Published book of the year 2019.
Sadhbh Devlin is an award-winning picture book author. Her book, Beag Bídeach, with Róisín Hahessy was shortlisted for four prestigious awards, including Children’s Books Ireland: Book of the Year 2019 and Gradam Réics Carló 2019. Her most recent picture book, Geansaí Ottó, won the LAI: Book of the Year Award in 2021. She is the Dublin City University Irish Language Writer in Residence for 2022.