Fighting Words. Connecting to the collections.
An initiative by the National Gallery of Ireland in close collaboration with the creative writing centre "Fighting Words" to engage with young people, particularly those from educationally disadvantaged areas, was carried out in autumn 2013.
The National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) collaborated with Fighting Words and nearby schools on two creative projects. In the first, children from 10 primary schools received guided tours through the collections. Afterwards, they created drawings inspired by the paintings with the support of Fighting Words volunteers. The outcome was put together in the publication "Fighting Words – Stories inspired by visits to the National Gallery of Ireland".
In the second scheme, Transition Year students from Scoil Chaitríona, an all Irish speaking secondary school in Dublin, visited the collections and were taken behind the scenes to explore the gallery’s departments, where they met the director, curators, conservators, educators, and other staff. They were introduced to the art collections over four months, from September to December 2013. Under the guidance of NGI artist Andrew Brown and volunteers from Fighting Words, the students’ experience was documented in the graphic novel "That’s comical".
Both publications were presented to the public in May 2014, launched by children’s writer Gordon Snell and fiction writer Sheila Flanagan, and are available to purchase from the gallery shop. The initiative opened up the collections to a new audience with little or no art background, and offered creative and innovative ways to explore the museum. It helped the students to express the visual impressions and develop their writing skills.
This project is one of the examplerary museum projects introduced in NEMO's publication "Museums' 4 Values - Values 4 Museums". It emphasises the important role museums have for the encouragement of young people, as well as a wide access to knowledge for a diverse audience.