Press for It's Very New School at Rua Red, Tallaght

19 March 2017
[opposite]<br/>Sarah Browne with students from Killinarden Community School, How to Swim on Dry Land, 2017. Production still.

Every year, about 10,000 students take art as a subject for the Leaving ­Certificate. That is about one in five students, but the number is falling. In 2016, there were 9,747 students, after 10,783 in 2011. At its conference last year, the Art Teachers’ Association of Ireland (ATAI) pointed to bizarre anomalies in the system and called, again, for change...

The slowly rising, staccato chants of “What — is — school — for? What — is — school —for?” echoing around the gallery at Rua Red arts centre in Tallaght seem an apt accompaniment to what those arguing for the importance of art as a school subject are saying. All of this is context for It’s Very New School, an exhibition at the centre curated by Jennie Guy. It is a small show full of big questions, and one which successfully shifts ­perspective on this debate by getting practising artists to seek answers from students...

Sarah Browne produced How to Swim on Dry Land, a mesmerising two-screen video piece in which students consider art as a means of critique, questioning and learning, as well as personal expression. These teenagers’ realisation that engaging with and making art might expand their world comes with unexpected statements in a voiced list of things they want to learn, including “we want to unlearn social media”. It is a poignant admission of unhappiness with the status quo.

Cristín Leach, 'Lessons for us all: The essential role of art in schools,' The Sunday Times – online here

See also Laoise Neylon, 'An Exhibition Calls for more Contemporary Art in Schools,' Dublin Inquirer, 28 Feb 2017 – online here

Exhibition curated by Jennie Guy, featuring John Beattie and Ella de Burca, Sarah Browne, Maria McKinney, Priscilla Fernandes, Mark O'Kelly and Sarah Pierce. Continues at Rua Red, Tallaght until 23 April 2017.