People passing through Yellow Furze NS in the past few weeks will have noticed an addition to the school infrastructure that is both unique and imaginative.
It has not yet been given a name but it is called, unofficially at least, the “totem sculpture”.
The Distinctive Piece is the end product of a project that began about two years ago and included imaginative and practical contributions from a large number of people – including students, parents, teachers and the person who has helped turn the concept into something tangible – sculptor Penelope ‘Penny Lacey.
“A new extension has been added to the school and to celebrate this fact it was decided to provide a work of art,” explained Penelope who has three children attending the school, Mia, Oisin and Theo. “I was asked if I would like to make a play for school and I said I would like to, but I wondered how to involve the kids in the design of the play and how we could go about it. .
“We asked them to do something that reminds them of school and from the 200 different ideas and objects they made out of clay, I grouped them into categories and made some drawings. We have them. then showed the children and they chose their favorite which was a totem pole. “
Work on the project began and then Covid hit, but progress continued steadily. “We had a clay camp last summer where we had small groups of socially distant kids where we continued the creative process. We also had groups of moms who came to my studio and also had helped with the work. A lot of people were involved in the making of the piece, “added Penelope, who works in a studio at the family home in Staffordstown, near Kentstown and Walterstown.
Penelope Lacey is from Stonehenge in Wiltshire. She worked for the NHS in England while working as a sculptor in her spare time. “I always wanted to be a sculptor, it’s my passion. When I was in London I worked full time for the NHS but always had a studio that I shared with other artists in a retirement. artists at Eel Pie Island, an island on the Thames in Twickenham. “This was my sanctuary, where I de-stressed and did the carving work I could at the time.”
Among his commissioned works was the bust of the “Duchess of Cornwall” to celebrate the centenary of the Society of Chiropodists and Chiropodists. The Duchess of Cornwall, or Camilla Parker Bowles as she is best known, is a patron saint of the company.
Penelope Lacey is currently the Creative Associate of the Creative Schools Initiative run by the Arts Council of Ireland and also supports the Teacher-Artist Partnership Program run by the Department of Skills and Education.
“I run workshops for adults and children and I am passionate about helping others explore their own creative potential through clay and sculpture,” added Penelope who has now worked as a professional sculptor for 20 years. , making portraits and figurative pieces. She has exhibited internationally and has also exhibited her work at the prestigious “Sculpture in Context” event at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin and also at the Solstice Arts Center, Navan.
“The sculpture was hand built from clay using a coil and mix technique, used through the ages since prehistoric times,” explained Penelope in her explanation of how the piece was constructed. “The decorative prints were created by the children and glued to the cylinders by volunteers and the artist. “Each item was left to dry and then baked in an oven at 1,260 degrees centigrade to allow it to withstand the elements. A steel pole was concreted into the ground before each “bead” was threaded onto the pole. “
Liz Halpenny, Deputy Director of Yellow Furze NS, highlighted how the sculpture was a combined effort.
“It was an idea that Penny came to us with two years ago, I introduced it to the staff and they said absolutely, and then we introduced it to the kids. Once we showed them what they wanted, they used it.The students provided the inspiration but a lot of the work was also done by the parents.
“For the children, it means that there is a result in all their work, that their vision for the school and the region is appreciated and noted. They are in fact very proud of it and of their contribution to the achievement of all of this, and rightly so. “