Community and School Projects...


2nd Nine Yards
Galway Arts Centre. January 2005.

Produced by community groups, children and visitors to the Gallery over a period of a week The work was done during the week Constance’s WHOLE 9 YARDS was being hung in the gallery. Constance set up a “Graphic Studio” to make monotypes. Participants sat and wrote a saying and then were shown how to make the monotype.

(Drawing or painting on glass with printing ink thus creating “a printers block” and then placing a piece of paper on it and rubbing the back to produce the mono-type).

The second nine yards was hung in the room adjoining the one which housed THE WHOLE NINE YARDS.

Constance Short strongly believes in all arts in community and schools initiatives, the artist must create the setting for the participants to do their own original work. Too much work which goes under the title of Community Art is simply “Paint by Numbers” or “Sew By Numbers” or whatever medium. This kind of thing does a disservice to both artist and participant. Perhaps the two approaches could be given different titles. She gives them what she describes as “A Creative Moment”.

Constance Short sees a lot of what she does as conceptual. Her head is teeming with ideas. She cannot realise them all. She sees art in community and art in schools projects as a way of seeing the realisation of these ideas by introducing them to others. She delights in giving birth to initiatives that then take on a life of their own, like her role in the formation of Project in 1967, and the formalisation of the Arts office for Dundalk both of which have gone on to be extremely successful. Many groups continue and develop the projects she introduces them too. For example in her recent extensive exhibition on marginalisation, I BELONG ON THE BORDER, Dundalk Basement Gallery Nov 2004, one of the elements in the exhibition was to site the difficulty of the artist in society by looking at the life of the poet Patrick Kavanagh in relation to his own “big” town Dundalk. The group she got to research this work have gone on to become “ the experts” on Kavanaghs Dundalk, putting on shows and exhibitions of their findings, which is wonderful.

Constance always demands that her artistic role be acknowledged, essentially to recognise the vital part that art can play. Too often the part the artist plays is forgotten. It is imperative that when introducing the arts to the broad community we don’t end marginalizing the artist even further by taking for granted, however unwittingly, their contribution.