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The kids are alright - shame about the parents
The kids at St Eithne’s have a dazzling take on today’s world – a blessed relief when saintly politicians take bribes for no reason and self-styled worthies line up to celebrate the slaughter at the Somme.
Eamonn McCann, 01 Aug 2006
am wandering up the Glen, pondering the meaning of strife, when who should I see wafting her way into St. Eithne’s but Hilary, with a faraway look in her so-brown eyes. What you at?, I yell.
A mural, she answers at the bottom of her voice, come on in and see.
We are big into murals around here. I once adapted a revolutionary phrase, You Are Now Entering Free Berkeley, for inscription on a wall, and I find it now on touristy items on city-centre stalls labelled ‘Official Souvenir’. Which wasn’t the intention at all.
But that’s the thing. Intentions aren’t decisive in the decipherment of art. What point was being made by the portrayal along the corridor at St. Eithne’s of Samuel Pepys, Florence Nightingale and Hailglorious St. Patrick spectating at the Great Fire of London? I wouldn’t know. Except to suggest that the collective imagination of the five-to-eleven year-olds of St. Eithne’s isn’t containable within the constrictions of time, space, logic and such.
There’s a map of the world traced in louche, wiggly lines on layered squares of lurking grey, night-deep mauve and gashed vermillion, with Australia, if it isn’t South America, in the shape of a stomped prune and Europe in an interestingly primaeval stage of gestation. Plus stencilled fish, a Viking warship en route for Byzantium, a face wearing a gas mask or some fearsome tribal camouflage, or it’s one of the space-persons who gouged rock-sworls across the face of Peru, and all manner of bibs and blobs in kaleidoscopic array. And there’s crescents of mosaic in the making to link the line of wall-panels like a train of colourful thought along the corridor, featuring polaroid faces of the students/artists affixed to the necks of animals, the ankles of footballers, the shoulders of mountains and whatnot.
The piece is the work of St. Eithne’s pupils, visions of the world which travel along the hallway through history in time-warp step with the progression of the artists though classes, from P1 depicting the bright dawn of all to P7’s contemplation of dark life as she’s lived now, or would be if St. Eithne’s had its brilliantly scatter-brained way, the mayhem of creation having been entirely mistress-minded by preternaturally calm P3 teacher, Jacqueline Coyle.