Things I Love was delivered by teacher Michelle Finnerty in Newport Primary School with pupils from second class and teacher Mary McEvilly-Butler in St Finbarr’s Byron Bay with year 5 and 6. Over 3 weeks, paper was folded, cut, pages inserted, stacks of pages bound, covers attached and magically a book was made. The children began talking, thinking, discussing and reflecting on people, places, pastimes, pets and animals they love. Delightful drawings and images bubbled up in imaginations and using pencils, biros, colours, they were committed to the book pages. Soon there were heaps of miniature books from Byron Bay and Newport ready to be digitised by artist Cathal McCarthy.
Things I Love was inspired by a collaborative public art project by American artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher called Learning to Love you More. A web-based art project which ran over 7 years. In designing Things I love, artist Cas McCarthy came up with the idea of a handmade book that would provide a receptive space for children to recall and register meaning filled aspects of their life using a handful of humble art materials. The project landed on fertile ground.
The 50 matchbook sized books are beautiful objects, their graceful pages bearing the marks, images, colours and swirls of a child’s engagement. Children’s humour, agency and purchase on life, illuminate the pages. Connections were made between two classrooms at opposite ends of the world with participating children from two different continents working on this art project. The artwork provides insight into the important things in children’s lives from two culturally diverse countries during the time of COVID-19.
Well done to the 50 talented children who created the books and their exceptional teachers Mary McEvilly-Butler and Michelle Finnerty. A super project was created by artist Cas McCarthy that gave children a platform to tell us about their passions through the medium of art. Thanks to Austin Vaughan Mayo County Library Services for his support.