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ArtandSign: Dundalk’s ISL-interpreted art classes

4 min read

ArtandSign: Dundalk’s ISL-interpreted art classes

4 min read


ArtandSign: Dundalk’s ISL-interpreted art classes

Bringing communities together, Art as Exchange’s (AAEX) recent ‘ArtandSign’ Irish Sign Language (ISL) art workshops have been a great success in Dundalk.

AAEX teamed up with Chime, the National Charity for Deafness and Hearing Loss, to develop a series of ISL art classes suitable for members of the deaf community and/or those who use sign language.

AAEX is an open, all-inclusive group of visual artists, facilitated and supported by Dundalk’s Creative Spark who have come together to make public art that’s accessible, experiential, participative and/or free.

Supported by Creative Ireland, the ArtandSign project’s lead artist Susan Farrelly fills us in on how the workshops came about and what’s next for this innovative and inclusive initiative.

ArtandSign | Susan Farrelly

In 2021, AAEX, in collaboration with Chime and ISL Translator Leah Murray, approached An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk, to support a pilot programme for four art workshops with ISL interpretation. 

Scheduled for February-April 2022, as part of An Táin’s Artist Assemble programme, the pilot programme catered specifically to members of the deaf community. Members of the public were also welcome to join and participate with an ISL interpreter in a creative setting. 

The programme consisted of four art workshops using paint, drawing, photography and clay, and were two hours each in duration. Attendance averaged at 11 participants over all four workshops. The hearing community learned some basic ISL in each class, specific to each topic, while learners of ISL got to practise communicating together in a fun setting. The workshops were suitable for people over 10 years old (accompanied by an adult) and were family friendly too. 

The pilot will conclude on April 16th 2022 with a pop-up exhibition at which participants will collect the printed photos and fired clay pieces they made.

Next Phase

We are currently recruiting participants for the next phase: 10 workshops supported by Creative Ireland, which we hope to host in an accessible space in Drogheda and Dundalk, extending our reach across the county. 

We aim to run the classes over the summer and into September, with exact dates TBC. It is important that we meet the needs of our participants so we value working with them in advance to design the content and accommodate their specific requirements. We also discovered the potential to open up the workshop programme beyond members of the deaf community to further community groups via Louth Public Participation Network and disAbility Louth, due to demand. 

“We’ve identified that there are some unique learning environments required for different age groups of the deaf community”

By working collaboratively with Chime on the pilot, we’ve identified that there are some unique learning environments required for different age groups of the deaf community. We may have to provide one-on-one sessions for some members of the deaf community with additional learning needs, we are currently in discussion with the Irish Wheelchair Association in Drogheda to establish this further. This will enable the possibility of the individual joining the group more comfortably at a later stage.

Workshop team: Susan Farrelly, Artist & Project Lead; Bernhard Gaul; Geraldine Martin; Jane Campbell; Julie Corcoran and Catherine McCourt, Artist Facilitator; and Leah Murray, Irish Sign Language Translator.

Find out more about ArtandSign workshops

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