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Creating for Early Years Audiences: Artist Talks and Panel Discussion

  • 12.30-1.45pm
  • May 17th

Three Cork-based visual artists share their experience of making work in collaboration with young children to facilitate thoughtful, stimulating, and creatively rich outcomes. Their work is both a recognition and exploration of the creative potential of very young children and the importance of making work for this unique audience.

This series of artist talks will be followed by a panel discussion where the artists will explore the landscape of opportunities for creative practitioners interested in creating work for early years audiences ( children aged 0 to 6). The conversation will also navigate the challenges and opportunities encountered by parent practitioners.

About the Speakers: 

Jane Hayes

Cork-based visual artist Jane Hayes has been creating work with and for young children for over a decade, placing a strong emphasis on the importance of the child’s voice in her socially engaged practice. Recognised for her expertise in art for early years (0-6 years) and her dedication to enriching the area’s discourse, Jane has received significant commissions from institutions such as the Hunt Museum Limerick, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Baboró International Arts Festival for Children and the Department of Education and Skills.

 In her studio practice, Jane explores new and innovative approaches to developing and presenting work for young children. Jane embraces an experimental and research-driven approach, largely influenced by the progressive methodologies used in theatre for young audiences in Europe. Through digital image and installation, Jane aims to create work that resonates with the real and imagined worlds of young audiences, pushing the boundaries of non-participatory visual art for the very young in gallery contexts.

 At the core of the research and development phase of Hayes’ work is her commitment to actively engage in ongoing dialogue with young children, employing age-appropriate approaches to gather their unique input, ideas, and feedback.  She thoughtfully accommodates the audience’s unique engagement through carefully considered materials, finishes, durability, and safety.

 Jane’s three boys under 5 are her inspiration and collaborators, fuelling her passion to create art that celebrates young imaginations. Her work is supported by Cork City Council and the Arts Council. She is an active member of Sample-Studios, Cork, which recently commissioned her work, “Sweet Home Sweet” (2023), now touring nationally.

Chris Finnegan

Chris Finnegan is a visual artist and arts educator from Cork who works primarily through photography. His work explores everyday occurrences, mundane objects and events. His current practice centres on the home and suburbia; critically interrogating ideas of home-making, childhood and the domestic sublime. He regularly collaborates with his young sons. Solo exhibitions include Someone Else’s Somewhere at the Mills Centre, London in 2015, House Rules at 6 Central Avenue in 2022 and The Grammar of Home at Galway City Library in 2024. In 2023 his photographic series House Rules was published by PhotoIreland as a TLP Edition. In 2024, his photobook, Suburban Fantastic, was published by Biscuit Books. Residencies include Open Residency at Cow House Studios Wexford and Sample-Studios Summer Residency 2024 at Cork College of Further Education and Training. He received an Agility Award from the Arts Council Ireland in 2023 and was one of 5 photographers selected to represent Ireland at FUTURES 2024. Chris holds a BA Fine Art from TUD, Dublin and a Masters in Photography from Falmouth University.

Rachel Doolin

Collaboration lies at the heart of Rachel Doolin’s multidisciplinary practice, as she frequently collaborates with fellow artists, NGOs, as well as community and professional organisations to realise her artistic visions.  Since 2016, Doolin has been collaborating with Graffiti Theatre Company on their BEAG Early Years Arts Programme. Her work with Graffiti extends to designing and delivering award-winning arts and ecology-focused Early Years projects. These include the ongoing creative ecology project; ‘Little Pea Project’ (2021-24), in partnership with the Irish Seed Savers Association, and ‘Little Bird Babble’ (2021); a community arts project with Wallaroo Child and Family Project at Ashbourne House Direct Provision. Delivered alongside artist collaborators Fiona Kelleher (Musician) and George Hanover (Actor). Doolin recently participated in the Arts in Early Learning and Care and School Age Children Pilot Project 2023, an initiative that focuses on exploring and enhancing collaboration between artists and early years educators.