Culture Connects is a year-round programme that invites people in Dublin to try out new things. It offers the opportunity for people to make and create together, to share ideas and connect through culture and conversation. For a recent Culture Connects project, students from Clogher Road Community College collaborated with artist Jorge Ruiz Calleja to create a beautiful mural to celebrate the start of the school’s new journey with Educate Together.
Below, Jorge tells us all about the experience.
I moved to Ireland from my home in Malaga, Spain, six years ago equipped with a passion for art, culture, conversation and little to no English.
I was ecstatic when Culture Connects offered me the opportunity to work on this project. I couldn’t wait to share my knowledge with the kids and develop my teaching skills.
On the project, I worked as an artist and creative facilitator, to co-create a mural at Clogher Road Community College, Crumlin, in response to the needs and wishes of the school community. For this project, I worked with 10 students. I encouraged them to share their interests and ambitions and focused on collaboration, inclusion and co-creation throughout the process.
I started by showing them the wall that had to be painted to make them aware of the space that we would have to fill.
After that, we started with the creation process which consisted of a brainstorming session using the main words that the wall should express.
Diversity. Growth. Discovery. Passion. These were the words chosen by the group.
In order to develop the right idea I established one big rule: “there is no wrong or right answer”. Instead, we wanted lots of ideas to discuss until we reached the perfect one. I also put a time limit of 30 minutes after which we started “building” what we would put on the wall. It was impressive how well this approach worked and the kids came up with amazing ideas.
Sun and music
We completed in an hour what I had expected to take four or more hours, so I decided to use the second half of our first workshop to connect with them and learn even more about their interests.
In the second workshop, we spent two hours drawing the idea for the mural on a large piece of paper so that we were able to place every single item on the wall and also it helped me to gauge how much paint and colours we would need for the project.
The days were passing by, the mural was really coming together and the camaraderie between the group was building.
For the last two workshops we spent the time priming the 26-meter wall that we were about to paint and the following week we used chalk to draw every item on the real mural while we were enjoying the few days of sun and music.
Paint at the ready
Before we knew it, the last week of the project was upon us, paint was ready, the wall was primed and it was just a matter of getting to work. Some of the kids preferred to work just with brushes but most of them were brave enough to use spray paint for the first time.
I explained to them how spray paints should be used and after a few minutes they were spray painting like naturals. It was heartwarming to see how much the kids could develop with just a little guidance.
This was by far one of my favourite projects to work on and contrary to the old saying “don’t work with kids or animals“ I would happily work with this bunch again and enjoyed the project from start to finish.
Jorge Ruiz Calleja is an artist who has recently focused his work on murals, sign painting, and lettering. He has a bachelors degree in PR and Advertising from Málaga (Spain) and a masters in web design and graphic design. He has led several workshops on sign painting, calligraphy, illustration and photography and is always looking forward to the next challenge.