Arts Week 2019 kicked off with a morning of fun and magic tricks for Form I pupils. Magician, Jack Wise, kept them highly entertained, but also taught them a thing or two about how some of the tricks work. In teaching them, however, it became clear just what skill is involved in being able to perform convincingly.

Tuesday switched up a gear with Eunan McDonald training about 150 primary school children, from seven different schools, to perform in fabulous concert in our chapel in the afternoon. Parents of many of the primary school children came to watch and were treated to our own choirs singing as well. It is a wonderful way of encouraging singing, but also of showcasing the wonderful choral tradition at St. Columba’s. It was great to hear both St. Columba’s and the visiting primary schools singing a song from New Zealand – a tribute after recent events there.

Depending on which pupils you spoke to, there would be all sorts of different highlights from the rest of the week.

Transition Year pupils art pupils had the opportunity of visiting the Finnegans Woke Exhibition which centred around artwork as a symbol of civil resistance and the struggle for a better future. Sveva Ciofana writes on her experience here.

A first for this year was the opportunity for Transition Years and Form VI to learn new dance moves as brother and sister, Luise and Ferdinand von Waitz from Germany, taught the pupils how to jive German style with Friesenrock! Thursday night the BSR was rocking as about 50 pupils crammed in to give it a go, finishing with an informal competition for best German couple, best mixed (German and non-German) couple and best complete beginners. Congratulations to all involved! Thursday also saw the art room being taken over by print making with a fabulous teacher Debora Ando. Again, a pupil report will follow shortly.

The Guest Artist Exhibition went ahead on a stunningly sunny evening this year. Those here last year will remember we had to cancel because of the snow. We were treated to a wonderful evening with work displayed by Sarah Langham (landscapes) and William Nathans (portraits). Sarah combines painting with amazing craft skills too and, as well as her landscapes, she displayed beautiful handbags made from old kilm rugs, tweed and recycled leather. Both artists inspired us all in completely different ways, Sarah as a self-taught painter and William describing his passion for passing on what he has learned by talking through each of the works exhibited. These events for parents and friends of the Columban community are great opportunities to meet and mingle as well as to learn something new.

What a treat we had on Friday night as nineteen juniors and seniors shared the poems they had written during the workshops on Thursday and Friday. Our thanks to poet Dave Lordan whose mission is to inspire young people in the art of story-telling and performance poetry. The starting point for them all was rooted in Ancient Greece and the work of Homer. The quality of the poems written and performed was outstanding. All work was completely original and as Dave impressed upon us, it had not existed the previous day. Another pupil report will follow shortly.

Form IV and V music pupils spent Friday making and recording music using iPads. “Simply Music” introduce students to the new and emerging software used in the music industry.

Old Columban, Conrad Frankel, a painter of national and international repute, arrived on Saturday and spent the afternoon taking in all the work that had been produced for the Art Prize Competition. This year saw a new format with students being given a brief and entering the prize competition; all pieces were exhibited in the BSR. On Saturday night Conrad addressed the whole school in BSR and all listened attentively as Conrad took us through the influences that inspired his own work and then a look at his own previous and current painting. We had a great back and forth with plenty of questions from pupils before the prizes were presented. The winners of this year’s Art Prizes were: Junior Art Prize – Emma Hinde, Junior Craft Prize – Isabel Warnock, Photography Prize – Verlaine Bolger, Senior Craft Prize – Tania Stokes and the Senior Art Prize – Jeanne Levesque (her winning painting featured above).

Jonathan Browner, principal of North Wicklow Educate Together School and previous Head of Music at Sandford Park School, had the daunting task of judging our Music Prize entrants. We had a fabulous line-up of singers and a wide range of instrumentalists, from the violin to trumpet to accordion and drums. Jonathan’s feedback was appreciated by us all as he described why he had chosen each of the six winners and those who also were also given a special mention. The winners of this year’s Music Prizes were Alexandra Murray-Donaldson, Alex Russell, André Stokes, Toby Green, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu and Songyon Oh.

A big thanks to all those involved in making Arts Week such a success. Below is an album of photographs from the various events that took place.