The Dublin Book Festival ran once again this year from the 15th to the 18th of November. The annual literary celebration, which is in its twelfth year, saw exhibition and events being held across the city.
One such display of work was by Art Design and Three Dimensional (ADT) students from Ballyfermot College of Further Education, showcasing their book-themed sculptures in the Smock Alley Theatre.
“ADT is a one-year portfolio preparation course, at Ballyfermot College of Further Education [and] is one of the longest established portfolio course in the country,” explained Brian Walsh, course coordinator.
“While the work in the exhibition relates more closely to their sculpture module, the ADT programme is broad with students getting tuition in painting, drawing, photography, figures studies. Many of the students will progress on to courses at IADT. Others will progress to institutions like DIT and NCAD, while some will go on to study fashion, product design, education or visual merchandising. Others will even go further afield and have applied for to Glasgow School of Art and colleges in the Netherlands.”
Students from the college have been making sculpture books as part of the festival for the past three years. “The students have been working on the exhibition as part of their work experience module. Having a live project gives the students a real focus and a sense of occasion,” said Walsh
The theatre, the day before the sculptures are to be revealed to the public, is full of activity. The artworks are arriving by van, car and even bus. Brian is busy rushing around the floor getting students into action and helping them set up their pieces.
“I made a lion head, it’s part of a book called Butterfly Lion. I used origami to make it. We did [a live project] a few weeks ago … but this one is a bigger deal,” said Kim Cummins, a student of the course.
Brian Walsh said: “Students were given a brief to respond to their relationship with books, stories and the written word. They all responded differently, some students illustrated a scene from classic books, others – because of their positive relationship with childhood books – based it on those stories.”
The next day, with the art pieces finally set up, the Smock Alley’s banquet hall is transformed. The theatre is holding a book signing and vendors have finished setting up. Some are quietly sitting at their tables, sipping their coffees in the early morning sunshine as it beams through the stained glass windows, a lasting reminder of the theatre’s time as a church.
Placed in each corner of the room are the sculptures. From hanging bird cages, dragons emerging out of books and butterflies placed precariously on the nose of a lion, each piece is beautiful and designed with care.
One stand-out piece is surrounded by scattered pages torn from a book that’s left on a chair. But this isn’t the act of vandalism. Instead from the centre of the book, emerges a miniature wooden ladder leading to the remains of a ragged and gutted novel perched on a tower of more books, surrounded by the illusion of white fluffy clouds.
The art piece by Aoife Joy Fitzmaurice is simply titled “Dyslexia”.
“The students have been working full time over the last two weeks, sixty hours work or more on each piece,” explained Walsh.
Their efforts have paid off, with visitors to the theatre strolling around the hall, stopping at each sculpture to get a closer look at the creativity and of course the imagination on show.