Newry children take part in Fantasy Forest at Mela

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Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
Community
Fantastical creatures have been firing the imaginations of children from Newry with a pioneering creative project from ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland’s leading ethnic arts organisation.
 Myles Grant aged 12 a pupil at St Colman’s College, Newry is pictured with one of the Fantastical Creatures which he help to create. The creatures took centre stage in the Fantasy Forest part of this year’s Belfast Mela Festival. Myles is pictured with (left to right) Sinead Wadforth and Pauline McQuillan Project leaders and Niamh Flanagan ArtsEkta Cultural Coach Project Manager


Myles Grant aged 12, a pupil at St Colman’s College, Newry is pictured with one of the Fantastical Creatures which he helped to create. Myles is pictured with (left to right) Sinead Wadforth and Pauline McQuillan Project leaders and Niamh Flanagan ArtsEkta Cultural Coach Project Manager

ArtsEkta artists came into the classroom to lead the children on a cultural journey around the world, exploring the arts, history and customs of other countries and continents. Drawing on those lessons and taking inspiration from the work of Pedro Linares, a famous Mexican folk artist from the 1930s, they then set about creating three dimensional fantasy animals from papier-mâché. Last weekend their magical menagerie was a centrepiece of excitement at the annual Belfast Mela, Northern Ireland’s largest and best attended celebration of diversity. The children’s folk art pieces were cunningly placed amongst the natural foliage and flowers of the Botanic Gardens to create a fabulous Fantasy Forest, delighting the 27,000 visitors who flocked to the festival. Niamh Flanagan, ArtsEkta Cultural Coach Project Manager who devised the programme, was delighted at the enthusiastic response. “The project was a great way to raise awareness about other countries and cultures while nurturing children’s innate creativity and imagination. “It is a fantastic example of the power and potential of community and school arts projects. We were hopeful at the onset that the children would create some exciting artwork but even we were amazed at the quality, energy and insight they brought to the table – and it has been wonderful to see the end products showcased at Belfast Mela. Niamh added, “I have to say it was a bit eerie at times when you caught a glimpse of a multi-coloured beast staring at you through the undergrowth, but it was all great fun and the kids were thrilled to see their work appreciated by such a huge audience.”

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