Uniquely United: Glass Project with Fountain Youth

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During April and May, young people from Fountain Youth Project, Dublin 8 visited Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane for a series of workshops to add their own mark to the local
tradition of glass making. Fountain Youth Project is a youth organisation that serves young people ages 10–21 from the St. James neighbourhood through personal and life skills
development, guided educational programmes and fieldtrips. Initiated by Lesley McBride, the Hugh Lane’s Fulbright Scholar for 2017-2018, this collaborative project with the Hugh Lane
and NCAD’s glass department took place over six weeks during which time eight young people aged 12-16 responded to the Gallery’s stained glass collection by creating their own work in our education space through painting with enamel on glass. The group also visited NCAD’s glass department for a behind the scenes tour of the glass making process in action.
Having initially reflected on Harry Clarke’s stained glass work here and discussing what could be represented through their own art, the young people chose to create images that
represented their individual interests and passions, including travel, filmmaking, music, and even fantastical creatures. Working up from the acetate sketches on display here, the
participants isolated elements of their designs to form a final composite image rendered through separate painted layers of sheet glass. During this process, they experimented with
applying glass enamel using various methods and tools,focused on line work and learned how to mix colours. While the glass blocks here were not acid etched, the technique
explored by the young people was akin to the layering of glass used by Clarke. After being individually painted, the sheet glass squares were then stacked in a pre-determined
order and fred in a kiln at NCAD to form individual glass blocks. Although at first glance the image on the surface appears two-dimensional, a sculptural quality is created as
you move around the work, and the colours and line work at the varying depths of the object are exposed. The stratified layers of painted glass form a unified shape that is both
readily accessible and optically complex. The young people curated the display of their work on view here, working with Lesley McBride. A series of photographs
of the workshops are also on view on the next staircase level. Participant Joshua Murphy observed how Fountain Youth Project is a place where young people come together to relax,
socialise and discuss challenges in their life with their peers. ‘Friends are united in a club, and even though every person is different, we all come together as one group.’ This is reflected in their choice for the exhibition’s title. We are very grateful to artists Emer O’Donnell, a recent graduate of the NCAD glass programme, and Jane Fogarty, a member of the Hugh Lane’s artist panel, who co-led the workshop series; they were assisted by Katie Spiers, a third year glass student at NCAD. Special thanks to Caroline Madden and Isabelle Peyrat (NCAD); Maurice Noble (City of Dublin Youth Service Board); Paul McDonald, Nicola McGee and David Doyle (Fountain Youth Project).

Jessica O’Donnell
Head of Education and Community Outreach

Lesley McBride
Hugh Lane Fulbright Scholar