Carly (right) pictured presenting the final piece to P7 teacher Shirlie Gregg, Ballykeel Primary School
Local artist Carly Wright recently presented Ballykeel PS with an amazing piece of art created with the help of pupils at the school. The artwork was part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's "Wild about Wellbeing" project, which is designed to promote positive mental health.
The well-known local artist worked in collaboration with Elaine Hill from Mid Antrim Museum team to engage with a P7 class from Ballykeel through two bespoke workshops. The workshops were based on the theme of celebrating nature and protecting the Amazon rainforest.
The project was developed using the five ways to wellbeing framework, which identifies five steps that can be taken to improve mental health and wellbeing: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give.
Splashing paint: the children enjoyed creating the background for the art piece.
For Carly, this innovative project was the latest opportunity for her to help others discover the benefits of art and creativity in mental wellbeing.
The pupils enjoyed the freedom to create a piece of art within the school's eco garden. The first session focused on creating the background to the painting. The children had great fun splashing paint everywhere and sketching smaller pieces that would be collaged into the final piece.
The second session saw the pupils making handprints and footprints, as well as finishing off their drawings. Carly then took all the children's work to incorporate and complete the final piece of artwork, which was entitled "We Are One."
Children helped create a collage of words and images that were finer details incorporated into the final piece.
Shirlie Gregg, Primary 7 teacher at Ballykeel Primary School, commented on the project:
"We were delighted to be involved with Carly and the Mid Antrim Museum in this art project. It was a fantastic opportunity for children to work with a real artist, who shared her artistic abilities and methods, and how beneficial art is for our mental health.
"Carly encouraged the children to enjoy the process of creating, to look around for inspiration, and to think about their feelings and emotions. It was lovely getting to know both her and Elaine (Mid Antrim Museum), and I hope that we can be involved in similar projects in the future."
The final artwork created with the children was displayed as part of Carly's "Diamond in the Rough" exhibition at The Braid between April and June 2023. This exhibition showcased the causes which Carly is passionate about, including the importance of good mental health and finding your own voice.
The final piece: "We Are One"
Jayne Clarke, Museum and Heritage Manager, said:
"We were delighted to support a local artist in their creative development through this school project. Carly's work and contribution to the 'Wild about Wellbeing' project also underpins Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's initiatives to promote good health and wellbeing."
The talented Ballymena artist is known for her ability to "paint pain" and express emotions through her work. Often her paintings captivate the journey from pain and despair to hope and freedom.
The amazing final piece of art created with the children of Ballykeel PS captures the rainforest in a state of ruin through to it being saved. The left side of the piece shows the devastation of forest fires and expresses darkness and destruction with colours, words, and the images themselves. Meanwhile, the right side presents the rainforest as healthy and alive using bright and vibrant colours and images of life and hope.
Ballymena Artist Carly Wright with the "We Are One", created with the help of children from Ballykeel PS
Carly told Love Ballymena:
"I want to say a massive thank you to every single pupil I had the opportunity to work with at Ballykeel Primary School. I am so thankful for the help that you all gave me.
"The children were so good to me and accepted me into their classroom with ease, as well as helping me not to be scared! It was so much fun.
"I also want to thank P7 class teacher Mrs Shirlie Gregg, who has become a friend to me and was brilliant at helping me to personally stay calm and not feel anxious as we worked together on this brilliant project. Each child was so talented, and I believe every single one of them has the most amazing future ahead.
"I believe in the power of art and creativity to help each of us on our own journey to positive health and wellbeing. It has been such a privilege to explore these important issues with the classroom with our younger generation.
"Each child deserves to know their own precious self-worth and to have confidence as they grow up in this world."