The Sunflower of Life by Miranda Corcoran

The Sunflower of Life was commissioned by the Board of Management of Seafield School in Bunmahon to coincide with a major extension on the school. I went and spoke with the principle Ann Coffey. I got ideas of what the school was interested in and that Sunflowers were the schools favourite flower.

I did drawings and worked out what materials I would use. My idea was to create a large wall mounted Sunflower with one leaf depicting the countryside and the other one the sea. Then I brought my proposal to a Board of Management meeting. We discussed the idea and I showed them my proposal and samples of my work. They contacted me to tell me I had the commission. I started work on the piece in January, the week after the Christmas holidays.

Firstly I went to the school, took measurements and roughly drew to scale the size and shape of the piece. It is made of four pieces; the flower, the stem and two large leaves. I wanted the children involved in the creation of the piece so I developed projects for them, that we could work on in the school. I went to talk to the children, showed them the idea and asked them to think of things they would like to put into it. Also I showed them a selection of the materials we would use, clay, jewels, beads, buttons and paints. Shells were also picked by the kids to be included in the piece.

On the first session in the school we made shapes in air drying clay to represent stones. In total all 64 children were involved over a four-hour period, with the help of the vice principal.

On the second session each child painted their name on a stone and decorated them. On the third session I worked with smaller groups of kids who had specific things they wanted to make. We did more clay work including tractors, cows, whales, surfers, boats and trees.

The fourth session was painting the clay pieces and making the centre piece for the flower. There were three more sessions in the school. I spread out the work as much as I could to give each kid as much involvement as possible. The last part of my work with the kids was decorating the Sunflower and each kid had a chance to stick on some buttons.

I did the preparation work back at The Art Hand. I drew the image up to scale on paper, cut out the template, then my good husband cut out the shapes for me, then they were sanded and primed. The boards are 18mm thick plywood (WBP). Meanwhile I laid everything out on the boards and planned where everything would go and made sure it would all fit. There was a huge array of materials used. Some new and some recycled.

It took me about five weeks to complete the work. Once it was all mounted it was then coated with PVA glue to really gel it all together. It was then screwed up on the wall in the school outside school hours so I believe the kids were thrilled the next day when they arrived in to a surprise. The Sunflower of Life was unveiled at the opening of the new extension and the blessing of the completed school. I’m delighted with how it turned out, I think it makes a colourful and attractive addition to the school and the kids really seem to love it. Although the flower itself is up very high the leaves contain all the detail and kids love to interact with it, it’s tactile and accessible at a perfect height for little people!

Reference;

To follow is a reference from Ann Coffey, Principal of Seafield National School;

 Seafield N.S

16/07/12

To whom it may concern   

Miranda Corcoran worked in this school with the pupils completing a project to mark the celebration of the opening of the new extension.  Miranda worked over the school year taking the pupils in organised groups on a regular basis. During this time Miranda and the pupil’s cooperated well together in a very happy yet structured environment. She also brought out each individuals talents and enhanced their artistic abilities. 

Guided by Miranda, the pupils completed a beautiful art piece depicting their own interests like farm machinery, the beach and surfing. The pupils looked forward to Mirandas’ classes and thoroughly enjoyed their time with her. Miranda always has a very pleasant manner in all her dealings with pupils, staff and parents. The enthusiasm she inspires is evident in the wonderful art piece on the school foyer which is much admired by all. 

We were very happy with Miranda’s work in this school and we wish her well.

Yours faithfully

Ann Coffey, Principal

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