Published 09.04.2014
by Kids’ Own

Virtually There artist spotlight: Sharon Kelly

What happens when an artist in her studio collaborates online with children in the classroom? What are the possibilities for the type of artistic work that can be created?  Each month, we’ll be turning the spotlight on one of the six artists currently working on our Virtually There artist-in-residence programme. Collaborating via video conferencing software and an interactive whiteboard, the artists and children have been embracing technology as a platform for communication and creativity as we will soon discover.

Our first artist spotlight is on Sharon Kelly who has been working with children from St. Patrick’s P.S. and their teacher Dearbhla Bennett. This project took place between November 2013 and April 2014.

Artist spotlight: Sharon Kelly

St. Patrick's PS

St. Patrick's PS - drawing made in response to Sharon Kelly's work

On the first day of the project, Sharon met the children in person and they created their own responses to drawings on the theme of INTERPRET which would be the theme of the project going forward.

Sharon Kelly mapping journeysSharon Kelly Virtually There from Leipzig




When Sharon was travelling in Berlin, Leipzig  and Dresden, she sent the children packages of clues so that they could trace the different locations she found herself in. She asked the children to map their own JOURNEYS from home to school and they began to draw their own local landmarks in and around Crossmaglen.

Sharon Kelly explorations


The children were encouraged to explore and interpret the world around them in new ways. Sharon suggested that they pretend to have the special power of INVISIBILITY and navigate the school and grounds as if they were seeing them for the first time. The children took photographs with an iPad and described their surroundings:

“The simbils are odd. We seen picturs of people”
“The mishens ar weard”



SK watercolours 2SK watercolours


Following in the path of the early explorers … Sharon paid another in-person visit to the school in late February. Drawing on a previous theme of EXPLORATION, she and the children roamed the grounds of the school together to search for specimens that explorers like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus might have documented. The next task was to look very carefully at the shape and texture of the collected specimens and to interpret them with watercolours.  The children’s paintings turned out really beautifully.



World Book day



‘KEEP GOING’ became an accidental theme in early March when the internet connection was continuously interrupted. Communicating via mobile phone was the handy solution. It was World Book Day and the children came dressed as characters so Sharon got them to draw objects their characters would like.


Virtually There Sharon Kelly 2014




The 8th session looked at DISTANCE –  what we notice about things that are close to us and those things that are far away. Here, paper cut-outs are re-imagined within the spatial dimensions of Van Gogh’s Wheatfield.



silhouettes - 09Hans_Christian_Andersen_-_The_Shepherdess_and_the_Chimney_Sweep_-_silhouette




Shapes were again explored the following week in the form of SILHOUETTES. An overhead projector  was used as a light source and the children worked in pairs to stand and have their shadow cast onto paper for their friend to draw around. Sharon showed the children a Hans Christian Anderson white silhouette cut-out from the fairy tale The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep.



Floaty Blue Silhouettes SK



The final day of the project brought beautiful spring weather and the children made silhouettes of their WHOLE BODIES this time and suspended them from different heights around the school grounds. Magical!


Sharon Kelly Floaty Blue Silhouettes 2014



The full project can be explored here:

Virtually There is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.