Art Department

Art Department

It is the aim of the Art Department to provide the pupils with a stimulating environment in which to formulate their personal ideas, a place to build a solid foundation, develop strong technical skills, and expand their aesthetic knowledge and appreciation of the world of art around them.   


Art is compulsory for all pupils in Form Primary and Form I. On entering Form II pupils choose between Art, Craft and Design and Music. Traditionally Art is a popular choice amongst pupils. Pupils may choose Art again in Form IV (even if they have not studied it for Junior Cert). At this point pupils are also introduced to photography. Finally, pupils may choose Art, Craft and Design and Appreciation and History of Art to study for Leaving Certificate when entering Form V. A senior cycle, Q-Set art class also exists. This can be chosen by pupils who wish to explore various aspects of the subject but without an exam. All of the Art, Craft and Design classes are mixed ability and great effort is made to meet the needs of individual pupils. The Art Department boasts a superb facility and in addition to timetabled lessons pupils are encouraged to work on their projects during their free time and on evenings when 'Clubs and Societies' meet. Examples of pupil work can be viewed on the weblog launched by the Art Department in 2009.    


Form Primary and Form I

Art is compulsory and pupils receive one double period (1hr 30min) of Art each week.    

Form II and Form III

Art is set against Music in Form II and Form III. Pupils choosing Art in these Forms receive one double period and one single period (2hr 15min) of Art per week.

Form IV

Pupils choosing Art in Form IV receive one double and two single periods (3 hrs) of Art per week.

Form V Q-Set and Form VI Q-Set

Pupils choosing art in the Q-Set (a non-examined art class) receive one double lesson (1hr 30 min) of Art per week.  

Form V and Form VI

Pupils choosing Art in these Forms receive one double and three single periods (3hrs 45min) of art per week and one double period (1hr 30min) of Art History and Appreciation per week.    

Junior Cycle  

The Junior Certificate Project and Examination taken by pupils in Form III has a wide and varied syllabus. The pupils are challenged to think creatively and develop a number of skills in many disciplines eg: drawing, painting, print, modeling, construction, textiles and batik. It is for this reason that exploration of all these disciplines is taught from Form Primary through to Form III. The basic elements and principles of Art and Design are used as a basis for creating learning objectives and lessons are supported with Historical references and examples of art in the environment. Much time is spent developing the 'Design Process' and achieving the learning objectives within each project is viewed to be as important as the end product. The Junior Certificate Art, Craft and Design exam comprises a project (75%) and drawing exam (25%). The project is completed in class-time over a seven month period. The Drawing Exam focuses on Observational Object Drawing and Life Drawing and is undertaken by the pupils on completion of their projects.Pupils may opt to take the Higher Level or Ordinary Level Project and Exam.    

Transition Year  

Transition Year aims to further develop an appreciation and understanding of Art, Craft and Design by developing skills learned in Junior Cycle Art and by introducing pupils to previously unexplored aspects of the subject including analogue and digital photography, film appreciation and teamwork in the design and creation of a large mural. A number of Excursions are organized depending on what relevant cultural events are taking place. Assessment procedures include continuous assessment of project work and formal exams at the end of each term.      

Senior Cycle

Art is around us every day from the design of the shoes we are wearing on our feet to the architectural design of the building in which we sit. The Leaving Certificate Art curriculum brings together practical Art with Art History and Appreciation. This curriculum necessitates us to draw on our own visual experiences of life and to concentrate on the exciting world of art around us. The Leaving Certificate Art, Craft and Design exam comprises four separate exams. Three of these exams are practical; Life Drawing (12.7% of total mark), Still-Life/Imaginative Composition (25% of total mark), Craftwork (25% of total mark). The remaining 37.3% of the total mark is allocated to the Art History and Appreciation section of the syllabus. All sections of the practical exams take place in early May. This puts more than 60% of the Art exam behind pupils in the run up to all other written exams in June.  In order to meet the demands of this subject the aforementioned aspects of the course form the basis for the lessons taught in Form V and Form VI.In Form V pupils are introduced to various craftwork options; modeling, print, batik, and graphics. Pupils' chosen craftwork is perfected and honed over the two year course. Drawing and Painting Projects are presented to pupils in a way which encourages development of personal style, all the while addressing the core curriculum of drawing and observation from primary and secondary source material. The majority of pupils sit the Higher Level exam though there is also the choice to opt for the Ordinary Level paper.


Q-Set is available to V and VI form pupils who enjoy Art but do not follow the Leaving Certificate Syllabus. The objective of the Q-Set is to create an opportunity for pupils to experience Art and Design from a purely experimental point of view i.e. without examination pressures. Pupils' interests vary from year to year so the pupils themselves have a significant influence in the projects undertaken for the lessons, however guidance is given as to the choice of techniques and tasks undertaken.       

Results The Art Department achieves excellent results. An analysis of our most recent results were well above the National Average can be viewed below, In June 2011 100% of SCC Candidates sat the exam at Higher Level compared with 76% nationally.

The results were as follows;

Stats. of 7 pupils                   SCC %                     National %   

2 achieved B1                        28.5%                           8 %   

2 achieved B2                        28.5%                          11.9%     

1 achieved B3                        14.3%                          15% 

1 achieved C1                        14.3%                          14.9%   

1 achieved C2                        14%                             14% 

In June 2012 91% of SCC Candidates sat the exam at Higher Level compared with 76% nationally.

The results were as follows;

Stats. of 11 pupils                  SCC %                     National %   

1 achieved A1                         18.2%                        3.8 %   

1 achieved A2                         18.2%                        3.8%   

1 achieved B2                         36.4%                        25.2%   

3 achieved B2                         36.4%                        25.2%   

2 achieved C1                         36.4%                        30.9% 

2 achieved C2                         36.4%                        30.9%  

1 achieved C3                         36.4%                        30.9%  

In June 2009 our pupils achieved an A/B grade of 100% compared with 35.8% nationally on the Higher Level paper.

In June 2010 our pupils achieved an A/B grade of 85.07% compared with 18.53% nationally on the Higher Level paper. 

In June 2011 our pupils achieved a B/C grade of 100% compared with 76.5% nationally on the Higher Level paper. 

In June 2012 our pupils achieved an A/B/C grade of 100% compared with 59.9% nationally on the Higher Level paper.   


Exhibition and Display of Pupil Work 

The Art Room is the primary exhibition space for pupils' work, where newly created artwork is regularly displayed. There are also many areas around the college where pupils work is on show, for example in Classrooms, the Boarding Houses and the Dining Hall. There are two display areas in the Buttery passage where 'Photo of the Week' and the Department's 'Visual Diary' display-cabinet houses pictures of completed pupil work, work in progress and other information relevant to the Department. More recently we regularly post examples of pupils' work on the weblog In addition to the on-going display of pupil-work there are two major exhibitions during the academic year. The first is toward the end of Michaelmas Term in the Big School Room and is an exhibition of selected work from the Junior Certificate projects and examination work from the previous June. The second event is held during the Hilary term and is also held in the BSR. This is an exhibition/competition of selected work from all art pupils from Form Primary to Form VI and is adjudicated by a visiting Artist who also gives a lecture to all on 'their chosen topic'. Prizes are awarded at Junior and Senior Level in Art, Craft and Photography during this evening.  Each year the prize winning work is framed and displayed within The College.  

Co-Curricular Activities

Museum/Gallery trips are an important part of the year and are undertaken as often as possible. These trips are an invaluable resource and also give the pupils a grasp of what is going on outside of the classroom. Recent trips have included visits to The Pearse Museum for the annual Exhibition of the Embroiders Guild of Ireland (Junior Cycle). A trip to Airfield House on Culture Evening 2011 for a printing workshop(Junior Cycle), The National Gallery of Ireland (Senior Cycle) and The Dublin Contemporary (Senior Cycle). 

Trips to places such as the National Museum of Ireland, Newgrange and Castletown House to name but a few have also been undertaken as part of the delivery of the History of Art.

London, Venice, Florence and Rome have recently been visited also.

Professional Artists have been invited to lecture and provide workshops for the pupils. Most recently Paki Smith (Fine Art and Film), Peter Robinson (Cinematographer), Catherine Green (Scultptess), James Fennell (Photographer) and Una Sealy RHA (Figurative Painter) have visited The College for the aforementioned reasons. Each year there is an opportunity to visit the N.C.A.D. on open day.

Drawing trips are undertaken when the opportunity arises. 

Art Club. Time can be spent in the Art/Pottery/Photography rooms during weekend activities evenings.  

Cross- Curricular Activities

Drama Department Stage Set and Prop Design, Design-Work for Theatre Production Programs and Advertisement Posters.

SPHE Elements and principles of Art and Design are used in the production of posters for different modules in SPHE.  

English Department Design for a Bookmark Competition, Illustrations for an English Department Publication.

Music |Department Design for the Annual Gala Concert Advertisement Poster.

Geography DepartmentInvolvement in the E.U. Social Awareness and Human Rights Project.  

Information Technology

In November 2009 the Art Department began a weblog . This allows for numerous opportunities to show examples of pupils' work. It is also used for posting Art Department News for example; Exhibitions visited, Items of interest in the News, Art History References, Competitions, etc. It has great potential with regard to integrating IT into the Art Room which is part of the overall Development Plan for the Subject. Photography Lessons already have full use of both an Apple Mac and a PC for Digital Photography. There are also plans for a Visualisor to become available to the Art Department this coming academic year. The Art Department has recently been fitted with a PC, speakers and a projector in each classroom. This equipment aids the presentation of relevant historic and research imagery. It also allows the pupils to view their own published work on 

Teachers Peter Watts: BA Fine Art (Ceramics) (DLIADT), HDip.ADE (NCAD), (Head of Department). 

Derarca Cullen: BA Art and Design Education (NCAD).

History and Appreciation of Art

Aims and objectives


History and Appreciation of Art is taught in the Senior Cycle as part of the Leaving Certificate course. It is taught in mixed ability groups of between 8 - 16 in size. There is one double lesson a week devoted to its study. It is notable that several pupils every year decide to embark on a degree course in Art History.

In the Leaving Certificate examination (2 hours, 30 minutes) candidates are required to answer three essay questions on each of the three sections of the syllabus.


The three fields of special study covered by the examination are as follows:

Section I  -Art in Ireland (from prehistoric times to the present)

Section II - European Art (from 1000 A.D to the present)

Section III - Under the general heading General Appreciation students are given the opportunity to examine and discuss topics based on every-day visual experience in their own environment.

The syllabus is huge and this means in practice that selection is necessary. At St.Columba's we study aspects of Irish art including prehistoric art of the Neolithic period, art in the Iron Age, Celtic art, the art of the Early and later Christian periods in Form V.  We aim to visit such places as the National Museum and Newgrange to enhance and develop visual awareness and knowledge.

This study of Irish art is followed by a study of the Early and High Renaissance in Form V. We study the work of such artists as Giotto, Donatello, Masaccio, Uccello, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca as well as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Durer and Holbein. In relation to each artist we are concerned with answering questions such as:

In Form VI we return to the study of Irish art and examine the development of Georgian architecture in Ireland attempting to visit as many sites as possible. Finally, we return to the study of the European art of the Baroque period and study the output of artists such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Bernini, Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Throughout the course we spend time looking at aspects of visual culture in everyday life examining such topics as poster, theatrical set design, the development of design in objects such as chairs, bags etc and the design of building. Here the emphasis is decidedly on allowing students to formulate their own response and opinions.


Students prepare essays on most of the subjects that are covered which are marked and the pupils are provided with suggestions for improvement. Effort grades are regularly given and are based on written work and classroom performance. An examination is set every term in order to allow pupils to consolidate their knowledge and monitor their performance. Prognostications of likely grades are also regularly given which enables the student to evaluate his/her performance



We are very keen that students have a first-hand experience of the subjects which we study and many excursions are organised to places such as the Casino at Marino, Collins Barracks, the National Gallery and National Museum as well as more far-flung destinations. In 2012 we visit ed Florence and Rome in order to sample the delights and treasures of those culturally-rich and beautiful cities for ourselves. In 2013 an expedition to London with its many galleries and exhibitions is planned Pupils are encouraged to visit galleries and museums independently and many do!

Teacher of Art History: Mrs Marie Haslett