Core Principles 1–4

Artist Name(s) Mark Ryan and Maree Hensey
Artwork title Core Principles 1–4
Context/Background Core Principles 1-4 is a large-scale external permanent drawing in metal, located in Midleton Educate Together National School. The sculpture is made of four arcs with fret cut designs and smaller bronze elements. The final sculpture was developed by working with and in consultation with the school community. Mark Ryan and Maree Hensey were directly involved in the planning, design and delivery of the overall project. The imagery and texture of the bronze castings and fret cut pieces were based on the visual and literary information gathered from the artist led workshops during a week-long artists residency in the school. The residency allowed the artists to give the school community the tools to visually express the ethos of an Educate Together School. The resultant artworks/sculptures are highly visible and iconic. They are informed by the ethos/core principles of the school, child centered, co-educational, multi-denominational and democratically run. They symbolically represents Midleton Educate Together National School,  its vibrancy, energy, and commitment to the values of creativity, authenticity, diversity and inclusiveness. The form and spatial layout represents the concept 'No child an outsider' and provides students of all ages with innovative ways of seeing, hearing, experiencing and thinking about the world around them.

A large-scale external permanent drawing in metal, located in Midleton Educate Together National School in Cork.

The sculptures promote active participation while creating wonder and stimulating creativity and discovery. The abstract, dynamic sculpture invites the school community to actively engage with it through imagination, exploration, and collaborative invention. The children move through, in and around the sculpture, they create their own narratives. The movement of natural light animates the sculpture and create dramatic ‘light drawings’ at different times of the day.

The form and spatial layout reflects the ethos of its vibrancy, energy and commitment to the values of creativity, authenticity, diversity and inclusiveness. The spatial layout is inherent to the conception of the piece. The sculpture demands a physical commitment by the viewer and an ability to map a space. The children walk through the sculpture each time they enter the school. The arc acts as a portal, a strong inclusive element of the work. The pupils and school community form their own personal responses to the abstract sculpture as they walk through and beside it. The different colours represent diversity. The four arcs represent the core principals of and Educate Together National School: equality based, co-educational, child centered and democratically run.

The sculpture will have lasting significance and meaning to the local community, present and former students and staff, and the generations to come. The sculpture has a strong visual aesthetic, It announces the school. The energy, creativity, and vibrancy of the school are represented by the spring like twisting and calligraphic folded metal. They are both youthful and energetic yet their volume and folds have a gentle presence. As the children grow they will engage with the different shapes and colours of the sculpture. Traditions will be established as the school community connects with the bronze castings.

[Specification and materials: Painted steel. Cast Bronze. Dimension: 3m x 5m x 6m]


Documentation was an integral part of this project. The artists set up a continual blog as the project progressed. The students were involved in this process. The blog linked to the schools website ensuring the school community was informed at each stage of the commission.


Maree Hensey and Mark Ryan’s collaboration brings together a broad range of expertise and experience in many different materials and media. They fabricate cast and construct, with stainless steel, bronze, steel, and aluminum. They have successfully completed a number of percent for art projects and public art commissions. Each artwork is unique to each commission.

They work in many ways, as object makers, enquirers, researchers, collators, provocateurs and mentors. They challenge and question decisions and work beyond conventional boundaries. As in their personal working practices they continually expand the premise from which they work and re-assess their processes and methods. At the heart of their collaborative work is the engagement and participation of community. As a primary source of information and guidance, they rely on evolving relationships over time, developing subtle collaborations to arrive at work that not only tells a story but also characterizes the community that recounts that story.

Commission Type Government Department
Commissioner Name Midleton Educate Together National School, Midleton, Co. Cork
Commissioning process Open call, followed by shortlisting.
Project commission dates September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2020
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts and education
Funded By Department of Education and Skills
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 01/09/2019
Project commission end date 31/08/2020
Location Midleton Educate Together National Schoo.l
County Cork
Town Midleton
Street Address Mill Rd, Broomfield West
Content contributor(s) Maree Hensey
Relationship to project This project was a joint collaboration with Mark Ryan sculptor and Maree Hensey artist.
Public engagement

Artists residency (525 pupils approx 30 staff approx)

The artists met with the school body, students, and staff to introduce ourselves and the proposed artwork, to explain the concept behind the artworks and the process involved in realising the commission. They facilitated a series of artist-led workshops with all classes from junior infants to sixth class. Through creative processes they explored diversity and celebrated the many cultures, backgrounds and countries represented in the school. They gave the school community the tools to visually express the ethos of an Educate Together School. The workshops informed the imagery and symbols for the external bronze sculpture and the design of the fret cut elements.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Jim Mansfield Chartered Engineer



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