The studio that has no roof

Artist Name(s) Donal Lally & Atsushi Kaga
Artwork title The studio that has no roof
Bracken Educate Together is a multi-denominational school that was established in 2007 in Balbriggan, county Dublin. The school has grown rapidly since and now has over 390 pupils enrolled to include over 35 different nationalities. It is a 16 classroom school that promotes an inclusive and child centred education which is reflective of the Educate Together Ethos. 
In 2015 they invited applications for a Per Cent for Art funded artwork to be sited in the courtyard of the school. The selection panel consisted of Marian Griffin, Principal; Rosemarie Stynes – Acting Vice Principal;  Aishling McQuaid –Teacher and representative of the Board of Management; professional artist Alan Phelan; Aoife Banim, teacher in Bracken Educate Together (and a qualified Architect who has worked closely with the Irish Architecture Foundation and various local authorities and art galleries facilitating design workshops for young children); Eileen Keane, teacher and currently completing second year of an M.A. in Socially Engaged Art and Damien Frayne – School Maintenance Manager. From this process, the Studio that has no roof project was selected. 

The studio that has no roof is an integrated garden, artwork and workshop programme commission; at Bracken Educate Together NS, Balbriggan, County Dublin.

It has three principal aspects:

The first is a garden created by architect Donal Lally (zero-degree machine) - in collaboration with horticulturalist Niall Maxwell - within the school courtyard; designed to provide support for the activation of creative and social activities with the children.

The second aspect, which included a set of workshops, is the commission of three permanent site-specific artworks by artist Atsushi Kaga. Mushroom Pickers and Tinkerbell-m are bronze statues. Mushroom Pickers features familiar characters from Atsushi’s work – Cat and Bunny. Tinkerbell-m is an entirely new character created specifically for Bracken Educate Together NS. The idea arose through Atsushi’s workshops with 5th class students and was inspired by principal Marian. Oftentimes, bronze statues are large and imposing, but in these artworks they are small, 6 inches in height. In his neon work 'I was here' he elevates the commonplace scribble often seen on the exterior of copybooks to a large and permanent position on the wall of the garden. The style of the text is based on the 5th class children’s own handwriting.

The third is a programme that initiates the activation of the garden space through a series of artist-led workshops with professional contemporary artists and designers - to include the garden as site and/or source of inspiration / research for making artwork. Workshop programme was with Stephen Brandes, Dragana Jurisic, Elaine Leader, Eamon O’Kane, Amanda Coogan, Beth O’Halloran, Aideen Barry, composer Slavek Kwi and designers Superfolk.

For documentation, including short film please visit:


Each class in the school did a workshop with a professional contemporary artist, designer or composer; most often using the garden as a site for the workshop, or having gardens / outdoor spaces be an artistic theme.  

One fifth class group did two workshops with artist Atsushi Kaga, which informed Atsushi in his making of the bronze artworks within the garden (see description). 

Videographers Jenny Brady and Nathan Fagan have also come on board to make a short film of the project processes. This will be screened at a special event in the school in September 2017. This film will also be available on Superprojects website


Donal Lally is an architect, designer and educator based in Dublin. Donal received his B.Arch form UCD in 2012 and has won a number of international architectural awards.  He is a founding member of zero-degree machine - a collective of architects with backgrounds in fine art, graphic design and philosophy. z-dm sees its work as a direct continuation of the modern project.

Atsushi Kaga is an artist living and work in Dublin. His B.A. was received from NCAD in 2005. He employs images that represents his own cultural background, namely Japanese comics, to create paintings, sculptures and animations. Kaga expresses a profound sense of alienation, solitude and humour. He illustrates little tales and speaks of the mythologies of everyday life, revealing existential situations, human vulnerability and weakness. He has completed numerous residency programmes which includes ISCP, New York; Location One, New York; and IMMA, Dublin. His work is in public and private collection and includes The Art Council of Ireland and Pigozzi Collection. He is represented by Mother's Tankstation Limited, Dublin. His upcoming shows are at Mother's Tankstation Limited and Maho Kubota Gallery, Tokyo; in 2018.

Superprojects is an initiative for young audiences that generates possibilities for creative encounters with contemporary art and artists. Superprojects’ work includes school-based workshop and artist-residency programmes, Per Cent for Art commissions, festival events and child-centred exhibition programmes that have opened up the richness of national and international contemporary art practice to child participants; whilst actively fostering their development as meaning-makers and artists. Curator Cleo Fagan is the founder and director of Superprojects. 

Born in Co.Dublin, Niall Maxwell is a multi award winning garden designer. He studied horticulture in Writtle College University, Essex and has designed and created private gardens in the Dublin area for the past 20 years. In 2015 Maxwell’s thought-provoking 'Darkness into Light' design for Pieta House at the Bloom Garden Festival was awarded every medal possible; winning Gold, Best in Show, Designer’s Choice and People’s Choice. 

Commission Type Schools/Colleges
Commissioner Name Bracken Educate Together National School
Commissioning process Open Competition
Project commission dates February 1, 2016 - May 31, 2017
Artform Visual Arts,Architecture
Art Practice Arts and education
Funded By Department of Education and Skills,The Arts Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 01/02/2016
Project commission end date 31/05/2017
Location Balbriggan Dublin
County Dublin
Town Balbriggan
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Aoife Banim, Eileen Keane, Catherine Blanchard, Marian Griffin, Bracken ETNS; Cast foundry; Jarleth Cantwell, zero-degree machine; Dublin Neon. 

Workshop programme with artists Stephen Brandes, Dragana Jurisic, Elaine Leader, Eamon O’Kane, Amanda Coogan, Beth O’Halloran, Aideen Barry, composer Slavek Kwi and designers Superfolk. 

Curated by Superprojects



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