International soprano, Margaret Keys, was back in her hometown on Wednesday, as she opened the Great Art Quest exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art on Artillery Street.
She was there in her new role as ambassador for HRH The Prince of Wales’s charity, The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts (Children & the Arts).
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ she said she was “delighted and honoured” to be asked to be an ambassador back in December last year.
“I took part in the charity’s annual concert in London which was, in itself, a great honour. But then I was approached by the Chief Executive and asked to become an ambassador and I couldn’t say no.
“The arts have played a huge part in my life, from competing in the Derry Feis as a youngster to performing with the Londonderry Musical Society following university.”
Opening this specific project she was suitably impressed with the artwork created by children from four local primary schools - The Fountain, Belmont House Special School, St.Oliver Plunkett and Gaelscoil Eadain Mhoir.
“I used to teach here in Derry so it’s wonderful to be back among schoolchildren who have created such fabulous artwork which makes up the first ever public exhibition in a professional gallery of works made by local school children.”
The children aged 10-12 have been working with visual artist, Laura Duran and poet, Abby Oliviera at the CCA as part of the Great Art Quest project.
Drawing inspiration from the Production CCA exhibition the children worked with Laura to pull out themes from the exhibition, then they worked with clay to create miniature monuments and 2D works that reference the abstract paintings of the 60s that were part of the exhibition. Abby helped the children in writing scenes/dialogue between the objects they had made.
CCA Interim Director Sara Greavu, said: “We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work on the Great Art Quest with these four schools. The children have produced some outstanding artwork guided by Laura and Abby and we are proud to display it in CCA.”
Commenting on the work of the charity, Margaret continued: “Children & the Arts does an absolutely amazing job in transforming children’s lives through engagement in the arts. Children benefit hugely from the arts, as the arts stimulate imagination and encourage self-expression and creativity. The enjoyment the arts can bring to children is important, but we must not forget that they also help develop a child’s confidence and self-esteem, their ability to communicate and to understand things about them and the world around them. That’s why the work that’s on display today is so important.”
The work will be on display at CCA, 10-12 Artillery Street, from Wednesday 29th January to Saturday 1st February from midday to 6pm daily.