An exhibition of handcrafted books, launched yesterday evening in Trinity’s Long Room Hub, marked the efforts of 65 children participating in the Bookmarks program; a two-month writing, illustration and bookbinding project facilitated by the Trinity Access Program (TAP).
The fifth class students from Drimnagh Castle, Scoil Cholmcille Ballybrack and Scoil Eoin Kilbarrack attended a series workshops delivered by experts in the fields of publishing, bookbinding and writing. The aim of the project was to instil a passion for literature among the children, hoping to inspire the next generation of illustrators, publishers and authors. Each student was awarded a certificate of achievement for their outstanding work at the awards ceremony last night.
Beforehand, the students and their parents were brought to see the Book of Kells, with a member of the library staff giving them the history of the iconic work and quizzing them on facts, before moving to the Long Room. The books will be displayed in the Long Room for three weeks until March 25, allowing the thousands of visitors that come to see the famous library to peruse the original stories.
Trinity librarian and college archivist Helen Shenton spoke to the schoolchildren about the importance of the venue, “where all our treasures are held”, and that it had been picked as the Bookmarks exhibition venue in order to “pay homage to all [the students’] creativity”. In an earlier statement, Shenton celebrated the project and its aim to nurture children by “acknowledging their achievements and encouraging them in their futures”.
Author Erika McGann, winner of the Waverton Good Read Children’s Prize 2014 for her children’s novel The Demon Notebook, launched the event alongside the TAP team, commended the students on their efforts, stating they “put [her] to shame” as she recalled her first book-making endeavour, using a cereal box for her book cover. She emphasised what an achievement it was “to make [the story] interesting and vibrant to the end” and stated the students had followed in the footsteps of the world’s greatest writers in “taking a process that is effortful and making it look effortless”.
Second year medical student Luke Butler also addressed the students, having completed the Bookmarks program when he himself was in primary school, before applying to medicine through TAP. He felt that with hindsight he can now “appreciate it more, because it was [his] first college experience”. He explained to the audience that it imbued him with the aspiration to study at Trinity, as he felt he “grew up” with the College throughout his young student life.
Among those delivering the workshops was Catherine Ann Cullen, artist Hannah Maguire and editor Síne Quinn, who were present at the event. Cullen, a poet and children’s book author and winner of the APA Gold Award for poetry and folklore, has published two childrens’ books and two collections of poetry. Maguire, having gained a postgraduate diploma in Art and Design Education from NCAD, works in Dublin teaching art and illustration both formally and in community settings. Quinn, a graduate of Trinity college, with a BA and MPhil in Children’s Literature, has previously worked in various publication houses as a freelance editor and project manager.
Members of the Department of Early Printed Books in Trinity library and research students from the School of English were also brought in to provide the expertise and support throughout the project, working with students as they wrote, illustrated and bound their own original books. The theme of this year’s project was “Between Two Worlds”, with the children also finding inspiration from the Pollard collection; an assembly of children’s books printed before 1914, with the earliest items dating back to the 17th century, collected by former keeper of the department, Mary Pollard, over a period of 50 years.