To be. To wallow. To wonder.

Artist: Maree Hensey 
Community Partners: Staff of TU Dublin Early Childhood Education; Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership
Medium: Process led engagement with a range of approaches and medium
Website/Social Media:
Date: 2017-2018
Commission Type: Open Call
Commissioner Name: Grangegorman Public Art Working Group, Grangegorman Development Agency
Per Cent for Art: Yes




Artist Maree Hensey in collaboration with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership researched and developed a 3-phase programme with students and staff of TU Dublin Early Childhood Education and children in Early Childhood Care and Education settings in the GDA area. The aim of ‘To be. To wallow. To wonder.’ was to nurture a culture and community that supports local children from 6-18 months to be fully engaged through all their senses in the development of their own unique language and individual expression.

During the project the artist developed responses within her own practice to feed a process of reciprocity and co-creation with the students and children. The resultant work formed the basis for an exhibition as a closure to the project.


The first phase of the project involved Early Childhood Education students in TU Dublin actively participating in an immersive, process-based experience led by artist Maree Hensey.

Throughout phase two Maree Hensey, in partnership with the students, explored and developed a methodology and environment for engaging creatively with babies aged 6-18 months through visual and sensory stimulation. The environment offered children opportunities;

  • to actively explore,
  • to question and enquire,
  • to work independently and with others,
  • to make decisions and follow through with their ideas,
  • to take risks and feel socially and emotionally supported, and where they have opportunities;
  • to explore and create with varied materials.

In the final phase of the project the students and artist with a shared ethos and approach in selected early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings introduced the environment where they mutually supported the children’s investigation and enquiry.

Still photography, film footage and sound recordings were an integral part of this project. Maree set up a blog and updated it as the commission progresses. The on-line journal acted as a trigger and means of re-visiting, re-looking and re-thinking the process and is available as a resource for students and staff of TU Dublin.

Throughout the process, ‘To be. To wallow. To wonder.’ aims for the students to gain participatory experience of the potential of the arts to give energy to children’s natural capacity for creativity, communicating, thinking and exploring. As a legacy to the project have confidence in the future to engage with the arts and artists in ECCE settings. The children in local ECCE settings were given the opportunity to wallow, to share beautiful moments, to explore, feel and enquire.

  • Artist Bio

    Maree Hensey is a visual artist. Her practice encompasses drawing, sculpture, and installation. Material is an integral component in her practice. She uses materials that are rich in associations and investigate ways to transform them, often projecting new identities and layers of meaning onto the work in doing so. Over the past number of years Maree has completed several Public Art Commissions, Site Specific Installations and Community Based Participatory Art projects. Maree’s interest is in responding to context, where all of the cues for a works development evolve from the social and physical aspects of a particular place. This responsive and process led approach stimulates ideas and generates content through dialogue and creative exchange with people whom her work will affect. As in her personal working practices she continually expands the premise from which she works and re-assesses her processes and methods.

  • Community Partner Bios
    Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

    Since its inception in 1997 Kids’ Own has emerged as a key organisation that supports the provision of exemplary arts practice with children and young people in Ireland. An integral part of this work is the commitment to supporting professional artists in developing their practice with children and young people and all other professionals working with children through the arts. Kids’ Own is primarily focused on supporting the engagement that occurs between artists and children and in developing a way of working with children and young people that develops their own individual creative expression through the creative process. The outcomes from this engagement serve to further promote the arts in the lives of children in terms of resources that support practice, or work in itself that supports children and young people as active cultural creators in their own right.