'It's Easy to See which Side You are on': Northern and Southern Irish Student Teachers' Reflections on Art and Identity

Dervil Jordan, Jackie Lambe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


“It’s easy to see which side you are on” (Sir Edward Carson’s comment on the paintings of Sir John Lavery)This chapter examines the potential of art education to contribute to an exploration of national identity and citizenship across the island of Ireland. Art and visual imagery has long been associated with concepts of national identity. Munro (1956) suggests that that ‘There is no better avenue than art to the understanding of past and present culture’. Eisner (1987) continuing the theme concludes that to be able to understand culture ‘...one needs to understand its manifestations in art, and to understand art, one needs to understand how culture is expressed through its content and form’ (p.20). The chapter examines some recent research activities carried out with student teachers in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and the University of Ulster and is structured as follows. Firstly, the context is described in terms of a recently completed EU Comenius project Images and Identity: Improving Citizenship Education through Digital Art. It then outlines the extension of this research in a national context, which is presented as the ‘North South Exchange a continuum: Images and Identity project’. As a cross border initiative this aspect of the research was funded by the Standing Conference for Teacher Education: North and South (SCoTENS). The research activities, are described, and include student teachers’ responses to ‘Passion and Politics’ an exhibition of the works of Sir John Lavery at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. This was followed up by a questionnaire examining the student teachers responses to the exhibition and their perceptions about the role of the artist as a visual commentator of his times. Text data drawn from the questionnaire was analysed qualitatively and some initial findings presented. Finally the chapter concludes by reflecting upon the potential for further research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArt Education and Contemporary Culture: Irish experiences, international perspectives
EditorsGary Granville
Place of PublicationChicago, IL USA
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISBN (Print)978-1-84150-546-6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Student teachers
  • visual arts
  • citizenship
  • identity


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