"At Le Chéile Secondary School we have been embedding the research of ‘David Thornburg on learning spaces’ into both our pedagogy and physical environment.
We spoke with Julie about our desire to use the area under our stairs, for one, as a space for students to get away on their own.
A place for them to think and reflect and work at their own pace.
Once we shared this idea with Julie, with minimum fuss or expense, she transformed forgotten corners into much loved spaces.
She applied the theories of David Thornburg in a physical, attractive way to our everyday environment.
‘Welcome’ is at the heart of our school culture and although we have a beautiful entrance lobby we felt there was more we could do to make sure students and visitors immediately feel enfolded into a community of love. Julie’s design did just that.
The tactile grass walls and apple blossom tree are so inviting. The mirror with our school animating principle ‘God is love, Love is Here’ reminds everyone who sees their own reflection that they are loved and they are love. This is a spot where students love to sit.
Another David Thornburg space Julie created was ‘The Plains'. She transformed what was a ‘dead’ space, with no purpose, into gorgeous ‘pods’ that encourage conversation and reflection.
Teachers are no longer confined to their classrooms. There are now a number of useful learning spaces they can bring their classes to.
Parents regularly comment about the attractiveness of our school and the design work Julie has done. And most importantly how much their children enjoy their school.
We love to have visitors to our school and to see their surprise as they turn a corner and see a ‘Julie The Genie’ inspirational space. They are always impressed how personalised our building is and how well the physical environment supports pedagogy."
- Aine Moran, Principal at 'Le Cheile Secondary School' 15 Tyrrelstown Way, Hollystown, Dublin 15
Our school was built over a period of 175 years and while it has great character, it is of its time.
Julie transformed dark spaces with vibrant colours, inspirational quotes and casual furniture.
Students now sit and chat in areas that previously were dead spaces.
Their positive reaction is testimony to the contemporary quality of Julie’s work".
Robert Dunne, Principal at Loretto Abbey, Loreto Avenue, Harbour Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin.
“I smile walking through the corridors as I feel the photography, the colour, the mural, and the wording artwork all help to create an energetic, pleasant working and learning environment for myself, my fellow staff members, and most importantly the students in our school.
The colour and aesthetics of our everyday environment are now refreshing and visually pleasing.
This makes the school a much more pleasant place to be in and has an impact on the student’s mood and focus in class.
The physical surroundings created by the artwork displayed around the school has definitely contributed to creating this vibrant learning environment.”
- Ian Byrne, teacher and wellbeing coach, Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Dublin
“Julie’s work has completely achieved our objective of enhancing the sense of health and well-being in our hospital.
She totally met our brief and the art has exceeded all our expectations. Our senior management has been delighted with the calibre of work created.
Before, our space was a dark, high traffic area with a large wall which appeared to be never-ending.
The area has been transformed and it’s been wonderful to observe the positive impact on our staff. Smiles of delight and uplifted spirits! “
- Pauline Kent - Smoking Cessation Officer, HSE, Sligo
“Changing our space has created a welcoming atmosphere and communicated a strong message to our students that they are valued.
We want our students to do well through encouragement which is evident in the messages we have displayed around our school.
When they enter the school they can see what it takes to be a successful student and this is a strong message to send to the parents, students and staff.
Before working with you, there were no welcome signs, walls were empty and boring and there was no inspiration for students.
The images have helped with building a culture of positivity and this is now promoted throughout the school.
The students think the images are cool and create a more welcoming environment.
They enjoy that the images give out positive messages, it really helps them if they are having a bad day.
For staff and parents, they can see visually that we are a school that promotes a positive message.
I look forward to working with you again when we open our new extension”.
- Anna McCready , Scoil Ui Mhuiri, Co Louth
“You have enhanced our school environment with wonderful colour and your inspirational quotes.
Our main focus was to bring new life to the older parts of our school building which has many nukes and crannies.
We are truly delighted with the beautiful artwork you did in our school. It is a joy for our students and staff to admire your creative work everyday.
You were a pleasure to work with and really took the time to listen to our requests while also offering very valuable advise as a gifted and talented artist “.
- Sr Mairead and Ann Waters, Ursuline College, Sligo
Before working with Julie the décor of this particular classroom was very tired and the room was underused.
We contacted her saying we wanted to turn this classroom into a ‘Hair and Beauty Room’.
It is a large room and originally we had thought that we would leave most of it in a classroom format and put some salon features at the back.
Julie suggested , instead of removing these old cupboards, we would used them as the side benches and turn them into attractive beauty stations like you’d see in a real salon.
This meant using the structure that was already there which saved on costs massively.
Since Julie’s transformation the students are very excited about the room and the subject.
Hair & Beauty is a new subject and the room has given it a great profile in the school which we hope to build on.
Because of the large work benches in the centre of the room, we can use the room for other purposes also.
Our HSCL Co-ordinator is planning a course in Beauty for parents and we are looking at the possibility of running a PLC.
We have linked with a local salon Core Beauty who are very interested in the development of the room.
Therapists from the salon have visited the school to talk to the students and have contributed products and a salon visit is planned for next month.
The students love the room because it is bright and attractive.
We have two fabulous statement art pieces which have created a real wow factor.
Julie’s attention to detail really pulled the room together.
We really enjoyed working with Julie on the project as she brought great ideas to the plan and listened very well to our needs and concerns.
Karen Quigley - Principal at St. Aidan’s Community School, Dublin
"I cannot recommend Julie and her work highly enough.
Julie’s work has transformed our space.
We are based within a sister school and her work has given us an independent identity.
Most importantly, it has transformed the temporary premises into a vibrant, colourful school where students are very proud of their surroundings.
Swords Community College opened in temporary premises in 2018.
Our space was small, unconventional and lacking in character.
Julie's work has impacted our staff and given them a real sense of belonging and pride in their workplace.
Our parents have reacted really positively too to the artwork and were so impressed with how inviting it was for their children.
Julie was easy to work with, creative and responsive.
The students were so impressed and our new environment has helped us create the positive, warm and welcoming atmosphere we wanted for our school."
- Mark Mc Donald - Principal at Swords Community College, Dublin.
"I now have a place that my spirit can breathe in!
In Julie, I finally met someone who understands the importance of our school environment as a learning tool. As the principal of a start-up school, we have expanded from 79 pupils to 1000 and were grappling with a filing system that was lagging behind.
My own creativity was stifled and I didn't have a space that represented my values and educational views.
Julie not only helped organise my files and put systems in place but she created a magical Hogwarts style office for me, an oasis of free-thinking and wonderment that students and teachers just love.
Many of the artistic additions are carefully curated secondhand pieces, including an old refurbished barber's chair. And as for the fireplace Julie installed, you will just have to visit to see that!"
- Anne Marie McCarrick, Principal at Colaiste na hinse, Drogheda.
Our new reception space now gives us our own identity that emphasizes the ethos and values of a Loreto school.
The carefully thought out changes have meant a lot to everyone in the school, including visiting past pupils.
Julie did an absolutely fabulous job. I was blown away; her work is imaginative and sensitive.
She reworked the existing foyer and gave life to some of the most unimaginative spaces.
She followed our brief to a T, supplementing it with her own creativity and style.
We've now rejuvenated our reception area which is of such critical importance to our school because it is the first point of contact for visitors.
It needs to communicate not only a welcoming feeling but a sense of who we are and our value system.
A once dumping ground for books, bags, and furniture; our redesigned space is now filled with colour, life and meaning.
- Orla Forde, Principal at Loreto Fermoy, Co Cork
"When I walk in to school in the morning I’m in a bad mood but the colour changes it"
"I feel different in a colourful school as it brightens up my thoughts"
"The first time I saw the artwork, it made me feel more confident about my new school"
"The library, It's like a beautiful dream!"
"I never knew our school could be this cool"
"I'm just going to live in here, I love it"
"This is the coolest room I've ever seen"
"It's like a magic fairytale place"
"I'm so excited, I want to stay and read"
"Going down the corridor, you'd never guess that this could be here, it's amazing!