Funding, Partnerships

New Stained-Glass Window will celebrate Diversity at Malone College

29th June, 2023

Self-portraits created in stained glass by students from Malone Integrated College will soon go on display as a permanent fixture in the school.

Malone Integrated College Students Farham Kiani, Danielle Godfrey, Jason Kirkpatrick, Haneen Mohamed and Grace Denvir holding the self-portraits they created.
Malone Integrated College Students Farham Kiani, Danielle Godfrey, Jason Kirkpatrick, Haneen Mohamed and Grace Denvir.

The glass tiles, created by individual year 9 and 10 students, under the guidance of visual artist Kerrie Hanna, will be forged together to create a colourful bespoke window made up of a series of individual panes.

The window is the final element of a special two-year project the students have been engaged in as part of the Creative Schools Programme – a pioneering cross-government programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through National Lottery funding, the Education Authority and the Executive Office through Urban Villages Initiative. Malone College was one of eleven schools located in identified urban village areas awarded funding in 2011. Each of the schools received up to £15,000 of funding to develop an arts-led project which would connect with the school curriculum and support student development.

Thanks to the funding, the group at Malone College have had the opportunity to step outside of their normal school activities to take part in specially devised drama and art sessions led by professional artists and focused on encouraging creative learning and improving student confidence. With 26 different languages spoken by students within the school, a primary focus of the project has been on celebrating cultural diversity and promoting inclusion.

Art and design teacher Lynsay-Erin Mercer has led on the programme and says the experimental approach has made a real difference to students in the wake of covid, promoting positive self-expression and encouraging new creative ways of thinking and learning.

Talking about the project, she said: 

“We wanted this project to be a collaboration, with input from myself as the teacher, as well as the artist and the children. We discussed ideas and what emerged was that the children wanted to look at their identity and some of the different cultures represented here within the school. We explored portraiture and looked at pattern development from around the world and the children worked with Kerrie to create the stained glass.
“The project has been a real success. The children have learnt new skills, different to what they would generally do in class, and it has also been good for my own professional development. I’ll be able to take what I have learned through to other classes and year groups. It’s been a really worthwhile experience and the children can all say, with pride, that they have been a part of something really special.”

Director of Urban Villages Joan O’Hara praised the enthusiasm of everyone involved in the project, commenting: 

“The Urban Villages Initiative is delighted to be able to support this innovative project through the Creative Schools Partnership Programme. The work the students are involved in will help them develop a wide range of skills through creative learning. Having this beautiful stained-glass piece as a permanent installation within the school building showcases and celebrates diversity and inclusion. This will encourage students to share their voices not just within school but wider, in their local community and will provide new life experiences, help generate new thinking, new viewpoints and new ideas which is at the heart of building good relations.”
The eleven schools taking part in the Creative Schools Partnership Programme are Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boy’s School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Girls’ High School, St Cecilia’s College, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm’s High School.


Notes to editors:

The Creative Schools Partnership is supported through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds, the Education Authority for Northern Ireland and Urban Villages Initiative, in line with a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy.

The Urban Villages Initiative is a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy. The programme is designed to improve good relations outcomes and to help develop thriving places where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension. (twitter) @urbanvillagesni

The Urban Village areas include The Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street in Derry-Londonderry, Ardoyne and greater Ballysillan (north Belfast), Colin (west Belfast), the lower part of the Newtownards Road (east Belfast) and Sandy Row, Donegall Pass and the Markets (south Belfast).

The Education Authority (EA) is responsible for ensuring that efficient and effective primary and secondary education services are available to meet the needs of children and young people, and support for the provision of efficient and effective youth services.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead funding and development agency for the Arts providing support to arts projects throughout the region, through its Treasury and National Lottery funds. Our funding enables artists and arts organisations to increase access to the arts across society and deliver great art that is within everyone’s reach.

Every week National Lottery players raise more than £30M for good causes.

More than £47 billion has now been raised by National Lottery players to support good causes since 1994.

More than 670,000 projects have been supported with National Lottery funding, the equivalent of around 240 lottery grants in every UK postcode district.