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Leaps of the page

One of the first books I remember loving was a pop-up version of The Night Before Christmas. I can recall getting it from a book fair in school, and sitting on the bus making the illustrations expand and move. I was five. So imagine the memories that children can form as they learn to make pop-ups for themselves. Artist Liz Smith brings her expertise to The Ark, and helps the wee ones to create their own pop-ups. She explains the process.

Tell us about yourself After school, I attended a portfolio course in Ballyfermot College in art design and three-dimensional studies. From there, I went on to the National College of Art and Design, where I did a BA degree in fine art sculpture. I began volunteering with The Ark shortly afterwards in 2004, on their visual arts programme. Since then, my work has mostly concentrated on devising what I hope are innovative and playful workshops for children.

How long have pop-up books been with us? The earliest form of movable books are apparently from the 13th century. In the early 19th century, a London-based company called Dean and Son were the first to publish these types of books on a large scale for young audiences. They were initially known as novelty or movable books and later that century were known as toy books, but it wasn't until the early 20th century that they became known as pop-ups.

How does the workshop, er, work? I begin the workshop by showing examples of pop-up illustrations I have made and also show some pop-up books that are related to the theme. For example, spring is the first theme. After we've shared lots of ideas, I will demonstrate a pop-up technique. Depending on the age group, the children might spend some time designing their pop-ups. After this, I'll take the children through the techniques step by step.

How do the children respond? When I show them examples of the types of pop-ups they'll be making, they are usually impressed, but some think they will not be able to make them. Once they have mastered the techniques, though, they feel a great sense of achievement and pride. Most children find 3-D work a challenge, but when taken in small stages, every child masters the techniques. - SC

Pop-up workshops with Liz Smith run until June 12th in The Ark. For more information, telephone 01 670 7788 or visit www.ark.ie