Peir Leonard is a potter and artist based in Arklow, Co. Wicklow. She believes clay is one of the best mediums to connect people, that it breaks down barriers and encapsulates mindfulness. Peir’s family history is rich with links to local artists and Arklow Pottery. After an early career working as a CAD technician, she returned to her childhood roots to start her very own pottery in Arklow. Peir studied with great local ceramic artists such as Helen Brennan, master potter, and Laura O’Hagan, mosaic artist, with whom she worked on the mural commissioned for St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford and other projects.
Peir runs the community pottery & art centre 'Solace Studio Pottery' and, with local partners such as The Vault, Arklow Youth Club and Grow Mental Health Support Group, has brought many community projects like the Arklow Youth Pottery Project to life, as well as pottery workshops /projects for Autism Initiative clients, Sunbeam House, Active Retirement groups and secondary school students. Peir worked alongside a few ex-pottery workers and local artists to hold the first Arklow Pottery & Art Festival in 2017 and is currently engaged with St. Marys College, Arklow to work with 35 young women and their art teachers to create a large 'Tree of Life' mural for the school.
Peir has recently been elected to Wicklow County Council and looks forward to endorsing Youth and Community Arts from her new position!
Fiona has been a youth worker with Crosscare for almost 15 years. She is funded by the East Coast Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task force to carry out prevention and education work with young people in the East Wicklow area. In her work, youth arts is used as a youth work methodology wherever possible. Fiona finds it effective on so many levels and believes it provides a structure for important conversations with young people about difficult topics. She sees art as a great equaliser and finds that art projects allow young people to engage at their own pace through different roles.
Fiona is involved in a number of youth arts projects in the East Wicklow area. Recently, different groups of young women in the East Wicklow area were involved in the production of a photo-based resource entitled ‘Here Come the Girls’ exploring alcohol use among young women. A group of Somalian young people living in Arklow are working on a short film about their experience of coming to Ireland. The possibilities are endless and Fiona believes this is what keeps many a youth worker (well her anyway!) from becoming jaded. Fiona is a graduate of the NYCI Certificate in Youth Arts with NUI Maynooth and has attended a number of NYCI Youth Arts Summer Schools.