What is Art?
Philosophy aside, the Art course for Leaving Certificate consists of two main parts. The practical side of the course is about developing the student’s ability in a range of artistic fields and disciplines. The syllabus permits a huge number of media, from the fine arts such as sculpture, drawing, and painting, to puppet-making, embroidery, calligraphy, metalwork, and pottery.
Students are expected to spend the duration of the course practicing and developing their skills in several of these areas. Unlike the Junior Cert, the practical examination takes place over the course of a week in supervised sessions of up to five hours, during which students are to complete a project (such as a sketch or drawing) and submit it for evaluation.
The art course also features a written examination on History and Appreciation of Art, which counts for 37.5% of the marks. The exam is divided into three sections, one on Irish art, one on European art, and a final section on artistic appreciation. The course content is extremely broad, and covers everything from prehistoric art to the modern day, but students are free to focus their studies on a few narrow areas of interest such as renaissance or Celtic art. Diagrams and illustrative sketches are encouraged in the exam.
Note that the Leaving Cert Art course has nothing to do with the portfolio submissions which art and design colleges often require. The course does not aim to build a portfolio, and all marks are given for work done on the day. However, it is common to take Art while preparing a portfolio, and much of the practice work done in class can be included.