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This project explores an artwork by the Irish sculptor, poet, and playwright, James McKenna.

James McKenna was influenced by the work of artists from the past, especially artists from Italy 500 to 600 years ago (we call this the Renaissance).

Today we are looking at one of his sculptures from IMMA’s Collection called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the GPO. If you look closely at this sculpture, you will see that it has been made from wood pieces that have been fixed together to make two figures. Perhaps it suggests a chance meeting on the street? Or maybe the artist is trying to capture a moment between two people? Have you ever met someone you know by accident when you were out and about? Maybe you were on the way to the shops and you saw someone you know? Maybe you were in the park and you saw a friend from school?

For our project today, we are going to make some figures out of lollypop sticks and matchsticks.
Let’s get started!.

What you will need:

  • Lollipop sticks
  • Matchsticks
  • Poster paint
  • Glue
  • Paint brush


Now let’s get to work:

  • Begin by painting some lollypop sticks and matchsticks. You will need quite a lot to make your figures, so take your time and allow them to dry.
  • Once the sticks are dry, you can begin to glue them together and start to construct your figure. This stage can take time and you may have to allow the glue to set overnight and come back to it the following day. It can take time to build your figure, especially if you decide to put a lot of detail into it.
  • It can also help to glue a number of lollypop sticks together to give your figure strength.
  • Once you have glued all the parts, allow it to dry overnight. The following day you can put the finishing touches to it with extra paint.


We look forward to seeing your response and invite you to share them with us online. Make sure to tag us with the #Explorerathome hashtag so we can include your artwork on our website.

About the Artist

James McKenna 1933–2000

Irish artist and writer James McKenna studied at the National College of Art and Design. The work of the Italian Renaissance masters influenced McKenna throughout his career. Political events, often married with Celtic mythology, also informed his work. He was a founding member of the Independent Artists Group and the Sculptors’ Society of Ireland and exhibited with the Irish Exhibitions of Living Art. A major retrospective of his work was held at IMMA in 2007.

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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.