National Gallery of Ireland at Home: Orpen's Wind Shelter

Painting of man and woman in a tent looking at the sea
William Orpen (1878-1931), Looking at the Sea, 1912. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

While our onsite activities are reduced, our Education team are bringing some of their family and sensory workshops to you online so that you can get creative at home!

Follow this step-by-step sensory workshop to create your own miniature wind shelter inspired by William Orpen's painting Looking at the Sea (1912).

This activity will engage your child’s senses and is particularly suitable for those who seek out sensory input. 

Irish artist William Orpen (1878-1931) often spent his summers in Howth, Co. Dublin, where he painted windy scenes with beautiful light. This painting shows two members of Orpen’s family looking out to sea from their wind shelter.

Let's create our own miniature wind shelters using brightly coloured textures inspired by the light and landscape in Orpen's painting.

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National Gallery of Ireland at Home

Orpen's Wind Shelter



  • Sticks
  • Cardboard
  • String
  • 4 rubber bands
  • Scraps of textured materials
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A roll of tape
  • Contact paper


  1. Cut out a square of cardboard and make a hole in each corner.
  2. Push the ends of the sticks through the holes in your cardboard so that they poke through underneath.
  3. Bring all four sticks together at the top and tie them securely with some string.
  4. Wrap a rubber band around the bottom of each stick on the underside of the cardboard to stop the cardboard from slipping.

It's now time to decorate your shelter! There are two options:

Option 1

  1. Tie some string or wool around the top of one of the sticks and begin wrapping it around the top of your shelter.
  2. Continue wrapping until you are ready to add the next material.
  3. Add different coloured strings or ribbons.
  4. Decide which side will have a doorway and continue adding strings and scraps to the other three sides.
  5. Add some fabric or paper to create a colourful mat inside your shelter.

Option 2

  1. Trace around one of the triangular sides of your shelter.
  2. Cut this triangle out.
  3. Place the triangle on a piece of contact paper and draw around it three times, lining the triangles up side by side.
  4. Then draw an extra piece at each end and cut out the whole template in one piece.
  5. Remove the paper backing from the contact paper, and wrap the contact paper around your tent sticks on three sides, with the sticky side facing outwards.
  6. Bend the contact paper around the sticks and use tape to secure it.
  7. Now for the fun part!
  8. Stick lots of different coloured and textured scraps to the sticky contact paper walls of your shelter.
  9. Use a piece of paper or fabric to make a cosy mat for inside.


Created by Edel Campbell for the National Gallery of Ireland. With special thanks to Olive (aged 10) and Rose (aged 8). 

This activity, which would normally have taken place in the Maples Group Creative Space, is now brought to you online.

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