The 'Home' Project 

The Origins of The Home Project
An artist's statement by Ursula Rani Sarma, Artist in Residence

The ‘Home’ Project is the title of the work which I have carried out while Writer in Residence for a project entitled Placing Voices - Voicing Places (please see www.projecthumedia.com/ucdcp.html for further details). Funded by the Heritage Council and being carried out UCD, DCC and CREATE, the project is exploring inner city heritages and cultural diversity.

What excited me most about the project was the fact that my work would focus on the Clanbrassil Street area itself. I have carried out a number of residencies prior to this, but I had never been presented with such a specific and yet wide subject matter. The history of the street itself took some time to research and its association with cultural diversity was immediately of particular interest to me. As I looked at the many old photographs of the way the street used to look, I began to formulate the idea of a project that would examine the past, present, and future of the street through the lense of the theme of ‘Home’.

I ran a series of creative writing workshops with 10-12 year old students living in the Clanbrassil Street area. The twenty-two students have spent that time creating a body of work that includes poems, definitions, short stories and journalist style reports under the theme of ‘Home’. Much of their work was in response to some element of Clanbrassil Street which I exposed them to e.g. an old photograph or a piece of information about some aspect of the street which they were not aware of before. In one particular session I asked them to spend some time thinking about how they would describe home to a stranger. I was very impressed by the response from the students and by the individual definitions and phrases which they came up with. Some of them seemed so simple and yet so profound for individuals of their age.

As my time with the students came to a close I began to think about how best to use the students work and to share it with the local and wider community. After brain storming with my fellow Artist in Residence Sean Lynch and curator Ian Russell, we came up with some ways of presenting work on the street itself. I very much wanted the work which I had been developing to be presented in a way which would speak to an audience in an accessible way. Following on from this I went back to the work and found some key phrases and words which the students had had stopped me in my tracks when I read them first. And so placing these phrases on Clanbrassil Street itself seemed like the perfect solution, words which will quite literally stop people in their tracks and hopefully encourage them to think differently for even a split second about the street which they are standing on and about what home means to them.

These words on the street will co exist along side a city wide postcard campaign with pictureworks, designed by Zero-G. 10,000 postcards which feature these phrases are currently being distributed throughout the Dublin area. The idea is that while the words on the street itself will be accessible to anyone who happens to walk past them, a wider audience will be able to read them and to learn a little bit about the project itself, what we have been doing and even to visit Clanbrassil Street and to see the words for themselves if they wish.

A booklet with a selection of the students' writing is also available here.

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