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Making Mytopia: Louise Manifold and members of St Joseph's training centre, Ability West, Galway. Photo: Louise Manifold.
Making Mytopia: Louise Manifold and members of St Joseph's training centre, Ability West, Galway. Photo: Louise Manifold.

Making Mytopia: Louise Manifold and members of St Joseph's training centre, Ability West, Galway

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's Utopia, and the connection between its legacy and how we collectively idealize and imagine ourselves as communities, societies and nations needs to be rethought and reemphasized now more than ever.

The word "Mytopia” is a take on the word Utopia: a perfect place that then becomes my perfect place, it plays on the word “myopia” to be near sighted, but only in the sense of a curiosity that comes out of taking the time to look closely at the things we take for granted.

The end result is a journey into dreams between light and shadow, trains, dance moves, and a formidable head house.
In using time base art practices ( of film, moving image, and installation) the project aims to collectively form a temporary utopian community in Galway, as a means to explore utopian ideas and their manifestation in practice, and how this can be translated in public structure for others to experience.

Participants

The project invited creative collaboration between trainees from St Joseph’s Training Centre (Ability West) and visual artist Louise Manifold to develop a short-term project in the area of moving image and installation. Ability West enables people with an intellectual disability to realise their dreams and ambitions. St Joseph's Training Centre offers training and support to young adults with moderate intellectual disabilities. Five Trainees from St Joseph's Training Centre too part in this project, with their Instructor. This group are both male and female trainees between the ages of 18 and 25, with moderate learning disabilities.

Aims

The project aimed to introduce practices of time based contemporary art practices, to develop a visual vocabulary in these mediums and to find new ways to communicate personal ideas through visual language, in developing a collaborative piece in which the group worked on different elements of the same film. The project was mutually collaborative and fostered a sense of creative freedom and independence, with an emphasis placed on chance and experimental outcome as a means of leading the process as opposed to outcome.

The group developed once off events in which the public were invited to celebrate the outcomes - in this way the project also introduced the group to aspects of marketing, curation, and event organisation that is relevant to contemporary art exhibition.

Key to this project was to generate legacy for future projects of its kind to happen between Arts practitioners and St Joseph's Training Centre and Ability West.

Methods

The project methods developed in a four-fold strategy:
1- Though group meetings in public space, for example The Galway Arts Centre and Nuns Island theatre. The group worked together to develop core concepts, working with language, presenting ideas both collectively and individually in respect to theme.
2- Language and social intervention being key to the developing creative foundations, process-based outcomes helped to draw upon creative cinematic concepts through collective storyboards and exploration of narrative in visual forms.
3- Cameras were explored through collaborative creative exercises in media technology, focusing significantly on shadow, time lapse animation, the use of theatrical effects, and lighting to create artworks.
4- An important aspect of this project was the emphasis on developing theatricality both in ordinary space and with an emphasis on visual transformation of space through theatrical lighting, imagery, light and shadow displays as a means to explore how to develop imaginative space as an encounter in real time. The group worked with the technique of the dream sequence, as a way in which to freely express thoughts and emotions without being tied to a structure of storytelling, and how to create dream sequences using visual narrative and gesture.

During the development phase Louise was invited by member of staff Ms Claire Quigley to think about ways in which the project could be developed, with a key emphasis on how to best enable the participants to make work which would enable them to connect to the Galway arts community. This involved working closely with the Galway Arts Centre.

The project developed as weekly meetings, hosted in both St Joseph's training centre and the Galway Arts Centre respectively, which ranged from creative design for film to discussion on artists, and exploration of temporary materials as a means of creative expression.

The creative labs happened within the Galway Arts Centre, as well as at Nuns Island theatre, and comprised of a series of experimental introductory workshops with theatrical effects and lighting designers, film making and 3d rendering technology in order to develop awareness of materials and methodologies. This functioned not only as a way of drawing out interests of participants but also to introduce the group to the logistical aspects involved in hosting an art event. The group not only engaged in making new work but took all decisions on how to put on a show, including advertising curatorial decisions and hospitality in respect to the event.

Artistic Outputs

The group created a video piece, which was shown alongside a set which was designed and built by the group. The exhibition and screening too place on December 2nd 2017 at Nun's Island Theatre, 6-8 pm.
In mid-2017, the group invited Joanna McGlynn to write a text based on the project. The aim of this was to get an artist to come in to the process at the very end to create a text that represented the group as a whole.

Evaluation Methodology

Participants kept a diary of their activities. Each session began with exercises in new ideas, and reflections/ feedback at the end. Documentation of the participant’s activities were carried out on a continual basis using photography and reviews. Some of this process documentation also features on the projects website.As the project developed this also fed to final edits and sound design.

Assessment of learning was also carried out on a continual basis. As St Joseph’s Training Centre is a registered QQI provider, all written and visual documentation was gathered in participants QQI (Fetac) folders, and was then used to apply for QQI Art level 1 and 2 certifications which go through an internal and external authentication process.

Throughout the process Louise maintained verbal and written feedback with staff on the project at regular designated points. The project's strategy and objectives were further aligned through consultation with Keith Kelly, art teacher, who identified potential participants and how this project may fit in with the overall creative remit of the centre.

Outcomes

Whilst each member brought their distinctive vision to the project, we were successful in working together to create a unified response for our audience, through team building and mutual respect.

The group learned the technical skills of film making practices, as well as practical skills in the presentation of finished work to the public. The group presented the project's documentation on a website for each of the artists involved to share.

2018 saw the final project participant graduate from St Josephs training centre, and they are currently making an application to Galway Technical institute for Digital video course.

Documentation & Dissemination

Please visit the project website

The Thursday Club: Spoken Dance and Enable Ireland, Limerick. Photo: Dominik Kosicki.
The Thursday Club: Spoken Dance and Enable Ireland, Limerick. Photo: Dominik Kosicki.

The Thursday Club: Spoken Dance and Enable Ireland, Limerick

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme

Enable Ireland, Mungret, Limerick have a poetry club each week called “The Thursday Club” where participants share their own poetry compositions and the poetry of other poets that they admire. Spoken Dance collaborated with the Thursday Club by using their original poetry as a stimulus for dance that was used to make two dance films. The film “A Sense of Pleasure” was based on a poem that was written as a result of the exploratory process of the project. The film “Seamus Heaney and Me” was based on a poem that was in the first publication of the Thursday Club.

Participants

The Enable Ireland Mungret, Limerick Adult Day Services Centre offers a non-residential, five-day week service to adults with disabilities. Four members of the Thursday Club based at Enable Ireland Mungret committed to the project, they were Mary Keogh, Deirdre Corry, Mikey O’Dohery and Ricky Coonan. The four participants had previously engaged in integrated dance workshops with Spoken Dance and with the Limerick County Council’s Integrated Dance Programme. They came up with the idea of using their poetry as a stimulus for dance. Lisa Cahill and Mary Hartney, who were the co-directors of Spoken Dance, worked collaboratively with the four participants to derive movement ideas from their poetry compositions. Film-maker Dominik Kosicki provided technical support for filming

Aims

The project aimed to create awareness amongst the general population that the lived experience of being an adult with a disability isn’t always about disability.

Methods

The artists and participants engaged in solo and group movement improvisation with created text towards the development of relevant movement vocabulary. The artists endeavoured to support the participants in increasing their confidence in decision making in creative contexts. Once text and movement were agreed upon, filming commenced. Photography and filming took place during all workshops (including the participants' use of their own phone cameras and iPads).

Artistic Outputs

A DVD containing the video outcomes of the project was produced. The DVD “On a Roll” features two dance films which resulted from the collaboration “A Sense of Pleasure” and “Seamus Heaney and Me.”

Evaluation Methodology

The artists kept a diary about each workshop collaboration with written comments evaluating the outcomes of each workshop. At the end of each workshop the participants engaged in audio recordings to capture feedback and decision-making about the next workshop.

Due to the abilities of the participants of the Thursday Club video recording was the most appropriate means of collecting evidence to inform the evaluation at the end of the collaborative project. Each participant had the opportunity to relate their own personal story on film.

Outcomes

Increased movement vocabulary for the four disabled participants was evidenced in the individual stories especially Mary Keogh’s Story on film and in diaries of the workshops. The movement exploration was very person-centred thus yielding dance and poetry from the participants themselves.

The participants grew in confidence in articulating their ideas and giving feedback. Both Spoken Dance and the Thursday Club participants gained competency in the process of using poetry as a stimulus for dance and selecting dance movement for the purpose of filming.

Deirdre Corry of the Thursday Club plans to continue exploring dance as an art form. She has demonstrated this intention by attending Spoken Dance’s Saturday class and by making a successful application to Limerick City and County Council for funding to support her practice. She has recently spent time in West Cork working with Croi Glan dance company.  An unexpected outcome was for Ricky Coonan to use his music composition skills to provide the incidental music for the film “Seamus Heaney and I”. Ricky intends to continue engaging with dance film and has demonstrated this by applying for funding to Arts and Disability Ireland.

The films have allowed the work of Spoken Dance to be seen by new audiences. Already the films have been shown at Dance House in Dublin as part of the 2015 international integrated dance conference called “Meet Share Dance”. This was the first time that Spoken Dance have had their work shown at Dance House. The films were shown at two performances in Dance Limerick, one performance at Enable Ireland Limerick, Tipperary Dance Platform 2015 and Eigse Michael Hartnett 2016. A request has been made from University of Lodz, Poland to have one of the films shown as part of a literature course.

Documentation & Dissemination

DVDs of the films were made for circulation among the participants and associates.

Read about A Sense of Pleasure in The Limerick Post.

ProtoPunks (Festival of Dissent): Seamus Nolan, Upstate Theatre Project and Drogheda Punks flyer. Design: Sean Fitzgerald.
ProtoPunks (Festival of Dissent): Seamus Nolan, Upstate Theatre Project and Drogheda Punks flyer. Design: Sean Fitzgerald.

ProtoPunks (Festival of Dissent): Seamus Nolan, Upstate Theatre Project and Drogheda Punks

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme

A celebration of the history of Punk Rock in Drogheda town, this project examined the roots and dynamics of oppositional culture and its legacy of dissent as a mode of practice. Upstate Theatre Project and artist, Seamus Nolan, collaborated with a core group of participants who grew up in Drogheda during the late 70’s and 80’s, heavily influenced by the Punk rock movement, its ethics, fashion and political concerns. Through a series of group and individual meetings, collections and presentations, accounts of a counter history were compiled to inform the production of a publication, festival, and performance event.

Saturday the 27th of August 2016 saw the launch of the publication ‘Subvert All Power’ Drogheda’s Punk History, in the theatre space of the Droichead Arts Centre. A number of presentations took place including Orla Ryan, artist, writer and educator, who discussed feminist punk culture as it emerged in the 70’s and its influence. The launch also featured a performance by Nigel Rolf, the artist who created ‘Dark Space’, a 24 hour punk gig in 1979 as a socially engaged and expanded performance. Dave Lordan, activist and poet unpacked his epic articulations of the confusion and helplessness of economic meltdown, through his wry, intense evocations of people, places and circumstances, and Paddy Dillon took his action of disrupting Sunday morning mass in Drogheda in the early 80’s with a clutch of hens as the impetus for his performance.

Excerpts of interviews with Drogheda punks were available to hear and formed part of a podcast by Brian Hegarty’s thirty three-45, on radio International. On Sunday the 28th of August the ‘Parade of Dissent’ including banners, 'madzers' and music made its way through the streets to Barlow House where Drogheda’s latest ‘punks’ picnic’ took place. Drogheda bands influenced by Punk performed a free open-air concert for the afternoon, including ‘The Delta Devils’, playing original blues / country, rockabilly, Garage punk band ‘The Black Pitts’ accompanied by the ambiguous antics of ‘Guerrilla Aerial’ all topped off with the unholy doom crust punk that is ‘OKUS’. The concert was MC’d by local psycho-billy wrecking ball Paul Maher, there was food, and light refreshments supplied by the ‘Degenerate Kitchen’ and a prize for the best/ worst dressed punk on the day.

Participants

Core group of participants, Barry Quinn, Barbara Carolan, Kevin Smith, Tony Conaghy, Martin Clark, Robert Caffrey, Mick Reid, Ged Kelly, Paul Maher, Adrian Caffrey, Michael Flanagan, Patrick Dillon and Kathleen Carolan, with another fifteen more casual contributors participated in the project. Participants came together through casual acquaintance with Upstate Theatre Project and a public call out. Further collaborators and performers, including Stewart Home, cultural theorist and writer; Peter Maybury, graphic designer; Nigel Rolf, performance artist; Orla Ryan, artist writer and educator; Dave Lordan, performance poet; Paddy Dillon, performance artist; Brian Hegarty, artist, and bands The Delta Devils, The Black Pitts, Paul Maher, Okus and Guerilla Aerial, and Sean Fitzgerald, graphic designer were invited to engage with the group and project.

Aims

The project aimed to use the shared experience of punk rock as a seminal moment of both personal and cultural development for the participants and town of Drogheda, to contextualise, document and activate this counter cultural movement as a model of effective cultural and critical production.

Methods

Following a period of research the project developed a network of contacts and arranged individual interviews and group meetings with former band members and musicians, fans, local amateur promoters and venue owners to enhance the knowledge base of the project. The artist and participants sought to explore through these reminiscences and personal memories the individual attitudes of the various players during the historical period in question and how the personalities involved reflect upon them now. The discussions collectively investigated questions of punk culture, its influence on local culture, politics and the prevailing social attitude towards youth culture.


Collecting images, writings, recordings, and oral accounts, from participants (not necessarily seeking a consensual or official narrative, but a multiplicity informed by varied experiences and concerns), this work was carried out by the core group of community collaborators accessing both their personal and local collections. Through the interview process the group developed a collective narrative reflecting personal and local experience.
The artist and collaborators documented the conversations prompted by correlated material and reflection of the group. The purpose of this approach was to ensure the integration of lived, cultural experience into the project and centralise the participants’ recollections as the platform for cultural reflection. The group used the experience of the participants in facilitating performance development, event organisation, design, and critical writing etc. to produce a publication along with a public presentation based on the findings of project. The project expressly involved participation in a collective process of design to represent through forms of public presentation the outcomes of the process. The group worked with cultural theorist  Stewart Home to contextualize the instances and activities of the group within a broader analysis of performance, ritual, criticality, and counter cultural production.

Artistic Outputs

The project sought to compile an archive consisting of music, writing, performance, photography, clothing etc associated with the legacy of punk rock in Drogheda as a source for collective response and to attempt to place the counter culture activism of its day in cultural historical timeline. A collection of recordings, of musical output and interviews with participants of the group are now part of Drogheda Local Voices archive (housed at Millmount Museum), Drogheda's ongoing oral history project which acts, in part,  a resource for future research and development.

The process included assembling project documentation, to include elements of the archive, transcripts of interviews, contributions from the group and invited artists and theorists in an encompassing publication format, with designer Peter Maybury. The result of this element of the work culminated in the publication, 'Subvert All Power'.

Another element of the project involved a two day performance seminar combining public performance and presentation of both formal and informal elements of music, writing and spoken word to (re)activate a model of self-determined and collective cultural production. This was realised on 27th & 28th August under the banner of 'The Festival of Dissent', described above,  celebrating the underlying 'DIY' culture that drove the original punk interventions of the 70's, 80's and beyond.

The project also successively built a cohesive anthology of cultural production based on a history of dissent, working together to create a model for collaboration across disciplines in the cultural landscape of Drogheda, and building cross generational links for future projects and activities.

Evaluation Methodology

Progress was monitored using a series of questions about the aims of the project and the methodology of critical appraisal. Basic targets and time-lines were set, in agreement with the group, and progress measured against them.
A punk rock song was nominated by participants to define the process and encapsulate the progress or dynamic of each meeting.

Outcomes

The group produced the Festival of Dissent, including a number of performances and presentations in Droichead Arts Centre, a public parade and counter cultural music festival. Subvert all Power, a publication compiling outcome of research, archiving and oral history was launched in August 2016.

“Working with Seamus has greatly informed our practice and extended our understanding of how a project engages with communities of interest. The outcomes, in particular the publication, is held in some considerable esteem by the group who helped us develop it and has extended the breadth of understanding of what constitutes local cultural histories beyond that group”.

Declan Mallon, Upstate Theatre Project

Documentation & Dissemination

ProtoPunks Drogheda have a Facebook page, where they documented elements of the project.

A podcast featuring interviews with former punks as well as artist Seamus Nolan

The Publication Subvert All Power may be seen here , in the website of designer Peter Maybury

Video documentation of the Festival of Dissent

A performance by OKUS - Crust/Doom/Grind Core, part of the Festival of Dissent

A performance by the Delta Devils , part of the Festival of Dissent

A performance by The Black Pitts , part of the Festival of Dissent

 

 

Life Outside the Box: Corina Duyn with members of the IWA Dungarvan Resource Centre. Photo: Corina Duyn.
Life Outside the Box: Corina Duyn with members of the IWA Dungarvan Resource Centre. Photo: Corina Duyn.

Life Outside the Box: Corina Duyn with members of the IWA Dungarvan Resource Centre

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in The Community Scheme

Corina Duyn is an artist, writer and puppet maker. Her work is informed by nature and life with chronic illness/disability (ME).

While making puppets with young people in a group home she became aware of the power of the creative process to express the emotions and challenges which can not be expressed through language alone. This knowledge sustained, guided and informed her own journey from being a self-employed artist to needing help with the most basic tasks when becoming ill with ME twenty years ago. These life-changing experiences are documented in her art, books, research papers, and documentaries.

Facilitating Life Outside the Box with her then fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) Dungarvan Resource Centre was the start of her most recent work: telling stories through puppetry.
Nine puppets were created and later filmed while stepping out of Society’s Disability Box. A booklet which follows the project was published. This book includes a DVD of the short film.

Participants

The Monday group of the IWA-Dungarvan Resource Centre, of which Corina was a member at the time, consisted of about twelve members. Participants ranged in age from 27 till 73, male and female, living with either limited/partial mobility; congenital physical disabilities; long term illness, which also impacts on the finer motor skills; or acquired brain injuries.

Aims – What was the vision behind the project?

The IWA’s aim was to stimulate and/or rekindle involvement in the creative process, exploring new avenues for creative expression within the individual’s current ability; To empower the members by having input in this long-term group project, from start to finish.

The Artist’s vision was to make sure that all the members were part of the project. As Corina had been a member of this group for almost a year, she had a good understanding of her fellow member’s challenges and abilities. IWA staff was there to assist all members including the artist.

Methods

Starting with just a dowel and a strip of cotton, adding clay, one layer at the time, nine puppets were created. Each puppet depicted the essence of their makers. One member felt unable to work within the large group. Corina worked with him one-to-one to create the large paper-maché hand.

One of the women took pride in documenting snippets of the often hilarious conversations. This became the basis for the booklet produced. After initial hesitation she also wrote press releases, which sparked the interest of the Munster Express, who printed a two page spread about the project.

Instead of writing a script for a puppet show (as was the initial idea) we decided that our puppets would step out of ‘Society’s Disability Box’.

Everyone was involved with the editing of our book and with the organising of the launches.

“Apart from the fun we had, it was wonderful to see how the members became a group, and not just a meeting of individuals who keep to themselves. While hands were busy with clay, paint or fabric, the personal thoughts on what it means to have a disability where casually discussed. It was a very safe place. There was also a wonderful sharing of skills, and ingenuity to find ways to do the job on hand. All were amazed by their hidden abilities.”

- Corina Duyn

Artistic Outputs

The group created nine puppets, a large ‘disability box’ and large hand; a booklet which documents to process, and a short film. Members were invited to create their individual pages in the book, with some input from a local graphic designer. Every draft of the book was shared, edited and approved by the members and staff. Local filmmaker Alan O’Callaghan filmed the puppets stepping out of the Box at our local shopping centre, chosen as a public place to interact with the public.
Initial launches were held at Dungarvan and Waterford libraries. One of the puppet makers Mark Foley gave a wonderful talk about the project and what it meant to the group as people living with disabilities. His talk was followed by a funny and thought provoking speech by Sean Murphy, who delved into the idea of being ‘boxed’ in, for example people telling ‘you don’t know anything about [this] so don’t even try’. He suggested to ‘do it anyway’.

The group curated the ‘Dis-ability … This Ability’ exhibition at the Tramore Coastguard Cultural Centre to highlight our puppets. For this they created a series of blank notebooks, with images of our puppets on the cover.

Evaluation Methodology

The sessions took place under the supervision of on site IWA supervisory staff and trained support staff. Throughout the project photographs were taken, and comments/ideas documented for inclusion in our publication. Individual feedback was conducted via discussions, and questionnaire. Group discussions were facilitated by IWA staff, and by the artist.

Outcomes

Apart from the empowering effect of the project for participants, the project received a lot of interest from the media and the public. The launches and exhibition were well documented in local newspapers, as well as being subject of interviews on WLR FM. Arts and Disability Ireland supported the launches/exhibition on their website.

The film was screened at the Picture This… Film Festival in Calgary, Canada (2017). To coincide with this, the film was shown for one week before every movie in the group’s local cinema. The film was also selected for the Together! 2017 Disability Film Festival, London.

A one-minute adapted version is screened every three months as part of the People’s Angelus on RTE1 television. This resulted in RTE’s Nationwide visiting Corina’s house and studio to interview Corina and Ann O’Grady, one of the IWA members to talk about the project.

Corina Duyn was invited to give talks about Puppetry and Disability at the Broken Puppet: Symposium on disability and health (Cork 2017); as keynote speaker at Broken Puppet 2 (Bath 2018); Nottingham Puppetry Festival (2018); Symposium on Puppetry and Disability in Brazil (via Skype); Cork Puppetry Festival (2018) and invited to be on the panel of teachers at the MA course on puppetry in Chile (via Skype), and to be on a UK based research panel.

The group’s bookmarks were inserted into 100 welcome packs at The Puppet and Human - Playing Across Borders International Symposium in Germany.

Documentation & Dissemination

Life Outside the Box blog follows the project from the start and is updated with news items.

‘Life Outside the Box’ book about the project, which includes a DVD, can be purchased here.

‘Life Outside the Box’ film on YouTube

The People’s Angelus version on RTE Player

Nationwide (16 minutes into the program)

For Corina Duyn’s past and ongoing practice, please visit her website/blog

Project review by Andrea Lloyd - IWA Service Coordinator at the time of the project.

"This project always had the potential to be exciting from the very beginning. Even though we have ended up with a fantastic end product, for us it has always been about the process. The project has provided service users with focused activity for many months. As each week has gone by the anticipation of what might be possible has grown. Each service user has developed their puppet into real characters, with completely different personalities.

"Whilst the project became all about the puppets coming out of their box, in reality it was the service users that also ‘came out of their box’ to realise that they could do much more than they thought they were capable of. From creating the puppets, to writing press releases and presenting the project to the public at the launch, service users have been in control. They have taken complete ownership of the project at every stage. They have made the decisions and directed the launch and associated press and PR with minimal support from IWA staff.

"The project has raised the profile of both the IWA locally and provided the opportunity for people with physical disabilities to be seen in a positive light… An excellent project with positive benefits for all involved”.

Urban Explorer: Sheelagh Broderick and residents of Skibereen town. Photo: Reddy O'Regan.
Urban Explorer: Sheelagh Broderick and residents of Skibereen town. Photo: Reddy O'Regan.

Urban Explorer: Sheelagh Broderick and residents of Skibereen town

Funded by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme

Urban Explorer is a durational collaborative artwork based in the town of Skibbereen facilitated by Sheelagh Broderick. It originated in an interest in two adjacent cutural zones ; The Rock, a wild elevated ouctrop in Skibbereen and the newly constructed West Cork Arts Centre building, Uillinn. Both have a distinctively vertical orientation and vie with each other for the birds eye view of the town.

A famine memorial at the top of the Rock is enclosed by a circular stone wall at sitting height, an ideal meeting place to meet, although infrequently visited by most townspeople and its future contested by competing interests. The new West Cork Arts Centre building stands tall above the building line of vernacular structures and is itself a zone of contention. The distance from the Rock to the Arts Centre is 200 metres as the crow flies. In a small town with few public amenities both these sites constitute different facets of being in public.

Participants

Skibbereen Community & Family Resource Centre and Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre were the anchor partners. As a phased work participation varied in each piece with some overlap.  Participants were adult men and women based in Skibbereen and its hinterland.

Aims

The aims of the project were to address the changing urban landscape of Skibbereen through a collaborative and creative process with an identified community of place; to engage the local community in performance-making workshops using the Create collaborative arts performance pack as a resource, develop new work in the contexts of ‘culture’ and ‘place’, create a safe and open creative space where people with and without previous experience can create work, explore Skibbereen to expose new possibilities for all elements of performance making, and to create dependencies through the making process that could only be resolved through mutual support.

Methods

The name Urban Explorer was adopted to describe the methodology of the research. This was an active and mostly outdoors engagement using everyday digital media and the vibrant matter constituted in and of both sites as tools. The project explored how participants relate to, comment on, respond to and create with these tools. The aesthetic for this project was one in which there was no material trace, being solely constituted through digital media and by the relationships established.

Artistic Outputs

Elevations at Skibbereen Arts Festival 2015 - as part of the research and development phase, this work reconfigured the Rock as a community space. Over 5 days a range of different activities took place led by diverse community interests: Heritage Walk, Nature Walk, Community Choir, Inclusive Dance workshop, ‘Spoken Word’ open mic poetry. A website with audio recordings of location responsive stories on the Rock was launched for the festival.

Taking inspiration from Skibbereen Town motto, Quod Petis Hic Est What You Seek Is Here; Urban Explorer mobilised the town of Skibbereen to reclaim the Rock for community celebration on St Johns Eve., 23 June 2016. With the support of guerilla gardeners, access routes to the Rock were cleared re-establishing rights of way. A noisy procession made its way through Skibbereen via four routes starting from different assembly points, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen Community & Family Resource Centre, Skibbereen  Community School, and Skibbereen Library, converging at The Rock through four different rights of way.

An edited film of participant documentation was screened as part of Skibbereen Arts Festival on July 27 2016. This short film was entirely produced by participants using video, images and music created during the project.

A discursive event with artist author and activist Gregory Sholette and film maker Katherine Waugh on 27 July 2016 at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre during Skibbereen Arts Festival. This followed an 8 week spatially distributed online reading group of Greg’s book, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture. This reading group created a viable locus for discussion of local concerns relating to wider issues supporting sustained and engaged public discussion.

Evaluation Methodology

The project is being documented online and by ongoing and post-project discussions with participants and stakeholders and through reflective journaling. The evaluation will be concluded after the final Urban Explorer event at Skibbereen Arts Festival 2019 with a written text and a performance.

Outcomes

The project had many positive outcomes, including; increased confidence by participants and an increased awareness of both the Rock and Uilinn West Cork Arts Centre as a sites of local cultural production. A residency at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre was established, in companionship with expanded arts practices becoming a regular feature on the Skibbereen Arts Festival programme. Many of the participants in Urban Explorer have become protaganists in subsequent art projects, art manoeuvres (2017) and Immram (2018), and a final instantiation of Urban Explorer will take place during Skibbereen Arts Festival 2019

Documentation & Dissemination

Listen to a podcast of the discursive event with artist author and activist Gregory Sholette and film maker Katherine Waugh on 27 July 2016 at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre during Skibbereen Arts Festival

An edited film of participant documentation from Urban Explorer

View a film of What You Seek is Here, by participant Alison Glennie

The project was featured in the Southern Star on the 25th June and 2nd July 2016




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