Medium_portriat Rubbish Sculpture Seen Floating down Royal Canal in Pelletstown!

09 Sep 13:27

Loughran Glenn

TURAS community engagement activity attracts the attention of young and older in Pelletstown.

Rosie’s Milk Carton light. Crescent Park. Pelletstown.2015

On 22nd July 2015 the Pelletstown community in North Dublin came together for a very special bio-diversity workshop entitled “Sounding the Void”. This event was organised around a series of bio-diversity workshops in the Pelletstown area.
It was primarily developed for young people and parents and utilised artistic/pedagogical methodologies to engage local communities in visualising the hidden ecologies that exist in Pelletstown. This first workshop focused on introducing the young people to bee societies and bee keeping and was led by Liam Mc Garry and the Robert Emmet Community Development Project. Following on from this introduction Natasha Kalvas engaged the young people around the different species of plant and insects in the area. These enquiries were developed through games and excavations of the Crescent park, which were then linked to a third workshop facilitated by Glenn Loughran, artist. The aim of this workshop was to translate some of the ideas and images developed in the first two workshops into an art and recycling project. In the first stage of this project the young people transferred their drawings of the bees/insects/plant life onto recycled milk cartons. They then attached a series of LED lights into the cap of the milk bottle, transforming the materials into night lights (taken home at the end of the session).
Queen Bee visits Pelletstown (Image credit Johanna Varghese)
Fully engaged in sculpture making (Image credit Johanna Varghese)

At the end of this workshop the group added recycled plastics to a large-scale floating rubbish sculpture. The rubbish sculpture was built on a disused pallet found on site, out of plastic bottles (sourced locally). These bottles also had different types of LED lighting inserted inside them (flashing/ambient etc). The lights would be used to attract different types of insects to the sculpture at different imps during the night. The sound of these insects would then be captured by a professional microphone installed inside the structure. This process aimed to capture the sounds of the canal that are not normally accessible from the walkways.Sensory workshop (image credit Johanna Varghese)

The raft was successfully floated down the Royal Canal between the hours of ten and twelve pm. Local participants in the daytime workshops offered to help with the floating of the raft, and this invaluable support led to long and informative discussions about the area. Initially the raft was difficult to launch, and there were some issues getting it to float down the middle of the canal and off the banks. However these issues were resolved and eventually the raft lingered down the canal to the lock. Visually, the installation was a stunning sight, drawing a lot of attention as it travelled down the canal. There were many positive responses, which pointed towards the lack of artistic events and community projects in the area.

When the raft was retrieved the plastic bottles were covered in insects, and the sounds of their activities was recorded by the microphone (which was still in working order). The whole process was recorded in HD video, and will be edited into an artistic representation of the project, emphasising the themes and questions it raises, such as: What is an Environmental Aesthetic? Do we make aesthetic judgements or ethical judgements about ecological issues? How should communities be engaged in questions concerning urban sustainability?

Sounding the Void #1. Luminous Objects. July. 2015

Finally, the audio taken from the canal will be used to create an ambient soundtrack in the second stage of the project, which will work more specifically with adults in the community. This first stage could not have succeeded without the support and encouragement from Mr. Tommy Watene (and his two lovely daughters) from New Zealand, who are proud residents of the area. We are now starting to work towards some more exciting activities for the future with the next intervention taking place in September. Watch this space!!

Glenn