Words: Ellen Kenny, Eva O’Beirne
Images: Untold Ukraine, Hang Tough Contemporary, Bureau Bonzana,
The Estate of Us, Temporary Pleasure, @culchie_spice
Ireland’s writers, photographers, illustrators and more came back in full force this year to create stunning collaborative books, exhibitions and experimental creative enterprises. Today, we’re looking back on our favourite community projects of 2022.
After two years of isolation from one another, creators from every corner of Ireland’s arts and culture industry have collaborated this year. Visual artists have curated beautiful new exhibitions that celebrate the finest work in their industry. Writers and illustrators have worked together to produce exciting cross-disciplinary projects, often in aid of a social issue. We’ve put together some of our favourite community projects this year that reminded Ireland of the power of creating.
The Estate of Us is a new Dublin art project that refuses to sugarcoat the state of Ireland’s housing market. The art campaign featured signs installed across Dublin reading “Vulture funds only”, “Family home seeks landlords”, and other encouraging real estate mock ups. While their adverts are full of snark, they’re also hitting the nail on the head. We all see that the Irish government does not prioritise the average homeowner or tenant, and The Estate of Us simply shows that, loud and clear.
The Estate of Us also introduced their own “TD Trumps”, creatively showcasing the properties some of the biggest politicians in the country own and ripping them to shreds.
Along with art created with artificial intelligence, and bumper stickers declaring “my other home is a tent”, The Estate of Us certainly grabs your attention.
Ireland has one of the world’s most ambitious plans to tackle climate change with a commitment to cut its emissions of planet warming gases to the atmosphere in half by the end of this decade. But how do we start to implement these radical policies? “How Do We Start?”, a collaborative publication by Project Arts Centre seeks to encourage the creative community to realise the potential impacts they could have on the climate crisis.
The publication realises that the simplest solution for how we can all start responding to the climate emergency, is to return to our beautiful beginnings, from communicating and illustrating ideas on how we can become more green to using more sustainable materials.
“How Do We Start?” is a unique insight into how our physical creations are changing with the consequences of the climate crisis. It does not present itself as a catch-all solution to the challenges we’re facing, but presents a new thought process for the future.
Allowing people to tell their own stories is both a creative duty and empowering political opportunity. The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) launched their second publication, From Fear to Liberty, featuring work from people currently in Direct Provision. Featuring personal essays, poetry, artworks, research and commentary on the realities of the Direct Provision system, From Fear to Liberty exposes “the open prison that is Direct Provision” from the inside.
All money raised from the publication of From Fear to Liberty when back to MASI, a voluntary organisation advocating for justice, freedom and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Irish nightclubs have become a precious cultural resource; since 2000, four in every five nightclubs have shut down. In response to this, rave architecture collective Temporary Pleasure is building clubs themselves. In August, Temporary Pleasure created an installation in The Complex celebrating club culture in Ireland and exploring possibilities for the future.
Over 12 hours, Temporary Pleasure hosted workshops with architects and leading figures in Dublin’s cultural scene, before turning The Complex into an electronic arts space with local DJs and performers curated by the collective.
Tired of over-commercialised, rigid clubs with no roots to its origin, the collective seeks out spaces to transform into unique cultural venues. While their spaces never last long, they hope their events will have a lasting impact on the way we view nighttime culture in Dublin.
Artist and photographer Dónal Talbot saw instances of homophobia running rampant in Ireland, even over Pride Month, and decided to do something about it. The Poster Project, led by Dónal and his friends, invited creatives across Ireland to create a photo, poster or graphic design that expresses queer solidarity, from a punchy slogan to a carefully curated photograph. Dónal and his team printed over 100 posters and proudly displayed them across Dublin city.
“Representation is one of the most important factors of LGBT resistance and community. It’s really important we see ourselves represented in Irish media in a way that we agree with and respect,” Dónal told District Magazine back in June.
Featured posters centered around reclaiming identities, solidarity and joy, allowing queer artists to get creative and prompting people around Dublin to see their perspectives.
One of the best ways to bring the creative community together is to embark on a project exploring the creative space they work in and how it’s changing. Over summer 2022, more than 100 artists showcased their art on “páipéar” in the Central Plaza this summer. The curators, Hang Tough Contemporary, invited Irish artists of all mediums, from oil painting to graffiti, to design an original piece on paper.
Michael “Rubio” Hennigan from Hang Tough Contemporary said, “We are celebrating the humble material that is paper. We are seeing what the artists could do with it. And seeing the challenges it presented to them”. Previously, canvas and works on board were the more popular choice for creators. Now, Michael believes that “we are seeing more artists turn to paper.” Hang Tough Contemporary explored how this surge in paper’s popularity will affect the art we see and create.
Hang Tough invited a range of established artists, as well as the most promising emerging and burgeoning talent that Ireland has to offer. Artists featured with Páipéar included Asbestos, Claire Prouvost, and Bebhinn Eilish.
In times of war, it’s important to protect life and ensure people’s safety, but it is also important to remember the times before conflict. Launched in July, Untold Ukraine aimed to ensure that, under the shadow of war, Ukrainian arts and culture was preserved and celebrated. Dublin-based creators Nastya Kharytonova and Katya Aleshnikova also wanted to give something back to those in Ukraine and remind them that they are not alone.
A month-long exhibition, Untold Ukraine featured a series of events based in Ukrainian culture, from the premiere of a moving coming of age story to a folk-improvisational ballet performance, With a team of Ukrainian and Irish creators behind them, Nastya and Katya were able to celebrate the culture they missed and remind everyone what Ukraine is fighting for.