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Engage The City: The Story So Far

Co Author:
Louise Osborne

Over the past few months Engage The City has been linking communities and artists across Dublin to talk about life, stories, hopes and fears and express these conversations through creative means.

Engage The City asks Dubliners to look at what Dublin is now and what it could be, to take the pulse of the city and share stories of the lives lived in our neighbourhoods.

In Walkinstown, the local knitting group have worked with textile artist Ines Metzner learning new skills in weaving fabrics to make tapestries. The group brought in different items from home to weave together in the tapestries creating a visual story of their lives. The pieces contained everything from scraps of fabric from old costumes, netting from the onions that went into last Sunday’s family dinner, old t-shirts from the children that have grown up and even pieces of a wedding veil. With each piece of fabric telling a story, the tapestries are insights into the lives of the women we have worked with and each one just as vibrant, colourful and full of life as the woman or girl who made it. Entitled ‘Interwoven Stories’, these tapestries were put on display at the entrance to Walkinstown Library to showcase and celebrate the work created by the group. They stand as a beautiful representation of life in Walkinstown!

Meanwhile, in the city centre, theatre maker Michelle McMahon met with The Theatrical Cavaliers Cricket Club as part of her work for Engage the City. The Cavs, as they are commonly known, will celebrate 30 years of social cricket this year and members are mostly from the theatrical community including actors, directors, writers, designers and many more. Michelle, along with Project Manager Louise Osborne, were delighted to be given the opportunity to meet the Cavs, see them play and talk about sport, community and the arts. Over the next few months Michelle will be having more rich conversations as she delves into the crossovers between theatre and cricket and gets to know this community of sports and theatre enthusiasts.

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Joan Somers Donnelly’s workshop with Sikh group

In Belmayne, Sandymount and Inchicore we have been working with children and young people, gathering their perspectives on life in their city and supporting them to express their experiences through a variety of fun and creative means! In Belmayne architect Evelyn D’Arcy met with the summer programme to talk about their favourite places to be and what they would build in their ideal city. Evelyn helped the children to design and build models of their city and we saw pet shops, hospitals, restaurants, swimming pools and even a castle sprout up on the children’s brand new “Our City” map. There was great fun, dancing and games to be had with the Sikh Community Group with Joan Somers Donnelly earlier in the summer. At these workshops children and parents worked together to talk about their views from their bedrooms and the area around the temple in Sandymount where the community meets to worship, and express these stories through drawing, movement and dance. Across the city in Inchicore, Niki Collier‘s workshop series has been titled ‘Celebrations’, and profiles the Bulgarian community in Ireland. Working with young girls who share their names with flowers, Niki has supported the children to celebrate their names, talk about identity and share stories all through creating felt flowers.

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Flower Making Workshop with Niki Collier. Image by Ivaylo Petrov

We have had an excited few months as part of Engage The City, but this really is only the tip of the iceberg! In the last two weeks alone we have marked the beginning of Veronica Dyas working with young men in Kilbarrack and women in the city centre, John Conway meeting with social groups in Ballymun and the entire community of Terenure and Harold’s Cross beginning conversations with Robbie Blake. We watch and wait with a keen eye to see how these, plus more engagements from Shane Daniel Byrne and Liz Nilsson unfold in the coming months. Watch this space!

Louise Osborne has been working with Dublin’s Culture Connects since 2016 on creative and innovative projects that are relevant and responsive to the people of Dublin. Louise was Project Manager for (Y)our Story, working with communities in Ballyfermot, Drimnagh and South Circular Road and artists on a series of projects centred on the theme of storytelling. As Engagement Coordinator for our Outreach Programme and Project Manager for Engage the City, Louise will work a group of 10 artists and practitioners who will work together within communities to test new and creative ways of working and put them into practice with Dublin-based neighbourhood groups.

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