It was our first time experience for both of us in getting involved in an Art Project with young people, here is a brief resume as to how we went about it.
As facilitators of the Mapping the City Project at the Afterschool Club in Francis Street, Dublin 8, we were interested to see how the kids view their city, what areas or streets they found interesting or uninteresting, which they liked and /or disliked, all this through a series of sessions in the After School itself. Through drawing and painting they gave us an insight on how they view their area (The Liberties), through both living and dead Liberties’ characters (Bang Bang, Jembo No Toes, Stoney Pockets, Zozimus) we tried to give them a flavour on how different individuals’ stories are attached to the local folklores, and are part of the collective memory.
Working in a project with young kids for the first time allowed us to explore different approaches and possibilities to structure the different sessions, always bearing in mind how the young people would react-in many cases having a plan B-and also helped us learn from our mistakes, which we were bound to make as first timers.
Even though most of the children are from the Liberties area of Dublin, we faced a couple of tricky situations when we started talking about and working around, their streets and their area. Some of them were homeless and living in hostels, in temporary housing with their family or with relatives, and obviously this had an effect on their perspective of the place. This was brought to our attention by the volunteers working in the After School and we had to be aware of this and foresee any other possible issues of this nature thereafter. In spite of this, their enthusiasm in the sessions was neither affected nor diminished. We kept informing ourselves around this and other matters with the volunteers working there as we needed to be aware of what can be happening with any of them.
With the help of the volunteers in the After School we ran the sessions and this extra help was very important to get the kids focused while working in their pieces. Working with them at the beginning was not easy, and they did lose focus in a couple of sessions but by rethinking the project and proposing new ways to compliment what we had already done, we managed to get them back into it again.
The sessions have finished but for the final piece we are preparing a structure so that the kids’ works will inform it. The piece will eventually be displayed in a local community centre in the Liberties area, exact location and dates still to be confirmed.