Where can you find one hundred egg boxes… or a thousand buttons… or any of the other things that show up on the list of requirements for a craft project or from the artist you’ve been lucky enough to contract for your project with young people?
I have become so good at tracking down leads for obscure materials that I would be completely at home running around London with Sherlock and Holmes. On a project with young people, not only will you need a wide variety of materials depending on the project – you’ll need a lot of them. Also, it’s important that those materials are clean, new, and of a consistent standard… basically that they are of the quality that young people deserve.
Recently I was invited out to visit ReCreate and its Director Dara Connolly, one Friday morning. We arrived at the door of what could have been any of the industrial buildings in Ballymount Industrial park – a courier, a tile supplier, a warehouse. But inside! Inside is a jewel box of creative materials, plastics, paper, card, trimmings, bottle caps, buttons, wool, ribbon, small world toys, hoops, trays, cups, polystyrene balls… Most of it I could immediately see the purpose of and some of it I couldn’t, like the stacks of clear plastic boxes that were previously a display box for coffee. ‘A class recently used these to make their own aquariums’… Dara told me. So even the things you can’t immediately see what you could do with it, someone else will, or you can be inspired by the art projects ReCreate has displayed around the building to prompt you.
All of these things are end of line and surplus stock from businesses and ReCreate reuses them as art, craft, play and educational materials as a social enterprise. The business works on a social enterprise model on a membership basis. The thing that impressed me as someone regularly running down obscure materials on an internet/phone/shopping search is that everything has already been curated by Recreate. ReCreate has already done the difficult work of finding it, transporting it, making sure it’s a usable quality and clean and safe. Why would I spend the weekend getting funny looks in recycling centres when I could go to Recreate and simply say ‘Can I have a thousand bottle caps please?’ Everything is of a quality you’d be happy to use. There’s no tat here to dig through in search of the prize (unlike everyone’s experiences at a certain designer discount chain!) Everything is imaginatively and efficiently displayed in manageable quantities.
The membership fees are organised around the sector and size of organisation you are (and you can join as an individual), with the annual cost for a youth organisation to make as many materials trips as they need set at €120.00. And in making your own life easier and having a ready supply of materials, you’ll also be helping ReCreate achieve their goal of redistributing 100 tonnes a year of creative materials which would have become waste. Everyone’s a winner, as DelBoy would say.
Anne O Gorman is originally a drama practitioner, youth theatre leader and theatre director. She is Senior Project Officer, Youth Arts with the National Youth Council of Ireland and Course Co Ordinator of NUI Certificate in Youth Arts. Anne was previously Children’s Arts Officer at Draiocht (where she developed the dedicated children’s programme) and an outreach officer at the Abbey Theatre. Anne has been a board member of KidsOwn Publishing, a member of the selection committee for the inaugural Laureate na nOg and has represented the National Association for Youth Drama as Irish Animateur at the European Drama Encounter. She has written for the Irish Journal of Youth Work Studies, Youth Drama Ireland, Inis Magazine and practice.ie.