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Glucksman provides artistic opportunity for teens in Direct Provision

The Glucksman Gallery will be unveiling a public mural on Friday September 22nd in Fitzgerald Park. The unveiling will be part of Cork Culture Night, and will be on display for just over two months. The mural itself was painted by children & teenagers who live in Direct Provision as part of a project for them to tell their stories in a creative way. ‘Arriving into View’ was helmed by project artists Claire Coughlan & Helen O’Keeffe, invited artists The Project Twins & Fiona Kelly and curator Kirstie North, and took the form of six art making sessions. ‘Arriving into View’ follows on from previous Glucksman projects, namely last year’s ‘Navigating the Urban Landscape’. A lot of the children involved in ‘Arriving into View’ had already taken part in ‘Navigating the Urban Landscape’.

The eighteen teenagers involved came from across Cork to take part, mainly from the Glouthaune, Kinsale Road and Drishane Castle accommodation centres, and were aged between 12-17 years old. The need to help those in Direct Provision first came to the attention of the Glucksman team in 2014 due to the work of UCC staff members Jacqui O’Riordan (Lecturer, Applied Social Studies) and Mike Fitzgibbon (Lecturer, Food Business & Development) who have “worked tirelessly for the past 18 years to highlight the flaws of the Direct Provision system and to offer moments of relief for the residents.” Speaking to the UCC Express, Glucksman Curator of Education Tadhg Crowley spoke about how the staff were affected by the project: “Working with the young people living in Direct Provision has been in equal measures some of the most rewarding and yet most heart-breaking work we’ve undertaken at the museum. These children are incredibly brave, generous and kindhearted. Their lives have been ones of struggle, distress and in some cases trauma yet their determination and positivity shines through. They need some fragments of light in their lives, some moments to be creative, to feel optimistic and to feel good about themselves and through the projects to date we feel we have been able to offer such moments.”

The focus of the mural initially revolved around personal journeys and visual storytelling, but as the sessions went on the teenagers began to direct the sessions, and began looking at ideas of identity and misconceptions. “From the earliest session with the teenagers we got the sense that this was a very different group from the teenagers we had worked with through schools or other community groups,” said Mr. Crowley. “Often with teenagers entering into a new space there is a hesitation, even a reluctance to partake but with these young people there was never any sense of this. They saw this as a unique opportunity and jumped straight in. It was clear they had been so starved of opportunities that the chance to engage in a creative project was incredibly precious. However, strikingly different to the work with the younger children, the teenagers were calm, capable of having lots of fun but with it never getting in the way of the project, which they treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The mural will be unveiled on September 22nd by Fitzgerald’s Park, and will stay on display for just over two weeks. The artworks the teenagers created with the Project Twins and Fiona Kelly will go on display in the Glucksman Foyer, running from September 22nd to October 8th. The Glucksman’s work with young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants is made possible

by the support and assistance of University College Cork staff and students. ‘Arriving Into View’ is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland through the Young Ensembles Scheme.