Over Easter you may have noticed some brightly coloured birds and other strange creatures appearing tucked away around the streets of Skibbereen, and wondered whether perhaps some eggs left over from an Easter egg hunt had hatched out. In fact this is an art installation developed and created by some of the young people of Skibbereen.
The Phoenix Youth Project, an initiative developed in 2016 by the Skibbereen Community and Family Resource Centre, has been in residence in one of the artist’s studio spaces at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre since November 2016 with artists Alison Cronin and Caoimhe Pendred.
As a youth-led project the ideas developed in the studio have been initiated by the group, with the artists role being to facilitate the group to realise their vision. Interested in encouraging positive mental health awareness the young people chose the Phoenix as their symbol to represent hope, unaware at the time of the historical links Skibbereen has with the Phoenix symbol from the time of O’Donovan Rossa.
Over the course of the residency they have experimented with printmaking, felt making, sculpture and ceramics. A strong interest in Street Art led the group to create a series of small sculptures to be placed in and around Skibbereen, creating awareness around the town, reinforcing their identity as the Phoenix Youth Group and exploring ideas around freedom, home, taking flight, and captivity.
Concentrated around the river and hanging in the trees of the car park, but spreading all the way from Bridge Street to North Street small birds in cages, bird sculptures and other incidental interventions can be found tucked in plant pots, hanging from lampposts, and mounted on the walls.
The sculptures have been documented through a series of photographs shared online. A selection of these photographs will be on exhibition in the artists studio corridor from Saturday 22 April – Saturday 6 May, along with the studio itself which will be open to the public during those two weeks to see the explosion of creativity that has taken place on the walls of the studio itself. The site specific sculptures will remain in place until the end of the exhibition so visitors can go on a trail around town to see the real thing.
Images of the sculptures in situ can be found on our facebook page @uillinnyouthartsstudio2, and instagram @phoenixyouthpro. If you have taken your own photos of the work in town and are sharing them online please tag them #thephoenixyouthproject.
The project will culminate this summer with a week long workshop to create a semi permanent mural on the wall in the alleyway at the side of Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre with artist Michael Greenlaw.
Participation in the mural workshops are open to all young people aged between 15 and 25. Further details and dates will be available nearer the time from Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre on 028 22090 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is made possible by the National Youth Council of Ireland’s Artist and Youthwork Residency Scheme, funded by the Arts Council and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The project is being run as a partnership between Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen Community and Family Resource Centre and the Phoenix Youth Project.