An ambitious piece of public art, which invites public participation, is officially underway at a former landfill site south of Cork City. The goal of the KinShip project is to develop a bond of kinship between the community and its park, encouraging people to treat the park as an extension of their own family.
Below, artists Sean Taylor and Marilyn Lennon present The KinShip Project.
Sean: When Creative Ireland put out a call for projects for their Creative Climate Action Fund, Marilyn and I were immediately interested as we were looking for an opportunity to work together on a creative project of this nature. As creative collaborators, we know we work well together because we have jointly developed and run a master’s program in socially engaged artistic practice for over 10 years.
In 2021, the Kinship Project proposal – developed by us as LennonTaylor in partnership with Cork City Council – was one of fifteen recipients of the new fund. The fund was launched to support creative, cultural and artistic projects that raise awareness of climate change while empowering citizens to make meaningful behavioral changes. We were truly thrilled to win this award, as it gave us the opportunity to practice our unique way of working, addressing the realities of climate change and its implications for all of our lives.
From the start of this award, Marilyn and I were eager to change the perception of the park as just another space for civic enjoyment or a resource serving a community. We asked ourselves; “What if we started to listen and change our thinking about this park? Could the park become a place for all kinds of activities offering new and creative approaches to improving the quality of life and biodiversity in the park, and by extension the city of Cork?”
I view the diverse stories and hidden narratives of Tramore Valley Park as an unfolding piece of social theater or a series of dramatic acts. The first act imagines the original site known locally as Carroll’s Bog, a wild natural environment with a healthy ecosystem attractive to a variety of flora and fauna. The Second Law traces the development of the landfill in the 1960s for around 45 years, absorbing over 3 million tonnes of waste from Cork homes and businesses. The fhree act in the life of the site sees the opening of Tramore Valley Park to the public in 2019 with its new walkways and trails, all-weather events/amenity area, grass pitch, track International standard BMX bikes, an outdoor gym, sports pavilion, wet area and a raised grassland dome sit majestically above our waste offering a 360 degree sentinel view of the city. The potential for the KinShip project to envision a fourth act for the park is an imaginative challenge in this age of climate change, and for all of us who will be involved in this exciting project.
Marilyn: My earliest memory of the place now known as Tramore Valley Park is from leaving Cork City on day trips to Kinsale as a student. The city dump then felt like it was on the outskirts of the city. I remember huge clouds of white and gray seagulls hovering above, swooping down to all the assiduity of the equipment handling the waste below. It’s amazing to walk around Tramore Valley Park now and have the two together.
Thinking about the recent history of the park, we were initially very excited about the unfolding story of two disparate types of places, a landfill and a public park, superimposed on a single space. On the one hand all this waste buried underground, a complex and record engineering project of more than forty years of consumption, and on the other hand the human effort to create a public park, a space that exists thanks to the cooperation human management and nature rewilding. Amy Marris writes about the post-savage world – she says we can’t just rely on saving pristine natural areas, we need to learn how to grow and nurture wild things. The idea of kinship with nature is not new, but in our modern urban lives we are unlearning certain habits, habits that cultivate respect and interdependence with a full range of biodiverse life. The KinShip project aims to reconnect us to plants, animals, insects, water and air through creativity, community and imagination to develop a close connection of kinship.
Over the next year, the KinShip project will spark a public conversation about our values, as a starting point for taking action. Since in the park we will be walking through an archeology of Corkonian discarded items, part of these conversations and actions will include exploring possibilities for personal and public waste management. One of the project’s seven local partners is the MTU Clean Technology Center, which brings its expertise in waste control, as well as Cork Nature Network, Cork Healthy Cities, Cork UNESCO Learning Cities, Green Spaces for Health and UCC’s Environmental Institute. of research. This network of partners has great expertise and is a channel to support anyone wishing to participate in one way or another in the KinShip project.
Sean and I have created a project that invites collaboration and participation throughout 2022. For example, through a citizen program called “Becoming Kin”, we hope to create a culture of exchange in the park where everyone can offer to lead a walk, talk, demonstration or workshop by completing an Expression of Interest form on the KinShip Project website. There are 34 slots including the last Sunday of each month from February with a winter nature walk in the park by Cork Nature Network.
Over the next year, the KinShip project will also host artist internships, an open-call EcoLab design and build competition. We also invite collaboration on a series of creative activities, documented by the KinShip Midden Chronicles, all of which aim to develop a new kind of relationship with this public park and to cultivate and nurture wild things.
For more information on how you can get involved with the KinShip project, or to register for a free event, go here.