In June 2011 This Is Collective were commissioned by De Paul Ireland to take part in Life’s no picnic on the Streets, an arts project which connects professional artists with service users of Depaul Ireland. The project features artists, musicians, poets and writers and provides an opportunity for service users to learn a new skill while enabling Depaul to raise awareness about its work and the issues of homelessness.
For LNPOTS, This Is Collective worked with women coming from prison in Tús Nua Apartments on the North Circular Road in Dublin and young at-risk families in Cloverhill and Mater Dei Family Services in Belfast.
Initially, we were intrigued by how weather and safety/security ran parallel to each other in the lives of the service users, from the obvious affect that rain, wind and snow would have on a homeless person, to the “sunny” disposition that reflects fine weather. We decided to focus on the umbrella as a means to explore the thematics of weather and climate and their effects on the safety and security of the participants. The umbrella attracted us from an aesthetic point of view (colour and form) but also from a functional viewpoint – umbrellas do not always shelter us, and can sometimes become fragile and a hindrance.
Working through in-depth dialogue and engagement with the participants, we explored connections between good/bad weather and positive/negative aspects of a service-users life, honing in on participants ideas of safety and security, but also insecurity and moments where they felt unsafe. In the workshops we played with the functionality of umbrellas and created new uses for them, as well as creating umbrellas from materials that subvert this fundamental function of shelter from rain and snow. Participants created umbrellas that reflect their individual personalities and ideas of safety and security, using materials as diverse as bubblewrap, fabric, plastic and metal. This culminated in an interactive installation at Electric Picnic in September 2011. http://www.depaulireland.org