Artist(s): Yvonne Cullivan
Location: Cuirt na Ciarraidhe, Claremorris.
Medium: Sculpture, Date: November 2012.
Materials: Stainless Steel and resin
Dimensions: 15 separate elements, approx. 6foot tall.
Totem is made from stainless steel and resin, in fifteen parts, one to represent each of the fifteen houses on the estate. Totem is a response to the individual households within this estate, to the collective residents as a community of place, and to the importance of a secure, safe and permanent 'home'.
The project was participatory in nature throughout beginning with a meeting of all residents in communal area. Each household then participated in interviews with the artist, in which they considered the meaning of the word home, shared information about their lifestyle, and expressed their feelings toward the estate.
The participants were asked to show or describe personal items or objects, whether old or new, placed within their new home as a symbol of themselves. They often shared the stories or histories behind these items or objects.
These were photographed by the artist, along with other aspects of the individual homes, such as fabrics, paint swatches on bare walls, patterns and so on. Notions of migrating, nesting and putting down roots came to the fore in conversations between the residents and the artist.
The residents are from diverse and multicultural backgrounds and have been resident in the estate for varying lengths of time. Young people from the estate engaged with the artist in workshops, creating temporary outdoor pieces from cardboard, bamboo, string, paper stencils, sewing and drawing. Objects and items from each household were also drawn in coloured chalk on the grounds of the estate.
While the outcome of the project was not predetermined in any way, and the development was open, participatory and organic, a sculptural dimension manifested early. Design meetings were held with residents and their expertise considered along the way in relation to ideas, materials, workshops, groundworks and installation.
The artist then began fabrication of the agreed design. This process involved precisely cutting paper stencils of the objects and items from each household and trapping them in discs of resin.