Cavan County Museum has been facilitating a cross border Peace III initiative Connecting People, Places and Heritage for the last 9 years. The aim of this project was to bring together primary school children from Cavan and Fermanagh. Using their different history, heritage and traditions the children learn about prejudice and respect as well as peace, reconciliation and living together.
As a cross border project the museum has always strived to instill a sense of inclusiveness in the children and have encouraged group participation and collaboration. Each year the students taking part in the project have created a large scale artefact to be left behind in the museum as a memento of the time they spent in the museum and all the things they learned. Some of the previous artefacts have been the Peace Banners that proudly hang in the museums Peace gallery and also the installation ‘Friendship’, a peace ship that has become a focal point of the ever growing museum garden.
This year the artefact that the children created was a large scale 3D art installation: ‘Peace City Cavan’. Eleven different schools took part in this project which was facilitated by Konik Art Studio, Pawel Kleszczewski and Kasia Zimnoch. The aim of this project was to get the children to work together to create a city out of recycled materials, items we use in our everyday lives.
This project was an urban experiment using recycled materials to showcase how a city would look if designed by children. Each new group that took part in the project added to the development and existence of the city, bringing to life all the elements we would expect to see in a modern city and more.
This project gave us the opportunity to see how children view a city and what elements they feel are most important. The work was documented throughout with photographs and video, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the city. Intrinsic to this entire project was teamwork and collaboration. Watching the children work together to solve any issues and design a peaceful and idyllic city was fascinating.
After each group that took part I was always excited to see what new buildings would be added and what aspects of a city and their environment was important to them. It was fascinating to see how the different things in a child’s environment influenced how they viewed society’s needs. Sweet and candy shops were common as well as pet shops and a zoo. There was also the inclusion of a jail which implied that the participants understand the need for law and order.
Peace City Cavan is a creative project that has allowed children the freedom to experiment with how they view life and their environments. The connection of the eleven separate works has created a city that is vibrant and full of life. In the run up to christmas I suggested that we create a pop up exhibition in Cavan town to give the wider public an opportunity to view the city and see the fantastic work the children created. As a last minute brain wave it meant that sourcing a venue, making invites and posters was all done at lightning speed. My phone didn’t stop ringing and beeping with emails for days. However when the exhibition opened it all became worth the stress and pressure.
The exhibition was a huge success. We initially opened for one weekend but due to popular demand we also opened for two days in the week before Christmas. Over the course of the exhibition we had over 300 people come and view the city including two of the schools that took part in the project. I loved working on this project and was enthralled by the creativity and originality of the children taking part.
I have to say the whole project was a lot of work but it was thoroughly enjoyable. When you are working on a project like this and especially when you are managing it, it is vital that the people who are employed to facilitate and manage aspects of the project are friendly and professional and with this project I got all that. Cavan County Museum is a fantastic place to work and it is the ideal venue and collaborator for a project like this. Konik art studio are so passionate about working with children and inspiring them through art that it made my job a lot easier. Over all Peace City Cavan was a huge success, the children loved taking part and everyone who came to view the exhibition was blown away by the creativeness of it and all the fantastic work of the children.