TEST SITE projects invites us to consider ideas of growth and decay, use and dereliction. To consider a vacant site, without current ‘use’ but with potent potential.
The treatment of the natural ecology of the site and the considered approach to the realisation of the build presents an opportunity for ‘knowledge in action’ where common phrases and ideas such as ‘working with nature’, ‘sustainability’, ‘zero waste’ ‘natural heritage’ and ‘the circular economy’ are worked in real application at a scale which allows for meaningful engagement that is creative while grounded in science and engineering.
The site is a home to living things, a history, a ruin, a story and a potential something else. The project opens up the space to be considered as itself, situated in this time and place. The project is working with architecture, art and ecology. Led by Ailbhe, a temporary pavilion is assembled on site – the result of a collaborative design process. Concurrently Aoife is creating a 16mm ﬁlm and a series of performances responding to the site and seasons.
To share and disseminate ideas and make things happen. Through work with and support from our partner projects and funders, it is possible for us to reach out to the wider community of humans who wish to explore this potential of place. In the past 12 months, place has become so important, we have moved closer to the local – we have taken notice.
TEST SITE will provide time and space for people to attend and engage with the site through workshops and events – please get in touch if you have ideas, memories or stories about this place, we would like you to be part of this exploration.
In January 2020 a small group met to explore ideas of place and ecology during Aoife Desmond’s course ‘Art + Environment (A+E) Making’. The abandoned sawmill and adjacent vacant sites on Kyrl’s Quay became the focus of discussion throughout the 6 week course.
Aoife and the A+E participants (Ailbhe Cunningham, Myfanwy Jones, Frani O’Toole & Cilla Woodhouse) responded to the vacant sites through writing, photography and drawing. Their experiences of the place, multiple species, viewpoints and artefacts are brought together in a collaborative zine*. What appeared vacant at ﬁrst is in fact a very productive, nature ﬁlled place – a wild ecosystem has emerged. The buildings, each remnants of an industrial past, now form a dilapidated backdrop for a wild urban Council for permission to occupy and transform the ‘island’ site – and make it accessible to the public. The island site is part of the Kyrl’s Quay industrial heritage oasis.
After launching the TEST SITE zine, Aoife and Ailbhe decided to approach the site owners, Cork City
Council for permission to occupy and transform the ‘island’ site – and make it accessible to the public. The island site is part of the Kyrl’s Quay industrial heritage complex.
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Aoife makes performance, ﬁlm and visual art for gallery, cinema, theatre and oﬀ-site locations. She is co-creator of the TEST SITE project. Through her art practice she prioritises embodied knowledge and explores materiality, site and human/non-human relationships. She works in response to environmental crisis and rupture with an emphasis on restorative practices. She has a site-speciﬁc focus, combining critical thinking and immersive and sustained process. She often works collaboratively to initiate projects, building relationships with people, places and ecologies. Aoife has exhibited her work widely in Ireland and internationally. She guest lectures at CCAD, MA Space LIT, BAVA Sherkin (TU Dublin) and Node Curatorial Studies Berlin. She also runs independent courses on Art + Environment (theory and practice).
Ailbhe Cunningham MRIAI is an architect, printmaker and photographer from Cork. She is co-creator of the TEST SITE project. While studying Architecture at TUDublin, Ailbhe progressed a research interest in the enhancement of natural urban environments. Since graduating in 2015 Ailbhe has expanded this research. She uses the city for testing and challenging regenerative, urban placemaking ideas. Collaboration is core to her practice – Ailbhe works with local community groups, artists and built environment specialists. Ailbhe creates visuals to initiate conversations about sustainable, urban regeneration. Ailbhe continues to work in private practice and is a guest lecturer at TUDublin.
The built elements are designed and delivered in
collaboration with local professional bodies; ARUP
engineering, Silvabuild and Meitheal Mara.
Our Coill Bheag is being designed and delivered in
collaboration with Hometree and An Taisce’s LEAF
Additional professional support has been received
from ASM Group, Rockaway Health & Safety, CEM
Services & Roy Hegarty Electrical.
Narayan Van Maale, Andrew O’Reilly & Denise Woods
additional 16mm cinematography / Fiona Sheil
Sound design / Michael Higgins Post-Production /
Additional performers Macha Shewolf, Kanako Haru
and Dan Walsh (drums).
Cilla Woodhouse / Frani O’Toole / Mary & Seamus Cunningham / Jason Turk / Mary Witty / Caroline Robinson / Sgt. Alan Cronin & the Bridewell team / Denis, Michael, Finbarr, Philip, Joe, Dan & all the team at CEM Services / Aoife Browne / Niamh Ní Dhúill / Ray O’Foghlú / Matt Smith / Mitch Corbett / Denise Cahill / Maria Young / Micheál O’Connor / Siopa Gan Ainm / Benchspace / CCAE