March 21 2014

Up-Cycled Art in Public Spaces: Cork City, Ireland

Up-cycling is the process of turning waste material or old products into new materials and products of better quality or for better environmental value. In these recessionary times, there has never been greater appeal towards reuse and recycling. People’s views towards these terms are changing. There are already a number of companies and websites that are promoting the exchange and reuse of materials. One example of this is the SMILE resource exchange, which promotes the exchange of resources between companies such as Mamukko and Bounce Back. “What was Cork doing in regards to converting old/useless material to new products or materials? And was Cork using ‘up-cycling’ to make their community more visually attractive?”

The first was a village called Ballinascarthy, where there was a very interesting looking ‘shiny car’ on the side of the road. Was this an example of up-cycling and what was the story behind the ‘shiny car? The place is actually the birthplace of William Ford, father to Henry Ford, and the car was a replica of a Model Ford T, Henry was born into farm life and by 1896 had built his first car. He founded the Ford Motor Co in 1903 and the first Ford cars seen in Ireland were at the 1907 Irish Motor Show at the RDS, but as interesting as this all sounded, it still left me wondering about ‘up-cycling as pieces of art.’

Another dreary sight on bus journeys can be abandoned shops, cars and houses. Limerick has come up with an innovative way of using their abandoned garages and cars. They have painted several used cars and a garage on the way into their train station, transforming the space. There has been a lot of controversy over Limerick’s title as Ireland’s city of culture, 2014. According to Úna Mulally, “There was lots of talk about ‘re-branding’ Limerick as the goal of this enterprise. Re-branding occurs as a consequence of a City of Culture programme being a success. It’s not meant to be articulated as a re-branding exercise from the outset.”

Abandoned Gas Station, 'Upcycled' Cork City, Ireland

In Charleville, there is an up-cycled cow made from corrugated tin that represents their status as a town that has produced cheese for over a hundred years and has recently re-established it’s Cheese festival. This was a community effort and the cow today is another sight you will see passing through the town.

An example of up-cycling in Fitzgerald's Park, Cork City, Ireland

An example of up-cycling in Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork City

There is a good facebook page (based in West Cork) with innovative ways of up-cycling spoons and wine corks, there were also very innovative ways of up-cycling farmyard pallets as shelves, chairs, benches and tables and using flip-flops as pot holders. So remember, even though you may think that your old clothes, shoes, CDs, or vinyl discs are no longer in fashion you can reuse them in very new ways!

Is up-cycling still seen as an unattractive use of old materials?

Credit: Images by Olivia Dolan. Data linked to sources.

Olivia Dolan

Olivia has completed a B.A in Natural Science and an M.Sc in Environmental Resource Planning from Trinity College, Dublin. She has done some travelling in Asia and worked in South Korea for three years as an English Foreign Language Teacher. On returning to Ireland she decided to travel more; this time to Vancouver. Her main interests lie in up-cycling and community regeneration projects. Her blogs will deal mainly with her experiences relating to these themes - within the area of west Cork and around Cork city, Ireland.

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 9:13 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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