How the project was delivered
The original concept was to engage with the community around the Local Link bus service through printmaking workshops and creative sessions along the bus routes. However, as with everything in 2020, the Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown and restrictions meant that physical interaction was not an option, the artists had to re-imagine the delivery of the project. The target audience was Local Link Tipperary users, mostly older people living in rural areas and from the start the intention was to deliver something safe for all involved. Rather than going online which wouldn’t have met the needs of the community, the artists went back to the drawing board to consider what they had in their toolkit. It was decided to use printed materials and objects themselves to open up conversations with the community while sharing creative experiences with the Local Link staff and bus users. In an effort to develop a more effective project under these new restrictions the artists looked at engaging other local artists’ in the areas, developing community conversations, the collection of stories and place based research, and tools suitable for people of all ages.
The first stage of the project included a series of six creative activities. These were delivered in the form of ‘how to’ ‘zines’ that shared ways of working from home using minimal materials, most of which could be found around the house. The activities included a series of instructions on how to print at home using household equipment, instructions to make a no sew travel pouch, a history of play and how to make your own dice and instructions on rubber stamping. The aim of the ‘zines’ or engagements was to start initial conversations and encourage participants to share their stories and skills as part of the project. The hope was that people would take their zines and be inspired by activity, skill share or story and encouraged to share their thoughts using the postcard attached to feed back into the process.
Aoife Barrett of Print Van Go, spent time travelling on the bus and meeting passengers at various bus stops. She listened to peoples stories and noted their different interests and capabilities in order to refine the project and themes of each ‘zine’. Her encounters with people were usually one off engagements and in between these engagements. Aoife also spent time talking to drivers, observing drawing and taking notes. Gradually the project unfolded and threads emerged. She heard stories of journeys, walks myths and legends, finding ones way, family and place connections, patterns routines and habits.
As the project developed into the second stage the activities were inspired by local stories and experiences shared from the community. The second set of engagements took the form of a ‘Local Connections Broadside’ Each week the broadside featured and different story, myth, local knowledge or activity created in response to the stories people had shared on the bus or in some cases written by members of the community themselves. Some of these contributions were developed through phone calls or socially distanced meetings; others were submitted from people via the post or email. Entries included local myths, artworks, recipes, local history local walks feedback on what people had been making and doing.
The third stage is a Local Link Letterboxing activity with a locals guide to the county. The idea of these successive stages was to involve the participants and collaborating community in the design and production process where possible in order to keep the collaborative process while still having a final output.