A NEW artist-led community project has united the different groups working at Nano Nagle Place, the centre’s programme manager has said.
Diversity Academy, a pilot project funded by the Cork City Council Arts Office, brought together the Cork Migrant Centre and the Lantern Community Project, Danielle O’Donovan, programme manager at Nano Nagle Place, told The Echo.
“The vision of the Diversity Academy was to develop a space where the users of our site could come together in creativity to express aspects of their cultures and address issues that are important to them,” Ms O’Donovan said.
“The Migrant Centre and the Lantern Community Project, which are based here in Nano Nagle Place, both do special things, and they look after people really well,” Ms O’Donovan said. “It just struck me that the Lanterns are here on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then the migrants all come in on Friday, and we realised, do you know what, we never mix them up together, and we thought, we really need to put these women together because they’ve got so much to bring to each other.”
Ms O’Donovan said the project was also influenced by a talk she had heard given by Tania Bruguera, co-ordinator of a Manchester project called The School of Inclusion, in which Ms Bruguera suggested that rather than look at migrants as people who want something, society should see migrants as people who have a contribution to make.
“All of these amazing women who are coming from all over the world to live in Cork, bring so much richness, and then we’ve got all these beautiful creative ladies in the Lantern Project, who are doing crochet and art and things, we said ‘Right, get them all into one room’, and so we did, and the magic just happened,” Ms O’Donovan said.
“We had a beautiful facilitator called Ann Metchelink, and they all started talking to each other over cups of tea. They shared life stories, and what they said when they talked about it afterwards was humanity is humanity, and we all have these shared experiences in our lives, no matter where we are from, and we all actually feel the same.”
Ms O’Donovan said one of the aims of the project was to use as an inspiration the example of Nano Nagle, the 18th century pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland, and the founder of the Presentation Sisters.
“Nano Nagle empowered women by teaching them how to sew, and how to make lace, and that actually allowed them to make their own money and be independent women,” she said.
Ms O’Donovan said each of the participants in the Diversity Academy made a piece of embroidery under the theme ‘home’, and they drew their inspiration from two pieces of 19th century embroidery in the Nano Nagle Place museum.
The artworks produced by the Diversity Academy can be seen at https://nanonagleplace.ie/