Mural project: 'There is no one face for city, we have different faces and they’re all Cork' 

A Story of Home was a collaborative project run by Cork Migrant Centre, the Glucksman Gallery and Irish street artist, art teacher and activist Joe Caslin as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.
Mural project: 'There is no one face for city, we have different faces and they’re all Cork' 

Salamah with a portrait of Reem. Pictures: Alison Miles.

PARTICIPANTS in Cork’s latest mural project, which brought asylum seekers, refugees and migrants together to explore their understanding of home have described Cork city as “a safe, welcoming place”.

A Story of Home was a collaborative project run by Cork Migrant Centre, the Glucksman Gallery and Irish street artist, art teacher and activist Joe Caslin as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.

The Roscommon-born artist worked with the project participants to create two new artworks, the first of which was installed last month at the corner of Sullivan’s Quay and Drinan Street.

The large-scale piece features Salamah, who told The Echo that she is “grateful” for the welcome she has received since coming to Cork.

Artist Joe Caslin with Salamah and her daughters Reem (right) and Amal (left).
Artist Joe Caslin with Salamah and her daughters Reem (right) and Amal (left).

“I have never felt alienated since I arrived with this friendly, welcoming and respectable community,” she continued, paying a special thanks to those who coordinated the project.

Salamah said she was happy to feature in the mural “and to send a message to people that Hijab is not an obstacle to communicate in the society”.

Also involved in the project was Salamah’s daughter, Reem.

She described Cork as a “safe, welcoming” place and described the mural portrait of her mother as “beautiful”.

“It shows how Cork is a multicultural city now. There is no one face for the city, we have different faces and they’re all Cork.” 

Project

Through a series of creative sessions at the Glucksman, Joe Caslin worked with Salamah and Reem along with a group of over 30 women from diverse backgrounds to explore their understanding of home. The participants were given the opportunity to share their experiences, finding connections with other members of the group and exploring creative ways that their stories could be represented.

The sessions, supported by the Glucksman and Cork Migrant Centre teams, encouraged the group to look at the power of portraiture to communicate ideas and reveal insights into the sitter.

Together participants discussed posture, gesture, and symbolism, before putting all their learning into practice and sitting for a portrait with the artist. A second mural as part of A Story of Home is set to be installed at Mallow Castle next week.

Speaking about the project, Tadhg Crowley, senior curator at the Glucksman, said the creative sessions in the gallery were, at times, “deeply moving”.

“The truth of the women’s journeys and their current situations are difficult to hear.

“They have had to overcome huge challenges in an effort to provide a safe home for themselves and their families.

“Over the weeks the group developed a strong bond, supporting each other and finding connections in their experiences. And we had plenty of laughter and beautiful moments.

“There emerged a genuine feeling of collaboration and an understanding that we were working towards something important,” he said.

“We hope that everyone who encounters Joe Caslin’s artworks at Sullivan’s Quay and Mallow Castle will consider the story of this incredible group of women and their pursuit of a safe and happy home.” 

Meanwhile, Mr Caslin said A Story of Home “is a powerful statement about the pursuit of a home”.

“Home is transient for the Cork migrant women. It is a memory of the past and a dream for their future.

“We believe everyone deserves to be cherished in the safety and permanence of a home,” he added.

A Story of Home was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and supported by Cork City Council and Cork County Council.

The artworks will remain on display until September.

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