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Sirius Arts presents: A Common Town, A Common World



Group portrait for a school production, early twentieth century, most likely St. Mary’s National School. Photograph courtesy of Coláiste Muire for School Days: Cobh & Great Island, SIRIUS, 2019

SIRIUS presents ‘A Common Town, A Common World’, a community-sourced exhibition about Cobh – and, more broadly, Great Island and County Cork – and its diaspora. ‘A Common Town, a Common World’ investigates the relationship between social history and visual culture in Cobh, and features a sprawling, encyclopaedic selection of objects and images brought together through a series of workshops and open calls.

‘A Common Town, a Common World’ includes drawings, ceramics, photographs, films, artefacts, records and ephemera from individuals and organisations (institutional and family archives, heritage venues and groups, community groups, makers). These objects and images speak to the identity and memory of the locale and its links to the globe, simultaneously offering a diverse and inclusive picture of creativity in the region and beyond.

The display is dynamic, changing over the course of the presentation with additional new contributions, giving everyone the opportunity to question, revise and add to the project as the narrative grows. The interpretation of the exhibited material is co-produced by the team at SIRIUS and the contributors to reflect not only the perspective of the institution, as is conventional, but also the thoughts and sentiments of the people, thus combining ‘official’ description and analysis with personal views

For the first phase of the project, taking place between November 2020 and January 2021, SIRIUS is installing a representative selection of material from past exhibitions relating to Cobh, Great Island and Cork Harbour, more specifically personal and shared stories of residents and those who were just passing through in one way or another. This display includes items from the exhibitions School Days: Cobh & Great Island (2019); Spike Island: People and Place, 1847-1883 (2018); Portraits: Women of Cork and the U.S. Navy, 1917-1919 (2017); Notes on the Lusitania (2015); and Leaving Home (2012).

We would like to hear from you. Email with any thoughts or ideas you may have about how you might to contribute to this project. Alternatively, you can pay us a visit or phone us on 0214813790 between Wednesday and Saturday, from 11am to 4pm, and leave your name and contact details with us.
What objects or images in your own belongings reflect where you are from? Are these items of personal significance or of broader significance in terms of the history or identity of the area? What is your connection to the area? Are you from Cobh? Did you move away? Do you live in Cobh? Do you have family abroad? Why did they move? What does it mean to be a local? How local are you? Are you a ‘blow-in’? What is the demographic of Cobh? How has it changed?
We are also interested in receiving material and information relating to our own building’s existence as the Royal Cork Yacht Club (1854 – 1966) and its subsequent usage by University College Cork and Cobh Technical School.

SIRIUS is developing a civic agenda aiming to reconnect art with a social function and responsibility. This enables the reimagining of the institution’s mission in relation to societal matters, as a means to contribute to community development. This also facilitates the aligning of the programme with societal questions, connecting content with people’s interests, expectations, concerns and aspirations.
Projects with a community focus have been organised by SIRIUS in recent years (e.g. This Must Be the PlaceSee You Tomorrow), and these enabled the establishment of regular conversations with the residents of Cobh that is facilitating the research and delivery of ‘A Common Town, a Common World’.
‘A Common Town, a Common World’ takes place between 14 November 2020 and 30 January 2021. New opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 11.00 – 16.00.
‘A Common Town, a Common World’ is supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht through the Regional Museum Exhibitions scheme as well as by Cork County Council through the Creative Ireland programme.
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