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All major cities have art museums. A large metropolis like Dublin is no exception, it has quite a few. But great art I find is always down at street level. Great nonprofit experiences like Dublin’s The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory represent great art. It’s art that is alive and kinetic, even if it is a few static pieces. Color and subject can make it vibe. I love my mural walks and planned to tour this one next month. In preparation for my trip I contacted Aga Szot at The Icon Factory for a interview to share with you. I am hoping you can come take a stroll with us in Dublin on this fine walking experience. Stay tuned as I will visit and review the experience for you.
Come realize the power of art to help create a clean and safe Environment for all. Please visit their website and donate if you can to help keep this great experience going for all.
How did your museum get it’s start, and how have you seen it grow in the last five years?
Since its establishment The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory has become a highly rated tourists destination in international tour guides, rating higher than Dublin Castle & The Photographic Archive, and has received an endorsement by the UNESCO City of Literature office as an important site for the celebration of Irish literary talent and culture. We have been featured in many national newspapers, tourguides including the front page of the Arts and Culture page of the New York Times.
When we moved into Aston Place in 2010, the surrounding lane ways were in a sorry state, filthy and run down. It was an illegal dumping ground, a harbour for drug-taking,often used as a public toilet and a festering den of petty-criminality. We couldn’t believe that a half mile of lanes in the heart of Dublin’s business and tourist district would be allowed to fall into such a state of dilapidation. In 2010 we began work on the Icon Walk, a series of panels showcasing key Irish cultural icons also The Icon Factory Gallery when we show emerging artists work on a regular base. Once an area to be avoided, the lanes are now a mostly safe, vibrant destination for walking tours and average citizens, also more and more artists are taking part in exhibitions.
Our maintaining the area and preventing its reverting to its previous conditions is reflected by both increasing foot and online traffic. Google has reached out to us to inform us that 10,000 people a month see and search information about our project, check our activities and find us.
All our events are free created to encourage cultural activities for adults and children are fully booked every year. Aga’s Szot studio is one and unique life painting studio experimental installation in Dublin.
There are clear benefits in the increased number of artists, internship and volunteers taking part in the project. Every year the numbers of visitors increases daily, over 200% in 5 years, fourfold increase in tour groups. The Art Festival footfall increased 300% per day over previous years according to our visitor book. Our project encourages locals to care about the area their work.
Has there been anything surprising that happened that you just ran with in an opportunity to create an exhibit?
We now find ourselves playing the leading role in creating cultural & educational experience in Temple Bar including public art installations, art events and activities, keeping area safe and clean, making people feel respected and the area safe without as much as even one Euro of public money.
We were able to provide space to artist for their exhibitions, creations of new artworks for The Icon Walk, and create a Summer Cultural Festival in the lanes during which we opened the new sections to the public.
To this date we held exhibitions by over 50 artists over seven years. In many cases these have been the first exhibition by the artist. Unlike most galleries we do not charge for exhibition space. All we ask is for one image from the artist that we can use in our merchandise to help ‘keep the lights on’. We give facilities to artists to print and sell their works. We give advice and encouragement to the artist in planning their exhibition. We ensure that the money raised from sales goes back to the artist. In this regard we have become a hub for local talent.
What do you consider the most challenging part of running a museum of your kind?
The Icon Project is registered charity and fully based on volunteers. If the Icon Factory could survive on goodwill alone, then the future of the project would be secured for many years to come. We have had thousands of visitors through our doors over the past few years, all expressing admiration and enthusiasm for what we have accomplished but reluctant to give funds.
The Icon project fully depend on funding and every year our big challenge is to get funding for a basic running costs. Despite the previous years supports Icon Factory received no funding for 2017.
After several years depending on once off funding we now recognise that the Icon Project needs a regular funding base and this is most challenging part for us.
What is the planning process for creating new exhibits? Do you have any behind the scenes video or articles that future visitors can look at?
We have a good few short documentaries made about our project which you can check on the links below:
Is there a committee that decides to feature something or a finding that becomes available and you build around that? Or does the planning involve a specific structure?
Board members of registered charities are involved in application process for the exhibition. Artist are asked to provide their portfolio and cover letter. After positive application process artists meet with the members to discuss process of setting up the exhibition and work on the featured Icon which will be donated to The Icon Walk project.
It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?
This year our exhibition season is planned on a monthly base case no funding crisis.
Do your exhibitions centre on the local only or do you have art and future or contemporary issues come into play occasionally?
All artists locals and international are welcome to apply for the exhibition at the gallery including different art disciplines starting from classical art, drawing, paintings, sculpturing, photography, installations and conceptual work.
It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?
At the moment The Icon Project is reviewing its financial situation and no further exhibitions are planned till the end of September.
The Icon Factory is located in the Temple Bar District of Dublin.
The Icon Factory
Mon – Sun 11.00am – 6.00pm
For more information:
Videos on Vimeo
Bob Geldof, Sinéad O’Connor and others https://vimeo.com/user33528482
Science Gallery Dublin
When you are flying domestic or traveling via car or bus, you usually just dump a bunch of clothing, what you think you will need while gone for a few days, into a case. You may have some sense of how you pack, but it’s a ,”Hey, I am going for a few days” mentality. At least this is what I have experienced in talking with other people from the US, not much thought goes into what we cram into the case. This is probably why we get held up at airports, the not thinking about carry on restrictions and what we cram in a case, liquids in too large amounts. If you are going overseas, you need to pack less and more useful clothing, toiletries, devices, and pack definitely more efficiently.
How Are You Traveling?
Will you be on large domestic to international flights? What are their current restrictions on weight and size? You can find most weight and size charts online, but they can still be a bit confusing. You should keep in mind that you may be able to really cram a case full of your belongings, but you have to lug that around for a few weeks and also the planes, trains and automobiles you may use have limited space. When traveling in a train, its a free for all on luggage racks and space behind the seats. You need to monitor your cases and know where they are on public transit. If you can get reserved seating, try to get a seat near or facing the racks to keep an eye on your gear. Check with the airlines, all airlines you are traveling with. This includes the smaller flights you may take in between islands or countries. Don’t rely on what it says on the online travel site you may use to book, contact the actual carrier or railway.
Start Packing Trial Run
Some people are born packers. Some have been in the military and really know how to pack. Others travel a great deal for their jobs and have learned over time the best way to pack a case and survive TSA. You should rehearse with your cases a few days ahead. Now you may think that you have this down, but it’s better to have the trial run and edit than do so 4 hours before flight.
Start by lining up your clothing and thinking about weight. When you are at home, things go in drawers and closets, weigh is distributed. It’s amazing how much we don’t think of clothing as having weight unless it’s work boots. It adds up quickly, and you will pay for extra weight. Not all airlines let you check the cargo baggage free. Many charge per bag.
Rolling is something I have learned to do. It also means you can cram more things in in the case, and keeps wrinkles down. That doesn’t mean you should keep cramming. Again, weight is very restricted on overseas flights. I find rolling works well because you can keep some wrinkles out of clothing and even when you start accumulating dirty items, you can have one side clean and the other dirty. You will need to do laundry somehow, many wash in the sink, but some dense items that really doesn’t work well for. Plan to loose a few hours to finding a launderette for wash and dry. Some small items just need a rinse, and packing them just takes a quick fold. You may want to take a picture of when you successfully get the cases packed the way you want, just as a reference for the re-pack. Pack a bag for laundry run.
What to Pack
Lists can be found online about this topic. My experience has taught me this:
Several pairs of jeans, trousers. 4 if you can fit it. Easy to move around in, have pockets. Now my experience has taught me get real levis or non-fashion jeans. That’s right ladies, your hip and trendies have no real pockets. Totally useless for travel. You may want to bring one pair for an occasion. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to do what I have done in the past, get to the army surplus and get some real camos or other army pants that have pockets. Otherwise get to the outdoor store and get cargo pants. Works really well for train travel. Zip off kind make cargo shorts.
Tee shirts. Get plenty of teeshirts that can work as layers. Try to have a weeks worth with you. Sadly you will need to wash things, otherwise you have to lug too much with you. Keep in mind that many UK and European cities do not have a laundry set up that you are used to in America. Most of it is service wash and that can take a few days to get back, which won’t work.
One nice set of clothing that packs tight. Unless you are going for a wedding or some other really big affair, one outfit that can go to the theatre or very nice dinner.
Lightweight rain jacket if traveling spring/summer. Heavier weight worn if traveling fall/winter. Don’t bring large umbrella, or brelly. I would advise just buying one there and leaving it if you need. Here in PDX we mostly jacket hood if we have to, and it rains torrents. Think mobile.
Devices. You need a phone and an international plan. Tablet maybe. With new restrictions on the horizon you may want to rethink this. I have to take something because I blog. Make sure you have your power converter. This trip I am relying on the phone for pictures and will be testing some camera phone lenses out. Cameras can be a hassle when traveling, one more thing to keep track of. But if you are a picture fiend, then finding a travel worthy camera is a sound investment.
Money belt. Yes, you will be a tourist target. Try not to be one. You are allowed one small personal bag on most flights. When out on the street, these bags can get slashed and grabbed very easy. Consider money belts for when you really need to have the money with you. Leaving money stashed in hotel rooms is not really safe unless there is a room safe. Backpacks and or travel bag purses should be on the smallish side and reenforced and antitheft built. If you are going the travel backpack route, I suggest you flatten and pack it in your cases and use when you arrive. If they make you check it, it can get damaged on conveyer belts, or just go missing in the system.
I try to buy most of these when I get to the country I am visiting. This works well if it’s a Western country or one that has a large metropolis. Otherwise, you need to pack your shampoos and such in regulation size containers. Double bag in clear zip lock bags and place in clear organizers. Things get jostled about and even with careful planning, can make a mess before you get there are cause inspection problems. Some things you will need to have like medications need to be packed with you in your. Carry on. Just bring enough in your budget to get to the apothecary when you get there.
The Savvy Backpacker – Great article on all aspects for consideration while traveling. Including traveling using underground.
Photo © Jan Voigtmann
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