Transforming walls and minds with Street Wise

maeve hunterArtist and Educator Maeve Hunter is Outreach and Education Officer at the Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow. In March 2016 she participated in Street Wise, a seven-day residential training programme for youth workers and leaders. Coordinated by Youth Work Ireland Cork and supported by Erasmus+ as part of CIT Crawford College of Art and Design’s Creativity and Change programme, the course explored and nurtured Global Citizenship through urban art. 

“Although I am a practising artist, being an educator is a very large part of my arts practice. When studying for my Masters in Visual Arts education, I looked at whether Art Education could provide a constructive link between formal and non-formal education for learners in a disadvantaged setting. I continue to look at this question while teaching and facilitating art in both formal and non-formal settings.

As part of my job I work in the community facilitating workshops and encouraging creativity. Being part of this course was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn new skills and to meet other people involved in youth work. It was a new experience for me to meet people involved in creativity who had not trained as artists. But we all had a common goal of helping marginalised people in our society. The other participants were from different parts of Ireland, UK, Sardinia and Hungary.

streetwise group at work

From the very first moment we met, we all gelled and everybody worked extremely hard to create the most amazing artwork on the walls of CIT on Sullivan Quay in Cork. The theme of our project, ‘Global Citizenship’, encouraged dialogue between ourselves and the citizens of Cork. While they didn’t always agree with our sentiments, our work caused discussion and everybody who came across our walls was very encouraging and appreciative of our art and the cleaning up of a tired, grey building. The skills we learned included creative writing, and how to go about encouraging global citizenship through words and images. Artistically we learned about stencilling, enlarging work, and paste-up for urban art.

group in front of artwork

Every day was a new experience. We had an exhibition of our work and its process on the Friday, and explained to the visitors what we hoped to achieve through our work. During the course we were looked after so well and everybody had something worthwhile to contribute. The facilitators, Jess Carson and Nora Furlong, were excellent at bringing out the best in us participants and encouraging our particular skills and talents. Through creativity we learned how to bring encouragement to our own participants in whatever project we would take on in the future.

I came home from the week full of hope, encouragement and a feeling of worth. I am dying to try out my newfound skills and I look forward to having the opportunity to pass them on."

All images courtesy of Maeve Hunter. We welcome contributions to 'Insights' at