For this week’s “A first time for everything” challenge, Geraldine Carton paid a visit to ReCreate. Set in an incredible warehouse in Dublin, the initiative is doing great things for both the environment and the community at large.
It was a real treat to do this week’s “A first time for everything challenge” activity – largely because I was filled with relief in knowing that this time there would be no skinny dipping or approaching strangers with mortifying chat-up lines… No, thankfully this week I was going to do something I knew I would truly enjoy; I was going to ReCreate.
Based out in Ballymount industrial estate, ReCreate is essentially a warehouse filled with a multicoloured array of cast-off materials that have been donated by businesses all over Ireland. The organisation describes itself as “a social enterprise that makes art materials and educational supplies accessible to the entire community for creative purposes”, but the reality is that they do more than just that.
Upon arriving I am introduced to Clodagh O’Reilly, ReCreate’s CEO. Clodagh is warm and friendly and exudes passion for the project that she is leading. As we walk around the warehouse, Clodagh explains how ReCreate supports teachers and group leaders in all levels of education, special needs groups and community centres, and holds regular workshops and drop-in sessions for groups and individual projects.
Everything ReCreate receives would have been bound for the bin. Instead of lying in landfill, coloured plastic spoons become a fanning peacock tail; frappuccino coffee cup lids turn into Christmas tree decorations; toilet paper rolls transform into handmade flower bouquets… The possibilities are never-ending in this Aladdin's cave of creativity, and every person and piece of material holds endless potential, as you'll see below.
ReCreate is also heavily involved in employment schemes; helping people get back on their feet and introducing individuals to the brands they work with (which leads to further employment opportunities down the line). Offering work experience to people with mixed abilities is the last part of the ReCreate puzzle, and Clodagh’s face lights up as she describes the way in which individuals expand both their skill set and confidence as they go.
For all the good that ReCreate does, however, Clodagh admits that it can also serve as a haven for hoarders:
“We’ll have people come in on a weekly basis and take things and you know they won’t actually use at all. I sometimes have to probe some people on whether they’ll actually use all the materials they load into their bags”.
After the tour is over Clodagh gives me a challenge; I have 30 minutes to create a “lovely hat” using whatever materials I desire. Not one to turn down a challenge, I go full-blown Supermarket Sweep on the place; speed-walking around and grabbing whatever materials I deem to hold “lovely hat” potential.
At one point I nab a yellow plastic cone that looks like it could definitely bring my hat to the next level (both physically, and metaphorically). I thunder on with the cone under my arm, only to hear a woman cry out “Argh! That’s mine!!”. Breaking from my stride, I whip around and realise that I have indeed taken the cone from a small box of materials that she has clearly gathered. Mortified, I return the cone to the enraged woman’s box. As as I scutter away I reassure myself that she is probably one of those hoarders Clodagh was talking about.
I try to channel my love of all things French by incorporating a Parisien theme with my hat. Using a selection of red, white and blue fabrics for the base (from various interior design sample books), I top it off with a large (and very unstable) “Eiffel Tower” figurine. Is it lovely? No. But is it made of reclaimed waste materials? YES!
Although I enjoy making the hat, I can’t help but think how much more fun this would’ve been if I had done it with friends, or as a “team bonding” activity with work. I make a mental note to organise a “ReCreation” afternoon in the near future. In a place where Art Attack meets an-attack-on-social-exclusion I vow that there are too many good vibes to be had for this to be a one-off visit.