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Help map Ireland’s vacant commercial spaces

People from Ireland are invited to help map vacant commercial space around the country for a new project run by PrettyvacanT, which repurposes vacant properties as temporary exhibition space.

A photograph taken by Kieran O'Donoghue in Chernobyl that will form part of his exhibition at Fumbally Court.
A photograph taken by Kieran O'Donoghue in Chernobyl that will form part of his exhibition at Fumbally Court.
Image: PrettyvacanT Dublin

PEOPLE ARE BEING invited to help map vacant commercial spaces  around Ireland by PrettyvacanT Dublin, which repurposes empty buildings as temporary exhibition space.

This month, PrettyvacanT Dublin is bringing Unused & Unloved, a group exhibition examining concepts of neglect, abandonment or disuse, to the capital’s Fumbally Exchange.

The exhibition will feature haunting images of Chernobyl, an exploration of Ireland’s faded religious icons, and also an interactive Smartphone Gallery – as well as a first look at its new project, Mapping Vacant Space.

Louise Marlborough, who created PrettyvacanT Dublin, told TheJournal.ie that Mapping Vacant Space is a crowdsourced Google map for vacant commercial buildings, such as retail buildings, warehouses and industrial buildings.

“You don’t have to walk too far to find an empty building,” she said. “We are asking people to map it or email us and we will map it.”

It forms a picture or some representation of vacant properties. The first stage is to start a map to get an idea of how many there are and what they are, where they are, what state they’re in.

She said that if you do it in your area, suddenly you start to see all the vacant properties there in a new light.

It’s kind of an interesting thing - maybe not a happy, positive thing. But it’s a visual representation of where are we at the moment and what does it look like. You start to see are there patterns, are there areas that don’t have many empty properties, or places that have a lot more.

PrettyvacanT started two years ago and Unused & Unloved will be its ninth exhibition.

It has utilised spaces in the Temple Bar as well as the empty former Dunnes Stores space in the Ilac Centre.

“It brings positive attention to them and someone who sees the building might become a tenant. We might do one or two exhibitions in the space and then we go find another one.”

The newest exhibition is looking at the possibilities in empty space and thinking about its potential. “It has been built for one purpose so now we can see how it an be used for something else.”

Unused & Unloved will go on show from 28 October to 11 November at Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8, in association with Fumbally Exchange.

One of the elements to the next exhibition is its interactive Smartphone Gallery, which features paintings that can be viewed by scanning QR codes.

“The codes are displayed in frames from charity shops.  It’s bringing online into reality and back again,” said Marlborough.

“This whole show was curated online – we put out an open call to artists to respond to a theme and I hadn’t seen any of the work in reality, it was all sent through email and flickr accounts.”

The visitors can scan the code which will go to a link which will display the art piece.

Eight artists will have their work displayed in the exhibition, including photographer Kieran O’Donoghue’s work captured in Chernobyl, and work by Lily Cahill, Helen Caird, Blaithin Quinn, Karoline Reichardt, Steve Ryan, Becky Sheldon and John J Twomey.

To map a vacant space, go to this page on the PrettyvacanT Dublin website. To find out more about PrettyvacanT, visit their homepage>

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