The Ulster Museum

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesResearch and Teaching at External Organisation


The Cultural Afterlife of Ruins Participant testimonials Geradline The Afterlife in Ruins was very relevant and useful to me. My writing has a particular focus on 'Spirit of Place': it is a character whether I am writing about here, Spitalfields in London or Boy's Town, Chicago or the 10th arrondiissement in Paris, all of which are places I lived in and connected with strongly. The lectures fascinated me, exploring and analysing the nature of the 'draw' of ruins and the different resonances they highlight and evoke. The course inspired me to write several pieces, not just my final submission. The very tight word count was quite a challenge to me and in itself instructive as I had to choose and focus adn refine. Your editorial advice was brilliant, spot on and very clear. I knew there were dissonant notes in parts and you gave excellent guidance on fixing those very spots. I write a lot and feel I am confident and developed writer, but I learned some really valuable, concrete, structural writing craft 'mechanics' which I will take with me. This is the help that I had hoped to get at university and didn't. I am so glad I participated. I feel lucky to have been in the company of such talented, creative, motivated and committed fellow participants and grateful for the effort and genuine involvement of the presenters and organisers. Sue McBean <> Has the Afterlife of Ruins project helped bring you new insight into how the relicts and ruins around us continue to touch our lives? I hardly know where to start but am pleased to have been asked. I am now aware that all of the Scottish and Irish islands have so much more history that tells us something about the past and today. I am also more aware of how to find out about that history - from ancestors and out of print books and poetry/stories I had never understood what the Highland Clearances were nor how potato blight affected Scotland, nor what Coffin ships were - the parallels with life today and national/international politics, modern slavery and asylum /refugeees are starkly clear. I now know ways to find out the past from Census to satellite images and am concerned that so much of the past is potentially soon to be lost without capturing the additional word of mouth stories that help to untangle. I feel connected to others in our group in their quest to find how the ruins touch on our contemporary lives. I would like some element of this group to continue in some way. An oddly random array of talented folk with so much more to give. paula stokes <> Has the Afterlife of Ruins project helped bring you new insight into how the relics and ruins around us continue to touch our lives? Yes, absolutely. I joined this project for a few reasons- to improve my written communication skills but also to learn from others through a shared community experience. As a visual artist whose work grapples with topics including history, food equity, heritage, and community, it was helpful for me to explain my work, and its relationship to the spaces in which it is presented through the written word. A few years ago, when I first envisioned where the work would be shown it was in the context of a traditional art or museum gallery. However, an opportunity to show the work in what used to be a Victorian Era Women’s Jail made me completely revisit where I wanted to show the work in the future. This revelation led me to explore nontraditional sites, especially relics and ruins, and spaces with powerful histories of their own. When I say this programme pop up somewhere on Facebook, its timing felt like some divine intervention! I immediately asked to participate, despite living thousands of miles away from the core group. I gained new insight into what can be described as a relic or ruin, through reading Garrett’s writing but also that of the other participants. It was a very meaningful experience and will certainly help me with future writing as the exhibition travels to new locations. I also enjoyed making new connections with people back home. Thank you. Paula Stokes, Seattle, Washington March 26, 2021 Jana Milovanovic <> thanks so much for everything, see below, it is written in a hurry so please correct before sending if needed ;). I will send the final version of the essay to Shauna tomorrow. The celebration was a deeply moving experience, I wasn't completely sure if I'd make it to the final session so I haven't volunteered to read my bit, however I will put the final version in Slack when it is ready. Hope there will be opportunities to collaborate/join in the future, I am so grateful to my friend Fiona Murphy who also works at Queens for letting me know about this project. It was a brilliant experience, sorry it ended so soon :). Has the Afterlife of Ruins project helped bring you new insight into how the relicts and ruins around us continue to touch our lives? I am certainly much more aware of the ruins around me now and I see them in a different way than before I took part in the project. They are not exclusively related to distant past, castles and long-gone palaces, but can as well be remnants of our own lives and habitual place-making. I now see them as an important source of stories and local histories, a starting point to exploring neglected cultural heritage and peripheral places. Through allowing myself to hear unheard or muted 'voices of the ruins' I also learned to question who a particular narrative belongs to, thus challenging the dominant cultural construct of heritage. Also, I got lots of valuable guidance regarding non-fiction creative writing that is now certainly helping me to pay more attention to detail, to observe better and to include the senses to a greater extent in my own work. It is an amazing project and I can only wish that such programs will be supported in the future as well. In the current world of prevailing populism, fear and restrictions of all kinds, it is of crucial importance to preserve such 'shelters' that let us build on creativity, heritage and critical humanist thought. Only through such approaches we can create healthy relationships with places to which we are confined at present, to journey inward, without excluding or degrading any site or place-related identity (national, religious etc) on the account of the other. Beda Higgins < Hi Garrett - no problem! You definitely justify the time on the project - you did a brilliant job walking that fine line between professionalism, friendliness and empowering participants to think outside our own boxes. (I hate the work empowerment, but can't think of a better at the moment) In answer to your question: The afterlife of the ruins project has enabled me to see relics and ruins as visually narratives of today. Since the project I look at many relics surrounding me with a sense of them belonging to today as well as the past. All very best Beda Moira McIver <> Hi Garrett, Thank you. I also really enjoyed the celebration session and I thought that the readings were so rich with people's diverse experiences and also very moving at times. Yes, Geraldine's suggestion was great and I have been mulling it over and hope to incorporate it into the text on some level. Certainly, I can answer your impact question: Has the Afterlife of Ruins project helped bring you new insight into how the relics and ruins around us continue to touch our lives? The Afterlife of Ruins project has really opened my eyes to the rich cultural traces which still exist around us in all sorts of ways from recently abandoned buildings to ancient ruins, even through to boats and people. I think it has been such an uplifting project, particularly in this time of isolation, bringing together people from all over, from a wide range of backgrounds and histories. It has been quite a new experience to explore my chosen ruin through creative non-fiction and it opened up a new and interesting approach to interweaving historical information with my thoughts and feelings as a narrator. I hope there will be more projects like this which allow us to creatively explore the ways in which people's lives are interwoven with these ruins and relics from the past. Hope this is ok? Many thanks to yourself and Shauna for running this amazing project. Best wishes, Moira Conleth Thornbury <> Hello Garrett. See below survey response: Yes, I am more aware of how ruins affect us, for a number of reasons. On a basic level I’m actually more aware that they exist now. As my short piece of writing hinted, I have in the past tended not to even notice the remains of buildings that I pass almost every day. Noticing them, as I now frequently do, leads me to ask questions. Does this ruin add to or detract from its surroundings? Would I like to see it knocked down, protected, or just left alone? I wonder about its history, how it came to be a ruin etc. And, if it’s a building, I’m more likely now to consider going for a look round. On a more practical level I hope that the project will add something to my writing. Thanks again for the feedback. Conleth. William Methven <> I found the course enormously helpful in improving my relationship with local ruins & relics & how I view & interpret these structures both in my everyday life & in my writing. More of this please. Patricia Mallon <> No worries. my answer is: “Participation in the Project has raised my awareness of ruins as a facet of ordinary life as much as special places you go out of your way to visit. My learning was also enhanced by the collaborative approach and the opportunity to get feedback on written work which I particularly appreciated.” Having organised events myself I know why feedback matters - in this case however I can honestly say I mean every word! Many thanks to all of you who made this happen. Patricia Publicising: The Afterlife of Ruins In this Creative Non-Fiction programme you’ll be invited to consider a ruin or forgotten building in your locality. Anything from a ring-fort to an abandoned 20th Century factory will be suitable You may already have a personal link to the ruin, if not we hope you’ll develop one during the project. You may like to write about the structure itself, or the impressions it leaves you with. You may like to research its history, or simply take it as you find it. The ruin may already hold memories for you that you’d like to share, we’d like to read them. The project is lead by author Garrett Carr (The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border, 2017). He will reveal ways that he and other writers have explored and discussed ruins in writing. In the end each participant will have written a 800 word essay on their chosen ruin. Partition Programming 2021 Co-Design Program with Garrett Carr This is a Creative Non-Fiction writing programme, which could become an online or print publication, about people and their relationships with ruins and abandoned structures in their neighbourhoods. The inspiration comes from Garrett Carr’s book The Rule of the Land, in which the border’s built heritage features heavily. Apart from the creative skills participants will gain in the programme, it is about discovering new ways to engage with our surroundings and examining the way remnants of the past contribute to our future. Outcomes: Each participant will explore and discuss a local ruin or other abandoned structure with which they can find a personal link. They may already have knowledge or memories about it, or the project can be an opportunity to learn about the ruin. Anything from ringforts to abandoned 20th Century factories will be suitable. Their outputs will be works of creative non-fiction, optionally illustrated by photographs, drawings or maps. The writings will be the heart of the project but some visual materials could add to the appeal of a publication, whether online or in print. This is a very loose project structure, but just to give an idea of how we might approach this. We are thinking of a series of lectures which evolve into creative writing practical sessions. Session 1 – Potential Start Date of Tuesday 23rd of February (Zoom) The Afterlife of Ruins, Garrett Carr (looking at the way writers, including himself, have explored and discussed ruins and relics). Session 2 – Thursday the 25th of February (Zoom) Ruins and Heritage, led by NMNI Curator or guest speaker (inspiring the participants and giving them a few ideas to get them writing, touching on history but also the cultural uses ruins have been put to since they were abandoned). Session 3 – Tuesday 2nd of March of February (Slack) Presenting Ruins, Garrett Carr and Shauna McGowan (a live online illustrated chat during which participants present the ruin they wish to work with and the whole group can discuss ideas and potential creative directions). Session 4 – Thursday 4th of March of February (Zoom) Creative Writing Workshop, Garrett Carr (using examples from published writers and perhaps participants, Garrett will look at some creative writing techniques the participants may like to apply in their essays). Useful Date – Thursday 11th of March of February (Slack) Feedback opportunity, Garrett Carr (participants who submit their essays by this date will receive feedback on the work from Garrett before the final meeting). Final Meeting – Thursday 18th of March of February (Zoom) Reading, chat, Shauna McGowan and Garrett Carr (participants who wish to can read a short extract from their essay).
Period22 Feb 202129 Mar 2021
VisitingThe Ulster Museum
Degree of RecognitionRegional