by Nathan O’Donnell
On another of our early schoolroom sessions, I asked the students to design an imaginary centre for play on the street where they lived. I asked them what their centre would be made from, what materials would they use. One boy said he would like a sports centre on Buckingham Street. He wanted astro turf, netting for goalposts. It was not the only time he mentioned this idea. It came up several times in different ways through different exercises. I mentioned it to the teacher, who nodded in recognition. The sports centre, she said. The authorities had been promising it for years. There had been a planning process; they had even designated a site. But the plans had been torpedoed by the housing crisis. The site had been reclaimed for housing. This boy couldn’t seem to let it go. What he wanted was not some imaginary idealised space. It was simply the fulfilment of the city’s promise.
We thought, at one point, that we might convey the findings of this project, not as a publication, but as a single strip of astro turf, simple as that: the plain, material articulation of a child’s straightforward modest demand for somewhere just to play.
This publication was produced through an Education and Learning Commission by Dublin City Arts Office with support from the Arts Council of Ireland.