Re-Imagining Dublin Port | Cassandra Voices

Re-Imagining Dublin Port


I’m a filmmaker and Kerry based farmer, currently on a residency at the Fire Station Artists’ Studios in the heart of the city for the next two years. I’m very familiar with Dublin, and it’s fair to say it’s my second home since I came to Ireland in 1981.

I will also be heading to the bothy project (Sweeney’s Bothy) in Scotland in January as part of my research. This is on Eigg, and the island is owned by the community and completely self-sustaining (Eigg Electric).

My research will focus on the concept of dematerialisation in urban environments. The idea is to explore how cities can become more sustainable, efficient, and culturally enriched by re-imagining the use of physical materials and objects. This concept may be aspirational, but I think that is the artist’s privilege.

I cycle to the South Wall, through the docks, past the sewerage treatment plant, incinerator and power station almost every day for a swim. You cannot ignore that the city’s waste is not managed properly, the stench and volume of overflow is there to be seen by everyone.

Moving the port and repurposing the land offers tremendous possibilities, it is obvious when cycling through it. I wish, however, that this vision could be taken even further by considering innovative ideas such as transforming Poolbeg into a cultural hub akin to the Tate Modern in London.

This could not only celebrate art and culture but also serve as a focal point for sustainable energy and food production using recycled waste.

It seems to be that waste management in general in Dublin is oversubscribed and under serviced. There is a saying in farming “where there’s muck, there’s money” and I firmly believe this. People need to face up to their sh!t, people who clean it up should be rewarded more – it shouldn’t be such a dirty job!

There is ample opportunity to reimagine waste management in a way that is both enjoyable, productive and eco-friendly. By making waste management a clean and fun part of everyday life, we can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable city, it is in fact a no brainer. Why are there no communal gardens?

In my opinion there should be an emphasis on high-rise, high-density living – with greater emphasis on rewilding and natural green spaces to keep people, and their dogs happy. By incorporating such features into the redevelopment plans, we can create a dynamic and efficient urban landscape that embraces modern living while reducing our environmental footprint.

I believe there should be more imaginative thinking and bold ideas in urban development. The transformation of Dublin Port would be a significant step in the right direction, but I think the exploration of additional creative possibilities could make our city a more vibrant, sustainable, and enjoyable place to live.

I hope Dublin can evolve into a city that embraces innovation and imagination, it has everything going for it.


About Author

Mieke Vanmechelen lived in the polders of Zeeland-Flanders, where her father was a shepherd until 1981. Her family moved to a farm on the Beara Peninsula, where she is still based. She holds a BA from Trinity College Dublin (1996) and an MA from Crawford College of Art and Design (2014). Her film practice involves an embedded investigative process and her methodology forms part of the explorations of subjectivity, reflexivity and the role of the cinema subject within her work. A recurring theme is the interdependence of humans, animals and their environment. Recent screenings include: ‘Home, Being and Belonging in Contemporary Ireland’, Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2021); CutLog Moving Image, SSA+VAS OPEN, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2021); ‘Like A Mouse’ (with Michael Holly), Chicago Underground Film Festival (2021) and Achill Island Film Festival (2022); ‘Home from Home’, Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2020); Open Submission, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda (2020); CutLog Moving Image, SSA+VAS OPEN, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2020); RAGFF New York (2020). Recent awards include Kerry Filmmaker in Residence (2022), Arts Council Film Project Award (2021), FSAS Digital Media Bursary and Residency Award (2021), Arts Council Film Bursary (2020), Arts Council Professional Development Award (2020) and Kerry County Council Creative Work Development Bursary (2020).

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