THE COMMUNITY FIELD
The Community Field is an ongoing cultural project since 2012, a social space and activation site that enables new rural subjectivities to emerge. It is an active testing ground for artistic, curatorial and pedagogical knowledge transference which provides a ‘space’ for dialogical exchange, reflection, modification, and translation of knowledge. A space where the vernacular voice can operate on both local and global scales, allowing for broader questions to be asked about the critical role played by the rural, not only in terms of sustainable development but, in terms of our apprehension of the rural as ‘postrural’. It is this ‘perceptible/conceptual space’, that shifts the material sphere of the locality to the more dematerialized realm of ‘mental space’ that informs this inquiry.
The Community Field is set in the rural upland region of northeast Co. Kilkenny, an area that reaches an altitude of 1000 ft. near Castlewarren village. Formally known as ‘The Sports Field’ it comprises of a 2.5acre field bought in 1980’s through local fund-raising initiatives. It is publically owned by the community and governed by a board of three Trustees: Eugene O’Sullivan, T.J. McDonald and Mattie Corr Jnr. and managed by The Castlewarren Cultural Development Group set up in conjunction with artist Pauline O’Connell in 2014.
As fields were borrowed from local farmers for its infamous Field Days’ held each summer since 1950’s, a concerted community effort was made in terms of fundraising and The Community Field (as it is known today) was purchased in 1980’s for this purpose. Originally governed by the Athletics Club, whose aim it was to set up a place that could meet the needs of both the local and more widespread population, the Sports Field lay dormant until 2012 when it was reactivated through a project Heave-Ho by artist Pauline O’Connell.
In two parts Heave-Ho, An Invitation to Community and Heave-Ho, Pub Pulling League was informed by archival research relating to the rural past-times: looking at the history of rural games and at how people met in the rural context. It focused on the history of a local Tug O’ War team from Coan, who should have won the All Ireland Tug O’ War Championship in 1971, but didn’t.
See: Heave-Ho for more details about the project.