A Place For A Quiet Conversation

by sarahartonsherkin

Glittery Embrace was a temporary ‘loitering platform’ built in Callan, Co.Kilkenny.

Faced with a lack of alternatives teenagers are often drawn to overlooked, overgrown and forgotten spaces to find a territory that they can claim as their own. In Callan we noticed that the town’s teenagers had a pattern of collecting at the river side site of a small sewage pumping station.  In the lethargic days of summer, in a place where others rarely looked, the teenagers had found somewhere that was at once a refuge and a watchtower.

Over three days, in August 2010, we set about temporarily re-imagining this overlooked sewage pumping station as a picturesque viewing point. The platform was constructed in situ on a budget of €1,000 by Callan based carpenter Paddy Phelan and with the kind assistance of James Kennedy, Dominic Lavelle and Nicky Rackard.

Tied back into the existing concrete pumping station the charred timber platform gently expands out over the river.  During its temporary life Glittery Embrace was well used by the town’s young people – a gathering place before nights out, a hurling practice ground, a place to eat chips, to dangle your feet over the river, a place for a quiet conversation. The platform glowed from within at night, turning necessary utility (a sewage pump house) into a place for encounters.

Situated at the end of Callan’s oldest medieval street (Clodeen Lane) and the lowest crossing point of the river the platform proposed a viewpoint in which teenagers are seen as expert users of public space who often identify valuable potential and possibility. There is much we can learn from the practice of ‘loitering’.

The ‘Glittery Embrace Loitering Platform’ was part of ‘Commonage’. Commonage 2010 was an exhibition in Callan Co.Kilkenny and was co-curated by Jo Anne Butler and Tara Kennedy (Culturstruction) with Rosie Lynch. For more see commonagecallan.com.

This project was funded by the Arts Council.

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