The Playground Project - VISUAL

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art &
The George Bernard Shaw Theatre

The Playground Project

Ground Floor Galleries

11 Feb - 21 May 2017 |

Includes work by Rhona Byrne,Tom Watt and Eva Rothschild
This exhibition has been realised in collaboration with Kunsthalle Zurich, Switzerland.

For spring the ground floor galleries at VISUAL will be transformed into an indoor playground exploring play and a recent history of playgrounds.

Until the 1980s—and in rare cases until today—playgrounds were places for social experiments, risky projects, and spectacular sculptures. Architects, urban planners, artists, parents, and children were invited to leave their comfort zone and to venture something new. Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter, The Playground Project will bring many of these exemplary, but nowadays forgotten initiatives, pioneering acts, and adventures back, and install three playgrounds in teh galleries for children to run, hide and climb.

The playground is a byproduct of the industrialized city of the twentieth century, and a focal point for ideas about education and childhood, about urban planning and public space, about architecture and art, about creativity and control. There have been four paradigm shifts in the development of the playground in the course of the last 150 years. First, at the beginning of the twentieth century, social reformers took children off the street and onto the playground. Then, at the beginning of the 1930s, the idea arose that children should play with natural materials rather than playground equipment. In the 1960s, the decade of autonomy and do-it-yourself, parents, children, and neighborhood groups began to take charge of playgrounds themselves. Finally, in the 1980s, with the end of social and political utopias, a crisis in playground design began. Today, a new pioneering spirit is being generated by young architects, artists, collectives, and activists.

With Marjory Allen (Lady Allen of Hurtwood), Joseph Brown, Waldemar Cordeiro, Riccardo Dalisi, Richard Dattner, Aldo van Eyck, M. Paul Friedberg, Michael Grossert, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Alfred Ledermann, Bernhard Luginbühl, Yvan Pestalozzi, Group Ludic, Egon Møller-Nielsen, Palle Nielsen, Isamu Noguchi, Niki de Saint Phalle, Josef Schagerl, Mitsuru (Man) Senda, Carl Theodor Sørensen, Alfred Trachsel. For VISUAL this exhibition includes work by Rhona Byrne, Eva Rothschild and Tom Watt.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog: The Playground Project, edited by Gabriela Burkhalter, with contributions by Daniel Baumann, Gabriela Burkhalter, Vincent Romagny, Sreejata Roy, and Xavier de la Salle, German / English, Kunsthalle Zürich / JRP|Ringier 2016.

The Playground Project is a touring exhibition, curated by Urban Planner Gabriela Burkthaler. It has been realised and adapted for VISUAL in cooperation with Kunsthalle Zürich.

The Playground Project, Installation photographs Ros Kavanagh copyright VISUAL 2017

Associated Events, workshops and symposium

The Playbook

For this season, artist Steven Aylin has created a free playbook for the exhibition featuring games and activities to do at home, school and inside/outside the VISUAL galleries. The playbook includes contributions by play expert Dr Jackie Bourke and has been created with the support of County Carlow Sports Partnership.

The playbook is available to download from;

Research at VISUAL

Why is play important? How do we plan for play and recreation in our towns? Where is the "centre" of Carlow town and how do people feel about it ? How might our understanding of play and planning make everyday life better ? How do we get actively involved in our towns ? How do we communcate it ?

These are just some of the questions that are being researched through this season. Join in via our Play Time Symposium or explore research projects by 3rd level students from School of Architecture, Dublin Institute of Technology; DesignCORE Research Centre, Institute of Technology Carlow; and Visual communications, Waterford Institute of Technology. Project outcomes will be displayed in the Studio Gallery during the season, with lots of opportunities to contribute to the discussions.

Join Festival

Thurs 31s March - Sun 2nd April

This weekend-long festival celebrates active citizenship and the many ways we can 'join in' to help shape our world - whether through culture, sport or volunteering. There are lots of fun and free events, including creative workshops in drawing, writing and acting, town tours, a town planning challenge, pop-up exhibitions, an inspiring Carlow volunteering evening and a family fun day with games, treasure hunts, kite flying, make and do, and lots more!! With thanks to our partners in Carlow Sports Partnership and Carlow Libraries. Pop in to us to pick up a brochure or look out for our posters in town with the line-up of events.

Family Play Dates: Family Art Workshops

Sun 26th Feb, Sun 26th March, Sat 1st & Sun 2nd April, Sun 30th April, Sun 21st May 3.00pm-4.30pm, €5 per person 10€ per family

What would your perfect playground look like? Imagine, Design and build your own playground! Materials are included, suitable for ages 4-12. Parents and guardians must remain with their children.

School PlayDates

Monday- Fridays throughout the season

This exhibition is also a playground! Teachers and their pupils are invited to play freely within the exhibition and explore the importance of play. Workshops will include a design project where pupils imagine and build model play spaces for public. Facilitated by Mairead Kealy- schools must book a week in advance and cost €3 per pupils, which includes Playbook to take home.

Senior Cycle Workshops

In-depth explorations and behind- the-scenes views of how the exhibition programme is built within the galleries. We have flexible times during schools hours so please ring Box Office on 059 9172400 to book a class in.

Play Time Symposium

TBC early May, 10am-5pm, €15

A day of talks and workshops on the value of facilitating play within our public social spaces, and the relationship between play and urban design. includes ppresentations by Curator Gabriela Burkthaler, Dr. Jackie Bourke, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Cleo Fagan Superprojects, Martha Jane Duggan of Carlow Sports Partnership and artist Tom Watt.