DCU commission three artists for community-engaged art as part of ANAM Arts and Culture Programme

Dublin City University (DCU) has commissioned three artists to create innovative new community-engaged art works including a film, a series of interactive sculptures, and a micro pocket park. Video Artist Cian Brennan, Visual Artist Helen Barry and Landscape Architect Sophie Von Maltzan were selected following an open call for proposals. 

The commissions are part of DCU’s ANAM Arts and Culture programme, which is focussed on supporting inclusive and community engaged Arts and Culture activities on DCU campuses and in the surrounding communities in north Dublin. The commissions are a collaboration with Dublin City Council, and are also funded by the Arts Council. 

With these commissions, the artists will explore the idea of ‘community’ in a post-pandemic world, while ensuring that the engagement element of their work is ‘COVID-proof’ and complies with public health restrictions. 

Commissioned Projects

Visual Artist Helen Barry’s project, titled ‘Tic-Tac-Hello’, will develop a series of interactive sculptures and games, to be installed in public spaces around north Dublin. They will be designed and created in collaboration with local secondary school students, participants in DCU’s Age Friendly University, Men’s Shed members and DCU staff. The creative process will find inspiration in DCU’s visual art collection. 

Helen Barry said, 

“It is wonderful to be engaged by a commissioning body that values connections between local neighbourhood and university communities. My ambition is to engage with these communities through intergenerational conversations which will inspire us to design and build public artworks that reflect and explore ways in how we can live, work and play together in a new ‘normal’ world.”

Sophie Von Maltzan’s project, titled “The space that is us”, involves the design and creation of a micro pocket park in collaboration with DCU academics and students, local school children and other community members. The aim is to deliver a community collaboration art project with a strong sense of active artistic engagement which will highlight DCU campuses as spaces for creativity. 

Sophie Von Maltzan said, 

“The pandemic is making even clearer to us how important our community and our neighbourhood parks are. I am very much looking forward to working with ANAM and DCU on and off campus community groups - engaging with and in nature, being outside, shaping your environment, becoming part of the environment through being part of creating it. The making of a micro pocket park with the community for the community.”

Video Artist Cian Brennan will produce a documentary film that gives voice to the people living and working in communities in and around DCU as they come to terms with the pandemic. By posing the simple question ‘How are you?’, the film will portray the diversity of experiences in the face of the common threat of COVID 19.

Cian Brennan said,

“I'm delighted and honoured to be included as part of the ANAM project. I hope to be able to make the best of this opportunity to engage with the broad community around DCU during this difficult time.”

Welcoming the announcement, DCU President Prof Daire Keogh said,

“At DCU, we recognise the crucial role that arts and culture play in university life, especially as we continue to come to terms with the stark realities of COVID-19. By encouraging creativity and engagement, these commissions will help to reinforce the strong sense of togetherness in DCU’s communities as we face the current difficulties. 

The awarding of these commissions is also an important signal of support for artists, as they navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Dublin City Arts Officer Ray Yeates said,

“‘It is significant to see a University of DCUs importance commission Artists. To position these Artists within the University’s local community will affirm the connection between creativity education and neighbourhood identity at a time when these activities and the values that underpin them are vital. Dublin City Council shares these values and is delighted to support this process.”


Pictured (l-r) Helen Barry, Sophie Von Maltzan, Cian Brennan