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Earth Institute member Alma Clavin awarded Creative Ireland Climate Action grant for Repair Acts Ireland project

Published: Friday, 10 June, 2022
Repair Acts Storytelling Workshop
Repair Acts Ireland Workshop with Professional Storyteller Orla McGovern, St. James' Hall, Kilbeggan, 25 May 2022.


Earth Institute member, Alma Clavin has been awarded a Creative Ireland Climate Action grant. The project is called Repair Acts Ireland. Working alongside artist and academic Teresa Dillon, the aim of the work is to foster more vibrant repair cultures in Ireland, starting in County Westmeath. 

Phase one of the project involved mapping histories and heritages of repair. Phase two involves the development of storytelling techniques to support people to articulate their ideas and experiences of how things were repaired in the past and how things are currently repaired. The final phase involves thinking about the future and co-building, with communities, Ireland’s first Repair Declaration. This is a set of statements, actions and demands that we can get behind at a local and national level that will help us think more about how we can repair stuff. The three project phases are described in more detail below.

In thinking through past repair, Repair Acts Ireland have carried out archival research using trade directories, newspapers and local history texts. They have found that access to repair businesses in towns and villages in Westmeath has decreased and the breadth and diversity of repair business and practices has also decreased. The Repair Acts Ireland team examined over 1500 repair businesses and practices that were active in the county since the early twentieth century and identified a clear transition from repair being part of everyday activities in our towns and villages, to something that is only carried out occasionally.

This has implications, not just for the waste that enters landfill and incinerators but also for how people use our town and village centres. To support this archival work, the Repair Acts Ireland Team are carrying out storytelling workshops to provide an opportunity for people to remember and vocalise how things have been repaired in the past. In addition, they are producing a short documentary film highlighting the repair crafts and skills that still exist, from thatching roofs; tin smithing; stone masonry to clothes mending.

Focusing on the present the Repair Acts Ireland ‘Right to Repair’ reflects an upcoming European Commission proposal planned for later in 2022. Currently EU consumers do have a right to have faulty products repaired free of charge during the legal guarantee period. The Commission is further planning a number of initiatives to improve repairability of products, including legislation on the right to repair, and on empowering consumers to seek out repair, making the broader local and economic context more favourable for repair to happen.

Repair Action logo
Credit: Teresa Dillon

The Repair Acts Ireland team will be collecting aspirational statements for how to foster more local repair mindsets in towns, villages and neighbourhoods. The group will be crowd-sourcing statements from across Ireland in order to build Ireland’s First Repair Declaration, which will be launching as part of International Repair Day on 15th October 2022. Through ongoing Storytelling workshops we will continue to support people to articulate their repair needs and discuss any deficits, skills loss and future repair imaginaries.

Speculating on future repair imaginaries and how we will repair objects in the future, a site-based installation, including new video art works will be exhibited along with other elements of the project in the Westmeath town of Kilbeggan, County Westmeath on 3-6th Nov 2022.

Throughout the project there is an ambition to collect 1,000 stories of everyday repair from across Ireland, building the people’s archive of everyday repaired objects. This will be achieved through the project website, which launched in April 2022. Using the project website you can upload an image of an object you have repaired (e.g. clothing, furniture, farm machinery, toys etc.) and tag it with information about the repair, including cost, motivations and reason for the repair. These stories will become part of a contemporary repository of objects that will be exhibited as part of a final exhibition and installation in November 2022.

Repair Acts, Ireland is supported by Westmeath County Council, Environmental Awareness and Heritage Officer and the Public Participatory Network (PPN). Repair Acts Ireland is one of 16 projects funded by Creative Ireland through its Creative Climate Action fund, the purpose of which is to support creative, cultural and artistic projects that build awareness around climate change and empower citizens to make meaningful behavioural changes.

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