Siamsa Tíre

How Big is Zoë‘s Footprint?

How Big is Zoë‘s Footprint?

That’s Zoë’s carbon footprint we’re talking about and we're measuring it throughout her residency.

This year’s visual arts residency is looking at climate change and how this might affect communities living in coastal areas, like Kerry.  Zoë Uí Fhaoláin Green is Siamsa Tíre’s artist-in-residence for 2019 and as part of her residency she is talking to and engaging with people in Tralee and further afield to find out what their thoughts are on how we could adapt to climate change.

We were conscious from the beginning that we should be true to the theme of the residency and part of this meant measuring Zoë’s carbon footprint throughout the project. Zoë lives in Dingle and is committed to spending a certain number of hours in Siamsa Tíre as part of her time with us.   As the Visual Arts Curator, I wanted to work with Zoë to see what we could do to minimise her environmental impact.  So, from the very beginning we factored her carbon footprint into our calculations.

As I live near Dingle, we tried to co-ordinate some of Zoë’s days in Dingle with the days that I work in Tralee.  I drive an electric car which minimised my carbon footprint – and hers.  This meant that only my journey to collect Zoe represented additional carbon emissions.  If Zoë took the bus or car-shared with others, this reduced her tally of carbon further.  Finally, we tried to fit Zoë’s days in Siamsa Tíre around other journeys in her schedule to avoid additional unique journeys dedicated just to the residency.  Zoë also plans to stay overnight in Tralee occasionally during the residency.  At the same time, we needed to be realistic and accept that there would be days when her only option would be to drive to Tralee.

The residency also allows an artist to work on the project remotely.  We ask only that the artist spends 24hours per fortnight in the building, allowing them to develop their ideas nearer to their home base.

So how did we do? 

In the first three weeks of the residency, Zoë made 10 journeys to Tralee.  Of these, only two were journeys that she undertook by herself uniquely for the purposes of the residency in a diesel car.  All of the other eight journeys either co-incided with other trips, were car-shares (often with an electric car user) or used public transport.  Her total carbon footprint if she had made those ten journeys without any thought for her carbon footprint would have been 103 kilos of carbon emissions.  As it was, she saved over 73 kilos, leaving the final total at just over 30 kilos of carbon emissions.  That included a seven kilometre walk to Blennerville and back rather than drive.

All of this is small stuff when faced with the challenge of climate change.  But it does serve to show that it’s possible to reduce our carbon footprint if we do things a little differently.  Siamsa Tíre is committed to an ongoing reduction in its carbon footprint and overall environmental impacts, and this residency helps to highlight how we might address the challenge ahead, creatively and practically.

Stay in touch with our social media platforms for further updates on Zoë's residency.

Catríona Fallon (Visual Arts Curator)

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