Project Type:
Artist in the community, Youth Engagement

Artists :
Martin Corr, Mary Branley, Kiera O'Toole, Andy Parsons

Phase 1: Oct-Dec 2019, Phase 2: Nov-Dec 2020 Phase 3: July-Aug 2021

Participant Group :
LGBTI+ young people in County Sligo, members of the SMILY LGBTI+ youth group in Sligo

SMILY LGBTI+ youth group Sligo, Youth Work Ireland North Connaught

LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

LGBTI+ Project

This three phase project focuses on creative engagement and exploration and gives LGBTI+ young people the opportunity to explore issues of importance to their lives through artwork and writing. We were delighted to receive funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs as part of their LGBTQI+ Youth Strategy. This is the world’s first strategy which recognises that young LGBTI+ people can flourish when they have consistently positive interactions with those around them and supportive experiences in the services with which they most engage.

One of the aims of this project is to ensure that LGBTI+ youth voices have a platform in the development of  LGBTI+ youth services. We are in the process of developing a book which will be published in late Spring 2022.

In Summer 2021, Kids’ Own was delighted to work with the SMILY LGBTQIA+ group in Sligo and Leitrim (part of Youth Work Ireland North Connaught) in the third phase of this creative project.

Participants worked with writer Mary Branley and artist Andy Parsons in an intensive series of workshops to develop artwork and writing that reflects their lived experience. The workshops took place at the outdoor space at Penny Café at the Yeats’ Society in Sligo.

Participants worked with artist Andy to create large-scale self-portraits that moved away from representational art, instead finding different ways to represent themselves. To do this, the group used unusual tools such as mops, as well as more traditional means! In later workshops, the young people began to experiment with making three dimensional objects, to continue this thinking. The young people engaged in conversation with each other and with writer Mary Branley, putting their thoughts and experiences into words which will form part of the book.

Painting by participant in summer workshop 2021.

‘We’re all different in form, but equal in value’

– Participant, LGBTI+ Youth project

In Winter 2020, we started the second phase of this project where a new group of young people worked with writer Mary Branley, artist Andy Parsons and graphic designer Martin Corr. The group explored themes of gender and sexuality creating strong visual messages and powerful imagery around LGBTQI+ issues in response to the national LGTBQI+ youth strategy.

Collage by participant LGBTI+ Project with Kids Own and SMILY

In the first phase of this project, young people worked alongside artist Kiera O’Toole and writer Mary Branley to explore diverse issues through the use of different art media and materials and text. Participants developed a series of vibrant collages based on their lived experiences.

‘…that’s what it’s like for LGBT young people, always in the storm. Even in the eye of the storm there’s no calm.’

– Participant, LGBTI+ Youth project