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Rag and Bone

feat Martin Carter

A passion for recycling is evident in Martin’s artistic practise and his community work. Providing practical, creative and entertaining solutions to problems, physical or social, is the basis of Martin’s work. The ‘Rag-and-Bone’ man is an old term for a junk dealer. The phrase referred to an individual who would travel the streets with a horse drawn cart calling for household’s waste and scrap to be turned into reusable or resalable items.  Before automotive transport they were an impor- tant part of society since householders had limit- ed ability to travel to collection points. They would use a distinctive call to alert householders to their presence and often tied balloons to their cart to give to the neighbourhood children in exchange for the unwanted items.  The rag and bone men were recycling long before the act became a government initiative.  They were last seen in Belfast around 40 years ago. This project combines the 2 main elements of Martin’s practise, creative recycling and community development.  The project is aimed at specific areas of Belfast, the older communities, places where the artist grew up and which have become increasingly rundown. Martin constructed a cart from recycled wood and metal.  This was teamed with Dandy the horse and Martin himself as the Rag and Bone man.  For 3 weeks in September, the communities involved were witness to the spectacle of the rag and bone man doing his rounds.  For the older members of the community, reviving memories while for the children it was an entirely new and unexpected intervention into their familiar surroundings.

The rag and bone man’s travels were documented and edited in to a short film by artist Seamus Harahan and screened at Catalyst Arts at the end of the project.  Members of the communities involved were invited to attend along with the wider Belfast community. The items collected by the rag and bone man were displayed in a temporary charity shop in the gallery space, available for visitors to swap or take away.

Rag and Bone | 2007 | 2007, Archive, The 00s | Tags: , | Comments (0)

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