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Responding to the Old Man’s House: Reflections on the Two Suitcases Project 2015

On this year’s Two Suitcases film project, members of CanTeen, the national agency supporting teens affected by cancer, engaged with the history of Royal Hospital Kilmainham and the stories of the military veterans who lived there, developing a series of film pieces on the themes of hospital, hospitality and institutionalisation.

For this year’s project, we particularly wanted to explore new approaches to filmmaking, including experimental and visual arts approaches.

Find and Capture
Introductory workshop: May 2015
Participants were given a list of unusual items to capture on camera. From Darwin’s theory of Evolution (something that changes), to a shadow behind a swinging door (something that is barely there), the young people came up with innovative ways of rethinking what was around them.

“Something Alone” (film still, intro workshop)

“Something Alone” (film still)

"Something that changes"  (film still, intro workshop)

“Something that changes” (film still)








A lab of altered viewing 
Experimental film workshop led by visual artist Louise Manifold: July 2015, Monaghan
With the Surrealists and Alice in Wonderland for inspiration, the young people created collages, miniature worlds and text-based artworks. Hospital and medical supplies, removed from their often scary connotations in the clinical environment, became objects of fun to work with. With the emphasis on ‘thinking through making’ Polaroid cameras were used to create tangible manifestations of the work. The day included a Surrealist Art Fair where participants discussed the ideas behind their work.

Little Alice, shot on Polaroid

Little Alice fell down the hole, bumped her head and bruised her soul…

Miniature Worlds shot on Polaroid

Miniature Worlds shot on Polaroid














Old Country

Photographing Miniature Worlds

Explorer's suitcase - smoke and mirrors






Wonderland Disgraced R.I.P. Shamiss

The Unknown Soldier








Old Man’s House
Film camp: August 2015, Irish Museum of Modern Art
Developing parallel to discourses on the Decade of Commemoration, the film camp was inspired by the ‘Old Man’s House’, an OPW exhibition exploring the history of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. CanTeen members took part in an interactive museum trail to engage with the history of the hospital and to interpret artistically ideas of hospital, hospitality, institutionalisation and wellbeing. The teenagers then created a series of film pieces, drawing on the stories of the veterans who resided at the hospital as well as their own experiences of hospitalisation/ hospitality.

Two Suitcases Project, IMMA, 2015. Photo credit: Joanne Dunne.

Film camp at IMMA 2015









The fact that you’re able to do both [acting and camera work] is amazing … When you’re not acting in a film, they’re like “Do you want to do camera work?” and you automatically say yes.
– 18 year old participant

In one of the activities we went into pairs and we had to come up with dialogue between two characters to do with hospitality or when you were in hospital. My acting partner, one time she had to stay in hospital for Halloween and she was annoyed and she stayed in her Halloween costume … so we kind of used that [for inspiration].’ – 16 year old participant

Film camp at IMMA 2015Film camp at IMMA 2015

Film camp at IMMA 2015







Family promenade day at IMMA: Spring 2016
Keep an eye out for details on our promenade event. Visitors will be given trail maps to seek out short film pieces throughout the grounds of IMMA made by participants on this year’s project.

The Two Suitcases Project 2015 was managed by Emma Eager and led by collaborative artist Siobhan Clancy with filmmakers Alan Brennan and Alan Leonard, writer Ben Murnane and visual artist Louise Manifold. We were delighted to welcome back Two Suitcases alumni Stephen O’Driscoll and Eoghan McConnell who took part as volunteer mentors.

The Two Suitcases Project 2015 is produced by Helium Arts in partnership with CanTeen Ireland and in association with the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The project is funded by The Arts Council, The Ireland Funds, the Cork Street Fund, the Irish Games Association, Allianz and the Civil Service Credit Union. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Norma Walsh O’Driscoll and the Office of Public Works.

Photography at IMMA: Joanne Dunne



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