‘Hunt and Gather’ – Interview with Alison O’Shea

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Hunt and Gather are one of Dublin’s most exciting creative communities. Their web editor, Alison O’Shea, tells us what they’re up to next and why you should get involved

Off the back of their last open submission print exhibition (“Bill Murray: Chasing the White Whale” in The Library Project), Hunt and Gather are hosting another. This time the theme is deceased celebs, and opens the floor to heartfelt homages, explorations of why celebrity is so important to us, and a chance to capture the essence those nostalgic romanticised deaths of those we loved but never knew. The exhibition takes place on November 28th in the unusual setting of an opticians, Molloy and Dowling on Kildare Street, and coincides with the launch of their website, which is dedicated to fostering creative communities around Dublin and turning ideas into realities.

This isn’t just a plug for the exhibition, although I do think it will be a bundle of fun, but I feel like explaining what will happen at the next event H&G are putting on is always the best way to get a feel for what the group really are. It sounds too broad and hollow to say that they’re fun and optimistic people who make things happen, but that’s exactly what it boils down to: they’re some of the people in this city putting the spark back under the creative pot that’s been simmering for too long. It’s easy to say that Dublin’s lost its creative edge when you’re not looking in the right places, and looking and discovering are what H&G are all about: bringing back that childlike sense of wonder of experiencing something new and exciting.

Recently H&G took part in a Dublin wide scavenger hunt with Totally Dublin, and again I feel it’s a good way to get across the heart of what H&G are trying to do. Dublin is so small, and everyone knows everyone. This can be totally stunting to taking risks, because it’s not like performing to strangers, it’s like performing to your acquaintances which, as anyone who’s ever performed or exhibited anything will know, is far more daunting. H&G are looking to banish that bashfulness, and help people realise that sharing our talents and knowledge with each other is how we make great things. Tell people about cool things you hear about: it’s the only way to give life to those things. It’s about shaking off that cynicism and notions of cool, and righteous exclusivity, and throwing yourself with optimism and commitment into an off-the-wall event with complete abandon. Come have a dinner party in the woods in eveningwear and elaborate costume, live a little.

Hunt and Gather are a group with a taste for mystery and an appreciation of the fantastic. Their events range from themed nights where you can be assured that everyone in attendance will be putting in the effort, high end dinner parties with entertainment and a schedule perfectly matched to the natural rhythm of an evening, to events like this exhibition, where the effect of reinvigorating Dublin’s creative scene can reap tangible benefits. These girls aren’t just making people excited about art and performance and spectacle, they’re helping to support the artists behind it.

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The profits from the sale of each print at their exhibitions are split 50/50 with the artists.  Similarly, at the Nuit Blanche market parties H&G have had in the past, ticket sales went straight to venue rental so artists could have a free space to sell their work. H&G know how to throw one hell of a bash, and their Christmas Dinners in two weeks’ time are sure to be divine, as will their New Year’s Eve Illuminati party, but I’ve always felt that  its in their support of Dublin’s struggling artists that they’ve really won my heart. Their aims just ooze out of everything they do, and it’s the sort of creative positivity that we need to get Dublin shaking once more.  Part of what makes the events so engaging is how obviously genuine they are: they’re done on a budget, they make the best use of space rather than being hosted in specialised venues, and they rely on the participation and enthusiasm of their attendees to really make them magic. Luckily that support seems to have been always there, just waiting to be called upon, because the crop of H&G attendees rank amongst the coolest and most sincere people in Dublin, and they’re just waiting for you to become one of them. So turn down that invitation to that club night you always go to even though you hate it, get dressed up, BYOB, and come live a night of wonder and suspended disbelief. Sometimes something a little out of the ordinary can remind you why Dublin isn’t all that bad after all.

Dead Celebrities

Hunt and Gather: Website / Facebook

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All photos courtesy of Hunt and Gather
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