The Pamphlet Project

Where Sabotage interviews Marcella Morgan and Karen Dolan, founders of The Pamphlet Project, a Galway-based initiative bringing artists and poets together. To contact them, email  [email protected].

Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do?

My name’s Marcella Morgan and I’ve been living and writing in Galway for about three years. Karen Dolan has been enjoying Galway for the past number of years and has worked on a number of independent festivals. A few months ago myself and Karen set up The Pamphlet Project. The idea behind the project is that a poet and a visual artist collaborate to design a pamphlet – one A4 sheet – which will be distributed free in cafes and pubs around Galway. We launched of our first pamphlet in April and we’re planning to print a new design each month for a year, and see where it goes from there.

What was the inspiration behind the Pamphlet Project? How did your initial plans for it shift?

There were a lot of ideas behind the project, but they all centred on building and connecting communities. There is a strong creative community already here in Galway, and we wanted to add to it by giving new writers and designers a means of publishing and exhibiting their work.

We also wanted to help build connections between artists working in different mediums by giving visual artists and poets an opportunity to work together. I think that there is something special about the way people interact when they’re working on a creative project. It’s a wonderful way of bringing people together. Very often writers and artists work alone and we wanted to create a safe space where they could share ideas and have others respond to their work in a constructive way.

We’re also hoping that by distributing the pamphlet in cafes, pubs and public spaces we’ll help to reach an audience that mightn’t otherwise get involved in the arts community. We want to involve as many people in the project as we can, and we’ve been delighted with the response we’ve gotten form local businesses who have offered to sponsor us.

Was it a conscious decision to keep the Pamphlet Project local to Galway, or are there plans afoot to spread it to other cities?

What we’re doing now focuses on close collaboration between local artists, but we’d love to organise collaborations between people living in different cities, even countries. For example, a London poet might collaborate with a Dublin artist, or a Galwegian artist might collaborate with a Parisian poet.

From the pictures on your facebook page it seems that visuals play as big a part as the words in the pamphlets, one of the pamphlet appears to have another function as a mask for instance, how do the collaborations function?

We really wanted the collaborations to be about more than just printing a poem beside an image. We were hoping that the artist and poet would work closely together, and that the final design would take shape as they responded to each other. We’re delighted that this has happened with the first two designs. Both pairs sat down together and came up with a concept and the words and the artwork developed from there.

One of the things we talked about a lot was whether a genuine collaboration between an artist and a poet was possible. We wondered whether one medium would always take precedence, so that we would end up with illustrated poems and described images. But it seems so far that the poets and the artists have mutually inspired each other.

What kind of writers are you looking for for your pamphlets?

We’re looking for all kinds of writers and all kinds of visual artists, and we’re particularly looking for new ideas. The brief for the project is that the design evolves from a collaboration between a poet and a visual artist, and it’s printed on an A4 sheet. But we want the artists involved to take that brief as far as they can. We’ll do our best to make their ideas happen.

Any future projects?

We have loads of plans for future projects. We’re organising poetry busking events this summer which will see slam poetry and open mics brought to the streets, we’re planning an event during the Super8 Shots film festival here in Galway, we’re hoping to form more links with community groups and work with them to distribute their work, and we’re working towards an end of year exhibition and publication.