Clonmel Applefest started in 2017 with the Apple Treasures research project by artists Theresia Guschlbauer and Lyn Mather, also known as the collaborative colective 2candoArts. The project was an investigation with Clonmel people and stakeholders into how apples, apple growing and cider making affected and influenced the town and its people and how this unique ecosystem and creative energy might be reactivated by artistic means in a beneficially meaningful way for Clonmel Town today.
In collaboration with filmmaker Eimear King and performer/writer Louise Garcia, they researched the apple growing traditions of Clonmel and over the summer 2017, interviewed numerous local people – including ex-Bulmers employees and apple orchard owners – and gathered stories and memories which were presented as part of the Apple Treasures exhibition and Tree trail for Culture Night.
SuirCan Community Forum from the outset endorsed this project for its envisioned contribution and value to developing Clonmel’s public amenity realm. The humble apple and its relationship to the bee could do much to raise the awareness and status of Clonmel and its environs as a unique destination and this vision of focusing on apples and bees could in due course benefit the region’s existing biodiversity, food and hospitality profile, even building the region’s international reputation.
The outcomes that 2canDo Arts had for this project were to place the arts and creativity centrally to the development of realisable ideas involving creative practitioners in conversation with the key stakeholders identified through this project.
2candoarts explored, mapped and diagramatised the vernacular culture associated with apple crushing and pressing, the gestures and smells, the sights and sounds, the activity that took place in the vicinity of the Friary where Bulmers used to manufacture their cider. Contributions of filmed footage, photos and stories from the collective of stakeholders and interest groups were collated.
The Apple Treasures project outcomes were designed to be as interactive as possible to allow all walks, young and old, to contribute. The exhibition was interactive and child-friendly, included school visits and apple-themed workshops.
The Apple Tree Trail was in-situ in the most public pedestrian street areas of Clonmel on Culture Night and throughout the weekend and following week. Each tree was decorated to represent a different apple theme which appealed to young and old.
A first set of 7 Apple Trees were planted as part of the Positive Mental Health Festival – with SuirCan and members of the public. Another set of 6 was planted in conjunction with Presentation Transition Year and 5th Class primary students. A further 12 were planted alongside the Greenway, in collaboration with the Tidy Towns committee in early 2018.