Tuesday August 20, 2019

Science Gallery Dublin is excited to announce that with the support of Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme, we are seeking to commission up to four artworks to be exhibited during 2020 as part of our PLASTIC national programme.

PLASTIC will explore the materiality and life cycle of plastic as well as it’s innovations and essential use in our everyday lives. It is essential but polluting. It saves lives, yet it chokes our oceans. It’s cheap to create but expensive to dispose of. It can last forever, but is often used only once. PLASTIC has changed our daily lives and our environment more than any other material. We can’t live without it but living with it might not be an option for much longer. Can we utilise this wonderful, terrible material, and can we fundamentally change our approach to living with PLASTIC?

With the support of SFI, Science Gallery Dublin is embarking on one of its most ambitious projects yet – not only will PLASTIC be shown in Science Gallery Dublin from October 2019 to February 2020, it will then tour nationally to four locations throughout the remainder of 2020. These locations are Drogheda, Letterkenny, Wexford town and Co. Galway.

As part of this project, Science Gallery Dublin will facilitate local participation by commissioning an artist to work with communities in these four locations, and in each case to co-design an artwork which will be shown as part of the PLASTIC exhibition in that location. The co-designed artworks should reflect the local sense of cultural history, place and the relationship between people and their environment.

We are seeking proposals for original exhibits that can be further shaped with a local community in one of these four locations. The initial proposed idea should build on an applicant’s previous work and connect in some way with one or more of these topics:

– Material Science / Textiles / Bioplastics+Biopolymers
– Global environmental inequity / Endocrine disruptors / Microplastics
– Disposal / Recycling / Biodegradation / Life Cycle Analysis
– Innovative Uses of Plastics, Especially Medical Devices / Petrochemical Alternatives
– Plastics/Polymers in Art
– Policy solutions / Collective vs Individual Action / Industry reform
– Cultures of Reuse, Modification and Repair / Slow Design / Design Solutions to Single-use Culture
– Plastics Proliferation (e.g. ocean gyres, trophic levels, freshwater treatment) / Beach Cleanups
– Post-Oil Economies & Cultures / Re-Use of Oil Infrastructure / New Trading Dynamics + Global Material Flows
Applicants can be artists, designers, producers or other creative practitioners and while we are open to all proposals, we have found that defying categories is good  – for example, “it’s kind of a hybrid sculpture, installation-puzzle, with a crowdsourced edible citizen-science archive, plus a performance component that will showcase a speculative future organism…” is the kind of thing that we are looking for.

We are seeking one artist for all 4 locations or one artist for each individual location.

The timeline is:

Co-Creation phase 1:
  • To be held in Oct/Nov for Wexford & Drogheda
  • Presentation of work Feb 4th
Co-Creation phase 2:
  • To be held in Feb for Donegal & Galway
  • Presentation of work June 1st
  • Autumn / Winter 2020
Successful applicants will articulate why and how they would collaborate through a co-design process with the local community in developing work around the theme of PLASTIC. Facilitation of this process will be carried out in each of the four locations (Drogheda, Galway, Letterkenny, Wexford) with support from Science Gallery Dublin staff. The tour venues, regional arts offices, local schools and youth organisations will promote the project and aid in the recruitment of participants for the co-design workshops. The resulting work will be shown as part of the PLASTIC touring exhibition in the local host venue. Awards of up to €6,000 in funding per piece will be offered, plus mentoring, consultancy and advice from expert scientists, and insider access to data and/or research labs where possible.
Through this open call,  we will select artists for each of the four locations – you may, however, apply to be considered for more than one location. Please specify in your application if you would like to apply for one specific location, and if so which one. If you would like to apply for more than one (you may even apply for all four) – please state that clearly on your application. We will look at applications for both individual and multiple pieces as in artists could apply to create one piece for one location or four pieces for all locations.
Application process
To apply, please send a portfolio demonstrating your work and prior experience in community-based or socially-engaged arts practice.  Please ensure this is a .pdf file that is no more than four pages, and no larger than 15 MB. Please send your proposal to with the subject line PLASTIC COMMISSION by 13:00 on the 5th of September, 2019.  Your application can contain images, and should contain the following elements:
Project approach
Provide a brief description of your how you would approach the co-design project, and explain how it relates to the theme of PLASTIC. Remember to outline any unusual technical or physical requirements.
Thematic connection
Please outline how your project relates to PLASTIC. E.g. recycling, alternative materials, bioplastics etc
Please outline your proposed budget, up to a maximum of €6,000 per piece.
Any other information 
If you’re unsure about an aspect of your proposal, please get in touch with us on email at


PLASTIC is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Discover Programme