Life Hacks Project | Youth led, visual art interventions in North Ayrshire

The premise of the Life Hacks project was simple, make some life affirming artwork with young people in North Ayrshire. The artwork would be made for public spaces and involve young people from across the region. It would be fun. It would have their interests and ideas at the heart of the project and be facilitated by with professional artists. The artwork created would be exhibited.

Life Hacks Project, Alpaca wire drawing, photo by project participant, Eglinton Park, 2021

We looked at art from the national collection, posted hundreds of packs with art materials to young people, ran 40 zoom workshops and tried lots of in-person activities, including growing plants to make ink, drawing alpacas from life, building an outdoor studio featuring an Arabic setting seating area, from pallets, and creating a series of proposals for public artworks.

Proposal for Pilot House, collage and ink on A0 photograph, Irvine Beach, Kane Norton, 2021

We worked with around 20 artists and over 400 young people, eventually settling on an activity that everyone who tried it, enjoyed, and found they could easily engage with.

The final artworks produced on the project evolved from discussions we had with artist Iman Tajik relating to a performance video work of Tajik’s, A to B, that illustrates the frustrating effects of borders and barriers created by people, between people.

Ribbon Sculpture at Eglinton Park, Kane Norton and Iman Tajik, 2021

For our versions we invited young people to use colourful biodegradable ribbons and tapes, to create huge temporary installations, very quickly. We transformed places, objects and people with bright lines, fixing people to structures and making three dimensional scribbles on the landscape.

Meaning was created in doing. Making the Ribbon Sculptures gave participants the opportunity to spend time together, often outside, and prompted conversations about social and personal barriers or ties, nature, and the complicated history of the places we were in. The images we created referenced important artworks from the history of art, from historical crucifixion paintings right through to contemporary installations.

Life Hacks Project, Tape installation, Irvine Royal Academy, Neve Robertson, 2022
Life Hacks Project, Tape installation, Irvine Royal Academy, Neve Robertson, 2022
Life Hacks Project, Tape installation, Irvine Royal Academy, 2022
Life Hacks Project, Eglinton Park, Eoin Carey, 2022

Watch the creation of the Ribbon Sculpture in Eglington Park

Iman Tajik and Eoin Carey. 2022

The final ‘Ribbon Sculptures' were created in Eglinton and Bourtreehill Parks. They were photographed by the young people and professionally by Eoin Carey and reproduced as 3 metre by 2 metre light boxes for display in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and in locations across North Ayrshire.

Life Hacks Project, Eglinton Park, photo by participant, 2022

The Ribbon Sculpture lightboxes are being displayed in the exhibition, You Are Here, in Scottish National Portrait Gallery until early 2023 and in The Portal in Irvine, alongside participant curated displays of photographs, and from 4 Aug – 1 October, in the Portal Leisure centre, Irvine.

Life Hacks Project, Eglinton Park, photo by participant, 2022
Life Hacks Project, Eglinton Park, Eoin Carey, 2022

Life Hacks was a partnership project between National Galleries of Scotland and North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and Youth Services, funded by Youth Link’s Youth Work Recovery Fund.

The Ribbon Sculptures were produced in Eglinton Country Park by young people from Irvine Royal Academy, the Rosemount Project and in Bourtreehill Park by young people and their families from Children’s First.

The project took place in 2021/22 and was developed in line with the National Galleries of Scotland’s Strategic goal of ‘Making art work for all’, the five ways to wellbeing, North Ayrshire’s Community Learning and Development Plan, the Participation and Citizenship Strategy/ Child Centred Council, Fair for All - North Council Plan, The Scottish Government Strategy: Rights, Respect and Recovery, The Young People’s (YP) Suicide Taskforce and CAFAS (Children and Families Affected by Substances).

For further information please contact [email protected] 

26 July 2022