Melissa Bailey and Lisa Bowers talk about their forthcoming exhibition 'Dodge'.

‘Houses do my head in.’

We started with a story about a lad.

A lad who grew up in County Down but fell out with his Da and drifted to the city.

He is good with his hands but not at school work. He dreams of his own life, no one telling him what to do. He finds an abandoned Dodge bus, heavy duty. He fits it out and starts living in it. He is good at moving to and fro, evading divides of religion because he has no god.

But he gets caught up with the hard men of the city who find out he can hot wire cars. He just gets drawn in.

Dodge is a drifter. No ties, no commitments. Nothing in the system. He parks up where he can.

This is Dodge’s story.



But this is also the story of how Dodge inspired two creators to work together to bring his story to the Imagine festival. Drawn from different disciplines, we wanted to use words and photographs, rusty nails and building sacks, beer bottles and bus seats, drifting with Dodge.

We communicate most days to build our multi-media installation, via Facebook, Messenger, Skype, Lync, email, Pinterest, Sway etc. We share ideas and images.

Working collaboratively at a distance on a creative project has some challenges and requires a good deal of trust. Lisa is applied digital artist by training and works in the field of technology and design. Melissa is a creative writer who works as an administrator in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The Open University. We have collaborated before on a conference on ‘Emergent Technologies’ which we ran in the Northern Design Centre in Newcastle in 2014.



But collaboration requires trust in each other’s instincts and respect for each other’s skills.

For this project we found inspiration in the work of other creative artists such as Ibrahim Mahama from Ghana who works with cocoa sacks and coal sacks and exhibited in 2014 in Dublin.

Or ecoartists who often work collaboratively to upcycle and repurpose rubbish.

Our materials were collected and hoarded by different people. Alice Byrne, for example, found the old bus seats. Heather Richardson is script consultant and coal bag collector. Melissa persuaded farmers and builders to give up their old sacks. Lisa will use tools, nails and screws to transform these sacks into art, working creatively with photographs to make our installation both in the gallery and online.

The Net Energy Gain is fusion.

It will never quite turn out as planned or expected.

21 days to go and counting.

Dodge can be seen from 21st – 26th March, 9.30am – 10.00pm, at the Crescent Arts Centre, University Road – see the event page for more information.

We’ll be in touch.