The people of Portadown will awake on Saturday to discover they had been invaded by an army of thousands of tiny strangers.
The eight inch high ceramic figures located throughout the town are the result of months of hard work by staff from the Millennium Court Arts Centre (MCAC) to create a project for August Craft Month.
Members of the centre’s education department, along with artist-in-residence and ceramicist, Ciara Campbell, have been working with groups throughout Portadown since February to make the characters.
In the early hours of the morning they will begin placing the thousands of figures throughout the town centre.
All those taking part in the project were given instructions on how to mould the material to make the figures. The organisers hope people will take them home, photograph them and put them on Facebook or even film them visiting exotic places. The centre will also be filming the event throughout the day.
Millennium Court Director, Jackie Barker said the aim had been to get local people more involved in the Arts.
“We had been hoping to produce 3,000 little characters but we have greatly exceeded that amount. In June alone, we spoke to almost 2,000 people,” she said.
While the intention was to have a fun project, Invasion! is also about respecting difference. The centre used four different coloured clays to represent the peoples of the world – Terracotta, College Buff, Black Clay and White Porcelain.
Jackie added: “We knew we wanted to do something for August Craft Month that involved a lot of people and thought it would be nice to have an exhibition about people from all over the world. The range we have is unbelievable. Some of them are really good. It has been a lovely project. We wanted people to have a bit of fun and they have really responded.”
The event was free and Jackie thanked Scarva Pottery, for supplying half of the clay.
She added: “We are looking to put forward a positive reflection of Portadown to as wide an audience as possible. We also want the public to be more aware of the Millennium Court Arts Centre as a facility for them to visit and enjoy.”
To give the event a more lasting impact High Street Mall is offering MCAC a Shop Unit to display more little men for a month after the Invasion event on the 20th August 2011. This will give visitors the opportunity to gain an impression of the event and the impact of the community project.
The centre is also hosting transFORM, a major ceramics exhibition featuring the work of internationally known makers including Deirdre McLoughlin, Neil Read, Frances Lambe, Jack Doherty and Sara Flynn.
TransFORM, which runs until August 27, presents the work of 32 makers from throughout Ireland. In order to celebrate 2011 as the Year of Craft, and to coincide with August Craft Month, the Millennium Court Arts Centre, with Tina Byrne and Elaine Riordan of Ceramics Ireland, curated the exhibition, which aims to represent the best of craft from both the North and South of Ireland.
August Craft Month is the annual celebration of craft in Northern Ireland and the theme this year is “Craft Chat”, which aims is to get people thinking about the quality and relevance of craft.
Joe Kelly, Director of Craft NI, explained: “2011 is the Year of Craft and we want to start a conversation about craft. This project has really got people involved and is exactly what craft month is all about. We hope people will be captivated by this event and will explore other exhibitions and workshops throughout August.”
For more information about the events taking place during August Craft Month visit www.craftni.org