Sunday 4 December 2016

Garden inspired by Nairobi slums to take Bloom festival by storm

Published 24/04/2015 | 17:52

A sketch of this year's GOAL garden at the Bloom festival
A sketch of this year's GOAL garden at the Bloom festival
Pictures taken in Freetown of Pentagon Goal Boys Shelter,Mabella Slum and Maxwell Amputee Camp, Freetown in October 2008. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

A garden with a difference is set to take the Bloom festival by storm this year.

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Inspired by the slums of Nairobi, the garden is an eclectic mix of corrugated iron sheds and colourful flowers.

Award-winning designer Joan Mallon is now making a 9,000-mile round-trip to Kenya in the coming days as part of her preparations for the garden for humanitarian agency GOAL.

The garden aims to reflect some of the ways in which the agency is working with people living in informal settlements, or slums, to help improve their health, livelihood opportunities, and general quality of life.

Pictures taken in Freetown of Pentagon Goal Boys Shelter,Mabella Slum and Maxwell Amputee Camp, Freetown in October 2008. Photo: Julien Behal/PA
Pictures taken in Freetown of Pentagon Goal Boys Shelter,Mabella Slum and Maxwell Amputee Camp, Freetown in October 2008. Photo: Julien Behal/PA

Galway native Joan will spend several days touring Mukuru, one of the largest slums in the Kenyan capital.

GOAL CEO Barry Andrew said he hopes the garden will provide a snapshot of the work being done in the area.

A sketch of this year's GOAL garden at the Bloom festival
A sketch of this year's GOAL garden at the Bloom festival

“The number of people living in informal urban settlements such as those in Nairobi is set to increase from 863 million to 1.4 billion by 2020," he told Independent.ie.

"We are hoping that GOAL’s Bloom garden will provide people with a snapshot of what can be achieved for families living in areas where the challenges can often appear insurmountable.

“Joan’s visit to Mukuru will give GOAL the opportunity to show her first-hand what the slums are like, to meet some of the people who live there, understand the challenges they face, and review some of the projects that agencies like GOAL have developed to improve people’s lives and prospects," he added.

And Joan is set for a rush against the clock once she returns from Africa.

The designer will have less than two weeks before the building of the garden begins, and a further two weeks before the festival gets underway.

“I’m really looking forward to the visit, and I’m very appreciative to everyone at GOAL for making it happen,” Joan said.

“It will be a huge challenge to design a garden that both communicates an important message to the public, while ensuring that it doesn’t look out of place at such a prestigious festival as Bloom.

“I know I will feel a lot more comfortable about trying to achieve those objectives once I have seen and experienced the challenges, projects and people of Mukuru at first-hand.”

Bord Bia’s Bloom event is Ireland’s largest garden and food festival and is celebrating its ninth year.

The festival will run for five days over the June bank holiday weekend from Thursday, May 28 until Monday, June 1.

Last year, more than 106,000 people attend the festival.

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