Artist Name(s) Jochen Gerz
Artwork title Amaptocare
Context/Background Ballymun, a neighbourhood in Dublin, was undergoing one of Europe’s biggest regeneration schemes, which saw 20,000 residents re-housed as part of a 10 year plan to rebuild the town. In 2003, Breaking Ground, the Ballymun Regeneration Ltd art commission programme commissioned internationally acclaimed artist Jochen Gerz through an open competition to work in an engaged way in Dublin. He was to embark on a major project working in the neighbourhood in an engaged and durational way, and creating a process and artwork which would manifest itself as a mark of recognition to the commitment of the local community, and their campaign and ultimately achievement in securing a major regeneration of their area. 

The idea for Amaptocare (a map to care) was to invert the routine of social housing and institutional urbanism by inviting the residents in Ballymun to make a public, fiscal donation to their own area, and by so doing asserting their agency with regard to their immediate environment.

Gerz invited the local residents, as well as people from other areas, to purchase, or, in Gerz's terms to 'donate', a tree for Ballymun and thereby  contributing to the future prosperity, beauty and greening of the area. 

Over a period of 18 months, each of the 637 donors were invited to meet the artist on a one-to-one basis, and was asked the question, “If this tree could speak, what should it say for you?". Donors could select from a wide range of indigenous trees from Rowan to Birch. 

The minimum donation was €50, the maximum, €250 for the Evergreen Oak. Ballymun Regeneration, who were also proceeding with a landscaping tree-planting scheme for the neighbourhood, matched the value of each donation. The trees bought through amaptocare, were therefore of good size and girth when bought and planted.  

The donors’ verbal contributions are printed in white text on a red enamel lectern beside their tree. Stage one is complete, with 637 people having donated trees. 

In the second phase of the project, it is planned that each of the donors' names will be engraved into the granite surface of the new Civic Plaza. A glass map of the new layout Ballymun (24 x 24 m) will be installed, illuminated by a series of lights, marking the site of each donated tree. This stage is planned to coincide with the commencement of the new transport service which will go from Dublin city centre through Ballymun to Dublin Airport, along which there will be a stop at the Civic Plaza.


Amaptocare was entirely dependent on engaging the participation and auteurship of other people apart from the commissioned artist, Jochen Gerz. Ballymun Regeneration faciltated the project by renting two offices in the new arts centre Axis, from where all the administration and production for this major project was carried out. With a staff of two fulltime and several part time assistants, a highly considered and careful methodology was worked out between Gerz and Breaking Ground as to how best introduce the project locally and bring people on board in a respectful and sensitive way. There were numerous methods of communicating the project in a variety of ways throughout the community and further afield. A sustained mediation effort, including introductory public talks, smaller meetings with local groups and individuals, occasional discrete newsletters, individual mailshots to each household and workshops in the local schools and youth groups such as the Ballymun Recce, was carried out over a period of 3 years. The Irish Times, The Northside People and the local Concrete News, in the latter cases regularly, covered the progress of amaptocare and it was featured on national radio and tv several times. 

Calls for project participants and tree donations were advertised regularly during the initial phase of the project (from January 2004 onwards) in several issues of Ballymun Concrete News and Ballymun Regeneration News.

Apart from being able to chose from a selection of 15 different tree types, donors were asked to nominate a site for the planting of their tree. As the geography of Ballymun was changing on an accelerated basis with the building of new housing estates, the demolition of the existing tower blocks and other flats, the scramble for areas suitable for trees for both the art project and the urban landscaping programme, and the provision of new road layouts, this aspect of the project posed an series of significant challenges.

Initially some of the lecterns were defaced and vandalised in other ways. The agreed approach to counter such vandalism was to replace each damaged lectern as soon as possible, with an exact replica. Within a short period, the vandalism abated. 


Jochen Gerz was born in Berlin (1940) and lived in Paris from 1966 to 2007 and is now living near Sneem, Co Kerry, Ireland. He studied in Cologne, Basel and London (literature, sinology, prehistory) from 1959 to 1963. With his public artworks Gerz has radically transformed the relationship between the viewer and art. Reliant on public authorship, his work transcends social boundaries, and creates new constituencies - The individual is no longer a spectator but rather a participant in an artistic process. Recent works include 2-3 Streets (Duisburg, Dortmund, Mulheim an der Ruhr), The Square of the European Promise (Bochum) and Salviamo La Luna (Milan) and Welcome to Paradise, Sneem.

Commission Type Local Authority,Regeneration Agency
Commissioner Name Aisling Prior, for Breaking Ground, Ballymun Regeneration Ltd
Commissioning process Selected through the open call of 2002. Curated, implemented and administered by Breaking Ground - the Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. Per Cent for Art scheme.
Project commission dates December 31, 2003 - December 31, 2017
Partners NCAD and IADT students interned on amaptocare over an 18 month period. Coillte, the Irish Forestry Board, part sponsored the cost of the trees, thereby reducing each donor's outlay.
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 250000 + euro
Project commission start date 31/12/2003
Project commission end date 31/12/2017
Location The 637 trees are planted throughout Ballymun, in Coultry, Balcurris, Shangan, Poppintree and Balbutcher. The permanent paved artwork and illuminated map of Ballymun is proposed for the Plaza at the front of the Civic Offices and Axis.
County Dublin
Town Ballymun, Dublin 9
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

Local residents and people from the surrounding areas donated trees and provided written pieces conveying their hopes for the neighborhood.

Contributor May Harvey said, "I donate this tree in order to say thank you to this community. I want to give back a little thing. Even if this cedar will be big, it is a little thing compared to all the love and contentment that I have found there."

Eya Ofuka who moved to Ireland four years previously from Nigeria said “This tree symbolises our arrival here and our attempt to set up a new home. It has not been easy but with time we grow and change, building a new house where we can welcome other people too: like a tree that gives shelter for strangers."

Associated professionals / Specialists involved
  • Aisling Prior - Curator and Artistic Director, Breaking Ground
  • Sheena Barrett - Project Manager and Producer, Breaking Ground
  • Ciaran Murray - BRL Managing Director
  • Mick McDonagh - BRL Snr Architect
  • Evelyn Hanlon - BRL Finance and Administration Manager
  • Ali Grehan - BRL Architect
  • Anne Lynch - BRL Architect
  • Derry Solon - BRL Architect
  • Eammonn Elliott - BRL Graphic Design and CAD
  • Dorothea Burger - BRL Landscape Design 
  • John Duffy - Local Liaison, Breaking Ground 
  • Jo Anne Butler - Assistant, Breaking Ground
  • Elaine Cronin - Assistant, Breaking Ground
  • Felicity Williams - Assistant, Breaking Ground
  • Mick Wilson - Artistic Steering Committee, Breaking Ground
  • Fran Hegarty - Artistic Steering Committee, Breaking Ground
  • John Montague - Artistic Steering Committee, Breaking Ground
  • Gerry Mitchell and Associates
  • Gerry Egan (Coillte) – Consultant



no news in this list.

more opportunities

Focus On



Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

more about this article