For two weeks the wild off-grid location of An Port, Donegal provided two groups of artists with a powerful backdrop for their development. The days involved exploring the landscape; engaging with it and each other, encouraging the artists to gain a greater understanding of where their practice lies. Group discussions centered around an overarching question of “What is the current cultural landscape of Ireland”?
During the site-responsive residencies, Lay of the Land create an environment for dynamic artistic practices, expanding support networks for professional artists and encouraging collaboration and discourse between the artists. The residency framework gives the artists the power to set the parameters for collaboration and group discussions.
Our time was spent foraging the cliff sides, identifying bird calls, exploring the river and doing extensive beach cleans. Through our findings we produced natural inks and dyes, and formulated new ways of describing the landscape in an attempt to capture its essence.
Without the constraints of producing something final, residents were free to create without expectations.
Liadain’s knitwear project began from a desire to create sustainable, ethical & functional garments that leave a happy footprint on our earth.
“Ireland has a rich history of knitwear, which has come to me through my Granny, Mother and Sister. All wonderful craftswomen.”
Embracing a slow and considered approach, her creations are born in the practical. Yet they speak for themselves in their irreverent colour combinations and playful patterns that push the boundaries of traditional Irish knitwear.
Clare’s practice and research is relational, with a long-term focus on developing opportunities for open dialogue with and through art, and facilitating access to contemporary art for everyone, especially children.
"Shaping clay is a satisfying, tangible, physical exercise and a great material for anyone to work with in articulating abstract ideas. It can grow and expand in an extremely malleable way and when a shape becomes unsustainable, it can be easily squashed back together and you can start again. My work as an artist is located somewhere between making art and having conversations about the making of art. It insists on artistic practice as a way of moving through the world and developing modes of interaction with it.
Clare completed a Masters in Education in the Arts at the Piet Zwart Institute in the Netherlands (2016) and worked as a member of the Chorus at documenta14 in Athens (2017). She has recently developed workshops and schools programmes with Wexford Arts Centre, Temple Bar Gallery, EVA International Art School, Rua Red Arts Centre and the RHA.
“The land and particularly the sea in that area has shaped myself as a person. It has given me a strong connection to beautiful remote place and a love for swimming in open sea. “
Much of Michaela’s work explores connections to place, ecology, ideas of nostalgia and displacement. Her own personal background of cultural dislocation has lead to an interest in the land, belonging and nationality. Something that due to Northern Ireland’s history is something that has always been in flux.
Zoe Purcell has spent most of her career in the wild. Once as a chimpanzee guide and safari camp owner and now turning her 60 acre patch in County Meath back to nature as a bio-diversity hub. During this whole period she's always been writing on the side - journalism, advertising copy and huge amounts of personal, undirected scribblings. Her personal artistic endeavour now is to conjoin her two great passions by putting her writing foremost and creating a body of work that investigates the natural world and will bring old and young alike back to nature.
“Jewellery is communicative to me. My mother has always worn a small cross and chain. That, to me, speaks volumes. It speaks not only of religion, but also of the dainty way she holds herself, the soft way she speaks and her delicate, yet explosively happy demeanor. She runs her fingers over the golden links when she is thinking. I have never once seen her take it off. It is a part of her. “
Katherine makes jewelry that says something about herself. She makes things that are entirely natural, a bit misshapen by the rough seas they have traveled through and, although they will never be perfect, they make her soul sing. She is a strong holder of the belief that what you choose the wear indicates who you are as a person. Kat creates jewellery that screams “I am whole, despite my imperfections, just like this great earth we stand upon.”
Katie’s work embodies a narrative journey of loss, abandonment and the continuous search for a space that is sacred, safe, the Mother/ the Father, her, woman, she; our innate (human) desire and need for protection. This narrative is then recorded through a poetic dialogue between the artist, landscape, performance and practice of the wild.
Katie’s work ruminates deeply around these themes and explores how, from personal aspects of her own life she is able to interpret this cycle into three different but concurrent stages - Loss, acceptance, and rebirth. Her work is based on this cycle. As a woman she feels through loss, her connection to nature is omnipresent. She is able to learn and accept its process, through exposure to the natural world. Katie’s work conveys collations of family narratives, repetition and a poetic dialogue between multiple generations entwined with subtle nuances of folklore, femininity and isolation.
Charlotte Bell is a photographer based in Dawson City, Yukon. She's lived and travelled all over Canada—with longer stints in Halifax, Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, and Montreal—and she’s visited South America and much of Europe in search of inspiration. Her work has been featured in Broken Pencil and The Globe and Mail and she's participated in various exhibitions, incl. the Yukon Riverside Arts Festival.
Bell is currently pursuing her M.A. in Photography at the University of the Arts London.