The other half of what I do happens under the moniker Lay of the Land. In the coming weeks I will be writing a lot more about Lay of the Land and Tombolo 19, which just happened this past May. But just now I am spending quite a lot of mental energy focussing on the interaction between my various projects.
Lay of the Land exists currently as an arts organisation curating and creating site-responsive residencies and exhibitions in locations throughout Ireland. The project is grounded in themes of environment sustainability and collaboration. The project was born from a simple idea I had with Hazel McCague, friend, artist, and long time collaborator, to create a sculpture together in a remote location shaped by the Atlantic Ocean. Since its inception in 2016, we have supported 23 artists to create over 65 large scale artworks through 4 projects. To say this project is A LOT of work is an understatement! My role in Lay of the Land can be identified as part-artist, part curator, part facilitator, part director; a unique combination which requires a huge amount of creative energy.
The artistic aim of Lay of the Land (LOTL) is to drive artists and the experience of art outwards, into the wilderness, and forge a deep connection between visual art and land. We believes that the interconnection of art, nature and people can be transformative. Our projects create greater accessibility to arts in rural communities and produces events where visual arts stand alone as a valuable and powerful cultural activity and experience. The large scale exhibition/residency projects usually comprise of a three-week long residency where artists develop and create artworks that respond directly to the landscape, history, and heritage of West Cork. For the culmination of the project the public are invited to experience the landscape and the art that responds to it.
Outside of the studio, the artists work in a manner and on a scale that the landscape dictates. The immersive process provides an openness and freeness of experimentation, producing innovative and informed sculptural works of art. The art is drawn from the history of the Mizen Peninsula and by integrating knowledge from the surrounding communities. The exhibition trail encourages an open and relaxed discussion between the artists and the audience.
SILVA 18 marked an important shift in my work, as the gap between my sculptural work and painting work narrowed with the creation of a series of large painted canvases strung between trees mirroring the growth of the forest. The location at Knockomagh Woods, overlooking Lough Hyne, was the most challenging landscape I have worked in to date. But the work that emerged in response to my time on site stands as one of my most proud achievements.
‘Red Canopy' - Ceannbhrat Dearg’ rises from the autumn earth up through the negative space between the ancient trees. The contrasting colour brings attention to the richness of the moss covered flora. These works are visual interpretations of the experience of the site on Knockomagh Hill; mirroring the twisted branches and sparks of light thrown between the leaves. As the viewer moves around the piece the works appear to dance between the trees.
The project has grown from strength to strength over the past 3 years. We have learned so much from working with so many incredibly talented artists, and dedicated crew members. But the project requires an enormous amount of administration, funding, and facilitation. This stream of work can seem unsurmountable sometimes, and I often question how it effects my creative output. But as with every project I have ever worked on, the feelings of accomplishment far outweigh the moments of questioning, and exhaustion.
For now we have a series of exciting projects in the pipeline which you can read about here.
Here is a documentary by Fellipe Lopes following the SILVA project. The films delves into the work behind the art, and gives you a deeper understanding of the project.
To date our projects have been part-funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, Cork County Council, a Fundit campaign, donations through our website and donations over the Tombolo and Silva exhibition weekends. We are eternally grateful to the many people who have generously given their time, energy and resources to our projects. The project of connecting landscape and art could never happen without their continued support.
A special thanks to the Art Council of Ireland for granting us the Arts Grant Award 2018. This funding enables us to develop new projects, support artists and present unique and innovative outdoor exhibitions.
Producing and exhibiting art in the wild presents many logistical as well as elemental challenges. We continue to rely on the generosity of supporters of the arts to part-fund our projects. If you are able to donate please follow this link.