Example of Prior Work
The work below is an example of prior work which involved ideas and practices related to this proposal. Specifically, this work shows instances where I have experimented with moving image, site-specific performance, installation, archive and modes of creative writing. Thematically, this work also supports my prior engagement with female histories, storytelling, biography and letter writing practices/epistolary practices.
Note, these works formed part of my Doctoral research, which can be found here http://explore.bl.uk/BLVU1:LSCOP-ALL:BLL01018927066
SUMMARY OF WORK
With 'Requiem for Stephen', I was exploring creative modes which deepened understandings of familial movements and journeys, made between Ireland and Scotland; in particular the binds between and journeys of women - both physically and emotionally. The material elements of the work, along with the subject matter depicted, enacted a longing to create commemorative returns with family histories that remain personally significant to the artist. The work entered on the story of my own grandmother, Agnes McBride. Agnes ran away from her family home in Donegal at fifteen, arriving in Glasgow and latterly Paisley, to find work. Over the years, Agnes carried a great sense of guilt, fuelled by a reported shame that she caused her family 'back home'. A particularly difficult weight that Agnes took on was the sense that the death of her son, my father's brother, at the age of seven, from leukemia, was a cruel delivery of penance.
As a child, I recalled Agnes telling me that she had a recurring dream, and that each evening following her departure from Ireland, she would walk a nightly route from her family cottage to her childhood school. I conceived to make a moving image installation work. With the moving image piece I wanted to combine performance, documentary footage of Agnes childhood landscape, experimental visual capture to allow for montage assembly and audio elements. For the performance I wanted the walk to take place during the night (1am), when these ‘original’ dreamed walks would have occurred, and would document a rute from this ancestral family cottage to the local school. The footage filmed by myself, from the camera placed on me, would read from ‘first person’ perspective, with the visuals appearing to be from the vantage point of the person walking. Here, the footage would form Agnes's view as she took this walk. Shifting through this, I wanted to have imagery of myself in the landscape, where I would be documented taking this route. To allow for this I was filmed at a distance by a family member.
The exhibited installation, Requiem for Stephen (2013), was made up of several elements. For the viewer entering the gallery space during the day there was a large wooden structure with a glass viewing pane which divided up the room (and prevented the audience from entering into half of the room). On the accessible side of the divide was a small monitor playing recorded footage which documented a darkened gallery space, showing the gallery space as recorded each prior night, once closed and empty; and behind this divide, an old wooden table with unopened letters placed upon it, with a small pile of white paper on the floor to the foot of the table. Within the space the audio coming from the small monitor played on loop. The recording on the small monitor revealed a video projection which was timed to come on at 1am each evening. The video which was projected recorded an edited sequence showing both performed elements, documentary footage and a range of moving image material exploring a relationship with this particular landscape. This video work was only ever visible in the space once the gallery was closed and empty of people, remotely controlled from Scotland, coming on as a projection across the gallery floor, upon a paper sheet/screen. This footage was captured every evening on a web camera, and then sent to the daytime monitor to play on loop the following day.
During the run of the exhibition, over two months, I re-wrote the series of letters which were written to Agnes following Stephen's death, between family in Ireland and Glasgow. I wrote these from my studio in Glasgow, and sent them daily over to the gallery in Donegal where they accumulated on the table behind the screen, left unopened.
Following the exhibition, the paper upon which the nightly screenings were played, was used to create a limited edition artist book (12 copies). On these pages, imagery from the video sequence, archive excerpts from letters, creative writing and drawings provided an artefact of sorts.
Examples and excerpts from the work can be viewed below.
Moving Image Development and Video Work
This work was commissioned for redevelopment as part of a group exhibition in Croatia, one year later.
Smaller developmental practices involved in the final work are documented here.
Recent projects include:
Commissioned by Glasgow School of Art, Reading Landscape Group, to produce a creative response as part of their ongoing research series. This resulted in a limited series artist's book featuring print work and creative writing, and was exhibited as part of a recent show at The Lighthouse, Glasgow.
Undertook a research residency based at the Blaskett Isles Centre, Ireland, following invitation from The Office of Public Works (Heritage), Ireland. This was to explore material within their archive related to Blaskett Isles Seanchai traditions. The Blasket Isles are often associated with strong storytelling traditions, practiced and performed by the island community as modes to record oral histories. A cultural practice, the 'seanchai' has historically served to document and perform the traditions and customs of a local community through storytelling and lyrical recital. The performance of these histories would take on layers of meaning through the seanchai’s abilities to extend experiential nuances as part of their account. This act of remembering and retelling, histories would remain unwritten and, instead, find extension through a performed creative account. As bearers of a collective cultural archive, the knowledge they held would be passed on through these modes. There are several prominent figures particularly celebrated as leading examples of this 'seanchaí' practice, with three key autobiographies recorded by former Blasket Islanders: two from male authors - The Islandman (1929), by Tomás O’Crohan, and Twenty Years A-Growing (1933), by Muiris O’Sullivan - and a single female authored account - Peig (1936), by Peig Sayers. This artist's research residency informed a creative practice-based research study, exploring the role of Sayers in narrating, performing, and recording the history and experiences of women on the Blasket Isles. In particular, the ways in which Sayer's own gendered experiences, perspectives and histories were uniquely captured through her practice as female seanchai on the Blasket Isles, and subsequently had impact on how women's experiences during this period were represented. Work resulting from this residency was due to be presented at the 2020 Oral History Network Ireland's annual conference. This has been postponed to the new year due to COVID 19.