I approached my residency at Aras Éanna with an open mind and the intention, to immerse myself in the terrain of the island and the Irish language as much as possible. As a native Welsh speaker I was particularly interested in exploring the concept of ‘cynefin,’ a Welsh word for relationship to ‘place’.
Most of my art practice is based on walking and that is how I explored Inis Oírr. The terrain was unlike any other I have seen, the weather was moody and altered my perception of what I had seen the previous day or even hour.
I recorded my walks with quick sketches, or in small concertina books. Each book became an intuitive exploration of its own, of subject or concept.
The quality of light both in and out of the studio inspired new larger exploratory pastel drawings, combining colour and form with the weather, with the huge studio window playing an important part.
Many conversations that I had with the islanders was of how things were in times gone past, of how things had been on the island, of how people had to leave for other lands. This inspired a ‘flotilla’ of small craft made by taking casts off selected boat shaped stones/pebbles and covering them with collected sands from all over the island symbolising the layered shadows or spaces of a former life.
My days spent exploring the materials of the coastline and recording with the camera were my most intuitive and playful, as light, form and colour came together for an instant only.
This has been a wonderful opportunity for exploring new working practices, an inspiring culture and to develop a strong sense of ‘cynefin’, one that will feed my working practice indefinitely and I hope to return.
Marged Pendrell was artist in residence at Aras Éanna on Inis Oírr in September 2017.