Tag Archives: Artists in Residence

for 3 seconds in 1963

A man on An Trá Inis Oírr, who with his wife had been a regular visitor to the island stretching back over 50 years, said “my wife remembers that for 3 seconds in 1963, the whole island turned purple.”

Anton Castle

Image: JesseJames, detail from Zibaldone page.

if we had a king to rule over us

“It seems to me,” said the Cuckoo, “that things have been going badly with us for some time, and that all would be remedied if we had a king to rule over us. I suggest that we choose a king today.”

Oh, how the birds chirped, and chattered, and peeped at that. The Cuckoo had imagined that they would choose which bird should be king and had in mind one of their own sons. But, each bird was sure that they had royal blood in their veins, and they all began to argue and quarrel about it.

At that time a Rooster and a Hen strutted by and were greatly excited at hearing the commotion. All the birds were talking and arguing.

“Wat? Wat?” clucked the Hen.

“I will go and see,” said the Rooster. He rushed into the midst of the tea party to see what all the hubbub was about. When he found out, he had a plan to offer. He was often called upon to settle disputes among the Hens, so he was always willing give his opinion.

“Have a test! Have a test!” said the Rooster. “You will never decide anything by arguing. The bird who is able to fly the highest shall be your king.”

This seemed a fair way of settling the matter.

The birds lined up and spread their wings. Each flew with all their strength as high as they could, up, up into the air. One by one, though, they dropped back for they did not all have the same strength of wing. The Lark flew higher, indeed, than most of them, but finally he, too, was outstripped by the Eagle, who soared and circled way over their heads.

“The Eagle is our king! The Eagle is king of the birds!” sang all the others.

But, no!

Way, way above the Eagle flew another bird. So tiny. Looking like nothing but a mote, floating in the sunlight. It was the little Jenny Wren. They had hidden themselves in the Eagle’s feathers and had been carried up with him until he could fly no higher. Then the wren had flown higher still.

“I am the king of the birds!” the wren twittered, swooping down over the others.

JeseJamesLogoWeb

Thorny Garden of Eden

Not for me dull sodden land

Disturbed by upcroppings

Of white thorny mayflower

With cattle splurging their way home.

But for me a place

With white rocky back glistening

Under the raw red setting sun.

A hump backed stranded island

Amid sparkling sea and shimmering sky.

A mere bone of earth

Keeping itself afloat

While stripping me of unnecessaries.

A keeper of spring gentian and campion

Storm stranded sparrow hawk,

Arctic tern and sun seeking swallow.

Yes, for me this sun faded picture

Of bleached rock, bleached sand and sky

That I can touch and see and feel and know

With the sureness of earthly instinct

That in this thorny garden of Eden

Is all that is life to me.

Catherine Conneely Poem

Poem: Catherine Conneely. Image: JesseJames

Reflections on Inis Oirr – Marged Pendrell

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.

Marged Pendrell 3

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.

Marged Pendrell 1

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.

Marged Pendrell 2

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 4

Marged Pendrell was artist in residence at Aras Éanna on Inis Oírr in September 2017.

I love Inis Oírr, and Inis Oírr loves me

Plaque and Hat LR

Following in the tradition of Marina Abramović, JesseJames created a performance piece at O’Brien’s Castle during their residency at Aras Éanna on Inis Oírr.

Jessica was “present” in the pitch black vaulted room up at the castle. Tucking her bag behind the gate into the room, she was present, wearing sunglasses and the iconic JesseJames red tam o’shanter. Over time, people peered into the gloom, but could not see the art piece.

Then a young boy looked in and called over his shoulder “here, dad, someone’s left their bags here.” His small figure stood in the dark doorway, uncertain of what to do. He stood a while longer, then reached to Jessica’s bag. From the darkness came a ghostly voice “do not touch the bag.” He jumped six foot into the air. He turned and fled.

A few minutes later, he came back, holding his dad’s hand. “There’s a ghost in there” he whimpered. His dad entered the room and saw Jessica, in red hat and sun glasses, holding “the artist is present” sign. Jessica stood enigmatically, saying nothing. The dad said to his son, matter of factly –” it’s not a ghost, just an artist.”