Dreaming on the Edge, 2013-2016

Ballinskellig, Bohlus Head Penisula, County Kerry
Photographic Duraclears mounted on acrylic
14” x 14” x 1/2”

The fascinating and deserted islands of the two Skellings and the Blaskets; areas that exist on many levels on the edge are the focus of the photographic series Dreaming on the Edge. The series is a direct response to an invigorating and longstanding collaboration with US artist Sarah Krepp and Irish artist Veronica Nicholson through a two week stay in 2013 at Cill Rialaig Artist Residency. During the residency we sought to explore and engage in on-site research to create three distinct bodies of work for the exhibition On the Edge and In Between: The Skellig and Blasket Islands of Ireland.

We initially were intrigued by the geographic connections of three abandoned areas in Ireland. The first of these locations was Cill Rialaig, a 1790’s pre-famine village situated atop a cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean. Abandoned in the early 1900, the cottages were later reclaimed as a 21st Century artist residency. The second site, Skellig Michael, larger of the two Skellig islands is located 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Pennisula in County Kerry and sometime between the 6th and 8th Century a Christian monastery was established. It was continuously occupied as a place of religious practice and sanctuary until its abandonment in the late 12th century.

The third site, the Great Blasket Islands (also referred to as the next Parish America) were all but un-inhabited prior to 1710 except for monks in ancient times. Throughout the 1920’s and 30’s, writers from these islands, produced books in the Irish language such as An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain and Peig by Peig Sayers. They wrote of island people who lived on the very edge of Europe and through their writing were able to bring interwoven accounts of the typography, life and times to life. Due to the sparse population and gradual emigration, the islands were finally abandoned in 1953.

By research and exploring specifically the Skelligs and the Great Blasket Islands, both groups specifically of islands on the edge, we were able to engage with the rich historical, social, literary, spiritual and visual elements of these deserted places, reclaiming the past and by our responses asserting something new into their present.

I was compelled during the Residency by the linking of both physical and psychological terrains in the work produced. Images taken in situ, released and re-sequenced from their original histories, suggest a new narrative, referencing bodies of water and floating islands, encapsulated worlds and infinite spaces, things that exist simultaneously on the edge and in between. Through these photographs, responses to the journeys taken and a documentation of private performances, I am exploring the nature of perception–manifested through light, the mechanics of vision and the interwoven mapping of body, place and memory.