idir – between places
A personal exploration of life between places.
Iniúchadh pearsanta ar shaol caite idir dhá áit.
Idir- Between Places was an arts project that linked 5 schools in South Westland NZ with 5 schools in north western Mayo, Ireland in 2014. As part of the process we exhibited students work and my work in process in Haast, NZ and at Aras Inis Gluaire Arts Centre, Belmullet, Ireland.
In 2017 I exhibited my finished body of work as part of Feile na Bealtaine in Dingle Co Kerry, Ireland.
Schools at work
Description of Project
Like all who live away from their home place, sometimes I belong and sometimes I’m an outsider. I began this project with a community project which explored understandings of place by working with communities in two very rural places- Northwest Ireland and South Westland NZ. I spent three months living and working in each place.
The Arts Centre at Aras Inis Gluaire in Belmullet invited me to a residency in North Mayo. We constructed a project that linked students from five North Mayo primary schools with five similar schools in South Westland New Zealand. I spent six months working with both sets of schools and we exhibited the work – mine and the student’s in Ireland and NZ in 2014.
For the exhibitions, I made a series of map-like images linked to Mayo and South Westland. The works resemble maps but with no scale or place names, they have no key and adhere to few of the conventions of mapmaking. The maps do not invite belonging, orientation or understanding. Unless you already know the places they depict, they do not make sense.
The disorientation of these works pleased me. But I knew I wasn’t finished with the subject. The maps describe from a distance. I needed to work on a more personal scale. This work was on the cusp of developing into something more finished when I decided to leave it and spend three months living in Mallow, in my childhood home.
I spent my days with family and many evenings walking around the town where I’d grown up. It was the oddest sensation – this tandem exploring of a place I knew intimately in memory but remotely in the present. Later I spent some time in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. The research I’d done became a series of drawings of Mallow. Each drawing is done from a child’s perspective – but I needed to place my adult self in the work. I did this by putting orientation lines and a coloured square as a symbol of my self in each piece.
When I came back to NZ I used the same references in new work. The New Zealand landscape challenges me – its scale, distances and vast expanses of native forest are both awe-inspiring and overwhelming. How can I call this place home? I use the orientation lines and squares to place myself in this new environment. They represent the between space – the gap between self and place, and the understanding that comes from calling two places home.