A multi-faceted art project inspired by journeys to selected islands along the Irish coast, and featuring three leading Irish artists, launches in July at the renowned Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere, Co Cork.
Initiated by artist Angie Shanahan in collaboration with painter Jacqueline O’Driscoll and ceramicist Eileen Singleton, the travelling Island-Oileán project is described as “an on-going journey through water and memory”.
The project was launched in autumn 2015 and has so far initiated a series of residential workshops on two islands: Cape Clear and Bere Island. Supported by Cork County Council and headed by Eileen Singleton, the popular workshops have involved collaborating with local adults and children on the islands to make plaster casts from objects that have meaning and significance to them. The seven-inch square plaster panels are then displayed in a grid format, creating a low-relief wall panel that acts as a powerful expression of the lives, memories and diversity of interests of the is-landers who made it.
“This was by far the most successful community arts project to have taken place on the island,” wrote Máirtin Ó Méaloíd, Bainisteoir of Comharchumann Chléire on the Cape Clear island blog. The workshops and residencies have also acted as catalysts and inspiration for the three artists’ work, and the four-week Island-Oileán summer show at the Sarah Walker Gallery will be the first exhibition of their ongoing series of paintings, prints and sculptural ceramics. The exhibition will also feature found objects, archival material from some of the islanders’ lives, and plaster casts from the workshops as well as a short film by Aisling Browne,producer and director.
“As artists and dwellers on the island of Ireland, we are interested in the ‘presence’ that is an island, inhabited or not,” says Jacqueline O’Driscoll. “Islands lie apart and are self-contained, yet at the same time they are connected to and often dependent on the mainland and the ferry.” “There is an ebb and flow of people, trade, supplies, stories, objects and memories,” says Angie Shanahan. “These are the journeys that we’re trying to capture.”
Island-Oileán will continue to Valentia Island in Co Kerry in Autumn 2016; further island voyages, exhibitions, and a publication, are being planned.
Island-Oileán: Sarah Walker Gallery, The Pier, Castletownbere, Co Cork, 9 July to 7 August 2016