By Simon Cocking
OVER 60 artists from around Ireland and overseas applied to be part of a unique residency on Cape Clear.
Only three were successful and they are now immersed in a two-month long stint which has cultural benefits for the entire community.
Ruairí O’Donovan coordinator for the residency programme, island resident and an internationally renowned choreographer and performance artist, wanted others to experience what the island had to offer.
‘This location is a fantastic resource and there is a great community here. I wanted to offer this to other people and bring in exciting talents, to benefit both the artist’s career development and the cultural life of the island.’
The initiative is funded with support from the Engaging Communities Grant, Cork County Council Arts Office, An Comharchumann Chleire Teo, Ealaín na Gaeltachta and CREATE.
From a shortlist of 10, three were chosen to receive accommodation and a stipend.
The lucky artists are: Tom Dalton, from Galway, who is celebrating ancient Irish chair making traditions; Timmy Creed, Bishopstown who is looking at his love (and hate) of hurling; and Aine Harris, Mayo, a performance artist who is questioning the GAA’s approach to LGBT and diversity.
Tom, an award winning furniture designer, explained how the residency has enabled him to learn more about the rich Irish heritage of the sugán chair and other innovative Irish design classics from the past.
His studies have taken him from Letterfrack to Thomastown, Cork, Dublin and even Budapest to learn more about design, however he explained: ‘It is hard to keep working on your own art during this time. This residency is a great opportunity for me. It gives you time to play, with trial and error and happy accidents.’
He wanted to look at Irish examples of chair design because he explained: ‘We look overseas a lot, whereas the Irish craft legacy is important too. In Ireland we had sugán chairs, hedge chairs and famine chairs for example, made by people during famine, when there was very little timber around. The seats were very low to the ground or close to the fire, and below the smoke. They were one offs in their very nature. They weren’t valued, and many were burned. These were an important make-do culture, I wanted to celebrate this.’
He felt having time out of normal daily routine was vital for developing ideas and learning more from the rich cultural heritage that exists both on Cape Clear and in West Cork in general.
Aine is using her residency to write her next play, to design projects, and basically to ‘think’.
She has also been working on a project for the last two years about the GAA from an outsider’s perspective and feels: ‘As with many rural areas it’s a big part of local life, but not necessarily that welcoming, so I wanted to look at this. They say “We all belong” but what does that really mean, as it hasn’t yet really embraced diversity.’
Timmy is preparing for his show where he’ll perform a monologue about the highs and lows of his experiences playing hurling for Bishopstown. It will shortly go on an extended run across Ireland and Scotland. He has used his time in the residency ‘to focus on what is important and added that: ‘Being on Cape enabled me to experience a wildness and a deep connection. It gives you an opportunity to re-invent who you are and what you are doing, with no pressure to create something.’