Title: A Living Relic
“Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space.” – Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence
“I have decided to move on to Inis Meain, where Gaelic is more generally used, and the life is perhaps the most primitive that is left in Europe.” – John Millington Synge Inis Meain is the name of the island at the centre of the Aran Islands, a group of three small islands that lies off of the west coast of Ireland. It was in this elemental place, where tradition has been relatively uninterrupted and the inhabitants still converse in a language that is nothing but a ghost on the mainland, that the artist grew up. Shores of rock and green fields, criss-crossed with stone walls and dotted with the dwellings of the inhabitants, are constantly dwarfed by the presence of sky and sea. Her time on the island, where she still spends much of the year, has had both profound and subtle influences on the artist and her work. Its mark is been indelible and in response to this the artist has been compelled to investigate the resilience of the island and its traditions.
The timelessness of the island must contend with the passage of time – and in an age characterized by progress and change the struggle has never been more pertinent. Inability and unwillingness to adapt to change are indicators of extinction, and yet change for the island may be thought of as a form of extinction in itself. It is this bitter irony that the artist offers the viewer in this collection, and yet her love for the place she calls home is as present as any sad truth she presents us with.
A group of photographs taken by Henry Cecil Watson in 1912 is juxtaposed with photographs taken by the artist a century later, in 2012. The artist utilizes the mood of nostalgia that black and white photography has the power to conjure, a longing for simpler times. We are asked to consider that which has been left behind and that which has been built upon. What has changed in the last hundred years in this solitary land? And we are urged to wonder what will change; what must change? Can we feel nostalgia for the present?
With many thanks to Anna!