Wrapped up.

Week eight.

This is my final blog post for the Art Arcadia residency. The weeks have each had different purposes. At the beginning I had to get used to working and thinking. Get used to being back in the city with all the memories and familiar faces. One day I even saw my old caretaker from St.Bridgid’s Primary School walk by. All the streets were filled with memories of growing up on the city. I’ve made my peace with these; enjoying thinking about them as they’ve come up.

I have realised that not having a studio space since 2019 has had a big impact on my practice. My work has been moving slowly, happening in short bursts of activity, then everything packed away again. I’ve let it tick over, looking after it as best I could. It was excellent to have a space to be in, to think and make a mess and leave things laid out. I’d underestimated the energy given to setting up this new Donegal life.

The weeks that followed were spent in a frenzy of making, as I pushed hard to make a new large-scale textile work. I tried to remember to give time to ‘be on residency’ and talk to people, but when I have a task to do I push until it is done. After it’s completed I feel the pressure lift and space opens up to think again. The task itself was challenging, but I am happy with what you will see in the space.

It was all about the place – it’s shapes, memories, connection, disconnection, land, leaving, coming back. And not just my own story, but that of others. During the residency my uncle directed me to a video on YouTube, a documentary about Greencastle, Donegal from 1964. As it turned out, our cottage featured about 20 minutes in. Pat Canney, a former owner of the cottage was asked would he ever be inclined to leave the land, to which he replied ‘no, not a bit of it’, with a wry smile. I loved that. A few days after sharing this on the Instagram takeover, two cars pulled into our drive. A local person introduced me to an American man as being the great-grandson of the man who first owned the cottage, maybe even built it. We reckoned that was around 1890. His grandfather had left Inishowen to head for Philadelphia and had stayed. He visited this cottage in the 1980’s when Katie Canney lived here and then again in the 1990’s when it was abandoned and in disrepair. He was worried that on this visit he would find it derelict and got a shock when her found us lot running around. I realise I love all this, these stories, the people and their connections to a place. I like thinking about homes, buildings and what pushes people away or what pulls them back or even what holds some without the going back and forth. There is work to do here, I have no idea what shape this will take.

For now I will wrap things up and let it percolate.

A huge thank you to Art Arcadia for having me. Thank you to Paola for bringing a wide range of skills- from coffee making, providing sweet treats, chats, graphic design, photography, technical support, ladder carrying, curating, invigilation and more.