Artists dig deep into environment for The Branch, the Fork the Harrow


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Artists dig deep into environment for The Branch, the Fork the Harrow Artists dig deep into environment for The Branch, the Fork the Harrow

The Branch, the Fork the Harrow, a new exhibition at Galway Arts Centre that runs until January 28, has taken three years to come to fruition.

It’s the result of the Woodland Symposium Project, run by Interface, an arts organisation based in the Inagh Valley.

The Interface residency programme, located in a former industrial scale salmon hatchery, offers artists an opportunity to explore intersections between scientific research and art. There’s a strong emphasis on ecology, much of it centring on the restoration of native woodland on a 37-acre Sitka Spruce forest which surround the hatchery building.

The  Woodland Symposium involves a group of artists who are involved in a slow-art response to the changing ecology of the site. For the past few years, they’ve spent a fortnight on site annually as part of the project that was spearheaded by  Alannah Robbins of Interface. Her aim to allow their experiences to percolate and evolve over time.

The artists, Brett Sroka, Christine Mackey, Linda Schirmer, Noelle Gallagher, Helena Doyle, Sarah Roseingrave, have been mentored by ecologist Marie Louise Heffernan and archaeologist Michael Gibbons as they deepen their relationship with the forest and with the wider area.

That’s something that can only be fully realised over a prolonged period of time, explains Alannah, who has curated this exhibition. Their relationship with the place has expanded to involve acts of care and activism, so that the lines have become blurred between ecological activity and the art.

This exhibition marks the first off-site public presentation of this body of work which for the most part has been created at Interface, incorporating the trees, the soil, the light, the water, the sound, the materials of the forest.

Its title comes from the writing of philosopher John Moriarty, as the artists engage long-term with a damaged place, having committed “ to carry the branch, the fork and the harrow”, explains Alannah, who has curated the show,

The works on display in the city’s Arts Centre include film, sculptural pieces, sound recordings and a range of prints.

Some of these have been created using chlorophyll and other plant extracts as the artists drew on the environment for their materials.

And all the time, they have been rooted in the place, its sounds, its ecology and the impact of humans on its biodiversity.

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Pictured: Ór, by Linda Schirmer. PHOTO: AOIFE HERRIOTT.

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