Turbot Island community shows its creative talents

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

The residents of Turbot Island off the coast of Clifden are presenting their creative side on this year’s Clifden Arts Festival in an event called TurbART. All of them own houses on the island, which they bought in the years since it was depopulated in 1978. “Living on a remote island like Turbot is a challenge as there is no other entertainment than your own fantasy and creativity,” says Dutchman Stefan Frenkel who is co-ordinating the event.

Stefan, along with his wife, Hanneke Frenkel, Peter Knox and David Wilkinson have created different projects and are inviting people to visit this special place during the festival.

Hanneke’s sea carpets, which she makes from ropes washed up from the ocean, were a hit at last year’s Clifden Arts festival.

The curators of the Irish Pavilion for the Venice Architectural Biennale 2023 learned of her work through the event and invited her to make seats for Venice, using the same raw material. Hanneke was deeply inspired by her experience in Venice and when she returned to Turbot, she immediately started creating new carpets and seasacks.

The ropes that wash on the shore dictate the colours of her completed pieces, she explains.

“But this year I want to make work to propagate ‘joie de vivre’, to celebrate the colourful world I enjoy here every day.”

Like Hanneke and Stefan, Dublin based math teacher and musician Peter Knox, also spends much of the year on Turbot, sharing his love of music and film with other residents.

He regards the island as a place where he can explore his creativity, via wild camping, swimming at night and bonfires on the beaches.

Previously, he adapted a poem about a local drowning tragedy that occurred in 1974, which was written by local man Joseph O’Toole. Peter set Joseph’s work to music and made a video, Turbot Men, based on the tragedy.

Pictured: One of the pieces from TurbART which will be exhibited during the upcoming Clifden Arts Festival.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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