ISACS and Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne Residency

Darragh McLoughlin was in Inis Oírr, Co. Galway, for a one-month Residency in October 2022, supported by the ISACS Network, Áras Éanna Ionad Ealaíne and the Arts Council of Ireland.

Here is his diary where he explains his creative process.

October to November 2022

Week one

After being on the island Inis Óirr for six days I have settled into a new pace of life. Gone are the sirens and the busy bluster of a city only to be replaced by the quiet contemplation of stones, wind on the face and a sense of nothingness waiting to be filled in it’s own time.

Here I am exploring a practice whereby I document the movement of an object when being balanced by balancing various found objects and plants on the back of my hand while simultaneously holding different types of pens and brushes to paper.

I find myself reflecting on subjects around meaning, form and representation. I have become increasingly frustrated over the years by the visual arts, and also of the contemporary performing arts, for laying profound descriptions of meaning upon their work (thicker than I would put butter on my toast in the morning!) while the work itself remains wholly unrelated. I’m sure I could say a bunch of fancy words as to what this work could represent, but then how many doors would I be closing for the viewer? I believe meaning is something that happens inside each of us, rather that something that is found on paper…

For now I try to not worry too much about where this is going and will simply follow the process of collaborating with these objects in order to channel something that is a little of both of us, but ultimately not of either.”

-Darragh   14.10.22

Photogallery week 1

Week two

Only a week has passed since my last entry. On this little island where it seems little happens: much has happened.

In the first days we were hit by a big storm, and I fell ill with some bug or another. This forced me to slow down and move even slower than I was already going. The wind shook the house, but this house has survived much worse, so I worried not.

My son Loki began to walk, and what started with three steps, quickly progressed to four, then five, and then he was off. He also realised that dancing (which he started before he could walk) is even more fun standing up.

The work has progressed leaps and bounds. I’d say the local postman has lost a substantial amount of extra calories by cycling different packages up to me every second day as I try and stay on top of my dwindling stacks of paper, and empty bottles of ink. I’ve continued going on little walks searching for different local objects and plants to make different series of drawings. It’s made me pay much more attention to all the local flora and notice what this island has to offer.

The last two days were spent with old friend, juggler and film-maker Stephen McGinley with whom I shot several hours of footage of walking, talking and drawing. We will turn this into a short documentary to share what I have found on this island with the world.

I see this work as existing more than just a picture on the wall, but each part of the process is a part of the work in its entirety. To only see the final drawing is like only meeting someone in their old age – the rest of their life remains as a story that needs to be told.

On the 29th and 30th of November I will host a full exhibition of ‘Stories of Falling Objects’, or ‘Scéalta ó Rudaí ag Titim’ at the gallery in Aras Eanna. The opening will be on the Saturday, and I’ll keep the exhibition up throughout Sunday in case someone wants to get the morning boat over in order to get the evening one back again.

The final week here I am alone. This morning my partner and son left to the mainland and I woke up in an empty house. It’s like someone muted the sound of the world. But I shall embrace the quiet, and see what it has to offer.

Photo Gallery week 2

Final reflections 

I am writing this a few weeks after I have already left Inis Óirr and got swept up in a tidal wave of work, performances, and ‘off island busyness’.

I wonder more and more if I am not built for this faster world that appeared in the last 15 or so years, where anyone can reach you at any given moment, emails come like text messages, and it is expected that you respond immediately. I think I would have functioned well in a time where when you agreed to meet somebody you would say things like, ‘see you tomorrow, next to the Old Stone, when the sun is at its peak’, or, ‘I’ll call over sometime in the next week and help you rebuild your collapsed wall’. While I have no doubt the island has changed drastically with the introduction of modern technology, and I’m simply nostalgic and overly romanticising the place, still, there is a feeling of the past there, present, as an example for the future we want to make.

I left an exhibition on the island.

It is a strange feeling to make work that doesn’t have my physical body present in it. Normally when I stop moving the performance is over. In this case however, something was left behind, living on without me. I wonder who has seen the exhibition… Is it just there by itself? With only Pat to see, who switches on the lights in the morning and (generally) switches them off again at night. Maybe Tomás from the craft shop downstairs pops up every now and then and reminisces our late night debates about the world down in the pub.

It’s almost winter now, and there won’t be too many people on the island anymore. Only the die hards will be left now, while the less hardy of the island residents scuttle off to the mainland.

I would have stayed longer if I could, but maybe that’s what they all say.

Photo Gallery Final week