For the past few years I have been considering forms of cultural expression and identity, and how art can help create community within our society. My original source of inspiration for this collection of work was a Rag Tree I encountered on a desolate stretch of road in the middle of nowhere, in County Mayo. The tree was festooned with a bizarre array of cast off clothes, children’s toys, rags and scraps. Whilst there was no obvious sense or signpost to meaning, it was obvious that deep meaning was present. I have since learnt that Rag trees are sites of pre-Christian votive offering; here you encounter the timeless, instinctive impulse we all share to externalise our thoughts, feelings, fears and wishes – in this case through appropriated or created objects – which when viewed become a primitive definition of art.
At a time when the ‘celebrity’ art market has warped our appreciation and understanding of art’s place in society, this encounter prompted me to consider the purpose of art and the idea of art as a shared experience, with a value - and speaking of values - beyond the financial. My piece “Placebo-Panacea : Give Me Something to Believe In” is a commentary on this continuing marginalisation and de-valuing of the power of our imaginations –often associated with ‘spirituality’ or magic when linked to healing or wellbeing - to affect change, in favour of instant, packaged, profit-making solutions for the mind.
For my other pieces I have experimented with a range of media - from pencil drawing to installation, from video to print - to explore this human impulse for creativity in times of crisis or intense emotion, as a means of provoking empathy and understanding in the viewer/reader. Through these creative acts we can create community and a cultural, social cohesion.
As an extension of this idea, local artists were invited to join me in a closing event, which was titled "Message In a Bottle”. I would like to thank all the artists who contributed a bottle containing their artwork (too many to mention here), which we will be casting out into the waves at Fort Dunree, as a gesture of “free art”. Hopefully I will receive some responses from recipients at some point in the future (via Facebook) and create a new community online!