Saturday, 12 October 2019

International artists unfold time and space in new performance created at Uillinn 

inSkin is a live video, dance and art installation
This new work is created for a gallery setting by a group of international artists all with a connection to West Cork and Uillinn.  Originally conceived by West Cork dance artist in residence at Uillinn Mairéad Vaughan (Ireland), in collaboration with Tomasz Madajczak (Poland), Helle Kvamme (Sweden), Lily Horgan and Charlie Dunne (UK), it will premiere at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre on Saturday 19 October. This is the first performance of this year’s Uillinn Dance Season

Mairéad who moved to Ballydehob to work as dance artist in residence at Uillinn at the beginning of the year, is originally from Blarney, County Cork and has spent her career travelling the world, learning and performing, “I am passionate about highlighting our deep, inherent, embodied connection to our environment through my dance practice”.  She travelled to remote regions in India, Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand, Artic Circle, Peru and Equador and these remote environments influenced her choreographic work. She recently completed her Arts Practice PhD researching our embodied relationship with our environment.

All artists collaborating on the project hold a connection with the local environment. Multimedia artist Tomasz Madajczak originally from Poland has been living and working as an artist in the West Cork for the past ten years and only recently began exploring dance and movement in his work.  "This new way of work is very inspiring and will influence my further artistic explorations" explained Tomasz.

While on residency at Uillinn, Mairéad met UK dance artists Lily Horgan and Charlie Dunne who delivered a community dance project this summer, ‘Anonymous’ that explored social perception and gender difference. The dance duo, known as Meta4 Dance Company are regular visitors to West Cork, staying with family in Schull, where Lily spent much of her childhood.

Helle Kvamme, a visual artist from Sweden is also a regular visitor to the region having lived in Clonakilty after studying art in Crawford College of Art and Design. Helle also spent time on a residency at Uillinn early in 2018.

All of the artists recognise the value of working in West Cork and Uillinn especially, as a place that nurtures diverse collaborations, providing a unique platform for artist to come together and create new work, “We have such a strong connection with the local area and therefore it feels like we all have a common starting point from which our creative process for inSkin unfolds”

Performance Credits
Dance, Video, Choreographer Mairéad Vaughan
Visual artist Tomasz Madajczak
Visual artist Helle Kvamme
Dance artist Lilly Horgan
Dance artist Charlie Dunne
Sound and Video Art Dara O' Brien

Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, Saturday 19 October, 12noon, 3:00pm and 6:00pm

inSkin has been funded under the Arts Council’s Dance Residency Award in partnership with Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre and Cork County Council

Artist Biographies:

Mairead Vaughan ( is a dance artist, choreographer, researcher/writer and facilitator. She graduated from Northern School of Contemporary Dance (UK) with a degree in Performing Arts (Dance), The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD, University of Limerick) with an M.A. in Contemporary Dance Performance and more recently with an
Arts Practice PhD (IWAMD) researching our symbiotic relationship with our environment.
Mairead co-founded Shakram Dance Company (1999-2014) for which she created thirteen original choreographic works supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. Her travel to remote regions in India, Peru, Ecuador, Borneo, Malaysia and Thailand informed her earlier choreography. Her work is multi- disciplinary in nature and ranges from theatre, live voice and sound, dance video and film, site-specific and installation performance, all of which toured and performed nationally and internationally (Dublin Dance Festival, the Illios Festival, Norway, the World Congress of Dance Research, Athens and Kalmar Art Museum, Sweden). Mairéad has been highly influenced by the choreographers she has worked directly with, including Mary Nunan (IRE),
Steve Paxton (USA), Yoshiko Chuma (Japan), Wendy Houston (UK), Joan Davis (IRE), Sondra Loring (USA), K.J. Holmes (USA), Christine Devany (UK), Mark Baldwin (UK) and Jody Melnick (USA).

Tomasz Madajczak is a multimedia artist who lives in West Cork since 2010. He emigrated from Poland where he obtained MA in Photography and Multimedia Art. Tomasz works with concepts related to space and the relation between our way of internalising our experience of who we are and how that relats and influences the creation of the space which surrounds us. Tomasz's works incorporate photography, video, sound in forms of interactive installations which are complemented by the presence of the visitor (the viewer).

Meta4 dance Company was created through a love of movement between both Charlie Dunne and Lily Horgan, stemming from a creative rapport and language that we could freely converse in. The dancers found a shared career path having studied together at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. We want to make work that is transparent, important and engaging. As well as delivering meaningful, worthwhile and exciting experiences for all.

Helle Kvamme, Norweigian artist based in Sweden, graduated from Crawford College of Art and design 2004. She creates a dialogical space through photography; film, movement, found objects and organic materials. Fundamental to her practice is the creation of new platforms where artists can meet and dialogue can emerge. For several years, her place of research and point of departure has been a hazelforeston the east coast of Sweden. She invites people to interact, work and engage with. She has in recent years worked with cultural heritage sites in collaboration with Archeologist to question how we read time and findings that are of immaterial nature.

Photographs by Tomasz Madajczak

Friday, 12 July 2019

Elective Affinities

It's been a week of introductions.

Hi, I'm  Aodhán, in Studio One. Yeah, like A-gon, after O’Rathaille, the poet? A writer actually. Yes, it's short residency, just this month and in connection with the literary festival...

And I find myself relying again and again on the word ‘introduction’ even as I introduce myself and we, in our Cork way, locate ourselves.

Right, it’s something of an introduction really - to people here at Uillinn and to the other artists... No, no, I live near Inchigeelagh, near Lough Allua, near where the Lee begins.

And each time trying to rephrase a little what it is I've said I'd do or what I thought I wanted to do with my time here. And each time perhaps, getting closer to understanding how I might go about it and where it might lead.

Then, of course, there are online introductions to make. Happy announcements and updates, busy projecting a self-image. Public panels also require an accompanying image: an artwork, book cover, an artist headshot. The latter I ordinarily consider a humbling ritual best avoided but within the portrait taken on the first day is a surprise, an image within an image. It will serve. 

Studio One. Day One
I can see it’s related to a curious genre of self-portraiture, the ‘gallery-selfie’ in the reflective surfaces of glassy architecture that makes a habit of coy stagings of indexicality. But still, I am surprised to see someone recognisingly me projected onto the elevation and etched into the Corten as if picked out in the patterning of rain-darkened rust. Most pleasing to me is the way my own ‘image fantôme’ is visually integrated with the elements of the drawing installation spilling out from Tomasz Madajczak’s next door studio. Reflected in the glass, the ink rhythms on the torn strips of paper seem less graphic and more elemental, taking on the character of the rust of the building’s weathering steel. They flock about my head, enigmatic ‘thought clouds’, as I look out at Skibb and a long linear carpark defined by the Caol Stream, now encased in her concrete walls.

Looking again I notice it’s a double portrait, not only of me in abstracted mood taking in the view, but a portrayal of some of the experiential qualities of the buildings’ architecture. As Micheál O’Connell observes, Uillinn is a beautiful building,
simultaneously bold but appropriate to the landscape, monumental not domineering, standing out, blending in, having a colour, not submitting to the ubiquitous corporate aesthetic, functional and open, penetrated by light.
It’s fitting with those design principles of ‘just proportion’ and ‘openness’, that Tomasz and Micheál and I (all currently artists-in-residence) readily established a code or policy amongst ourselves: if the door of our neighbouring studios is open then passing heads are welcome in. And as an art writer that’s where I want to be - participating in the kinds of conversations that can take place in places like artist’s studios. Or in the corridor. Or on the stairwell, or anywhere where people who value critical exchange might wish to speak. 

Art writing for me has always been a personal experiment - one’s initial thoughts and intuitions are the inchoate materials the writer endeavours to assay and bring into connected discourse. Thoughts are never conquered; they resist command and ordering; ideas change over the course of their exploration. But through the discipline of a creative practice, what starts in conversation or idyls in the run of one’s private thoughts can lead one to discovering a territory of engagement. 

My project, 'Elective Affinities', is, at heart, a proposition about mutual inquiry. What the arts does best is point us to the inherent affinity between intellectual cross-fertilization and the expansion of our imaginative vision. I believe our best chance of reimagining the world is simply to begin with an open question:

Hi, I'm Aodhan. What are the questions of importance to you?

Aodhán Rilke Floyd is an artist and art writer living in West Cork. As part of his research and critical writing residency this summer he has been invited to write in response to programmes at Uillinn and at the West Cork Literary Festival 2019 on ideas of ‘collaboration’, a recurring theme in both our programmes. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Coming Home experience

We are coming to the end of the Coming Home experience here at West Cork Arts Centre, the exhibition closes next week on October 13th. This is an exhibition that has undoubtedly resonated within the community and throughout the country. Even in the exhibition's closing week the anecdotes, awareness and autobiographical revelations continue to emerge. Claire Lambert, practicing artist and Front of House and gallery assistant here at Uillinn, is one of the latest to unearth her own personal connection to the Coming Home exhibition.

Claire is a Front of House and Gallery Assistant here at West Cork Arts Centre

Claire arrived in Ireland from London in 1989 before eventually settling in West Cork to embark on an art career. A graduate of the DIT Visual Art programme in Sherkin Island, Claire has recently joined the team here at West Cork Arts Centre. The arrival of the Coming Home exhibition in June was her first introduction to Irish Famine history. The exhibition approaches the solemnity of An Gorta Mor by discussing the socio, economic and political landscape of Ireland in the nineteenth century. Claire began actively engaging with the historical context of the exhibition  in order to interact with visitors and out of personal interest. This research coincided with the visit of a relative from New Zealand who had an interest in the family tree. Claire had a vague recollection of an Irish ancestor being mentioned somewhere in her family history. Eventually she discovered John Lehane her great-great grandfather was born in Cork in 1842 and her great-great grandmother Jane O' Connor was born in Killarney in 1840.

Coming Home caused Claire to realize that her great-great grandparents were children at the time of the Great Famine. Shocked by this revelation, she delved deeper into her family's past to discover that her family, like so many others, emigrated in the hopes of finding a better life. Their destination was not the much acknowledged Liverpool or Ellis Island, but Argentina. The South American country is today home to the fifth-largest Irish community in the world. Claire's family is among the many that settled and raised a family in these foreign environs, trading the small island nation for the immense plains, deserts, forests and tundra of Argentina . Eventually Claire's  family found themselves further South in the Falkland islands. It was Claire's grandmother who ventured back across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in South Hampton and now, remarkably it is Claire who has set down roots in Cork.
The exhibition's title Coming Home can be understood in a new personal light for Claire as she is the first generation of her family to 'come home' following the cataclysmic event that was the Great Irish Famine.

Claire's story is the story of many. Emigration is one of themes of Coming Home that has become a perspective for understanding events like the Great Irish Famine. Stories like these remind us how small the world can be and how interdependent we are as human beings. Narratives unfold in far flung corners of the world that effect and involve all of us, the world is in a constant flux and those in riches today may be in rags tomorrow. The fragile nature of the status quo has caused many visitors to consider the European emigration crisis today in relation to Ireland's emigration crisis in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately the story of Claire's family is repeating around the world today with people being forced to leave their homes in the face of war, famine or persecution.

It is this ability to address the past and analyse the present that has caused Coming Home to become poignant visitor experience. If you haven't already, experience it for yourself before the exhibition closes this Saturday!    

Representing the Unrepresentable

It is the final week of the Coming Home exhibition in Skibbereen and while everyone here at West Cork Arts Centre will be sad to see this unique experience end, we have, now, the closing event to look forward to. The event, entitled  'Representing the Unrepresentable: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Atrocity' will take place in the Town Hall on October 13th the final date of the exhibition. Peter Murray, former Director of the Crawford Art Gallery will be hosting an informative panel discussion that reviews the exhibition. Guest speakers will include musician, Bob Geldof, art historian Katherine Crouan, artist Dorothy Cross and journalist Mick Foley.

It promises to be an interesting and lively conversation that addresses the complexities and considerations involved in an exhibition of this nature. Having facilitated the public drop-in tours along with private bookings, one thing that really struck me is the desire people have to share their knowledge of the Famine and express individual stories and perspectives of this important cultural tragedy. Coming Home seems to have provided people with a space to communicate these reflections.This event  will be an opportunity to hear the unique responses of our guest speakers, who will share their individual perspectives of the exhibition in the context of their particular profession. Personally, I am looking forward to hearing artist Dorothy Cross speak at the event, her work Basking Shark Currach is a dominant feature of the exhibition. The event will also expand upon the atmosphere of consideration that the exhibition has created by providing a forum for people to discuss Coming Home in an exciting Q&A element of the evening. 

Understandably this, culmination of the significant reaction provoked by Coming Home,  is a sold-out event. Those without tickets needn't miss out, however as the event will be live-streamed via this link so everyone can catch this special event!

Thursday, 27 September 2018


Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with our Artist-in-Residence, writer, Maeve Bancroft. Maeve is currently working on her historical fiction novel, A Gift of Stone. This is Maeve’s first time delving into the world of historical fiction and she is admittedly surprised to find herself working within this genre. While discussing  her new project however, it is clear that this is an undertaking that visibly excites her as a writer.

The Famine-time, novel deals with contemporary issues of displacement and migration, themes that are also raised in the Coming Home exhibition. An interesting and unusual aspect of Maeve’s residency is her workshop engagement with our visitors here at West Cork Arts Centre. As part of the Coming Home programme, visitors are invited to write a response to any of the art works in the collection. The nature of this response is varied and is ultimately decided by the individual visitor themself. A response could be a personal account of a visitors experience of the collection, a fictional narrative that a sculpture may inspire or a piece of prose or poetic phrase roused by a particular painting. Maeve’s studio is a curious place at the moment with wonderful fragmented words and phrases swirling around the studio walls. ‘... and there’s Trevelyan with the golden egg!’ reads one, ‘we were shrunken and starved’ reads another. The prose is a particularly pleasing sight as an array of handwriting styles, long and loopy, small and squashed, printed and proud, bring an interesting character to the fragmented responses.

Maeve’s studio is open to the public on Friday and Saturdays. Visitors are welcome to view the writer’s process as it progresses throughout the residency or to participate in a workshop with Maeve to create a piece of writing and a personal response to Coming Home. Casual visitors are invited to write a response and leave it in a box at the centre’s reception. What these wonderful physical, emotional and intellectual responses to the exhibition will become is still an ongoing feature of Maeve’s residency. The writer has spoken of creating a collaborative poem or a large-scale print or poster as a culmination of this energy of engagement created by her residency. I, for one, am certainly interested  in where this process of collaboration and participation takes us.

For more information about Maeve Bancroft and her residency at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre click here

Tuesday, 25 September 2018


Art galleries and museums around the country are greatly indebted to the role of the hard-working invigilators. The invigilator's role is to keep an eye on the art-work and to act as a friendly-face for visitors to approach with queries as varied as 'How long is this exhibition on for?', 'What kind of response is the exhibition getting from visitors?' and 'Where is the toilet?' - all equally important questions, that invigilators can answer to help visitors to navigate a gallery comfortably and feel welcome.

We are lucky here at West Cork Arts Centre to welcome two Italian language students, Giannarita and Teresa. As two art-enthusiasts who have an interest in cultural heritage, Gianna and Teresa act as a warm support within the Coming Home exhibition. The students are here for a month and have helped ably with the invigilation of the artwork during their time here.

Giannarita an invigilator for the Coming Home in front of her favourite painting in the exhibition.

Everyone here at Uillinn is delighted to have the help of the girls in facilitating the Coming Home exhibition. The success of the exhibition is assisted by the many helping hands that support the Coming Home programme.

Teresa another invigilator on the Coming Home team

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Culture Night

The weather has definitely been signaling to us in the last few weeks that we have finally reached the end of what has undoubtedly been a glorious summer - but don't despair as this is also a sign that the annual, nationwide event, Culture Night, is fast approaching. I would recommend that whatever you do, you do not spend Friday the 21st of September indoors. Get out and enjoy the wonderful programme of events that will be happening around the country and county on this evening of free late night entertainment. Public spaces and venues open their doors for a night of celebration of arts, heritage and culture. The event, now in its thirteenth year, has progressed to become an important event in the arts calendar but is also importantly a chance for the curious to engage with cultural venues in a celebratory and welcoming environment.

Here at Uillinn, we are holding an array of events on the night. Our writer-in-residence, Maeve Bancroft will host an open studio on the night. Maeve is working on her historical fiction, novel-in-progress during her stay in West Cork Arts Centre. Period fiction will collide with fantastic fact with the launch of John Devoy's exciting new travel book Quondam: Travels in a Once World. The book details the exciting true-grit epic of a bike expedition through the heart of Africa. Dervla Murphy, the adventure travel writer will be a special guest on this evening of literary celebration.

Our Learning and Engagement: Artist-In-Residence, Charlotte Donovan will also be holding a visual art workshop on the night. The workshop will form part of her project [un] intentional moments, a series of individual and group engagement, interaction and collaboration with the people of West Cork. These encounters vary from the fortuitous, to the fixed and to the flexible. Charlotte has worked as a socially engaged and collaborative artist in the community and healthcare settings for 25 years. Her workshop on the night promises to be a very special event. The artist is responding to the Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger exhibition by exploring the theme of immigration. Participants will be invited to create and craft boat structures as they consider questions such as ‘If I had a boat where would I go? ... Who would I take with me? What would I pack?’. The workshop will explore issues such as emmigration and migration, life and loss, hope and fear, power and dispossession autonomy and vulnerability.

Uillinn will be a hub of creative activity come Friday the 21st, reflecting the Arts Centre position as an art locus of West Cork. We look forward to welcoming familiar and fresh faces on the night! You can find out more about Culture Night here