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

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