A night time journey by land and water.
‘Beyond Islands’ took people on a journey, with participants choosing whether to travel by land (walking) or by water (swimming). Along the way, the audience encountered performances and readings of commissioned and archival texts, video and animation projections, illuminated floating sculptures and a large shadow wall. Beyond Islands was the culminating work from a series of swims to and around Lambay Island that I undertook in the past few years as part on an expanded art project.
The final destination for both the walkers and swimmers was The Springers Bathing Area, a natural auditorium. At the Springers, 50 metres out in a boat on the water, Landless (a group specialising in unaccompanied four-part harmonies) sang “The Ramparts Against Uncharity, (1) a ‘siren shanty’ written by Landless member Ruth Clinton especially for the project. Landless sang as the ‘voice of Lambay’ who, like a siren, calls the listener to turn away from the signs of ecological collapse; the song warns of the perils of doing so. The swimmers listened while floating in the water, and the walkers listened from the shore.
Ian Fleming disguised in a mound of seaweed read a text ‘King Fish’ adapted from Natural History of Lambay, written by Robert Francis Scharff, who was part of the Praeger expedition that spent a summer researching the flora and fauna of Lambay in 1907. Scharff’s text describes how the King Fish was found on the shores of Lambay and how it can still be seen in Dublin’s Natural History Museum today. Shane Holland, Altan Holland and Dominic Gilmore rowed the Currach ni Sceirí with Carol’s amazing King Fish lantern on the mast and Dominic read the same King Fish text to the swimmers. Synchronised swimmer Aoife Drumm performed for the swimmers off the giant SUP. Emer McLoughlin performed as ‘the swimmer’ sitting on the wall and reading a text written by myself. Rosaleen ní Shúilleabháin was the narrator and tour guide and read texts from writers Tim Dee and Declan Long. The lanterns were made by various groups from Skerries including Skerries Foroige, Prosper Fingal, Teddy’s Shed and an open workshop at Skerries Mills. Tony and Carol helped in ‘Teddy’s Shed’ to create the large floating lantern.
The Skerries Sea scouts gave us great kayak safety cover on the night, as well as Stephen Turner and Carol Finlay and Kinny from Swim Ireland kept the night swim safe with the help of Fergal of course. The ILDSA lent us loads of tow floats and there were also little, last minute miracles on the day like Geraldine’s horse box to move all the sculptures and Micheal and his tender. The Skerries Frosties, Michelle, Chris, Blue, Caroline Cowley, Robbie, Gavin, Catherine, Pure Magic Watersports…. and so many people who helped.
This project was supported by the Arts Council Ireland Visual Arts Project Award 2018.
Slideshow of images from the event below:
(1) ‘Ramparts Against Uncharity’ was the nickname given by architect Edwin Lutyens to the circular wall he built surrounding the castle and woods on Lambay Island.
A short film of the event.
A slideshow of images of the process: