Thursday, September 18, 2008

Shifting Ground

Fiona Woods

Pink Sheds
February 2005, Finavara, Co. Clare For three consecutive evenings after dusk a small farm shed blazed with pink light for a number of hours. Artist Fiona Woods set out to highlight the fact that people work in this beautiful but contested landscape and to draw attention to an existing rural aesthetic of which these sheds, taken as sculptural forms are a part. ‘It’s about making the familiar and ordinary beautiful and extraordinary, just for a moment’.

Maria Kerin

Sweet Bellharbour

Maria took 49 white cotton sheets and embroidered the name of one individual on each, in silver thread; these were hung in a triangular field in Bellharbour for a period of two weeks in the summer of 2005; the sound-work was played over a tannoy system from sunrise to sunset each day.

These artworks are part of a series of initiatives in Clare, examining Contemporary Art in a Rural Context.

Clare is predominantly a rural county. The Arts Office of Clare County Council initiated Ground Up to foster a new type of engagement between Public Art and rural contexts as a response to the phenomenon whereby a large number of artists live in a rural setting, yet the arts, for the most part, take place in urban locations.

In 2006 a conference was held, Shifting Ground New Perspectives on Art and Rural Culture

The conference called for a new cultural discourse, to place the rural at the center of a debate about arts practice, social engagement and sustainability.

Rural contexts and audiences have not been considered significant in the development of the contemporary cultural discourse. Increasingly it is becoming clear that the rural is a contested zone, where some of the most pressing issues of our time are being played out – issues of environmental sustainability, issues of global economics versus local economies, issues of food production and genetic modification, issues of community breakdown, issues of cultural commodification – and so on.

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