Ancient Connections has commissioned four new artists’ commissions, exploring some interlinked themes that are at the heart of the project including: pilgrimage, connecting with the Celtic diaspora of Ireland and Wales and our relationships to sacred places such as holy wells, chapels and ancient sites.
The artists will produce new artworks over the next two years, inspired by their own research as well as the findings uncovered by the Ancient Connections teams of story gatherers, community researchers and archaeologists. Each artist is expected to create work that can be shared online, in order to engage with both local audiences and with people much further afield such as Australia and North America, where there are significant communities of people with Irish and Welsh ancestry. The artists will also present their work in a final public showing in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire in 2022.
The four artists are Seán Vicary and Linda Norris, who are both visual artists based in West Wales, and artist/archaeologist John Sunderland and writer Sylvia Cullen, based in Ireland’s south-east.
Linda Norris proposes to use ‘sherds’ or found pottery fragments as the starting point for her project, encouraging people to send sherds to her and locate them on an online map. She says:
“Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past. I propose to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in Pembrokeshire and Wexford, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will be researching people who emigrated from these regions to the Diaspora in the 19th century and trying to trace their descendants.”
Multi-media artist Seán Vicary recently discovered that his great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin, and he seeks to:
“Understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past, I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities”.
He will be discovering ‘hidden narratives’ in the landscape and creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves back and forth between Pembrokeshire and Wexford.
“Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places in an exciting, contemporary way; building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection”.
Trained archaeologist and visual artist John Sunderland will be undertaking a pilgrimage from Whitesands to Ferns and excavating found objects along the route for the creation of a reliquary alongside pinhole photographic work. Rather than approaching this like an analytical contemporary archaeologist, he hopes to examine his discoveries with a mediaeval mindset, paying attention to “the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents”.
Writer Sylvia Cullen proposes to create a bespoke new series of short stories for podcasts or livestreaming, drawing on “dramatic tales of piracy and bootlegging along the Welsh and Irish coastlines” and haunting tales of sacred places or a longing for home. She will also run creative writing workshops in both communities.
Watching these projects evolve separately and then ultimately weave together in a final presentation will be a journey of discovery for both the project team and our audiences.
Date: August 2020 – December 2022
Funded by: Ancient Connections