Bogs are deeply rooted within the Irish psyche: Wild sites that remind us, in Heaney’s words, that “We have no prairies”. Beyond their traditional uses as fuel deposits, they offer richness of biodiversity and stand solid as carbon sinks. Furthermore, they are sites of myth-making and imaginings, their wealth scattered throughout cultural representations
“Archival traces” is a visual exploration of boglands on the island of Ireland. The work is primarily concerned with these landscapes as repositories; sites of memory: natural archives. Historically, archives have been controlled by what Derrida termed, the “archons”, those who decided what is collected, what is made visible, what contributes to our historical narratives and ultimately, our identity. In essence, narratives reflecting the needs of the powerful, privileging particular narratives while marginalising others. The bog, as archive, stands unmediated, delivering its histories by chance, solid in its authenticity and integrity, quietly engaging in acts of preservation and record-making.
This series captures the surfaces of bogs; the intimate, the vast landscapes. However, one image stands apart. This image is of a tiny sample of decayed matter collected from beneath the surface, its histories revealed under the archaeologist’s microscope, with its captures of life lived before the pyramids at The Ceide Fields.
“Archival Traces” highlights the importance of interrogating the obvious, seeking out and questioning gaps and absences and remembering as Verne Harris states that an archive is but “a sliver of a sliver of a sliver.
The exhibition is accompanied by three handmade books with text drawn from the fieldnotes of the artist.