Artists Bio’s and Statements
Aideen Connolly was born in Donegal and now lives with her family on the border of Sligo and Leitrim. After graduating in 1986 from DLAD, she has worked as an art director, designer & illustrator both in Ireland and abroad. Her commercial work has brought her back to drawing, printing & mark making.
‘My ‘Realm’ journey is a linear map in a way, starting in my own townland of Cloonty (meaning meadow in Irish) through Edencullentragh /Holyfield where St Aidan’s NS is located and up through the Gleniff Horseshoe Valley. The road through the valley passes through 7 townlands – Shancrock, Clogh, Moodoge, Oughtagory, Gleniff, Gotnadrung and Keelogues. Each townland once supported many families. Not even stones remain to mark each home. The flowers they planted fado fado do appear year after year though. I chose to forage at different times and places along the road for flowers, native and otherwise. Using cyanotype (an early form of photography) and eco print techniques on paper, wool and silk, I have created work that gently echoes the ephemeral nature of its past.’
Dr Jo Lewis
Jo Lewis has worked in many fields from truck driving in Africa to curating the architectural festival Green Door. The diversity and complexity of her career to date shows a passion and curiosity for human connections as well as for the environment.
Highlighting the importance of creativity has been a common thread for her from her research in Botswana [which had as one of its aims the understanding of a female aesthetic running throughout the multi-disciplinary areas of practice from weaving and painting, to ceramics and home building] through to her teaching in schools throughout Leitrim and Sligo and on the early childcare course in ATU – [instilling the importance of creativity for both child and teacher in early childcare].
Jo currently works for an environmental assessment company where she is surrounded by ecologists, ecology equipment, reports and field data. This has led to a deeper understanding of her own environment from mammals to vegetation, bats and birds. This work informs both her creative practice teaching in schools as well as her own artistic practice.
“My current practice is literally rooted in in my life in Leitrim. I have been gardening since moving here however more recently this has led to an interest in the underland and how it connects to the upper world. How it could be used to help understand more complex connections and to demonstrate and be used as a metaphor for elements of contemporary living.
My work and Inspiration often comes from the material first, harnessing the energy that the material already has; in this case roots that I uncovered whilst gardening and the discarded wood and furniture I found lying around. The roots come with all the potential they had to produce flowers and fruit and the furniture and wood comes with its own embedded history.”
We are now starting to understand a little of what happens underground, how trees and plants might communicate with each other and the mycorrhizal network. But what does that actually look like, it is hard to visualise. Through printmaking and plaster casting I have been looking at natural materials from different angles, abstracted and out of context: inside out/ outside in underground/overground in an attempt to imagine. Juxtaposing, mirroring and flipping, repeating prints in order to see them in a different light, from another perspective and right up close.
I grew some of the roots and gathered others and spent a long time washing and drying them and enjoyed taking time to examine their intricacies.
The common bramble/briar has many connotations, both as a protective as well as an aggressive plant. It’s seen as something that prickles and scratches and overtakes areas of land – however it also produces a wonderful berry, protects shrubs from grazers and small birds from larger ones. It also has its place in myths, fairy-tales, lotions and potions. I love is duality and celebrate it here through its roots and thorns!