Dublin and Sligo-based artists Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty are known for their intense sensitivity to microhistories and the local. In their new artwork, Losing Track: A fan fiction account of Kiefer Sutherland’s visit to Askeaton, they uncovered the story of Hollywood star Kiefer Sutherland’s visit to Askeaton, soon after being dumped by Julia Roberts days before their planned wedding in the 1990s. A 24-year old Sutherland ended up in the west of Ireland where, in his own words, he was going to ‘try have a drink in every town I passed through.’ Clinton and Moriarty’s artwork acts as a form of fan fiction, a stream of consciousness spread throughout the rooms of Cagney’s Bar and Ranahan’s Pub. A linoprint and video accompanied an intimate scripted theatrical performance in the snug of Ranahan’s bar.
Glasgow-based artist Jonny Lyons debuted a new installation, Joyride, at Askeaton Community Hall. Impressed by the rhythm and assured style of card playing he encountered in Askeaton, his artwork was realised in collaboration with local card sharks William Sheehan, James and Antoinette Fitzgerald, and Noel McCarthy. Surreally they appeared unannounced early one morning at high tide in the middle of the River Deel, playing a game of 45 on a specially constructed pontoon.
London-based artist Matt Calderwood’s installation Erractic (Approximately 4.5 Tonnes) Limestone was seen floating on the River Deel. With a healthy interest in what the artist describes as the ‘non expert production of things’, Calderwood without any prior experience, guidance or clear blueprints, constructed his own boat, and vigorously rowed it up and down the Deel. On the Open Day it is seen on the river with what appears to be an enormous rock inside it. The longer you look at this apparition, the more uncomfortable its appearance becomes, as if the boat and stone were a tangential echo or parallel universe of the stone buildings and maritime traditions of the region. In addition, a series of large-scale prints detail a selection of Askeaton stones, some real, some not, seen in various locations throughout the town.
Max Andrews and Mariana Cánepa Luna are Latitudes, an internationally active curatorial agency based in Barcelona. In The Pilgrim, they have reprised an article written by Tim Kelly in the back issues of The ABC News, Askeaton’s annual journal. Made available online and through social media platforms, an excerpt will additionally be heard at the Franciscan Friary, of a dramatic narrative bringing to life a cryptic inscription found in the cloister there that reads ‘Beneath lies the Pilgrim’s body, who died January 17, 1784’. The story is read aloud by Carl Doran, telling of young love, clandestine marriage, a jealous father, a morbid blood-hunt and cruel, bloody murder.
Listen to The Pilgrim
Janks Archive is an ongoing investigation of insult humour from around the world. Stemming from the word ‘Janks’, a colloquial term from Southern Alabama, this ever-expanding global project appeared in Askeaton in later 2018 to discover its local variations on this theme.
Why study insult humour? Janks Archive notes ‘Insults are an ancient oral tradition embedded within the collective consciousness of a culture or region with inherent ties to human social evolution. In this time of great political upheaval and xenophobia, we are driven to increase more understanding of something which on the surface seems antagonistic, but rather might be an invitation for exchange and mutual understanding.’
See Askeaton’s contribution and explore the archive here.
Many more public events occurred during 2018’s Welcome to the Neighbourhood, each introducing new perspectives to the role and purpose of contemporary art and knowledge production in the Limerick region. Public talks by Gareth Bell-Jones (Flat Time House, London), Patrick Comerford and Karin Dubsky (Coastwatch Europe) explored topics from contemporary curating practice to El Greco and marine ecology, while Anthony Sheehy led tours of Askeaton’s medieval heritage.
Carl Doran’s ongoing collaborative artwork with Askeaton Castle’s conservation team was showcased throughout the year. Destroyed by Cromwellian forces in 1652, the Office of Public Works continue restoration work in the next few years to allow for public access to this important site in the middle of Askeaton town. Doran’s project, entitled The Stonebreakers, involved regular public events in partnership with Askeaton Civic Trust and the making of a journal of drawings detailing day-to-day activities at the castle, emphasising the processes, techniques and skills involved in this major conservation project.