Unfold was a Cork County Arts Office Professional Development Project in partnership with Cork Printmakers and Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre. Similar to the 2014 project Hexagon, Unfold consisted of an intensive two-week residency at Cork Printmakers print workshop, where three experienced printmakers worked with three County Cork-based artists whose practice did not traditionally involve printmaking. All six artists then participated in a final exhibition in the Uilleann gallery. The six artists were selected to participate in Unfold through an open submission call, the County Cork-based artists were Simon English, Rob Monaghan and Sarah O’ Brien. The artist members of Cork Printmakers were Johnny Bugler, Rosie Cleary and myself.
The residency at Cork Printmakers was extremely productive and intense, with many printmaking processes being covered including etching, relief, lithography, screenprinting and photopolymer techniques.
Prior to beginning work on the project, all six artists had met up for a site visit in the Uilleann Arts Centre in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, an architecturally ambitious building with a combination of large open spaces and some very high walls. Particularly interested in working with this extreme verticality, my piece for the exhibition became a six-metre tall installation of lithographs, entitled Gunpowder Wall. The title is derived from the former Gunpowder Mills Heritage Centre building in Ballincollig, Co. Cork, a wall from which the imagery on the lithographs is a direct impression. The installation is essentially a recreation of this wall in paper form, and is printed on extremely fine Japanese Kawashi paper, allowing it to move gently with the air currents in the gallery, constantly reacting to the space.
During the show’s run, there was a questions and answers session in the gallery hosted by Ann Davoren, director of the gallery and Valerie Pentek, director of Cork Printmakers, with all the participating artists present. There is a report on the discussion here.
My artist’s statement from the Unfold catalogue:
The collaborative residency aspect of the ‘Unfold’ project with the three county-based artists was a challenging and very rewarding experience. They each have very highly developed, individual practices, which during the intensive two-week period at Cork Printmakers resulted in them having many diverse points of interest, from within the large range of methods available in print. I learnt a great deal from needing to be attentive to their individual needs, and hopefully covering techniques and approaches which were appropriate to their respective styles and thought processes. It seems to me that history emerged as a common theme in this residency and exhibition, not just in terms of world events, but in the more individual histories of people and the objects associated with them.
My chosen technique for the exhibition, stone lithography, uses slabs of limestone, formed over many millennia from the skeletal fragments of marine organisms. When a new image is processed, you must remove a thin sliver of stone from the surface to provide a clean area to work on. It seems fitting that over time, as you create the record of your own visual history as an artist, you are physically unearthing thousands of years worth of geological history.
The official Unfold catalogue, with an introductory essay written by art critic Gemma Carroll, is available to read here – unfold-catalogue