Over the next month visitors to Fort Dunree will notice some added attractions to the breathtaking landscape and old military buildings as they walk around the grounds. Artlink have invited seven artists to create Begin the Begin, an outdoor art trail. Walking around the site, visitors will encounter sculptures along the pathways, installations on platforms and inside pill boxes, and in some cases invitations to interact with the works.
The participating artists are Noel Brady, Catherine Ellis, Brendan Farren, Julie Griffiths, Kevin Harkin, Kate McSharry, and Sue Morris. The artists were asked to reflect on the concept of “Turas” – a term meaning pilgrimage or journey – which was chosen to form part of the “Colmcille 1500” celebrations marking the legacy of St Colmcille. Each artist has created work which they feel complements both the theme and the special location at Fort Dunree.
The artworks are diverse: from installations in corrugated iron, concrete and sound to sculptures using wood and willow; from journeys walking across the grass to evocations of journeys past, across the ocean.
Sue Morris’ work is a site-responsive installation located in one of the pillboxes, perched on the headland looking out to the Atlantic. The work is a gentle intervention; its intent is to dis-arm or neutralize the building of its original usage.
Brendan Farren has created a wooden arch. Every journey begins with that first intentional step, crossing the threshold between the ordinary and the sacred, and this arch will define and delineate this beginning, your first step into the other.
Catherine Ellis’ piece explores departure. Looking out at the calm waters of Lough Swilly it’s difficult to imagine that the waves can be as high as houses out in the open sea. This work is inspired by anyone who has had to take that journey, now or in the past.
Julie Griffiths is producing a path by walking it repeatedly, over the time of the exhibition, as an invitation to others to follow. This path will dissolve back into the landscape after the exhibition ends.
Kate McSharry‘s concrete sculptures are accompanied by audio that encourages the viewer to take time to pause; feel the ground beneath.
Kevin Harkin decided to build his own corrugated lookout tower in the form of a mobile Irish Elk, ready for battle to defend our right to move freely like deer, unhindered by borders.
Noel Brady‘s sculptures are; vessels for gathering, which echo the form of wicker baskets and creels, shaped in part like ballistic shells. Visitors are encouraged to carry with them a stone to locate in the container.
Turas is a visual art ‘journey’ traversing through Donegal’s cultural landscape via a multi-venue exhibition, running from June to September 2021 as part of the national ‘Colmcille 1500’ celebrations. Participating venues – Artlink Fort Dunree, An Gailearaí Ghaoth Dobhair, Glebe House & Gallery Churchill and Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny.