Day of the Straws is a work created by the artist Marie Brett and creative collaborators in dialogue with members of a digital community of interest. The work explores cultural lore through references to the supernatural and the politics of care, informed by the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through a matrix of ‘hope and cope’ that relies on science and mysticism in equal measure.
Day of the Straws is available at dayofthestraws.ie, on site at SIRIUS and through online public programmes.
Zoom lectures and discussions featuring the creative team and a selected group of participants. Free; registration via Eventbrite. Zoom invitation shared by e-mail prior to each online event.
Wednesday, 2 December, 2020, 16.00 – 17.30
Talk by Andrea Kitta, folklorist and Associate Professor at the East Carolina University, followed by a Q&A session with Marie Brett and Miguel Amado
Wednesday, 9 December, 2020, 16.00 – 17.30
Talk by Oein DeBharduin, writer and Traveller activist, followed by a Q&A session with Marie Brett and Miguel Amado
Wednesday, 16 December, 2020, 16.00 – 17.30
Talk by Ida Milne, Lecturer at Carlow College, followed by a Q&A session with Marie Brett and Miguel Amado
Day of the Straws: Behind the Scenes
Day of the Straws: Behind the Scenes is a video featuring conversations with the creative team and members of the digital community of interest that explore the themes, making and presentation of the work.
YouTube channel link: https://youtu.be/uvGXYHtTe5g
The artist Marie Brett is developing the project Day of the Straws, which examines how social history surrounding the 1832 Cholera epidemic relates to modern-day COVID-19. Day of the Straws explores events that, while distant in time, seem to share similar features, including supernatural phenomena and fake news. The project is created in collaboration with the writer Katie Holly and made in dialogue with community historians, healers, fortune tellers and other interested people. The resulting work includes film, text, sound and image. The project, in all or some of its forms, is presented online and on site via Cork Midsummer Festival and SIRIUS throughout 2020.
Day of the Straws
The Day of the Straws were a series of events that took place during Ireland’s 1830’s Cholera epidemic between 9 and 15 June 1832. These events involved folk cure, protective charms and social ritual that spread throughout the island starting in Charleville, County Cork.
The earliest report of the mass hysteria which was sent to Dublin Castle came from Major General G H Barry, Ballyclough House, County Cork. He stated that the Virgin Mary appeared in Charleville church, leaving certain ashes, which she warned were the only protection against Cholera. These were to be delivered to four houses, and then these four householders were to proceed to four more homes, and so on, to spread the message. By the following Tuesday evening, the messengers had reached the borders of Ulster. The message changed on its northerly progression: ashes, turf and stones were used in the east, while straws were used further west.
Day of the Straws relates to the Covid-19 experience at a global and local level, gathering people’s response to the pandemic in relation to themes of cultural lore. These themes include ‘Older person’s voice’; ‘Body: medicine, cures, prevention’; ‘Home: cooking, tools, pests’; ‘Mind: the supernatural, magic, telepathy, mediumship’; Land: nature, animals, spirits, weather, almanac’; ‘Rite, ritual, custom’.
Day of the Straws is commissioned by Cork Midsummer Festival in partnership with SIRIUS, and is part of ‘BE PART, Art Beyond Participation’, a project supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and The Arts Council.