ILLUMINATE (55° 26' 08'' North)2011
ILLUMINATE was a site-specific public art project devised and directed by North-55 which set out to mark Inistrahull Islands history of displacement while at the same time reflecting on contemporary experiences of migration. Inistrahull Island or Inis Trá Thall, meaning "island of the distant shore’ is the most northerly island of Ireland, located 10 kilometers north-east of Malin Head, County Donegal.
Inistrahull was once a thriving inshore fishing community. The island saw an almost 100% population increase between the years 1881 and 1901. However, a combination of factors in the early 1900’s meant that the islanders would eventually be compelled to evacuate the island. Leaving en masse in 1929, with only the lighthouse keeper remaining behind, most islanders relocated on the mainland, settling on the Northern side of the Inishowen peninsula. For a number of those islanders, and other emigrants before them Inistrahull lighthouse would have been the last glimpse they would have had of Ireland as they departed by ship from Derry City.
ILLUMINATE set out to mark this history of displacement while at the same time reflecting on contemporary experiences of migration. At the heart of the project is a yearlong program me of multimedia workshops which engage local residents of the Northern peninsula and new migrants to the area in a process of visual mapping and photographic documentary processes. These workshops, delivered by North-55 and supported by the Inishowen Development Partnership, are designed to facilitate a direct reconnection with Inistrahull.
The workshop series culminated in a series of photographic works, a sound work, and a film, which was shown as part of a multi-media event in September. The film work entitled SUBMERGED-109, was drawn from the underwater terrain surrounding the island and takes its name from a German submarine (UB 109), which sank near Inistrahull at the end of World War I. A specially commissioned site-specific sound work ISLAND LAMENT was also developed as part of this participatory arts project. Composer Sarah Murphy from Music 55-7 is facilitated this aspect of the project. ILLUMINATE further developed international connections through a residency programme in August, working with artist Rick Lowe from Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas.
ILLUMINATE culminated in the first week of September, when Inistrahull will be illuminated to echo the traces of its once present community and to mark the disappearance of communities elsewhere. On the evening of Friday the 2nd of September, as glimpses of the light from the island lighthouse could be seen moving across the water from Malin Head, ISLAND LAMENT received its world premiere when it was performed by project participants, including descendants of past islanders. ILLUMINATE took place against the backdrop of the effects of the current economic crisis evident in a 100% rise in emigration from the North West. The potential of community-based cultural practice as a critical signifier of socio-economic change was further explored in the international seminar CONNECT which was organized by North-55 and the Inishowen Development Partnership.
CONNECT Seminar contributors included: Rick Lowe, (Project Row Houses), Mary Jane Jacob, (Curator), Russell Lewis, (Street Level Youth Media), Sara Black (ProjectBase), Ailbhe Murphy, (Vagabond Reviews), John Peto, (The Nerve Centre) and Declan McGonagle (National College of Art and Design).
CONNECT SEMINAR / ILLUMINATE PUBLIC ART EVENT
Friday 2nd September. (Venues: McGrorys Hotel, Culdaff and Malin Head, Inishowen, Co. Donegal )
COLLABORATORS: Project Row Houses, Inishowen Development Partnership, Music-55 7 /Wall2Wall Music, L.I.F.E, NISCP / Carndonagh C.S., Malin Head Community Association, Orion Production Services, Vagabond Reviews, Dive North