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Artist: Gareth Kennedy; Composer: Ian Wilson; Musician: Cathal Roche; photographs by Sarah Browne.
A white van with two men in it arrive on site (an abandoned housing development). They are wearing hi-vis jackets. The van evokes breakfast rolls, Lucozade and bad takeaway coffee.
They exit the van, unpacking a series of large green bags and a set of wooden sections. They assemble a lattice with the wooden sections – they become floor sections – and a flat yellow hexagon is placed on top.
A sound system is assembled.
The bulky green bags are zipped open and a mass of pale yellow, plasticy material is pulled out and lifted over to the floor. It looks like a big primrosey, marshmallowy thing. The colour of it exactly matches the new housing development up on the hill in the background. (This particular colour of exterior housepaint in the early 2000s is to magnolia in seventies hallways and sittingrooms).
A generator is switched on and a fan or compressor can be heard. The soft yellowy mass begins to gain in volume, the mallow being filled with air: quickly within the mass distinct forms begin to emerge. No edges, but forms are there – columns, a flat section, and a pointed shape. (This part points upwards insistently and there is something vaguely priapic about it). Fairly quickly, the shape that looked something like a Claes Oldenburg soft sculpture, or a huge melted ice cream cone, has morphed into a robust piece of architecture.
A microphone is placed on the floor, more like a stage now, and another man becomes visible by the side of the white van. He is dressed simply in black and is holding a saxaphone.

The saxophonist walks onto the stage, and with no announcement begins to play, improvising with and against a pre-recorded piece of music.
It’s harder to adhere words to this part, as I don’t really know how to talk about music and sound, and how it makes you feel and think. There are sound samples in it: a landmark moment in Irish history; and (my favourite) Bertie Ahern saying I want to talk about the future. Future. The piece has a peculiar kind of energy to it – based on the crescendo of the last decade’s economic growth, there is a kind of wildness to it, and a suspense: the form of the music anticipates no obvious conclusion.
The end does arrive, and the collected audience clap.
August 17th, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim. Part of AFTER

AFTER is the name for a series of public art events forthcoming in counties Leitrim and Roscommon.

AFTER received its final injection of arts funding from the Arts Council in late June, coinciding almost exactly with the ‘announcement’ of the Recession in the economy. As such, the work the artists have developed over the last year is bound to resonate with the sense of an aftermath that currently pervades discourse about the Irish economic and cultural landscape – what we are left with in the wake of our decade of growth and ‘success’; how these resources and developments have been used (or squandered); what will happen to a rural landscape in particular that shows half-occupied, half-abandoned housing developments, and sodden plywood boards declaring computerised visions of dwellings that will never be?

From the project website:

AFTER is interesting in that it seeks to respond to changes in the Irish landscape arising from the unprecendented economic growth of recent years. To our knowledge, there has been no collective artistic endeavour which has sought to negotiate this terrain. It is also noteworthy that these public art interventions – rather than been initiated from within organisational/ institutional frameworks, as is the norm – are artist-led in concept, commissioning, design and delivery.

The title of the project, conceived months ago, suggests that the current ‘economic downturn’ did not necessitate a clairvoyant prediction (as some suggest) but was rather more marked by inevitability. The works developed by the artists make responses and proposals that are alternatively pragmatic and poetic; offering tentative solutions and/ or positions of dispute.

The artists involved in the project are Alice Lyons, Anna McLeod, Carol Anne Connolly, Christine Mackey and Gareth Kennedy, who participated in a residency that was faciltated by Alfredo Jaar as part of the TRADE programme delievered by Leitrim and Roscommon local authorities. The launch of the project is September 6th 2008 at the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Project website with extensive information on artists and works here

Above: Plan of rainbow with colour charts and notes for construction. Studio photograph, August 2008

Sunday August 24th: seven volunteers, two child helpers and two dogs gather on a deforested site in North Co. Leitrim to errect a wooden rainbow; a roadside hoarding that advertises nothing.

Where rainbows occur naturally and by chance, this event was planned and engineered in detail, and involved a good deal of physical work – drilling, sawing, hammering, lifting.

Part barn-raising, part folly, part idiosyncratic architecture, the rainbow is a sincere (if kitschy) expression of collective labour: huge thanks to Gordon, Craig, Bryonie, Anna, Ciara, Gareth, Peter, Ruth, Leander and Celia who made this possible.

The rainbow is built near Lurganboy, and is visible leaving Manorhamilton on the Kinlough Road. It will remain until the end of October – if it doesn’t collapse first.

 

 

This work is part of the New Sites, New Fields project at Leitrim Sculpture Centre that will open on October 4 2008. A super 8mm film has been shot to document the process of building the rainbow which will be screened later in 2008/9.
July 2020
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