This text was created collaboratively in response to the work of Ann Mechelinck at The Gallery Grand Parade (July 2021). To add to the text, contributors scanned the QR code in the window of the gallery and opened the shared document. The result of this experiment is the meditative and meandering text below.
Existing in Dialogue
Open Chain-mail response:
Without sphagnum mosses there would be no bogs in Ireland. Bogs have a living surface which is made of a blanket of sphagnum mosses. This is floating on a thick layer of partly rotted plant material that is soaking wet. This is why when you walk across the surface of a bog it feels bouncy and alive.
I picked flowers from the Céide Fields when I was ten. The Fields lie underneath the wild boglands of Mayo. Dating back to Neolithic times, it is the oldest field system in the world. I pressed the wildflowers into a scrapbook of parking discs and heritage centre flyers. That scrapbook was put into a box in the attic with a bunch of my childhood trinkets. Looking through the window on Grand Parade at Ann Mechelinck’s mossy-looking textile pieces I am reminded of two things at once. A muddy memory of the Seamus Heaney poem Bog Queen unfolds itself from the archives of my mind; the blue cover of the collection – North, the words beginning on a right hand page and running along for maybe the length of three. Those wildflowers and the stripy, purple colour of the ring-binder spring more readily into my thoughts; the white, fluffy head of a string of bog cotton seemingly fossilized in my grey matter.
At home, at the weekend, I take a deep breath and brave the darkness of the attic. Armed with just my phone’s flashlight, I open the box to find the scrapbook isn’t in there. I rack my brain to try and remember what happened. Vague memories of previous ventures into the attic come back to me; had I decided to create a bigger scrapbook of memories? Did I use the flowers in a school project? Was there a clearout of the attic a few years back? Or was that only discussed? For the life of me I just could not remember.
The flowers could have lived forever in those bog fields. Our memories are so much smaller than the land’s.
‘The plait of my hair
a slimy birth-cord
of bog, had been cut
and I rose from the dark,
hacked bone, skull-ware,
frayed stitches, tufts,
small gleams on the bank.’
Bog Queen – Seamus Heaney (1975)
… ‘our memories are so much smaller than the lands’
The land holds memories much longer than our own brief attempts. This is a concept that has wormed its way into my way of viewing the land around me, planted there maybe from the first time I climbed the steps of the blarney castle, all worn and slippery, from centuries of use. A thought and understanding that has solidified each visit I make to an ancient city, letting my hand graze random pillars of pure white marble in Greece, the statue of the small black dog in Edinburgh, the walls of expensive shop fronts in San Marcos square. The ghosts of those who have passed through, those who stood and touched these man made structures, feel tangible when you’re consciously connecting with these physical places. Who were they, did great figures of the past stand here, were life changing decisions made on this spot? Is this space important for the very reason it holds the memories of great decisions or actions?
It’s a line of thought I wonder about often, but I know it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if a pillar I have touched was also touched by Socrates, or whatnot. What I know is it was made by a man, or two, or ten. And they are long gone now, those who made it and placed it. Those who sculpted and smoothed it. They are long gone, but it is so grounding, so reassuring, that this object still stands. How does it hold their memories? Is it because the object, a piece of stone, natural in of itself, was manipulated and designed into a space? Manipulated into a shape, an order, a structure.
When I look at the mossy sculpture in the small window of the grand parade i dont think it’s man made. I thought these sculptures were a collection of plants, a warping of natural elements, manipulating them into these perfect circles. Borrowing from nature, to reflect nature. But they are actually textiles, mimicking the natural form of moss. But when looked at more intensely they are too perfect. There’s not enough imperfections, as if these circles are zoomed out, even out of focus, so you can recognise the full picture, and leave the chaos of the imperfections that make up the whole alone.
Are you standing in front of the window now, reading this? This space, though always busy, has become crazy in its function as a public space since the start of the pandemic. Who wouldve guessed an open space, near a river, in the middle of a city would be a prime spot for drinking and socialising? There is so much chaos on this spot, so many stains on the concrete. So much rubbish, spread about, making the space feel chaotic, as if the energy of those drinking there during the nights is embedded in the concrete, letting you know there is a slight chaos here.
It’s calming, in that sense, to view this work.
green, earthy, spongy, wiry, moist
damp, cold,. soaking
Damp, damp, damp, damp – Wetness is a very peculiar thing.
water from the oceans exists here too.
Green, squidgy, lush, habitat, verdant..
Or? Green, growth, desertion, life, uninterrupted