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22/07/2019 - 20/08/2019

For over two decades my practice has been focused on the role that artists can play in providing cultural space to examine the complex relationship between land, landscape and ecological sustainability. My ideas developed in the rural west of Ireland as conflicts about farming and land use played out around conservation, regulation and rural policy development. Cultural production - heritage food, tourism and festivals - has taken overtaken agriculture in economically unproductive but beautiful places produced by the very farming practices now rendered unsustainable by globalised food production. This arena is made further complicated by the legacy of visual representations of landscape as the authentic embodiment of community, tradition, stability and continuity.
In order to unpack these themes, I have used both an aesthetic and dialogical frame to introduce complexity and disrupt perceptions of landscape and the countryside beyond the progressive/urban rural/conservative polarity. The most urgent question now is finding a pragmatic approach to real sustainability; it is no longer possible to consider landscape without taking account of the real changes unfolding in relation to climate change, and by implication, food security. Therefore I use of transdisciplinary engagements and collaborations with farmers, scientists, food producers, etc., alongside aesthetic representations that point to the unconscious ways in which we are positioned by narratives of the past, an create a more nuanced understanding of the form a sustainable political ecology might take today.

Deirdre O’Mahony

Deirdre O’Mahony is a visual artist whose practice is informed by a deep interest in rural sustainability, farming food security and rural/urban relationships. For more than two decades she has investigated the political ecology of rural places through public engagement, archival and moving image installation, critical writing and cultural production. Projects include “X-PO”, a former rural post-office in the west of Ireland revived as a social space that has since been recognised as an exceptional socially-engaged artwork. SPUD (2009 – 2018), developed through public events, collaborations and constructed situations was designed to create space for public discourse on food security, seed sovereignty and mêtis ortacit knowledge and included The Persistent Return, a moving image installation at VISUAL Carlow that toured to Leeuwarden as part of the Capital of Culture.
In 2018 she produced two Mind Meitheal stakeholder events, three short films and curated an artwork for Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural research agency as part of a Horizon 2020 project, CERERE. She was commissioned to make a public work for Grasslands, for Aarhus EU Capital of Culture and selected for the first Welcome Trust residency at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading in the UK. The outcome was a film, Speculative Optimism, that reflected on the museum archives and the effect of Sainfoin, a type of heritage forage, on animal and soil health and exhibited at the MERL and the Galway International Arts Festival (2017/8).
Residencies include Centre Culturel Irlandais (2020), Leitrim Sculpture Centre (2019), IMMA (2018), Museum of English Rural Life (2017), A Fair Land residency IMMA (2016), Resort Residency, Fingal (2016), Callan Workhouse Guild (2015/16) and Askeaton Contemporary Arts Welcome to the Neighbourhood (2015). In 2018 she received the Irish American Cultural Institute O’Malley Award, an Arts Council bursary, Arts Council project awards, and an international Pollock-Krasner Award.
Deirdre O’Mahony was born in Limerick and attended St Martins School of Art London (BA), the Crawford College Cork (MA) and the University of Brighton (PhD).

Past Residencies


Landscape, Ecology & Environment Research Residencies