Michele O’Connor Connolly and Janice McEwen

Michele O’Connor Connolly and Janice McEwen
Cross Species Kinship
28 October 2019 to 3 February 2020 

Open Studio 
Wednesday 29 January & Friday 31 January
12 noon to 3 pm
Join Michele in her studio to see what she’s been working on during her ‘Cross Species Kinship’ residency here at Uillinn. This is the final week of the residency and she’s inviting everyone to come and visit her studio for a chat and a cuppa.

Meeting two years ago on a public art project in Cork, Michele and Janice quickly came to realise that although they have very different backgrounds and experiences, they share many interests. Michele is a West Cork-based artist who is interested in marks made by humans in the landscape, who works through oral culture, folk tradition and critical research and who also has a deep interest in the politics of society and the navigation of civilization through time. Janice has spent many years in the Northern Territory of Australia where her work focussed on the dingo and the different ways it is regarded by Aboriginal and settler culture and where she supported a number of Indigenous artists and communities through community cultural development programmes. In their conversations, these two artists discovered an interesting crossover between indigenous cultures from Australia and Irish ancient beliefs and from these conversations their Cross Species Kinship project began. 

This residency will bring critical research around the current topic of the Arts and the Anthropocene into a real life context through the lens of the kelp forest. The sustainability of kelp, a type of  algae, and its importance for the local marine environment became the catalyst for their inquiries. The artists are engaging with various members of Protect Our Native Kelp Forest community in Bantry Bay and marine biologists in developing their research into the kelp forest and the ecosystem.

Members of the Protect Our Native Kelp Forest community and the general public will be invited to their studio at Uillinn  for practical workshops and to open conversations around the critical cultural and physical elements around the kelp. While both artists will respond to the work as individuals taking inspiration from each other, they will also be working together towards a participation and engagement project that explores new ways humans can think about and work with other species in response to the Anthropocene and the tidal wave of plant and animal extinctions that are resulting from human intervention in the natural environment. This work will encourage knowledge of the history, character and importance of the local marine environment, and explore the traditional cultural significance of seaweed to Ireland, creating a conceptual arts project that will bring unique insights to the process. 

Michele O’Connor Connolly is based in West Cork and has a Masters Degree in Arts & Humanities from UCC, a MA Art & Process Residency Award from Crawford College of Art & Design, and a Masters Degree in Art & Process Crawford College of Art & Design Cork, following her BA (Hon) Visual Art Degree, Sherkin Island, 2012.

Janice McEwen is an Australian artist with an interest in community cultural development. She has a B Vis Arts Hons Northern Territory University Darwin Australia, where her Honours thesis, titled ‘Self and Other in Post Colonial Australia, was accompanied by a drawing installation ‘The Longest Fence in the World’ and performance work that drew parallels between Australia’s treatment of Indigenous people, native wildlife and recently arrived asylum seekers. 

Becoming Other - A workshop with Michele and Janice
Saturday 23 November, 10.30am to 3.00pm
Booking essential on 02822090 or info@westcorkartscentre.com
10 places only, €5 including materials
There will be breaks for tea and coffee, bring a sandwich for lunch.

Kelp, how much do we know about it, and how do we really feel about it? As part of their residency in Uillinn, Cross Species Kinship artists Michele O’Connor Connolly and Janice McEwen, are investigating ways of ‘becoming other’ species with a focus on the kelp forest, the intertidal zone and the Anthropocene. Becoming Other is a one day experimental drawing workshop for adults exploring the kelp as a subject, as a drawing material and as a tool. It will be a relaxing and fun, collaborative experience whether you are an artist or someone who cares about the kelp and would enjoy relating to it in a more creative way.

Conversations with the Kelp and FriendsConversations with the Kelp and Friends
Saturday 7th December at 12 noon
No booking necessary
Screening short films about the intertidal zone followed by a Q & A on the future for Ireland’s kelp forest and what this means for us all.
Today many challenges and opportunities face our oceans. Ireland’s seaweed and kelp forests are recognised as vital for a healthy marine ecosystem and provides a carbon sink defence against global warming, but they are threatened by climate change. They also face challenges because the economy of kelp production could threaten their long-term health and even their survival. For people in West Cork these issues have particular relevance in Bantry Bay.
Cross Species Kinship Project is investigating our responsibilities towards other species in the Anthropocene through the lens of the kelp forest. It is screening two short films that show the complex network of mutually dependent life forms within the intertidal zone. This will be followed by a Q & A session that focuses on the kelp. Conversations with the Kelp and Friends is a group conversation, with invited local stakeholders who have in-depth knowledge of the intertidal zone. The event will provide the opportunity to be part of a conversation about the importance of Ireland’s kelp forest and its future, to share ideas and opinions about initiatives which could affect its sustainability in the changing and challenging climatic and economic environment of the Anthropocene.


WCAC acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Cork County Council in making these residencies possible.

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