Toma McCullim - 110 Skibbereen Girls

Toma McCullim 110 Skibbereen Girls
In residence from 8 January to 7 February and 5 to 22 June 2018.

This year-long project explores the poignant stories of 110 girls from Skibbereen who escaped famine for Australia c1850. Artist Toma McCullim plans to investigate how various people sharing Skibbereen Community Hospital campus today - staff, service users, residents and visitors - can contribute to the development of a permanent site specific artwork to mark this moment in history. Attention will be paid to how the process impacts on the participants' sense of place, their relationship with the location and with each other.

Toma explains, ‘Earl Grey's Famine Orphan Scheme sent 110 girls, aged between 14 and 18, from Skibbereen workhouse (now Skibbereen Community Hospital campus) to Australia between 1848 and 1850. It is now estimated that there could be 10,000 descendant diaspora from this group of girls, each with a story. History lives on through us. Narratives tell us who we are. Making new stories of the past can change how we feel about who we are in the present. By bringing people together to talk about the legacies we have inherited we can make new shapes of the future. The Skibbereen girls can be celebrated for their contribution to the making of modern Australia. A diaspora of relations can find their way back to celebrate these young women's courage. Modelling a spoon from beeswax, we feel that connection made in our own hands. Making together we are made one.’

The process begins with a studio residency at Uillinn, shortly followed by a residency on site in the Hospital Campus. The residencies will give time for Toma to research and develop her ideas and support a number of public interactions to include tours, talks, film screenings and participatory workshops, all investigating the theme of the 110 girls, their journey to Australia and diaspora that exists now.

A series of 110 bronze spoons will be cast to signify the 110 Skibbereen girls and the artwork located near the Famine burial ground on the Hospital Campus. Work from, and documentation of, the project will be exhibited alongside Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, an exhibition of historical and contemporary artwork from Ireland's Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, USA which is being shown at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre from July to October 2018. An online documentation with photographs, sound clips and film will document the process, the artwork and emergence of a story.

To keep up to date with the progress of this project please see the 110 Skibbereen Girls Facebook page

Toma has a 1st class BA (hons) Degree in Anthropology of Art from the University of East Anglia and has an MA in Arts Process from the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork. She has been awarded grants from Create/ Arts Council and Cork County Council for her participative arts work. Her own work has been shown nationally and internationally, most recently in Beijing. She was Artist in Residence at Uillinn: West Cork Art Centre in 2015, which led to her exhibition about dementia “These Tangled Threads” at Uillinn in August, 2015. Toma has worked in theatre and film design, most recently as production designer on Carmel Winter's upcoming feature Float Like a Butterfly produced by Samson Films. Her interest in anthropological theory places the question ‘What does art do?’ at the heart of her creative questioning. Her current work uses a variety of media to investigate the role of material culture in identity making.

110 Skibbereen Girls by artist Toma McCullim is a Cork County Council, West Cork Arts Centre and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Famine Heritage Project, funded by the West Cork Municipal District Creative Communities Scheme and the National Lottery


Uillinn Residencies are supported by the Arts Council and Cork County Council.


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