Nicola Anthony is a British artist who works between her two artist studios in Dublin and Singapore. She has become known around the world for her metal text sculptures and burned paper drawings, which give glimpses into the effects of displacement, migration, and intergenerational trauma. She focuses her research on untold narratives, collective memory, and life stories.
Following engagement with the Aistriú texts, Nicola has created a mixed media installation entitled ‘Murmuration’ based on the poem ‘Fáilte Uí Dhonnchú’ by Louis De Paor.
The motif of birds in flight is an allegory for the many people across the world who have had to migrate from their homes and settle in a new village, city, land or community. The sculpture speaks of the invisible, intangible, and physical connections that we humans thrive on. It was born from a year of research working with isolated communities across Ireland, to understand the experience and impact of loneliness on the human spirit.
In a flock or ‘murmuration’ of starlings, each bird’s coordination is caused by thousands of individual movements and instinctive actions. This phenomenon is called emergent behaviour, where they appear choreographed but are in fact all acting independently. There are parallels with how humans behave in a crowd or as part of a society.
The starlings are made of words from de Paor’s poem, which portrays crowds of people walking past an unseen, homeless, Romanian woman in the streets of Galway – surrounded by people yet still incredibly alone.
Aistriú a Galway 2020 Commission
When Europe is faced with unprecedented migration, twentieth-century Irish language texts provide a vocabulary to respond to contemporary challenges. The Aistriú project sheds new light on some of our best-known Irish language writers and engages new readers around the globe through original translations and creative responses. The project presents our rich Irish language poetry and prose as part of the tapestry of contemporary multilingual world literatures today.
In partnership with EFACIS (the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies), we invited translators across Europe and the globe to choose and translate one or more of the Aistriú texts. These translations are presented together on the Aistriú website (aistriu.eu) along with notes on the authors, texts and translators. We have been overwhelmed with the response. You can find over 80 translations in 17 different languages from Chinese to Croatian and from Farsi to French, and including the most widely spoken languages among Galway’s migrant communities
Aistriú creative responses
We launched a public call for artists to engage with the Aistriú texts, and Galway 2020 commissioned three separate artworks in performance, choir and sculpture. These original pieces have evolved with time and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Each one offers an intriguing insight into the Aistriú texts and their themes of migration, displacement and assimilation.