Portráidí Criathraigh – the film
The film follows the making of Portráidí Criathraigh by visual artist Seán Ó Flaithearta during 2019 and 2020. The project worked with the local community to chose the two people honoured in the installation.
Is sraith saothair ealaíne é Faoi Rún atá suite amuigh faoin spéir i Ros Muc, agus a dhéanann iniúchadh ar an bplé idir tírdhreach, aeráid agus cultúr na háite. Is é an t-ealaíontóir Árannach Seán Ó Flaithearta a chruthaigh Portráidí Criathraigh i bportach i gcroí-lár Ros Muc. Léiríonn siad beirt phearsa a bhaineann le Ros Muc; sin iad Bridget Aylward, Queen of Alaska agus an rinceoir cáilithe ar an sean-nós, Cóilín Sheáin Dharach Seoige. Tugann siad ómós don áit lárnach atá ag an bportach i saol muintir na Gaeltachta. Baineadh na portráidí amach as an bportach le sleán agus innealra, mar a bhaintear móin, agus is ionann iad agus na trínsí agus díoganna báite mórthimpeall orthu.
Tugann an scannán seo léargas ar Portráidí Criathraigh, saothar ealaíne a chruthaigh Seán Ó Flaithearta i bportach i Ros Muc i nGaeltacht Chonamara. Is iad muintir Ros Muc a bhí páirteach agus a roghnaigh an bheirt phearsa atá á gcomóradh sa saothar, sin iad an rinceoir ar an sean-nós, Cóilín Sheáin Dharach Seoige agus Bridget Aylward, Banríon Alaska. Rinne Ríonach Ní Néill coimisiúnú ar Phortráidí Criathraigh mar chuid de shraith saothair ealaíne faoin spéir a dhéanann iniúchadh ar an bplé idir tírdhreach, aimsir agus cultúr na Gaeltachta, do Turas Chonamara, togra do Gaillimh 2020 Príomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa. Is iad Joe Lee agus Ríonach Ní Néill a stiúraigh an scannán.
Sníomhann an t-ealaíontóir Paul Kinsella tírdhreacha fisiciúla agus fíorúla le chéile i saothair grianghrafadóireachta a chuireann i gcás áit ina bhfuil an t-am atá caite, an t-am i láthair agus an t-am atá le teacht ag tárlú ag an am céanna. Spreagtha ag an bplean a caitheadh i dtraipisí bóthar iarainn a chur síos sa cheantar, ceistíonn a shaothar buaineacht na timpeallachta.
Faoi Rún is a series of site-specific artworks set on the Ros Muc peninsula tracing the interplay between landscape, climate and culture, curated by Ríonach Ní Néill.
The film follows the making of Portráidí Criathraigh by visual artist Seán Ó Flaithearta during 2019 and 2020. The project worked with the local community to chose the two people, the sean-nós dancer Cóilín Sheáin Dharach Seoige and Bridget Aylward, Queen of Alaska, honoured in the installation. The artwork was commissioned by Ríonach Ní Néill as part of a series of site-specific installations that trace the interplay between Gaeltacht culture, weather and landscape for Turas Chonamara, a project for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture.
See the film, Portráidí Criathraigh here, which was aired on TG4 in March 2021.
Inis Mór artist Seán Ó Flaithearta used techniques associated with turf cutting to cut two portraits into the Ros Muc bog. Flooded with water, the works, titled Portráidí Criathraigh (bog portraits), echo the fluctuations of seasonal turloughs, and reference the ingenuity of traditional ways of working within and with the natural landscape. The geometric pattern of ditches criss-crossing the bog is broken by two faces which seem to appear out of the corner of your eye.
Seán and Ríonach collaborated with the local community to find the sites for the portraits, and to choose the two people to be commemorated in them. Well known within Ros Muc, both have yet to gain wider recognition they deserve for the impact they had.
Bridget Aylward was born Bríd Ní Mhainnín in 1865 Ros Muc. She emigrated to American as a maid, and made her way to the Yukon where she made her fortune in gold mining and earned the moniker Queen of Alaska. In her old age she returned to Ros Muc, which was still blighted by poverty, and left her fortune in a foundation for the education of local children. Though she died in 1958, her foundation is still giving educational opportunities, three generations on.
Cóilín Sheáin Dharach Seoige didn’t take up dancing until his 50s, and it was in his 60s and 70s that he gained recognition as one of the finest exponents of the Conamara style of sean-nós dancing. The art-form was dying out in the 1980s, but Cóilín is credited for inspiring a new generation of dancers to emulate him and sean-nós is now danced across the globe.
The portraits were created in the Spring of 2020 and will remain until they finally grow back into the bog. When it is safe again, it will be possible for the public to visit them. In the meantime, Ríonach Ní Néill and Joe Lee, who previously collaborated on an award-winning film, have made a short film about the making of the bog portraits.
Coming up as part of the exhibition is Ephemera, three large-scale outdoor photographic works by digital media artist Paul Kinsella. Set in secluded locations around Ros Muc that were once thoroughfares, these semi-transparent images depict virtual landscapes through which the physical landscapes can be seen. Inspired by unrealised plans to build a railway to the peninsula, the works explore simultaneous alternatives of Ros Muc’s past, present and future, and question the permanence we take for granted in a place.
Image: Portráidí Criathraigh by Seán Ó Flaithearta, image by Daniel St Ledger