Galway 2020 presents Aerial/Sparks by Louise Manifold


11-27 September: Inis Oírr 

9-13 September: Ars Electronica Festival (online)

Participating artists: Kevin Barry (IRL), Ailís Ní Ríain (IRL), Carol Anne Connolly (IRL), David Stalling (DE), Kennedy Browne (IRL), Magz Hall (EN), Robertina Šebjanič (SI)


Art and science was once a common theme on board an expedition and this tradition lives on in the form of Aerial/Sparks.’ – Rosemarie Butler, Scientific & Technical Officer, Marine Institute 

Aerial/Sparks, created by artist Louise Manifold for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, invites you to connect in person and online with one of the last unknown spaces on earth, the ocean wilderness. Seven artists, writers and composers from across Europe have produced a series of compelling standalone artworks for exhibition and radio broadcast, inspired by their experiences of joining research expeditions on board the Marine Institute Ireland’s RV Celtic Explorer.  

The rugged beauty of Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands and with a deep-rooted maritime culture, is the setting for the Aerial/Sparks Art Trail from 11 – 27 September. At just 3km long by 3km wide, visitors can easily traverse the island by foot to discover sound works housed in a lighthouse, the local church, an old handball alley, and Áras Éanna, Europe’s most westerly Arts Centre. 



A virtual programme of events for Ars Electronica 2020, the world-renowned festival for art, technology and society, will accompany the main exhibition from 9 – 13 September. Titled Garden GALWAY by Aerial/Sparks, online events include a series of conversations between artists and marine scientists. 

Aerial/Sparks started its journey by exploring the potential of radio communication to reimagine our relationship with the ocean. Each artist’s experience of ocean and water masses around Ireland and Europe has informed the production of individual work for audio and radio listening. Highlights include author Kevin Barry’s ‘Island Time’, a monologue in nine chapters for a lovelorn lighthouse keeper as he dreams of distant lands, sited at Inis Oírr Lighthouse; German composer David Stalling’sPalace of Ships’ created in collaboration with seismologist Sergei Lebedev; visual artist Carol Anne Connolly’s acoustic portrayals of the ocean inspired by the use of soundwaves in acoustic mapping to create visuals of the sea bed; and UK radio artist Magz Hall’s ‘Waves of Resistance’, a broadcast created in the spirit of transnationalism, relaying a message of peace, hope and unity across all borders. 

For Aerial/Sparks creator Louise Manifold, Inis Oírr is the ideal home for these sound works: ‘I wanted to find a place more than a space for this presentation, a place rich with silence, where organic and human sound floats and carries through the wind. I wanted each work to be experienced in a way that would connect with and charge our experience of place.’

Aerial/Sparks has taken shape through a long-term collaboration with the Marine Institute, the national agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. Since 2017, artists from Ireland, Germany, England and Slovenia have taken part in 7 ocean surveys and a passage from Galway to Hamburg on the RV Celtic Explorer, one of the few marine research vessels with sonic capabilities. These expeditions have opened up unique opportunities to foster connections between art and science as artists work side-by-side with scientists who are monitoring our marine biodiversity and the impact of humans on our ocean environment. 

‘The collaboration between the Marine Institute and Aerial/Sparks has created an innovative opportunity for artists and marine scientists to connect and engage with the wider community through mediums such as art and music,’ says Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute. ‘Using the concept of sound and the sea is a unique way of showing how both the arts and sciences can come together to highlight the value, opportunities and societal benefits of our ocean.’


Marilyn Gaughan Reddan, Head of Programme at Galway European Capital of Culture 2020, said: ‘Aerial/Sparks is a notable example of what a European Capital of Culture can bolster – new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new conversations and new partnerships. This artist-led project is created and curated by the wonderful Louise Manifold and has been in development since 2016, with a significant and ongoing partnership with the Marine Institute. Aerial/Sparks has provided incredible opportunities for artists both creatively, collaboratively, and experientially, resulting in seven new commissions for exhibition and radio broadcast sited on one of Galway’s magnificent Aran Islands, Inis Oírr.’

Aerial/Sparks by Louise Manifold is presented by Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, in partnership with the Marine Institute Ireland; Commissioners of Irish Lights; Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr; Comhar Caomhán Teo, Inis Oírr; and Ars Electronica 2020. Supported through Arts Council of Ireland Project Awards 2017 and 2019. For further information visit 



ON-SITE: Inis Oírr – Aerial/Sparks Art Trail

Dates: 11-27 September (Wednesday – Sunday) 

Time: 11am-5pm 

Venues: Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr Lighthouse, Inis Oírr Church, The Handball Alley 

Duration: Visitors will need a minimum of 3 hours to experience the whole art trail. 

Booking: The Art Trail is free. Advance booking is required for Kevin Barry’s Island Time at Inis Oírr Lighthouse to comply with physical distancing requirements. Bookings open for Island Time on 1 September: 

Groups: For groups attending, maximum group size is 6 people to comply with Covid-19 restrictions. The lighthouse will accommodate a maximum of 3 people. 

Accessibility: The Art Trail is accessible to wheelchair users. Advance notification is required for access to the lighthouse on booking. 

Transport: Ferry services from Rossaveel (Galway) and Doolin (Clare). The Art Trail is aligned with ferry arrivals. 

Further information and Art Trail map:  



ONLINE: Garden GALWAY by Aerial/Sparks at Ars Electronica 2020 

Dates: 9-13 September 


Booking: Online events are free with unrestricted access. 

Programme: Garden GALWAY presents the ship experience aboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer, pre-recorded conversations with artists and scientists about their collaborations, and excerpts from acoustic and audio-visual works produced by participating artists.  


Kevin Barry (IRL) – Author 

Title: Island Time 

Location: Inis Oírr Lighthouse 

Written and performed on site, this captivating multi-media monologue by acclaimed author Kevin Barry sounds a tragi-comic tone as a melancholy lighthouse keeper dreams of a different life and of distant lands … and of a woman in Ennistymon. 


Ailís Ní Ríain (IRL) – Contemporary Classical Composer

Title: East-West: Where morning is the sea. A meditation on time spent at sea.

Location: Áras Éanna

Ailís Ní Ríain’s atmospheric audio-visual work integrates one long take of the porthole in her cabin on the RV Celtic Explorer with a composition of hummed song and sounds created inside a grand piano. 


Carol Anne Connolly (IRL) – Visual Artist

Title: Answering Echoes 

Location: Áras Éanna

Inspired by the use of soundwaves in acoustic mapping to create visuals of the sea bed, Connolly has drawn on this visual information to compose acoustic portrayals of the ocean landscape using photoelectronic synthesisers, a technology that turns image into sound. 


David Stalling (DE) – Composer and Sound Artist

Title: Palace of Ships

Location: Handball Alley 

German composer David Stalling’s audio-visual composition is based on material and data gathered during the SEA-SEIS Survey 2018 which deployed seismometers in the Atlantic to monitor tsunami activity. Realised in collaboration with Prof Sergei Lebedev and Dr Maria Tsekhmistrenko of the Geophysics Section at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. 


Kennedy Browne (IRL) – Collaborative practice of artists Gareth Kennedy & Sarah Browne

Title: Island Affinities 

Location: Áras Éanna

Kennedy Browne’s video work stages an encounter between a destroyed US military vessel, washed up on Inis Oírr, with Seannós improvisation in music and dance, performed by brothers Colm and Gearóid Devane. 


Magz Hall (EN) – Radio Artist 

Title: Waves of Resistance (Radio art without borders)

Location: Áras Éanna 

A radiophonic poem by UK radio artist Magz Hall draws on her enforced isolation first through Brexit and then in lockdown. In the spirit of transnationalism, it sends a broadcast from the phantom but once mapped island of Hy-Brasil off the Irish coast, relaying a message of peace, hope and unity across all borders. 


Robertina Šebjanič (SI) – Intermedia Artist 

Title: Selachophilia: Cetorhinus maximus – Limaria hians 

Location: Inis Oírr Church

Stories unfold carried by the migratory basking shark (cetorhinus maximus) and the flame shell (limaria hians), sea creatures that Slovenian artist Robertina Šebjanič had the opportunity to experience during her residency on the RV Celtic Explorer. Sean-nós vocals by Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin and Róisín Seoighe are intertwined with the narration of a storyteller and field recordings of the Atlantic Ocean in this immersive audio installation. 


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