Le Cheile Multicultural Event 2005

Old Farmhouse, Co. Wicklow

Funded by Wicklow Rural Partnership Ltd under the European Union LEADER + / National Development Plan 2000-2006

The roots of my practice derived from an Interface project in 3rd year where I became interested in looking at multi culturism, the changes occurring in Ireland and the future of Ireland as a multicultural society. At the time I became interested in an artist called Rirkirit Tiravanija. He challenges art institutions and notions of identity. He sets up gatherings of free and open exchange in galleries instead of creating objects, which I found quite interesting.

I wanted to create a space where African and Irish could interact and exchange. I didn’t really want it to be in a gallery context. Instead I wanted it to be in a space that would be universal to everybody so everybody would feel welcome and relaxed. I wanted the event to emphasise on similarities between cultures, for example, storytelling food art and music, which could be shared and worked on.

My family have an old unused farmhouse so I thought that this would be an inspiring sociable setting for a gathering or event

Also many new cultures coming into Ireland are not aware that Ireland has experienced some of the same experiences that they are experiencing now, for example, emigration for a better standard of living. The house was previously owned by Andrew Doyle, my granduncle, who had to emigrate to Kalgoorli Australia in the early 1900’s to earn the money to buy this house. The farmhouse had an interesting historical background and was an inspiring sociable setting for this event to take place. The house is also featured in a book called, “Irish Country Furniture” by Claudia Kinmonth, because of its rare wooden crane over the open fire.

I decided to call it le Chéile and have it as an open day of sharing traditions, visual performance, and installation art, storytelling, music and dance, all which revolve around the notion of food. I wanted it to revolve around food, as food is a good catalyst for conversation to occur. The people I found people to participate in the event Dave Swift, Archaeologist and Historian, Bisi Adigun, African storyteller (griot) and musician, Jim Nolan, well known Irish storyteller, Sarah Browne, artist and writer. a team of African cooks and members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

I also created sculptural installations, which were shown in the other two bedrooms of the house and reflected activities such as bread making that were happening in the event. However I felt that the sculptural installations did not work I felt that the social aspect such as the relations, conversations and interactions worked better as the form in my work, instead of objects to represent what the work is about.