Soil Still (Mark Leahy) October 6 2023, Milford House
I completed the Grass and Soil Residency with Live Art Ireland at Milford House, Tipperary this autumn.
This residency was important for me in many ways, particularly in that Deej from Live Art Ireland facilitated my breaking down the residency into a series of short visits instead of one longer stay. As an artist carer and parent this was significant, as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. And the wonderful result was that each time I arrived, I would observe the changing of the seasons as autumn deepened into winter. There was always a thousand differences to see, feel and smell when I walked around the fields. And I got to meet different artists each time who were staying at Milford House too.
I made some drawings, which have been documented in the blog posts I wrote about each visit
My goal was to make a series of performative actions in various sites around the grounds. I was mostly interested in working in the grounds, particularly the fields.
I made a series of works which I produced as short video documentations see below:
link to film: Stubble Field 2,1
Link to documentation of Soil Stills
link to film: Advance, Retreat
link to film: Forced Agenda
Each of these works is an attempt to connect, to have a conversation with the land, in particular the specific space in each piece of work. There was a level of satisfaction in conceptualising, creating and producing the work, and getting to work with the wonderful artists- namely Mark Leahy and Olivia Hassett who assisted me. It’s not a case of liking the end result, its assessing whether there is any level of success reached through the making of them. I don’t view liking or disliking as a validating reason to do or not do something. It’s more important than that. After all I don’t particularly even like myself so I wouldn’t class ‘liking’ as a reason to avoid making an action. If I did I’d never make anything. I suspect I’m not alone there.
I return to repetitive action as a methodology, time and time again. It’s the seeking of the ultimate flow state, of being perfectly present, or confronting the self. It’s also endurance, physiology, mental ability.
The residency informed my practice and allowed me to experiment, think and produce at a rate that suited me. There was no emphasis on production by Live Art but nonetheless production is a means of measurable output.
I applied for and was granted 2 residencies this year, which was a sizeable increase from the year before! My ability to carry these residencies out was in part due to the kids being older and in part due to geography and time of the year.
I think ultimately its about producing a body of work and showing consistency within a practice- consistency of research, thinking, experimentation and development.