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Irish artist Jaki Irvine presents a major new sound and video work at IMMA: a contemporary call to the lost aspirations of the Rising

23 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

A major new commission for IMMA by Irish artist Jaki Irvine, If the Ground Should Open…, is presented here for the first time on the occasion of the centenary of the historic Easter uprisings of 1916. This new work takes as a point of departure Irvine’s 2013 novel ‘Days of Surrender’, which focuses on Elizabeth O’Farrell and Julia Grenan. These were two of more than a hundred women who were ready to die or kill for the possibility of a different Ireland but whose stories were all but written out of official Irish history, consigned to the margins as the narrative was masculinised.

This new video and sound installation in the courtyard galleries uses their names as ‘the ground’ of a score for nine musicians. The eleven tracks were composed by Irvine using the canntaireachd system – originally developed as an oral scoring system for Scottish Highland pipes. The basic musical motif in classical piping (piobaireachd) is called ‘the ground’ of the piece, which is then built upon with additional notes and melodies. In If the Ground Should Open… the names of women involved in the 1916 Rising, form the ground. In this way they are performed and remembered, becoming part of the ground we walk on in 2016.  The project was also developed from the leaked Anglo-Irish bankers taped conversations.

Commenting on her work Irvine said “With If the Ground Should Open…, the legacy of 1916 is reconsidered in the light of a contemporary Ireland broken by corporate greed. Both the past and the present are reflected through a lens that is complicated, joyful, furious and hopeful”.

Irvine also goes on to acknowledge the contribution of the performers to the project “All of the performers brought their own extraordinary knowledge, generosity and musicality to this project and further developed it through personal interpretation and improvisation”. The nine performers include on vocals Louise Phelan, Cats Irvine and Cherry Smyth; bagpipes Hilary Knox; piano Izumi Kimura; violin Liz McClaren; cello Jane Hughes; double bass Aura Stone and drums Sarah Grimes. A one off live event of the work will be performed in full on Tuesday 13 December at the Great Hall in IMMA.

If the Ground Should Open… is part of the official Ireland 2016 Programme and is presented as part of an exciting on-going initiative, New Art at IMMA, proudly supported by Matheson, which allows IMMA to continue to support artists’ vital work in a strand of programming that recognises and nurtures new and emerging talents, new thinking and new forms of exhibition-making.

For further information, and images, please contact
Monica Cullinane E:
[email protected] T:+353 (0)1 612 9921

– ENDS –

Additional Notes for Editors

About the artist

Jaki Irvine (b. 1966, Dublin) is an artist who lives and works in Dublin and Mexico City. She is concerned with how we come to imagine and understand ourselves from within our privacy and often uses video installation as a way to reflect on moments where this process, awkwardly and unavoidably, comes spilling into the public spaces of our lives.

Jaki Irvine’s solo exhibitions include Project Arts Centre (1996), Kerlin Gallery (2004) and the Douglas Hyde Gallery (1999, 2005) in Dublin, Frith Street Gallery (1997, 1999, 2011) the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden, Germany (1998) and Delfina Project Space (2001) in London, Henry Moore Institute (2004) Leeds and Galleria Alessandro de March (2004) Milan. In 1995 Irvine was included in the seminal exhibition of Young British Artists, General Release, at the Venice Biennale, and represented Ireland at the 1997 Biennale. In 2008 Irvine produced a major video installation entitled In a World Like This, which was produced in collaboration with Chisenhale Gallery, London and The Model Arts and Niland Gallery, Sligo. In 2011, a new solo exhibition of video works Before This Page is Turned, developed in the Dublin Graphic Print Studios, was presented at the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. She has also participated in numerous group shows throughout Europe, Australia and Japan. Irvine is represented in the collections of IMMA, the Irish Arts Council, Tate Modern, FRAC and in numerous other collections, both public and private.

List of Tracks / If the Ground Should Open…. (2016)

1. Foreign Body 6:53
Text: Poem by Cherry Smyth,
written about Mairéad O’Farrell, in response to ‘Days of Surrender’.
Music: Canntaireachd based on Maire Ní Shiubhlaigh. 

2. Bankers Happen 6:12
Recordings : Anglo Irish Bank tapes: Peter Fitzgerald & John Bowe
Music based on
Elizabeth O’Farrell & Julia Grenan

3. Aoife de Burca 2:57
Text: extract from ‘Days of Surrender’.
Recordings : Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm
BBC interview with Alessio Rastani
Music based on Aoife de Burca 

4. Moolah 3:40
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm
Music based on Kathleen Barrett

5. Mrs. M. J. Rafferty 3:57
Recordings : Anglo Irish Bank tapes: Peter Fitzgerald & John Bowe
Music based on Mrs. M. J. Rafferty 

6. Nowhere to Go 4:34
Text: extract from ‘Days of Surrender’.
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm & John Bowe
Music based on Eileen Cooney, Annie Cooney, Lily Cooney & May Cooney

7. A Million Deaths 2:20
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm & John Bowe
Music based on Rose MacNamara

8. Buy it Quietly 4:13
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm & John Bowe; David Lyon& John Bowe
Music based on Jinny Shanahan & Florence Meade

9. Treason 4:38
Text: extract from ‘Days of Surrender’.
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm & John Bowe
Music based on Louise Gavan Duffy & Nora Foley 

10. Innocent 4:15
Text: extract from writing by Cherry Smyth in response to ‘Days of Surrender’
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: John Bowe & Matt Pass
Music based on Winifred Carney

11. Don’t Fuck it Up 4:30
Recordings: Anglo Irish Bank tapes: David Drumm & John Bowe
Music based on Helena Molony 

Vocals Louise Phelan, Cats Irvine, Cherry Smyth, Bagpipes Hilary Knox, Piano Izumi Kimura, Violin Liz McClaren, Cello Jane Hughes, Doublebass Aura Stone, Drums Sarah Grimes.

Sound recording at Windmill Lane Studios, Sound engineer Ger McDonnell, House engineer/assistant studio manager Rachel Conlon, Additional assistance from Oisín & Jack. All video footage shot and edited by Jaki Irvine at IMMA and Temple Bar Gallery & Studios.

Associated Talks and Events

Artist Talk: Jaki Irvine, If the Ground Should Open…
Thurs 22 September, 6pm / Lecture Room

Jaki Irvine introduces her new work and discusses the ways in which the work, and the forthcoming live performance, experiments with the Canntaireachd oral traditions of bagpipe music and a spoken-sung score. Moderated by Sarah Glennie, Director, IMMA. Book your free ticket here.

Curators Lunchtime Talk Series
Wed 30 November, 1.15-2pm, Meeting Point Main Reception, FREE
Join IMMA Director Sarah Glennie for an insightful walkthrough of this exhibition. No booking required.

Live Event
If the Ground Should Open…

Tues 13 December 2016 / 7.30pm Great Hall, IMMA / €8 
Jaki Irvine presents the entire work performed live by the project performers; Louise Phelan, Cats Irvine, Cherry Smyth, Hilary Knox, Izumi Kimura, Liz McClaren, Jane Hughes, Aura Stone and Sarah Grimes. Online booking opens 23 September 2016 and places will be limited so early booking advised. Ticket prince includes booking fee and glass of wine after the performance. For further details on the event and how to purchase tickets, please visit

This exhibition is supported by

Additional Support from

Official IMMA Hotel Partner


Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.