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.
Watch Jaki Irvine talk about her work in her video introduction.
If the Ground Should Open… is part of the official Ireland 2016 Programme.
This commission 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.