Nathan O’Donnell

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Tipperary Arts Office will host Nathan O’Donnell on Lough Derg, the largest of the three lakes formed along the River Shannon and the first destination for the River Residencies curated by Ormston House this Summer. As a writer and editor, Nathan is interested in how publishing can be used as a device for participation and what forms participatory publishing can take. He will visit villages, swimming spots, and monastic sites along the shores of the lake, speaking to swimmers and mapping some of the mythologies, place-names, customs, and daily rituals that have evolved around the water.

Nathan O’Donnell is a writer, researcher, and one of the co-editors of the Irish journal of contemporary art criticism, Paper Visual Art. He has published fiction and creative non-fiction as well as critical work on modern and contemporary art. He was an IRC Enterprise Postdoctoral Research Fellow at IMMA, 2018–19, and continues to work on projects with the institution, including the annual IMMA Summer School.

“I am really pleased to have been awarded this residency on Lough Derg, a site with a lot of resonance and significance for me personally. I grew up nearby, in Nenagh, and my maternal family is rooted in the townlands around the lake. So it means a lot to me to have this opportunity to spend time here, to explore the traditions that have built up around the lake and the ways it is used today, particularly by swimmers.”

Nathan has led several public art projects and other participatory and educational initiatives, and he had his first solo exhibition (focused on alternative educational philosophies) at the Illuminations Gallery at Maynooth University in 2020. He has edited and produced several project-based publications and zines and, in 2020, with Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll, he founded Numbered Editions, an experimental imprint for artists’ writing.

“There is an extensive spiritual history associated with the lake too, and a legacy of monastic book-making, which I’m interested in. My plan is to create a publication that connects some of these threads, working with designer (and my regular collaborator) Clare Bell, and I’m very grateful to Tipperary County Council and Ormston House for opening up the space to make this project possible.”

The artist has been awarded artist’s bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council, as well as artist’s commissions from IMMA, Dublin City Council, the Arts Council of Ireland, and South Dublin County Council. He teaches at Trinity College Dublin and on the MA Art in the Contemporary World at NCAD, and he is currently writer-in-residence at Maynooth University.

The River Residencies are co-funded by the Arts Council’s An Invitation to Collaboration scheme, led by Limerick Culture & Arts Office in partnership with the Arts Offices in Cavan, Clare and Tipperary. The River Residencies are part of the Museum of Mythological Water Beasts (2017-), a multi-year project about, along and on the River Shannon curated by Ormston House.

Image: documentation of placemaking workshop delivered with Louis Haugh as part of Streetwork, a project on play and the urban realm with students of the Central Model Senior School, enabled by an Education and Learning Commission from Dublin City Arts Office and the Arts Council; materials generated in the workshop were included in This Being Where We Play, designed by Clare Bell, 2019.

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