River Residencies

Ormston House proudly presents the River Residencies by William Bock, boredomresearch, Tania Candiani, Nathan O’Donnell and Clare Bell. Over the past two years, the artists met with communities in rural locations along the River Shannon in Clare, Cavan, Limerick and Tipperary. Local participants were our guides, coordinated events, provided interviews, shared histories, starred in films, and supported the research and creation of the artworks in many ways. The exhibition at Ormston House brings together the artworks for the first time.

William Bock spent a year visiting local families and individuals along the north shore of the Shannon Estuary, from Kildysart to Labasheeda. The artist learned about their connections to the river, their histories and thoughts about the future. During his visits, William became interested in the silt that coats the estuary. For the exhibition at Ormston House, the artist presents a suite of portraits of individuals and family groups as they emerge from the silt, covered in the river mud from the Shannon Estuary.

boredomresearch (Vicky Isley and Paul Smith) present The Cavanoids Dance, a new film created following a research residency in the Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark in West Cavan. Informed by a community-led research process involving ecologists, geologists, farmers and storytellers, The Cavanoids Dance is a work of re-interpreted folklore responding to the mystery that surrounds Shannon Pot, the long-believed source of the River Shannon. Combining elements of animation and film captured on location in the Geopark, the film portrays the awakening of the Cavanoids, fictional creatures created by the artists.

Tania Candiani presents Tidal Choreography, a new film made during and following a residency in the coastal village of Glin, on the south shore of the Shannon Estuary. During her stay, the artist observed the interconnected rhythm of the village and the tidal river. In particular, she spent time with local swimmers as they made their way daily to the water at high tide. On her final day in Glin, over fifty local swimmers joined the artist to feature in the film. The film brings also together footage above and below the waterline, at high tide and low tide, field recordings and local tunes, Irish words relating to water. Through this combination of sources, patterns are created, gravity shifts, and ecological worlds revealed.  

Nathan O’Donnell visited villages, swimming spots, and monastic sites along the shores of the Lough Derg, speaking to swimmers and mapping place names, mythologies, customs, and daily rituals that have evolved around the water. His forthcoming publication, The Book of Invasions, is a record of this experience, designed by Clare Bell. For the exhibition, Nathan and Clare have produced a diptych poster, Solarium, named after the Grianán—the ‘sunny spot’ or ‘solarium’—in Terryglass, where local monks working on the Book of Leinster would go to reflect and contemplate. The monks invented stories and sources for the place-names of the lands around them, stories about kings and ambushes, floods, lake-bursts, river-bursts, descents into the water, deaths, reanimations.

The River Residencies are funded by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Invitation to Collaboration scheme, led by Limerick Arts Office in partnership with the Arts Offices in Cavan, Clare and Tipperary. The River Residencies are curated by Caimin Walsh and Mary Conlon at Ormston House, as part of the Museum of Mythological Water Beasts (2017-) about, along and on the River Shannon.


Image: Eve (2022) photograph by William Bock, courtesy of the artist.
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