What artists get up to…

Palimpsest image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

The image you see above was begun by Kate Murphy.  She created it by scanning her own face and rotating her head slowly as the scanning arm moved from left to right.  Next, Nuala Ní Fhlathúin rephotographed the image using an experimental method on a rainy day (!) in Galway. Colin Martin then drew an image of a green screen over it. Claire Halpin placed an antique mirror on the image and rescanned it and passed it on to Brian Fay. Brian responded to the notion of mirroring and decided to copy the image and invert it so that it was now ‘a mirror to itself’. It looked somewhat like a Rorschach test at this stage.

I’ll pause here to explain that Claire Halpin and myself are curating an art project on behalf of Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc, to represent Ireland at Artisterium VI in Tbilisi, Georgia this year. Artisterium is a major international art event with a 10 day programme of exhibitions, presentations and workshops in the Georgian capitol. The theme this year is about exploring how we deal with ‘the Other’ and so we decided to make it a collaborative project and have 8 artists working on each other’s artworks – and see how that worked out!

So when the next artist, Aoife McGarrigle, received the image she immediately thought of butterfies and insects. So she cut out the image in the shape of a dragonfly, using the mirrors as upper wings. And she also added a few ‘mutations’ to it because she was reading about Cornelia Hesse Honegger at the time – an artist who makes beautiful studies of insects that have developed various mutations because they live near nuclear power stations. But that’s another story. When Mary A. Fitzgerald received the image she decided to add two little cameo portraits to the hand mirrors on the wings of the dragonfly and so finally, the image of the dragonfly with added portraits and various mutations arrived in my inbox…

It was then up to me to respond to it, add something to it, change it in some way or… I was the final artist to work on this piece. I felt that the image had developed quite sinister connotations, perhaps influenced by the continuous stories we’ve been hearing of pending war in the Middle East, so I decided to try and turn it around and present a message of reconcilliation.  As the theme of Artisterium VI is about dealing with ‘the Other’, I decided to copy and invert the dragonfly so that now we had two of them on opposite sides but they were face to face and speaking to each other. I also added the new background, perhaps a scene of the aftermath of war.

So that’s an example of what we’ve been up to.  Each of the artists started one piece and passed it on. Each of them will finish one piece. The process is well underway at this stage.  It’s called The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project and it’s really exciting to see all the developments. Later on there’ll be a publication about it. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime there’s more general information at: http://www.artisterium.org/  and here’s a couple more of the finished pieces…

Palimpsest Image by Brian Fay

Palimpsest image by Aoife McGarrigle

See a slide show of all the works passing through all the 8 stages.  It was put together by Claire Halpin. It’s brill !  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzv_IYKDSI



  1. This girl reminds me so much of the Afgan girl who was on the cover of national geographic in 1985 . Look up ‘ Afgan Girl revealed’ and you will see what I mean. The whole picture you and the other artists have developed is reminisent of the collages that the high school students used to make in Art class 40 years ago !! I like it . Good luck with your upcoming show. Charlotte.


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