So rather than add to the hatred and bile that is boiling over around the internet these days, I’d like to tell you about a project that tries to bring people together.
This is “Common Ground”, a project initiated by Miriam McConnon, an Irish artist who lives in Cyprus. As you know, the two communities in Cyprus have been divided since a Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 (after a coup by the Greek military Junta) so the aim of the project was to bring Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot children closer together.
This project is one of the main events to celebrate the Cypriot city of Paphos becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2017.
A series of workshops took place in the town of Kerynia (Northern Cyprus) and the town of Paphos (Republic of Cyprus) from February to April 2016 in which the children created a public artwork using the Cypriot technique of cementography. During the workshops the children exchanged drawings, stones and earth from their towns. The artwork created in Paphos was created using the stones, earth and drawings from the children of Kerynia and likewise, the artwork in Kerynia was created using the stones, earth and drawings from the children of Paphos.
Miriam hopes that there will be many more cross-community cultural events in the future that will help to break down the borders between the two communities, between people who have had little or no contact for over forty years.
I wanted to tell you about Miriam Mc Connon because she and I are going to have a two person show entitled “Silent Stories”, in the Belltable in Limerick in March.
In her current body of work, the simple china cup is featured extensively, multiples of cups expanding across the canvas, creating ‘landscapes’ that resemble walls or partitions. Walls can provide security but also can keep people out. The pattern of cups perhaps echoes the repetition of domestic chores and domestic routines. Does the intensity of this repetition make us feel secure or does it smother us, I wonder.
For me, the cups hold precious memories. I think they could be a symbol of home, with all its complicated highs and lows. But as Oscar Wilde once wrote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”