VISUAL ART PROJECT: Six Artists + A Designer + A Town Planner

Van der Grijn initiated the visual art project and has developed the initiative, exhibition and catalogue with the curatorial team.

Seeking an artistic response to Yeats2015, the Model began working with artist Cléa van der Grijn to conceptualise a series of intereventions based on a local subterranean narrative. In the 1970s, a Dublin-based architect and city planner, Fergal MacCabe, put in a formal proposal to the Sligo County Council for planning permission for a small cabin on an island in Lough Gill, based on Yeats’ cabin ‘of clay and wattles made’. The subsequent sociopolitical dialogue between practitioners and government, imagination and practicalities, and notion of the land of Ireland became intertwined in the imagined space of the Isle of Innisfree. Artists were selected based on their current practices which incorporate social engagement, an interest in architecture, and their commitment to a rigorous dialogical investigation into site specificity. This rigour is juxtapositioned with elements of fun, playfulness and humour to reveal complex ideas and issues in relation to perception, post-colonial folly and architectural aesthetics in relation to place. The six artists represent different approaches to these ideas. The starting point for the artists was to re-engage with the legacy of this project—to respond both to MacCabe’s experience (the rejection of planning permission for a cabin on Innisfree) but also to respond in a more indirect, perhaps poetic or liminal way, to the sociopolitical, historical and literal readings of  W.B. Yeat’s poem Lake Isle of Innisfree. Instead, these artists have unravelled the idea that something is not as what it seems, not literal but liminal therefore challenged preconceived notions of Yeats and place.

Art and architecture—all the arts—do not have to exist in isolation, as they do now. This fault is very much a key to the present society. Architecture is nearly gone, but it, art, all the arts, in facet all parts of society, have to be rejoined, and joined more than they have ever been.

 Donald Judd