Researching and exploring folk festival traditions in Ireland
As a Street Arts and Spectacle artist many of my early experiences in this area, were influenced by artists and musicians looking to Brazilian, African, and other world carnival practices, which really ignited my early interest in drumming and carnival arts and began my journey to the artistic practice I have today.
In the last 2 years I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Killorglin Biddy’s day festival, creating giant Lanterns for their Parade on February 1st. Working with them I realised how little I knew about traditional folk festive customs but it really sparked my interest what could be called traditional Irish spectacle.
I want to research and explore folk festival traditions in Ireland from the view of a Street Arts and Spectacle artist, creating work inspired by this. Thankfully this is all made possible though an artist bursary from the Arts council and from Wexford Count Councils Creative Ireland fund.
Why the title straw memories?
I’ve given myself the title Straw Memories for this project – mainly to have something to group and arrange my thoughts around, but also a reflection of my perception of these festive customs.
Many of the straw boys and mummers used straw in their costumes and festive objects. As some of these customs have died out, they exist only in memory, in photos and formal records of folk traditions. Their costumes and props have gone
Memories are fallible and can be lost, straw is impermanent and leaves little trace.
A straw memory is something fleeting, a remembrance barely recalled, that might be lost and forgotten, or slowly disintegrating until we cannot clearly understand it.
Over the coming months I hope to deepen my knowledge of these festive traditions through conversations with the artist and folklorist Michael Fortune. Along side this I want to reflect on my practice, what is participatory arts and how does it relate to the subject I’m exploring? To help guide my thoughts on this, I’ll be mentored by participatory artist Francois Matarasso, writer of A Restless Art. A reflection of the times, we are chatting online via Zoom – it was during our first chat that Francois suggested I write a blog throughout to help collect my thoughts.