The 5 week international research residency Interface Inagh and Pasajist was an opportunity to explore links between human water cultures, embodied water and resilience in an age of man-made climate uncertainty. As an edition of my ongoing body of work Water Conversations, this residency allowed time to research two very important water defined locations, Istanbul and Connemara.
Istanbul is a city of water structures, Ablution (Wudu’) water and public drinking fountains ‘sadaqah jarijah’ (recurring charity) sites are everywhere, originally supplied from reservoirs in the Belgrade Forest to the north of Istanbul. Several hundred underground cisterns from the Early Roman period lie beneath the city, a layering of water histories that speak of our human relationship with the integral water cycle. The Inagh Valley of Connemara is a landscape carved out and defined by the ‘universal solvent’ of water through the action of the hydrological cycle and, in many ways the valley is the embodiment of water in a very primal sense.
During the residency periods in Istanbul and Connemara, I have been exploring the structures of an insect that can trace its origins to the Early Permian period, Caddisflies. (order Trichoptera). During their aquatic nymph stage of development, Caddisflies build protective casings as homes from various organic materials using a glue they secrete and because of this activity are sometimes referred to as ‘underwater architects’. Caddisflies are useful bioindicators of good water quality as they are sensitive to pollution and feature importantly in bioassessments of streams and water bodies.
I looked to the Paleolithic period in human history to experiment with making glue from organic materials to build small sculptures from found materials informed by Caddisfly casings. Working through different combinations of pine resin, bees wax and organic carbons I am slowly finding which recipes work best with differing organic and man-made materials.
For me the innovative survival techniques of Paleolithic humans and the resilience of Caddisflies are interlinked. The resulting small sculptures are simultaneously strong and fragile structures.
With huge thanks to @interfaceinagh, @pasajist & @artscouncilofireland for this valuable research experience.
Anna Macleod is an independent visual artist, researcher and educator based in rural Northwest of Ireland, she has exhibited extensively in Ireland and Internationally. Her work mediates complex ideas associated with contemporary, historical and cultural understandings of land and water.