In March 2018 I was an artist in residence at Art Farm in Newbridge, Galway, Ireland. Well, I say in Newbridge, but in actuality it’s about 5 kilometres away from the small town centre of Newbridge and 13 kilometres away from the larger town of Ballygar. It must’ve been the most remote residency I’ve been to yet, and it was just incredible. The company was that of the land itself, and it had a lot to say. At first glance, it seemed very similar to the Netherlands; very flat and a lot of fields. But digging a bit deeper and going on walks with Sheila-the wonderful artist who runs this place-taught me about the layers and layers of history in this place. Hidden fairy rings in simple looking pieces of forest, oaks that had been standing there for hundreds of years and had seen revolts and rebuilding, a children’s burial ground just behind the house and us finding a way through the forest to eventually find an age old ceremonial path leading from the forest to the burial ground..there was so much to find.
The people too seemed to be connected to this place in a very strong way. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed with the idea to choose something to embroider that would work with all this history in just one month. I started to embroider a tree I happened to like, and of course it turned out a whole story was behind this tree and the house it was standing next to, and the family that had lived there. That was the starting point for me to embroider more trees I found in the landscape, trees that had been there forever, standing quietly and observing, connected and rooted to the landscape in the same way the people seemed to be, ever belonging together and hopefully staying that way for a very long time to come.
The title of these combined works is simply the Irish word for tree. Many place names in Ireland refer back to the Irish words for certain kinds of trees and woods, but I just used the simplest and most overarching word for tree; crann.