Joanna Hopkins – Marram Meitheal
In 1991, Claggan Island, Oileann Cloigeann, was awarded Island status. Marram grass –also known as Bent grass - was planted along the Claggan coast to help slow dune erosion and re-enforce the islands access route. Using the Marram Grass planting that resulted as a direct consequence of this as a starting point, Hopkins set out to create a socially engaged project using the Marram grass as a focus for discussion, interaction and exploration with the local people of Claggan.
A handmade paper was created using the local Marram Grass, made with members of the public and local people. Public Marram grass planting events were organized, to help replenish the Marram grass cut for the paper making, and to re enforce sand dunes. The handmade paper was incorporated into a sculptural sand fence installation on the dunes leading to Claggan, which acts as a small scale demonstration of slowing dune erosion on the Islands main access route onto the island, and to highlight how limited access is an ongoing problem for each of the ten people currently living on the island. A video documenting the process of the project, with narration by the local people discussing daily life and their restricted access into and out of the Island accompanies the project.
Joanna Hopkins is a visual artist working in video, interactive art, installation and drawing. She has completed multiple residencies in Ireland, UK, France and Austria, and has exhibited widely across Ireland, UK, USA & Asia. Awards include the Arts Council of Ireland Visual Artist Bursary Award (2016), Burren College of Art Emerging Irish Artists Award (2015) and Visual Artists of Irleand DAS Residency Award (2013). She has written for the Visual Artist Ireland Newsheet and was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to write and produce the radio documentary “Public Art for the People” (2016). The Tir Saile Residency 2017 is her second Public Art Commission by Mayo County Council. Hopkins holds a First Class Honours MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment and a BA in Fine Art from Limerick School of Art and Design.
Acknowledgments, Joanna Hopkins
Note: The area leading onto Claggan Island, Shragh Beach, is an SAC - Special Area of Conservation, and comes under the protection of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Special consent was sought and granted by the Park Ranger for Belmullet, Irene OíBrien, for each aspect of this project.
With sincere thanks to the inhabitants of Claggan Island for their kindness, assistance and generosity throughout this residency: Sarah Ginley, Laurence Howard Snr, Patricia Ginley, Laurence Howard Jnr, Maura Howard, Cian, Oran and Dara Howard, John Ginley, Mary Lavelle and Dom Dalton.
With special thanks to John, Eva and Kevin from Belmullet Tidy Towns, and Olivia Jones from Clean Coasts Ireland with their assistance in the Marram grass planting, and local carpenter Brendan Henry for his generous assistance.