A contemporary monument commemorating Irish emigrants was unveiled by Lord Mayor Cllr. Michael Ahern at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday 9th September on Penrose Quay, Cork.
The Army Band as well as a number of local traditional musicians performed on the quay side during the unveiling ceremony. A number of emigrants were present on the day to take part in the event.
Cork City Council commissioned the sculptor Daphne Wright and writer Johnny Hanrahan to create ‘Listening Posts’ the first permanent sound installation in the city. The sculpture incorporates a constantly evolving sound score which is active day and night.
The site on Penrose Quay was the traditional departure point from the city of boats such as the Inisfallen. Wright and Hanrahan chose to create four modest, beacon-like stainless steel forms which are placed at intervals on the edge of the quay from which emigrants began their night journey to Britain and beyond.
While striking in themselves, these 'posts' function primarily as vessels for four multi-faceted sound scores. Using interviews with emigrants, their descendants, those they left behind, those who worked on the ship, those wishing to return and those who are glad they got away combined with marine, industrial, musical and abstract sound elements, Wright, Hanrahan and leading sound designer Dan Jones have built up rich, layered soundscapes each of which has its own internal logic and also contributes to the overall experience afforded by listening to all four posts.
The scores blend fragmented narratives embedded in emotionally intense soundworlds, musical clichés, Irish jokes and a range of instrumental and archival vocal gestures which have been manipulated to create a constantly fluctuating range of emotional tones.
The piece is firmly rooted in the history of emigration from Cork, but uses the specifics of that collective experience to explore broad themes of migration, displacement and self-re-invention. In this way it does justice to its commemorative function while also acting as an urgent, poetic commentary on the global issue of long-term migration.
Daphne Wright and Johnny Hanrahan have worked together previously on ‘Croon’ a multi-disciplinary visual/theatrical promenade event developed jointly in a radical attempt to fuse the strengths of theatrical performance and visual art.
‘The blurring of the boundaries between theatre and the visual arts was then at the very heart if the project as the visual realm took cues from the text-the theatrical element utilising imagery to elucidate its text’ Mark Ewart, The Visual Artist’s News Sheet.
Launch of the 'Listening Posts', Saturday 9th September, Penrose Quay.
Front Row, L - R: Cllr. Michael O'Connell, Cllr. Denis Cregan, Lady Mayoress Eileen Ahern, City Manager Joe Gavin, Mr. Johnny Brannigan, Lord Mayor Cllr. Michael Ahern, Cllr. Jerry Buttimer, Daphne Wright Artist, Johnny Hanrahan Artist.
Daphne Wright's work slips things into well-wrought but delicate doubt - shifting between taughtness and mess, it sets imagery, materials and language in constant metaphorical motion. Using a wide range of materials - plaster, tinfoil, video, printmaking, found objects and performance - she creates worlds that are beautiful and rather eerie and just probably the threshold to somewhere new.
Daphne Wright's work was the subject of a solo exhibition at Limerick City Art Gallery earlier this year. Wright has been involved in several important international group exhibitions, notably 0044 touring the Institute for Contemporary Art - PS1, New York; Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 1999/2000 and From a Distance: Approaching Landscape, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. She has had major solo exhibitions including Where Do Broken Hearts Go? at the Douglas Hyde Galley, Dublin in 2000, These Talking Walls at the New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery, Roche Court, Wiltshire, Nonsense and Death at the Sligo Art Gallery, Sligo, Ireland and Sires at Frith Street Gallery, London in 2003.
Johnny Hanrahan is a founder member and Artistic Director of Meridian Theatre Company, Cork. For Meridian, he has written numerous plays including Volpone, Lear and Headroom and has adapted Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent as well as Gogol's Government Inspector (Adios Amigos) and his classic short story, The Overcoat. For the London Irish Festival 1991, Hanrahan wrote The Battle of Aughrim, and in 1992 he wrote a comic adaptation of Dracula (How's Your Blood Count) for Mickey O'Donoghue's New Vic Theatre, London. He has directed many of these productions, in some cases with his musical collaborator, John Browne.
Further Information is available from Cork City Council Arts Officer, Liz Meaney, tel no: 00 353 21 4924298 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lord Mayor Cllr. Michael Ahern speaking at the unveiling ceremony