Ancient and Wild Exhibition opening 11 December 2017



As part of the Creative Ireland programme, Cavan County Council arts and heritage office and the UNESCO Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark invited twelve artists to engage with  and respond to the landscape, geology, and socio-political history of County Cavan and in particular the area of the Geopark.

The artists were provided with guided tours of sites of interest and met with experts on geology, heritage, the built and natural environment and cultural identity.   


Ancient and Wild , the exhibition resulting from this project will open at 7pm on 11 December 2017 in Johnston Central Library Cavan.   Minister Heather Humphreys will be the guest speaker with Paddy Mc Donald, Cathaoirleach, Cavan County Council. 



The artists who participated in the Ancient and Wild project are: Heather Brett, Elena Duff, Paul Farnan, Jim Fee, Siobhan Harton, Kasia Zimnoch and Pawel Kleszczewski,  Ben Mc Cabe, Cormac Mc Cann,  Rosarie Mc Hugh, Bee Smith, Rikki van den Berg and Freda Young.


The artists engaged in three field trips exploring the landscape and learning about the history, folklore, geology, built and natural heritage of Cavan and Fermanagh with particular emphasis on the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.   Interesting sites in County Fermanagh were explored with Geopark Supervisor, Simon Gray with the support of Richard Watson and his team at the Marble Arch Caves.   The artists were provided with access and insights to deepen their understanding of the unique landscape of the Marble Arch Caves and Cavan Burren Park.   Geopark Officer, Gráinne O Connor facilitated guided walks and spoke of particular sites of interest in County Cavan and Aidan Brady, Geopark Guide brought the artists to the historic and ancient site St Mogue’s Island.    Nuala Mc Cann from the Ballyconnell Area Office and George Morrissey, local historian concluded an informative day with a history of the origins of Belturbet.   


The MAC UNESCO Global Geopark is a joint initiative of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Cavan County Council and is the only cross border Geopark in the world.   Cathaoirleach Paddy Mc Donald speaking about the exhibition and the Geopark said " I want to thank the Elected Representatives of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council for their ongoing support of this excellent partnership.   The Ancient and Wild exhibition is an example of the great work that can take place with artists in communities when we all work together towards a shared goal."


At Corravahan House Ian and Rachael Elliott opened their home to the artists and with the conservation architect David Cullivan, Gaffney and Cullivan Architects provided them with insights about the care of a heritage home.   Anne Marie Ward, Heritage Officer and Dr Kirstin Lemon spoke about the formation of the landscape and how this has impacted on the way mankind has adapted and shaped the county we know today.




The O Dowd family at Trinity Island hosted the artists with insights to the people who have lived on the island how they shaped it and the flora and fauna that is prevalent in this area.   Highly regarded installation artist Patricia Mc Kenna, spoke of place in her work, how it is contested and constructed and her use of non-arts space for audience engagement.   TG4 Gradam Award winning musician Dr Seán McElwain focused the artists’ attention to music and how place, its wildlife and nature influence the creative process.  Equipped with expert insights and valuable experiences the artists have responded in highly imaginative and unique ways to the Cavan and Fermanagh landscape.   Their work is inspiring and thought provoking and the exhibition can be viewed at Johnston Central Library from 11 December to 6 January 2018.


About the Artists


Bee Smith born in the USA, lived twenty years in England before moving with her Irish husband to West Cavan in 2001. Non-fiction work has been published in USA and UK publications over the past two decades. Poetry has appeared in USA, UK and Irish anthologies, periodicals and online zines. 


Heather Brett is a writer and artist with 4 collections of poetry, the most recent ‘Witness’ (2015). Her first collection ‘Abigail Brown’ won the Brendan Behan Memorial Prize. Founder of Windows Publications she has edited over 40 anthologies of poetry.


Jim Fee background is in Fine Art and he exhibited widely and took part in many community based projects in the UK. Ireland took him into numerous cross-border/cross-community/Peace initiatives and various community based projects usually involving schools delivering workshops in a variety of media from drawing and painting to printmaking, sculpture and pottery.


Ben McCabe’s art practice is focused on narratives of landscape, architecture and atmosphere.  It crosses the disciplines of architecture, drawing, painting and sculpture; translating these media into traditional craft. Ben is interested in the crossover from one media to another to add another controlled dimension of expression.


Freda Young studied Art History and it is from the Impressionistic age and the colourful paintings of the French Masters, in particular Bonnard that influence her oil and acrylic paintings.   


Rikki van den Berg's work has received both national and international acclaim and is currently represented by several renowned galleries in Ireland an Northern Ireland. Inspiration flows from her response to her surroundings; the Irish land, the reminiscence of the old, the abandoned; the past and the present, the rawness of nature and rural civilisation.


Rosarie McHugh graduated from Sligo institute of Technology with a Bachelor or Fine Art in 2001.Following exhibitions in Ireland and Germany she moved to San Francisco in 2004 and exhibited extensively in The San Francisco Bay Area as well as continuing her studies at San Francisco Art Institute and The University of Berkeley Extension Program. In 2016 she returned to Cavan and In 2017 was awarded The Professional Development Award from Cavan County Council. Rosarie's work often encompasses a variety of different media and discourses. Drawing, photography, assemblage, gardening and landscape design are among the genres of expression through which her work moves.


Kasia Zimnoch and Pawel Kleszczewski are duo of filmmakers and visual artist. They create animations based on mythology, folklore and legends. In their animations, they combine artistic experience with elements of art history, ethnology and cultural anthropology. They work together, Pawel’s background is a painting and Kasia’s art history. 


Siobhan Harton’s a award winning Visual Artist, Designer, Co-Curator of trans-art Co-Founder and  Creative Director of Townhall Cava Arts Space, one of the Directors of Cavan Arts and Culture Cnenter Ltd.  Harton lives in County Cavan. Siobhan studied Industrial Design at Institute of Technology Sligo 2002, furthered her studies at Dublin Institute of Technology, Mountjoy Square 2008, where she receiving a Honors Degree in Interior Architecture. In 2010 Harton continued to complete a MA in Professional Design Practice from Dublin Intuite of Technology, Bolton Street.  


Cormac McCann spent his student days at Maynooth University graduating  with a Masters in Music Technology. A competent pianist he holds a performance diploma from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Cormac has composed music for animation, silent film, the electronic medium and orchestral ensemble. He has a passion for writing pop songs and poetry and has appeared on stage in many guises in musical direction, acting, dancing, as M.C. and in street theatre. An educator, Cormac was director of Union Music School in Cavan from 2014 to 2016.  This is his first contribution to sound scape art in over 10 years.


Elena Duff graduated from NCAD in 1995 with a joint degree in Fine Art and Art History and specialised in painting. Her art has been exhibited in Ireland the UK and Germany in a number of group shows.  All her work is an attempt to express the invisible world inside everyone, thoughts, emotions, dreams, hopes and fears. To this end there is a sense of fantasy or unreality about the works as they represent the more imaginative and sometimes illogical inner world of human beings.


Documenting the project is:


Paul Farnan is a freelance lighting designer, photographer and film maker based in Cavan town.

In the past he has worked as lighting designer for several theatre companies including The Gonzo Theatre, The Hacklers, Crescendo Theatre and Quick Forge Productions. As well as working for The Moth Productions as Lighting/Sound Technician. 


05 Dec 2017

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