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Citizens? - Nation

This collection reflects on the ways national and cultural identities both unite and divide citizens. It includes works shown in my joint exhibition with Manar Al Shouha at Rathfarnham Castle in 2022 and additional images.

In relation to nationality's divisive aspects there are works dealing with deaths in the Northern Ireland conflict that affected me deeply. Several refer to the commitment of bodies to bogs in prehistoric Ireland and more recent years. Some have footnote images reclaiming the identities of those who were wiped from history. This aim also underpins Living Memory, in which a victim consigned to bog burial, whether in prehistoric or recent times, is resurrected to stand in daylight on top of the bog. The images introduced by me into Dig refer to the deposition of those 'disappeared' into bogs during the Northern Ireland conflict, and the recovery of their bodies. Red gates are used to mark fields containing pipes conveying water from reservoirs in the Mourne mountains to Belfast.

There are also small works referring to the sense of the Northern Ireland conflict being a kind of horrible game, and a found piece that graphically displays the bloodshed and suffering of all victims. Own goal is the term used during the conflict to describe the death of one laying an explosive device, caused by its premature explosion.

Images inspired by the complex family histories of myself and my husband include works referring to Irish men like my grandfather, who fought for the British in the two World Wars, crossing perceived political boundaries. Remembrance is a response to the Commonwealth War Graves in West Belfast's Milltown Cemetery.The graves have been banished to the bottom edge of the cemetery and subject to vandalism. Sphagnum Dressing refers to the collection in the whole island of sphagnum moss, the main building block of Irish peat bogs, for dressing wounds during the First World War. Memorial shows a street memorial to a dead person in a town near where live. The death may have been due to sectarian violence, a different kind of attack or a road accident.

A drawing of a bog body figure appearing to gesture for Irish freedom, and a work inspired by the drawing board of my father-in-law, who was of part Scots planter descent, acknowledge the need to recognise the validity of different national aspirations.

The materials used have largely been soft pastel, charcoal and gouache deployed on cardboard, photocopies and discarded pieces of boards and MDF. This has partly been due to environmental concerns. However, I often found the ridges of cardboard snagging my drawing in ways that suggested layers of history or obsessive scribbled lines of text.

For other works related to bog bodies but not the Northern Ireland conflict, see Lost in the Landscape.