An environmentally minded art project that is full of life is getting under way this May at the National Museum of Ireland, Turlough Park, Castlebar. A group of artists from across Mayo are to spend six weeks creating a ‘living shelter’ in the historic grounds of Turlough Park House.
The shelter will be constructed from living willow, to shape a sustainable, outdoor classroom with walls and a roof that will grow and grow. It is envisioned the unique new museum facility will be put to practical use as an outdoor workshop and arts space. It will be located in a wooded area to the rear of the exhibition galleries, where the National Folklife Collection is housed. The artists are also creating a willow sculpture trail through the grounds and gardens of the museum, to guide museum visitors towards the new outdoor exhibit.
The project artists are all members of Mayo Arts Squad, a community arts initiative sponsored by Mayo County Council. The Arts Squad and the National Museum of Ireland have worked together each summer for a number of years now, as part of an arts programme called On Sight. Previous On Sight art works have included a giant apple perched on the lakeside and a 1916 inspired art trail.
Rosa Meehan, curator at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, said, “The willow classroom will offer a beautiful outdoor space for use by groups, families and individuals visiting the museum and gardens. Not only will it be a space for exploring the ever-changing habitats and biodiversity of Turlough Park gardens, but it will also act as a space for artists; a space of contemplation and rest; and perhaps an inspiration to others considering working in willow.”
Mick Smyth, project manager of the Mayo Arts Squad, stated, “On Sight is an enjoyable and hugely worthwhile project for the Mayo Arts Squad. It is an opportunity to partner with the National Museum of Ireland to showcase the work of artists from around the county and to promote creative actions in our community.”
The On Sight artists will start constructing the willow shelter on May 15 and the completed project will be officially opened on June 21.