… …. .. .--. … .--. .- … … .. .- --. .. -. - …. . -. .. --. …. -
Ships Passing In The Night (September 2016 - January 2017) is a community engagement project led by artist James Ó hAodha. Over three months, James has spent time getting to know two community groups in the Sandymount/Ringsend area; children from the Sandymount Dodder Sea Scouts, and from the Dublin Sikh Community - who have their temple in Sandymount. Working separately, and together at key points, the groups have shared the creative process arriving at the collaborative making of a video work that was screened in The Hugh Lane Gallery in January 2017.
Through a series of workshops, the presence of nearby Poolbeg Lighthouse was used as a symbol and a starting point for the engagement with and between the two groups. The idea of beaconing or beckoning with light, and maritime signalling tradition, have been a guiding focus.
Using International Morse code as a shared language, James worked with the children to learn the basics of Morse communication, progressing to a stage where they were able to send messages to each other. These were relayed by the artist in glass bottles, then decoded by the groups, who then responded in the same way. The children also worked with homemade Morse keys, becoming very proficient - tapping out ‘dots’ and ‘dashes’ in light and sound to each other.
In preparation for the final video outcome, later workshops explored group photography, and the creative staging of images. The children recreated scenes from iconic group photographs and paintings including ‘Lunch Atop A Skyscraper’, ‘The Last Supper’, and Robert Ballagh’s ‘After Goya’, which they had seen and discussed in a visit to The Hugh Lane Gallery. Playing with the roles of performer and director, the groups took varying levels of ownership over the compositions.
Their final collaborative artwork is a moving-image piece that ties together the varied strands of the project and uses light and darkness as a medium. The light of the lighthouse is mimicked in a way that momentarily illuminates the journey of the project – capturing portraits of all the participants, their community spaces, and the scenes they have created together.
The final video artwork and documentation film by Jenny Brady was screened on the 21st January at the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. See below for documentation film.
This project was part of Dublin's Culture Connects : The National Neighbourhood. Superproject's Cleo Fagan was employed by Dublin City Council as project manager of projects within the South-East area of Dublin.