Visioning the Land
Artist in Residence
On the peat bogs of County Tyrone, Northen Irland
Lowry's Diary - Day 1
County Tyrone, NI
It’s a freakishly hot day in Ireland today which means the peatlands will be like an oven!
I’m up at 6.00am and packing up all the piles of art and installations which have been patiently waiting around my studio for the last few months of lockdown. We have been restricted to a 10 mile journey but this has eased so I have an hour long journey with all my sculptures rattling around to get to County Tyrone and the most beautiful peatlands that I have fallen in love with!
When I arrive it’s completely silent apart from birdsong and I know I will have miles of peatland to myself for hours.
As it turns out, I have a reassuring welcome from a cuckoo. And a little later a curlew makes a noisy entrance overhead. Both birds are on the Endangered Species List for Northern Ireland, along with 400 other little critters.
The curlew are nesting on the peatlands and so around 11.00am 2 men from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds turn up and say hello. Last year they set up a predator fence around the nest to stop foxes or other animals crashing in on the nest or stealing the eggs. That idea fascinated me, that we can set up a predator fence around things that need protected. A small electric current stops predators from destroying a small creature just trying to survive.
I unpack everything and start carrying boxes, bags, entire sculptures, lunch bag, flask of coffee – I take particular care with this! It’s a long way off to the closest town to get a coffee.
I had already walked the ramparts of the peatlands many times and imagined where certain works would go but it’s a different story when I’m standing there with heavy metal sculptures trying to find a bit of flat ground. I literally just have to carry and drop every box and bag in a suitable spot and then go back for more. By lunchtime I have picked 4 good spots for 4 of the larger works. And so I set about installing the Blue Eyed Grass piece.
Each work is dedicated to a name on the Endangered Species List of 481, from 66 species of moths to the Curlew overhead. I have chosen a soft area at the side of the rampart as I need to push wires into soft ground. The area is covered in Bog Cotton, swaying in the wind so it’s a perfect spot for this kinetic piece called Blue Eyed Grass. It will sway in the same motion as the Bog Cotton, and will stand out in colour. One wrong step on the peatlands and you could lose a Wellington boot so I have to walk in and reverse out very carefully when I’m setting up the piece.
Million tadpoles ready to turn into frogs on the peatland.
Blue eyed grass installation in progress....
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