Visioning the Land
Artist in Residence
On the peat bogs of County Tyrone, Northen Irland
Lowry's Diary - Day 9
County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
For the last 2 years I have had the privilege of being Artist in Residence on these beautiful peat bogs, and during this time I have met many interesting people who have devoted their lives and careers to preserving this specila place and the wildlife who call this home. One of these people was a man who knows his bog plants. I spent a day following him around the peat bog teaching young students from Queens University Belfast about the plant life on a bog.
A lot of what he talked about surprised me that day. I didn’t know the importance or many varieties of moss. Or that they build up very slowly to form peat. And the peat we are burning in fires or spreading on gardens is thousands of years old. Possibly 10,000 years old.
I learned about grasses that day, Beer grass, Cotton grass which was used in the past to stuff pillows or even dress wounds, and purple moor grass. My peat bog, as I affectionately think of it, has lots of purple moor grass.
From a distance at the right time of year the bog takes on a Monet feel with huge swathes of purple across the landscape.
I also discovered that day that Northern Ireland has the largest portion of this grass in Europe. It’s also a vital nesting grass for the Curlew and Skylark – both endangered with 7 years until extinction.
So today I’m installing my tribute to Purple Moor Grass. At art college I loved working with Perspex. I loved how the light changed everything about it. So I am installing purple Perspex grass and am sitting watching it change as the clouds move across the sun. I’ve built a tuft of grass but I’m not happy so I am going to move it around in different shapes. It pushes easily into the soft peaty earth.
The Curlew are nesting again on the bog this year and they are so noisy! I hear them overhead all afternoon. You have to wonder if they stopped telling every fox and badger in the area exactly where they are they might not be so endangered! But it’s a beautiful sound and long may it last.
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