I’m very fortunate in having been awarded a month’s Moore Institute Visiting Fellowship in Galway (thanks I suspect in large part to Nessa Cronin’s support for my application). I’ve timed this to start so that I can get to the first Ómós Áite: Space/Place Research Network International Conference at the Centre for Irish Studies, NUI, Galway, which runs from 27th-30th March 2014. Fortunately (for me) one of her speakers has had to drop out so I have now been invited to give a paper and can use the occasion to signal my interest in aspects of current Irish art in relation to rural communities. (I’ve put the abstract of the paper below so you can get some indication of my current concerns).
This is all part of my ongoing desire to help bridge certain aspects of the lifeworld of marginal upland regions like the English Scottish Borders and West Wales and broader ecological issues. My renewed contact with Ireland was sparked last year when I started to work directly with two artists there – Pauline O’Connell and Cathy Fitzgerald (who is doing a PhD at NCAD) – and it will be very good to catch up with Nessa, meet in person other artists I’ve been corresponding with like Deirdre O’Mahony, and generally move my research in this area forward. (It’s only when you find yourself largely outside the university system that the extent of its jealously guarding its privileges and virtual monopoly on aspects of intellectual work become apparent. Quite a shock really).
Paper Title: Re-framing and critical solicitude: tensions in re-imagining ecosophical cultural praxis relating to rural lifeworlds.
Abstract (250 words): The paper draws on the author’s experience of a recent three-year research project on older people’s connectivity in rural north Cornwall (UK), where connectivity was understood as the complex cultural web of relationships between humans and the spaces and places they inhabit, and engage with on a daily basis. Also on current examples of artful engagement with rural lifeworlds, and on the author’s thirty years contact with a small hill farming community in Co Durham, with a view to suggesting a approach that honours both similarities and differences in rural lifeworlds akin to Kenneth Frampton’s notion of ‘Critical Regionalism’.
The paper takes as its starting point a perceived need to very carefully consider the ‘terms of engagement’ employed by professional artists engaging with rural lifeworlds, adopting a position broadly identified with Felix Guattari’s notion of ecosophy. Acknowledging the validity of both George Lakoff’s stress on the need for ecological ‘reframing’ and the ethical concern identified by Paul Ricoeur.