Cross Land provided an interrogative frame through which to examine the problematic question oflandscape regulation and its effects. It was one of a series of artworks commissioned by Clare Co. Arts for Ground Up, a programme of contemporary art in rural contexts that took place between 2003 and 2007. The work explores the social, ecological and physical effects of changes in farming practices as evidenced in the growth of Hazel scrub in the Burren. It takes the form of a coppiced ‘X’ or cross, each arm 60 metres long and 1.5m wide, cut through an area of dense hazel scrub near Carron in the Burren Region in North Clare. This is an area of great ecological importance - a limestone Karst region whose remarkable botanical diversity and richness is an important consequence of traditional local farming methods.
The original intention of the intervention was to to draw attention to the decrease in the numbers of the feral goats on the Burren an d the role they play in grazing the scrub. Photograph Deirdre O'Mahony 2006. A short account of the project is available to download here.
Marginal land in the Burren that exemplifies the scrub encrochment. Photograph Deirdre O'Mahony 2006.
One of the 60M long coppiced 'cuts' in the Hazel scrub. Photograph Deirdre O'Mahony 2007.
A Cross Land office was set up during September 2006 in Cassidy’s pub in Carron. The objective was to answer questions and to listen to comments, opinions about local issues. The experience brought home the change that has taken place in usage of rural pubs in recent years- on all but one of the eight evenings spent in the pub, there was no more than four customers and most stayed for one drink and left. The pub now closes during weekdays during the winter months. Cassidy’s was used to launch the project and prior to the launch there was a ‘gathering’ of participants involved with the project that included farmers, BurrenLIFE, artists, REPs agents and tourism development agencies. The meeting was designed to give some of the stakeholders including the regulatory and funding representatives, the opportunity to meet face-to-face and discuss the future for farming in the Burren. An account of the gathering can be downloaded Cross land gathering Report.pdf
The realisation of the project involved an engagement between artist, agency, landowner, scientist, business interests and inhabitants. The ‘X’ became an image able to raise as many questions; suggest as many meanings as there were people to look at it. A small thread of the web of the interdependencies governing people and place, local, national interests, agendas and regulation has been grasped.
Following Cross Land it was evident to the artist that a long-term, visible, public exchange process was required to address the wider social and ecological issues arising in rural contexts like the Burren and this prompted the development of the X-PO project at Kilnaboy.
The Cross Land Diary, an account of the process is available to downloadThe Cross Land Diary .pdf.