Mind Meitheal is a recent development in Deirdre O'Mahony's practice and started at X-PO in October 2011. The process uses the cultural resonance of the Irish word “Meitheal” - the practice of rural collectivity, as a generative catalyst for locally-based think-tanks to animate discursive and imaginative, active participation within diverse groups around specific issues in rural areas. Common Agricultural Policy reforms and new rural development policies are driving change at an unprecedented rate in rural Ireland, adding to the wider economic and social stresses- mass emigration of young people, diminished services, lack of public transport, etc. This is a key transitional moment and the Mind Meitheal process reflects on how these changes are playing out in rural Ireland.
Starting from the premise that different knowledge forms have parity in the design of creative, sustainable strategies for the social, cultural, economic and natural future, Mind Meitheal seeks to link situated, place-based knowledge with academic, cultural and institution-based knowledge and enable an open, transdisciplinary exchange. Accounts of meetings are circulated locally and across a broad range of academic, cultural and social institutions in order to invite responses that might contribute new insights and address problems and questions generated at the gatherings.
T.U.R.F. (Transitional Understandings of Rural Futures) Mind Meitheal was initiated at the behest of the TCCA (Turf Cutters and Contractors Association) and is intended to provide an open space for the Mind Meitheal knowledge-sharing process to grow. The aim t is to provide cultural space to examine the effect of the implemintation of the EU Habitats Directive which comes into force in Ireland this year. Under the Habitats Directive cutting turf for domestic consumption is now illegal in raised peat bogs in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). The TCCA represent some of the 20,000 domestic turf cutter families affected by this legislation. In the case of T.U.R.F., the Mind Meitheal makes strategic use of artistic and cultural knowledge to bring academic, institutional and state participant experts together with the TCCA for three gatherings and the first T.U.R.F. Mind Meitheal took place in NUIG in Galway on Feb. 11th 2012. The process is intended to stimulate and activate discussion on the process of decision-making on the designation and regulation of habitats under Natura 2000 legislation.
AIRTIME is a video work which is opening in Limerick City Gallery of Art on March 22nd running until 29th April 2012.
AIRTIME consists of selected interviews with members of the TCCA at the National Peatlands Council in Athlone over a three day period in the Harbour Bay Hotel, Athlone in Februrary 2012. The interviews have been selected from a further 14 conducted at the council and are un-edited unless requested otherwise. They now form part of a larger project, the T.U.R.F. archive, that traces the actors, legacies, power relations and institutions that connect the peat bogs and their owners with national and EU special regulatory agencies and policies.