Sustainment Experiment Feast/Exhibition

2020 - 2024

Sustainment Experiments is an exhibition and engagement project at the Butler Gallery that responds to the urgent need for a multidisciplinary approach to food production, farming, and climate crisis. The artist will bring together twenty-four farmers, food producers, scientists, politicians, and policymakers to share first-hand experience of the challenge of farming today.

Deirdre has collaborated with chef Clare-Anne O’Keefe to devise a menu for Kilkenny that focuses on soil health and climate change. The feasts are modelled on an eighteenth-century feast hosted by a French scientist, Antoine Augustin Parmentier, who helped transform public health by changing attitudes towards the potato, then believed to be unfit for human consumption. Following Parmentier’s example, the ingredients will serve as prompts to guide the conversation. Dressed in clothing commissioned from Bog Cottage Collective, co-hosts Bean a Tí, Etaoin Houlihan of Fennelly’s of Callan and artist Bridget O’Gorman, will encourage participants to share ideas on what sustainable food production might mean in the future.

At the Butler Gallery, the dinnerware and associated artworks will be exhibited alongside screenings of Speculative Optimism at the Digital Gallery. This film tells the story of sainfoin, a possible alternative to ryegrass as animal fodder. A Feeder: Soil Research Lab in the Learning Centre will allow viewers to read and research soil health and food production.

This research is generously supported by Artlinks (2022); Kilkenny Arts Office (2020); Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary (2021), UCD Parity Studios Earth Institute residency (2021 – 2022) and Fire Station Artists’ Studios Sculpture Award (2021).

Exhibition Dates: 14th – 31st October, The Butler Gallery, Evans Home, John’s Quay, Kilkenny, R95 YX3F