One day I was showing the sea to a girl who was seeing it for the first time; she declared that she thought a field of potatoes was a far more impressive sight. Francis Picabia, Yes No: Poems and Sayings, translated by Remy Hal,l Hanuman Book #39 2001
Deirdre O’Mahony began the SPUD project in 2009, initiating a research process that led to collaborative projects, commissioned artworks, events and installations in Ireland, Europe and the USA from 2011- 19. A publication on the project with texts by Catherine Marshall, Sinead Phelan and Deirdre O'Mahony will be published in 2020.
The potato is a potent image to evoke in relation to food and food security in Ireland, exposing, as it does, conscious and unconscious attitudes to land and alterity within and beyond the nation state. SPUD was initiated in order to present a more nuanced understanding of the potato’s role in Irish culture, in relation to food security and globalised food production. SPUD research follows four strands; indicating unconscious attitudes towards rurality, the land, identity and otherness in Ireland; re-imagining the relevance and use-value of tacit agricultural knowledge to food production today; tracing the potatoes’ importance to global food security; reflecting on new seed developments, seed diversity, seed sovereignty and cultural rights. By looking back to the Irish Famine, further back to the colonial violence that brought the potato to Europe, and connecting it to migration, famine and food security today, SPUD makes use of the potato to map controversies around these threads, providing an understandable and accessible entry point for a public discourse on sustainability, food security and tacit cultivation knowledge.
Trial + Error Exhibition and archival installation.
The Persistent Return supported with a project award from the Arts Council exhibited Ireland and the Netherlands 2018
X-PO SPUD Pamphlet and Potato Cakes Grizedale Arts' Coliseum of the Consumed project for Frieze Artfair 2012
SPUD: London with artist Nadege Meriau
SPUD X: Irish National Irish Famine Museum. Curated Linda Shevlin.
SPUD Workhouse Union: Research residency and project Curated By Hollie Kears and Rosie Lynch, Workhouse Union.
A Village Plot Irish Museum of Modern Art, part of the Grizedale Arts A Fair Land Residency Programme;
Potato/Batata: A Pan-Atlantic Parmentier Exchange with artist Frances Whitehead.
SPUD Morocco Exhibition and food event with the Anna Lindh Foundation nominated by EVA International.
SPUD Jiwar Research residency with Jiwar Creation and Society Barcelona.
SPUD Learning Space Occupy Space, Limerick.