Heritage cereal growing at the Department of Agriculture, Backweston Farm, Leixlip, County Kildare. Photograph by Caroline Burgess 2018.
Deirdre O’Mahony’s research output for the CERERE public artwork has taken several forms. A discussion process called Mind Meitheal that provides public space for a multi-actor, culturally driven knowledge exchange, a specially commissioned artwork from artist Sadhbh Gaston and three short films that have documented some of the engagement process.
Deirdre’s research took her to farmers, seed suppliers, millers, bakers and scientists, who are all engaged, or want to engage with, heritage cereals. Visits to farmer Kate Carmody in North Kerry resulted in a filmed interview in which Kate outlines the importance of biodiversity on her farm, and her experiments in diversification through the cultivation of Donegal Oats, hemp and other heritage seeds. The film can be seen HERE.
Through face-to-face meetings and conversations it became apparent there was a need for a space in which different actors could share their experience and knowledge. In response she has devised two Mind Meitheal multi-actor events in partnership with cultural organisations.
SNA Diagram of all of the networks connected through the Mind Meitheal in Galway. Design by Kaye Toland 2018
The idea of a Mind Meitheal originally came to life in the context of efforts to sustain the social, cultural, economic and natural land/scape of the Burren at X-PO. The Mind Meitheal process was used to surface questions, ideas and responses from diverse groups using the space about issues around farming and maintaining the ecology of the Burren and subsequently used by the artist in a number of different rural contexts.
Mind Meitheal in Fingal, September 2018 Photograph Tom Flannagan
The first Mind Meitheal took place in Fingal in partnership with Fingal Public Arts Office in a field later planted with Einkorn and Emmer wheat. Participants included Áine Macken Walsh, Senior researcher Department of Agri-Food Business and Spatial Analysis, Teagasc, Michael Melkis Co-Founder Irish Seedsavers. Michael did much of the work to preserve Irish Heritage cereals in Ireland, Anne Mullee a curator of All Bread Is Made of Wood for Fingal Public Art office made by Fiona Hallinan and Sabrina McMahon, Jessica Gleman the school of Archeology at UCD whose research topic is Behind the Brew: The Materiality of Alcoholic Fermentation in Early Medieval Ireland, Dominic Gryson, Farmer, who has preserved and cultivated historic varieties of wheat on his farm in Cornstown in north County Dublin and Gerry Clabby, formerly Heritage officer in Fingal. Link to film HERE
Beetroot Violet and Spelt Meringue made by The Domestic Godless for Gruts Buffet, Tulca at Sheridans Galway CERERE Mind Meitheal Event 2018
The second took place as part of the Tulca Visual Art Festival, Syntonic State curated by Linda Shevlin, in Galway which was also the Teagasc's 2018 CERERE national event. Held alongside The Domestic Godless' feast of landrace cereal based dishes, Gruts Buffet, the Tulca Mind Meitheal featured a specially designed Social Network Analysis (SNA) diagram and pamphlet by designer Kaye Toland. Link to film HERE
The following day a range of people; farmers, seed producers, scientists, archeologists, historians organic growers and seed saving experts gave different perspectives on heritage cereal production.
Mind Meitheal Galway as part of the Teagasc CERERE national network event November 2018.
Commissioned Artwork: Sadhbh Gaston was commissioned to create a series of artworks Grain 1 – 5, that references heritage and forms of knowledge considered obsolete through her use of labour-intensive embroidery techniques. These techniques are less about an intuitive creativity and more about careful planning, precise execution, and patient persistent focus.
Sadhbh Gaston Grain 1 - 5. Artworks commissioned and made for Teagasc Cerere, 2018.
This process allows the accumulation of stitches to represent the kind of repetitive and necessary work of farming. Cross stitch also walks a line between tradition and technology as embroidered images produced in this way appear pixelated, like a low quality digital image. The addition of narrative through the text panels, plays with how information can be passed through practice, oral tradition, texts, and digitally. Each of the stitched images of Irish landrace and heritage cereals, is accompanied by the story of that particular seed’s cultivation and its relevance of today, illuminating why growing heritage cereals in Ireland makes sense in terms of sustaining biodiversity, and developing better public understanding of locally-sourced healthy food.
Sadhbh Gaston TGC 101 Rye, Embroidered cross stitch on linen 2018.
CERERE Pamphlet designed by Kaye Toland Download HERE
Supported by the Irish Partner in CERERE, Teagasc Rural Economy Development Programme, led by Áine Macken-Walsh with funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement n° 727848