Irish Museum of Modern Art

AZURE at IMMA – for people living with dementia and their family, friends and carers

Are you living with dementia or do you know someone who is? IMMA is one of the lead partners of a programme called Azure which aims to make art galleries and museums around Ireland dementia-friendly spaces. Azure explores how people with dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, and the people who care for them, can have a deeper involvement in cultural institutions and can participate in cultural activities.

Inspired by the ‘Meet Me at MoMA’ programme at MoMA, New York, Azure offers guided exhibition tours specifically designed to support people living with dementia and their family, friends or professional carers, to engage with the art work on show and enjoy a social museum experience.


Being in the moment with visual art

Ciaran McKinney, Head of Arts and Culture at Age and Opportunity, says the arts are
increasingly recognised “as being really helpful for people living with dementia. In an interview with the Irish Times he spoke about how “It can be an experience of being in the now. It’s not about the past. Also, it’s not about needing to refer only to safe material. People with dementia have the same rights as the rest of us to be shown something that is challenging, new or avant garde. To really hate an art work is just as valid as loving a piece”.

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To Be Determined (for Jean) – Dispatch from week one of the Emily Jacir workshop at IMMA


Workshop participants in session with David Lloyd and Emily Jacir at IMMA

This month we are presenting “To Be Determined” a workshop with artist Emily Jacir in conjunction with her current exhibition at IMMA – Europa (26 November 2016 – 26 February 2017). Conceived and organised by Jacir the workshop is based around a student exchange and we are delighted to welcome her students from the International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah to Dublin. They are in IMMA to work with Irish students from colleges around Ireland including Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD); Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Centre for Creative Arts and Media (GMIT  CCAM); the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin and Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

The workshop is taking place over two consecutive weeks in IMMA and also in a number of locations around Ireland, including Belfast, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry/Londonderry (CCA Derry~Londonderry), and the Burren College of Art, Co. Clare. Jacir has invited a number of artists and writers to contribute to the workshop including Gerard Byrne, Shane Cullen,Willie Doherty,David Lloyd, Declan Long, Conor McGrady, Áine Phillips, and Maggie Royanye. Below we hear from Emily Jacir and the participants in the programme, both artists and students, on their reflections after week one.

IMMA are hosting a brilliant initiative right now, as part of the extended Engagement and Learning programme around Emily Jacir’s show. Together with the museum, Emily has brought together a group of nine students, from the International Academy of Art Palestine, GMIT, LSAD, DIT and NCAD, for an intensive series of discussions and reflections around the politics and the art of Ireland and Palestine through the prism of Post-Colonialism. Parallels as well as differences are being teased out in the IMMA artist residency studios, as well as on bus trips to Belfast, Derry, and the Burren School of Art, where students are tapping into a network of ties that Emily has built up on Ireland and abroad with some of the more challenging and interesting Irish artists, including Willie Doherty, Shane Cullen, and writers like David Lloyd, and Declan Long. I’m involved, and really enjoying it.

Gerard Byrne (Artist)


Artist Emily Jacir with workshop participants in her IMMA exhibition Europa

My workshop To Be Determined (for Jean) kicked off last Sunday January 23rd at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. My students from the International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah, joined Irish students from colleges around Ireland to take part in a workshop I designed and organized in conjunction with my show at IMMA Europa (26 November 2016 – 26 February 2017).

It was very important for me to conduct this workshop in tandem with my show for many reasons but namely because of the long relationship I have with Ireland its impact on my work. Many of the themes which run through my exhibition at IMMA are being touched upon in this workshop. Additionally the colleagues I have invited to contribute to my workshop are people I have been working with for decades and almost all have worked in Palestine. So the workshop is not only built along the lines of my own research, explorations and interests but also in line with a long history of exchange and collaboration with Willie Doherty, Conor McGrady, Gerard Byrne, Shane Cullen, and David Lloyd among many others.

In my view this workshop also joins an enduring history of solidarity between Ireland and Palestine and so we will also be investigating not only that history of solidarity and collaboration but also the current situation of Palestinian prisoners (the role of prisoners in both Ireland and South Africa played crucial roles in ending those conflicts) as well as popular techniques used by the Irish (and also South Africans) which have served to inspire Palestinian efforts to resist occupation.  As Europa opened during the centenary of the 1916 Easter Uprising and with the shared history of British colonial rule in Palestine and Ireland (remnants of which still abound today) it was especially crucial to me to bring these students and thinkers together to examine these histories in a critical way.

This workshop has been such an amazing experience, from the trips to historically significant sites in Dublin, Belfast and Derry to the interaction with other students from Ireland and Palestine. The sharing of different views, opinions and ideas it has provided so much food for thought and source material for the development of artistic works. The warmth and hospitality of the accommodation has only been exceeded by that of all the people I have met at this workshop. – Conor Burke (GMIT – CCAM)


Workshop participants on the Falls Road in Belfast

It has been amazing to meet the other students from Palestine and Ireland; sharing our perspectives and discussing our ideas has been mentally stimulating. The seminars, lecturers and visits to Northern Ireland taught me more about the conflicts and history, as well as learning more about the history and present of Palestine. Overall, the workshop has been overwhelmingly rich and fascinating, and I’m honoured to be a part of it. – Tuyen Tran (DIT)


At the core of this workshop is a focus on the events and discourse surrounding the Easter Uprising of 1916 in Dublin. For this reason it was essential to me to organize a visit to Kilmainham Gaol (above) and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (where IMMA is housed) upon arrival in Dublin so that the students would understand the site and buildings in which we are working in and having our discussions in. I invited my colleagues to lead seminars that would interrogate themes such as resistance, the right of return, martyrs, independence, remembrance and commemoration from a variety of different perspectives.  We kicked off the first half of the week with a fantastic seminar led by David Lloyd called “Founding Violence:Rethinking Easter 1916”.

In investigating the postcolonial condition of Ireland, we are examining how this violent colonial history and these invasive disruptions of social, cultural, religious and political orders play out in contemporary Ireland today and how it continues to shape our present condition.  Wednesday we headed to Belfast for a tour of the Falls Road Murals guided by a former political prisoner. This was followed by a seminar with former political prisoners from the Republican and the Loyalist communities, as well as a former British soldier.


After our return to IMMA we continued the workshop with a couple of seminars led by artist Gerard Byrne exploring the role of the artist in imagining the state. In smaller group meetings with Gerard, the students were able to start to process the impact of the workshop in relation to their own practices. Declan Long’s seminar on Friday “Ghost Stories: Contemporary art and the uneasy peace of post-conflict Northern Ireland” (above) presented us with various forms of concrete examples of art projects.

We completed this first week with a trip to Derry, which included a seminar with Willie Doherty at CCA (where we were hosted by CCA Director Matt Packer and Curator Sarah Greavu . Willie spoke about his practice and his very personal relationship to this place and then led us on an intimate walking tour of Derry which included the sites of his works, as pictured below.


Being in Ireland made me realize even more that fighting against injustice, oppression and discrimination is a global fight and not only a Palestinian one, regardless of demographics, geography, culture or religion. Also, listening to all these historical and social struggles the Irish overcame drew a very promising picture of freedom in the near future for Palestine.

Also, being around the liberal and distinguished minds of the Irish and Palestinian students, and having the opportunity to visit the outstanding artworks at IMMA has been a great influence and motivation on me.

In short, I just loved the smiling faces, the loving hospitality and the passion for politics I’ve seen in the Irish. – May Marei (IAAP)


Workshop students and participants eating lunch together in IMMA’s artist studios

You can hear more from Emily about her current exhibition at IMMA here (video) The exhibition is free of charge and runs at IMMA, Dublin until 26 February 2017.


About the Author


Emily Jacir. Photo John McRea, 2016.

Emily Jacir’s recent solo exhibitions include IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art), Dublin (2016 – 2017); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); Darat il Funun, Amman (2014-2015); Beirut Art Center (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2009). Jacir’s works have been in important group exhibitions internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; dOCUMENTA (13) (2012); 5 consecutive Venice Biennales, 29th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2010); 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006); Sharjah Biennial 7 (2005); Whitney Biennial (2004); and the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003).

Jacir is the recipient of several awards, including a Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007); a Prince Claus Award (2007); the Hugo Boss Prize (2008); the Herb Alpert Award (2011); and the Rome Prize (2015).

In 2003 O.K. Books published belongings. a monograph on a selection of Jacir’s work. A second monograph was published by Verlag Fur Moderne Kunst Nurnberg (2008). Her book ex libris was published in 2012 by Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln. In 2015 The Khalid Shoman Foundation published A Star is as Far as the Eye Can See and as Near as My Eye is to Me the most extensive monograph to date on Jacir’s work in English and Arabic. The most recent publication on her work are Europa which accompanies the exhibitions at Whitechapel and IMMA. Earlier this year NERO, Roma published TRANSLATIO about Jacir’s permanent installation Via Crucis at the Chiesa di San Raffaele in Milano.

She has been actively involved in education in Palestine since 2000 including PIVF and Birzeit University. Over the past ten years she has been a full-time professor and active member of the vanguard International Academy of Art Palestine in Ramallah. She conceived of and co-curated the first Palestine International Video Festival in Ramallah in 2002. She also curated a selection of shorts; “Palestinian Revolution Cinema (1968 -1982)” which went on tour in 2007. Jacir is on the faculty of Bard MFA in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.


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Open House Junior at IMMA October 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

This October IMMA hosted an exciting workshop for teens, as part of Irish Architecture Foundation’s Open House Dublin.The session was an exploration of space and time by an impressive group of young people, and was facilitated by Paola Catizone and A. Legarreta (‘maken’) from the IMMA Visitor Engagement Team. As we look back at the year that was we wanted to capture some of our highlights, so have asked Paola and  maken to share their memories of the event.

The overall theme for the workshop was Time, Space and Presence, which takes as its cue the current exhibition IMMA Collection: A Decade. This collection exhibition is framed by a defined period of time – the last decade – and  includes many works that are time-based or time-related. Many of the works also underline the importance of ‘presence’.

In our workshop we engaged with several different spaces at IMMA: the grounds; the West Wing Gallery to view A Decade, and Studio 10 – one of the studio spaces on site. We focused on the contrast between linear time (where time is an absolute physical reality, and where the passage of time is independent of consciousness) versus ‘being in the now’, and on the effect of architectural space on human daily experience.

We started in the grounds of IMMA with maken, using a Time Machine…


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

We built a Time Machine with the group. Yes, we did.

Participants assembled at the base camp/Studio 10 to meet their crewmates and be briefed on the space-time hopping planned for the day. The usual safety announcements were made, including the possibility that we would all be vaporized in the time machine, accidentally transported to Mars, etc, etc.

304 seconds later (4 seconds behind schedule, but we are at IMMA, not NASA), we left base camp. The Krono-nauts, aka Time-travellers, marched in formation to the designated launch site South of the RHK Clock Tower (yes, most appropriate). As we marched, we signaled our presence by our team flag – a pair of futuristic wings that flapped in the air as we walked. We carried with us our very own home-made Time Machine, which, conveniently, had been designed to fit into a bucket (see image above). The Machine consisted of an ‘electomagnetic’ gold-silver ‘aeronautical’ drapery, 16.2m long, threaded with our own imaginary experimental metal alloy, immanite™…  and we were off!

After announcing the first destination, the Krono-nauts were asked to close their eyes. With a din of strange machine-sounds (closely resembling the ding-ding of a pantry-bell and the gong of… well… a meditation-Gong), we navigated through the space-time continuum, for what really and truly felt like 5 seconds. Without opening our eyes, like human-compasses, the crew were instructed to turn their bodies south-east to face the exact location. When they opened their eyes, the pilot described the building/ structure/ site they were beholding…

This space-time jump was repeated a number of times. Among other destinations we travelled to….

…the year 974, the outskirts of Dubh Linn in Hibernia. A hut Built by a young hermit called Maignenn, later known as ‘the place of Maignenn, or… ‘Kill-Mainham’.

…1679, Paris, France. ‘Les Invalides’ building. Officer Arthur Forbes falls in love with this military retirement home and persuades king Charles II to build a replica in Dublin.

…1880, Kandahar, Afġānistān. The site of an anti-colonial battle. A burial place will be erected in the IMMA gardens for a member of the British colonial troops at Kandahar. The warrior, who received a medal from Queen Victoria, was Volonel, an Arab horse.

…1940, Berlin, Deutschland. Detlev-Rohwedder building, the largest office building in Europe, headquarters of the Reich Air Ministry. A nameless secretary files a photograph of the RHK taken by the Luftwaffe. The file, called ‘Operation Green’, holds tactical information for a Nazi invasion of Ireland.

After several such space-time jumps, and safely returned to the launch-site, Krono-nauts were told that they had all now become Human Time Machines, with the ability to take other people back in time to all those places they had learned about, simply by repeating the stories they had heard.

We then moved to the West Wing to explore Old and New” tour, with Paola

Amanda Coogan, Medea, 2001, chromogenic print from digital file, mounted on diabond, 92 x 123 cm, edition 2/3, IMMA Collection

Within A Decade, we looked at works by Mark Dion, Kevin Atherton, Amanda Coogan, Corban Walker, Alexis Harding, Dennis Mc Nulty and Philippe Taaffe as each one of these works invites reflections on the passing of time, with materials, media and use of space carefully and deliberately chosen by the artists to create sharp contrasts between present and past. Each art work inhabits the surrounding space on its own terms, sparking up a dynamic between contemporary art and historical architecture. The walls of the RHK are soaked in history and yet they comfortably host artworks that, while  in conversation with the past, are of the present and speak to it.

Atherton’s performative video installation is one of IMMA’s latest acquisitions supported by The Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection. It consists of projections of two videos featuring present time Atherton in dialogue with his younger self, one filmed in 1978 and another in 2014. The older film has been re-edited to simulate this dialogue, and the arrangement of the projections within the room forces viewers to turn to look left and right, to follow the conversation, in a way that makes us participate in the performance.

Harding examines time from a different perspective. By using two painting mediums –oil and emulsion—with different drying times the artist can exhibit wet, dripping paintings which continue to form and change as you watch them, changing over time to dynamic effect.

McNulty’s multi-media installation, also supported through the Hennessy Art Fund, takes as its point of departure texts from Olaf Stapleton’s fictitious timeline for ‘Last and First Men‘, which he displays in a looped LCD. The timeline imaginatively extends from prehistory to a dystopian future threatened by a solar catastrophe. The windows in the room are partially covered by orange gel sheets while foil plaster boards reconfigure the shape of the walls and an acapella version of  “The sun always shines on TV” by Norwegian 1980s band A-ha is the looped sound track. We find ourselves immersed within a sensory environment that hints at a future human existence lived in synthetic, manmade spaces surrounded by a threatening external world, no longer habitable.

In the studio


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016

Having looked at the work in the galleries and explored the grounds the group decamped to the studio where they were invited to respond to the exhibition in ways that were physically active and sensorily rich – breaking away from a traditional reliance on the use of paints and crayons to make art.

The workshops started with an ice-breaker name-game, a visualization on architectural space, and a movement exercise by Augusto Boal. In another exploration we imagined the world at various stages in the next 1,000 years, a sci-fi fantasy as a response to Dennis McNulty’s installation, with the resulting texts jumbled up and read anonymously: “I don’t think there will be a planet Earth in the future”, one read, and “Aliens will live among us”, another. The group also created an installation built by writing their hopes for the future on coloured strips of paper, and attaching them to thread crisscrossing the Studio space: “Clean water for everyone” and “Infinite Knowledge” could be read. The process was simple but the result was visually and emotionally impactful. It was a privilege to witness this young group’s hopes and thoughts on the future. May all their hopes come true!


Open House Dublin at IMMA, 2016



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IMMA Shop: Christmas 2016

fullsizerenderShop IMMA this Christmas
We’re all familiar with the challenge that gift giving brings this time of year; how and where to find original presents for your loved ones of all ages. As always, the IMMA Shop has a beautiful offer with a selection of creative and unique gifts. Prices start from as little as €5 and there is a great selection of Irish and International design and craft, jewellery, art books, toys, art prints, or a year-long art experience from IMMA through membership (now available for purchase online here).

Making a purchase from the IMMA Shop is rewarding for both gift-giver and receiver. Not only will you be supporting Irish art, and spending time within IMMA and the beautiful, historic grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham, avoiding the congestion of the city centre and main shopping areas, but you’ll also be supporting our work at IMMA and the work of independent artists and suppliers. Continue below to explore some of the items we’re most excited about (and the gifts we’re secretly hoping to receive, ourselves).

imma-membershipIMMA Membership
Membership has its benefits. For only €50 (€30 concession), you can give the gift of membership to one of Ireland’s most vital art organisations. Membership includes invitations to exclusive events, talks, lectures, and openings, discounts on purchases from the IMMA Shop and Limited Art Editions, free teas and coffees from the Itsa Café and unlimited entry to IMMA exhibitions where an admission fee applies, like the landmark exhibition of Lucian Freud work currently open until October 2017 and beyond. Explore the levels of membership here.

Husband and wife team Fiona Snow and Michael Mohler combine technology, precision, creativity and design in their Irish-made work. We currently carry a vast collection of affordable laser-cut design in the form of wooden tree ornaments, household decorations and paper stationary. All products are designed and made by SNOW in their Dublin studio. The layered coloured paper used in the creation of stationary and small art prints is particularly stunning.

Wolf & Moonwallpaper-necklace-mint-750_1024x1024
Jewellery made from a combination of woods, metals, acrylics and fabrics to create individual pieces inspired by geometry and the natural world.
Wolf & Moon is owned and operated by British designer Hannah Davis in her East London studio, where each piece is handmade with care. The range is exclusive to IMMA Shop in Ireland and we carry a broad selection of Wolf & Moon’s best pieces.

Hans Christian Andersen and Sanna Annukkablog_firtree_sanna2-650x488
The IMMA Shop has an extensive collection of books for all ages and interests, but the two newest seasonal additions are The Fir Tree and The Snow Queen by prolific Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. These two classics have been re-released by Penguin Books with new illustrations by Finnish-British artist Sanna Annukka. These two books display Scandanavian-inspired beauty at its best and are suitable gifts for lovers of design and texture and readers of all ages and levels.

Love & Robots1510546_401181523368177_6941410000321811251_n
Inspired by contemporary culture, geometry, architecture, graphic design and urban life, Love & Robots use bright, colourful nylon and beautiful precious metals to create jewellery to suit unique individuals and their personalities. A new addition to the IMMA Shop for December, we have teamed with Love & Robots to offer a selection of their most popular and vibrant pieces at an affordable price.


Freud Exhibition PackReflection (Self Portrait), 1985 (oil on canvas)
Give a truly unique cultural experience this Christmas by gifting a loved one fifty works by Lucian Freud…or at least the experience of visiting these beautiful works currently on display in the Freud Centre as part of the IMMA Collection: Freud Project. You can even take some of the works home in the form of a limited edition poster, postcard pack, magnet, notebook, and a beautiful new Freud book, fully illustrated with all fifty works, an introduction from Curator and Head of Collections Christina Kennedy and 31 responses from contemporary artists to Freud’s work.  Included in this pack are a complementary visitor’s voucher for two (RRP €16), the Freud book (RRP €18), a limited edition poster (RRP €18), fridge magnet (RRP €2.50), notebook (RRP €9.95) and postcard pack (RRP €10) all for the great bundle price of €45.

tim-robinsonTim Robinson – IMMA Art Editions
Author, visual artist, curator, cartographer and mathematician Tim Robinsonrecently donated his personal archive to IMMA Collections for restoration. To fund this project, two new IMMA  Art Editions have been released just in time for Christmas. One is a colourful exploration of mathematics and palette, the other is a detailed map of an Aran coastline. Robinson is noted for his technical background, having studied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge before practising as a visual artist in Europe. He settled in the Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland and became fascinated by the geography and landscape of the islands and the ruggedness of Connemara. Though formally trained in a very specific science, Robinson uses his creative intuition to create pieces that are beautiful and functional.

The above is just but a sample of all the wonderful and whimsical items available at the IMMA Shop. Visit the IMMA Shop on the 1st Floor of IMMA and explore the selection!

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‘Foreign Body’ – a poem by Cherry Smyth in response to Jaki Irvine’s ‘If the Ground Should Open…’

Cherry Smyth, poet, curator and art writer, is one of the collaborators in Jaki Irvine’s new work If the Ground Should Open…, a major new commission for IMMA presented on the occasion of the centenary of the historic Easter uprisings of 1916. In this blog Smyth discusses her response to Irvine’s work and presents her poem Foreign Body which is performed within the first and eponymous track of Irvine’s new work, currently at IMMA.

A one-off live performance of If the Ground Should Open…, in its entirety, takes place on Tuesday 13 December at 7pm in the atmospheric surrounds of the Great Hall at IMMA, where the footage for the original sound and video work was developed. Cherry Smyth will participate in this live performance alongside the other project performers which include Louise Phelan and Cats Irvine (vocals) ; Sarah Grimes (drums); Jane Hughes (cello); Izumi Kimura (piano); Hilary Knox (bagpipes); Liz McClaren (violin) and Aura Stone (double bass).

Book Tickets €8 euro including post performance reception.

Foreign Body – a poem by Cherry Smyth written for Jaki Irvine, If the Ground Should Open (2016)

When Jaki Irvine asked me to respond to her book Days of Surrender (Copy Press, London, 2015), two things hooked me: the notion of bystanding, inspired by those who claimed to be ‘innocent bystanders’ in Dublin in 1916 and the name Elizabeth O’Farrell, which kept ringing and echoing back as Mairéad Farrell.  Who draws the line of innocence and who chooses to cross it?  I like to think I could have been Elizabeth O’Farrell, risking gunfire in the streets, sacrificing safety and I shudder to think I could have been Mairéad Farrell, an active member of the IRA, jailed for ten years for bombing a hotel and then assassinated by the SAS.  Where does the choice lie?  And how does history choose its heroines?


Winston Churchill Avenue, Gibraltar

I had been haunted by Mairéad Farrell’s death since 1988 and knew I could only understand her lack of choice if some part of me became her through a poem.  I wrote about this process more fully in an essay entitled Bystander.

I am interested in how art and poetry can build a space that can hold everything: the collapsed and derided financial system, the failed and deluded electoral system and the ongoing, troubled and troubling project of a united and independent Ireland.  Jaki Irvine’s If the Ground Should Open… creates this kind of space, a space we didn’t know how much we needed until it appeared, a space that has the audacity to put anomalous things together and make a moral resonance.

If the Ground Should Open… presents a big, bleak space, with a mournful coaxing of sound and women’s voices.  The traditional white space around a poem, Irvine juices with music, colours with sound that lifts my poem, Foreign Body, into a new auditory landscape.  This allows others to inhabit the world of the poem in a much fuller and more powerful way.  It is a world of deep (and deepening) frustration with how women’s power and wisdom are dulled, ditched or destroyed by patriarchal culture.

‘The mouth is engineered by gender’ writes Vahni Capildeo in her striking new collection Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, 2016) and Irvine captures this wonderfully in the phone excerpt of a corrupt, male banker cackling with glee set against visceral female keening.

I write poetry to face the ugliness of contradictions, of moral ambiguity, to stay looking when others have turned away, to inhabit the room they want to evict us from.  Poetry can do what nothing else wants to: call to account, act as a witness.  It relieves the passivity of trauma; it can transform and heal to write what is in front of you.  You are no longer helpless, no longer a bystander.  The vision in your head is outside of you and others can enter it and be held and changed there.

Foreign Body

In 1988, a girl went to Spain.
An Irish girl.  It was March.
Some would say woman.
But she was a girl, a good girl,
to those who knew her.  Clear-eyed, pale.
The mimosa was out.  She rented
a white Ford Fiesta.  A friend gave her a gift.
Carefully wrapped.  She put it in the boot,
parked in a multi-storey carpark.
The friend’s name was Libya.

The girl was 13 in 1970.
Some say it was the platform boots.
Others that it was boots on the ground.
She couldn’t breathe.
The streets were made empty.  She couldn’t
run across her own street.  Boots on the ground.
New platform boots.  Some say it was the CS gas.
She couldn’t see across her street.
The street’s name was the Fall’s Road.

1973 and she liked disco.  The sounds
of Hot Chocolate.  The sounds of binlids
battering the tarmac.  An alerting clatter
to her friends across the street, to hide
their gifts, to move their treasure.
Some say she got in with the wrong crowd,
others that she got an education.  Everyone
with an accent was suspect and everyone
had an accent.  On the streets, a foreign body,
making the local foreign, making who you had
tea with disappear.  That’s 10,000 teacups,
never a judge, never a jury.  Making a schoolgirl
put on a black skirt, a white shirt, a black tie.
It was not a school uniform.  Taking 3000
women and kids to march into the curfew
with bread and milk to break it.

Some say she was walking down a street in Spain
that was a street in Britain.  Some said it in Spanish,
others in English.  The word for ‘prone’ in Spanish
is ‘propenso’.  It was broad daylight, with two friends.
Some said a bad lot.  Some said they had time to look,
put their hands up.  Others that the shooters kept
shooting when they were prone.

The Special Air Service does not deliver air.

Ten years in Armagh, had taught her nothing,
explained everything.  She couldn’t breathe,
wouldn’t wear the uniform.  She wrote with shit,
spoke hunger to the world’s airwaves.

Some called it a war, but she could not be called
a soldier.  Some said she was a criminal, but there
was no trial.  Some called her above the law, but
the execution lawful.  Bare-headed in the spring sun.
Bare-handed on the Spanish-British street, travelling
under a false name that the border control already knew.
A foreign body on a Gibraltar avenue.

i.m. Mairéad Farrell, 1957-1988 (aged 31)



Cherry Smyth is a Northern Irish poet and art writer, living in London.  Her first two collections were published by Lagan Press: When the Lights Go Up, 2001 and One Wanted Thing, 2006.  Her third collection Test, Orange, appeared with Pindrop Press, 2012.  Her debut novel, Hold Still, Holland Park Press  came out in 2015. She writes regularly about art for Art Monthly and has written catalogue essays for Elizabeth Magill, Siobhan Hapaska, Brigit McLeer and Orla Barry, among others.  The hallmarks of her work are ‘precision, linguistic inventiveness and joy’, The Irish Times.




If the Ground Should Open… by Jaki Irvine continues at IMMA in the Courtyard Galleries until 15 January 2017. Foreign Bodies is one of eleven tracks which make up the work. Admission to the exhibition is free.

A one-off live performance of the work takes place on Tuesday 13 December at 7pm,. Tickets €8, which includes booking fee and beverages after the performance. Book here.

Watch Jaki Irvine talk about her work in this video introduction to her exhibition.