Michele Horrigan           bio / contact

Artworks

Stigma Damages

Apex

Dante's Rock Phase

Purgatory

In Ruin Reconciled

Conspiracy

Nature Obscured by Factory / Factory Obscured by Fog

A Very Reliable Performer

Whooper Swan

Beeves Rock

Abandoned

 

Abandoned

Photographs, each 106 x 86cm

 

There are still some places – remote and for most practical purposes
barely accessible – that seem outside history. They are empty but for
their elements, the rock, the water, the plants and animals that give
them substance. Occasionally, a transitory intrusion results in the place
being named, given a word that attempts to record or evoke a distinctive
form or quality. Mostly, however, the place remains anonymous and
unknown save for the cartographer’s coordinates or an image captured
by satellite.Yet even without human intervention these places have
their own natural histories, their distinctive patterns of change and
continuity. Alteration comes with each dawn and with the turn of the
seasons, rhythms that are played out and repeated from one year to the
next. But nature’s cycles can break; its contours, climates and currents
alter – sometimes slowly and imperceptibly but sometimes with abrupt
and repeated violence – and the place is transformed.


The empty places are all but gone. A crowded and hungry
earth seeks out new land and what was once wilderness is fashioned
and re-formed towards specific ends. Settlement and commerce
promise permanency but there are times when a cruel event such as
war or famine or, more commonly, a lurch in the cycles of trade or
technological innovation brings rupture. Then, a place where nature
seemed to have been tamed returns to what it was before.


The uplands of north Leitrim are such a place. For centuries
they were sparsely inhabited except for the huts of the young men who
herded there in summertime. Settlement became denser in the early
nineteenth century when the possibilities of a profitable agriculture
drew people from the congested lowlands up into the hills. But just as
suddenly, the men and women who would grow up and farm there,
thinking perhaps that their own children could do the same, moved on.


Between 1851 and 2001 Leitrim lost three-quarters of its population to
the industrial cities of Britain and America, a haemorrage greater than
that of any other county. For now, some of their dwellings remain
standing but the roofs no longer keep out the rain, doors give way to
the touch, the windows are sightless. Encircled by advancing
vegetation, the shell of a dwelling is now just a convenient place to
stack logs before they are taken down to the sawmill.

John Logan