Michele Horrigan         bio / contact

Artworks

What A Feeling!

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

 

Nature Obscured by Factory / Factory Obscured by Fog

A video and photographic work investigating the social and environmental impacts of the Aughinish Alumina

Factory on the Shannon River Estuary, Ireland.

 

   

   

‘In Nature Obscured by Factory / Factory Obscured by Fog environmental concerns surrounding an industrial

factory close to Horrigan’s locale of Askeaton are investigated. Aughinish Alumina was established beside the

Shannon Estuary in 1983 and produces 1.8 million tonnes of alumina yearly, making it the largest factory of its

kind in Europe. Horrigan uses extracts from newspapers and media reports, displayed chronologically on a

television monitor, to narrate the debate surrounding deformed agricultural livestock, toxic deposits in the soil

and harmful sulphur emissions. These issues officially remain a mystery, but are allegedly attributed to the factory’s

activities. However, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency continue to renew the factory’s licence, defend its’

record and deny any links between local public illness and toxic emissions from Aughinish Alumina or the

surrounding electricity power station. All this choice information is further visualised by Horrigan’s video projection

Nature Obscured by Factory, and a photograph, Factory Obscured by Fog.

 

The photograph presents us with a view directed towards the factory, however, a heavy morning fog clouds

any sign of industrialisation. The hazily atmospheric view depicting scenery on the Shannon estuary veils the

deeper issues hinted at in Horrigan’s titles.

Atmosphere can be translated literally to mean ‘fog ball’, which immediately replaces any romantic associations

from this image with the unavoidable sober environmental issues. The accompanying video shows wildlife in the

locale where horses quietly graze, birds greet the dawn and ducks swim on the water. However, these tranquil images

of nature are contrasted with images of industry and an ominous shadow is cast throughout the artwork.

This juxtaposition of nature and industry signifies further complexities. In an attempt to counter environmental concerns,

and perhaps purge their public image, Aughinish Alumina established a bird sanctuary and planted thousands of trees

on Aughinish Island. The animals have a sanctuary because of the presence of industry. Still the electricity pylons,

power stations and industrial chimneys emit billowing fumes. These threaten to choke the already ashen landscape

and its inhabitants. In its totality Horrigan’s work highlights the struggle for survival between nature and industry,

and between economy and environment.’     Karen Normoyle