independent

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Art and sheep at heart of Orla's new book

Elizabeth Whyte (Wexford Art Centre), Sean Kiely (who did a reading), Orla Barry, Peter Murphy (who did a reading) and Catherine Bowe (Wexford Art Centre)
Elizabeth Whyte (Wexford Art Centre), Sean Kiely (who did a reading), Orla Barry, Peter Murphy (who did a reading) and Catherine Bowe (Wexford Art Centre)

Maria Pepper

A book following the seasons of a sheep year in south east Ireland, by the visual artist and shepherd Orla Barry, was launched at an event in Wexford Arts Centre.

Orla lives in Duncormick where she runs a flock of pedigree Lleyn sheep and her book, 'Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram of Arcady', while embedded in that reality, is a fictional and humorous series of short stories that recount her interaction with different characters and animals.

It was published by Mu.Zee, Ostend and Wexford Arts Centre. There were readings at the launch by Peter Murphy, Sean Kiely and the artist, with an introduction by Catherine Bowe.

'Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram from Arcady' reflects on our disconnection from the natural environment and on the boundaries within art, gender and everyday rural life.

It includes the personal experiences of the artist who lived in Brussels for 16 years.

She left the city and returned to her pastoral roots to be reborn as a hybrid: a farmer-artist.

Her work draws on the tensions between being an artist and a farmer in rural Ireland.

Orla has exhibited and performed widely,including at the Tate Modern in London, De Appel, Amsterdam, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and in various prestigious venues in Belgium.

All of the writing comes from physical action of one kind or another. Like much of the artist's work, it is motivated by 'doing' or literally, research in the 'field'.

The result is a universe of animal dramas, of reincarnated sheep, sick sheep and black sheep, of placentas, sexual desire, gender, shit-tanks, of buying, selling, slaughtering and loving.

The book contains the texts two of from Orla's performance works, Breaking Rainbows (2016) and SPIN, SPIN, SCHEHERAZADE (2019) along with the Meanest of the Flock, An Abcdery of Sheep by Lisa Godson.

Wexford People

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