Artist Aideen Barry awarded the ITMA / Music Network 2020 Bunting Commission

Music Network and the Irish Traditional Music Archive announce the 2020 Bunting Commission

Oblivion Aideen Barry 001

Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ


A multi-media work by Aideen Barry in collaboration with Inuit throat singer and electronic musician RIIT, with Irish harper Elaine Hogan and artist Margaret O'Connor.

“Oblivion is an alchemy, turning the sounds of the past into a completely unheard-of landscape that will only appear for an extraordinary moment, like an eclipse or aurora borealis.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aideen Barry

Music Network and the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) have appointed visual artist Aideen Barry to create a new artwork inspired by the Bunting Harp Collection, one of Ireland’s national treasures.

In 1792 Armagh-born Edward Bunting was commissioned by the organisers of the Belfast Harp Festival to notate and preserve the music of the last of the professional Irish harpers. Bunting strove to preserve indigenous culture in Ireland at a time of great threat and this task was to prompt a lifetime of collecting and publishing Irish traditional music. His first collection A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland [Volume 1] appeared in 1797 and its influence continues to be seen in live performance, print, recorded and online settings.

Aideen Barry, who is an Associate Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and a member of Aosdána, was awarded the €15,000 commission for her intriguing response to an invitation for proposals issued by Music Network and ITMA in 2019.

Barry will collaborate with Inuit throat singer and electronic musician RIIT, Irish harper Elaine Hogan and artist Margaret O'Connor to create Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ, a new cross-disciplinary project that draws parallels between Bunting’s preservation of ancient Irish music and the existential threat to all human culture and existence.

Through the use of cutting edge technology, archive materials, sound, music, design and film, Aideen Barry poses these concerns as artistic dilemmas to be addressed through a language of multidisciplinary collaboration.

Through the realisation of her new work, Aideen Barry will ask: 

What is the role of the artist in a time of great uncertainty, when we may be facing oblivion as a species? What if we are the last ever generation of artists left to live? If environmental collapse is really around the corner what responsibilities do we have to face up to and how can we interpret the notion of oblivion in our role as creators?

Music Network’s CEO Sharon Rollston commented: 

We’re very pleased to have awarded Aideen Barry this commission in partnership with ITMA. It builds substantially on a previous Music Network project in 2016 which took the Bunting Collection as its inspiration. A significant part of this project involved Music Network documenting solo performances of the 66 tunes of Volume 1 of the Collection, in ITMA’s recording studio. The resulting bank of audio-visual recordings - by 10 of Ireland’s leading contemporary harpers - acted as a catalyst for further exploration, with ITMA, of new ways to introduce this important collection, and the musicians who perform it, to wider audiences through an exciting cross-disciplinary approach.

Liam O'Connor Director of ITMA said: 

Connecting artists with archival material to inspire new art is a great privilege for the staff of ITMA. To have a visual artist of Aideen Barry’s calibre ‘drawing from the well’ of digitised 18th century publications and manuscripts by Edward Bunting (1773-1843) is truly exciting.
Oblivion will bring Bunting’s life’s work on a new and unexpected journey while connecting us with our past, present and future. Along with our partners, Music Network and Special Collections & Archives, Queen’s University Belfast, the staff of ITMA are eagerly awaiting what promises to be an inspiring multi-disciplinary installation.


Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ
will be premiered at the Limerick City Gallery of Art from December 2021 - February 2022. This presentation will feature a special live performance by RITT and Elaine Hogan on 21st December 2021. In addition to a number of international presentations in 2022, the work will also be shown in The Source Gallery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

A separate commissioning resource will also be provided by Belfast International Arts Festival to present a unique re-imagining of Oblivion / Seachmalltacht / ᖃᐅᔨᒪᔭᐅᔪᓐᓃᖅᑐᑦ in Belfast in 2022. This presentation will take place with the generous support of the Department of Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Further details to follow. 

Music Network is funded by the Arts Council. The Irish Traditional Music Archive is funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The support and co-operation of Special Collections & Archives, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is gratefully acknowledged, as is funding from The Canada Council for the Arts.

>> Find out more about the Bunting Collection

For further information/images please contact: Muireann Sheahan, Communications Manager, Music Network: (01) 4750224 or [email protected].

This press release is available to download here.

Follow Music Network: Twitter: @MusNetIrl Facebook: @MusicNetworkIreland Instagram: @MusNetIrl

Follow ITMA: Twitter: @ITMADublin Facebook: @ITMADublin Instagram: @ITMADublin

www.musicnetwork.ie 

www.itma.ie 

www.aideenbarry.com 

www.riitmusic.com

www.notionsbymargaretoconnor.com

www.elaine-hogan.com

www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/InformationServices/TheLibrary/SpecialCollections 

www.belfastinternationalartsfestival.com

https://canadacouncil.ca/


Notes to editors: 

Aideen Barry is a practising Visual Artist based in Ireland but with international representation. In 2020 she was elected to the Royal Hibernian Academy as an ARHA member. She is also a member of Aosdána and lectures in several universities and schools of visual art.

Selected projects include exhibitions at: Elephant West ( UK), Mothers Tankstation (IRE), The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Oaxaca (Mex), Louise T. Bloudin (London), Moderne Mussett Sweden, The Loop Biennale (ESP), Matucana 100 (Chile), FRIEZE Art Fair (UK) ,The Wexner Centre Ohio,  The Royal Hibernian Academy, the Museum des Beaux Arts (FR), The Crawford Municipal Gallery, The Butler Gallery, The Banff Centre Canada, the Headlands Centre for the Arts San Francisco, Liste Art Fair Basel Switzerland, BAC Geneva, Arco Art Fair (ESP), CH ACO (Chile)  and Catherine Clark Gallery US.

Barry has received numerous awards for her practice including recent awards: Culture Ireland Award 2018, The Vermont Studio Centre Fellowship Award 2017, Project New Work Awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council of Ireland Bursary Awards, Modern Ireland in 100 Art Works 2015 Award from the Royal Irish Academy, the Silent Light Film Award at the Cork Film Festival, Travel and Training Awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, and in 2010 was shortlisted for the prestigious AIB Prize. 

Music Network is Ireland’s national music touring and development organisation, and was founded by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 1986. We make high quality live music accessible to communities throughout Ireland and help musicians to develop fulfilling careers.

Our vision is that of a culture which increasingly values live music in our everyday lives, embracing it as an essential part of a healthy, vibrant society.

Everything we do stems from this vision: from our work in music education, to supporting musicians at varying stages of their development, to providing opportunities for performance and participation through our valued network of partners.

Our work enriches many aspects of music-making across Ireland, bringing musicians and listeners together through the magic of live performance.

Further details at www.musicnetwork.ie  

ITMA is the national public archive and resource centre for Irish traditional music, song and dance, and the globally-recognised specialist advisory agency to advance appreciation, knowledge, and the practice of Irish traditional music.

Established in 1987 and funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon, and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the role of ITMA is to: collect and preserve the historical and contemporary materials of Irish traditional music, particularly those that are at risk; organise and describe these materials according to international standards of archival and library practice to create collections that are discoverable by all; present and publish content from our collections in ways that enhance the living tradition; contribute to the knowledge base of traditional music, and engage with our diverse audiences worldwide.

Further details at: www.itma.ie