Bodies of Knowledge
"Bodies of Knowledge" stands as a comprehensive project, delving into the life and impact of Annie Massey, a distinguished conchologist. The exploration begins with a poignant symbol - an empty picture frame inscribed with 'Annie Massy outside her house in Howth.' This void prompts the artist's quest to fill, imagine, and bridge gaps in knowledge through art, encapsulating the tragedy of her disappearance from the historical record.
Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland's Agility Award and aided by Kultur Stadt Bern's BLICKE funding for the subsequent exhibition in Interlaken, the project seeks to offer a unique perspective, transcending the limitations of traditional biography.
The artist's physical interaction with places Annie lived and studied, and the specimens from Annie's explorations held at the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History adds a tangible connection through time, inviting viewers to embrace a continual quest for knowledge. Archival research was also conducted in the Nature History Museum London and the National Botanical Gardens Dublin.
"Ostreidae//Strata" and "Worlds Unrealised" emerge as distinct works within the "Bodies of Knowledge" project. These pieces serve as artistic responses, capturing the spirit of exploration and observation inspired by Annie's dedication to nature and scientific discovery.
"Ostreidae//Strata," is a body of work crafted during a residency at Northlands Creative, Scotland. Focusing on a specific study conducted by Annie for the Irish Fisheries Board, the work challenges assumptions and highlights the importance of questioning established facts to expand our understanding of the world. This work was shown a COLLECT 2023 at Somerset House in London, UK.
"Worlds Unrealised" draws its title from a William Wordsworth poem quoted in the minutes of the Dublin Naturalist Field Club, expressing regret over the undervaluation of hands-on experiences in nature within the Irish education system—a sentiment that remains relevant today.
The first exhibition of these works was kindly supported by Kultur Stadt Bern, BLICKE funding. This exhibition of took place at the location where the work was produced, Niesenglass, Unterseen/Interlacken, CH. This was accompanied by an artist talk with curator Emer Lynch.
The work was subsequently shown at the Irish Ambassador's Residence in Bern as part of their inaugural St. Bridget's Day celebrations.