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40 Days and 40 Nights

Artist Name(s) Chris Doris
Artwork title 40 Days and 40 Nights
Context/Background 40 Days and 40 Nights was commissioned by Mayo County Council’s Arts Office as part of the Artist–in-Residence Scheme. 

In 40 Days and 40 Nights, artist Chris Doris resided at the summit of Ireland's sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick, for forty days and nights (July – Sept 1999).  During his intervention as artist in residence for Mayo County Council Arts Office, Doris encountered approx. 6000 national and international climbers and pilgrims.

Croagh Patrick has a long lineage as an important pre-Christian and Christian site of physical pilgrimage. By this minimal intervention Doris situated himself as artist, to be present and available, both on the mountain and beyond it. The work sought to place the relational field and it's potential for connection at the centre of the work and to actualize it. Experiential and academic research into the nature of consciousness was and remains a central theme in Doris' work. Doris claimed that ‘On the mountain a space was created to inquire into the nature of human consciousness and connectivity. The link to the artist and his presence generated remote and immediate encounters.’ From these encounters his intent was the investigation into notions such as the nature of the space between us, how transformation happens, art’s function, and spirituality in a post -Catholic Ireland and the Mountain's contested histories.

The projects innovative and investigational attainment can be found in its timely experimental approach, by commissioner and artist, to move beyond publically funded, object -based public art to a process-based, participatory work. It led to a series of 'public inquiries' by Chris Doris, which employed processes of observation from meditation, psychotherapy and psychology to investigate the relational field, being and selfhood.


In addition to the artist’s intervention on the summit of Croagh Patrick, artwork included a body of work entitled Pilgrimage Series (Mayo County Council Collection), plus a catalogue of the project, with contributing essay by Caoimhin Mac Giolla Lèith, available from Mayo County Council. His recordings constitute the RTE radio documentary, 40 Days and 40 nights (available on RTE).


Chris Doris' practice has spanned public art interventions, painting, drawing and print exhibitions in Ireland and abroad since his debut in the RHK in 1987.

The work inquires into the nature of consciousness, being and selfhood. Doris has an MA in Mindfulness-based psychotherapy, is an accredited core process psychotherapist and longtime RAJ (MIND) YOGA preceptor. His work has won several awards.

For further information see

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Mayo County Council
Commissioning process Artist Panel
Public Presentation dates June 30, 1999 - September 29, 1999
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Funded By Mayo County Council
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Location Croagh Patrick
County Mayo
Town Murrisk