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Artist Name(s) Mark Garry & Sean Carpio
Artwork title Drift
Context/Background Commissioned as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2012, DRIFT brought two of Ireland’s leading contemporary artists together to create an outdoor performance on Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.  Artist Mark Garry and composer and jazz musician Sean Carpio worked with a musician and boat builder based on Sherkin Island to transform a wooden sail boat into a floating Aeolian wind harp (a harp played by the wind). This sonic sculpture was accompanied by a new composition written for wind instruments and was performed in Horseshoe Bay, one of the natural amphitheatres on Sherkin Island. 

This project involved an outdoor performance and a separate film work. The performance and filming took place in a natural amphitheatre called “Horseshoe Bay” on Sherkin Island which is located off the coast of West Cork in Ireland.   

This work was entitled “Drift’ and involved Mark transforming a traditional Irish wooden sail boat into a floating sonic sculpture. Mark designed and manufactured a large scale Aeolian harp (a harp that is played by the wind) that was fitted to this boat in a way that both suited the architecture of the boat and maximized its sonic potential.

Sean composed a musical work based on a series of Sumerian Hymns. These hymns are the first known documented song and were translatedfrom cuneiform texts held by the British Museum (discovered in 1908). This composition was written for and performed by a brass quartet. Garry and Carpio also engaged a Jazz tenor saxophone player: "We asked [him] to improvise around what was occurring sonically with the Aeolian harp and in doing so act as a link between the Aeolian harp and the brass quartet. This composition was made up of three themes that moved down through a cycle of fifths. The amount of times and location of these themes was controlled by a form of improvised conducting that dictated both the pacing and experience of the performance."

The artists  felt that this choice of instrumentation and use of improvisation were essential to the work from both pragmatic and conceptual perspectives. "We wanted to use instrumentation that would be effective without amplification in this particular outdoor setting. The volume and type of sound made by the Aeolian Harp is dictated by the strength, direction and type of wind that passes through it and as such required improvisation and flexible responsiveness from both the performers and conductor."

The audience for this performance sailed from Baltimore on the mainland out to Horseshoe Bay on two ferries that were moored in the centre of the bay and this is where the audience experienced the performance. The artists explain, "We were anxious that the audience treated the performance as if they were attending a piece of indoor theatre, and they were asked not to photograph, film or record the performance in any manner. We wanted them to be fully concentrated on the specific individual experience of this situation and set of elements as opposed to concentrating on how they were going to document and share this experience."  

Mark and Sean also wanted to set up a cultural situation, that while it had adaptable controllable elements, would ultimately create a situation where the experience of the performance was original and unique for the audience, performers and those who conceived the project. This project also involved a related yet independent film work where all of the characteristics of the performance where set in place at night in the same location. This film rather than documenting the performance attempts to evoke the essence of it.  

The yawl use in the project is An Rún, is a replica of Shamrock, a mackerel yawl built in the 1920s to a traditional Roaring Water Bay wooden boat design. It was built by local resident Nigel Towse. 

This 40 minute performance took place in Horseshoe Bay on Sherkin Island between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm on Saturday 30 June 2012. 


Sherkin Newsletter 2012


Mark Garry (b.1972, Ireland) was one of the artists who represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Recent selected exhibitions and projects include: a permanent commission for The MAC, Belfast, 2012; “All Humans Do”, White Box, New York, The Model, Sligo, 2012; Stephen Freidman Gallery, London, 2011; Cave, Detroit, 2011; University of Ulster gallery, Belfast, 2011; “Brittleness”, Maria Stenfors, London, 2011; “Phoenix” curated by Caroline Hancock, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, 2011; Kerlin gallery, Dublin, 2010; Gallery Vartai, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2010; Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesborough, 2009; Frequency: The Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin, 2009; Flower Power, Tai Turin Art International, CRAA Centro Ricerca Arte Attuale, Torino, Italy, 2009; Inner and Outer Space, The Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, 2008; Green Screen: The Institute of Contemporary art Newtown, Sydney Australia, 2008; Gallery 2 The Paradise, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 2006; The foundation to life, New York, curated by Cathy Siegel, 2006; Glass Box, Paris, 2006; Ireland at Venice, Venice Biennial, Scuola di San Pasquale, Venice (Representing the Republic of Ireland), 2005, which traveled to Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 2006.

Sean Carpio has been a a student and teacher in the Newpark Music Centre and studied Carnatic classical percussion in Bangalore, India. Carpio is a member of the Louis Stewart Quintet, Red Rocket, Togetherness, White Rocket, Métier, Rainbow Rocket and the Myles Drennan Trio.

Commission Type Other
Commissioner Name Cork Midsummer Festival and the National Sculpture Factory
Commissioning process Invited commission
Project commission dates June 29, 2012 - June 29, 2012
Public Presentation dates June 29, 2012 - June 29, 2012
Partners National Sculpture Factory Cork Midsummer Festival
Artform Visual Arts,Music
Funded By Other
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission start date 29/06/2012
Project commission end date 29/06/2012
Location Horseshoe Bay, Co Cork
County Cork
Town Horseshoe Bay
Google Map Insert View this projects location
Content contributor(s) Anne Mullee
Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Boat Builder and collaborator: Nigel Towse 


Soloist: Robin Fincker - Tenor Saxophone

Brass Quintet :
David O'Keefe - Trumpet
Louise Sullivan - French Horn
Colm O'Hara - Trombone
David O'Regan - Tuba

Cinematography: Fergal Ward
Sound recording: 
Tadhg O’Sullivan
Additional sound recording:
 Karl Burke
Lighting Design: Studio Dekka
Editor(s): Tadhg O’Sullivan, Mark Garry and Sean Carpio.
Costume Design: Mark Garry and Patricia Garry.
Prototype harp engineering: Hedderman Engineering.
Harp engineering: Donal Dilworth and Mark Garry
Additional wooden wind harps: Greg Joly
Production: National Sculpture Factory & Cork Midsummer Festival 2012 in association with West Cork Arts Centre