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Fort Camden Commissions 2011

Artist Name(s) Julia Pallone, Julie Merriman, Monica Boyle, Nell Regan & James L Hayes
Artwork title Fort Camden Commissions 2011
Context/Background Five artists have created series of intriguing new artworks which have been specially commissioned by Cork County Council as part of the redevelopment programme of the Fort Camden military installation overlooking the entrance to Cork Harbour, Crosshaven.

This event is the culmination of over a year’s work in which Cork County Council invited artists to visit Fort Camden and propose various imaginative responses to the site. Four visual artists, James L. Hayes, Julia Pallone, Julie Merriman, Monica Boyle and poet, Nell Regan were selected for commission. They spent seven months working on the site and in their studios to create a series of dramatic installations that re-imagine the life and history of the Fort.

The commissioned works are installed in the Casemate building at Fort Camden.  This powerfully built structure, designed to withstand bombardment, provides a unique and atmospheric setting for the artists work. When developing the commission Cork County Council asked the artists to make work that would add to the visitors experience of Fort Camden. What visitors will find are startling transformations within the buildings.


In celebration of two non-events… - James L Hayes
Hayes’ two part installation utilises a range of found materials from the Fort Camden site. Most significantly is the use (or re use) of collected cast iron. The work in each room responds and reflects upon the previous function of the site itself, whilst embodying fragments and remnants of its history by way of recasting and reusing the found material primarily consisting of Iron and wood.

Abandoned objects and furniture found on site are also resituated and reemployed to complete the visual and conceptual narrative of the work. The works in each room explore the materiality of cast iron and an outmoded casting process. Scraps of cast iron from the former guttering, railings, and balustrades on the site have been gathered and smelted with fresh coke and used to cast both series of iron plates in each of the two rooms.

For War Department Purposes Only - Julie Merriman

"Fort Camden and Fort Carlisle were both part of the great Victorian fortification programme that began in the 1860’s. This was of interest to me as I had previously made work about another Victorian architectural development of the same era, cast iron piers. The contrasting structures, although both coastal are significantly different; the piers extend visibly into the sea and are linear and open, whilst the forts are embedded into the coast line and enclosed. Initially, this made it difficult to understand the architecture of the forts, especially from ground level, so I began researching military fortification maps and the development of the geometrical shaped ground plan, behind trenches.

I found two maps, one in Military archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, of Fort Carlisle (IE/MA/MPD/Fort Carlisle/0519) and another at Cork City and County archives of Fort Camden (CC/PL/PPU/NM3/2 Fort Camden) around which I based a number of drawings.   Printed at the top of both maps were the words ‘For War Department Purposes Only’. During the First World War, Cork Harbour was used as a naval base and an anti-submarine net was constructed across the harbour; I made two further drawings based on this information and my interested in naval architecture."
Julie Merriman, 2011

Inner sea – Julia Pallone

Inner sea is a temporary site-specific installation in Fort Camden.
An abandoned room of the fort with a blue green paint flaking away is filled up with water. The ‘inner sea’ brings the place to life in a dreamlike atmosphere: the water reflects the arched ceiling and makes the room feel very deep (would Alice in Wonderland fall down there to reach unknown worlds ?)…and, when you look up, you can see through the window the real sea…Tiny boats float on the surface. Fragile small fleet, they look like a naval army from a child’s perspective.

War as a game, with boats that would only reach overseas in fairy tales; here they drift slowly with the currents, or go through patches of fog… ‘the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea (…) : it is the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up...’
Michel Foucault. Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias.

Truth Dreams And History - Monica Boyle

"My work is concerned with themes of memory and legacy and employs the vestiges of our lives that we leave behind; mementos, letters, documents, photographs and artifacts. These everyday objects endure as remnants of our lives and provide a record of official and interpersonal interactions and relationships. In this body of work I have used archival records and materials which document the lives of the inhabitants of the fort in conjunction with the derelict objects found on the site.

These artifacts are presented inside individual framed shadow boxes which are illuminated with low voltage lights to create a shrine- like presentation which alludes to the building’s function as a monument to the past. The shadow boxes reference the tradition of presenting military personnel, upon their retirement, with boxes that contain medals, ribbons, photographs and flags to commemorate their lives and so I chose to use shadow boxes to house the artworks, as I was to some extent commemorating the lives of the men and women who had lived there.

The boxes are exhibited in a large grid-pattern on the wall of the barrack room to recreate an archive. I am interested in how the archive functions as a repository of personal and cultural memory and I feel that an archival format gives a context to the fragmentary remnants of the miscellaneous material objects, without regard for their presence in time and history. Archives are themselves intrinsically paradoxical; oscillating between order and disorder, narrative and contingency, veracity and interpretation, what is present reinforcing what has been lost.
The boxes use objects and scripts; things that we can see, to provide a window into a world that we cannot see: a world of memories, ideas, fantasies and histories."
Monica Boyle, June 2011

Bound For Home - Nell Regan

"For the Cork County Council Camden commission I wrote a sequence of poems are  based on a range of characters connected in some way with the Fort - human, non-human historical and imagined as well as a sequence of found poems. These included a long poem in the voice of the Monterey Cypress tree growing in the Fort - it reminded me of Rainer Maria Rilke’s tree, ‘always at the centre/ Of all that surrounds it.’

Whatever military, political or social changes occurred in the Fort over a near 160 year period, the Cypress continued and continues its yearly growth and it became a fixed point for the sequence. Other imagined characters include a British soldier departing in 1938 whose wife was buried in Templebreedy graveyard, a recovering addict who had broken into the tunnels as a teenager and the wife of John Brennan. To my surprise a whale also arrived and ends the poems back out at sea, to where the eye is always drawn at Camden. The poems are published in Bound for Home (Arlen House, 2011) with the artwork of Monica Boyle with whom I collaborated on the Commission and a recording (made in Camden’s tunnels) plays onsite."
Nell Regan, 2011


James L Hayes
James Hayes studied fine art at Limerick School of Art & Design, The University of Vigo, North Spain, De Montfort University Leicester and the University of London in the UK. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 he received major funding awards from the Irish Arts Council to attend sculpture Symposia and residencies in New Mexico, New York and Denver Colorado respectively. In 2007 he also received an Individual Artist Bursary Award from Cork City Council to support his practice. Most recently he received funding from The Imagine Ireland program from Culture Ireland to complete his one person show at ‘The Good Children Gallery’ in New Orleans. He has completed a number of significant Per Cent for Art commissions most recently for Cork County Council, Cork City Council and Mayo County Council.

Other recent artworks were shown at Invite & Reject MART Exhibition in New York ,Chicago & LA, The MART Instructional European Tour (London Berlin, Norway , Bratislava, Dublin), The Worcester Contemporary Open-2010, ‘Ev+a’ 2008 ‘too early for vacation..’ Limerick (curated by Hou Hanru), The USUK International Sculpture Symposia, New York, “Global Warming at the ICEBOX’’- Philadelphia (curated by Adelina Vlas Curator of Modern & Contemporary Collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art), The Eye-Kea Project’-an International Video art event, Cork, Limerick Printmakers Gallery, The Blankspace Gallery in San Francisco, The Burris Hill Galley in New Mexico and at the International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Sculpture at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, Birmingham, Alabama.

Julie Merriman

Julie Merriman lives and works in Dublin. Her work investigates historic and contemporary aspects of areas such as architecture, engineering, science, cartography, and mathematics and how drawing works in these contexts as a technology to impart specific information. Working from archival material she researches histories, and through conversational exchange explores the conventions of various drawing languages.

She completed an MA in Visual Arts Practices at IADT in 2009. Recent projects include The Carlisle Pier project (2006 - 2010). Exhibitions include General Arrangement, Mermaid Arts Centre, Wicklow (2011); Outside the lines, Contemporary Drawing Practice, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (2011); Fine Lines, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick (2011); Measured Fall, Occupy Space, Limerick (2010); Inscape, Galway Arts Centre (2010); West Cork Arts Centre, (2006); Eurojet Futures, RHA (2004). She has received a number of awards and participated in residencies and symposiums in Ireland and the UK. Her work is held in public and private collections in Ireland.

Julia Pallone
Julia Pallone is a visual artist working with a variety of media, ranging from drawing, photography and installations through which she explores a poetic vision of the world, fragile and vulnerable. She comes from west of France and moved to Ireland 5 years ago. She graduated in 2002 with a Masters degree from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Nantes. She also studied at the « Accedmia dell’Arte » in Venice and holds a Masters degree in Italian studies from the University of Nantes.
She has exhibited extensively in European countries and has been awarded several art residencies, and bursaries awards (in 2011 from the Irish Arts Council and Cork County Council). Her next solo show will be at the Riverbank Art Centre in Newbridge, and she will exhibit in Malta in 2012.

Monica Boyle

Ba Honors in Visual Arts 2002-2010
Solo Exhibitions
2006 Inshore Bantry Literary Festival
2006 offshore, Cunnamore Galleries, Baltimore and Sherkin Island
2006 Inshore,Tramyard, Dublin.

Monica has also taken part in group Shows
2010 two person show Doswell Gallery Cork
2010 Degree Show, West Cork Art’s centre and DIT, Dublin
2009 Small Group Show, National Theatre, London
2008 Group show, Limetree Gallery Suffolk
2008 Group show, Hallward Gallery Dublin
2007 Group Show Millcove Gallery, Castletownbere
2007 Group Show Tramyard Gallery, Dublin
2005 West Cork Artist a Celebration west cork arts centre
2005 Island Group show Bantry Literary Festival
2004 Small Works show Cunnamore Galleries West Cork
2004 Sherkin Island Group Show, the Courtyard Gallery, Cork
2004 Members Show, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen
2004 Performance Art Exhibition with Amanda Coughan, West Cork Arts Centre Skibbereen

Nell Regan

Nell Regan is a freelance writer based in Dublin. Her poetry is widely published in Ireland, Britain and the US and her debut poetry collection Preparing for Spring (Arlen House, 2007) was shortlisted for several awards including the Glen Dimplex New Writing and Strong First Collection Awards. She has also published historical biography and travel pieces. In 2010 she was the recipient of Literature Bursaries from the Arts Council and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council. She is a 2011/2012 Fulbright Scholar at the International Writing Programme, University of Iowa and UC Berkeley where she will complete her third collection.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Cork County Council
Commissioning process Open submission competition
Artform Visual Arts,Literature
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Location Fort Camden, Crosshaven, Cork Harbour
County Cork
Town Crosshaven
Content contributor(s) Paula Hanley
Relationship to project Administrator in Arts Office