Two Souls In One Breast

Artist Name(s) Theresa Nanigian
Artwork title Two Souls In One Breast
Context/Background Two Souls in One Breast was created during a critical juncture in Ireland's recent history with the Celtic Tiger, as the deep recession was beginning to pick up steam. The work consists of a series of large-scale photographs, whereby captivating the landscape of the small village of Enniskerry provides the backdrop for allegories of contemporary Irish and Western life. These images are set against two additional strands of research in the form of statistics, text and silhouette portraits published in an artist book.


Theresa Nanigian's Two Souls in One Breast was a series of works based on her enquiry into the town of Enniskerry, County Wicklow over the course of 2007-8.  It was funded under Wicklow County Council's Per Cent for Art Scheme, as part of a programmatic approach. 

The process involved visual, aural and statistical research into historical, current and economic material, which related to this time and place, Enniskerry, County Wicklow, but might also be read as indication of some sort of collective response to how we find ourselves now, in Ireland, as we move out of the post-Celtic Tiger era. The process of her inquiry was considerable with time spent living in Enniskerry and engaging with the local communities, organising group meetings and holding individual interviews and conversations. The approach was structured but organic and as a result she found herself carried along into all sorts of unpredictable situations, seeing town life from many different perspectives. 

Alongside this, her strategy involved an almost mathematical analysis of statistical data as an inventory of a place. Together these methods for 'forming a picture of place' became the basis of new work. The large-scale photographs, produced as an edition of five, staged fictional scenes within the Enniskerry landscapes and narratives that presented individuals as alone and isolated at the moment of a threshold, and in a sense 'out of place' within natures sublime beauty that is so present here. The neo-Romantic vein in this work makes a clear references to the German artist Caspar David Friedrich. An artist's book entitled Two Souls in One Breast was published registering facts, figures, opinions and cut-out montages, and photographic images. The publication also includes essays by Katherine Waugh and Cliodhna Shaffrey.

Toward this end, the artist has embarked on a multifaceted investigation of Enniskerry and its environs, from joining afternoon tea sessions in the parochial hall and the local vet on his rounds, chatting with the children in the local national school, to mining the small area population statistics in the latest census. These enquiries provided a rich and varied repository of material from which to articulate the character of a place, where Enniskerry's captivating landscape becomes the backdrop to allegories of contemporary Irish life. An exhibition displaying all the artworks created as a result of this commission took place in the Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray in March 2009.

Theresa Nanigian combines the analytical rigour of an economist with the aesthetic concerns of a romantic landscape painter to capture the equally divergent identities of a rapidly changing Ireland.


An exhibition of the work took place in the Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, County Wicklow in Spring 2009. It also travelled to West Cork Art Centre in the summer of 2009. A book was published and is available from the artist and Wicklow County Council.


Theresa Nanigian completed a BA in Fine Art and a Masters of Fine Art (New Media). Her recent solo projects and exhibitions include: I Will Be A Phenomenon, FLOOD Dublin (Dublin, Ireland), 2008; what is..., Void Art Centre (Derry, N. Ireland), 2006; tally, Butler Gallery (Kilkenny, Ireland), 2005/2006; Time Value Analysis, County Council Concourse (Dun Laoghaire, Ireland), 2005. Other projects include: Seeker for UNIT, invited by Padraic E. Moore, as part of a curatorial project curated by Sarah Searson was exhibited as part of Eigse Open, Carlow Arts Festival, Carlow IT, (Carlow, Ireland), 2008; Art in the Life World, Breaking Ground, Old Swimming Pool, Ballymun (Dublin, Ireland), 2008; Is Mise Ireland, Xin Tian Di area (Shanghai) and Central Academy of Fine Art (Beijing), 2008; within & without, Tulca 06, Fairgreen Gallery (Galway, Ireland), 2006. She has received many grants and awards. 

Nanigian has a background in the business world in the US, studying for a B.Sc she then went on to gain a Masters degree in Business from Columbia University, New York and spent many years involved in business.  

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Wicklow County Council
Commissioning process Open Submission Competition
Project commission dates January 9, 2007 - February 12, 2008
Artform Visual Arts
Funded By Wicklow County Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 09/01/2007
Project commission end date 12/02/2008
Location Enniskerry
County Wicklow
Town Enniskerry
Street Address County Wicklow
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Content contributor(s) Ann Nolan, Assistant Arts Officer and Jenny Sherwin, Arts Officer Wicklow County Arts Office
Relationship to project Commissioners
Public engagement

Theresa engaged with the local community by joining afternoon tea sessions in the parochial hall and chatting with the children in the local national school.



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