Bernadette Burns , Wendy Dison, Nicola Kelly, Tess Leak and Gana Roberts

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24/05/2023 11:00 - 17:00


Assemble at Skibbereen Town Hall




We set ourselves a task: (Tasks feel good)
“Make this! Out of anything! This big.
Make it and think about the words: FALLING INTO THE SKY Bring it back.
See what happens when we put them all together. Now what? Where 
shall we go from here?”

Falling into the Sky is a visual collaborative adventure devised by a group of five West Cork artists who are working across familiar and unfamiliar platforms including drawing, painting, ceramics, book making and installation. The artwork represents a journey into unchartered territories. It is informed using intuitive task related methodologies to develop a body of work that cannot have been anticipated at the outset or throughout the duration of this project.

The title references a phrase from John Banville’s novel Ghosts, which we use as a metaphor for groundlessness and as a kind of leap of the imagination.


Bernadette Burns

Life and death, day and night, sharpness and mist, sunlight and fog...
we travel through life in this boat we call a body, sometimes steering confidently, sometimes with a partner, sometimes in good company, sometimes lost and feeling alone in a fog that obscures all points of reference...always searching for meaning, for something higher. Looking backwards to the past, trying to find a truth, we search for the best path forward.

Bernadette Burns lives and works on Sherkin Island.
Her work focuses on memory and change, on how there are many strands and versions of a story, rather than a clear and factual truth. Her work refers to places that have personal meaning or memories. The healing, spiritual and transforming qualities of water hold a special significance; her work constantly refers to lakes, pools, waterfalls, reservoirs, bays, beaches, shoreline and sea.
Her art practice is mainly painting, though she also works with drawing, photography, sculpture, video and book making.
Bernadette Burns was a lecturer in Fine Art at the Dublin Institute of Technology for many years. She was one of the instigators of BA Visual Art, an innovative honours degree programme delivered by DIT on Sherkin Island.
She has exhibited her work in Ireland, Spain and Greece.


Wendy Dison

Wendy's exhibited work has encompassed drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Her recent practice has been concerned with myths and archetypes, an engagement with stories and symbols that speak to common truths or issues. Her current work on grief and absence has been made following the death of her mother and draws on these interests and engagements. Wendy seeks to interrogate and experience her own grief through an exploration of particular symbols which become recurring motifs holding personal significance while referencing a more widespread sensibility.

Wendy has been an artist in residence at West Cork Arts Centre, has been awarded residencies at Cill Rialaig and Tyrone Guthrie Centre and has received grants from Culture Ireland when exhibiting abroad.


Nicola Kelly

My practice uses a broad media palette that include clay and thread. Central themes in my work most often revolves around issues that can be related with the human condition, fragmented time, isolated shards of memories and allegory mired in the quotidian. Often the use of repetition is used as a visual device to overcome issues of scale and that can facilitate grand visual gestures. I use this strategy to set up a tension or dialectical impact with its audience. I employ the fragility of clay as a central motif to reflect on the precarious nature of human existence. The use of the persistent traditional and ancient vessel form with its embedded knowledge of skills and ideas is used in my work for the potential semiotic significance it can offer while it also extends this medium’s unique possibility of combining form and surface.

I live and work in Baltimore, West Cork, a place of immense beauty, wonderful inspiration that is situated along a rugged coastline looking out on spectacular views of Roaring Water Bay.


Tess Leak

Tess Leak is a multi- disciplinary artist who has collaborated with composers, dancers, poets, puppeteers and with diverse groups in health and community contexts. She has worked as an artist-in-residence as part of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme in West Cork since 2010. Tess is a member of the 'Vespertine Quintet' and a graduate of the London-based Curious School of Puppetry.

"The sky between two pieces of land, a theatre-kit with glove puppets,falling into the sky as a kind of leap of the imagination. The puppets have their eyes closed. They are the keepers of the peace, a kind of silent broadcast assembly."


Gana Roberts

Gana’s work is a response to the division and insecurity of present day life experience.

It is informed by Jean-Luc Nancy’s argument for lack of ground in contemporary philosophy and Hito Steyerl’s elaboration on Nancy’sthinking that speculates a falling society unaware of its own movement. In her essay In Free Fall; A Thought Experiment in Vertical Perspective,Steyerl writes, “Grappling with crumbling futures that propel usbackwards onto an agonizing present, we may realize that the place we are falling toward is no longer grounded, nor is it stable. It promises nocommunity, but a shifting formation.”

In January 2016 Gana spent a short time volunteering in an unofficial refugee camp called Better Days For Moria on Lesvos, Greece. To experience the displacement crisis at close quarters made her aware of the shifting ground of which Steyerl writes. At present she is researchingEyal Weizman’s work on vertical sovereignty in Israel/Palestine. Thedivides here are geographical, architectural, heavily layered, between air space and the subterranean, and continuously shifting. The mostrecently made piece, Hikikomori, is a response to Franco Berardi’s reflection on the urban hermit experience that he terms ‘temporary suicide’ practiced in Japan in recent years.