The story behind the creation of the Elementals...
I participated in a two-month residency at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Living in a cottage six miles out from the studio and having no transportation, it was incumbent upon me to walk the narrow roads to and from town. En route, I came to know these certain trees that sprung from the hedges; among them blackthorn and hawthorn. Frozen and worn by time and weather, they appeared anthropomorphic. These trees, despite their stumpage could well be over one hundred years old. They are what remain of a once densely forested land. In reality they represent what centuries of invasion had done to Ireland.
The hedges that lined these roads, sometimes no more than wheel tracks, are the principle shelter for birds, mammals and insects. Collectively these trees are known as elementals. They are feared because they are purported to harbour fairies.
Unlike our contemporary considerations of fairies in children’s books, Irish fairies are problematic, vexing to the point of being evil. Often times, fairies appear either as women or monsters. This historic fear continues to have life in the hearts and minds of the people native to the Gaeltacht regions or rural Ireland, particularly in the more remote areas of the west coast of Ireland.
My relationship with these plant structures at times resembles portraits suggesting their mythology.