Tread Softly

20 May 2023

Barnavave Deserted Village, Temporary On site Exhibition 

Barnavave, just above Carlingford, where I’ve been invited by @suzanne_carroll_artist to participate in a site specific exhibition on the mountain side among the remains of a deserted village, abandoned for almost a century at this point.

breath, bones, thorns, potatoes and stones is a temporary installation work that resonates with the harshness, brevity and occasional beauty of human existence at the site over millennia until very recently.

The materials (burnt animal and vegetable remains – food, sustenance – fire, hearth, home,comfort –  stones – hard, permanent, impervious), 

the process of making the piece (breath, breathing, blowing – panting, hunted, hunting, exertion), 

the imagery ( thorns, briars – invasive, relentless – religious iconography, sleeping beauty – sacrifice)

together materialize a tangible trace of the will to survive, which also passes through quickly and returns to earth.

From the history of the Tain and the more recent habitation of Barnavave, I’ve got a sense of the site as witness to battles and struggles to survive.

I left temporary traces on stones around the site, using materials that could be germane to the place, and are often used to analyse life from archaeological excavations. Ivory black pigment (made from burnt animal bones) charcoal (handmade from local fallen wood) and glue made from potato starch.

The images by blowing the pigment onto the glue painted stone – breathing them out.

The materials will naturally wash away, back to ground.

Tread softly – fragility transience 

Constant change – slow- imperceptible 

Making change perceptible 

Irresistible force, nature will out

Place, human experience, story resonant in materials and process 

Time scale – a day in a human life

A century in a mountain life

A century in a second


Caught on the branches, 

Breath snagged on thorns 

Made visible with animal remains- 

traces from a fire – fire, hearth, home, food and comfort

Make work that resonates with the site – human experience of existence- through the materials, processes, imagery and object? Resulting trace 

To manifest? The Trace of the effort struggle harshness of existence 

Paper = temporary – 


Rocks – seem permanent – like life now- can’t imagine not being here

Paper rocks 

Thorns – the fight, exertion, effort, fight for survival existence, hard scrabble

Paper thorns – this too shall pass

Breath – life, panting, exertion, chase steps- one follows another – until it doesn’t 

Passing transient shifting

Exhibition curated by @shannonmariacarroll including work by

@theemotionalartist @grainne_murphy_artist @orlaith_cullinane @melfrangalley @suzanne_carroll_artist @aine_ryan_art  @local.dcim  @rosie_oreilly_studio @_erin_red_