Drawn From Borders

Let's talk Borders.

Drawn From Borders IS LIVE

We are delighted to have hosted over 1.7K viewers who viewed the Live online preview of Drawn From Borders on Thursday 21 May at 12.30pm on our Facebook Page The exhibition is now open to the public on our website here. 

The exhibition is the culmination of a nine-month project, reflecting on the centenary of the partition of Ireland and the border.  Over 20 artists from across the island of Ireland came together, to participate in a creative programme of presentations, discussions, visits and workshops, to inform their creative response.

The exhibition had been scheduled to be shown in galleries on both sides of the border in April and May of this year.  However, when the Coronavirus crisis struck and ‘lockdown’ was announced all the artists’ work had to be shelved, with no knowing when the exhibitions would be rescheduled.

But, though the Saldanha Gallery at Fort Dunree (which had been due to exhibit “Drawn From Borders” in April), has had to be closed, Donegal based Arts organisation Artlink have managed to ‘open’ a virtual replica, The VSG, in its place.

The creation of this digital 3D space means that the artworks can now be installed in a virtual environment, accessible online to a global audience.

The work on view is the artists’ response to the theme of ‘borders’, expressed in film, painting, print, sculpture, installation, photography, performance and text.

A preview of the exhibition in the form of a Facebook Live virtual tour, has been selected to be part of the #Ireland Performs programme, and will take place on Thursday 21st May at 12.30pm.  

Ireland Performs is presented by FACEBOOK Ireland and Culture Ireland, Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and delivered in partnership with First Music Contact and Poetry Ireland and in association with RTÉ.  The programme is intended to support Irish artists (in English or Irish) and ensure that the arts continue to be enjoyed online during the Coronavirus crisis.

The exhibiting artists are Anna Marie Savage, Anne Loveday, Bernadette Bradley, Brenda McPherson, Caroline Kuyper, Clare Toland, Jacqui Devenney Reed, Janet Hoy, Katrina Tracuama, Marian O’Donnell, Mark Cullen, Martha McCulloch, Mary Joyce Davis, Moira McIver, Noel Connor, Orla McKeever, Paul Cairns, Paul Murray, Sally Patton, Sue Morris and Tina O’Connell.

Anyone will be able to ‘visit’ the ‘Drawn From Borders’ exhibition at any time after the launch on the 21st May, by logging on to www.artlinkonline.ie and using a computer mouse to navigate the virtual gallery.

Funded and supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, ‘Drawn From Borders’ was delivered by Artlink Fort Dunree in association with The Nerve Centre and Tower Museum, Derry~Londonderry.  


…and then Lockdown…

despite this we started to meet online every Wednesday to talk about the project and what we might do now. We began to consider a virtual exhibition and how it would work.

Every week we planned and discussed, caught up and figured out, made adjustments to our previous ideas and expectations and then put in loads of hours of making and remaking and remaking and remaking until…

Group Critique and Long Lunch

As the exhibition draws closer we got together to review the work we had made during the practical workshops and at home or in the studio. We met at the Saldanha Gallery at Artlink Fort Dunree which will be the venue for the exhibition in April. A video document of the exhibition will be shown in the Tower Museum.

We worked our way through each of the pieces. Sometimes selecting the best version of a print, sometime discussing final edits, ways of presenting. There were a few ‘lightbulb’ moments were the works and the venue joined up so nicely.

We mulled of it all over a delicious lunch that included lots of home-made goodies soup, bread and maybe a few too many cakes and pies. We decided on press officers, a graphic designer and a photographer. All we needed now was some frames and screens and we’re ready to launch.

Practical Workshops

It was very important for the group to have the opportunity to enhance their skills, develop their practice and have a chance to produce a physical outcome. It was decided we would have workshops in Creative Writing, Film Editing and Printmaking.

In this beautiful region we are blessed with some very talented people and so we reached out to Bernie mcGill (author), Rory McSwiggan (film maker, performer) and Paul Barwise (artist and master printmaker) to facilitate workshops that would inspire and energies participants and enable them to develop their ideas. The workshops took place at Nerve Centre and Derry Print Workshop. The outcomes will form part of the upcoming exhibition.

Farming and mapping

“we have no clue and we are just waiting to see what happens”

Caroline Luberhuizen is undertaking a masters in Anthropology and she has been meeting farmers in Northern Ireland to talk to them about the impact the border has on their life and how they expect it might affect them post-Brexit. She shared her research with the group describing the liminal space that farmers find themselves in between governments, between lands.

Early in the project Garret Carr’s name came up as being an important person to talk to about borders. He joined up in December to talk about his projects which looked at mapping and the map as a metaphor. He told of the many map makers he discovered and how they contribute in a very beautiful way to our understanding of place and identity. Carr also walked the border looking at it as a place in of itself, noting those places where unmarked crossings had been made; local desire lines.

Again, we wrapped up by discussing where each participant was on the project and what kind of things were being explored. There are still ideas brewing as well as works well under way.


forest walk

In November 2019 the group made their way to the village of Clady near Strabane. Some of the group had participated in the recent ‘Voicing the Bridge’ project there and were keen to learn more about life on the border from the towns’ residents.

Johnny Kelly from Border People Against Brexit talked to the group about why this cross border, cross-community, politically unaligned group was established and what they were doing in response to their belief that a border would have devastating effects on them and their communities. It was remarkable to hear how this group of people came together and were not influencing the decisions being made at European level. Kelly was eloquent, passionate and generously spent much more time than planned with the group answering all their questions with clarity and respect.

Eamonn Lafferty, a resident who is also involved in the ‘100 words 1 picture’ project also talked about his experiences of growing up, living and working in and away from Clady and the changes he saw, physical and societal. Marcus O’ Neill also spoke about his experiences and difficulties of living in a town with a manned border. He talked about his life now, paddling the Foyle river, enjoying nature bringing up his family in peace.

We rounded up the day with each participant talking about the approach they were taking with the project. Some had begun work, others researching, others still not quite sure what direction to take. It was very useful for all of us to hear how each person was experiencing the project in a unique way and the resulting work should make an excellent exhibition.


Seeking context, participants view the displays at the museum

The Tower Museum is the host venue for the upcoming exhibition so it seems logical to have our next meet up here. After a quick briefing on project updates we were taken on a tour of The Story of Derry, specifically looking at the period from about 1900 to 1922 and artefacts from that era. It was in the late 1800’s that the idea of Home Rule gained momentum with the establishment of the Home Rule Association by Issac Butt in 1870. It was another 20 years before the notion of The Partition of Ireland was mentioned. and another 30 years or so before it came into being. No wonder Brexit is taking it’s time.

In the afternoon Kate Nolan and Trish Lambe talked to us about their photographic projects on the border. Nolans Lacuna is a long term project that involved primary school aged children and their ideas about the border and how it effects them and their identity. Having no memory of a physical border these your people give us an insight into the psychological space of the border.


Niamh McCanns flag flying at Fort Dunree

At Artlink Fort Dunree the group met again – this time to get to know each other and come up with a plan for how the project will continue. Through facilitated creative discussion individuals introduced themselves to the group and then created a list of their skills and expertise alongside a list of their personal aims for the project.

We used ‘Paired listening’ to talk about why we were interested in the project and what ‘border’ meant to us before developing a set of three priorities using a technique call 2-4-8 Consensus. As we were at Fort Dunree and for half of the group it was their first time we visited the museum and watched a film about the history of the fort. The fort was one of several locations that remained part of the British Empire after Partition but it was handed over to the Irish State in a ceremony between two brothers in law in 1938.

Notes from the session are available to project participants in the message boards section of this website.

Project launch

The Irish border. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP

The first Meet up took place at the Nerve Centre in Derry~Londonderry and was attended by almost thirty Artlink Members who had registered for the project. Individuals travelled from across the country as well as from Counties Donegal and Derry to officially commit to the project and to participate in a presentation by curator Adrian Grant on The Partition of Ireland. The presentation covered a brief history of events that led up to the creation of a border on the island of Ireland. It covered and how the concept came about and how it was negotiated politically and the tension it caused and the fighting on the streets that ensued.

Notes from the presentation are available to project participants in the research and resources section in the message boards section of this website.

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