Drawn From Borders

Let's talk Borders.

Category: research

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.

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