Christine Mackey

A Year In the Field

A Year in the Field is designed as a set of two publications, developed on-site in a field at St. Ita’s in Donabate, Co. Dublin. Book 1. work-PAD collates  responses based on a series of activities — collecting, digging, diagramming, recording, talking, and mapping of this space. Throughout this process, the artist  engaged with a range of people and community groups from the area and further afield. Chloe Galley shared knowledge of the unique flora. Declan Doogue discussed the inhabitants of the deep-water drains and the transitional aspects (riparian zones) between seawater and land. Research material was activated from Declan, who had carried out a flora study; John Lovatt’s work on the butterflies and birds pertinent to the area and Hans Visser, the biodiversity officer from Fingal County Council, provided background information and organized a field expedition with children from St. Patrick’s National School, Portrane, concluding with a tree-walking event with Niall McCoitir. Christine initiated a series of workshops with children from St. Patrick’s School, testing out ideas and generating feedback from the boys on the activities that were at development stage. Local resident Trish Carey drew attention to the orchard on the grounds of St. Ita’s hospital. Emerging from this process, the artist devised Book 2. Sketch-PAD. The PAD functions as an alternative nature manual premised on a series of twelve activities designed to prompt creative exploration of ‘field’ systems. ‘Field’ means any kind of site — brownfield site, wasteland (in cities, towns or villages), roadside verges, pathways, forests, playgrounds, etc. Wherever ‘things’ are found growing. Activities are listed from 1 to 12, but they can be done in any order. The idea is to ust open the PAD and begin wherever you wish. Each activity has a title that suggests what the content is - but it’s only that: a suggestion. Within each exercise, specific words that may be challenging are highlighted in bold. A glossary explaining the words is provided. But the main requirements is simply to take this PAD out on a walk, with a pencil in hand, and explore your own environment — the things there that capture your attention as they evolve with you over time and in their — and your — place.

Christine Mackey developed an exhibition of this work at Draiocht in 2012, where students from Dublin 15 had the opportunity to use the Work PAD in their environment through a series of workshops and visits.

The work-PAD is available through the Arts Office. Please Contact Caroline Cowley, Public Art Co-ordinator by email or phone 01 870-8449

A Year In The Field website