Perhaps those who inhabit islands have a particular kind of spatial awareness, aware as they always are that sooner or later the land stops and the sea begins.

(‘Islands, Literature, and Cultural Translatability’, Stephanos Stephanides et Susan Bassnett)


An international group of artists: Pierre Bourgault (Canada), Mike Byrne (Ireland), Mels Dees (the Netherlands), David Lilburn (Ireland) and Marielle van den Bergh (the Netherlands), have begun the process of collaborating on a joint artistic project on the subject of islands.

The vision, practice and choice of media of these individual artists vary widely but their work is linked by a facination with the sea and coastline. Their involvement and engagement with the project, coming as they do from contrasting backgounds and experience will, we hope, lead to the creation of a facinating body of work, which will form the basis of an exhibition, designed to travel to galleries in Ireland and the Netherlands.

The Exhibition will be launched at the Custom House Gallery, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, on Thursday, 3rd May 2012 to Sunday 27th, May 2012.


The Artists


Pierre Bourgault

As Canadian critic Louise Déry writes “Pierre Burgault speaks to me of the sea, of his boats, his voyages.. of art...” The sea, the oceans, islands, nautical charts, sailing, sea salt, voyages, all play a vital part in the artistic oevre of French Canadian artist Pierre Bourgault. Bourgault’s proposal for the exhibition includes what he calls ‘water drawings’; drawings made on water with a fast boat and variously recorded e.g. relayed to a remote screen as it is created or printed onto large scale nautical charts.


Mike Byrne

Printmaker and cermacist Mike Byrne has undertaken a number of voyages off the south and west coast of Ireland. Drawings made on a boat trip around the Blasket Islands are the origin of the current series of relief prints which he is making for the exhibition.


Mels Dees

Mels Dees grew up on the Dutch island of Walcheren, where, he writes, in “the medieval harbours of Veere and Middelburg, following centuries of war, remnants of the past - from pottery shards to machine-gun bullets – were all around and constituted the most treasured toys for children like me.”  Dees is currently working on a residency with the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands, exploring among other ideas, ‘pottery shards’ which will form the basis of his work for the exhibition.


David Lilburn

The graphic artist David Lilburn, as Aidan Dunne writes.. ‘habitually alludes to map-making in his informal, highly personal accounts of place. His works are repositories of all sorts of information, topographical and anecdotal, in the form of representations, notes, calculations, collage and asides, compendious attempts to remember lost time’. Lilburn will exhibit some of his large-scale drypoint prints on the theme of islands. Achill Island, Inish Boffin and the Blasket Islands feature in his recent graphic work.


Marielle van den Bergh

Islands have also long held a special attraction for Dutch sculptor Marielle van den Bergh “from the moment”, she writes, “I set foot on one of the Wadden islands in the north of Holland”. Van den Bergh’s work uses a wide variety of materials and processes in her work from cast bronze to rice paper, blown glass to found organic material. She is currently working on large-scale tapestries, some of which will be included in the exhibition.