The poignant and striking landscape of an 11,000 year-old submerged glacial woodland, The Gearagh/An Gaorthadh in Co. Cork is the point of departure for ‘Weathering’, a new work by director/choreographer Mary Wycherley, who grew up in Skibbereen and has had some familiarity with The Gearagh all her life.
This hybrid of feature length film with live music and song is an exploration of our relationship to our ancient past and how we might ground ourselves within the precarious social, political and environmental landscape of our present and future. ‘Weathering’ will be premiered in the unique location of St John’s Church at Dance Limerick on Thursday, March 30.
The Gearagh, now a nature reserve, lies two kilometres southwest of Macroom, at the point where the River Lee descends from the mountains and widens at an alluvial plain, stretching for roughly five kilometres, bounded by the townlands of Toonsbridge, Illaunmore and Anahala. It is the site of the last surviving full oak forest in Western Europe, which was felled in the 1950s for the building of two hydroelectric dams in Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra, which provide electricity for the nearby city of Cork and the surrounding area. Within ‘Weathering’, the resulting sacrificial landscape of flooded forests acts as a bridge to the prehistoric age, asking us to reflect on how ancient places and natural environments infuse our current relationship to the natural world.
In ‘Weathering’, dancers Justine Cooper and Aoife McAtamney, filmed in The Gearagh by cinematographer Raja Nundlall, will appear on multiple screens with poetry by Jools Gilson and live music from composer Jürgen Simpson, musicians on cello and percussion, and singer Ceara Conway.
Mary Wycherley says, “During the last decade or so I’ve been engaging more with the area, particularly benefiting from the knowledge and research of local born ecologist and author Kevin Corcoran. I don’t feel that I have any right to try and tell THE story of this place, but it is a place that really compels you to think deeply about how we impact on our landscape, a place that prompts you to think about a deeper past, and how that might help us see better ways forward. And while there is much to mourn in the story of The Gearagh, there are also elements of joy, with a rich and rare biodiversity that finds ways to exist within this irreparably changed environment.”
‘Weathering’ is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Limerick City and County Council with support from Dance Limerick, Project Arts Centre and Tanzrauschen Festival, Wuppertal.
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Mary Wycherley is a dance artist, filmmaker and curator born in West Cork and based in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Her work expands across disciplines and communities and is experienced in live performance, cinematic, and gallery settings both nationally and internationally. Collaboration is central to her work, connecting with a range of artists and settings. Mary is founder and artistic director of Light Moves Festival and Studio Light Moves which nurtures experiences across dance, new media and screen-based practices.