The opening of The Museum of Birds and Beasts at LHQ Gallery, Cork County Library takes place on Thursday 26 January at 6pm. The exhibition will be launched by Clodagh Doyle, curator of the Museum of Country Life, Castlebar, Mayo.
The Museum of Birds and Beasts is an exhibition by participants from Castletownbere, Dunmanway, Schull and Skibbereen Community Hospitals & St. Joseph’s Unit: Bantry General Hospital with artists Tess Leak and Sharon Whooley, in collaboration with master basket-maker Joe Hogan, the Museum of Country Life and the National Folklore Collection.
The artists collaborated with the Museum of Country Life in Mayo and the National Folklore Collection in Dublin, exploring the folklore and artefacts from these remarkable collections to draw on participants’ experiences of working and living in connection with the natural world.
The exhibition includes evocative objects from these collections and exquisite handmade nests by master basket maker Joe Hogan; all of these items sparked the resulting collection of stories which form the heart of the Museum of Birds and Beasts.
The project began in early spring 2022 with the artists’ research trip to the Museum of Country Life in Mayo. The artists were invited to choose eighteen objects from the museum’s “handling collection” to bring into West Cork hospitals and share with the staff and residents. This collection included a horse blanket and donkey harness both woven out of straw, a lobster pot made out of heather, sugán ropes and a straw and wool “favour” that would have been presented by a shepherd to a potential partner at a dance. These evocative, beautifully crafted objects sparked many lively conversations between the participants, staff and artists and a collection of stories grew throughout the year:
“My father worked in Biggs’ in Bantry. The donkey would walk through the back door into the shop and up to the counter where my dad would give it sugar lumps before it walked out the front door. This would happen at the end of every working day, after the donkey had finished its deliveries.” Sheila Nagle.
As part of the project master basket maker Joe Hogan from Mayo visited Dunmanway Community Hospital and St. Joseph’s Unit Bantry in May 2022 and created small panniers for donkeys. The participants were able to watch the baskets ‘grow’ into existence and many conversations were had with Joe as he worked away, sat on the floor of each day room. These panniers will be presented to the healthcare settings as part of the Museum of Birds and Beasts project.
The exhibition continues until 23rd February 2023. LHQ is open from 9am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.
A huge thank you to the team at Cork County Arts Office for making this exhibition happen.