A source of water and life for a community

A SHORT high-definition video by a Kilkenny artist is being screened outdoors in Kerry next week in a culmination of a year-long public art commission.

A SHORT high-definition video by a Kilkenny artist is being screened outdoors in Kerry next week in a culmination of a year-long public art commission.

Drawing the Water is the work in question by artist Pauline O’Connell, and it will be shown on November 26 from 5pm until midnight at Spout Lane, Milltown, County Kerry.

Four minutes and 30 seconds long, the video centres on a social water scheme that dates from 1860 and known locally as The Spout. The video was commissioned by Kerry County Council for Milltown under the Per Cent for Art Scheme with funding from the Department of the Environment.

This year-long project focused its attention on the imagined, historic and living memory concerning aspects of community gathering, time and memory in relation to The Spout. Working with local primary and secondary schools and consulting with members of the community, Ms O’Connell researched the Victorian model of benevolence as an instrumental part of its creation.

“The function of this inconspicuous public water source became more than its obvious function. It operated as a multi-scaled device whereby the individual not only drew the physical water, it was the receptacle for sharing information located in the local/ global nexus – at a time when emigration was strong,” the artist explains.

Ms O’Connell’s fascination with local knowledge since her own “blow-back” to her native Kilkenny eight years ago examines local cultures, politics of place and place construction alongside modes of social relating. She is therefore culminating the project screening with a free céilí event that evening in the Community Hall in Milltown.

“The event itself will be filmed and the final document to be archived will consist of the HDV (high-definition video), the HDV document of the screening of the event and a written text following a discussion with a historian, sociologist, environmentalist and myself around the topic of community, benevolence, urban design on the rural, and current issues relating to water quality,” she says.

A native of Kilkenny, Ms O’Connell studied Fine Art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art Design and Technology and is now undertaking her MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment at Limerick School of Art and Design She has been involved in public art projects in Waterford, Sligo, Kilkenny and Vienna, teaching at primary and third level, curating master-classes for the Fire Station Artists Studios, Dublin and critical reviewing for Circa magazine.