Mystery in the trees

Among the visual spectacles at this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival is a mystical and mysterious installation by local artist Lucy McKenna in the Kilkenny Castle Park.

Among the visual spectacles at this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival is a mystical and mysterious installation by local artist Lucy McKenna in the Kilkenny Castle Park.

Seen in a rare moment of sunshine, the bright rays light up her ghost-like figures, while an overcast sky gives them a sense of foreboding.

Titled ‘The Darker Wood’, it was one of the works she made during a residency last year on Toronto Island, Canada.

As she explains on her website: “Many of the trees that inhabited the island were quite old and had survived through a time of extreme trauma in the 1960s, when due to a political decision the island had been intentionally burned and wiped of almost all man-made and natural life. The injury and past lives of the trees affected my work heavily, as did exploring the darker side of the human psyche, and fairytales.

“One fairytale in particular which informed my work is the brothers Grimm story, The Juniper Tree. Also, a theatre production I saw during this time titled The Andersen Project influenced my works, as it explores another tree-based fairytale, The Dryad. Both The Juniper Tree and The Dryad are tales that expose the more sinister and mortal sides of the human condition, dwelling on the greed, envy and desire that can inhabit a person.”

“In these two stories,” she says, “human actions and characteristics become represented spiritually in inanimate objects, in animals, and particularly in trees.”