Supported by the Arts Council and Wicklow County Council


The Quickening is a powerful new sound and moving image artwork by ground-breaking artist Deirdre O’Mahony. It responds to urgent issues facing farming, food production and the environment. Developed over three years, this unique work gathers voices which together communicate the reality of farming life and the centrality of soil to human, animal and insect life. 

The work is currently on view at the core of an ambitious solo exhibition at The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art, Trinity College, Dublin, from March 29 to June 23, 2024.

The Quickening was presented as part of The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art‘s Walls & Halls Tour, with the Wicklow screening hosted by Kunstverein Aughrim at the Foresters’ Hall at 3pm on Saturday 27 April 2024. Following the screening Ray Ó Foghlú, Farm Programmes Coordinator at habitat restoration charity Hometree, spoke in response to the work as part of a post-screening Q&A. Ó Foghlú discussed the added value potential for farmers to integrate native trees into farm systems, drawing from his experience running the Illaun Farm-Forest Program for Hometree.

The Quickening is a sound and moving image work, commissioned by The Douglas Hyde, that has emerged from a series of gatherings to talk about the issues faced in food production and farming today. O’Mahony’s Sustainment Experiments feasts held in Kilkenny and Dublin generated open and frank discussions between farmers, scientists and politicians which, transcribed, have become a libretto for this impactful new work. Developed by O’Mahony and writer Joanna Walsh, the libretto is voiced by singers and musicians, Branwen Kavanagh, Michelle Doyle, Siobhán Kavanagh, Ultan O’ Brien and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, each with a distinctive pitch, style and pace. This aural feast is accompanied by moving imagery captured across rural Ireland, showing varied viewpoints of the land and its many inhabitants affected by the unseasonal droughts, floods, and erosion, brought on by accelerating climate change. As O’Mahony states, “The Quickening represents a polyvocal response to the most urgent questions affecting land and its inhabitants, giving voice to the invisible protagonists that shape our earth’s future and an idea of being-in-common that encompasses all earthly inhabitants.”

Deirdre O’Mahony has an impressive 30-year track record in making work across sculpture, painting, installation and participatory projects. At the centre of this work is her interest in the politics of landscape, rural/urban relationships, rural sustainability and food security. She has investigated the political ecology of rural places through public engagement, exhibitions, critical writing, and cultural production. From setting up community spaces amongst a charged local conflict to her large-scale paintings produced by tracing the shadows of boulders on Mullaghmore Mountain in the Burren National Park, she deftly considers the role of art in bringing together diverse communities, forming alternate forms of knowledge, and embraces art as a critical space to help us see things differently.

Kunstverein Aughrim’s ongoing collaboration with Deirdre O’Mahony is made possible with the support of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. The presentation of The Quickening as part of Amsterdam Art Week is supported by Culture Ireland.