In 2022 Kunstverein Aughrim commissioned the internationally acclaimed, Wicklow-based photographer Rich Gilligan to develop a new body of lens-based work, capturing the coming-into-being of Kunstverein Aughrim, from the very first artist meeting in February to the launch weekend in October of 2022.
Over that 9 month development period, Gilligan made a series of site visits to Aughrim, checking in and tracking progress as plans evolved. The first visit was on location at the proposed venue of the kunstverein, the ground floor of a village-centre townhouse in Aughrim, County Wicklow (population 1,500 inhabitants). Here some of the key practitioners involved in the initial development phase of the kunstverein (including Forerunner, Isadora Epstein, Jennie Moran, Sonia Shiel and Kate Strain) met to share plans, workshop ideas and discuss possibilities.
As part of this meeting, Forerunner presented their architectural scale model of the physical space, a 45 square meter room with a street-facing shop front exterior and an interior designed to look much older than it was. Built in 1998 the space was finished with a mock-cottage wall render, with the ceiling and floor clad in hardwood. The nature of how this former hairdressers might be transformed to accommodate a curatorial office and working space for encounters with contemporary art was central to the conversation. During this meeting the idea to insert a large granite boulder into the space was first put forward, with the simple gesture of a hand placing a soapstone inside the model.
Gilligan returned some months later to shoot another pivotal moment, a field trip that had been scheduled in order to locate a suitable piece of granite for the kunstverein. For this woodland excursion, Forerunner were accompanied by Rory McArdle, a local Heritage Contractor whose knowledge of the paths, fields, forests and quarries of Aughrim was indispensable. Guided by McArdle, a variety of stones along the great granite ridge and batholith were visited and considered. The evening foray brought us around the hills of Tinnakilly, Aughrim Upper and Macreddin East. During this trip first contact with local landowners was established.
Gilligan’s next visit came once the exterior signage had been designed and the lettering was produced and installed over the window of the building, the first visual presence of Kunstverein Aughrim’s identity within the town. On this occasion Gilligan trekked up to the hillside site of the actual boulder that had been selected by Forerunner and promised to the kunstverein by Coillte, the custodians of 7% of Ireland's forestry. Portrayed in its natural habitat, before removal and relocation to the town where it would become part of the furniture at Kunstverein Aughrim, the boulder looked out majestically over Macreddin East and beyond into the valley. These significant landmarks that punctuated the timeline and development of Kunstverein Aughrim were documented by Gilligan as a way of telling the story of its creation. Nine Months is the resulting body of work that captures one tiny flicker in the infinite context of slow geological time.
This commission was made possible with the support of Wicklow County Council Arts Office and the Arts Council.