recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rags for Those Loved

below is an invitation for those who live near or are visiting the Niagara region:

photo courtesy of Carol O'brien

I  will be presenting a public installation on September 22 in conjunction with Niagara  Night (& Day) of Art. The project is intended bring to attention the importance of hospital and hospice in our community and the public is invited to participate.

During my Ireland residency while travelling around the countryside, from time to time I came across a tree completely covered in rags or scraps of clothing.
I learned the rags are placed there by people who believe that if a piece of clothing from someone who is ill, or has a problem of any kind, is hung from the tree the problem or illness will disappear as the rag rots away.
Tying rags as an offering to a sacred tree is an ancient Celtic tradition still alive in Ireland. The fabric is meaningful - it symbolizes a desire or dream.
Some leave offerings to saints, others to ancient gods or nature spirits. Sometimes the rag represents a wish or aspiration.The fabric used in rag trees is symbolic so the types of rags tied to branches vary widely, from lovely, shining silken ribbons to simple scraps.
The public is invited to adorn a tree with rags, ribbons, clothing, trinkets or any object they find to be meaningful. They can come, make a wish or say a prayer for loved ones who are ill or have passed, bringing  to attention the importance of hospital and hospice in our community. The artist will be present during the day between 12PM and 4PM. 
In my research I have  been corresponding with Irish photographer Carol O'brien:

this is exactly what the custom of the Rag Tree is - an offering in exchange for an intention (or wish), whether that be for those still with us, or for the memory of those who have passed. One of the lovely things about the tree is seeing the colours of the new items against the faded and discoloured items which have been on the tree for years and seem to have blended themselves into the bark. Also the variety of items on it - from actually rags torn from clothing, to rosary beads, to lengths of ribbon, to hair ties, to belts, even socks! But mostly you find yourself looking at an item and wondering who had left it, or when, and what intention was so important to have granted that they would leave behind some part of themselves, and most importantly - was their intention granted! Every item holds a secret and a storey and I think it is this that makes the tree so full of mystery and symbolism!'

The location of the tree will be on the grounds of the Grimsby Public Art Gallery. The rags will be left on the tree for an extended period.

Niagara Nights of Art (NNA) events are designed to celebrate the arts and highlight their value in our communities. NNA are free, family-friendly public events that celebrate all arts disciplines:  music, theatre, dance, literary arts, visual art, media, new media, installation arts and heritage. A NNA event will take place in each of Niagara’s twelve municipalities in 2012, and each will feature the artists resident in that municipality.
to see a full listing of events for Grimsby's NNA, please visit:

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