Two Project Opportunities That Took Me Somewhere New

Occasionally an opportunity arises to be involved in a longer project or piece of work. Often these lead to other opportunities for the work that werent forseen at the start of the project. this page describes two projects I have been involved with over the past few years.

Catalan Butterflies – an Art and Poetry Collaboration Project

Catalan Butterflies was a collaborative project with poet Laurence O’Dwyer. I first met Larry in 2020 during a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for which I had received a bursary from Ards and North Down Borough Council. Shortly afterwards, he contacted me to ask if I would be interested in creating pop up butterflies in response some of the poems in his collection “Catalan Butterflies” and to compliment audio visuals that he was developing with other artists.

Imagine Festival, Waterford

In October 2021 we received a small amount of funding from Waterford Imagine Festival to present our work in progress along with 2 other collaborative groups. We were surprised and delighted to be awarded further funding to bring more developed work to the 2022 festival. The result was an evening of poems accompanied by music and with an exhibition of the butterflies alongside, and paper butterfly lapel pins for each of the participants.

The project challenged my self taught paper engineering skills and led me to explore the potential of simple folded books, a form I find exciting and full of possibility. I have loved exploring Larry’s poems which are rich in stories, the individual and the historical woven together with the air, the scents, and the heat and colours of the Pyrenees. And always there is there is the scuffling and fluttering of tiny creatures!

The “Catalan Butterfly collection was published in 2022 by Templar Poetry with, I am honoured to say, one of my pieces as the cover Image. You can find out more about the poems, hear a reading and buy the book on their website:

Poems ©Laurence O’Dwyer 2022. Reproduced here by kind permission from the author

Shearwater Project – the Story of a Story

Twelve artists marooned on an Island

The story “Shearwater” began in 2016 when I was lucky enough to take part in the Copeland Art Project, promoted with the genius headline “12 artists marooned on an island“. Funding from Ards and North Down Borough Council provided us all with membership of the Copeland Bird Observatory, transport and a weekend stay on the island.

We spent our first day wandering the island in the sunshine and mercilessly teasing our hosts, Wesley and Geoff, about their bird lists – a new idea for most of us. Wesley and Geoff did not have long to wait for revenge. As night fell, the Island changed. The buzzing insects and singing wrens gave way to earie calls from the sea . Before long there were answering calls – from beneath our feet! Our knowing banter fell silent and our jaws dropped in astonishment as shearwaters rained down, thudding to the ground at our feet. The wildlife had swept aside any thoughts I’d brought with me about what I might create. I was compelled!

The story gets longer…

The first incarnation of the story, produced for the project was short – six pages and a cover. Since then, I have intermittently revisited and developed the work. In 2018 a twenty page black and white version was exhibited in Saintfield library. In 2019 at the New Networks for Nature Conference in York, I approached Children’s illustrator, Yuval Zommer, clutching a bundle of tatty photocopied pages. He very kindly offered his thoughts and advice on my work.

…and longer!

Another bursary, again from Ards and North Down, gave me the chance to work for a week at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, developing the forty two page colour version of the story. This version was exhibited in 2021 at the Scottish Ornithologists Club in Aberlady as part of a three person show “Wild Moments” with Melanie Mascarenhas, Lorna Hamilton. A pdf version was also included with the 2021 Copeland Bird Observatory Annual report

The story of this story still continues as my ultimate aim is to find a way to have it published.