Sound artist and field recordist Ciarán MacAoidh has been artist in residence for nearly a year now. Coming to the end of his time at The Dock, MacAoidh has realised two large works. He has also worked with the young people of the Leitrim Youth Theatre and been commissioned by the National Maritime Museum to complete a documentary style installation for the museum based on the landing of U-35, a German submarine, in Ventry Harbour on the Dingle Peninsula at the start of the Second World War.
Ciarán has taken advantage of the long residency to work on research and learning, spending time on the rivers, lakes and shorelines of the North West, Clare, Kerry and Dublin as well as in caves, quarries, tunnels and tombs all over Ireland, refining his recording methods, and finding new sounds and new ways to work. Being in the environment of The Dock has given him the opportunity to meet artists and craftspeople and given him the space and time to develop his practice.
His major projects vary in theme and style but draw together elements of field recording, documentary and experimental music.
MacAoidh's piece, A Palm to Rest My Cheek Upon, will be installed in exhibition at the Famine Workhouse in October 2017 alongside the work of Jessica Kelly and Nollaig Molloy. It will also be released by Was Ist Das? Records, an independent record label based in the United States. The work attempts to draw out the sounds of mental illness, of the feelings of being trapped inside an unwell mind. It was recorded in several locations around Leitrim and Roscommon, including underwater recordings in Lough Key and inside the Cave of the Cats, a traditional entrance to the Irish underworld protected by a monstrous three headed cat.
He is currently finishing a second long piece rooted in ideas of mourning and grief, in Irish funeral traditions such as keening and waking the dead combined with the theological work of former Catholic priest Thomas Crossan. Entitled Crossan's Dogs, the work is collaborative and Ciarán is working with singer/songwriter Lisa O'Neill, saxophone player Cathal Roche and Dr. Billy MagFhloinn, a folklorist, archaeologist and traditional musician who also casts Bronze Age and Iron Age horns.
In his field recording and documentary work MacAoidh has looked to the underground music scene and to independent film makers to learn practical working methods. He enjoys the pared down approach of these artists, avoiding controlled environments and situations where the results are guaranteed and repeatable. This gives him space to experiment and to chance upon new sounds and new ways to approach the themes of his work.