Aughty | 2012 | 1080p Full HD Digital Video | Colour/Sound | 16:9 | 1hr:21min:02sec
As we enter a new period of hope of a brighter future that lies ahead, we are sharing selection of works from the Arts Council Collection, under the theme of ‘The Artist's Journey’. Highlighting 10 works made between 1977 and 2013 that explore places near
to home and those further away. Artists have always captured the landscape, near and far, and we hope the selection demonstrates the beautiful vistas created by artists in Ireland, and abroad.
Here, Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley, whose work is showcased under the ‘The Artist's Journey’ theme, tells us more about the featured artwork. Explore this and more from the Arts Council collection at instagram.com/artscouncilireland/.
Aughty (2012) is a film that explores the remote mountain region of Sliabh Aughty. The Aughties are a vast and unique geographical area that spans East Galway and East Clare in the West of Ireland.
Aughty gave us the opportunity to develop a filmmaking approach that was site-specific, allowing the filming process itself to become the method of research and allowing the film to develop alongside our deepening relationship with the place of
Sliabh Aughty over a period of two years. The nature of our two person team, allowed us to develop the filming approach in a less intrusive and more intimate way, completely reliant on the help and guidance of the people living in Sliabh Aughty region.
As Irish filmmakers, the prospect of creating a film about a rural western place such as the Sliabh Aughty region posed a number of challenges for us. The starkly beautiful landscape of the Sliabh Aughty region is the platform where many of the current
threats and difficulties facing rural communities in Ireland are being played out. But how could we explore and represent these very complex issues facing rural communities without taking sides and creating polemic arguments? And, how could we film
such a beautiful rural landscape without falling into the over-romanticised representations of rural Irish landscape too often presented in mainstream cinema?
As we filmed, we realised that the central figure of the film was in fact the landscape itself. Though we did not shirk from allowing the stark beauty that the Aughty landscape presented to us to enter our lens and fill the screen, neither did we want
this beauty to be the only reading of it. Like so many places in Ireland, the Sliabh Aughties is under enormous ecological, cultural and legislative pressure to sustain both its people and its natural environments and habitats. So often the inspiration
for the amazing musical traditions of the area, this landscape is under real pressure to provide, shelter, and nourish the people, place and wildlife of the Aughties.
Aughty then became for us, a representation of a complex set of binary relationships, a place that is simultaneously protected, cultivated, cherished, contemplated and explored, whilst also being excavated, exposed, exploited, neglected and abandoned.
We decided upon an observational, non-narrative approach to the making of ‘Aughty’. Without commentary, the images ask to be studied more carefully. Without narrative, the form and structure of the film are formed independently from any one value
a single disembodied voice could ascribe to them. However, this does not mean that ‘Aughty’ is an objective documentary, through constructing sequences of interlacing images, the camera traces our journey through the Aughties, its form is shaped by
our subjective experience and encounters with the people and place over two years, recording the incidental moments, actions and gestures encountered. Throughout the film, the cinematographic devises of the frame, the shot and sequence are used to
explore and emphasise the importance of the landscape to the Aughty community and to us, the artists visiting there.
The long heritage of the Aughty region was of course a subject of much discussion, but we wanted to respond to the current and contemporary moment of this very special place. The traces of the past are clearly visible in the landscape. Layers of history,
from the potato ridges, famine villages, abandoned schools, mass rocks and old disused routes and of the course the every-day traditions that are lived on through the people living there. Isolated, constantly searching, and waiting to capture something,
the figure of the deerstalker who surveys and explores the landscape, bookends the film, and became in some way for us, emblematic of our positions as film makers. And, a little like the deer in the film, ‘Aughty’ somehow manages to slip away from
us, evading capture, slowly and serenely walking out of shot, and off the screen.
—Megs Morley & Tom Flanagan
Since 1962, the Arts Council has been buying art from working artists. The Collection that evolved tells the story of modern and contemporary Irish visual art in a unique and fascinating way. Today the Collection continues to grow and it is comprised
of more than 1,200 artworks including sculpture, painting, performance, print, video, installation, photography and other works many of which are on display in public spaces all over Ireland for people to experience and enjoy first hand.
The artworks being added to the Collection each year are by artists who live and work in communities both across Ireland and internationally, continuing a proud history of the Arts Council purchasing excellent and ambitious art, and it reflects the immense
quality of visual arts practice today. You can find out more at: www.artscouncil.emuseum.com.