The launch of Orla Barry's book Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram from Arcady will include an introduction by Lisa Godson and readings by Richard Walsh, Derrick Devine and Orla Barry.
Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram from Arcady is a new publication by visual artist Orla Barry that collects her performance texts and written works. The book follows the seasons of a sheep year in south east Ireland, where Barry runs a flock of pedigree Lleyn sheep. While embedded in the reality of this situation, the book is a fictional and humorous series of short stories that recounts the artist’s tenuous and symbolic interactions with different characters and animals from her unique circumstances.
Deeply rooted in a form of artistic ‘barefoot anthropology’*, Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram from Arcady reflects on the culture of disconnection from the natural environment and on the boundaries within art, gender, and the rural everyday. It recounts the personal experiences of the artist, who has left the city and returned to her pastoral roots to be reborn as a hybrid: a farmer-artist.
This collection approaches language as a malleable material, taking its form from the idiosyncrasies of the rehearsal room. This strong aspect of orality is always at the fore in Orla Barry’s work and, as a result, this is not only a book: it is a performance. All of the writing comes from physical action of one kind or another. Like much of the artist’s work, it is motivated by doing - literally research in the ‘field’. For Barry, the combination of culture and agriculture is an ongoing activity that creates the distinctive vocabulary, tone and formal shape-making in her work.
The result is a universe of Mafia Shepherds, Pawn Shepherds and Sophisticated Shepherds; of red lipstick, husbandry, profanity, and animal dramas; of reincarnated sheep, sick sheep and black sheep; of placentas, sexual desire, gender, shit-tanks, and adoption units; of buying, selling, slaughtering, and loving.
The book contains the texts from two of Orla Barry’s major performance works, Breaking Rainbows (2016) and SPIN, SPIN, SCHEHERAZADE (2019) and the Meanest of the Flock, An Abcdery of Sheep by Lisa Godson. Design by Lutèce Mauger (FR).
Breaking Rainbows - Commissioned and produced by Catherine Bowe for Wexford Arts Centre and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios - Co-produced by Kaaitheater, ARGOS Centre for Art and Media, Crawford Art Gallery - Supported by Dublin Theatre Festival, Midsummer Festival Cork, Opera Festival Wexford and IMMA’s residency programme.
SPIN, SPIN, SCHEHERAZADE - Commissioned by Phillip Van den Bossche and Ilse Roosens, Mu.ZEE Oostende and Matt Packer, EVA International and supported by IMMA’s residency programme, Kaaitheater and Wexford Arts Centre.
Both projects have been supported by an Arts Council Touring and Dissemination of Work Award/Project Award and an Artlinks Bursary Award from Wexford County Council.
Orla Barry (b. 1969) is both a visual artist and shepherd. She lived for 16 years in Brussels and now lives and works in South East Ireland where she runs a flock of pedigree Lleyn sheep. Her work deals with the physicality and poetics of oral language drawing on the tensions between being an artist and a farmer in rural Ireland.
She has held performances at Tate Modern, London; Project Arts Centre, Dublin; The South London Gallery; If I Can't Dance..., De Appel Amsterdam; and The Playground Festival, Leuven, Performatik Festival, Brussels and TAZ Festival, Ostende.
She has held solo exhibitions at Mu.Zee Oostende(with Els Dietvorst) (2019), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006); Camden Arts Centre, London (2005); SMAK, Ghent, Belgium (2005); CCB, MuseuBerardo, Lisbon (with Rui Chafes) (2011); Bozar, Brussels (2013); Mother's Tankstation, Dublin (2014). She has been awarded the prize of the Palais de Beaux Arts in the Prix de la JeunePeintureBelge (2003) and was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex Prize (1999).