I’m honoured to have been commissioned by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, to make a piece celebrating their 70 years of public service.
The GSNI is part of the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland (DfE). It is staffed by scientists of the British Geological Survey (BGS) under contract to DfE, which allows GSNI to call upon expertise from within other parts of the BGS. GSNI also advises other Northern Ireland government departments and liaises closely with the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI).
I’ll be posting snippets of the work in progress over the coming weeks, both on social media and on this article.
The finished piece will be exhibited at Ireland's Science & Discovery Centre, W5 in Belfast from 30th November, with a symposium and exhibition launch that day.
If this is something you would be interested in attending, free tickets are available via GNSI here:
Updated 6th December 2017
I'm thrilled to now present the finished piece.
Photograph courtesy of Tourism NI
Landscapes from Stone opens at @W5atodyssey this weekend— Economy NI (@Economy_NI) December 6, 2017
celebrating #GSNI70 featuring 3 commissioned pieces showcasing Northern Ireland’s diverse geological heritage. https://t.co/W6XBkbgih6 pic.twitter.com/wBM4COcTjL
I also delivered a speech to the delegates of the symposium. You can read the transcript below.
Thank you for the introduction Marie [Cowan - GSNI Director].
I’ve always loved maps, but it wasn’t until my partner and I started going out walking that I discovered the joy of actually using them properly. In a way they unlocked the secrets of the landscape to me and that’s probably even more true with a geological map.
Geology for me is hugely inspiring. When I’m out walking I’m constantly looking at the landscape around me. My first response might be to remark on the beauty of the place, the mountains, the valleys, the beach or cliffs. But then the question of why it looks this way would increasingly come to my mind. I wanted to be able to understand. So I decided to find out.
I built up a collection of maps and textbooks, absorbing as much information as I could. - I’m therefore very grateful to the geoscience community for the work they have done over the past couple of hundred years. so, THANK YOU!
I find I learn things more easily when research is displayed in a visual context. I personally find that re-interpreting maps, diagrams, and text in my artwork helps me learn.
Suilven: a wee mountain in Assynt. I know it’s made up of layers of Torridonian sandstone sitting on Lewisian Gneiss and has a quartzite top.
I know this because I have physically made it…in tweed.
I learned this stuff while reseraching, visiting and making a whole exhibition of artwork based on the Moine Thrust. The result of which means whenever I visit this area, I see it and appreciate it in a different way - because I understand it (to a certain degree).
That body of work largely textile maps and cross sections inspired by the Moine Thrust and was exhibited at the NW Highlands Geopark.
Some other projects I’ve been involved in recently:
I was commissioned by NA Council to make a piece that explored and mapped the human geography of significant people who were from, or passed thru, the town of Irvine.
I’ve also worked on lots of private commissions, in which I take inspiration from the individuals feelings and memories of a place to create a work that speaks to them.
Most recently I’ve been involved in the UK city of culture bid for my hometown of Paisley. I was grateful to have been asked to make an original piece of artwork to become the front cover of one of the bid books sent to the judges from Paisley 2021. Of course I chose to make a geological map which depicts the area where my studio is based in one of the towns old thread mills.
I am honoured to have been commissioned by GSNI, to mark their 70 years of public service and it’s amazing to see the work displayed here.
When I began to look at and read more about the geological map of Northern Ireland I was struck by the many similarities and connections to landscapes I have already explored in Scotland.
I, of course, already knew about the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway and Fingal’s Cave on Staffa but I was interested to discover the larger structural formations that our countries share.
Each colour you see here represents a different type of rock, every section was hand-cut from a different cloth, bringing together Scottish Harris Tweed and Irish Mourne Textiles. The linear features, such as fault lines, have been stitched on top to create subtle textures in the cloth.
Using Harris Tweed is important to me . I use its in all my work. Having visited the islands and seen it produced, you can tell it’s an integral part of the place. The colours themselves have been inspired by or even directly taken from the land in the form of plants and lichen.
So finding and being able to use an equally beautiful and important cloth, woven at the foot of the Mourne mountains, was perfect.
I could never have imagined I would meet so many people who love maps and geology. At exhibitions, events and in my studio I’ve had many conversations with folk about how pleasing the aesthetic of a map can be, evoking memories of time spent in a place. Which also leads to the sharing of stories about their favourite places and landscapes. I feel that understanding a landscape through its geology is similar to getting to know a person. To understand their individual history, to know the story of where they came from and what has shaped their life enables a real connection to be made.
By making this type of work I hope it encourages the viewer to:
find out more about how landscapes were formed,
create conversations about place,
discover the opportunities that lie in the rocks beneath our feet,
and through this deeper understanding of our geodiversity, help foster a sense of stewardship and ultimately care about the future.
GSNI are the focus of the following episode of Belfast News Show, Focal Point.
This half hour long programme provides an insight into the work of the Geological Survey over the past 70 years.
[Dr Marie Cowan introduces Jane's work at 13:42]
My work, alongside that of Hugh Crilly and Anna Crilly, can now be seen in the exhibition "Landscapes from Stone" at W5, Titanic Quarter, Belfast until the end of March 2018. After which, there are plans to take the work on a UK wide tour.
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