The HIDE Project | a 21st century functional monument

THE HIDE PROJECT takes the form of a 21st century functional monument dedicated to the people of Fingal, Dublin, Ireland and their proximity to and relationship with the landscape, in particular, those who have given of their time for the protection, preservation and conservation of the local environment.

fingal logo2

THE HIDE SUITE is a box set series of 28 prints produced by the artist in association with Stoney Road Press.

Art
with
function.

Art
with
function.

Art
with
function.

 

Migration, predation and mortality.

Migration, predation and mortality.

Migration, predation and mortality.

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Garrett Phelan has seen some remarkable things

Text by Isabel Nolan

THE HIDE PROJECT zine issue no. 1.


A HIDE SCULPTURE artefact by Garrett Phelan.

MONUMENT.

MONUMENT.

MONUMENT.

An un-natural enquiry

A series of podcasts at THE HIDE SCULPTURE with Garrett Phelan.

The first podcast is Garrett Phelan in conversation with Caroline Cowley, Public Art Co-ordinator for Fingal County Council, responsible for commissioning THE HIDE PROJECT.

Permanent
yet
constantly
changing.

Permanent
yet
constantly
changing.

Permanent
yet
constantly
changing.

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Dublin Tide Times

LOVE, IN PERPETUUM.

LOVE, IN PERPETUUM.

LOVE, IN PERPETUUM.

The Hide Project

In 2007 artist Garrett Phelan was selected by Fingal County Council, Dublin, Ireland to imagine and conceive a public art project as part of the Council's Public Art Programme funded through the Irish State's Per Cent for Art Scheme. THE HIDE PROJECT is an artwork inspired by the artist's own personal history with the coastal area of Fingal, in particular, the magnificent ecology of the Rogerstown Estuary, an area renowned for its bird life.
 
THE HIDE PROJECT consists of four components:
THE HIDE SCULPTURE
THE HIDE SUITE
www.thehideproject.com
HIDE FM
 
THE HIDE PROJECT takes the form of a 21st century functional monument dedicated to the people of Fingal and to their proximity to, and relationship with, the landscape. In particular, it honours those who have given of their time for the protection, preservation and conservation of the local environment, its flora and its fauna.

Visits to THE HIDE SCULPTURE will be made available through scheduled dates and times, which will be updated on www.thehideproject.com
THE HIDE SCULPTURE will be open;

Saturday 18th of March 1pm – 4pm

Sunday 19th of March 1pm – 4pm



Register your interest by contacting;

Caroline Cowley – Public Art Co-ordinator on
caroline.cowley@fingal.ie

Admission to THE HIDE SCULPTURE is free.

THE HIDE SCULPTURE is wheelchair accessible. 

For further information please contact:
Caroline Cowley,
Public Art Co-ordinator,
Fingal County Council,
caroline.cowley@fingal.ie
T : + 353 1 870 8449

 

Getting to THE HIDE SCULPTURE from Dublin City Centre: Head North towards M1Belfast, Take Exit 4/R132, continue north at Blakes Cross, take the right on to the R127, take immediate right onto Balleally Lane,follow the Road to the Balleally Landfill, Entrance signposted on the right.

 

 

The Hide Sculpture

THE HIDE SCULPTURE is a large-scale sculptural installation consisting of a gateway, pathway, surrounding foliage and fauna and a fixed structure located at the Balleally site. It is a sculptural work that exists as a significant piece of public art in Fingal acting as a service to the community in the form of a fully functioning Bird Hide - an observation point to view birds along the Rogerstown Estuary. 

This work of art work challenges our notion of a contemporary monument, cast in  dyed green concrete with a hyper-realistic wooden texture finish, the work also complements the profile of a location that is both natural and manmade, permanent yet constantly changing. 

THE HIDE SCULPTURE, situated on a former landfill site, is a work of art that provides a service to the visitor as a fully functioning observation point for viewing a wide variety of the estuary's roosting birds. It will function as a space for conversation, contemplation, education and exploration into the world of art, nature and politics. The artist has hand carved the wooden interior of THE HIDE SCULPTURE with symbols associated with the site and the recurring themes within his own work. 

The practice of ornithology has been a strong feature of Phelan’s work in the past decade. Birds and their behaviours are the interface between humans and the wild world. They are messengers, militants, migrants and the oracles of our environment. THE HIDE PROJECT provides us with a hidden but simultaneously democratic open space.  By making a commitment to being present at THE HIDE SCULPTURE on open days Garrett Phelan is inviting us to begin the conversation with him about the environment, society and the art objects place within in it.

View THE HIDE SCULPTURE Gallery

Access

Visits to THE HIDE SCULPTURE are limited and  will be facilitated by appointment through a schedule of specific dates during the year.
Details of available opening days will be announced via our FACEBOOK page and updated on this site.

THE HIDE SCULPTURE will be open;
Saturday 18th of March 1pm – 4pm
Sunday 19th of March 1pm – 4pm.

Register your interest by contacting;
Caroline Cowley – Public Art Co-ordinator on caroline.cowley@fingal.ie


Please note THE HIDE SCULPTURE is fully accessible for those using wheelchairs.

 

Directions

Getting to THE HIDE SCULPTURE:
Head North towards M1Belfast
Take Exit 4/R132, continue north at Blakes Cross, (signposted)
Take the right on to the R127
Take immediate right onto Balleally Lane, (signposted)
Follow the Road to the Balleally Landfill, entrance signposted on the right

DIRECTIONS TO THE HIDE SCULPTURE

THEHIDESCULPTURE MAP

Balleally Landfill

THE HIDE SCULPTURE is situated on the permimeter of the Balleally landfill which is on the north side of the Rogerstown Estuary, North County Dublin. The estuary is one of Ireland’s most important environmental sites and is particularly noted for its birdlife. It is designated as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area.

THE HIDE SCULPTURE is located in close proximity to important roosting sites for these birds. The bird population is mainly made up of wading birds and water foul birds. THE HIDE SCULPTURE gives excellent viewing of all bird types particularly during high tide periods.

The approach pathway to THE HIDE SCULPTURE is excellent so as not to disturb feeding birds during high tide and is also accessibly by wheelchair.

THE BIRD LIFE ON THE ROGERSTOWN ESTUARY.

Birds of importance that are visitors to the area are:

Black-tailed Godwit, Buzzard, Curlew, Sandpiper, Dunlin, Greylag Goose, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Heron, Knot, Kestrel, Lapwing, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Little Stint, Oystercatcher, Osprey, Peregrine, Pintail, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Ruff, Shelduck , Sanderling, Sparrowhawk, Shoveler, Spotted Redshank, Teal and more.

The Hide Suite

THE HIDE SUITE is a set of 28 archival pigment prints printed onto Japanese paper and  then using the chine-collé method onto Somerset satin paper.  The 28 prints are presented in a stunning solander box which contains a custom map of the area THE HIDE SCULPTURE is positioned in, a photograph of the THE HIDE SCULPTURE and an essay by artist Isabel Nolan.  THE HIDE SUITE is produced in association with Stoney Road Press fine art print studio, Dublin, Ireland. Each print features a detailed drawing of a bird recorded at the site by the artist and which visitors to the site can expect  to see.  The prints also incorporate the artist’s own personal vocabulary of recurring motifs and will be launched at Stoney Road Press in the coming months. 

View THE HIDE SUITE Gallery


STONEY ROAD PRESS STUDIO

StoneyRoadPress 1




 



The Hide Zine

THE HIDE PROJECT - FULL FRONTAL UN-NATURAL ENQUIRY

Features drawings/photographs and text by Garrett Phelan all worked together to create this zine entitled ‘THE HIDE PROJECT – FULL FRONTAL UN-NATURAL ENQUIRY’. The zine has 36 pages and comes in a plastic transparent sleeve and is black and white and photocopied onto 90grm paper. Phelan uses the zine making process as a thinking space when producing new projects. Many of the projects that are realised such as THE HIDE PROJECT are hatched in his zine’s.

Download Issue one (PDF)

The Artist

Garrett Phelan was born in Fingal, North County Dublin in Ireland.  His family history is rooted in the local villages of Skerries, Donabate & Portrane.  Fingal has been an integral part of his thinking around his working practice as an artist since 1995. 

In 2007 Garrett Phelan was invited by the Fingal County Council Arts Office to develop a public art project for the county, Phelan was selected based on his previous work and associations with the area . After a period of research he proposed a project entitled THE HIDE PROJECT which was influenced by the Balleally landfill site, a unique location which sits on the Rogerstown Estuary and is renowned for its birdlife.

Garrett Phelan makes site-specific projects that include independent FM radio broadcasts, sculptural installations, photography, film, animation and drawing. He has exhibited widely in Ireland and internationally, with recent solo shows at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2015; IMMA, Dublin 2012; and group exhibitions at EVA International 2014; Palais des Beau-Arts de Bruxelles 2013; ICA, London 2012; 11th Lyon Biennial, 2011. Most recently Garrett was part of the Arts Councils Art 2016 programme with his project HEED FM.

An Un-natural Enquiry

An Un-natural Enquiry is a series of podcasts which explore and unpack ideas related to The HIDE PROJECT.

 

AN UN-NATURAL ENQUIRY 1

Garrett Phelan has seen some remarkable things

 

It is inconceivable that someone with hearing could imagine what it is to live in sign language, to experience self-awareness in  the configurations of hands and the movement of fingers; and likewise impossible to understand how it might be to think in utter silence. Creatures without the same auditory apparatus as ours, for instance snakes, insects or fish, are commonly regarded as deaf. Animals with limited vision, moles and bats, we characterize as blind.

The ways animals have evolved to negotiate the world is fascinating. Their strangeness is something that collectively we marvel at, appreciate and also disregard. At the heart of this ability to both take astonishing variety for granted and to wonder at it, is the powerful, intuitive sense of our normality. We may intellectually acknowledge that we are generally bi-pedal, binocular, four-limbed, upright animals with a limited sense of smell and opposable thumbs, and so forth; but we move through the world, mostly taking our specific configuration of sense and physical abilities as a given. 

When describing the unimaginatively named blind mole rats as blind, it distinguishes them, not just from other mole rats, partially sighted, naked or furred, but also from us. Yet, it seems peculiar to refer to a creature that is without one or another (functioning) sense organs as lacking in that sense. Humans, considered from the perspective of other animals, are terribly deficient. Amongst other things we are tailless, ‘naturally’ flightless, dry-nosed, featherless; we lack pedipalps, dewlaps and cannot lay eggs or jump very high. I was on a plane travelling from North America to Ireland listening to the sound works of artist Garrett Phelan, the accounts of his various extraordinary encounters with birds, when the gravity and the extent of our multiple handicaps dawned on me. At least, I thought, we have mastered the art, the physics, of flying. That is something.

There are still people who fear to fly. Even in spite of its relative statistical safety as a mode of transport there are many more who feel their stomach knot during take off, turbulence or landing. Numerous other less remarkable fears plague us. Some are reasonable things to dread (even if unlikely to occur in the near future): fears of debilitating accident, of fatal illness, loss or unsought change. A dismaying question in this vein is if we were to be without sight or hearing, which sense would we sacrifice? It is a talking point that spins around the sense we have of ourselves, our resilience, our capacity to cope, to relate to and endure a newly strange life. A world in which we may still think in colour and light, but will not see it; in which we might know our loved ones voices, but will never again hear them.

I lack one faculty commonly found in many animals, Homo sapiens included, that is, a sense of direction. I am not comparing this to the aforementioned blindness or deafness, but having no ability to intuitively locate oneself in even a familiar environment greatly affects the way one can engage with the world. And if describing myself to a bird though chiefly I would be conscious of my regrettable tailless-ness, (there are a lot more birds that are flightless than without a tail), I would have to declare, to this imaginary bird auditor, my profound inability to find my way.

My deep-seated fear of getting lost is not reasonable. Given that I do not climb mountains or visit war-zones what terrible consequences beyond inconvenience or delay might befall someone who is somewhat lost? Yet an accidental or unavoidable deviation from a route carefully learned can still be bizarrely stressful; gut and brain conspire to whip up a frenzy of suburban anxiety wherein for the want of a nail a kingdom is forfeited. And so, in the past, in the midst of being lost I tried to stay calm and console myself with the tantalizing possibility that I might see or hear something new or unexpected; perhaps I would think, there might be a story in this.

Nowadays, I take out my phone.

Scientists have studied the small, reptilian brains of birds’ attempting to uncover what enables them to navigate vast distances, and/or to return to the same small place with unerring precision year in and out. Casting a quick eye at accounts of such research I see that certain key words recur - the Earth’s magnetic field and the positing of birds’ beaks, eyes, the inner ear, etcetera, as the seat of their mysterious power. There is as yet, however, no consensus on how birds find their way.

“Other pioneers of flight were focused on the question of power. The Wrights were fascinated by birds, and learned a lot from their study of them. One of Wilbur’s crucial insights was that flying, like cycling, was a question of balance. He saw that bird flight was all about equilibrium: about the bird’s keeping itself in the air with the maximum efficiency and minimum effort.” John Lanchester, London Review of Books, Vol. 13. Issue 17: 2015.

Flight is arguably the skill that most taxed and stimulated humans to overcome their physical delimitations. We can climb, swim, travel quickly, build and dig. But only very recently, thanks in part to the close study of the class Aves, and extraordinary mechanical ingenuity, have we learnt to fly. The invention of plane travel evidences the attainment of a capacity that for eons seemed unachievable. Reviewing a biography of the Wright Brothers by David McCullough, John Lanchester recounted a peculiar anecdote pertaining to their early career: not one reporter showed up to cover the first publicly staged and afore-advertised demonstration of human flight in a field in Dayton, Ohio. However, a local bee expert witnessed the event and wrote a short piece in his own journal ‘Gleaning Bee Culture’. He forwarded the article to Scientific American. They responded a year later with the remarkable assertion that the flights could not have happened because if such an extraordinary event were to take place a reporter would have been there to bear witness.

No intrepid journalist, no event.

According to his sound works titled ‘Roding Glowing Woodcock on Reconnaissance’, 2008 and ‘Electro Skylarks’, 2006, Garrett Phelan has seen some remarkable things: woodcocks glowing at dusk with a phosphorescent pale blue light. In another instance, first a lone and then an entire exultation of skylarks flying in an unusual pattern, gathering and generating remarkable electrical effects off the Shelly Banks of Dublin’s Irishtown Nature Reserve. Given that he is not an ornithologist, nor a reporter but an artist, his observations may seem incredible. However as set forth in his narrated records of the events he is usually not alone. At times he addresses a silent companion, at others he has serendipitously encountered passers-by who have also observed these otherwise undocumented phenomenon. At least one witness responded negatively to the strange sight, taking off on a bicycle. Disbelief is often easier to compass mentally than accepting that the familiar world can become in an instant utterly, bewilderingly, fearfully new.

We know there are birds that can use tools, and some that can distinguish humans who are a threat from those who are friendly. The implication of Phelan’s ‘THE HIDE SUITE’, 2015, is that birds may be able, or perhaps will be employed (involuntarily or otherwise) to harness their relationship with the magnetic fields of the planet by augmenting their bodies with batteries. This seems, all things considered, somehow reasonable. After all humans have learnt to fly. If, like us, birds could want what they do not easily have the capacity to achieve, what might they wish for? Which of their senses might they aspire to improve? What deficiencies might they perceive in themselves? That is part of the mystery at the heart of Phelan’s recent series of prints.

We do not know what, or how, the birds, as a class or as families or as individuals might think. But, again to speculate from the imagined point of view of the bird, humans are map-less, beak and bill-less, featherless, tail-less and incapable of sensing the earth’s magnetic field. But latterly, augmented with a smart phone or satnav there is a GPS safety net into which we repeatedly cast ourselves. “Am I almost there?” What GPS saves us from is not simply getting lost, but the uncertainty of not knowing whether or not we are even travelling in the right direction.

I wish we could know if birds can feel unsure. (I suspect, with my human shaped mind, that uncertainty of some kind or another is the condition of being animal.) Part of our human lack of surety primes us to fear other animals. It is not uncommon to find people who have a phobia of birds. To me birds, like spiders, sea cucumbers, or hate-filled Christians, are weird, not necessarily frightening, but truly other. They belong to that category of creature so utterly different as to be un-relatable. The strangeness of birds, as Phelan’s works often intimate, is too broad to fathom or easily describe. Even when domesticated they seem potentially savage. Fierce or placid they have an appearance of purpose that can be unnerving. Their beaks are the shivs, spoons, pliers, hammers, spears and stilettos of the animal kingdom. As Daphne Du Maurier quite rightly registered in her short story ‘The Birds’, if they ever turn on us we do not stand a chance.

In Act One of the Tom Stoppard play ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ Guildenstern observes:

“A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until--"My God," says a second man, "I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn." At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience....”

The reality Garrett Phelan presents us with is anything but thin; his ornithological works may be so pioneering that few would give credence to his tales. But something as minor as the absence of journalists does not mean we should doubt the acuity of his senses. The truths that he documents in his works are rich, they are full and feel prescient. When it comes to descriptions of the world too close a correspondence with reality can be profoundly unrevealing; and it can be unrewarding to attend to a story reiterating precisely what we already know. Phelan’s works have a magnitude and scope that is hard to describe. Even when his efforts or investigations peter out or fail to arrive at the anticipated conclusions, such as the events recounted in ‘Hide’, 2007 and ‘A VOODOO FREE PHENOMENON - Film’ 2014, we see an investigatory prowess at work that reveals the sorts of truths that feel real. Love can heal. And forces, physical, sonic, optical, mental and sensual can resonate through space and through time and affect and connect us all.

Phelan might see things you would not believe but maybe time will reveal him to be something of a seer. It isn’t second sight at work but a powerful, synthesizing intelligence that perceives the forces of the universe as a stage, an infinitely large stage, where love, instinct, reason and the desire to make sense of it all coalesce to produce our lived experience. A reality wherein we understand that our knowledge of animals, of birds, of historical powers, of electromagnetism, electric effects, radio waves and the power of the human mind to observe, sense and collate is both tremendous and circumscribed. Most crucially of all Phelan shows us a world where our understanding has been subjected to and continues to undergo momentous change. Everything is evolving.

Perhaps, if like Phelan, we see the potential in everything to connect, by loving birds, observing them, enriching their habitats, and encouraging them to develop technologies that may see them flourish, we could someday learn that the world is experienced on sensory levels as yet profoundly unfathomable to us. And though we may never experience it, we could discover that it is possible to never feel lost, or to think in air-currents and have an electro-magnetic intellect tuned to the turning of the world.

Isabel Nolan, 2016

Download text

Acknowledgements

Garrett Phelan would like to thank Caroline Cowley, Public Art Co-ordinator for Fingal County Council and Rory O'Byrne, Fingal County Council Arts Officer, in particular for their unwavering and continued commitment and support throughout the process of realising THE HIDE PROJECT.

The Arts Office of Fingal County Council and the Artist gratefully acknowledges all of the following for their professionalism and contribution to the realisation of THE HIDE SCULPTURE, THE HIDE SUITE AND THEHIDEPROJECT.COM.

THE HIDE SCULPTURE CONSTRUCTION TEAM
Gerry Donnelly, Kavanagh Mansfield and Partners; Aidan Mc Enroe, Senior Contracts Manager, Mc Keon Group; Garry Mc Laughlin, Jim Donohue, Garry Devine and all HML Plant Hire and Construction staff that worked on the THE HIDE SCULPTURE; David Devine and all staff of the Balleally Landfill Site; Kevin McCarron, Cavan Steel Fabrications Ltd; Graham Flanagan, Product Developer, Roadstone Ltd. Richy Quin.

INFLUENCES, SUPPORTERS AND ADVISORS
Alice Phelan, Paki Smith, Jim Fleming, Fergus Kelly, Fingal Branch of Birdwatch Ireland, Sean Pierce, Julie Rowe, Sarah Glennie, John Glennie, Jeana Gearty, Richard Daly, Kevin Murphy, Hugh Guidera, Denise Madden, Martin McGregor, Mark Morris, Kevin Halpenny, David Devine, Imelda Hickey, Hans Visser, Dominic Byrne, Jenny Finnigan and Mortimor Loftus.

THE HIDE SUITE
Stoney Road Press, David O’Donoghue, James O’Nolan, Eileen Maguire and Kelvin Mann.

THEHIDEPROJECT.COM
Website developed by Neil Creagh (Fuel), David Donohoe, Peter Maybury.

CONTACT

Visits to THE HIDE SCULPTURE are limited and will be facilitated by appointment through a schedule of specific dates during the year.


Details of available opening days will be announced via our FACEBOOK page and updated on this site.

THE HIDE SCULPTURE will be open;
Saturday 18th of March 1pm – 4pm
Sunday 19th of March 1pm – 4pm.


Caroline Cowley – Public Art Co-ordinator on caroline.cowley@fingal.ie


Please note THE HIDE SCULPTURE is fully accessible for those using wheelchairs.

 

For further information or to register your interest in viewing THE HIDE SCULPTURE please contact:

Caroline Cowley,
Public Art Co-ordinator,

Fingal County Council,
caroline.cowley@fingal.ie
T : ++353 1 8708449