2020 Culture Night in Drogheda, thanks to Brian Hegarty, Droichead Arts, Arts Council Ireland, Louth County Council and Visual Arts Ireland, saw Populated Solitude having its first outing at the Westcourt Hotel, West Street, Drogheda.
Populated Solitude is part of a walking tour of visual art works situated around the town which are curated by Brian Hegarty and, as Brendan Behan writes in Hold You Hour and Have Another “If you don’t get up and get down town you’d hear nothing” (Behan 1963, 18)
Creative ideas for the project stem from the idea of connections throughout the COVID19 Pandemic. From the initial contact by Brian Hegarty, inviting me to create a work for Culture Night 2020; in reading a post by Sean Collins in the Facebook Group Drogheda Down Memory Lane, alerting us to the announcement that the Westcourt Hotel was to close. Sean provided an incredible timeline of the history of the Westcourt Hotel, including Paul Murphy’s words about the hotel in 1963; in contacting Paul Murphy to ask him to talk about his memories of meeting Brendan Behan in The White Horse Hotel.
Following the initial inspirations I started to ‘pick-up’ audio recordings, such as the recording with Paul Murphy; photographs, such as the old photograph in Sean Collins’ thread about the Westcourt; and text, from both Paul Murphy’s original story from the Drogheda Independent in 1963, and Brendan Behan. I searched for works published by Brendan Behan in 1963, eventually buying some of Behans books from ebay and discovering the lines: “If you don’t get up and get down town you’d hear nothing, nor find out what they’re saying about you. And God send, they’re saying something. Good or bad, it’s better to be criticized than ignored” in Hold Your Hour and Have Another (Behan 1963, 18)
The creation of the collection of sound, vision and text has resulted in a performance using content with an online presence and a physical presence.
The QR codes, which can be read by simply pointing the camera of a mobile phone at them, reveal a wordpress blog which introduces the creative ideas and inspirations surrounding the project; an interview with Paul Murphy, former editor the Drogheda Independent who in 1963 met Brendan Behan in the White Horse Hotel; and the work On A Summer Morning In 1963, an audio visual work created using the text, visuals and sounds picked up during the project.
The aim for the project Populated Solitude is to continue to pick up more audio, visuals and texts relating to Drogheda town centre, in order to highlight the histories and connections and to present them in the online settings of WordPress, YouTube and Twitter.
The entire exhibition can be viewed as part of a walking tour in Drogheda until October 3rd.