Tom Meskell’s ‘Dream Garden’ – November 10-26
Ballina 2023 presents the Dream Garden: A Light Installation by Artist Tom Meskell
The Heritage Walled Garden, the Jackie Clarke Collection, November 10 – 26, 2023
Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm to 8pm daily (Sensory Hour from 4pm to 5pm daily). Admission Free, no booking required.
Official Opening; Friday, November 10 at 6pm.
Live performance by Irish Lights, Friday November 17 at 6pm.
“This is not our dream garden, not a place of human dreams, this is the garden of magical creatures sleeping… hibernating… dreaming…”
Horses sleep standing and swallows sleep on the wing.
Do animals and birds dream? If so, what do they dream of?
Does a fox, a hare, a snail, a badger dream of us?
Or do they have bigger dreams of a future filled with flowers, birds and play?
As we walk gently through the Dream Garden, among the creatures, we pause and listen.
We can hear them, see their light and experience their magic in the light of this beautiful dream garden.”
As a busy year of Ballina 2023 celebrations begins to wind down, artist Tom Meskell’s enchanting blend of illuminated sculpture will welcome winter to the Heritage Walled Garden of Ballina’s Jackie Clarke Collection for almost three weeks from Friday, November 10.
The Dream Garden, a magical menagerie of hibernating birds, animals and plants native to Ireland designed to explore themes of memory, biodiversity and dreams will offer a captivating winter lightscape experience for adults and children alike in the heart of Ballina.
Supported by Associate artist Emma Donoghue and transatlantic ambient music artists Irish Lights (Ben Fox & Gordon Cooper) who have created a bespoke soundscape to accompany the work, Meskell has been working for several months to create the Dream Garden with artists from Mayo ArtSquad.
Meskell, a Mayo-based artist who has for years explored the capacity of illuminated forms as accessible materials to engage with communities and explore existential themes shared his perspective as Artistic Director:
“Working on the Dream Garden in partnership with Ballina 2023, the artists of Mayo ArtSquad, Irish Lights and Emma has been a lovely experience. We had a long lead-in which allowed the project to evolve over time and it was a very open, collaborative process. The beautiful Jackie Clarke Collection garden, and Emma’s interest in biodiversity both really informed the theme of the animals hibernating, and the Dream Garden brings a lovely, sleepy energy that is a gentle contrast to the high-energy events of the past year.”
Alongside the installation will run a schools outreach programme, facilitated by Ballycastle-based artist Emma Donoghue, who will work with the children of Behy NS and Cooneal NS to create a selection of ultra-violet flowers to decorate the covered foyer of the Jackie Clarke Collection. On the opening evening, children will also be invited to participate in a UV flower-making workshop in the Seomra space at the Jackie Clarke Collection.
Donoghue said: “Working on this project with Tom has been a joy with and a complete indulgence in our creativity, imagination and our inner child. I am passionate about sustaining biodiversity in Ireland, creating awareness of the natural wildlife here in the west of Ireland and maintaining our strong heritage in mythology, so this project was a perfect opportunity to showcase an amalgamation of these topics against the backdrop of Irish Lights’ beautiful soundscape.”
Ballina 2023 Project Manager Lisa Hallinan said: “We are very lucky in Mayo to have such a vibrant and rich cultural ecology of extremely talented practicing artists, and it has been a dream to collaborate with Tom, Emma, Mick and Ben on the creation of the Dream Garden. Tom is world-renowned for his work and is a prolific and passionate artist and we were delighted to be supported by the Arts Council and Mayo County Council to commission this work from him.”
“The themes of nature and biodiversity, the vulnerability of our natural environment and our connection to it have emerged strongly throughout the creative process. As we begin to wind down our Ballina 2023 celebrations, we can begin to dream of the future possibilities for Ballina, its magical setting and wonderful wildlife, and our role as custodians of that future.”
The Dream Garden opens at the Jackie Clarke Collection on Friday, November 10 at 6pm with winter treats for all to enjoy and will open to the public from 4pm to 8pm daily, Tuesday to Sunday, invigilated by staff and volunteers at the Jackie Clarke Collection and members of the Ballina 2023 Volunteer Programme.
A reception will take place on Friday, November 17, with a live performance by Irish Lights.
The Dream Garden is a specially commissioned installation from Mayo based artist Tom Meskell for Ballina 2023. It has been created with the support of associate artists Emma Donoghue, Mick Smyth and the Mayo ArtSquad, and Irish Lights.
It is presented in partnership by Ballina 2023 and the Jackie Clarke Collection. This project is funded by the Arts Council and Mayo County Council.
Mayo ArtSquad Artists:
Ugnius Brazdžiunas, Amayo Photography
Resources for children and schools
Below is a worksheet you can print off for the classroom, or bring along on your visit to the Dream Garden!