An Urgent Enquiry

Wexford County Council, Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council initiated a research project in 2017 titled 'An Urgent Enquiry' with funding from the Arts Council under the ‘Invitation to Collaboration scheme’. Each local authority hosted a Think Tank at which artists, scientists and biodiversity experts presented approaches to Art, Biodiversity and Climate Change.


The research project and enquiry has led to the next logical step with three significant artist residency commission opportunities in Wexford, Fingal and Dublin City funded through Arts Council Phase Two – Invitation to Collaboration Award.


After on Open Call  in 2018, Wexford County Council, Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council are delighted to announce the selected artists for An Urgent Enquiry residency programme in 2019.


Artists - Tree coastal erosion Portrane beach


These significant residencies were awarded to Mark Clare, Fiona McDonald and Mary Conroy & Joanna Hopkins. The residencies offer each artist the opportunity to reside for three months in the local authority to explore the biodiversity of each area and the effects of climate change. These research residencies involve interactions with local biodiversity and environmental specialists, scientists, local experts relating to the artists interests, and engaging with local communities, with ongoing support from the local authority Arts & Biodiversity Offices.


The residences run over summer 2019 with Artistic outcomes being presented publicly in each local authority  in Autumn 2019.


The project is funded through the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration scheme which supports innovative, ambitious local authority collaborations.


Mark Clare | Wexford – Carrig-on Bannow

Mark Clare is interested in the potential of science, philosophy and aesthetics to enrich his thinking on climate change issues to produce work that draws our attention to what is currently happening in our environment. Using a solitary bee (Osmia aurulenta) found along the east coast as a metaphor, Mark will explore environmental issues such as habitat loss, disturbance, insect decline, pollution and climate change.  Mark is also interested in highlighting the importance of Phytoplankton found in our oceans which produce over 40% of the world’s oxygen through photosynthesis and are the base of the marine web. As an introduction to his residency in Wexford, Mark would like to organise workshops with a marine biologist exploring the incredible contribution phytoplankton makes to life on earth. Local audiences will view samples of these tiny organisms collected at the residency location and further workshops will be facilitated at the other residencies sites in Fingal and Dublin City to build up a picture of the various species of phytoplankton found at each location. These important bio indicators provide valuable information on the health of the environment.


Fiona McDonald | Dublin City –Bull Island
(Part of the UNESCO designated Dublin Bay Biosphere)

Fiona McDonald is an interdisciplinary artist interested in conservation, biodiversity, climate change and resistance. She is keen to explore how climate change has major impacts on Irish biodiversity and how in turn biodiversity can help mitigate the effects of climate change, for example through the protection and conservation of our wetlands and  sand dunes. She is particularly concerned with the use of environmental sensor technology which can detect and gather data on sea level changes, ocean acidity, air pollution, coastal erosion and habitat disturbance.  She is also interested in mapping habitats and developing site specific augmented reality works highlighting the rich, distinctive flora and fauna of Bull Island which visitors could access through a mobile device. Incorporating technology in nature will enable her to monitor and explore data related to biodiversity and increasing changes in climate which will be used to generate new work addressing environmental issues.


Mary Conroy and Joanna Hopkins | Fingal – Portrane

Mary Conroy and Joanna Hopkins are collaborating visual artists with a shared interest in the environment, science and memory. The essential element both artists would like to explore for the residency is the theory of ‘Environmental Generational Amnesia’. 
The theory by Dr. Peter Kahn is:

...the idea that each generation perceives the environment into which it’s born, no matter how developed, urbanised or polluted, as the norm. And so what each generation comes to think of as ‘nature’ is relative, based on what it’s exposed to. (


Through interactions with local communities they will explore local knowledge and living memories relating to the history of the area, its traditions, folklore, wildlife in the area, the environment and issues affecting its wellbeing. Also as a starting point they would like to research bird colonies, in particular migratory wildlife and the correlation between human society and how one can impact on the other. Temporary artworks will be developed that respond to the Fingal coastline, focusing on bird colonies and how our everyday actions impact our future, and the future of the other species that contribute to the ecosystem that
we call home.


The project is funded through the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme which supports innovative, ambitious local authority collaborations.