Detail of 'Installing a Mountain' View of 'The Art of Navigation'
Detail of 'Stray Birds' Installation shot of 'Archive for Jan Palach'
FIELD Ian Joyce, 1991–2018

patched up and put to good use.

marks, blotches, stains, smudges, creases, bends, folds,

creases, abrasions, scratches, scuff marks.leaks, spills:

a visual grammar;?

work begins


circumsribed by grids.

lost child without mammy.

compendium, catalogue, ecyclopedia


art is ARCHIVE

conundrum: will there be time left over to breathe in?


lighten your leaden path;

navigation, nomadism, mapping, meditation.

imagine a great vessel: artist-rider of forms,

purveyor of hot air balloons, intensely coloured excrescences tethered in the bod fields of Mín a' Leá.

cleaning, arranging, leave taking

passing-the-time rituals with few participants.
No noise.



Working on an image.

something else is going on: reading and thinking; writing and painting;


coaxing an image to grow;



open work:

at stress points; knowledge conventions abraded and abandoned

(mores, morals, habits, concepts, manners).



safe passage

probing for access: growth worms in black soil.

Opposition of inner/outer energy

Inner self (ball of fire)   Critical self (self-control)

Living Archive:

A thought experiment drawing together traits of knowledge on a scale of a person's experience

Art is survival; art work/life work = setting things in order.



appear? become someone? vanish? live in clover? Live on clover? could somebody be taken in? could somebody take me in?

a safe haven, a publicly funded self-instituted imprisonment?

boat, vessel, kite, balloon, diploma, map, book, image.

repeat after me:

eat your dinnleave nothing on your plate

make use of what you have

fall in love with a STACK. present it in a dish of water.

human nature: becoming a self

seeing without knowing: awaiting access to the palace of life. great expectations portrait of the artist as a young manIn this neck of the woods Art is more than baggage; it is a whole paraphernalia requiring interminable drudgery...

the afterlife: an extension of the mind's space; life: a testing ground ...coherence: another culture.“ make sense in Gort a' Choirce make sense in Gujarat.”

Art is navigation: knowledge mapping


To mastere self-creation, in a culturally dispersed void.”

an astronaut...

... glueing togethercompartments of thought.


Join together ....... space in sculpture ....... space in cosmology.

This is a Vessel                             This is a Car


a reverse factory

life lived, a soul-vessel “shaped in such and such a way” in a direction ‘a’ and at a certain speed ’y’; culturally bound ‘b’; absorbing influences (by osmosis ‘o’), propelled in living space, readying itself for anonymous travel in the afterlife/(culture)


from personal experience; ‘self-training’.



common denominator


life form



a desultory archive of personal effects:

Copybooks, photographs, postcards, letters, notes, books, diaries, memorabilia.

materials manufactured for everyday use (i.e. school, leisure) given to me, sometimes bought for me,

happen to have them. have come into my possession.

careless about losing them.

let them take care of themselves.

an inherited ‘self’, confined and un-free.

persona: Seosamh Finn

somewhere else, someone else.


of no market value (not even a car boot sale),

as memorabilia diminishing in real time.

Who bought them? how long since they were manufactured?

A copy book belonging to someone I never knew is different than something I wrote in myself

promise of inherited abstractions, a d.i.y history of notions.



now you see it, now you don’t.

now you see something, now you see something else.

What is, is not “there”.

Scratch it out, turn it upside down.

a shift

kind of space change?



a piece of writing, render it illegible -

Notes for the Little Red Book:

A sheet of paper is like a sheet of steel, pounded into shape in the steel works. Colonise the imagination with powers of self-formation processed away.

The water car

through the skin of the picture plane

identity creating vehicle: fuel, a world of second class objects and second-hand possessions: parking available in the narrow space of the black economy.

artist, shaman of the self-employed, translating back into non-reproducible forms.


Write something down.

a lesson and - for a brief moment - an aid to overcoming “having to be someone” (someone of substance?) the forces of gravity return ....find a bearing outside oneself: so, again, write something down, and for the record: cross it out, fold it or throw it away and there it is - no longer there - having been there, always there.

Somebody is somebody who will not die: and nature is nothing else than a document, a diploma in incomprehension and incoherence.

Habits of thought/physical patterns

forms of experience, logic of belief

Art, a vessel for soul to travel in.


things appear and disappear.

work with a stack.


The field

What can be expressed (if anything) in purely visual terms?

The law is: rely on transformation in the materials. The impact, the meaning, happens through the value associated with their treatment. The destruction of something intimate goes with regret and disappointment.

Shall its repair invoke relief, its protection and modification a sense of fragility and expectation? Optimism?

you see something, which you hadn't seen a moment ago, what's happening?

When you are drawn into depth you are withdrawn from the treadmill of noise and undigestable experience.


In the installation pieces you did in Belfast a person could walk around and experience the picture from inside? The actual exhibition area was supposed to be the same as the depth of the work: images on 4 sides, semi-transparent surfaces on the scale of the room.

Within the materials (art materials) used, certain salient aspects appeared, for example: things were worn, a kind of change or damage done to manufactured things.

Characteristics, which could be transcribed as visual or sculptural motifs such as creases, tears, hand marks, curling edges, dog ears. By working these, situating them in a certain context, emotive encounters were supposed to be taking place:

- shame

- incestuousness

- possessiveness

- ineptness

- regret

- vulnerability

- embarrassment

Self-destruction and self-transformation, privacy, evasion, intimacy bound up with writing: a feeling or atmosphere of intimacy or privacy held at bay in the context of a museum.

As a child I remember discovering my mother reading what I had written and was overcome by a feeling of humiliation.I interpreted this - not as personal trauma - but as a sensitivity

to the nature of writing, its duplicitous character.

- Art for the nobility is a gentle, humorous, and self-deprecating form of self-effacement.

Once the self is got rid of life can begin!

Qualities that may be useful in performance are: being silent, being tongue tied, ghost like or articulating out loud in a language no-one can understand.

when I wash out the sheets of writing by dissolving the ink and spreading it colourfully over the sheet of paper, I am doing little, or so I imagine, to the physical state of things.

memories and conceptions are dissolved and yet remain, as evidence. a desire to read and the inability to do so activate distance and is a first step away from reading into looking.

Looking is invoked in this way in a culture where ideology makes nature invisible or visible only as a text or an industrial surface...


Thought experiment:

9. Name the activity? Revision (yes, like school revision).: write a word down repeatedly on a copper plate learning the (Gaelic) word off by heart. Once you have it, or are confident you will remember it, cross it off.

Abandon the work to this attitude; the work will radiate its own presence & openness??

Life as a test

I can remember a teacher in primary school (Br. Kieran) telling us that life is a test. If we pass the test we will proceed to the next life (the afterlife). I was mesmerized by this, not because I believed it (I didn’t care if it was true) but because it corresponded to my situation: a slave to boredom and anticipation. Knowing that I must pass through stage after stage, before I would emerge a free man, ready to live the 'test life’, before dying into a post-leaving certificate heaven.

That life is an imprisonment of text is how religious or metaphysical belief is the institutional logic, enforcing in every dimension the formation of ‘soul’.

1. Ideas take root like weeds.

Tracing them back to earth connects them to the miasma of a "person" - the filigree formed from their appearance, persistence, decay; their incremental growth and transformation making a cobweb of memory.


Printmaking as an art form could be characterized as reverse industrialization, a print workshop of the hills (Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc Teoranta) turning the simulacra back into the real.


When drawing I am working to avoid a subject, in a world laden with too much meaning.

evacuate an image, let it rest and breathe enabling something to flow through it

(Let not dead souls awaken)


Early works from Shifting Ground exhibition, in Belfast (1991):

In in making these pieces the forms of words were broken down. Visual patterns, inks and colours surfaced; the tactile qualities of the paper were permitted.

I was content at the time with the notion of two separate compartments made of the same stuff: one given shape by the effacement of the other.

I transferred words and patterns onto an aluminium plate using a sharp implement. Afterwards, the plate, filled with marks, was inked up. The original pages laid out and, using chine cole, laminated and printed over on to etching paper.

A kind of closed circuit driven by a fixed logic; print and plate put together as an installation; the print hung on the wall; the plate, sculpted into a form depicted in the image, everything set against the wall.

exhibited in Itami, Japan, entitled "Black Economy" I intended a literal and poetic reference: the drawing a kind of edit, the work recycles existing elements; funereal, a store or archive of texts and images; a refusal to take up more space, use up more materials, a withdrawal ... into the chalk circle ... of the school master’s dream



These sheets - from which the ink has bled -
Are my clouds and crumbs
That fold on themselves
To entrap this wind I cannot see.

On your thoughts I ride,
Without reason
Perched under a roof - of their cohesion.

In your hand alone, then,
Is there not space enough?

To pitch the sky in?
To live and die in?

Ian Joyce was born in Dublin and grew up in Co.Cork, Ireland. He studied in Dublin and Berlin. His artistic activities encompass printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, video and writing, often in engagement with others. In 1998 he founded Cló and was an active organiser of artistic exchange on an international level, facilitating and connecting art in the Gaeltacht with as remote places as Armenia, Georgia and Taiwan. (2000-2015)

In 1998 he settled in Donegal. In 2012-2014 he curated Úr, a trans-european art and culture project, through co-operation with the State Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki, Greece.


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