Deirdre O’Mahony is a visual artist whose practice is informed by a deep interest in rural sustainability, farming, food security and rural/urban relationships. For more than two decades she has investigated the political ecology of rural places through public engagement, archival and moving image installation, critical writing and cultural production. Her PhD New Ecologies Between Rural Life and Visual Culture in the West of Ireland: History, Context, Position, and Art Practice at the University of Brighton in 2012 revived a defunct rural post-office as a public space, “X-PO”, to reflect the complex social, psychological, economic and natural issues affecting rural life and landscapes. Animated by a process of collaborative exhibition-making and the co-creation of artworks, X-PO made visible some of the invisible histories, unconscious projections and expectations underlying place-based attachments. The project was the 2007 artwork in Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks and is included in Tania Bruguera’s Arte Útil Archive.
Subsequent research on the creation of space for public discourse on food security, seed sovereignty and mêtis or tacit knowledge was developed through the SPUD project, reflecting on ideas of sustainability, food security and rural/urban relationships through potato projects in Ireland, USA, Spain and the UK. A Village Plot was part of the Grizedale Arts research residency for A Fair Land at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. SPUD culminated with The Persistent Return, produced by Callan Workhouse Guild, a moving image installation at VISUAL Carlow and the Natuurmuseum, Leeuwarden as part of the ECOC. A book about the overall SPUD projects will be published in 2020.
She was commissioned to make Groundworks, a public artwork for Aarhus ECOC in 2017 and selected for the first Welcome Trust residency at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in Reading in the UK producing a moving image work Speculative Optimism, exhibited at Galway International Art Festival in 2018. In 2018/19 she produced and curated a project for Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural research agency as part of a Horizon 2020 project, CERERE.
In 2020 O’Mahony will launch POST_ , a new audio work for Saolta Galway Hospital Arts Trust/Galway 2020 ECOC, A Space for Lismore for Lismore Castle Arts, and two publications, UNTITLED an ACA publication by Asketon Contemporary Arts and SPUD 2009-2019.
Awards in 2018 include an Arts Council and the Irish American Cultural Institute O’Malley Award. She has received numerous awards from the Irish Arts Council and received an international Pollock-Krasner award in 1996. Formerly a lecturer in Fine at Centre for Creative Arts, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology she now lives and works in Callan, County Kilkenny.