Pilgrimage – A Cultural Odyssey is a collaborative project connecting a diverse group of Irish, Icelandic and Greek musicians, visual and performative artists. Following the threads of the ancient pilgrimage tradition, an experimental artistic collaboration was hosted in Sligo in early May 2013.

Pilgrimage is committed to excavating and decoding collective cultural identity drawing on mythology, folklore, pilgrimage, memory and the resilience of island spirit. For 2013 the project focuses on Irish cultural identity, mining our ancient past for the foundations of who we are in the current moment.

The 2013 phase of Pilgrimage was a process-based residency where the group coexisted, living and working together in a remote part of Sligo for a week. The project was inspired by the Black Mountain College, an experimental, independent, college established in America in the 1930’s where teachers and students included Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Albert Einstein, Josef Albers and Willem de Kooning among many others. It held the belief that learning and living are intimately connected, making little distinction between work and play.

The ethos of Pilgrimage is similarly collaborative, with pilgrims sharing practice, co-teaching, visiting ancient sites and walking the land. Pioneers – field specialists and leading edge mentors across sectors and practices – have been invited to visit and share from their place of learning to bring new perspectives to the process. Together, the group explored the relationship and resonances between interior and exterior landscapes and examined the journey of both the individuals present and their national identities.

Curated by Kathy Scott and Aoife Flynn, participating artists included Róisín Coyle, Kate Ellis, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Noeline Kavanagh, Myles O’Reilly, Seán Mac Erlaine, Andri Snaer Magnason, Linda Buckley, Mikhail Karakis, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Gyða Valtýsdóttir and Donal Dineen. Pioneers included Pat Collins, Manchán Magan, Stefan Bergh, Michael Harding, Steve Wickham, Dolores Whelan, Martin Enright, Martin Byrne, Karen Ward and Mari Kennedy.

Sligo’s archaeological and mythological heritage is incredibly rich; the landscape is peppered with monuments stretching back 5,000 years, most notably the sites of Carrowkeel, Carrowmore and Knocknarea. Intertwined with the mythology of the region, the sites have rich resonances with the story of Irish people through the generations and can help unlock our cultural identity, individually and collectively. Sligo has also long been acknowledged for its strong artistic tradition, with artists, creatives and independent thinkers drawn to the region, making it an ideal location for a project of this nature.

‘Pilgrimage’ opened with a ceremonial ritual by the sea and closed at the summit of Croagh Patrick. The curators invited the public to join the group in the final pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick on the morning of Saturday 11 May to mark the last stage of Pilgrimage Project in Ireland. Later that night there was a public screening of Pat Collins’ films What we Leave in our Wake at The Model in Sligo, followed by a public discussion with Pat and the curators, with the Pilgrims in attendance.

Pilgrimage is part of the ireland:iceland project and is funded by the National Culture Programme for the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which has been programmed by the National Cultural Institutions of Ireland under the auspices of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Pilgrimage project partners are Sligo Arts Service, The Model, The Icelandic Embassy and the Galtarviti Lighthouse (Iceland).

While on residency in the West of Ireland we filmed three of our most important walks and site explorations to Knocknarea, Carrowkeel and Croagh Patrick. You can watch these short films on the link below

To see the posts that document the Pilgrimage itself click on this link