Galway 2020 presents Aerial/Sparks by Louise Manifold

Artist Carol Anne Connolly on the Marine Institute's RV Celtic ExplorerA journey into the ocean wilderness

11-27 September: Inis Oírr
9-13 September: Ars Electronica Festival (online)

Participating artists: Kevin Barry (IRL), Ailís Ní Ríain (IRL), Carol Anne Connolly (IRL), David Stalling (DE), Kennedy Browne (IRL), Magz Hall (EN), Robertina Šebjanič (SI)

"Art and science was once a common theme on board an expedition and this tradition lives on in the form of Aerial/Sparks." – Rosemarie Butler, Scientific and Technical Officer, Marine Institute

26 August 2020: Aerial/Sparks, created by artist Louise Manifold for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, invites you to connect in person and online with one of the last unknown spaces on earth, the ocean wilderness. Seven artists, writers and composers from across Europe have produced a series of compelling standalone artworks for exhibition and radio broadcast, inspired by their experiences of joining research expeditions on board the Marine Institute Ireland’s RV Celtic Explorer.

The rugged beauty of Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands and with a deep-rooted maritime culture, is the setting for the Aerial/Sparks Art Trail from 11 - 27 September. At just 3km long by 3km wide, visitors can easily traverse the island by foot to discover sound works housed in a lighthouse, the local church, an old handball alley, and Áras Éanna, Europe’s most westerly Arts Centre.

A virtual programme of events for Ars Electronica 2020, the world-renowned festival for art, technology and society, will accompany the main exhibition from 9 - 13 September. Titled Garden GALWAY by Aerial/Sparks, online events include a series of conversations between artists and marine scientists.

Aerial/Sparks started its journey by exploring the potential of radio communication to reimagine our relationship with the ocean. Each artist’s experience of ocean and water masses around Ireland and Europe has informed the production of individual work for audio and radio listening. Highlights include author Kevin Barry’s ‘Island Time’, a monologue in nine chapters for a lovelorn lighthouse keeper as he dreams of distant lands, sited at Inis Oírr Lighthouse; German composer David Stalling’s ‘Palace of Ships’ created in collaboration with seismologist Sergei Lebedev; visual artist Carol Anne Connolly’s acoustic portrayals of the ocean inspired by the use of soundwaves in acoustic mapping to create visuals of the sea bed; and UK radio artist Magz Hall’s ‘Waves of Resistance’, a broadcast created in the spirit of transnationalism, relaying a message of peace, hope and unity across all borders.

For Aerial/Sparks creator Louise Manifold, Inis Oírr is the ideal home for these sound works: "I wanted to find a place more than a space for this presentation, a place rich with silence, where organic and human sound floats and carries through the wind. I wanted each work to be experienced in a way that would connect with and charge our experience of place."

Aerial/Sparks has taken shape through a long-term collaboration with the Marine Institute, the national agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. Lighthouse on St. John's Newfoundland. Photo Louise ManifoldSince 2017, artists from Ireland, Germany, England and Slovenia have taken part in seven ocean surveys and a passage from Galway to Hamburg on the RV Celtic Explorer, one of the few marine research vessels with sonic capabilities. These expeditions have opened up unique opportunities to foster connections between art and science as artists work side-by-side with scientists who are monitoring our marine biodiversity and the impact of humans on our ocean environment.

"The collaboration between the Marine Institute and Aerial/Sparks has created an innovative opportunity for artists and marine scientists to connect and engage with the wider community through mediums such as art and music," says Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute. "Using the concept of sound and the sea is a unique way of showing how both the arts and sciences can come together to highlight the value, opportunities and societal benefits of our ocean."

Marilyn Gaughan Reddan, Head of Programme at Galway European Capital of Culture 2020, said: "Aerial/Sparks is a notable example of what a European Capital of Culture can bolster - new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new conversations and new partnerships. This artist-led project, created and curated by Louise Manifold, has been in development since 2016, with a significant and ongoing partnership with the Marine Institute. Aerial/Sparks has provided incredible opportunities for artists both creatively, collaboratively and experientially, resulting in seven new commissions for exhibition and radio broadcast sited on one of Galway's magnificent Aran Islands, Inis Oírr."

Aerial/Sparks by Louise Manifold is presented by Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, in partnership with the Marine Institute Ireland; Commissioners of Irish Lights; Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr; Comhar Caomhán Teo, Inis Oírr; and Ars Electronica 2020. Supported through Arts Council of Ireland Project Awards 2017 and 2019. For further information visit


ON-SITE: Inis Oírr - Aerial/Sparks Art Trail
Dates: 11-27 September (Wednesday - Sunday)
Time: 11am-5pm
Venues: Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr Lighthouse, Inis Oírr Church, The Handball Alley
Duration: Visitors will need a minimum of 3 hours to experience the whole art trail.
Booking: The Art Trail is free. Advance booking is required for Kevin Barry’s Island Time at Inis Oírr Lighthouse to comply with physical distancing requirements. Bookings open for Island Time on 1 September:
Groups: For groups attending, maximum group size is 6 people. The lighthouse will accommodate a maximum of 3 people.
Accessibility: The Art Trail is accessible to wheelchair users. Advance notification is required for access to the lighthouse on booking.
Transport: Ferry services from Rossaveel (Galway) and Doolin (Clare). The Art Trail is aligned with ferry arrivals.
Further information and Art Trail map:

ONLINE: Garden GALWAY by Aerial/Sparks at Ars Electronica 2020
Dates: 9-13 September
Booking: Online events are free with unrestricted access.
Programme: Garden GALWAY presents the ship experience aboard the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer, pre-recorded conversations with artists and scientists about their collaborations, and excerpts from acoustic and audio-visual works produced by participating artists.

Kevin Barry (IRL) – Author
Title: Island Time
Location: Inis Oírr Lighthouse
Written and performed on site, this captivating multi-media monologue by acclaimed author Kevin Barry sounds a tragi-comic tone as a melancholy lighthouse keeper dreams of a different life and of distant lands ... and of a woman in Ennistymon.

Ailís Ní Ríain (IRL) – Contemporary Classical Composer
Title: East-West: Where morning is the sea. A meditation on time spent at sea.
Location: Áras Éanna
Ailís Ní Ríain’s atmospheric audio-visual work integrates one long take of the porthole in her cabin on the RV Celtic Explorer with a composition of hummed song and sounds created inside a grand piano.

Carol Anne Connolly (IRL) – Visual Artist
Title: Answering Echoes
Location: Áras Éanna
Inspired by the use of soundwaves in acoustic mapping to create visuals of the sea bed, Connolly has drawn on this visual information to compose acoustic portrayals of the ocean landscape using photoelectronic synthesisers, a technology that turns image into sound.

David Stalling (DE) – Composer and Sound Artist
Title: Palace of Ships
Location: Handball Alley
German composer David Stalling’s audio-visual composition is based on material and data gathered during the SEA-SEIS Survey 2018 which deployed seismometers in the Atlantic to monitor tsunami activity. Realised in collaboration with Prof Sergei Lebedev and Dr Maria Tsekhmistrenko of the Geophysics Section at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Kennedy Browne (IRL) – Collaborative practice of artists Gareth Kennedy & Sarah Browne
Title: Island Affinities
Location: Áras Éanna
Island Affinities explores the material culture of island communities. Kennedy Browne’s video work features a Sean Nós dance performance by Gearóid Devane on the US naval boat that washed up on Inis Oírr shore in 2019 with musical accompaniment by Colm Devane on accordion.

Magz Hall (EN) – Radio Artist
Title: Waves of Resistance (Radio art without borders)
Location: Áras Éanna
A radiophonic poem by UK radio artist Magz Hall draws on her enforced isolation first through Brexit and then in lockdown. In the spirit of transnationalism, it sends a broadcast from the phantom but once mapped island of Hy-Brasil off the Irish coast, relaying a message of peace, hope and unity across all borders.

Robertina Šebjanič (SI) – Intermedia Artist
Title: Selachophilia: Cetorhinus maximus - Limaria hians
Location: Inis Oírr Church
Stories unfold carried by the migratory basking shark (cetorhinus maximus) and the flame shell (limaria hians), sea creatures that Slovenian artist Robertina Šebjanič had the opportunity to experience during her residency on the RV Celtic Explorer. Sean Nós vocals by Caitríona Ní Cheannabháin and Róisín Seoighe are intertwined with the narration of a storyteller and field recordings of the Atlantic Ocean in this immersive audio installation.

Louise Manifold is the creator and producer of Aerial/Sparks. A visual artist who works with film, sculpture, collage and text, Manifold’s multi-disciplinary practice includes the creation of dynamic collaborative projects that frequently manifest as unique once-off experiences. Louise studied at Central St Martins College, London and GMIT, Galway. During her research for Aerial/Sparks, Louise embarked on the first two ocean expeditions in 2017 on the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer, including a voyage to Newfoundland. Louise has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland and internationally. Past curatorial projects include Wild-Screen, a weekend of contemporary art film in Connemara, and TULCA Galway.

Galway is European Capital of Culture in 2020. The cultural programme has been reimagined, with local and national artists and cultural organisations that won Galway the European Capital of Culture designation remaining at its core. The ambitious programme comprises both digital and live events which take place across the villages, towns, islands and the city of Galway and offers theatre, music and poetry, film, visual art and much more.

The Marine Institute (Foras na Mara) is the state agency responsible for marine research, technology development and innovation in Ireland. The Marine Institute provides government, public agencies and the maritime industry with a range of scientific, advisory and economic development services that inform policy-making, regulation and the sustainable management and growth of Ireland's marine resources.

Ars Electronica Festival was established in 1979 and has become one of the world’s most important media art festivals. Once a year, Ars Electronica invites artists, scientists and researchers from all over the world to a conclave in Linz, Austria, to confront a specific, interdisciplinary theme. Ars Electronica 2020 is a journey mapping the “new” world amidst the coronavirus pandemic and a journey through “Kepler’s Gardens,” which are located in Linz at the JKU Campus and at 120 other locations worldwide.