What We Thought Was Ebbing Was Actually Flooding | Hannah Bloom

Graduate, Graduate Residency, Ormond Studios 2017

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Preview: Thursday 7th September: 6 – 8 pm
Gallery Opening Times: Friday 8th – Sunday 10th, 12 – 4pm

Ormond Studios are pleased to present What We Thought Was Ebbing Was Actually Flooding, the first solo exhibition by Ormond Studio Graduate Resident 2017 Hannah Bloom.

The work’s thematic focus lies on the relationship between communities and the ocean, specifically from an Irish perspective. The artist focuses on seaweed as an integral element within the coastal ecosystem, while also embodying a canary in the coal mine for maritime pollution and maritime disharmony.

The tradition of seaweed foraging was once an activity that involved entire communities; people would gather, forage by hand, tell stories, sing and eat together. This process was also inextricably connected with death. High tides, stormy seas and freak waves would often overcome foragers, resulting in tragedy. In this way, the water provides livelihood and leisure, but must also be reckoned with as an unquantifiable source of power and danger.

“The sea came and lifted the heap and ourselves, and we were covered in seaweed. We barely had our heads above water, trying to keep the water out of our mouths. But we got away.” – Anon, Seaweed Memories: In the Jaws of the Sea, Becker. H (2000)

This ambivalent relationship is reflected in the contemporary context, with oceanic activity having become increasingly unpredictable. Man-made pollution threatens the stability of ecosystems, affecting ocean levels and temperatures, threatening to displace populations and contaminate the very food we consume. Renewed interest in the virtues of seaweed as a source of nutrition has prompted a demand for large-scale industrialised harvesting. This commodification threatens the ‘hands on’, and immediate relationship of Irish communities to this substance and raises issues around depletion and environmental destruction.

The destabilising of this natural balance is referenced in Bloom’s work through her use of organic materials. Culled from the coast of Mayo, the seaweed has been contextualised through manmade and new media, in an effort to reflect how human activity inadvertently distorts the natural and familiar into unrecognisable specimens.

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