The Lios (2004)

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (Mar 2004) 
Triskel Arts Centre, Cork (Nov 2004) 
Exeter Phoenix, Devon, UK (Nov 2004) 

‘lios’ (noun): an ancient Irish fortification or storage place enclosed by a circular mound or trench. Built during the Bronze age and numerous in the Irish countryside; rich with folklore. Irish Gaelic lios, from Middle Irish liss.

The Lios was an installation work exhibited in Ireland and England by half/angel (Jools Gilson and Richard Povall) in 2004. The Lios focused on the lios at Warren Beach, near Ballymacoda in East Cork. Through a combination of audio walks, and interviews with young and older local residents, the work built up layers of memory and time. The Lios evoked the emotional geography of place by combining oral history with experimental motion-sensing / haptic interfaces in an immersive installation environment. 

The Lios was a poetic mapping of the lios at Warren, into which visitors entered singly or in couples. As they move in and touch the space, they raise whispers and laughter and cacophonies of voice ghosts. In one space they must remove their shoes, to tread barefoot, and conjure voices out of water with their hands. In another space, emptiness gives way to light and narrative, as the visitor moves in the intelligent environment. 

At the bottom of the boreen, the path splits into two. One takes you down to the rocky beach, the other lifts you up to the cliff edge. Here there is an old summer house, a shed really. Carla wonders about it. She can see that someone loved it once. But the wind and vandals have torn some of the shutters away from the windows. And there is a hole in the roof. On the sea side, if you stand on the old shutters, and shade your eyes from the light, you can see in. Here, curtains blow in the breeze, beyond them, a table and chairs, a rug, a sink and a dresser with china on it. And a closed door. What happened here? Here on the edge of the cliff, where no one comes. 

Jools Gilson 2003 


From conversations with the local community in East Cork

Clara: the water was cold
Madge: … so he decided to burn it
Madge: Dancing on the Líos
Nora: carrigeen
Nora – collecting the donkey
Nora: tides and gales
Packy: telling ghost stories
Packy: the lioses
Packy: birds getting bigger
Packy: the boreen from Warren
Richie: …run like hell!
Richie: phosphorescent beach
Toddy: the engineer from cork city
Toddy: death of a brother

Jools’ Audio Diaries

3 March 2004
4 February 2004
14 January 2004
21 January 2004
25 February 2004
25 February 2004
28 February 2004
3 March 2004

Recordings by Jools Gilson, editing by Richard Povall. Jools Gilson 2003