The Sustainment Experiments
Deirdre O’Mahony

  • Arrow UPCOMING: Oct 14 2022 - Oct 31 2022
  • Arrow Main Gallery, Learning Centre and Digital Gallery
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Curated by Hollie Kearns

The Sustainment Experiments is an exhibition and public engagement project at Butler Gallery that responds to the urgent need for a multidisciplinary approach to food production, farming and climate crisis. The exhibition takes place in the aftermath of a feast for an invited audience of farmers, scientists and policymakers which takes place in the gallery in early October. A handmade dinner service and provocative menu encourages diners to think about soil health and food production. The feast is modelled on an 18th century feast hosted by French scientist, Antoine Augustin Parmentier who worked to address food security and public health problems by changing public attitudes towards the potato, believed at the time to be unfit for human consumption.

The gallery will be installed with the dinner service, wall hangings by Deirdre O’Mahony, costumes made by Bog Cottage Collective, and embroidered texts by Sadhbh Gaston.

A Soil Research Lab in the Learning Centre at Butler Gallery gives viewers a chance to read about soil health and food production. This exhibition is accompanied by a screening of Speculative Optimism at the Digital Gallery, a film which tells the story of sainfoin, a sustainable alternative to rye grass for animal fodder.

The exhibition is part of The Soil Project, an annual artists commission at Butler Gallery.

About the Artist

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.



Talks Series

  • Gerry Kearns in conversation with Dr. David Nally
    14th October, 1pm
    The Soil Research Lab at the Learning Centre
  • Deirdre O'Mahony in conversation with Suzanna Crampton (followed by wine reception and opening of the exhibition)
    15th October, 3pm
    Main Gallery



Events Schedule at Savour Kilkenny:

Saturday 29th October

  • 11am: Sainfoin, A Sustainable Crop for the Future
    Join artist Deirdre O’Mahony and farmer Pat Fitzgerald to discuss Sainfoin, a fodder crop with multiple benefits for ruminants and soil health.
  • 12pm: Tour of The Sustainment Experiments
    Project curator Hollie Kearns will walk visitors through the exhibition, discussing The Sustainment Experiments feast, the handmade dinner service and artworks made by Deirdre O’Mahony and The Soil Project, an annual artists commission at Butler Gallery that connects audiences to the earth beneath our feet through creative actions.
  • 2pm: Chef Clare-Anne O’Keefe and artist Deirdre O’Mahony in conversation
    The Sustainment Experiments is a feast with a mission! Join chef Clare-Anne and artist Deirdre as they talk through a menu with dishes that reflect soil health – fungi, seaweed, ground manure crops, fermented foods, and sustainably produced beef – and which are designed to directly influence the subconscious, for diners to think towards a world shared equally by humans and more-than-humans in the not so distant future.

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