Artists' Takeover: Mark Garry

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For my Artists’ Takeover, I have decided to focus on a recent body of research, which looks at the relationship between Landscape and Song: where landscape is recognised as a fluid term articulating physical space, idealised space and social space that reflects a convergence of physical processes and cultural meaning, and where song act as a response to, or archive, of personal, historical or socio-political instances.

This research has been made manifest as an exhibition entitled Songs and the Soil and a book of the same title. I have put together a selection of listening, looking and reading that relate to landscape and song.

Mark Garry



Image credit:


Motion Gram1 by Mark Garry from Songs and the Soil Exhibition at The MAC, Belfast (2020)

Rambling Candyman

This is a super documentary about Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie who recorded the vestiges of a unique way of life before it disappeared. They recorded songs and stories of Irish Travellers living in England in the early 1970s The relative isolation of travelling life meant that, while traditional singing was in decline, it was in a better condition than in most Irish settled communities, and several ancient ballads were still in the repertoire of traveller singers that had long faded from the wider scene.

Listen Here

The Miraculous Circumstance

This film, first shown in 1981, was the BBC's contribution to the Bartok centenary. It tells the story of the Hungarian composer Bela Bartok who in 1906 set out to discover the forgotten music of his people. He found a vast treasure of folk music all over Eastern Europe, and he called his discovery 'a miraculous circumstance'.

Watch here


The Link between Birdsong and Language

This is a really interesting article that looks at the relationship between birdsong and human language.

Read here

Luzmila Carpio

This is a short interview with Bolivian singer Luzmila Carpio, where she speaks about the acquired wisdom about nature via song in the peoples of the Bolivian Andes and the songs role in the preserving of indigenous culture and language.

Read article

Violeta Parra

This is a short article about Violeta Parra a Chilean composer singer, folklorist, political activist ethnomusicologist and visual artist.

Read article here

Songs and the Soil


This is a mix that I made that integrates a pieces of text and music that have a relationship to this body of research. It is made up of music by Bela Bartok, Margaret Barry and Luzmila Carpio and a selection of my own recent compositions.



Work Song

This is a short history of the work song in podcast form.

Listen here

This is a compilation of diverse work songs from around the world.

Listen here

From the Hugh Lane Collection

Paul Henry, Lakeside Cottages
1929, Oil on canvas. Presented by the Thomas Haverty Trust, 1935. Reg. 763

I have chosen a work from the collection entitled Lakeside Cottages by Paul Henry from 1929. I chose this work as it and other depictions of the Irish landscape by Henry have a very specific role within Irelands defining of itself. Henry painted depictions of the North West of Ireland. Many of which were portrayals of rural Ireland, people engaged in manual labour working on the land or at sea. Paintings of stacks of turf and small cottages in desolate landscapes. These images were instrumentalized by the Irish state in a number of ways, his images were used by the Irish tourist board to ‘sell Ireland abroad’ and in many ways became pictorial mechanisms for how Ireland would be viewed from abroad but also how Ireland as a nation would associatively define itself going forward as an independent nation. I viewed this instrumentalization as a deeply problematic romanticism of poverty and a semiotic washing of colonialism.






About the Artist

Mark Garry is an artist, curator, writer, educator and occasional musician.
His practice is multifaceted and incorporates a variety of media, mechanisms and material interests. These include drawing, filmmaking, photography, sculpture, sonic sculpture, performance and collaborative music projects. In many cases, a number of these elements are combined in a singular exhibition situation to form installations driven by a fundamental interest in observing how humans navigate the world and the subjectivity inherent in these navigations. While located in research Mark’s works prioritises the poetic over the didactic, where research elements are subtly embedded, and the works combine to enable an encounter that merges modesty and complexity.
Mark has held exhibitions at museums and art venues in Europe and North America. He represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale. This year Mark has solo exhibitions at The MAC Belfast, (2020), Chanwon Sculpture Biennale, (South Korea) (2020) and Roscommon Art Centre (2020).