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Marysa Dowling

"The Banshee is deeply personal work; a longing for my Irish family and the landscapes that were removed throughout Covid lockdowns; feelings intensified by the death of my mother shortly before the pandemic. Though born in London, never having lived in Ireland, I’ve always been a regular visitor, constantly maintained strong connections to my maternal Irish heritage, I was taken aback by the intensity of my desire to return to those familiar spaces. Marking my first return to Ireland to be with family post-lockdown, I started a new piece of work to reach into these feelings.

There was an intense power in physically and emotionally reconnecting with this place, the small coastal village of Banna, where generations of my family began their lives, never moving far away.

I wanted to experience the landscapes where my mother started her journey in a new way; places and specific spaces that bind me to my family, and have become my second home.

This landscape is peppered with sea grasses and bullrushes growing in the boggy land. The Irish name for bullrushes Coigeal na mban sí, translated as spindle of the banshee. Irish Folklore tells us a ‘banshee is a female spirit who heralds the death of a family member’.

My mother who lived most of her life in the UK, died late 2019, after many years of struggling with Alzheimer’s. Much was lost, but we gained new elements of connection through the constantly shifting forms of communication that took place during her illness. This project is a conversation with her across time. 

Images submitted consist of; two portraits made this October, a portrait of my mother (1960’s). Two text based images sharing mums handwritten thoughts about being human and a Larkin poem ‘Lines on a Young Lady’s Photograph Album’ she underlined decades earlier."

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