On May 1st 2022, School of Looking artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly launched the Eco Showboat expedition from the Hunt Museum in Limerick, a four month voyage upriver to Enniskillen on the Mayfly, the first solar electric boat to make this journey. The Mayfly is a small solar and wind powered yacht. The boat, a mobile work of art hand painted by the artists, will carry a joyful message about climate action through the country. The artists are concurrently working to convert a century old steel canal barge, the 48M, to a carbon neutral floating centre for creative climate initiatives, spearheaded by the arts community working hand in hand with the science community.
The expedition kicked off with a weekend of events over the May bank holiday in Limerick at the Curraghour Boat Club and the Hunt Museum for Riverfest and continues with a series of “EcoSundays” through the summer as the Mayfly travels north to develop conversations about climate change in communities all along the waterways with local artists, scientists, farmers and other community activists.
2 EcoSundays take place in Clare. The first took place at the Royal Parade in Killaloe on Sunday May 8th and featured Tom Cosgrove, Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Limerick, chatting about the history and environmental impact of the Shannon hydro-electric scheme, and scientist Dan Minchin talked about the problem of non-native species in the Shannon and Erne. Artists Deirdre Power and Chelsea Canavan showed photographs of the Eco Showboat’s first expedition from Limerick to Killaloe – through the monumental Lock at Ardnacrusha – and displayed the Water Paths Archive notebooks made by members of the waterside community on the lower Shannon, while the School of Looking give a workshop on Slow Looking. Waterside workshops and talks took place in an artist designed pop up space, the Pangolin Pavilion, constructed from repurposed beach parasols.
The second EcoSunday features an artistic commission by East Clare artist Paul Berg. 20 artists have been commissioned through the project to make work that engages with climate change. The Mayfly’s voyage will be a discovery of these artists and their work and on May 15th in Scariff Harbour, County Clare. Paul will be displaying his ‘Crannóg Ceoil’, a music island.
The project has received the Arts Council Open call Award for 2021, as well as an SFI Discover Award, the Limerick Arts Strategic Award, and is supported by Creative Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Dublin City Council, the Local Authority Waters Programme and local authorities and universities right across the country including Clare County Council.