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Oilithreacht Ollan / Wool Pilgrimage -  Installation #1

Ginidiú Cruthú / Germination Creation.  Artistic collaboration of Maria Tanner Cohen & Cynthia O'Hern.

Early on the morning of the 26th of May, Cynthia and I set off from An Rinn Co.Waterford to the Cave of Crúachain located in the royal site of Rathcroghan, the ancient capital of Connacht in Co. Rosscommon. Thus began our Oilithreacht Ollan to symbolise the sacred transformations of life at three points over the Island of Éire.

Beginning with the mysteries of creation, we choose the Cave of Crúachain to seed our first vision. This cave is the originating site of Samhain, a dark repository of myth and legend where Queen Maeve, ruler of Connacht is also said to have been born.

Caves like the chasmal unconscious are fecund spaces of emanation, openings that lead into the abysm of time. Entering the mouth of the cave, we crawled through a souterrain passageway for around 3 meters until we reached the natural opening of the underground cave, a 30-meter-long rift chamber that is said to hold the gate to the underworld.

The formation of Oweynagat cave is marvelously akin to a birth canal leading into a womb space. When we reached the inner recess of the cave we switched off our head torches and for a time immersed our eyes in a kaleidoscope of blackness. In the void there was soundless, sightless peace. In a realm where the light of the sun and the moon cannot penetrate, something of the self is both lost and found.

In these unfamiliar conditions, we set to work. In the center of the cave we suspended our 5ft felted white pod between the parting fissure of the cave walls. The pod divided and opened like a veined bract of a flower. Encased within the felted pod was placed a dividing ovule, suggestive of two beings contained in a single sphere, to form a hermaphrodite whole.

The white egg-cell populated on the surface with spermatozoa made of wire and black wool, was illuminated from within by a glow of soft white light. The diffuse light emanated outward into the cave's amniotic darkness. A seed of inner potentiality, a vision was lit in a palace of memory.

When the work was complete, we climbed our way back towards the earth's surface, to breath the sweet air as though for the first time.

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