Of tree, human and art ecologies at deAppendix

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Conversations of trees, humans and creativity took place at the deAppendix residency space for art, at Dr Ciara McMahon’s medical practice, Blackrock, Dublin

Update: a big congratulations to Dr Ciara McMahon and the Amaranta Family practice on deAppendix art residency project being short-listed for the 2013 Irish Business to Arts Award. Fantastic news!

I have previously mentioned that I was invited by ecological artist Kathy Herbert to talk with her about her new work House Trees and other Tales at deAppendix, a fascinating art residency space at Dr Ciara McMahon’s doctors surgery in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. The front rooms of Ciara’s medical centre are available for artists to use for 8 week residency periods (Ciara is also an artist) and the photo above is taken looking into the room where Kathy created her large wall drawing House Tree (2013) – and there is another room to display work as well. How we relate or more often, not relate to trees in urban environments, like those in the photo, fascinate Kathy. And Ciara has set up a unique space that brings people visiting the medical centre in contact with working artists. One can only imagine if all doctor’s centres were like this and it wasn’t surprising to hear from Ciara how her patients had enjoyed  the surprise of walking into a space fill with with a large tree drawing on the wall.

Artist Kathy Herbert and her 'House Tree' wall drawing (2013)

Artist Kathy Herbert and her ‘House Tree’ wall drawing (2013)

The evening of our public conversation last week was  beautiful and the talk I had with Kathy about her work was filmed by Ciara and will be available in the coming months. Initially I was wondering how to start the conversation and then I thought about how the pioneering ecological artists, Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison had often talked about how their transdisciplinary practices. They have described such practices, these ‘art-crossings’ into ecological concerns, their learning and making, as a ‘conversational drift’. This was evident when I spoke to Kathy too, her sensitive embodied artistic responses to the urban and built environment in her drawing works moved to and from her knowledge and deep ecological concerns of our living environments. It was apparent too that this conversation of the necessity of paying attention to overlapping tree and human ecologies for all species well-being was heightened as it was occurring in Ciara’s healing place.

The conversation afterward with the audience was very rich and there was something wonderful about paying attention to our overlooked urban environments through Kathy’s work and her observations of the non-human world (particularly as when I was talking I was looking at similar urban trees through the large window – you can see them reflected in the photograph above). Kathy described how she

 “‘works with the idea of “sharing space”, joining man-made and natural imagery to imply equal occupancy of the same space. This work draws on the idea of respect for other living beings – animals, plants etc., and implies that we are not the only important beings on this planet. I draw from nature, giving every living thing equal value in the hope that it will be reflected in our way of living on Earth.”

Kathy’s images from the exhibition can be seen here our you can visit deAppendix. For more information or images please contact : Ciara McMcMahon at deAppendix, 30 Ardagh Grove, Blackrock; 00353 (0) 12785866 / email: contactdeappendix@gmail.com or Kathy Herbert on +353 (0) 87 9481740 or at kathy@kathyherbert.ie


DeAppendix is an art project run by Dr Ciara McMahon at her surgery in Dublin.

“The arts have been part of the Amaranta Family Practice since its inception. Our doctor, Dr. Ciara McMahon is acutely aware of the importance of creativity to our quality of life and so the practice is co-located with De Appendix space. De Appendix has a regular program of visual art installed in the practice reception and waiting room in addition to an on-going artists residency programme, where professional artists are awarded studio space in the practice for an eight week period” (www.deappendix.wordpress.com )

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