2 February 2024
By Tom Collins
An intriguing event led by Cork artist Elinor Rivers, to celebrate World Wetlands Day and St. Brigid’s Day 2024, will be held on Sunday February 4th, in the city’s Glen River Park.
The ‘Ordinary Gifts’ World Wetlands Day event is part of the Gleann a’ Phúca project and one of a series of participatory experiences exploring the life of The Glen River through walking, listening, water divining, and other playful, sensory activities and everyday ‘ordinary’ rituals.
Activities during the outdoor event which takes place from 11am – 1pm are designed to heighten our awareness of the positive effects of living water on our health and wellbeing, while tuning in to the reality that rivers are living entities.
Artist Elinor Rivers, says the participatory activities will be “lively and varied” to suit the February weather.
“There will be a short walk to observe the river’s trees, plants and birds, leading to the playful creation of a web of life to better understand its wetlands ecosystem. Participants will also undertake a deep listening exercise to tune in to the water’s music and we will use water divining to trace the river’s underground currents and electromagnetic aspects. The event will conclude with a visit to the well to mark St Bridget’s Day,” Ms Rivers said.
The artist, whose Ordinary Gifts project is funded as part of ‘Gelann a Phuca’ said her objective is to enable and encourage participants to increase their sensitivity, perception, knowledge and understanding of the life of the river through a series of sensory, creative, science based and celebratory activities spread over the course of a year.
‘Gleann a Phuca’ is a year long Creative Climate Action project, launched in September 2023, responding to the ecological, cultural, industrial and historical heritage of Cork’s Glen River Park, delivered in collaboration with the Glen Resource Centre and The Local Authority Water Programme.
The project has received combined funding of €56,500 from The Creative Climate Action Fund, Cork City Council, The Local Authority Water programme and Cork Local Creative Youth Partnership. ‘Gleann a’ Phúca’ will explore the ecology of the valley through artists’ projects and a variety of creative community interactions over the course of 12 months. Multidisciplinary artist Julie Forrester, who initiated Gleann a’ Phúca with the support of an Arts Council Bursary in 2021 said the project is about “connecting to the biodiversity crisis, helping people rethink lifestyles and ensuring a fair and just transition to sustainable stewardship of The Glen River.”
Ms Rivers added, “Through Ordinary Gifts we will explore ways we approach and encounter the non-human inhabitants of the valley and how we can learn to hone our ability to be joyful and say thank you in simple practical ways.
“Ultimately the aim is that people will become advocates for the Glen River and rethink what is discharged from their homes as grey water while becoming more aware of local sources of pollution in the river. We also intend to look at the international movement for the rights of rivers and environmental personhood through the Universal Declaration of River Rights 2017, while also looking at the relationship we have to rivers in Ireland through the lens of mythology and folklore,” she said.
The event is suitable for all who wish to attend. Participants are invited to meet at the bridge at the bottom of the ‘zigzag’ (Ballyhooley Road Car Park) at 11 am and walk through the park with the artist, exploring our connection with the river through a series of interactions with water and the life of the river’s embankments.