Speech by Sabina Higgins at the opening of Cruinniu’s Exhibition on Biodiversity
Dundrum, 26th September, 2022
I am delighted to be here today to launch this exhibition. May I thank Margaret Meagher for her kind invitation, and all of you for that generous welcome.
The coming together of Crinniu was a most fortuitous one, following an open call by Margaret Meagher when Cork Airport provided her with double the space she expected for a solo exhibition in 2019. That space was filled by the artists now known, together with Margaret, as Crinniu , creating another important moment in Ireland’s cultural life.
We can be greatly impressed today by how our artists have chosen to marry their undeniable talent to the critical theme of protecting our biodiversity, beautifully capturing the wonder of our natural world through their distinctive and imaginative work.
Inspired by the beautiful Song of Amergin, that mystical and ancient poem that continues to inspire us across the centuries, our artists present us today with work that is evocative, moving, uplifting and as with all good art, thought provoking.
Each painting displayed here today is a singular piece of art, speaking quietly and profoundly to its viewer. Together, they are a powerful force, forming a unique collection that calls loudly to us of a wonderful nurturing planet, and a glorious biodiversity continually under threat from the way we live our lives today.
For the last 200 years man’s ignorance and greed have caused the degradation of the planet Earth, land and water and air, causing enormous biodiversity loss, distrupting the balance in nature and harming the ecosystems on which the sustaining of life in all its diversity depends.
Crinniú explores that magnificent biodiversity across a range of landscapes – bringing us into the fields that have witnessed so much of our changing history; the streams that have continued to flow peacefully through wars and rebellions and turbulent revolutions; the trees that have spread their protective shade across the generations that have gone before; the mountains in whose shadows so many have lived and worked and drawn shelter.
This is our world, the world that has protected, nourished and cherished our forefathers for thousands of years. Today, in 21st century Ireland we are now asked to be ourselves the protectors – to stop the degradation to reverse our biodiversity loss, to restore our wetlands and raised bogs, preserve our natural habitats, grow plants and flowers and vegetables, protect our bees and birds and insects and the fish that swim in our waters. Across the globe, the abundant store of life that has evolved over billions of years is being destroyed, eliminated, pillaged, poisoned, polluted, burnt, overharvested and assaulted at a rate unprecedented in human history and urgent action is needed.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are aimed at achieving sustainable life on our planet. Goal no 13 calls on us to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts in Goal 14 on land and Goal 15 in water.
This exhibition invites us to stand still and reflect on the changing relationship that has developed between humans and our natural environment. It calls on us to forge new connections between ethics, economy and ecology, and to rethink the destructive approach we have taken to our planet in modern times. It reminds us of the power and wonder held within the structure of a delicate flower, of the wonderful nurturing wilderness that captures the rhythm of the year, of our duty to value and cultivate and preserve this magnificent world and the fragile planet so that we may be able to hand it on to future generations.
The word Crinniú translates as ‘meeting’, ‘coming together’. We are greatly fortunate that this group of artists gathered so serendipitously in 2019 to fill a space that needed filling. Today they continue to fill that space, ensuring their art is not only beautiful but also becomes work that challenges us, causes us to question our world and to critique the norms of the society and the age in which we live - and to take action.
That, after all, is the great gift that artists in all their capacities have to offer our world, and a gift for which we can be very grateful indeed.
It give me great pleasure to officially open Cruinniu’s Exhibition on Biodiversity
Thank you very much.