A Desert in the Ocean - The View from Cill Rialaig
A Desert in the Ocean - The View from Cill Rialaig, is an exhibition of works resulting from a
convergence of Irish and American artists and writers in retreat on the remote coast of Co Kerry,
Participating artists: Katrina Balling, Gemma Billington, Vincent Desiderio, Nicole Etienne, Micah
Ganske, Caroline Hinkley, Catherine Howe, Sue Hubbard, Ronnie Hughes, John Jacobsmeyer,
Trevor Joyce, Nancy Lorenz, Helen O’Leary, Colette Robbins, Judith Schaechter, Barry
Schwabsky, and Carol Szymanski.
The site of the pre-famine village ruins of Cill Rialaig offers fertile terrain for trans-disciplinary
discussion: an extraordinary geography of a land's end-encompassing desolation, exile, and longing.
A group of today’s city-bred artists and writers seem to have little in common with St. Brendan the
Navigator and his intrepid monks, fifth century pilgrims born in County Kerry, who cast off their tiny
boat into the unknown waters in search of "a desert in the ocean,” a paradise cloistered from all
worldly distractions and trivialities. However, to retreat into solitude, to make work and live a life in
devotion to art, the ascetic impulse within the studio or writing room is still essential.
The best artist retreats try to provide this environment. They are a haven where we can sweep away
distractions and just create. We leave our striving competitive selves behind to step outside of our
daily lives for a short time. Cill Rialaig is one of those places. Perched on high cliffs at the very edge
of Europe over a limitless expanse of ocean, it offers clarity - the view out and the view in; the
expanding framework to do something really worthwhile. This exhibition is the culmination of that