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Clare Island Survey research featured at the Venice Biennale

Ireland’s exhibition at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale was opened today by Minister Patrick O’Donovan, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The Venice Architecture Biennale will be open to the public from tomorrow, Saturday, 20 May and will run until Sunday, 26 November 2023.

The exhibition is curated by a team of five architects, selected to represent Ireland on the basis of an open call Peter Carroll, Peter Cody, Elizabeth Hatz, Mary Laheen and Joseph Mackey.

Responding to the theme, The Laboratory of the Future, selected by curator of the Biennale Architettura 2023, Lesley Lokko, the Irish Pavilion entitled ‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’ presents fieldwork from Ireland’s remote islands, investigating their diverse cultures, communities and experiences. Utilising large slabs of local limestone from the offshore islands of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), UNESCO World Heritage site Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) and Cliara (Clare Island), ‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’ will offer an immersive experience that draws connections between the social fabric, cultural landscape and ecology of these islands, shifting between the global and the local, the territorial and the intimate. The installation will also make use of local materials that highlight the traditional heritage of each island.

For the Cliara feature of the exhibition, the architects draw heavily on the research and imagery contained in the Royal Irish Academy’s New Survey of Clare Island, a unique multidisciplinary endeavour that together with Robert Lloyd Praeger’s first Clare Island Survey provides an invaluable body of research informing future conservation of natural and built heritage of Ireland and Europe. The curators pay particular attention to John Feehan’s book Clare Island, which distils the results of the two great surveys with elegance and enthusiasm to shine a spotlight on the richness of life surviving on Clare Island.

The installation focuses on renewable energy, ethical food production and biodiversity, capturing the islands’ sustainable methods of livelihood through drawing, models, film, sound, writing and language, to raise awareness of the islanders’ management of resources and their balancing of the delicate equilibrium between culture and nature.

Following its presentation in Venice, ‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’ will tour Ireland in 2024. More information can be found at:

Clare Island panels

Fig. 1 Sample of the Clare Island panels on display