Inis Oírr’s New Pod
Excerpt from feature by Conor Biggins in our Summer Issue 2022
Originally commissioned as part of the Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture, Drop Everything sought to create a calming and reflective space for week-long artist residencies that looked both modern and familiar. Mary Nally, the founder of Drop Everything, sought Dublin born designer and architect Jordan Ralph, to design the aptly named Studio Drop. Ralph and his team aimed to design and create a deployable piece of microarchitecture which would land on Inis Oírr and be used as a space for artists to participate in residencies for a week or two in relative isolation. The self-set challenge was to design something that felt both new, and concurrently indigenous to the land and people of Inis Oírr.
Having spent time with local boat craftsmen on Inis Oirr and watching the restoration of the ‘Loveen’ Galway Hooker Fishing boat, Jordan was inspired. Under the watchful eye of local Inis Oírr fisherman Joe Seogie, he ensured that traditional boat building techniques, designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic, were incorporated in the cabin’s design. From the outside, the form of the pod is contemporary yet visually very native. Cylindrical in structure and clad with seaweed-coloured larch, the studio was built with a steel X-shaped skeleton onto which prefabricated timber components were bolted.
This makes the pod ideal for tackling gale force storms that frequent the Irish west coastline. For inspiration Mr.Ralph looked closer to home, honing in on the forms of native coastal structures like Martello towers, the beacons of West Cork, Clochán beehive huts and lighthouses. These forms all share a tapering cylindrical composition, small windows and a sturdy footprint. On the inside, the structure combines elements from the surrounding area. The interior of this perfect pod was co-curated by local Inis Oírr fisherman, Joe Seoige, using reclaimed trawler nets which washed ashore during a winter storm. The salvaged nets were used to create the round, hammock-style daybed, which can be raised and lowered, and to keep sheep’s wool secured between the wood beams. The designer’s vision was for the space to feel safe and womb-like, encouraging a sense of inward reflection. This would be very grounding for an artist allowing them to feel comfortable and excited to begin to ponder and create.
To read the full feature pick up a copy of our Summer Issue on shelves now
Conor Biggins is a graduate of the University of Limerick and works for the multidisciplinary brand Objective Gallery in New York. www.conorbiggins.com