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Rubbish at Galley Head. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.
Rubbish at Galley Head. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Artist fears for beautiful Cork coastal landscape as it becomes ‘hideously polluted’

ONE of the designers exhibiting at Cork Craft Month is a Meath woman who has been bewitched by the rebel county’s stunning coastline and now lives and works in Cork.

But she has a stark warning for everyone who, like her, loves Cork’s coasts and waterways — they are being profoundly damaged by plastic and pollution.

 Ceramicist Bernadette Tuite at the launch of Cork Craft Month 2019 within the stunning walled gardens of Fota House. Pic Darragh Kane

Ceramicist Bernadette Tuite at the launch of Cork Craft Month 2019 within the stunning walled gardens of Fota House. Pic Darragh Kane

Bernadette Tuite has been based in Cork since she came here in 2014 to do an Applied Art Degree with CIT Crawford College of Art and Design. Now graduated, she lives in Bally-phehane and has just moved into a space at Backwater Studios on Wandsworth Quay.

 The stunning rock formations in Nohoval Cove (right) and the artwork it inspired. Pictures: Bernadette Tuite.

The stunning rock formations in Nohoval Cove (right) and the artwork it inspired. Pictures: Bernadette Tuite.

“My work concerns itself with the landscape, and more specifically where the land articulates with the Atlantic Ocean, through sculptural ceramic vessels,” she explains. “I consider the coastal geology and erosive processes of wind and water and emulate these forces while making. I layer different coloured clays, marbling, tearing, compressing together seam and strata to echo the tortured seascape of my inspiration.

“Although the coastline appears rugged, an impervious bulwark against the Atlantic and the elements, it is vulnerable to human impact. This precariousness is expressed in the balancing of the vessels on a small base.”

It is this vulnerability she is concerned about. To see the coastal landscape to its best advantage and inspire her art, Bernadette and her partner spend significant time exploring the Cork coast by kayak. Being out on the water comes naturally to her.

“In my previous career I was a boat captain in San Francisco, I used drive boats around the bay and out into the ocean,” she explains. “So when I moved home, my partner and I get in kayaks and go along the Cork coasts, so far from Youghal to Mizen Head, and we explore the coast.”

Although she finds the coast inspirational, there are other aspects of their trips that are upsetting.

“An important aspect to my work that I would like to share with people is that when we do go out on the kayak and explore these areas we find that Cork’s amazing and beautiful beaches and hidden coasts, accessible only by boat, are terribly polluted,” she tells The Echo.

“They are covered in plastic, it is really quite chronic.

“My primary intention when making these ceramic vessels and bringing them to the public’s attention is to bring attention to these beautiful areas and how hideously polluted they are. Because we are on small kayaks, we can’t actually remove the rubbish. But we do gather it above the tideline and bury it in the stones that are there in the coves, above the tideline. We do it to keep it out of the water and stop it breaking down into microplastics and going back into the food chain. It is not an ideal thing to leave the rubbish there but we feel more comfortable leaving these beautiful areas cleaner than we found them by burying this rubbish and contributing in a little way.”

She believes the coast needs an organised, large-scale clean-up.

“I think we all know about prevention now, people know what they need to do and there is no point standing on a pedestal [and preaching] but I think it is about cleaning what we have and treasuring it,” she says. “It is beyond distressing [to see the pollution that is there].

 Cleaning up Rubbish tomb at Galley Head. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.

Plastic rubbish stuck in clifffs. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.

 Cleaning up Rubbish tomb at Galley Head. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.

Cleaning up Rubbish tomb at Galley Head. Picture: Bernadette Tuite.

“It is heartbreaking and so unnecessary. It is extremely destructive of this exquisite area.”

While she intends to continue to explore and document the Cork coast, Bernadette has a host of other projects coming up.

“I’m really busy for the next few months,” she says.

“When you are self-employed you put yourself out there for as many opportunities as possible. I’m very busy with Cork Craft Month and am in a couple of different exhibitions with them.

“I’m also in an exhibition in Dublin Castle, with Ceramics Ireland. I’ve just been awarded a going solo award by Meath County Council and that’s an exhibition opportunity and a €1,000 award to put the exhibition together.”

Next month, she takes her art abroad, as a representative of Cork Craft and Design.

“Myself and textile artist Mary Palmer are to travel to Uzbekistan in September to represent Cork Craft and Design in the International Festival of Craft in Tashkent,” she says. “It’s a very exciting travel opportunity to experience history, unique culture, and witness the craftsmanship of the Uzbek people in the ancient silk road city of Tashkent.”

n Cork Craft Month is under way in multiple venues throughout the city and county — find out more at corkcraftanddesign.com. Bernadette’s art can be seen on her Instagram page instagram.com/bernadettetuite and will soon also go on sale at the Cork Craft and Design store in Douglas.