Frances Hegarty - Turas  - 1990 / 1995

Installation with:
Video projection, stereo audio

Video/audio cycle 03m 40s.

Related works:

- Turas installation with video projection, stereo audio, transparencies in light-boxes (floor array)

- Turas (Journey) videotape 1990/94, colour, 7mins


Frances Hegarty - 'Turas', film/video still 1990
Frances Hegarty - 'Turas', film/video still 1990
Frances Hegarty - 'Turas', film/video still 1990
Frances Hegarty - 'Turas' installation view, Camden Arts Centre 1996
Turas installation view, Camden Arts Centre 1996

In the installation Turas (1995) a video projection shows two women (Hegarty and her mother) sitting on straight-backed chairs. A series of wordless gestural exchanges take place, denoting the artist's attempts to reaffirm a language held by her mother. The artist repeatedly exits towards the viewer, leaving behind (and blacking out) the site of familial interaction.

Fragments of speech rise out of the sound of a rushing river. In particular, the artist is heard asking in her stilted Gaelic whether or not she could re-learn that language, the mother replying that this would certainly be possible.

Although both this language (Gaelic) and this particular river (the Foyle) are defining features of Hegarty's home-place, here they coexist uneasily. As much as it offers reassurance in the familiar, the insistent elemental aspect of the river (eroding even as it sustains) reinforces the sense that generational change, with its consequences for culture, is inexorable.

An earlier film Turas (Journey) (1990/94), shot on super-8, follows the River Foyle from its estuary at Inishowen Head, through Derry City (where it forms a political divide between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic) to its source in Donegal.

In the 18th and 19th century, many Donegal emigrants left Ireland by sea, via the Foyle at Derry City. The film Turas is formed around the artist's restitutive act of taking a sample of water from the Foyle estuary back to the river's source in Lough Finn. This process is represented in key stages (like the stations of a religious "turas"), intercut with the mother-daughter exchanges described above.

Turas in all its iterations is part the artist's interrogation of her own experience of the Irish diaspora, along with works such as Teanga and Gold (1993).