At 10pm on 19 May 2020, the first night of Field Test began with work from a graduating art student being projected onto a screen in a field in Tipperary in Ireland. The field, which artist Aideen Barry bought 3 years ago to support socially engaged projects, can be seen from the M7, meaning that anyone driving past would have seen the work. At the same time, Field Test was being livestreamed online for anyone to watch. The three colleges involved in the showcase were Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), Limerick School of Art & Design and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Aideen describes the Field Test project as “an absurdist intervention”, which presented “a drive-in cinema of screenings of these artists’ works over two nights.”

The idea for the project came when Aideen thought about how the Covid-19 pandemic had led to the cancellation of end-of-year exhibitions at art schools around the world. “I had a profound sense of sadness when I learned that my students’ shows had been cancelled,” said Aideen, “Understanding what a seminal moment it is for the life of any practicing artists, it made me consider how I could do something to unify these emerging artists and give them a platform to convey their work to an international audience.”

“The main aim was to live stream it, thus getting a greater reach and wider audience that perhaps may not ordinarily make it to any of these end of year shows. Now they would get a chance to catch the work of this next generation of talent clearly emerging from these schools of art.”

Field Test Part 1
Video by Aideen Barry

"There is really a remarkable generation of artists emerging and it is our responsibility as artists who are ‘established’ to extend a hand to this next generation during the current crisis."

Aideen Barry, artist

The artist has connections with the different universities whose students took part, having taught at all of them. “I wanted to give a kind of snapshot of the quality, calibre, conceptual relevance and rigour that I encountered from the students of this emerging generation. There is really a remarkable generation of artists emerging and it is our responsibility as artists who are ‘established’ to extend a hand to this next generation during the current crisis.”

The field itself is used as a space for collective projects and is lent for free use to lots of members of the local community. It has 20 beehives run by a local bee farmer and a local Irish Traveller family use the field for their horses.

Still from "Via de Neri" by Seren Moran, Virginia Commonwealth University
Still from "Via de Neri" by Seren Moran, Virginia Commonwealth University
Still from "Pluto" by Finn Nichol, Limerick School of Art & Design
Still from "Pluto" by Finn Nichol, Limerick School of Art & Design

“The main challenge was to set up the screen, projector and speakers without spooking the horses; a mare and her foal and the bees,” said Aideen, “We also encountered some high winds, too, so my partner and my son had to help set up the screen in such a way that the whole thing wouldn't be taken away by a gust of wind up the mountain.”

“The students were ambitious and really did consider the context of the siting of their works in a field as well as the notion of presenting performances to camera, poetic tryptic moving image cacophonies, animation and experimental moving image processes and approaches, they also really considered how the sound of their work (or lack thereof) would interact with the landscape,” said Aideen, “What was especially moving was how the students reacted to the programme and live stream. They were very grateful, and I hope they make connections from it.”

 

The students from ECA who took part were:

  • Florentina Abendstein, Sculpture
  • Evie Edwards, Fine Art
  • Georgia Gardner, Intermedia
  • Zac Hughson, Sculpture
  • Gabriel Levine Brislin, Intermedia
  • Cáitríona & Eimear McClay, Sculpture
  • Cal McCormack, Sculpture
  • Claire McCracken, Intermedia
  • Maddy Scott-Berry, Intermedia
  • Katherine Stanley, Intermedia
  • Aisling Ward, Fine Art
  • Michelle Wolodarsky, Intermedia

View all of the artists involved >