Trip to The Lab with 5th Class

We had fascinating chats led by Visual Thinking Strategies tour led by myself and the group had so much to say. It is incredibly evident that Educate Together is a Green School – their knowledge of Climate Change and migration is profound.

Anna o Herlihy’s 5th Class went to see Anita Groener’s The Past is a Foreign Country with me.

The Past is a Foreign Country

Anita Groener

May 24 – July 27 2019

The Past is a Foreign Country asks what is it to be human today? Through orchestrating immersive site-specific installations, film, and drawings, Anita Groener explores the tissue of trauma and loss rooted in this question, experimenting with both figurative and abstract geography. The deliberately modest means of the work speak to the fragility of life and society that refugee crises expose. Her art asks questions about the ethics of witnessing and aesthetic response.

The title of the exhibition The Past Is A Foreign Country and of the largest installation in this show draws on L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go Between, which speaks of the loss of innocence of a young boy. Hartley’s novel expresses how we cannot remember the past or find the correct language to describe it. It is the account of a specific experience of trauma and loss and the failure of words to capture it in memory. Groener’s exhibition begins where Hartley ends…” **

“One of the most shocking sights of recent years, a time when shocking sights seem to pile on, was tens of thousands of migrants crossing Europe on foot in the summer and fall of 2015.  Men, women, and children with no other recourse, most fleeing the war in Syria, left their homes behind…The spectacle stunned the world, not only for what it said of the sheer desperation of the migrants, but for the way it brought us up short, face to face with the limitations of the present.  For the images and scenes we saw on our screens not only set off alarms for the world around us gone terribly wrong, but also woke deeply slumbering memories of other times and other masses of people moving through a landscape…echoing back through all of history…” ***

”For an indigenous population of a country, the notion of home, will always be bound up with a sense of the past and a shared history and culture, often to the exclusion of outsiders. Home is deeply connected to ideas of history.” ** The artist reminds us that the history of placelessness is everybody’s history, examining archetypal and psychological resonances and tracing urgent connections between the experience of people uprooted from their homes and communities, and her own life and family.

This exhibition received an Arts Council Touring and Dissemination Award, initiated by Limerick City Gallery of Art in 2018. It toured to The Dock, Carrick-on- Shannon earlier this year. After The LAB Gallery in Dublin The Past Is A Foreign Country will travel to Uilinn, West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen in October 2019.


Kokedama – Moss Balls

After many conversations and online research and a very resourceful trip to Plant Life on Cork Street.

I gathered the following items to create the Kokedama

Fern – Indoor, Fern – Outdoor, Moss from various locations, twine, Earth/Clay, spritzer with water and scissors.

Moss from Churchtown and Rathfarnam
Finished Kokodema

Detail of Fern


1. What you’ll need

You’ll need a suitable plant, florists’ wire, string, secateurs and wire cutters,  a piece of hessian and some sheet moss, plus a mister for misting the plant and moss at the end.

2. Form a root ball and wrap it up

Remove the plant from its pot, water it so it’s moist, and then mould the compost surrounding the roots into a ball. Wrap the root ball in a little bit of hessian, securing it with string or a piece of florists wire. The hessian will keep the compost in place.

3. Use string and wire for hanging

Using string and florists’ wire, make a loop from which you can hang the kokedama. Tie the string to two pieces of wire and attach them to the hessian on both sides.

4. Roll out your moss

“I think it’s best to use sheet moss, which you can get from most florists. It’s moss that’s more knitted together, so bits aren’t going to drop off. You can use sphagnum moss but you have to bind that in,” Dunster advises.

Note : Do not take from the Forrest as it is now endangered and important for the Forrest – instead of using Round up just use it from your pavement / backgarden.

Sheet moss is harvested from woodland areas in the countryside and comes in big pieces. Roll the moss out with a rolling pin before wrapping it around the hessian, trying to keep it intact so the moss remains in one piece.

5. Secure it with florists’ wire

Once you’ve secured the moss around the root ball with florists’ wire, trim the overlapping excess with sharp scissors.

You can then put it on a table in a saucer, or fashion it so that it’s suspended with some bits of wire or string.

6. Don’t overdo the watering

“You only need to mist the kokedama every now and again. If it starts to dry out, sit the whole thing in a bucket of water overnight. They’re not difficult to look after. You just have to keep an eye on them,” says Dunster.

Depending on the plants you use, some kokedama can be taken outside during the warmer months to create a display. But at this time of year they come into their own indoors.

Looking for Lichens

13th May 2019

Lichens are a complex life form that have an interdependent partnership with fungus and algea. Lichens do not have any roots, stems or leaves. They usually create disc-shaped structures and often have a grey or pale white appearance.

Mosses and lichens are unique. Their air pollutant fighting capability can be used worldwide. This is important because, on a larger scale, long term results of air pollution will affect the planet’s ability to sustain life. Fresh air, pure water and unpolluted earth are the basic needs for humanity to continue to exist. Hence all living creatures have the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and nations have a responsibility to keep the quality of air in a good state.

A group of children accompanied Teacher Anne Bradley and myself, in search of lichens and mosses close to the school. The plan is to research how the growth of lichens and mosses close to the school are actually sensors and indicators of our air quality.

Lichens on trees near Rathfarnam Educate Together.
Observing the local Tree close to School with very healthy Lichens
Crustose Lichen

A Mossy Knoll


The Moss Method by Pattiann Rogers

Most lie low, flourishing with damp,
harvesting sunlight, no commotion, moss
mouse-silent, even through wind and hail,
stoic through motors roaring fumes,
through fat-clawed bears grubbing.

They can soothe the knife-edges of stones
with frothy leaf by leaf of gray-green life,
and burned-ground mosses cover destruction,
charred stumps, trees felled and blackened.
Cosmopolitan mosses likewise salve
sidewalk cracks, crumbling walls.

They root in thin alpine air, on sedentary
sand dunes, cling to cliff seeps beneath
spilling springs. For rest, they make mats
on streamside banks, for pleasure produce silky
tufts, wavy brooms of themselves in woodlands
for beauty, red roof moss for whim, elf
cap, hair cap, sphagnum for nurturing.

No fossil record of note, no bone
history, so lenient they possess only
those memories remembered.

I believe they could comfort the world
with their ministries. That is my hope,
even though this world be a jagged rock,
even though this rock be an icy berg of blue
or a mirage of summer misunderstood
(moss balm for misunderstanding),
even though this world be blind and awry
and adrift, scattering souls like spores
through the deep of a starlit sea.