Miriam McConnon: Lost Lace

Wednesday 19 October – Sunday 6 November 2022
Miriam McConnon: Lost Lace, detail, charcoal & conté on paper, 32 x 45cm | Miriam McConnon: Lost Lace | Wednesday 19 October – Sunday 6 November 2022 | Olivier Cornet Gallery

Miriam McConnon’s exhibition coincides with the artist’s public installation Lost Lace at Dublin’s Iveagh gardens from 15 October to 23 October 2022. McConnon documented her preliminary ideas for the outdoor installation in a series of large drawings in charcoal, colouring pencil and pastel. The drawings give a rare glimpse into the artist’s practice and thought process leading up to the finished installation.

The project Lost Lace is a collaborative project between the visual artist Miriam McConnon and the poet Jessica Traynor with the engaged participation of the families who have lost loved ones to covid 19 in Ireland.

Miriam McConnon’s outdoor installation ‘Lost Lace’ is made up of approximately ten thousand white roses made by the artist from individual white handkerchiefs. The artist will place the roses around one of the fountains at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens. The handkerchief roses will form a delicate pattern of traditional Irish Lace. Each handkerchief rose symbolizes a life lost in Ireland and Northern Ireland due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Each single handkerchief rose in this installation references the small cloths or ‘clooties’ that were hung traditionally on trees near the site of holy wells in Pagan Ireland. The handkerchief was believed to drive illness away by absorbing it. The artist has chosen to place them in a floral lace pattern hinting at the concept of the man-made object imitating nature in an attempt to find resolve.

The single rose is a symbol of devotion. Here this devotion becomes collective, signifying the national and personal loss. This installation urges the public to not lose sight of the individual life, the single rose. In this installation McConnon emphasises the solitary path of individual grief in unison with the national and collective loss, urging the people of Ireland to unite in grief and in the commemoration of the lives lost to Covid 19.

Miriam McConnon‘s outdoor installation Lost Lace is consistent with her other artwork in its use of the personal narrative to communicate social issues to a wider public audience. In this case an individual life lost to covid is represented as a single white handkerchief rose. It is presented along with over 10,000 other roses in a lace pattern in Dublin’s Iveagh gardens.

As she often does, she calls on the personal narrative behind domestic objects to mark events of change in history. In this case, through the objects of the handkerchief and lace, she relates the objects to the ancient Irish tradition of hanging clooties (handkerchiefs) at the sacred sites of wells in pagan Ireland in the hope of curing an illness.

The use of bedding material to make the roses references the sensitive and intimate narrative of a person’s last days in bed due to the onset of Covid 19. This installation Lost lace is a homage to the human story behind each of these ten thousand roses and urges the public not to lose sight of the individual life amidst the collective and national grief.

Miriam McConnon is represented by the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Ireland.

The poet Jessica Traynor has been commissioned to write a series of four poems, taking as a guiding principle the ambition to honour those things we have lost in the past two years – people, skills, art, connection. She has explored and responded to themes such as the lost art of Irish lacemaking, the ancient practice of tying ‘clooties’ at holy wells, and the words and messages submitted on the project’s website by those who have lost friends and relatives to covid 19 in Ireland. She will weave these themes together through poetry that will also be accessible to the public through the use of QR codes allowing visitors to the Iveagh Gardens access to a transcript of the poems, and a recording of the poet reading them.

You can follow this collaborative project on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Jessica Traynor is a poet, essayist and librettist. Her debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award and in 2016 was named one of the best poetry debuts of the past five years on Bustle.com. The Quick was a 2019 Irish Times poetry choice. Awards include the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary and Hennessy New Writer of the Year. Paper Boat, a new opera commission from Irish National Opera, will premiere in 2022. Essays and articles have recently appeared in Winter Papers, The Dublin Review, Banshee, Tolka and We Are Dublin. Slapped Actor, a book of essays, has been listed for the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize and the Deborah Rogers Foundation Award in 2021. Residencies in 2021-22 include the Yeats Society Sligo, The Seamus Heaney Home Place and the DLR LexIcon. She is a Creative Fellow of UCD. Her third collection, Pit Lullabies, was published by Bloodaxe Books in March 2022, and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

It’s been a rare privilege to engage with the messages left for loved ones on the Lost Lace website. Wading through all this grief was deeply affecting, but the common strand I found was love, the love that outlasts life. The experiences common to many – the inability to hold a loved one’s hand at the end, the inability to bury them in a suit or outfit chosen for the occasion – struck me deeply, and I tried to reflect these experiences in my poems. I hope these poems and the Lost Lace installation will give grieving people another focal point and a chance to connect with the communities who share their loss.” Jessica Traynor, September 2022

a knot for the hay and the harvest

            a knot for your husbands and wives

a knot for your sons and daughters

            a knot for their flickering lives.

 – from ‘Knotwork’ (one of the four commissioned poems)

The launch of the project at Iveagh Gardens took place on 15 October 2022. The installation remained in place until 23 October 2022. At the launch of the project, the Families of the victims of Covid 19 were invited to gather together to hear the recital of the four poems by Jessica Traynor and to see the outdoor installation Lost Lace by Miriam McConnon. The location of the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin provides a perfect enclosed and private setting for the people of Ireland, alongside the families of those who have died from Covid 19, to come together and support each other and mourn the individual and the collective loss.


Artistic License: Miriam McConnon‘, Penny McCormick, The Gloss, 23 June 2021

Lost Lace Art Project, Poetry Ireland, 27 May 2022

Families of those lost to Covid invited to share stories, Sinéad Crowley, RTE.ie, News, 8 June 2022

Interview with Connemara Community Radio station, arts presenter Marian Herriott, The Monday Morning Show, Connemara Community Radio, 20 June 2022 (starts at 07m;27s)

Irish families encouraged to share memories of loved ones lost to Covid-19 for Iveagh Gardens installation, Róisín Butler, Dublin Live, 13 July 2022

Aftering – Lost Lace, 103.2 Dublin City FM Valerie Vetter interviews Miriam McConnon and Jessica Traynor, August 2022

Lost Lace was mentioned by Art Fund Curatorial Trainee Emma Meehan (from The National Gallery, London) in her presentation “How can lessons from the pandemic contribute to sensory equity in Dublin’s cultural spaces?” delivered at TU/IHA’s “Streets Ahead: Post Pandemic Civic Spaces” on 9/10 September 2022. The partner institution in Emma Meehan’s traineeship is Bristol Museums & Art Gallery.

Watch a short video of the artist announcing the project filmed in September 2022 in the Iveagh Gardens Dublin:

Una balangerese a Dublino, La giovane Lisa Brero all’Olivier Cornet Gallery in Irlanda per un tirocinio, Il Risveglio, 6 October 2022 (in Italian)

5 unmissable events happening this October, GCN Magazine, 7 October 2022

Iveagh Gardens to host art installation in memory of those lost to Covid Lost Lace, Philip Carton, Fine Arts, The Business Post, 8 October 2022

The Lost Lace project – artists commemorate lives lost to Covid, Visual Arts, Culture, RTE.ie, 14 October 2022

Artistic License: Miriam McConnon, Penny McCormick, The Gloss, 14 October 2022

RTÉ News: Six One, Dimitri O’Donnell, 15 October 2022

Art project commemorates lives lost from Covid-19, Dimitri O’Donnell, RTE.ie

Dublin art installation commemorates lives lost to Covid-19, Dominique Farrell, Social Affairs, The Irish Times, 16 October 2022 (published on page 2 of the Irish Times on October 17 with Alan Betson’s great photo of Miriam McConnon and Jessica Traynor)

Installation of Miriam McConnon’s Lost Lace at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens, Friday 14 October 2022, a film commissioned by the artist, coordinated by Olivier Cornet as PR Officer on Lost Lace, filmed and edited by Aoife Gillies, 17 October 2022

Covid, a healing response, Eoin Mac Lochlainn in this Irish Art Blog Scéalta Ealaíne, 20 October 2022.

Interview with Mary Oyediran, Nordside Today, NearFM 90.3, 21 October 2022 (link to podcast to be provided soon).

Image: Miriam McConnon: Lost Lace, detail, charcoal & conté on paper, 32 x 45cm
Wednesday 19 October – Sunday 6 November 2022
Olivier Cornet Gallery
3 Great Denmark Street
(beside Belvedere College)
Dublin 1
Telephone: +353 87 2887261
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