The natural world is at the core of her practice and where Oonagh Corr finds the bulk of her materials which she transforms, creating installations and featuring woven vessels inspired by the structures she observes in nature. Her work explores themes of sustainability.
A childhood, living on the outskirts of Derry, spawned rich memories of clearing barbed wire fences into an adventure playground of fields, trees, streams and marauding cattle.
This is where the seeds of Corr’s practice were sown and also furthered by a degree and career in Landscape Architecture.
Corr accredits her MA research [which she undertook after raising her family] as having brought her closer to her objectives as an artist. Exploration of basketry as an artform and its role in connecting us to the natural world has led to the discovery of foraged materials, ivy, nettle, and bramble – her primary weaving material – which she transforms by removing its thorns and outer fibres, and applying basketry and other techniques. Botanical investigations of bramble [a plant crucial to biodiversity] using a digital microscope provide anatomical insight and inspiration for her work.
Her practice has recently assimilated mapping and the capturing of sounds of foraging sites which she embeds in her installations as in her recent Postgraduate Show at Leeds Arts University.
Seamus Heaney talks of his “lust for picking” in his evocative poem Blackberry Picking (Heaney, 1980b, p.15).
It is in spite of the ‘thuggish’ bramble’s poor reputation and tendency to be prickly and unpredictable, that it has become my choice of material for weaving.
My intention is to move the narrative of this ubiquitous plant away from the contemptuous. I hope to do this by demonstrating bramble’s potential not only as a delicate weaving material but also by celebrating its identity as a living thing and by honouring the myths and stories associated with it and other plants that illustrate the strong connections our communities traditionally had with them.
“We love what we know” (Macfarlane, 2017, p. 2).