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The Lumper Project is a conversation with my Irish ancestors and a memorial to the Great Irish Potato Famine victims of 1845. It is about absence, void, and profound loss as it considers the impact of migration and the generational displacement of communities, focusing on cultural rituals surrounding the loss of cultivation (the potato crop in Ireland 1843-1845) and the annual harvest. In particular, I drew inspiration from the Irish folklore of hare's corner (putting out the hare), a ritual still prominent in Ireland celebrating the annual harvest. The year in Ireland: Irish calendar customs. (Danaher, 1994).

The Lumper was a potato species representing over 75% of the potato crop failure during the Great Irish Potato Famine. Annals of the Famine in Ireland (Nicholson, 2017). It was considered extinct until a farmer, Michael McKillop, who runs Glens of Antrim Potatoes, came across the Lumper at a potato fair in County Down. In 2007, Michael launched a heritage development program that invested over five years in reintroducing this famous potato for commercial cultivation in Ireland. Ironically, he could not introduce it back into the Republic of Ireland as a cultivator due to EU restrictions. However, in 2019, during my Master's degree in Ireland, I was able to reintroduce the Lumper into County Clare through a school programme and subsequently now cultivate the Lumper in County Galway at the Connemara Creative Arts Centre in Cill Chiaráin, continuing the legacy of honouring my ancestors and millions of other immigrants that left the Irish shores in the over 175 years ago.

The Lumper Project is an installation encompassing multiple sculptures. One is kinetic, swaying like wheat or corn in a field, representing one of the basic concepts of ritual theory, which affects change in people’s perceptions and interpretations through kinaesthesia. Rituals: perspective and dimensions. (Bell, 1997) A theory of play and fantasy. (Bateson, 1972). Beginnings in ritual studies. (Grimes, 1995). Walking through the sculptural installation, your movement interacts with the ceramic potato perched on top of delicate metal shafts, inducing a kinetic reaction of the potatoes swaying. The large wall sculpture is a delicate balance of the fragility of the ceramic potatoes and the symmetrical rigidity, culminating in the absence of symmetry, a void. 

'The Lumper Project is a great living memorial

to the voiceless victims and the exodus of exiles

during The Hunger Years.

Your installation is a bonding of the

Global Irish Famine Family around Ireland,

its Islands, and the world,

it is an educational and enlightenment project

for those who hunger to know more and

to seek the truth.'

Betty Blanch, CCIFV, 2021


A Frame Laid Bare: a review of Letitia Hill's "The Lumper Project"

by: Francine Marguis

There is something to be said through naked mediums. The unaltered neutrality of leaving an artwork bare and uncovered. The two sculptural works of interdisciplinary artist Letitia Hill are an excellent example of utilizing "neutrality" as a mode of engagement.


The Lumper Project IV, showcases white cast ceramic potatoes which are cross-sectioned from their furthest points and mounted flush against the white gallery wall. These divided segments are perfectly spaced from one another and assembled horizontally in 12 equidistant rows from floor to ceiling. The only break in the meticulously structured display is a circular absence where the ceramic potatoes are vacant exposing bare wall. This frame draws the eye in and heightens the calculated symmetry found within the rest of the installation.

As the viewer, I am not sure whether I enjoy or dislike this chosen absence. I find myself drawn to it but also displaced by it-left to assume its purpose. So much apparent attention is given to form and order, leaving me to question what role emptiness plays in framing the viewer's perception. Whether or not I am captivated or left directionless, the coherency is there and I was directed with the same level of intent seen in her work.


Along side the wall installation we find The Lumper Project I, a series of five separate sculptures, alined in a row, each hosting nine white ceramic potatoes, this time in full form, individually mounted onto the top of steel rods welded at its base to a steel-plated stand. Three meters tall, the tactility and almost whimsical form of the potatoes plays on the stark contrast of the rigidity and cold nature of their steel supports. Their simplicity brings the two collections together with both formal qualities and the choice of materials.


When an artist chooses to utilize the natural qualities of their material, be it wood, stone, clay, canvas or paper, it creates a moment frozen in time. It is a state of metamorphosis, which allows the viewer to see beyond material and object straight into the realm of intent. There is no happenstance, it is a clear and deliberate attempt to push one's perception of what is familiar into what is actually being addressed/represented. Letitia Hill has entered into that space, giving precedence to concept and intent. We no longer see a single potato, but a mass collection, uniform, speaking through their ghostly absence.


Technical details










See below


Mixed media installation including Jesmonite, Steel and magnets.


The Lumper Project I

Kinetic Sculpture
137.16cm height x 274.32cm width x 274.32cm length (54" height x 108" width, x 108" length)

The Lumper Project IV


Wall Sculpture

3M height x 5M height (118" height x 184" width)


Host: Áine Connell

Music: Rosie Brownhill

Blacksmith: Tom Reardon

Special Thanks to

The Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims (CCIFV)

Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Ltd



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