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THE LUMPER PROJECT

Technical details

ORIGINAL TITLE:

THE LUMPER PROJECT

REGISTRATION NUMBER:

S0004-i/S0004-iv

ARTIST:

LETITIA HILL

DATE CREATED:

2019-2020

OBJECT TYPE:

See below

MEDIA:

Mixed media installation including Jesmonite, Steel and magnets.

DIMENSIONS:

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

Installation

Wall Sculpture

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

CREDITS:

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

COPYRIGHT:

©LETITIA HILL, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Lumper Project is a memorial to the victims of the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845. It considers the harvest ritual migrating through time, staying relevant regardless of loss of community, place and the catastrophic crop failure. An immersive installation encompassing multiple sculptures which one is kinetic, swaying like wheat or corn in a field and immersive. Representing one of the basic concepts of ritual theory. Which affects change in people’s perception and interpretations through kinaesthesia. This project investigates the impact of potatoes as a vital commodity, staple food and energy source for humanity, questioning why famine still is present on earth today.

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'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

The history of the Great Famine of 1845 through the lens of ritual theory with a specific interest in the failure of the potato (Lumper) crops is what informs The Lumper Project. Having a personal family connection with Ireland and the famine stimulated further investigation surrounding the failure of the harvest ritual during the famine and its broader implications. A plethora of academic research, Irish folklore and mythology led to a deeper understanding of the complexity of ritual and its relationship with migration through time and place.

 

It seems so apparent the need for ritual in one’s life as it is the binder that identifies tribes, enfolds community and creates a sense of belonging as they seem synonymous within each other. Where there are humans, there is ritual and to complicate this precept, ritual as well is found in nature and space. Ritual is tangible to the senses transmitted through metadata in the ether, subtleties of a breath or spirit of the soul. Still not fully understood or defined and highly contentious in academic circles. Nevertheless, it has been duplicated and adapted as a plutocratic strategy of misappropriation to coheres, congeal, control, misguide and abuse the masses. (Beauvoir, 2011; Butler, 1990; Isherwood, 2013)

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In a world of political instability and the hubris of climate change denial, it is the fertile landscape to sow seeds of corruption, exploitation and injustice through the use of ritual. Civilization, for centuries, is methodically disbanded from within its cultural identity. Decades of war, contemporary ideology and philosophical dogma have cleansed our palate of our indigenous roots, intuitive nature to create and express. Perhaps we can give these learned men the benefit of the doubt as an oversite. However, the universal consciousness is fully aware we, as a species, have fallen out of ceremony by the traditional sense. (Blackie, 2019; Stephenson, 2015)

This disguise and dismissal of ritual obstruct our visceral understanding of such universal paradigms as unity, continuity, connectivity, reverence and awe. Furthermore, it subjugates the gender binary to a cycle of restrictions with no archetypes of reflective deviation. Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces does not apply anymore because there are trillions of us, saturating the ethereal highway with souls seeking a voice, more importantly, a way to be heard. Perhaps it is the narcist in us, or perhaps we are seeking a new way of hearing. Perhaps, it has just been too long of not having a language to articulate the collective grief and suffering. Is that the language of art? 

In a climate of “posts”, it is an opportunity to re-envision (fictioning) the modus operandi to encompass collaboration as its model where ownership and value are synonymously creating empathy, opposed to the current competitive environment where there are winners and losers creating discontent. As the network society brings isolated peoples to communities and like-minded communities closer, creating hybrid cultures, the marginalize (majority) has an opportunity to share their narratives, creating personal archetypes and mythologies. More so than ambiguity the goal as an artist is to find connections, tells stories and create empathy. (Burrows, 2019; Castells, 2015)

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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 1, 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, day; 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.