“Irish Journeys: Holy Wells and Home Turf”
January 20 – March 24, 2019
Opening reception January 20 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and an artist talk at 2:00 p.m.
BRINGING IRELAND’S SPIRITUAL LANDSCAPE INTO FOCUS
Ireland has a popular reputation as a place where spirituality and mysticism are palpable. The Emerald Isle’s ethereal beauty, and the magic that it conjures, will be captured in an upcoming exhibition at Alfons Gallery.
“Irish Journeys: Holy Wells and Home Turf,” featuring photography by Patricia Delker, opens January 20 with a reception from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and an artist talk at 2:00 p.m.
Delker calls the exhibition her “personal, visual poem to my Ireland through photographs that document history, myth, memory, and deep belief.”
“Delker’s black-and-white photographs capture intangibles we can all relate to: memory, mystery, dreams, and inspiration,” said Valerie J. Christell, Alfons Gallery’s curator. “Her quiet images inspire viewers to take a moment to consider our connections to specific places and what we leave behind on our journey.”
Prominent among those places are Ireland’s holy wells, natural springs that are considered sacred sites. As such, many have become popular places of devotion and thoughtful memorials.
“Delker’s photographs chronicle moments she’s spent in the presence of these memorials, capturing images of personally-meaningful objects that others carefully placed at these sites,” Christell said. “Her landscape images also capture what she terms ‘magical gifts.’”
Sites of Worship for Millennia
“I find magic in Ireland,” Delker said in her artist statement. “My heart resides there. I have been searching out and photographing at sacred wells for over 12 years.”
The artist, who makes her home in Belleville, Wisconsin, has organized many photography-focused trips to Ireland, particularly the Aran Islands in the west. She notes that the spirituality associated with these sites predate the arrival of Christianity.
“The ancients, who saw the Earth as a feminine entity, believed the wells emanated from the Earth goddess,” Delker writes. “Depending on the nature of the well, they believed the water found there was capable of bestowing wisdom, creativity, health and answers to prayers.
“Today many wells have saints’ names and Christian rituals attached to them. The early Church could not stop people from visiting these pagan sacred places, so they were incorporated into the new religion.”
Delker said that these sites can range from a cascade covered by an elaborate structure to nothing more than an open patch of water. “Some are marked and frequently visited; others are remote and known mostly to locals. For me, they all speak of a human need for connection, both to each other and to that which is greater than ourselves.”
Delker said that in addition to Ireland’s saced sites, she also has photographed objects, places, and circumstances that “speak to my connections and resonate with my affections.” Delker writes that while these images are not necessarily traditional in representation, “combined as Home Turf, these images are offered as a visual poem, reflecting the subtle and magical gifts that Ireland offers those who are open to receiving them.”