In summer 2017 The MERL is hosting two artist residencies as part of our Wellcome Trust funded project Nutrition, Health and Rural England.

Artists Christine Mackey and Deirdre O’Mahony will explore health, food and farming in creative, open and exciting ways. Christine and Deirdre will draw on The MERL’s artworks, artefacts and archives to inspire and support their work to explore the overarching theme of ‘Livestock’.

‘We are delighted to be welcoming Deirdre and Christine to take up these artist residencies and look forward to experiencing new insights and interpretation of the Museum’s collections through their work. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, this is a great opportunity to explore the potential of the MERL to inspire creativity that will engage audiences in new and exciting ways.’

Kate Arnold-Forster, Director of the MERL


Christine’s research-based practice attempts a radical re-notion on the idea of the garden as a living herbarium that relates current investigations of the historical, political and biodynamical ecologies of plant life through the subject of the seed.
Christine’s residency at The MERL will use our extensive resources relating to poultry and their geo-biological transformations, including both historical and contemporary contexts from farmers to scientists to breeders. Her work will review historical habitat structures, providing inspiration for a new sculptural work that has a dual-purpose both as an art installation and as an actual functioning hen house.

Visit Christine’s website to find out more, and follow her on Twitter.


Deirdre is based in the west of Ireland, and her practice-based research focuses on the relationship between politics, ecology and activism within the rural public sphere.

She has worked extensively in public and private spaces, including museums and galleries, and communicates her work through installation, film, painting and writing. She has received numerous awards and international fellowships.

Deirdre’s residency at The MERL will reflect upon forgotten moments of innovation and creativity, when farmers adapted to changing economic and climatic conditions. She will engage with scientists, local farmers and museum archives to test and propose the idea of carbon-neutral beef. The museum collection will be trawled for objects and references to Sainfoin use, and visits made to the University research centres and farms in the area.

Visit Deirdre’s website to find out more, and follow her on Twitter.