Artist Duncan McKeller is no stranger to thought provoking works, having recently organised a kilometre-long line of people across the US/Mexico border and 500 people sending an SOS signal from the White Cliffs of Dover to mainland Europe.
His next large scale project takes place on Sunday 27th October, when he plans to raise awareness for the need of seamless interconnection of people, trade and cultures.
Explaining his upcoming project, Duncan explained: “I’m inviting people to gather outside the Church of Immaculate Conception at midday with a mirror. We'll then walk to a nearby field and form a giant circle across the border. Our mirrors will reflect the sun to create a circle of light in the face of Brexit chaos. A drone will be filming from above.
“The idea of creating Artworks with large groups of people and mirrors came from two independent projects being combined” explained Duncan.
“For many years I have made pieces involving the public. These Artworks I called Friend Machines and encouraged people to come together and participate as a group.
“I also have a long-standing interest in optics, the properties of mirrors reflecting sunlight especially. A mirror can reflect sunlight for over 50 miles. This fascinated me so I started to look into laying lines of mirrors in the landscape over great distances. I largely did this along Ley Lines in the Welsh border mountains, in Powys, Wales where I was born.
“Having previously created pieces involving the public, I found it a natural step to incorporate people holding the mirrors. Images of groups of people have an intrinsic power. I found when accompanied by bright bursts of light seeming to come from within they acquired a deeper meaning.
“For me, the light symbolised hope and hope within the human spirit. I then started to think about locations to make pieces which would resonate with this meaning. Border areas became my focus. I felt it possible to make pieces which had the potential to show the strength and interdependency of these communities.
“The U.S/Mexican border was very prominent in world affairs at the time so in collaboration with a group called Border Arts Corridor and another Artist called David Martin I created a piece called Ray of Hope. This large-scale Artwork involved a kilometre-long line of people across the U.S/Mexican border in Douglas Arizona/Agua Prieta Mexico. The participants mirrors caught the sun to create a 1000m line of glittering light dissecting the border wall.
“Parallels could be drawn with the Brexit situation developing in the U.K, which at the time was centred around immigration. I then planned a piece for March the 30th 2019 - the day after Brexit was due to take place.
“This involved over 500 people sending a symbolic SOS signal to mainland Europe from the White Cliffs on the English South coast. This piece was very successful and attracted international press attention. Since then, as attention has finally focused on the Irish border and the status quo here has been thrown into question. I thought it would be interesting to make a further piece in Killea to show the strength of community on the border and help raise awareness.
“Drone footage will be recorded along with photographers working on the ground. I hope also to invite participants to say a few words in some short interviews post event. The footage will be firstly displayed online before being exhibited in gallery spaces and submitted to film festivals.
Speaking about how Brexit will affect the art community, Duncan explained: “Brexit will affect the Arts and Artists in various ways and ways which we cannot yet anticipate. European funding and exchange/residency programmes will obviously be hit very hard. Study programmes as well. There are large amounts of U.K Artists working and living all over Europe and European Artists in the U.K who will also be put into difficulty. Exhibiting in Europe will become more difficult and the flow of creative ideas less fluid. Musicians on tour will be especially affected by travel and visa issues.”
Join Duncan in creating a huge circle of people with mirrors on the border in Killea on the 27th October. Click here for more info.