The Quartier Collective – The 5th of November
(please excuse my silence this past few weeks: Mid term with four vibrant kiddies just had to be prioritised and time seemed both endless and scarce).
We invited Marty Penner & Taryn Elledge-Penner of The Quartier Collective to stay at Killruddery as Residence-Artists for X3 months, they and their three children were a beautiful addition to the Estate. Prehaps you have enjoyed their weekly stories on our Instagram and Facebook, as they capture through their stunning photography and beautiful turn of phrase for Killruddery, today, as they see it. We said goodbye to them in October and as promised they sent for this Blog their lasting impressions. They have been such a rich addition to our Killruddery we cannot believe its only been three months.
I add just a few of their photos that have made a lasting impression on me and we look forward to their travels taking them back to us some day. In the meantime we wish them safe and fulfilling adventures and send a very special THANK YOU to Marty and Taryn who captured our world in picture and word with such generosity of spirit and such a keen sense of the beautiful.
The Quartier Collective – November leaving Killruddery
FAMILY BLOG POST
Three months have come and gone too quickly, and here’s what we left when we boarded our plane to Lisbon: a grand old house, a garden and a forest, a gathering place for community, a crew of early morning sea swimmers, our little commune family.
While there are many things we will miss, it’s the little community we made with the Brabazon’s and the other souls who live on the property that we will remember most fondly. Killruddery has been an important piece of the community in this corner of County Wicklow for centuries. And for these last three months it welcomed us in a way that we desperately needed.
When we arrived at Killruddery in July we quickly realized we had walked into a world that was very different from ours. For the last two + years our family has made travel our constant. We carry nearly everything we own with us in a few suitcases. We move between the homes of friends and places we rent on Airbnb. We cross borders regularly and pass through continents like the seasons. Our community is digitally connected but globally dispersed. We are always so far away from home that if we didn’t make our own little version of it we would be completely adrift. We circle the wagons around our kids, our creative work, our traditions. Saturday mornings are reggae and pancakes, no matter where we are in the world. We meet fascinating, curious people all the time, but then we say goodbye and it’s just the five of us again.
But here we were; a three month artist residency on a property centuries old, with a family who has been here more than 400 years. While staying put for three whole months was novel in itself, we found at Killruddery a sense of rootedness, of place, and a peacefulness that comes from resting within the long arc of history. Whether inherited or naturally selected, there is a Brabazon capacity for patience and an ability to remain unflustered that has been critical in helping the family maintain stewardship of Killruddery these long centuries, through war and the tides of politics, through tough times and more than one pandemic. Now back on the road, with the added challenge of travel during COVID, we are trying to channel some of that Lord Ardee zen, the ability to see the long arc, to let the waves crash on the beach knowing they will return to the sea.
And we are missing the people who have become like family. As Ireland closes its doors once more (and Portugal prepares to do the same) it’s those within our tiny bubble, our family, our community, that will carry us through. We are missing our Killruddery bubble right now, the doors that were always open, the yard that welcomed other families on Saturdays, the text messages saying “I fed your kids”, the shouts of the gang playing tag on the great lawn in the dark, the pre-dawn trips to swim in the sea, the walks up the Little Sugar Loaf and the long evenings by the fire, the smiles of these dear friends. These things have pressed so deeply into our hearts we know time, distance, the scrub of busy, none of this can wear them away . This is our community and our hearts know we will be back.
Thank you, Killruddery, Wicklow, Ireland.
The Quartier Collective – September in Killruddery.
It can be easy to forget that every day we wake up we are creating history. As children of the new world (Taryn and I grew up in Canada/US), we were rarely surrounded by reminders of the distant past. Our families’ histories were about leaving and arriving. Our heirlooms were stories and songs. But here in Ireland we feel physically placed in history, in land and object, in a grand old house and in the community that moves within it.
A couple of days before Dublin locked down (again) we took a quick trip to town to visit the Bog Men. These are Celtic mummies, human sacrifices preserved in bogs, unearthed and now lying in glass boxes in a dark gallery at the National Museum of Archaeology. We learned some fascinating and revolting facts; the kids were enthralled, then they asked if we could see something a little less creepy.
Back “home” at Killruddery we have been exploring. We had two very different tours, one from Barbara, a veteran guide here at the house, and the other from little Evelyn, the youngest of the Brabazon’s four children. Barbara’s may have been more historically accurate, but Evelyn had us in stitches. We also walked the property with Joseph Young, a visiting artist working in sound, watched the collaboration of a tweed-maker and a seamstress in a south wing bedroom and listened to the ethereal voices of a temporarily resident singing group working through new arrangements under the dome in the grand stairwell.
While our museum visit gave us a fascinating window through which to view the past, here at Killruddery we feel very much that history is happening now. This place is not past tense. It is alive. As you wander the grounds there are centuries of facts to absorb, dates and names from long ago. Then there are the trees, planted at the birth of each new family member, which grow still. And lastly there are the new voices which, as Lady Ardee says, bring new breath to the place. You may or may not see those new bodies during your visit to the gardens, the Grain Store or the Farm Shop, but you will feel the air moving because of them.
From the beginning of their chapter as stewards of Killruddery, Anthony and Fionnuala have looked for ways to bring that new breath; a silent film festival held in the old library, the artist residency program, a music festival. Killruddery has always been a beloved part of this local community, but in the last ten years it has opened and evolved more than during any period of its 400 year history.
The heart of a place is not the objects or structures, it’s the stories and the characters, the flesh and blood. It’s the family living in the home, the visitors who pass through and those who use it as inspiration to create something as immortal as a song. In a museum there’s a static nature to those stories. The Bog Men lived and died. But here there’s a sense that history is perennial, constantly renewed, and that we are part of it.
There is plenty of history to discover at Killruddery, but this is also where history is being made today. All of us who visit here are, in some way, contributing to a shared legacy. The structures may serve as pointers or reminders, but it’s the spirit within us that will be remembered 400 years from now.
Resident Singing Group; Anna Mieke Bishop, Zoe Basha, Branwen Kavanagh
Words by Marty Penner
Pictures by Taryn Elledge-Penner
24th September 2020
The Quartier Collective – August in Killruddery
Most mornings since quarantine Marty has woken before sunrise and driven the few kilometers from Killruddery down to the little Cove in Greystones where a gaggle of Irish folk huddle together waiting for the sun to rise. Sometimes it does, but more often it stays tucked in a bed of grey cloud. Sun or no, the group drops wool sweaters and towel-lined coats and filters into the sea, some in clusters and some alone. After the swim there’s a big pot of tea to share. They’ve been doing this each morning for the last five years.
We have been traveling full time as a family since mid-2018. And all over the world the most beautiful discoveries we’ve made have been these small pockets of community, gathered around a shared swim, a morning ritual, or a weekly gathering. We carry a piece of each of these with us, but we also have perennial envy for those who get to stay, who slowly build those traditions and connections that will feed them and inspire them for years, or for their whole lives if they choose.
When we visited Ireland last October we found a nest of charming families, unpretentious, funny and beautiful, revolving around an ancient and grand house called Killruddery (what a name!). When they invited us to return as artists in residence we jumped at the chance to spend more time here, to learn about Irish culture from the inside and to become part of this soulful community. And our favourite time of the week for doing just that is Saturday morning.
Since our arrival in July we’ve looked forward to this special day of the week, the Killruddery Farm Market day. We give the kids a bit of pocket money and they sprint off with their friends to buy doughnuts and yum-yums before they’re sold out. We won’t see them again till the doughnuts are long gone and their tummies start asking for more.
Killruddery on Saturdays is a swirl of sweet treats, fresh produce and hot coffee. Visitors move slowly, easing into chairs in the sunshine, pulling them back under the roofs when it starts to sprinkle, wandering between the cafe, the shop and the market stalls, coffee in hand. There’s a tidal rhythm. New produce in the shop, new vendors, flowers blooming this week that will be gone next week. But amongst all the motion there are some constants; like Francois, our neighbour here on the estate, with his straw hat, cup of coffee and his book, seated at a wooden table reading. And perched on his shoulder, Woody the rescued pigeon. Woody has been part of Francois’ family since he was a featherless chick. At this point he thinks he is human, or perhaps that we are all pigeons. In either case, Saturday seems to be his favourite day as well. He visits the children, lands on heads… He is a social creature, like us.
And we’re starting to recognize the faces, old folks and young, the families who are using this day to build their own community. We may be just passing through, here for a short time, but even after we’re gone Saturday mornings will draw us back to these memories and to the knowledge that, despite the wildness of the times, community is being built today, with laughter and love, and a lot of fresh doughnuts.
Marty Penner – 27th August 2020