Event Films

The films below were first shown as part of the second Tolka Nights event on Friday September 11th, 2015 in Tolka Valley Park (near Blanchardstown, Ireland). The films we shown upon a full-scale outdoor screen erected in Tolka Valley Park. 

A printed event programme was given out at the Friday event. For this, each artist wrote a short description of their work. These descriptions are duplicated here alongside each film.

All films were conceived and produced as part of the Tolka Nights project and are each a response to the distinct engagement with the river and its communities of each artist. 


Stuart Sloan: Troubled Waters

I traversed the Tolka’s meandering path many times during 2015, and my documentary attempts to describe both the river I witnessed and it’s history, although they can often be confused. The film combines my point of view with that of the numerous Tolka guides and experts I encountered on the way, along with archive footage of the river’s past. It is a stream-of-consciousness rumination on the Tolka, but also of any river within a modern city. In Troubled Waters encounters pollution, climate change and flooding, all whilst trying to discover how the river affects us in return.

With thanks to Brian Carruthers, Caroline O’Sullivan and RTÉ for use of their footage, and all the kind Tolka residents, users and protectors who helped us along the way, who are each credited here.

John D’Arcy: Tolka Chorus

The above film comprises the material projected at the time of a live choral performance led by John D’Arcy. The soundtrack to this film is a recording of the live performance.

Tolka Chorus invited residents of County Meath and County Dublin to participate in a series of choral workshops at the river Tolka. Led by John D’Arcy, the workshops explored a range of musical strategies for listening, composing, performing and improvising. During the workshops based at Mulhuddart Community Centre, participants used their voices to recreate the sounds of the river, its communities and its localities.

Participants were led through a collaborative process to curate local history and literature into lyrics for their own musical compositions. Together they developed their own methods of vocal improvisation and verbal notation to produce a group performance based on an imagined journey along the river Tolka.

The participants in the Tolka Chorus workshops were Adrian Kennedy, Áine Cody, Bronwyn Bolton-Warberg, Esther Gray and Una Lee.

Sharing their songbook with the public at Tolka Valley Park, Tolka Chorus invite all curious listeners to add their voices to these songs of the river.


Conan McIvor: Lady of the Tolka

Created in the “trance film” tradition of Maya Deren, Our Lady of the Tolka attempts to chart a timeline of the river running through the ages; a journey through the mythical, spiritual and historical stories associated with the river Tolka. The otherworldly protagonist appears as a guardian of the river that witnesses great violence and bloodshed, then through a ritualistic act calls on flooding to restore balance and order to the river.

The work follows extensive engagement with various heritage groups, historical resources and local historians with a particular focus on the lives and environments of where the river Tolka intersects. Inspired by a poem of the same name (M.R., 1895), the narrative of film makes symbolic reference to historical events such as the Battle of Clontarf, the monastery of St Mobhí and the great floods of 1954. In addition, it acknowledges the significant presence of the Blessed Virgin as adorned in many wells, shrines and statues along the river’s path.

The work was filmed on location at various sites along the river Tolka, featuring actress Susan Davey and a soundtrack composed in collaboration with John D’Arcy using recordings made with Tolka Chorus.

Sven Anderson and Jennie Guy: Before the Flood

Before the Flood explores a tangled solution to an (im)possible ecological event via a spiralling text adapted from writings by (or about) architects, planners and critics including Jane Jacobs, Rem Koolhaas, Mike Davis, Arata Isozaki, Victor Gruen, Santiago Calatrava, and Robert Moses. This contradictory narrative collapses a multiplicitous universal river upon the river Tolka (which passes through Dublin, Fingal, and Meath counties in Ireland), questioning the sanctity of place-bound narratives and the specificity of local landscapes. The film is narrated by the Irish architect and environmentalist Duncan Stewart.

The above video is a trailer for the full film. If you would like to view the full film, please contact the artists.

Matt Green: Four Expeditions

Kingfisher Spotting with Brian Carruthers 

Trout Fishing with Des and Christy 

Otter Surveying with Barbara Freitag 

Bat Hunting with Sean Meehan 

Over the summer of 2015, as part of a wider exercise of documenting the river, Matt Green and colleague Stuart Sloan undertook a series of expeditions along the Tolka in search of the river’s rarer and more elusive wildlife. A local river enthusiast knowledgeable of the animal being sought guided each expedition. Four of these excursions are recounted in four audiovisual compositions. These works include recordings of the conversations had as the river and its parklands were explored, and focused recording of the sights and sounds both encountered in these journeys and evoked by them.

Each of the four compositions seeks to impart the experience of the expedition it recounts: Each piece is invested with a sense of travel and of time spent in close connection with the river and river environment. The splendour and serenity of each setting is also evident. So to is the warmth and humour of each guide and his or her enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the animal in question, and for and of the Tolka, the home of this animal.

Throughout each expedition, each guide annotated the river environment with anecdote, personal feeling and description. On the whole, this description referred to the features in the environment favored by the animal in question or suggestive of its presence, which each guide was greatly skilled in spotting.

As a result of the expeditions, of time spent with each guide, scenarios once unnoticed and unappreciated, such as the lone branch stretching out across the river, are now more apparent, sought out even, and excite. For these scenarios now suggest the possibility of an encounter with a lesser-spotted, much revered animal: Upon the branch might sit a kingfisher and below which might be a brown trout seeking solace from the sun.

The four works are intended as invitations to explore the Tolka for oneself and present a little of the insight of each guide as a means of heightening these experiences, bringing the walker closer to the environment.

Matt Green is a sound artist. He is an advocate of the everyday soundscape with the belief that it can be as rich as any music and as awe-inspiring as any landscape. The four compositions uphold Matt’s belief: Rather uncommonly, the image and soundtrack are balanced, they collaborate, and there is no musical score, in its place are the bold upfront sounds of the river environment.

Bat Hunting features Sean Meehan, a professional ecologist and member of the Irish Wildife Trust, Dublin Branch.

Kingfisher Spotting features Brian Carruthers, an avid birder and Tolka advocate who maintains the facebook page Tolka River Valley Park. The film also features kingfisher calls used with the kind permission of the recordist David Jablonski.

Trout Fishing features Des Chew of Inland Fisheries Ireland and Christy Emmet of Tolka Trout Anglers Club.

Otter surveying features Barbara Freitag of the Irish Wildlife Trust, Dublin Branch and photographer John Fox of Birdwatch Ireland, Tolka Branch.