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Posts from the ‘studios’ Category

The power of blogs

We never expected off-grid blogging to be easy, but it turned out to be the single most challenging aspect of our trip.

Little lakes inside our tents, patchy mobile connection, no running water, no loo, rampant jet lag, hip injury, but electric plugs – oh please….

Our hungry laptops had us struggling to provide. Without power we feared they would become weak and easily die.

We had pondered the off-grid dilemma long and hard. Claire lives off-grid year round at her home in New Mexico; so surely it isn’t such a big deal. She and Chris collect energy from the sun and store it in underfloor batteries for use as electricity around the home.  Wi-fi  and the sun allow Claire and I to work together, despite her off-grid-ness  and our many degrees of separation. These technological advances help us keep our collaboration alive.

Soft folding dashboard solar panels might keep our laptops charged, but would they work in such a resolutely unsunny climate ? And what of bike power…. it works for making smoothies and projections so might pedal power keep our cameras, laptops and blogging practice alive?

In the end we opted to plug-in at Marble Arch Caves Geopark HQ, council offices, campsites and country hotels and used a wee dashboard plug (little inverter in the cigarette lighter) for on-the-go top-ups between charging locations.

Blogs are an ideal way to record, share and reflect on project adventures. And we shared DREAMING PLACE with family, friends and a world wide audience….. veraciously!

Keeping the hardware topped up became a matter of supreme importance. Should we make supper, sleep, experiment, search for a plug-in or make connections?

We are the first to admit that blogging got a bit out of hand… this time… and we did it in the face of significant adversity – Our dongle rarely worked, so that was a waste of money, we were operating in mobile-coverage shadowlands in the X – border zone, hoteliers were mean to us, the Geopark HQ were kind but couldn’t share their internet and we were miles from the nearest cyber cafe…  yet we blogged and blogged and blogged.

Is pigeon post a viable alternative?

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Dreamers toolkit

Our  evolving Dreaming Place Toolkit – a list in images….
night and day/ collaboration

potions
wild strawberries

dreaming into place

ask for water
inhabit the view
collaborative drawing

cooking
documentation



DREAMING PLACE Mobile Library

A BIG  THANK YOU to all the contributors to our mobile library!

Welcome to the DREAMING PLACE mobile library. It traveled with us throughout our “traveling residency” at the MAC Geopark snuggled up against the wall of the van and up against our bedrolls at night as we dreamed. If we had continued our fieldwork beyond 40 days and 40 nights, our library would have continued to grow, ever expanding with gifted books, borrowed books, bought books and acquired pamphlets, papers etc. We used our library as a traditional reference source to look up an unknown plant, bird or flower or to explore the source of local place names or meanings of Irish Gallic words. Sometimes we selected books to read from at night or in our camp on sunny days. And who knows, perhaps some of the library books’ contents crept off the pages and into our dreams as we slept next to them in the van…..

Our mobile library really shone when we needed inspiration for our collaborative drawing and it was pouring rain outside – too wet to go to the source out of doors. In these moments we reached for a book and allowed information to filter into us and out through our drawing pens.

***Wondering about the stuffed animal husky? That’s our Dreaming Place mascot, brought from home by Anna to assist her Ice-Age Dreaming.

Find out more about Anna’s Ice Age Dreaming here .

People, places, things: expanding the world of knowledge in an ethical way (+ audio)


A novel technique for “fast dreaming into place” is to interview people, places and things.


We record these exchanges with hand-held digital audio recorders; we edit the interviews on our trusty Macs and curated outcomes meet audiences in a number of ways: via audio blog, exhibition or radio broadcast.

ethical interview
Dreaming Place Interviews are a way of gathering valuable “data”. How we treat this data is very important to us. An interview is both a resource and a powerful tool that demands rigorousness and respect. Outcomes both directly influence the progression of individual projects and the general direction of our collaborative practice.


Over the winter months we will make careful transcriptions of our Dreaming Place interviews. We archive the recordings to keep them safe and warm inside our hard drives. The data we have gathered at Marble Arch Caves Geopark is gold dust to us and and choc full of potential.

interview with an expert
However editing is a risky business and dangers lurk in every corner. When using our data we must make careful choices, so that we can expand the world of knowledge and perception in an ethical way.

Listen in to our a clip on “Crossing Borders” (Barb and Len are from Canada and were fellow campers at Rushin House Caravan and Camping Park, Belcoo, N.I., MAC Geopark).

interview for blog

Becoming a Human Talisman

claire as talisman

Talismans are an important  part of our DREAMING PLACE  toolkit. Talismans are objects of power with the capacity to change our perspectives. So we like to give talismans of found or modified natural materials to our participants to act as guides. The talismans act to influence or transform their experience. With a pony hair bracelet or a piece of string fashioned out of soft rushes as guide to an experience, the world becomes new.

Something curious happened to us at Crom Estate. Cradled in the mossy lap of an ancient oak tree close to the Crom Estate church we literally became “human talismans”. A happy shift in scale and perspective….

Inhabiting others’ dreams + 2 more Alans

Have you ever found yourself inhabiting another person’s dream?

Well that’s exactly what happened to us one rare bright and sunny morning, when through a series of surreal events, we found ourselves dreaming in the posh front seats of John McAllen’s dream cars – a classic red Jaguar and a jet black Porche with cream leather seats.

Inhabing Others Dream, Jaguar

These DREAM cars were brought to us at Knockninny jetty as we cooked our porridge. Part of John McAllens’ love affair with danger and risk-taking they are two of just nine fast cars that he owns. Though they are good looking vehicles their allure for him is less about beauty and more about the “danger flavours” he craves.

“There is no such thing as courage,” he says, “There is either fight or flight and I always choose fight.”

For him experiencing the exhilarating edge of danger is a kind of dreaming. Along with his single engine airplane and other fast cars these two cars are just some of his “danger dreaming props”.

On this same sunny morning we were able to update our “Alan Count“,  having met 1-John McAllen. (John is a descendant of the Allendes via a shipwrecked sailor of the Spanish Armada . The original Allendes changed the name to McAllen to blend in with their new country of Eire) And 2-Alan of the lovely cottage and canoe, who has already been referenced on this blog. So that take us up to five  Allens so far….. and how many Macs?

A “Lazy” off-Grid breakfast – fit for kings


As a child Margaret Gallagher  was ” lazy”, or so she tells us. She didn’t want to do ANYTHING and that’s kind of lucky because she is still here in her family’s thatched, whitewashed cottage near Boho (pronounced Bow) in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark to invite strangers to breakfast and well….. to live out the dreams of others.


Her cottage is just too perfect to be true, but stop before you get all teary-eyed and nostalgic. Living totally off grid in the footsteps of her ancestors is really tough. A round trip for water is 25 minutes, which keeps Margaret fit but has been hard on her hips and shoulders. The fire must be kept burning or the house will literally fall down.  The 2,000 year old bog oak timbers will buck off the thatch if the humidity levels rise so the fire has been burning for over 100 years, so there’s an awful lot of sawing, stacking, carrying and raking.


Some details of cottage life  surprise us.  The door is left ajar inviting light, air and company all year round…..a robin hops in the door during our visit to see what’s going on. She closed her door twice last year when the temperature outside dropped to -20 Centigrade. But most unexpected of all is that there is no loo.  No quaint views from the open loo door under a blue moon then…. perhaps there is a (natural) bog out the back.

Her family kept a  a laying hen, a “clockan”(?) in the bottom of the dresser and this was normal practice. This fact inspires us to settle down to do some drawing. We have been working on a collaborative DREAMING PLACE drawing and the cottage provides some major indoor input. Claire draws the dresser, I shade it in a bit and draw a hen in the left hand cupboard of the dresser and a mountain landscape in the other.


Margaret really is the most hospitable person and though she lives off-grid her cottage is literally on the map, meaning she receives visitors from all over the world. Her favourite visitors she tells us, are without a shadow of a doubt Japanese guests.

When we arrive at a little after 9am the table is laid with a feast fit for kings. This is one place Tesco actually has not conquered so the Mediterranean bread was hand baked in a cast iron pot  above the fire with coal. Claire knows about this as she and Chris have a “dutch oven” at their place in Sunshine Valley (Northern New Mexico). It’s a really good scheme….


You put coals on the lid and  the heat spreads evenly around the iron. As a counterpoint we learn how to make perfect white sliced toast on toasting forks over the hot coals and these are spread with the best of  homemade black current jams.

This feels like a really really posh hotel!! I’m hoping that is a compliment.

Dreaming Place mobile studios

We are dreaming ourselves into place and here are some of the  Marble Arch Caves Geopark sites that have become our studio.