7 August 2022


Co. Leitrim


To research, develop and construct a series of temporary islands/floating gardens/reclamation habitats seeded with plants that can purify and heal damaged water systems. These pods will also provide an alternative place of rest and source of food for multiple land and water species that frequent our water courses and rivers. It will also provide an alternative space for vulnerable plant communities to claim shelter whoses ‘natural’ habitats are under pressure from industry and agricultural processes.

This proposed work builds on ideas around the science of phytoremediation which is a plant-based approach that involves the use of plants to extract and remove elemental pollutants in soil. However in this context, it will be the removal of pollutants from water systems that will be the focus and to devise a series of interconnecting alternative ‘floating’ islands.

I will draw from a seed collection that I have accumulated for a number of years with many sourced in Leitrim. Focus here will be to use seeds specific to rivers, streams and lakes, for example Marsh marigold, Yellow flag Iris and the Cuckoo flower amongst others, populations of which are under threat. It will also be interesting to consider the uses and folklore attributed to many of these water-based plants. For example in Leitrim, ‘Marsh-marigold is known as May flower on May Eve (30th April), the tradition was that these flowers were placed at the entrance or window-ledges of homes and farm houses to ward off evil’.

The process will involve researching these and other plants suitable for this remediation process and to consider the living mediums in the construction of these pods. The aim would be to utlizing material locally sourced and/or utilizing and recyle existing material from the area – such as fishing net structures and reeds for example.

Conceptually this project will align with work that I am currently developing around habitat change linked to plant extinctions beginning first with known extinct plants here in Ireland and then cross referencing those plants against our European counterparts. Here I may develop these drawings as a series of posters and/or Lo-Fi DIY fold out pamphlet making visible that which we have lost.

Christine Mackey, 2021

Mock up of a mesocosm (with Ciaran Hogan) 2022.

Sketch study of mesocosm. Christine Mackey 2022.