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All Bread Is Made Of Wood: This Dirt / Fiona Hallinan & Sabina MacMahon with Digging History Project & Dr Meriel McClatchie (UCD Archaeology)

‘All Bread is Made of Wood’ invited artists Fiona Hallinan and Sabina MacMahon to contemplate bread and its elements as a vehicle for the transference of knowledge and memory as embodied in its production.


The project was composed of series of private and public interactions, including recipe salons with local African women’s group and the area’s older population, and public events where hypotheses of bread and its elements are anatomised and considered.

On Tuesday 29th August 2017 during the Swords Castle Digging History Project Open Day, ‘This Dirt,’ brought together methods of baking and food production from North County Dublin’s past and present. Utilising Swords Castle's environmental archaeology as a catalyst for exploration, ‘bread’ acts as the threshold for investigations into contemporary and ancient local food culture, somatic learning and haptic processes of making.

A public art project commissioned by Fingal County Council Public Art Co-ordinator Caroline Cowley. Devised & curated by Anne Mullee
Fiona Hallinan / Seed Carriers

Seed Carriers is a pair of activities devised by Fiona Hallinan for the archaeological dig at Swords Castle.

Plant macro-remains found in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle are made visible in two ways: in one instance, figuratively, as illustrations on nail transfers applied to the hands of participants, and in another, constitutively, as ingredients used in the menu of an on-site food truck.

Seed Carriers reinstitutes archaeological evidence and celebrates seeds as embodied carriers of information through space and time, with people as their agents.

Seed Carriers; performance, application of nail transfers depicting illustrations of selected plants recorded in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle.

Seed Carriers; food truck with menu components based on selected plants recorded in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle.

Fiona Hallinan is an artist, researcher and co-founder of the Department of Ultimology*, based between Brussels, Belgium and Cork, Ireland. She is a PhD student at LUCA School of Arts, KU Leuven, where her artistic research explores the coming-into-being of Ultimology, the study of that which is dead or dying (death here encompassing both the end of life and the passing into irrelevance, redundancy or extinction of material and immaterial entities), as a tool for transformative discourse. She is interested in themes of hospitality, traces, thresholds, care and critical pedagogy and often works with food as part of her practice, cooking and organising meals.

As part of her research she set up the On Death reading group, a monthly online gathering that explores different conceptions, constructions and approaches to questions of death, dying and the dead through close reading of multiple sources drawn from across a wide range of disciplines and geographies. 
*alongside curator Kate Strain

Dr Meriel McClatchie is an Assistant Professor at UCD School of Archaeology. Her research is focused on prehistoric and early medieval archaeology in Europe, with a particular interest in landscapes, settlement, food and archaeobotany (the scientific analysis of plant macro-remains recovered from archaeological excavations, including cereal grains and chaff, seeds, fruits and nuts).

She is the director of the Ancient Foods Research Group at UCD, and she has published widely on ancient food and farming, including papers in leading international journals such as Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science and Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

Sabina MacMahon / Anti-anti pasta

As part of All Bread is Made of Wood, Sabina Mac Mahon presented a day-long pop-up exhibition at Swords Castle – the first part of Anti-anti-pasta, a project exploring the life and work of little-known Italian Futurist Ermenegildo Cervi (1897-1966) who settled in north county Dublin following the publication of his fellow Futurists’ Manifesto of Futurist Cooking in late 1930.

Written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the manifesto called on Italians to turn their backs on pasta, a staple foodstuff which he believed induced lethargy, pessimism and nostalgia and was therefore contrary to the Futurists’ belief in technology and speed. As a committed mangiamaccherono (Neapolitan past eater), Cervi became disillusioned with the Futurists’ anti-pasta stance and, assured of Irish people’s enthusiasm for starchy foods like bread and potatoes by relatives who ran a fish and chip shop in Dublin, decided to move to Ireland and attempt to establish a new nation of pasta-eaters here.

Upon moving to Swords he began to make his own pasta, concocting many innovative new shapes throughout the 1930s.


Unlike other Futurists he had a keen interest in history and held several vast pasta cook-outs at a fulacht fiadh he had built in his garden in a bizarre attempt to introduce Irish people to pasta and lend its presence in Ireland an aura of historical authority. He also made complex sculptures out of bread.

Sabina Mac Mahon is a visual artist, curator and researcher.  Mac Mahon’s work is largely research-based and concerned with credibility, plausibility, and parafiction, as defined by Carrie Lambert-Beatty in relation to Rosalind Krauss’ use of the associated term ‘paraliterary’.


Mac Mahon is interested in how a truthlikeness or quality of realism in something, combined with the manner in which it is presented to the viewer, can lead to its acceptance as true or real because of the likeliness of the proposition to the truth. The artefacts, texts and primary sources that she creates are simultaneously real, not real and not not-real, and her work can be interpreted as a species of ‘fictive’ art, whereby a fiction is presented as fact and subsequently attains a truth-status for some people, some of the time.

She is co-curator, with fellow artist David Quinn, of the LACUNA [    ] exhibition series at Taylor Galleries, Dublin and Curator-in-Residence 2017 at Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co. Meath. 


She graduated from the National College of Art & Design, Dublin with a BA (First Class Joint Honours) in History of Art and Fine Art (Painting) in 2008, and received an MA (Distinction) in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England in 2015.

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