NORTH Clare writer and poet Grace Wells has been announced as the Clare artist for 2022’s Platform 31 scheme. Platform 31 is a nationwide artist development scheme involving 31 local authority offices across the country in collaboration with the Arts Council.
It is designed to support artists to reflect on and develop their practice or make work in a new way, while being connected with and supported by peer practitioners, advisors and mentors.
Thirty-one participating artists, one from each Local Authority area in Ireland, have been announced including Grace who was named Ennistymon Poetry Town Poet Laureate in 2021.
Developed by the Association of Local Authority Arts Offices (ALAAO) with the Arts Council, Platform 31 offers two elements of support – financial and developmental – for mid-career artists across all disciplines.
Speaking about the announcement, Grace said, “I’m delighted to have been selected for Platform 31. It’s a unique opportunity for me to connect with other artists and consider different elements of collaboration.
“As an eco-poet and environmental writer I’m always looking for ways to bring people into greater connection with nature, and with the realities of our environmental crises, so connecting with other artists and pooling ideas is going to offer up all kinds of new possibilities and projects. It’s a wonderful chance for me to engage in fresh work that’s likely to have really positive environmental impact.”
Siobhan Mulcahy, Arts Officer, Clare County Council added, “Clare County Council warmly welcomes the awarding of the 2022 Platform 31 bursary to poet Grace Wells.
“Further to her selection as the Ennistymon Poetry Town Poet Laureate in 2021, Grace is emerging as one of Ireland’s key contemporary poets whose work is concerned around climate change and ecology. Clare Arts Office hopes that this award will enable her to focus on her work in the coming year, whilst availing of networking and mentoring opportunities that will forge new and dynamic opportunities for her.”
Nature, spirit-of-place and environmental concern have been large themes in Grace’s work ever since the publication of her debut children’s novel ‘Gyrfalcon’, which won the Eilís Dillon Award and was an International White Ravens Choice.
She has published three books of poetry with Dedalus Press, most recently in 2022, ‘The Church of the Love of the World’. In 2021 Clare County Council Arts Office and Poetry Ireland’s selected her as Poet Laureate for Ennistymon as part of the Poetry Town project.
Grace volunteers regularly for Hometree Charity re-establishing native woodland at various sites across Ireland. In 2021, she assisted Hometree in producing ‘Under Summer Pastures’, an collection of essays from some of Ireland’s leading ecological thinkers exploring Ireland’s endangered Temperate Rainforests.
She runs ‘The Little Sanctuary’, a small nature preserve, forest-garden and retreat space on the edge of Ennistymon. Confined by the limitations and restrictions of the pandemic, Grace began making short eco-poetry-films which can be viewed at gracewellslittlesanctuary.com.
Platform31 is managed by Wicklow County Council on behalf of The Association of Local Authority Arts Officers, in collaboration with the Arts Council.