‘Stone’s Throw’ Captures Windblown Soul
of the Burren and Beyond
By Martin Hintz
filmmaker Cecelia Condit knows her way around Ireland’s rocky, remote Burren.
Actually, while filming her critically-reviewed installation, Within
a Stone's Throw , was a life-changing experience for her, as well as
a change in direction from her earlier work. Here, she was taking the themes
of life and death and expanding them into an exploration not only of time,
but also space. The movie became a hit plus at the Milwaukee Film Festival
Her movie, Annie Lloyd (2008) was about her aging mother's world
as she prepared to face the inevitability of old, old age and death. Near
the very end of her life, her world shrank to a space the size of her bed.
As it did, Condit’s world shrank with hers. Within a Stone's Throw
is her own taking account of a world that is indeed not so small, but a
huge and variable place, where she was free to explore and measure as she
wished. For Condit, this film is in some ways more a journey than a story:
a journey of a woman in search of beauty and healing in the Burren.
While planning for the movie, Condit had an idea of picking up a stone
and throwing it around the world. When she got to Ireland, she found this
simple narrative was all she needed. Condit chose the Burren (from the
Gaelic boíreann, meaning rocky place) - in Western Ireland
because it is a barren, stony landscape ripe with tales both real and mythological.
It is also a terrain that has been deforested, and cleared to make way
for sheep and livestock. Where once there were great oak forests, there
are now fields of large rocks that butt up against the ocean. The woman
in the installation is a guide through this landscape wilderness that is
both timeless and present.
was attracted to that landscape when a colleague returned from a residency
at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughn and she was fascinated by her
stories about the region. She applied and received the Lighton International
Artist Exchange Program grant through the Kansas City artist Coalition.
She also received funding from Mary Nohl Foundation and a Faculty Development
Grant from the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Condit did not travel through Ireland when there but focused on knowing
well the place that brought her there.
Caoimhe Cusack, the daughter of the college director, assisted Condit
at times during filming. But more often, she was out there on the rocks
alone, setting up shots, filming myself and the landscape all morning.
She edited in the late afternoon and evening each day. Condit pointed out
that she fell into a daily pattern that allowed her to shoot, see what
worked, try an edit and prepare for filming the next morning. When she
needed a photographer, she tapped the skills of another resident at the
Scenes in Stone feature Condit swirling about in a brilliant
red dress. "I had intended to wear black, but found I disappeared into
the gray rocks of the Burren," she said, adding that she decided on the
color red when venturing into the fanciest store in Galway and asking if
they had any red dresses, size 10 - - on sale - and they did. First store
I tried! I learned later that I was very protected out there on the rocks,
as fairies don't mess with people wearing red," she laughed.
"I was fascinated by the Irish fairies, which were so different from
what I had imagined. And there were so many centuries-old stone structures
that were everywhere I turned," Condit explained. "They were so exposed
and yet seemed so protected. No graffiti. Nothing! Once I found an ancient
fairy circle and I remembered that someone had told me not to go inside,
as the fairies wouldn't like it . So I didn't," she confided. Yet Condit
admitted that she believed there is a strong sense of spiritually that
exists in Ireland that is terribly haunting and magical and very real.
"Having experienced it there, I still feel it, even here," she said.
In the film, Condit looks as if you were almost blown away in the gale.
"The wind was terribly strong. Sometimes approaching the edge of cliffs
for a shot, I would use my tripod almost as an extra leg to steady myself.
By the end of the five weeks of shooting, I felt almost worn down by the
sound of the wind - day in and day out each morning - It seemed ever-present,
even inside my head when I was inside and quiet," she went on.
filming expedition in 2010 was Condit’s first time in Ireland. However,
the entire installation, consisting of photographs and a three-screen video
projection will be exhibited in the Burren College of Art Gallery from
Aug. 16-Sept. 30, 2014.
"I am so excited that it will be exhibited where it was filmed. Perhaps
I will try to visit, work on a film, and help install the show. It may
be just wishful thinking, but Ireland has such a strong pull on me. I have
no Irish ancestors, but I claim it as an inspirational homeland," she said.
Stone's Throw has been received quite well, according to Condit,
being shown at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Nevada Art Museum,
Kansas City Artist Coalition and film festivals such as Milwaukee.
"If this summer I find myself in the Burren installing my exhibition,I
will shoot images of Ireland for this next project about memory, childhood
and the imagination," she promised.