Commissions & Residencies

Mermaid Space

In Mermaid we ensure we keep artists and audiences at our heart. We believe in the importance of self expression and the right of every citizen to have the opportunity to be part of and engage in cultural activity. Mermaid Space is our residency programme which helps us ensure we’re not just a centre which shows work but also a space where work is created, where it is made.

Our residencies confirm our commitment to supporting artists to make work in Wicklow and we’re particularly interested in work that is relevant to our day to day lives. We also endeavour to support the work of artists around the country because we understand the importance of connectivity and partnership in ensuring success. This season we will expand existing relationships as well as introduce ourselves and you to new artists and their work.


Mermaid recently partnered with four arts centres and galleries to support the making of a new body of work called JUMP, by visual artist Cléa van der Grijn. We commissioned Cléa to make a new film with three collaborators Michael Cummins, Joseph P. Hunt and Ciaran Carty, and to create 30 paintings alongside the film. We exhibited the new body of work in Mermaid in Sept / Oct 2018 and we are now on tour with the exhibition. JUMP opened on 24th November 2018 in The Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar, Mayo. The next spaces are The Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Ennistymon (Clare) in January and February 2019, The Solomon Gallery, Dublin in March 2019 and the Hamilton Gallery, Sligo in April/May 2019. This project represents how successful we can be working in partnership to support artists to make work. It also assists us to build their profile around the country creating almost six months of quality programme and engagement opportunities for rural audiences. (This tour has been funded through the Arts Council Touring Programme).


Last season we announced the return of Gap Day, an initiative led by Lian Bell (funded through the Arts Council Theatre Development Programme). This really important initiative offers freelance theatre artists one or two paid creative days where dreaming, thinking and planning time is valued. In 2016 we supported 15 artists in 8 counties with 24 paid days. In 2017 we were even more ambitious and increased our support to include 33 artists in 13 counties with a total of 54 paid days. The exciting thing about Gap Day is that even though it seems like a small offer, it is a real chance for breathing space and creative thinking – it represents a true and genuine offer of care for an artist’s creative working environment, working conditions and creative wellbeing. Artists will be selected from an open call (launched in early December 2018) and over January to March 2019 work will start around the country. Check our website and we’ll let you know how to apply, who is selected and what exciting plans each artist has hatched.


In January and early February we have Louise Lewis in Mermaid to start work on her new piece called The Aid Worker and the Girl. Louise is an award winning writer, actor and theatre maker. In this new piece she is asking questions. What’s it like to love someone who travels to some of the most deprived countries in the world to do their job? What do you have for breakfast before you drop them to the airport? How many times is it ok to tell them you love them, without it sounding clingy? From the Ebola drenched graveyards of Sierra Leone to the isolation of the Congolese jungle, what’s it like to love an Aid Worker? Incorporating collected research from questionnaires from loved ones of aid workers worldwide alongside autobiographical material Louise aims to begin the journey to create a visually stimulating theatre piece around the lives of Aid Workers and the people they leave behind.


We are sad to say we’re coming to the end of our Residency by Theatre Artists Muireann Ahern and Louis Lovett of Theatre Lovett. Over the past eight months they have hosted workshops with Mr Sands Youth Theatre and worked intensively in the Mermaid Theatre developing their newest work FRNKNSTN which premiered at the Abbey Theatre in August last year. Before we say our final goodbyes, Theatre Lovett will work with students from the wonderful Sheevawn Musical Youth Theatre and drama students from Templecarraig School Greystones in two interactive workshops on stage presence and performance methods in January.


The next two projects are great success stories. In 2017 Mermaid supported Talking Shop Ensemble, Aisling Byrne, Lisa Walsh and Shaun Dunne, with financial, administrative and mentoring support to create a new work called RAPIDS. The piece looked at instances of disclosure and the presence of stigma in the lives of men and women who are HIV+ in Ireland. They presented RAPIDS as part of Dublin Theatre Festival in 2017 and now have a seven venue tour around the country (funded by an Arts Council Touring Award) and Mermaid is delighted to say they will present to Wicklow audiences here on Friday 15th February - do come - it is a powerful piece (see page 25 for more information).


The other good news is three new opportunities for a show called INFINITY by Nessa Matthews and Eoghan Carrick. In 2018, Mermaid supported the development of the piece and they presented in Dublin Fringe Festival last September. The show is an exploration of fact, science fiction and the spaces in between. A star-bound journey that looks at mental health and the stories we tell ourselves when we feel most alone. Since Fringe, the artists have been offered three showings —the first in Smock Alley as part of First Fortnight 2019 and, the second, a week in the Vaults Festival, London. Mermaid has offered additional support in order for the artists to re-rehearse and finesse the piece before they head to London. Part of this support means we’ll have the opportunity to present the piece to local schools with an artist talk with young people discussing the issues and themes in the piece.