Joan Davis

Garden as Gallery, Gallery as Garden

Outdoor dance performances at Gorse Hill: 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th July 2021. Time: 11am - 4pm. Email Rosemary at to book your place.

The outdoor dance performances will run in conjunction with an exhibition entitled GARDEN AS GALLERY, GALLERY AS GARDEN by artist Joan Davis in Mermaid's gallery space. The exhibition opens on 2nd July.


GARDEN AS GALLERY at Gorse Hill is a series of live outdoor dance performance events. It celebrates all that is artful, natural, spontaneous, healing and heartful.

There will be four dancers, one musician and one tour guide to bring you on this magical GARDEN AS GALLERY tour.

Expect the unexpected! These events are unique and each one is a stand alone in its artistry. If you are interested in the Arts, Nature and Gardens, then these events are for you.

For further information and to book your place contact Rosemary via

In conjunction with GARDEN AS GALLERY, GALLERY AS GARDEN runs at Mermaid Arts Centre as an exhibition with aspects of the installations translated into indoor pieces. Magical and utterly inspired by nature and all that dances in her.


In a very unique setting overlooking the Bray/Greystones cliff path, is a steeply terraced garden of approximately four acres. Family owned for over fifty years, the gardens have filled out with mature Cordyline trees, New Zealand flax’s, Fuchsias, giant Echiums and many more plants that can withstand a seaside environment.

There is more than a sense of the surreal about the garden but also one of tranquillity. It is a wild garden; strange, quirky and fascinating. Not for the tidy person who likes things ship-shape and in ordered order.

Even more unique are the garden installations that have evolved over the past twenty five years. Joan Davis works directly with the elements in her artistic endeavours. Each year the storms change the installations and then in the spring, she goes out and works with those changes. Most of the installations are really works in progress over the past twenty five years.

Joan says, "I consider myself to be a work in progress. Coming from a dance background and getting older, as I step out of my dancing self, the garden becomes more inhabited by dancing figures and forms made of wood ash, rotted grass cuttings and peat briquette ash as well as anything bio degradable from the garden. It is a big recycling as well.

There are several themes that run through GARDEN AS GALLERY; one is the grounded body of form. I love working with bone, most of which has been collected on Wicklow hill walks. I love working with the opposite of that, formlessness or spirit.

Another related theme arises from my interest in Jewish Mysticism and the Hebrew alphabet, letters that are forms (like our bodies) through which the light shines. How do form and formlessness meet and embrace each other is an ongoing enquiry for me. Linked to this is my life long relationship with the faery world and the magic, madness and mischief therein. There is one corner of the garden that particularly seems to hold this energy. It is always in some chaos and there is a great sense of ongoing movement mischief there."


Joan Davis has lived her whole life in Ireland, where she has pioneered innovative contemporary dance practices since 1976. From 1996, when she moved to Wicklow, she developed the arts practice and performance offerings of Maya Lila. In 2012 Joan offered a somatic training, the first of its kind in Ireland, called ORIGINS. In 2013 Mary Wycherley, a dance filmmaker based in Limerick, Ireland, was funded to make a film of the work of Maya Lila called ‘In the Bell’s Shadow’. Between 1996 and 2021, Joan developed the gardens at Gorse Hill with many outdoor garden installations. This is her first exhibition in an indoor gallery space.