Associate Artists Scheme


Mermaid Arts Centre is delighted to announce the four artists selected for our TRANSFORM Associate Artist Scheme. They are Mary Duffy, Yurika Higashikawa, Shiva R Joyce and Emmet Kirwan. These four artists will be employed on a part time basis at Mermaid for one year, not on a project or commission basis, but rather to proceed with their work in a self-directed fashion except with less economic precarity.

We’re thrilled to have these artists on our team and be able to include their voices in areas such as audience development, programme, artist supports and inclusion. We hope that we can improve the systems, processes and culture of our organisation beyond our artistic activity alone. Mermaid is determined to put the voices of communities and artists at the heart of our work, to be a home where everyone can be creative, where everyone can belong.

Mary Duffy
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As an artist, my destiny was secured in senior infants. Twice a week, at the age of 5, I was taken to learn how to paint alongside a bunch of teenagers in the local technical school. Even then I was very aware of the subtext of these efforts.

Painting is what people born without arms do, invariably.

It's all we can do, really.

Well, I kind of liked painting, but I really resented being put in that particular box.

So, at the age of five, because my parents worried about my potential employment prospects . . . as you do for your average 5 year old . . . at that very point, painting became a struggle for me at it and this added to my sense of conflict and confusion and led directly to 4 decades of resistance.

So, when in 1983 I graduated the National College of Art and Design, of course I avoided painting and established an international reputation as a photographer and performance artist and went from there into broadcast journalism.

Fifteen years ago, returned to painting, which of course was what I really wanted to do all along, but spent most of my life resisting. Last October I was awarded a Visual Arts Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland and over the next year, I will work on an exhibition for the Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely.

"As someone who is driven by the desire to be useful, I've often consider it ironic that I spend my days and nights making art. Making art, while presenting its own challenges, often feels indulgent and self-serving, and therefore a real challenge to my desire to be useful.

So, when I heard the call for artists to contribute to the transformation process at Mermaid Arts Centre, I couldn't let this opportunity pass. I am really honoured and privileged to be asked to contribute in this real and meaningful way."

Yurika Higashikawa
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Yurika is a multidisciplinary art practitioner and writer, currently based between Wicklow and Dublin. Their practice combines techniques from performance art, fiction writing, poetry and film. Yurika is concerned with the contemporary status and differing contexts of art within networks of labour. Through this topic of interest, their work seeks to chart how our private spheres are rendered permeable by for-profit systems of power. The ethics of testimony and spectatorship underpin their theoretical concerns. Currently, Yurika is undertaking research about the physical infrastructure of the Internet in Ireland.

Recent live works include 'LAWLESS WORDS' (2020), a collaborative art-writing event that took place in secret at their previous place of employment and ‘Protect the darkening roof, Or serve the whites of your pureéd eyes’ (2019), a spoken word piece performed for A4 Sounds Dublin in a neighbourhood pub as part of the Locale #3 exhibition.

Yurika is a recent awardee of the Wicklow County Council Artist Award Bursary 2021. They are also currently developing an exhibition as co-curator with 126 Gallery, Galway for their upcoming Autumn 2021 showcase.

"Some key questions I ask myself in a lot of the research that I do is 'Where are the fault lines between consent and coercion in this space or system? How can I make sense of what is going on here through the body, language or image reproduction? What are the moments of contradiction or dissolve?'. These questions have grown especially useful for me now, especially when thinking about our ever-fracturing, increasingly digitised world. I am so very grateful to Mermaid Arts Centre for giving me the opportunity to meditate on these questions even further and for creating this invaluable support system for myself and my talented colleagues. In an ideal world, the goal is to get to a place where more (~all~) artists can make use of an opportunity like this!"

Shiva Rjoyce

ShivaRJoyce is a Writer & Printmaker exploring the ethno-ecological and intersectional through written, visual and hybrid-digital media. She is interested in exploring eco-social peripheries: the gaps, silences and omission.

She is a consistent contributor to Many Tongues of Cork, a growing Irish source of modern and multi-lingual poetry. Her current creative development encompasses two projects; Talanoa her first poetry anthology, which explores the realities of being a BrownSkinIslanderGal from islands being submerged by rising sea levels, and the Cartography of otHER, which examines the geo-social and personal markers utilised to navigate experiences of being ‘othered.’

Shiva has led vibrant creative projects with young people such as Graffiti Theatre’s Fighting Words, Young Playwright’s Programme and BEAG Early Years Arts Play, while amplifying diverse writers in her role as Features Editor of GoodDayCork and In the Margins projects.

Mermaid Arts Centre’s Transform brings her to the Sea from whom her energy derives, enabling both cultivation of her own creative growth and continuation of her work mentoring voices in the periphery of the Irish Arts.

"My work is about revelation and revolution, both internal and external and so it made sense to apply to the Transform award. To have this time and space to create is life-changing; every Artist knows and appreciates deeply such opportunities. My many thanks to Mermaid Arts Centre for spearheading growth and evolution in the narrative of Irish Arts with this project and supporting my Artistic journey".

You can find out more and connect further with ShivaRJoyce via the social media links on her LinkTree:

Emmet Kirwan
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Emmet Kirwan is an award winning actor and playwright from Tallaght in Dublin. He studied at the Samuel Beckett Centre Trinity College Dublin. For over 17 years he has worked in Irish and English Theatre performing many times on stages such as The Abbey, The Gate, Project, Donmar Warehouse, The National Theatre of Britain, and The Soho, as well as working with leading theatre companies such as Rough Magic, Fishamble, This is Pop Baby, Guna Nua, Pan Pan, Corn Exchange and Barabas.

As a writer his play ‘Dublin Oldschool’ won the Stewart Parker Major Trust award. It has played six sell out runs in Project Arts Centre, Dublin, toured internationally including a sell-out run in The National Theatre in London’s West End.

He has also written the four poetry sections of This is Pop Baby’s RIOT, which has played Vicar Street in Dublin and toured internationally to The Sydney Theatre Festival and Skirball NY. The poem ‘Heartbreak’ is taken from this show and was adapted in to a short film that won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Short Film.

Other writing includes ‘Wild West’ a radio drama for BBC radio 4, the short play ‘Queen of The Pyramids’ for Landmark Productions and Cork Midsummer festival’s ‘Theatre for One’. He was commissioned by The Gate Theatre Dublin to respond to John Osborne’s ‘Look Back In Anger’. For this he wrote and performed two new spoken word poems ‘I love you woman’ & ‘Mam and Dad are worried’. He also wrote and starred in the RTE 2 comedy series Sarah and Steve for Accomplice Television.

Emmet is currently writing a new play for Landmark Productions called ‘Straight to Video’ which premiers in October. And developing a new show entitled a’Accents’ alongside Irish music artist ‘Talos’. The is produced by Cian O’Brian with support from the Arts Council.

"I am incredibly excited and privileged to be made an associate artist of Mermaid Arts Centre. After a long period of isolation and working alone, to work with an organisation such as the Mermaid and with this group of artists will be a creative Godsend. I appreciate the time and space that this affords me and for that I'm truly grateful."

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