Dance performances

‘Garden as Gallery’ is a series of dance performances

A combination of dance performances and an in-house exhibition will take place at Gorse Hill and the Mermaid Arts Center in July.

The outdoor dance events will be held in conjunction with an exhibition titled “Garden as Gallery, Gallery as Garden” by artist Joan Davis in the Mermaid Gallery. The exhibition opens on July 2.

The ‘Garden as Gallery’ dance performances will take place on July 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 and can be booked by emailing Rosemary at [email protected]

These events will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with guests asked to stay for the entire duration.

Garden as Gallery celebrates all that is artful, natural, spontaneous, healing and heartfelt.

There will be four dancers, a musician and a guide to lead visitors on this magical tour.


Gorse Hill Garden overlooks the Bray/Greystones Cliff Path

Gorse Hill Garden overlooks the Bray/Greystones Cliff Path

Gallery as Garden takes place at the Mermaid Arts Center as an exhibition with aspects of the installations translated into interior pieces. Magical and totally inspired by nature and all that dances in it.

In a very unique setting overlooking the Bray/Greystones cliff path, Gorse Hill is a steep terraced garden of around four acres. Family owned for over 50 years, the gardens have been filled with mature Cordylines, New Zealand Flax, Fuchsias, Giant Echiums and many other plants that can withstand a seaside environment.

There is more than a sense of surrealism in the garden but also a sense of tranquility. It is a wild garden; strange, quirky and fascinating. Not for the tidy person who likes things neat and tidy.

Even more unique are the garden facilities that have evolved over the past 25 years. Joan Davis works directly with the elements in her artistic endeavors. Every year the storms change the facilities and then in the spring she goes out and works with those changes. Most of the installations are really works in progress over the last 25 years.

“I consider myself a work in progress,” she said. “Coming from a dance background and growing older, as I move out of my dance self, the garden becomes more inhabited by dancing figures and forms made of wood ash, rotten grass cuttings and ash of peat briquette as well as all that is biodegradable from the garden.It is also a big recycling.

“Several themes run through Garden as Gallery; one is the grounded body of form. I enjoy working with bones, most of which have been collected from the hills of Wicklow. I like to work with the opposite of that, the shapeless or the spirit.

“Another related theme stems from my interest in Jewish mysticism and the Hebrew alphabet, letters that are forms (like our bodies) through which light shines. How the form and the formless meet and embrace each other is a permanent question for me. Tied to this is my lifelong relationship with the fairy world and the magic, madness and mischief found there. There is a corner of the garden that seems to particularly hold this energy. It’s still in some chaos and there’s a great sense of mischief of the movement going on 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 artistic practice and performance offerings by Maya Lila. In 2012 Joan offered a somatic training, the first of its kind in Ireland, called ORIGINS. In 2013, Mary Wycherley, a Limerick-based dance filmmaker, was funded to make a film about Maya Lila’s work called “In the Bell’s Shadow”.

Between 1996 and 2021 Joan developed Gorse Hill Gardens with extensive outdoor garden facilities.

This is his first exhibition in an indoor gallery.