‘Under a Vaulted Sky’ is a long term project based in Ireland. Rowan worked closely with a small community of people and their relationship to a deconsecrated Irish convent and its’ abandoned gardens, all of which were marked for demolition. Her collaborators consisted of the convents’ transient residents, its previously evicted nuns and her mother whom was raised in a convent. The project looks at our relationship to home, primarily the garden and our cultural repetition of the need to control land. It reflects this through the history of women in Ireland and through personal family narrative. It also considers the struggle and acceptance of those people involved, all knowing that their home and sanctuary would be soon destroyed. As a consequence a long standing, ancient link of this site with nature, worship and propagation was severed. An extensive body of work, it consists of portraits, still lives, field documentary and is intertwined with her own performative responses. This project has been created in an important time in Irish history, when it is separating itself from catholic religion and re-finding its relationship to spirituality. While this system falls apart the remnants of a pagan past can be seen emerging.
Pauline Rowan received a distinction for her MFA in Photography from Ulster University in 2019. Since graduating Rowan has been invited by Paul Seawright and Peter Richards to exhibit in Dissolving Histories – New Narratives, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast. Rowan was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Bursary in both 2020 and 2021. She lives in Dublin, Ireland.
Rowan explores sanctuary, as well as home, through landscapes, settlements and our underpinned relationships with belonging and abandonment. With a background in Fine Art and Film, her predominately lens based works incorporate documentary as well as collaborative and performative elements. Rowan is interested in layers of history in place, family and society, systems of defensive and offensive tactics used upon land, home and ritual.