Erin Sainsbury

A Little Bit of Truth

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Installation view

Memory, perspective, family, and the archive – subjects which are far from overlooked in the contemporary art world, yet continue to capture our attention and intrigue. What began as an exploration of extensive family archives and the search for an objective truth of my own history, slowly evolved into a mission to recognise the validity and significance of the individual’s subjective truth. 

'A Little Bit of Truth' centres on my grandparent's rural home on the rugged west coast of Ireland. Collaborating with three family members: my aunty, mother, and brother, we worked through a highly iterative process to recreate their memories of the living room. Eventually there were four distinct versions of the room (including my own), which are here combined into one virtual reality experience, with the objects changing and shifting before the viewer's eyes.

Still 1
Still featuring a combination of objects from various family members' recollections.

"...if home is simply where one feels safest and most comfortable, then it is my grandparents’ living room. There, coal dust and tobacco smoke mingle in the air and fill my lungs as I hang on every word of Granddad’s stories. His thick Tyrone accent and low murmur have me leaning in, barely avoiding falling off the edge of my seat. My cheeks ache from laughter as he regales the escapades of his youth. The fire glows brightly as it sparks and spits hot embers onto the faded rug. Conversations are attempted in vain over the crackling old landline. Laughter floats in from the kitchen next door as Nana prepares dinner and fends off my aunties’ attempts to help her. Every hour the toll of the grandfather clock sings up the long hallway, and at 6pm The Angelus bells ring out from the TV and kitchen radio. The doors all creak as people come and go, with the dogs’ claws scratching at the wooden floors as they follow. Evenings are spent watching RTÉ until the wee hours of the morning, when Granddad falls asleep in his chair and the TV can no longer be heard over his snoring. Outside, the rural Donegal countryside is a patchwork of muddy green fields, dotted with crumbling stone cottages and lavish new homes. Over the lake in the distance, a single row of streetlights twinkle in the dark night – as a child I would spend hours wondering which village they belonged to, but I have never asked for fear of spoiling the magic. One day last year, I had to call for an ambulance. There are no house numbers or even street names in the village. I gave them directions using the village pubs as landmarks and ran down the lane to wave them the right way from there. I may not live there or speak the same way as my grandparents, and I may not catch every word that Granddad mutters, but if I there is a place that is my home, that is it."

— Excerpt from BFA(Hons) essay

Still 5

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