Split across the two adjacent sites of Exeter Phoenix and the Royal Albert
Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM), Lynch’s new works are directly
informed by artefacts from the Museum’s collection of over one million
objects, as well as the Seaton Down Hoard, one of the largest hoards of
Roman coins ever found in Britain, discovered by a metal detectorist in
nearby East Devon, that the Museum plans to acquire for its collection.
Produced at RAMM and in locations throughout the UK and Ireland, Lynch’s
new commission, Campaign to Change the National Monuments Acts (2016),
considers the legal status of metal detectors in his native Ireland. Following
national controversy around the finding of the Derrynaflan Hoard, a medieval
treasure trove uncovered in the 1980s, the Irish government hastily placed a
blanket ban on the public use of all devices used to search for archaeological
objects, effectively destroying the Irish metal detectorist community. Lynch’s
work, appearing akin to a promotional video, advocates for a change in these
authoritarian laws, where ideas of nationhood, individual freedom, and the
need for community-led heritage are all explored on a journey narrated by his
long-time collaborator Gina Moxley.
The two additional new video commissions centre on stone carving, a
recurring theme in Lynch’s work. Displayed at Exeter Phoenix, The
Vermiculation of Exeter (2016) maps local sites that portray the titular
architectural decorative technique. Irregular holes and tracts are carved onto
a stone façade, seeming to represent worms eating their way through the
stone, turning a building into rubble and ruin and thus symbolising the
inevitable decay of all things. A further new work, The Weight of the World
(2016), shown at RAMM, documents the procession of a stone fragment from
a Dominican Friary choir screen as it is removed from its case in RAMM and
carried to the original priory site, now part of the Princesshay Shopping
Precinct in Exeter City Centre.
At Exeter Phoenix, the video element of Adventure: Capital (2014 -15), made
for the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015, sees Lynch trace a journey
from myth to minimalism around Ireland and Britain while unravelling notions
of value and the flow of capital.
Many in the UK will recall the motorway protests of eco-warrior ‘Swampy’ in
the mid to late 1990s. In his video work Latoon (2006), Lynch features another
environmental campaigner who made headlines, interviewing folklorist and
storyteller Eddie Lenihan, who successfully campaigned to save a whitethorn
bush, considered sacred in local Irish lore, from being destroyed by the
construction of a €90 million road scheme in Latoon, Eire.
Throughout his work, Lynch forensically investigates anecdotes and halftruths,
adopting anthropological methods to unearth marginalised stories that
have been previously overlooked or fallen by the wayside. For The Weight of
the World, the artist continues this approach, carrying out meticulous
fieldwork to create a series of idiosyncratic narratives that simultaneously
signal new understandings and questions.