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The Touring Tama

A CHARMING and fascinating Cypriot tradition has been given an Irish twist in a new art installation which will be put on display from June 14 in Dublin’s Merrion Square to commemorate Ireland’s presidency of the European Union.

For twelve days The Touring Tama – a huge cloth measuring 550 square metres – will encompass a large tree in the centre of the square, the brainchild of Cyprus-based Irish artist Miriam Mc Connon.

The cloth, known as the tama, is made up of handkerchiefs and traditional lace that have been collected by the artist from the people of Cyprus and Ireland and stitched together.

The tama was previously exhibited as an outdoor installation on the ancient tree of St Solomoni in the Unesco heritage site in Paphos last September to commemorate Cyprus’ presidency of the EU.

The tree, known as the hanky tree, is a place where people have visited for hundreds of years to hang handkerchiefs in memory of those loved ones who have died or who are sick. Tama is the Greek word for the handkerchiefs that are hung onto the tree.

feature (Jean)-Tama- Artist Miriam McConnon sewing the pieces of the tama togetherMc Connon is bringing the tama to Ireland where it will cover a large London Plane tree in Merrion Square. Visitors will be invited to hang handkerchiefs onto and under the tree. These will be sewn onto the tama by the artist after the installation ends, allowing it to grow even bigger before it hopefully travels to Athens in 2014.

The covering of the tree is less motivated by the symbolic meaning behind the wrapping and more by the aim of the artist to bring the ancient Cypriot custom of the hanky or wishing tree to Ireland. There is a strong domestic element to the artwork as it is made up from lace and cloth that lived in the domestic lives of those who donated them. Each handkerchief has been a personal possession of somebody and therefore carries its own individual story. Many handkerchiefs have inscriptions to loved ones written on them.

Miriam Mc Connon was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1977. She graduated from The National College of art and Design, Dublin in 1999. In 2000 she completed a postgraduate diploma at the Cyprus College of Art. Miriam’s recent projects include, My Mackintosh Box, a solo painting exhibition at The Talbot gallery, Dublin (2012) and participation in The 8th Beijing Biennale at the Chinese Museum of contemporary Art (2012).

Miriam currently lives in Cyprus.

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