All Bread is Made of Wood (2017 – )

All Bread is Made of Wood is a public art project commissioned by Fingal Public Art Co-ordinator Caroline Cowley and curated by Anne Mullee.

Anne invited artists Fiona Hallinan and Sabina MacMahon to contemplate bread and its elements as a vehicle for the transference of knowledge and memory as embodied in its production.

This ongoing project is composed of series of private and public interactions, including recipe salons with local African women’s group Nwannediuto and public events where hypotheses of bread and its elements are anatomised and considered.

Public Events
All Bread is Made of Wood / This Dirt
Swords Castle, Swords, Co. Dublin

Tuesday 29th August 2017

With Sabina MacMahon, Fiona Hallinan, Dr Meriel McClatchie & Swords Castle: Digging History Project volunteer archaeologist team

This public and participatory event took place during Swords Castle’s annual Environmental Day, when the public is invited to explore the archaeological work taking place on site. This work is carried out by volunteers as part of Fingal County Council’s Digging History project.

On Tuesday 29th August 2017, This Dirt brought together methods of baking and food production from North County Dublin’s past and present. Utilising Swords Castle* as a catalyst for exploration, ‘bread’ acted as the threshold for investigations into contemporary and ancient local food culture, somatic learning and haptic processes of making.

During the day, Fiona Hallinan and Sabina MacMahon cooked, performed, and displayed new histories of fare, inviting the public to appraise divergent realities of food.

All Bread is Made of Wood is delighted to be collaborating with Fingal’s Community Archaeologist, Christine Baker, Swords Castle: Digging History project, Newbridge House, Dr Meriel McClatchie at UCD School of Archaeology, and local African women’s group Nwannediuto.

Working with these groups informs forays into ancient baking based on medieval grain finds at Swords Castle, as well as explorations of the contemporary foodstuffs enjoyed by the area’s more recent residents.

* Recent archaeological finds at Swords Castle reveal its history as an important site of a granary storing wheat, barley and oats that may have been grown in North County Dublin, grains which provided its medieval inhabitants with porridges, stews and breads.

With thanks to Fingal Community Archaeologist Christine Baker and Wayne Hand and Ann Brophy of Newbridge House.


 Fiona Hallinan / Seed Carriers
Seed Carriers is a pair of activities devised by Fiona Hallinan for the archaeological dig at Swords Castle. Plant macro-remains found in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle are made visible in two ways: in one instance, figuratively, as illustrations on nail transfers applied to the hands of participants, and in another, constitutively, as ingredients used in the menu of an on-site food truck. Seed Carriers reinstitutes archaeological evidence and celebrates seeds as embodied carriers of information through space and time, with people as their agents.

Seed Carriers; performance, application of nail transfers depicting illustrations of selected plants recorded in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle.

Seed Carriers; food truck with menu components based on selected plants recorded in archaeological deposits at Swords Castle.

Sabina MacMahon / Anti-anti pasta
As part of All Bread is Made of Wood, Sabina Mac Mahon presents a day-long pop-up exhibition at Swords Castle – the first part of Anti-anti-pasta, a project exploring the life and work of little-known Italian Futurist Ermenegildo Cervi (1897-1966) who settled in north county Dublin following the publication of his fellow Futurists’ Manifesto of Futurist Cooking in late 1930.

Written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the manifesto called on Italians to turn their backs on pasta, a staple foodstuff which he believed induced lethargy, pessimism and nostalgia and was therefore contrary to the Futurists’ belief in technology and speed. As a committed mangiamaccherono (Neapolitan past eater), Cervi became disillusioned with the Futurists’ anti-pasta stance and, assured of Irish people’s enthusiasm for starchy foods like bread and potatoes by relatives who ran a fish and chip shop in Dublin, decided to move to Ireland and attempt to establish a new nation of pasta-eaters here.

Upon moving to Swords he began to make his own pasta, concocting many innovative new shapes throughout the 1930s. Unlike other Futurists he had a keen interest in history and held several vast pasta cook-outs at a fulacht fiadh he had built in his garden in a bizarre attempt to introduce Irish people to pasta and lend its presence in Ireland an aura of historical authority. He also made complex sculptures out of bread.


Fiona Hallinan is an artist and co-founder of the Department of Ultimology. She is the creator of a number of collaborative projects involving hospitality, food and education such as Heterodyne, iterations of which have taken place in Paris, Istanbul, and Wicklow; The Hare, an artist run temporary café at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin; Concrete Tiki, a series of site-specific food events at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; and HOMESTAY, hospitality project for Science Gallery, Dublin. From April – September 2016 she set up the menu at Dublin cafe Meet me in the Morning. She is currently devising a number of new projects working with food in an art context including the initiation of a cafe in the Grazer Kunstverein, Austria.

She is currently a part of the Orthogonal Methods Group (OMG), a research group based at CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. OMG is a research platform within CONNECT that works in critical and creative relation/tension with technology. Her work has been shown at Kerlin Gallery, IMMA, Mother’s Tankstation, Parsons Paris and Brown University.

Sabina Mac Mahon is a visual artist, curator and researcher. She graduated from the National College of Art & Design, Dublin with a BA (First Class Joint Honours) in History of Art and Fine Art (Painting) in 2008, and received an MA (Distinction) in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England in 2015.

Mac Mahon’s work is largely research-based and concerned with credibility, plausibility, and parafiction, as defined by Carrie Lambert-Beatty in relation to Rosalind Krauss’ use of the associated term ‘paraliterary’. Mac Mahon is interested in how a truthlikeness or quality of realism in something, combined with the manner in which it is presented to the viewer, can lead to its acceptance as true or real because of the likeliness of the proposition to the truth. The artefacts, texts and primary sources that she creates are simultaneously real, not real and not not-real, and her work can be interpreted as a species of ‘fictive’ art, whereby a fiction is presented as fact and subsequently attains a truth-status for some people, some of the time.

She is co-curator, with fellow artist David Quinn, of the LACUNA [    ] exhibition series at Taylor Galleries, Dublin and Curator-in-Residence 2017 at Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co. Meath.

Dr Meriel McClatchie is an Assistant Professor at UCD School of Archaeology. Her research is focused on prehistoric and early medieval archaeology in Europe, with a particular interest in landscapes, settlement, food and archaeobotany (the scientific analysis of plant macro-remains recovered from archaeological excavations, including cereal grains and chaff, seeds, fruits and nuts).

She is the director of the Ancient Foods Research Group at UCD, and she has published widely on ancient food and farming, including papers in leading international journals such as Antiquity, Journal of Archaeological Science and Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.