Shipsides pointed out the similarity between climbing and art in relation to the project (Pioneers 2003)

as follows:

  …the landscape was literally felt out with their fingertips exploring handholds, finger-cracks and employing particular climbing movements. These details highlight Frank and Elizabeth’s own sense of creativity - that their actions, their minds and bodies were creating or making something new. In that they are created and named, the routes themselves reflect and may exist as “artworks”. They can be read in terms individual style, technique, context and vision and can claim their place in cultural history. Through the sense of exploration and endeavour these climbers’ landscapes echo aspects of the modernist ideal but here they do so with a different poetic, one which is gentle, witty and reflective. It may be topical to compare the “national” mountaineering effort or ethic of the Irish Republic with the more bombastic efforts of older nations during that period. The activity of these climbers offers a “modern” representation of the Irish landscape and provides a contrast with the sense of “native belonging” found in many post-independence visions of Ireland’s natural landscape.[3]



The story of collaboration.

Since becoming aware of each other’s work in 1996  Shipsides and Beggs have been occasional collaborators. In 2009 they decided to firm up their collaboration under the title 'Shipsides and Beggs Projects' to which all the earlier co-authored works and research are now attributed.  Past projects include User's End (Be-Part, Belgium), The Hanging (Tulca, Galway) and The Alphabet Climb (Montserrat, Spain).

Over the last eighteen months, Shipsides and Beggs Projects have been working on an open-ended and on-going research project in the Italian Dolomites based around a type of mountaineering called via ferrata (the “iron way” developed during WW1).  A small snippet of this research, involving a close encounter with lightning in June of this year on the summit of Marmolada, (the highest mountain in the Dolomites) is the basis for the work in progress presented in this show and includes ‘Every Metallic Thing is Being Beckoned’ a drawing based on the experience. It also seems appropriate with respect to the title of the Delawab show.

The Alphabet Climb, made in Montserrat, Spain during 2004 also exhibited in this show, is unrelated to the specific events on Marmolada but follows a pattern of research where climbing and mountains form the backbone of their creative act and conversation - acting as a gateway and frame to wider life, culture and society.  It is typical of their dual approach where working in the moment with a focused task at hand combines with an inquisitive open-mindedness to follow chance occurrence and serendipity so that something entirely unexpected might develop - bringing new shapes and perspectives to the project.

In this vain 'The Alphabet Climb' presents a chance encounter with a young man who unaware that we are trying to make a short film about climbing a wall, interrupts, asking for information about camping.  Not being camera shy, the stranger then goes on to tell the true story of his search for his missing brother Tom, after which he goes off and we go back to filming the climbing of the wall.

Since making this film we have kept in touch with Ben Moore, who by coincidence is also an artist/film maker, inviting him to work with us on a project at Be-Part in Belgium during 2008.  In a similar fashion we have kept contact with Irene and John-Paul, two climbers we met on the summit of Marmolada, asking them to contribute to the work via e-mail describing their memories of the storm. These are presented in the show.[4] 

(Dan Shipsides’ website info for the Death to Delawab project 18th September, 2010)


When power becomes gracious and descends into the visible...
(With an apology to F Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1885, Part II, Ch 13, Those who are sublime)

The Alphabet Climb (Shipsides and Beggs Projects 2004) video collapses two actions: the climb on carved letters and chance like meeting with a man.

The accidental meeting of two narratives depends on the integrity of the artists’ intention.  They risk breaking the spine of the climb/art symmetry while the story of a lost relative displaces it.  Their decision to include the story, almost spontaneously, agrees with their strategies of intervention (although in the opposite direction) and of loyalty/devotion to the experience as lived.  Both strategies move the video away from the ‘landscape’ towards a social interaction.  The drive to link experience of climbing to some other experience operates also in the metal construction installation that runs along two flights of stairs, stops in a floor sculpture on the landing and ‘climbs out’ of the window, in a swift vertical.

Capella Head Point. Dan Shipsides. 2008



Alphabet Climb (2004, left), Ulster Iron Way (2010, at the left banister and the landing),

Marmolada Bees (2010, right), installation view at the Death of Delawab. Shipsides and Beggs Projects.

The Alphabet Climb, 2004, video, installation detail. Shipsides and Beggs Projects


Shipsides and Beggs Project

at the Death Of Delawab (2010)

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