Pass the Baby Under the Donkey

Thomas Wells
St Joseph’s Church, Princes Dock Street, Sailortown

Pass the baby under the donkey three times to clear whooping cough. 

As part of the project CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING, artist Thomas Wells has listened to stories and gathered remedies, cures and recipes from Sailortown’s intergenerational communities of interest and place. 

Thomas is interested in exploring the politics of the kitchen table with the women who gather and share wisdom, knowledge, and memories there. These exchanges centre around domestic and private spaces, and the rituals performed in them: 

Thomas frequently uses food and the senses as a medium to invite discussions about identity and relationships and to access other times and places. 

This Samhain, in the atmospheric settings of St Joseph’s Church, Thomas presents an exhibition of installation, sculpture and print, including a table set to host a meal. Selected works on display are activated through scent and include fabrics and plates printed with newly designed patterns, inspired by maps, local children’s drawings, and pictures of the dishes Thomas has cooked sourced from local recipes.

Above: Custom Sailortown pattern for plates.
Adapted photos with Sailortown print #1 Kathleen and Jackie McWIlliams with Ma and Jackie McAllister and Terry McCann at Glenariff, 1941
Photo sourced from Dedicated to those who once lived in its streets, those for whom it will always be home.

Handmade Bartmann jugs or ‘witches jugs’, believed to ward off evil spirits and witches in the 17th century, reference a tradition of handcraft and forms of female knowledge that have frightened, inspired and been the foundation of our communities for centuries.

We had originally intended this event to be an interactive, food-based exhibition for the groups Thomas has worked with and for visitors. In response to the latest Covid-19 restrictions, we instead invite you to view the exhibition online, documented by Simon Mills. Works from the exhibition will be presented in a future participatory event at a date to be confirmed after restrictions have lifted.

Sailortown Recipe book by Thomas Wells with contributions from the local and wider community.