solo exhibition 
STATION Naarm/Melbourne
opens 20 July - 24 August 2024

Catalogue essay by Manchán Magan 

Na macan tíre: two wolves, 520 x 520 mm, oil on glass, bronze, aluminium
Na macan tíre: two wolves, 520 x 520 mm, oil on glass, bronze, aluminium
bramble-hound, heron-wound: two stone wolves
STATION Naarm / Melbourne
20 July to 24 August 2024
On the 12 August 1888, 2 months after a violent accident in a gravel pit where he was working, Milledge’s second great grand-uncle, Denis Black, likely foreseeing his imminent death, published an advertisement in the NZ Tablet:
Dan Black, late of Maledavin, County Antrim, Ireland, is requested to communicate with his brother, Denis Black, Harper St, Sydenham, Christchurch.
The choice to use the field-name “Maledavin” was a secret sign to his brother, and served as a unique identifier, underscoring the profound connection Milledge’s Irish ancestors had with their homeland. Maledavin is an Anglicised version of the Irish Mala an Duibhéin, and translates to “hill slope of the cormorant” referring to a specific plot of land in Baile Bheannacht, Northern Ireland, nestled within the iconic Glens of Antrim. Milledge’s ancestors, chiefly farmers and shipwrights resided here and in the surrounds from Raghery/Rathlin Island in the north down to the bays of Cushendall in the south-east of County Antrim. This exhibition serves as a poetic homage to the indelible connection of language and myth to landscape.
The exhibition's title, bramble-hound, heron-wound: two stone wolves is evocative rather than literal. A bramble-hound denotes lower-grade Old Irish poet; while cranes and herons bear symbolic weight in ancient Irish culture, often linked to the corrguinech, a sorcerer figure. Hence, a heron-wound signifies an injury inflicted by such a sorcerer.
The phrase two stone wolves is drawn from the hills of Creag Mhic Ágáin on Raghery Island, off County Antrim's coast in Northern Ireland, where Milledge’s ancestors resided. Two prominent boulders atop this peak acted as navigational aids for sailors, guiding them to safe anchorage in Arkill Bay. In 1853 John McKinley, one of Milledge’s relatives, identified these boulders as Na Macan Tíre, Irish for two wolves, marking the place with a name rich in maritime lore and familial history.
The exhibition builds upon Milledge’s exploration of language conventions originating from the regions of her Scottish and Irish ancestors, with a particular emphasis on field-names, place-names, stories-in-the-landscape, and deeply ingrained knowledge systems that underscore ancestral and cultural connections with plants, animals, and the land.
Milledge's upbringing in a tent-house within the bush, guided by ecologist parents, instilled a strong bond with the surrounding forest environments. More recently, her research has led her to ancient ancestral stories of her Northern Irish and Scottish lineage.

As an accompanying reflection, Manchán Magan has written “What is the preserving shrine? Thoughts on Clare Milledge’s exhibition Bramble-hound, heron-wound: two stone wolves”.

Magan is an Irish writer and documentary-maker. His books, Thirty-Two Words for Field (2020) and Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Words for Nature (2021) are acclaimed bestsellers.
The exhibition features eight glass "hinterglasmalerei" paintings, with various visual expressions of her research into language and lore.
Three larger paintings are framed in reclaimed timber, while five smaller paintings are held with metal frames with bronze clasps which she calls “close-readers”. These bronze clasps are a continuous zoomorphic motif within her practice, and she creates a new design for each exhibition. Within this exhibition, they take the form of Irish cranes.
The painting titles are based upon places her ancestors lived on Raghery and in the Glens
Mala an Duibhéin/hill slope of the cormorant
Roideán/place of reddish mud
Creag Mhic Agáin/the rock of Mac Agáin
Easca na gCorr/the marsh of the herons
Sliabh an Fháil/mountain of the precipice
Log na bhardán/hollow of the little poet
An Lúbaigh/the twisting or tricky place
Fliucdhoire/wet oak wood