The Only Way To Travel

2008
Colour, Stereo, 38mins 30secs
The Irish trance medium Eileen Garrett (1893-1970) first travelled to New York in 1931 on invitation of the American Society of Psychical Research. The Only Way To Travel reveals a world of 1930s high living, the cocktail hour, the rise of the New York skyscraper, and an era of glamorous travel, optimism and new horizons.
The Only Way To Travel, Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices, 2008
The Irish trance medium Eileen Garrett (1893-1970) first travelled to New York in 1931 on invitation of the American Society of Psychical Research. During the 1930s and ‘40s Garrett and her daughter (also Eileen) frequently crossed the Atlantic from Europe to New York on White Star and Cunard Line ships. In The Only Way To Travel, Garrett's daughter Eileen Coly and her daughter Lisette read shipping records and look at images from the Garrett family photograph album. The Only Way To Travel reveals a world of 1930s high living, the cocktail hour, the rise of the New York skyscraper, and an era of glamorous travel, optimism and new horizons.

During the 1930s and '40s Eileen Garrett and daughter Eileen sailed on the Olympic, the Manhattan, the Queen Mary, the Britannic, the Samaria, many of which were built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff. During MacWilliam’s research she accessed shipping records documenting the Garrett sailings and discovered that in September 1934 some of her own cousins sailed from Southampton to New York on the SS Majestic, on the same voyage as Eileen Garrett and her then 18 year old daughter. In The Only Way To Travel, Eileen Coly and her daughter Lisette read the shipping records and look at images from the Garrett family photograph album. What is revealed is a world of 1930s high living, the cocktail hour, the rise of the New York skyscraper, and an era of glamorous travel, optimism and new horizons.

The Irish trance medium Eileen Garrett (1893-1970) founded the publishing house Creative Age Press in 1941 and the The Parapsychology Foundation in 1951 (both in New York).
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
Susan MacWilliam first met the family of Eileen Garrett in October 2006, when she travelled to New York to visit the Parapsychology Foundation's Eileen J Garrett Library. Susan became friends with the charasmatic family of Eileen Garrett, who welcomed her in to their lives and opened doors to other contacts within the fields of parapsychology and psychical research. Susan returned to New York in the summer of 2007 to develop video works about Eileen Garrett; during this time she lived with Eileen Coly. Eileen Coly and her daughter Lisette Coly afforded Susan intimate access to their world, and as such followed in the footsteps of their mother and grandmother Eileen Garrett, who supported and encouraged many within the fields of parapsychology, literature and the arts.

Susan MacWilliam has developed a significant body of work about Eileen Garrett and her family; 13 Roland Gardens, 2007, Eileen, 2008, Library, 2008, Psychic Edit, 2008, The Only Way To Travel, 2008, and the stereoscopes Medium's Daughter, 2008 and Artist as Medium, 2008.

The Parapsychology Foundation was founded by Eileen Garrett in 1951, who served as its President until her death in 1970. Following her death, her daughter Eileen Coly (1916-2013) became President. Lisette Coly, granddaughter of Eileen Garrett served as Executive Director from 1978 and is now President of the Parapsychology Foundation.

The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008
The Only Way To Travel, 2008, in Susan MacWIlliam: Modern Experiments, solo survey exhibition, F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, 2016 | Photograph: Eddie Byrne