The Visual Artists’ News Sheet ISSUE 1 January – February 2016
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Published by Visual Artists Ireland Ealaíontóirí Radharcacha Éire
Niamh McCann, ‘Just Left of Copernicus (The Roof of the Story)’, installation view, VISUAL, Carlow, 2015
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Welcome to the January – February 2016 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet. The first VAN of 2016 begins with columns from Irene Murphy, who discusses moving to a home studio, and Jonathan Carroll, who talks about his recent trip to London to visit a talk by P.J. Harvey and an exhibition by Ai Weiwei. Our regional focus for this issue is South Dublin, with features from artists Dorota Borowa and Shevaun Doherty alongside updates from the South Dublin Arts Office and RUA RED. Residency reports come from a wide variety of locations: Barry Kehoe introduces the Kooshk art writer’s residency in Tehran, Iran; Ruth le Gear details the CCA Laznia residency in Gdansk, Poland; Kiera O’Toole describes the time she spent at the Courthouse, Tinehaly, Wicklow; and Louis Haugh gives a detailed account of his residency at ARTfarm in County Galway. In our Northern Ireland coverage, Alice Clark details a new residency developed by Catalyst Arts aboard a ship.
Cover. ‘Niamh McCann, Just Left of Copernicus (The Roof of the Story)’, installation view,
5. Column. Irene Murphy. Expanded House, Expanded Practice. 6. Column. Jonathan Carroll. Departures & Arrivals. 8. News. The latest developments in the visual arts sector. 9. Regional Focus. South Dublin’s visual art resources and activity outlined by Dorota Borowa,
Shevaun Doherty, RUA Red and the South Dublin Arts Office.
12. How is it Made?. Unpolluted Language. Vanessa Donoso López discusses her recent exhibition at
Limerick City Gallery of Art.
14. Residency. Kooshk. Barry Kehoe reports on the art writing exchange, which took place between
IMMA Dublin and Kooshk, Tehran.
15. Studio. Art That Matters. A4 Sounds collective members introduce the studio and gallery space. 16. Festival. Tales From A Changing World. Michaele Cutaya profiles the Tulca Festival of Visual Art. 18. Residency. Roots of the Matter. Louis Haugh describes his experiences on the ARTfarm residency
in County Galway. In her ‘How is it Made?’ piece, Vanessa Donoso López writes about her exhibition at Limerick City Gallery 19. Critique. ‘Just Left of Copernicus’, VISUAL; ‘Katherine Elkin, Trees Prosper and Len of Art, in which she explores language and interpretation. Jennifer Trouton explains the processes behind Graham, CCA; ‘Hanuman’, Kevin Kavanagh; ‘Holding True Ground’, Siamsa Tire. her large-scale painting work The Ties That Bind. 23. Project Profile. Moving Image. Michael Hanna and Jacqueline Holt introduce Artists’ Moving The January/February issue also includes a wealth of features on new initiatives, projects and spaces. Founders Michael Hanna and Jacqueline Holt introduce Artists’ Moving Image Northern Ireland, an online platform and archive for moving image works. A4 Sounds, a studio and exhibition space in Dublin, is described by the collective members that run the space, and Mirjami Schuppert and Dave Loder introduce the Ulster Research Salon. Our ‘Career Development’ piece comes from Eamon O’Kane , while Michaele Cutaya provides a detailed report on Tulca 2015.
Image Northern Ireland.
24. Career Development. And Time Begins Again. Eamon O’Kane discusses the progression of his
career and his recent works.
26. Residency. Betwixt & Between. Kiera O’Toole looks back at her residency at the Courthouse Arts
Centre in Wicklow.
27. Project Profile. Ulster Research Salon. Dave Loder and Mirjami Schuppert introduce the Ulster
Research Salon. Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: Niamh McCann, VISUAL, Carlow; Lisa Fingleton, Siamsa Tire, 28. Profile. Intutive Processes. Ruth Le Gear details the work she created while on residency at CCA Kerry; Paul McKinley, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin; and Katherine Elkin and Seamus Harahan, CCA, Derry. Laznia in Gdansk. As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public 29. How is it Made? The Ties That Bind. Jennifer Trouton explains the process behind her work The Ties That Bind, which was exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy in 2015. art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities. 30. Project Profile. Making Visible. Joanne Laws introduces the Roscommon Visual Artists Forum. 32. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and
other forms of art outside the gallery.
34. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions. 35. Northern Ireland Update. Artist at Sea. Alice Clark details a new residency aboard an oceanic
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Production: Jan/Feb Editor: Lily Power. Editorial Assistant: Catherine O’Keeffe. News / Opportunities: Siobhan Mooney, Emer Marron, Daniel Bermingham. Invoicing: Bernadette Beecher. Contributors: Irene Murphy, Jonathan Carroll, Dorota Borowa, Shevaun Doherty, Orla McGovern, Orla Scannell, Vanessa Donoso López, Barry Kehoe, Lisa Crowne, Andrew Edgar, Donal Holland, Michaele Cutaya, Louis Haugh, Anne Mullee, Louis Haugh, Catherine Harty, Dorothy Hunter, Michael Hanna, Jacqueline Holt, Eamon O’Kane, Kiera O’Toole, Dave Loder, Mirjami Schuppert, Ruth Le Gear, Jennifer Trouton, Joanne Laws, Alice Clark. A: Visual Artists Ireland, Ground Floor, Central Hotel Chambers, 7–9 Dame Court, Dublin 2, D02 X452 T: 353(0)1 672 9488 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: visualartists.ie A: Visual Artists Ireland, Northern Ireland Office, 109 –113 Royal Avenue, Belfast, BT1 1FF W: visualartists-ni.org Board of Directors: Linda Shevlin (Chair), Naomi Sex, Mary Kelly, David Mahon, Maoiliosa Reynolds, Niamh McCann, Donall Curtin, Richard Forrest. Staff: CEO / Director: Noel Kelly. Office Manager: Bernadette Beecher. Publications: Lily Power. Advocacy Programme Officer: Alex Davis. Professional Development Officer: Monica Flynn. Communications Officers: Niamh Looney, Emer Marron. Book-keeping: Dina Mulchrone. Membership Services Officer / Listings Editor: Siobhan Mooney. Northern Ireland Manager: Rob Hilken (rob@ visualartists-ni.org).
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Irene Murphy Expanded House, Expanded Practice
FIVE years ago, I surrendered the space I had called my studio at the Cork Artists’ Collective. After spending a quarter of a century involved in the collective, I decided it was time to move across the river, to work from home, to develop more collaborative relationships and to focus on the newly-launched Guesthouse Project (theguesthouse.ie). I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I had a plan. I would build a studio at home in the garden and adjust to the relocation by shifting and adapting my practice to a domestic setting. I also moved home to eat, stay warm, conserve energy, extend the working day and dissolve my current understanding of studio, work and home. But tall orders take time. Thinking takes time. Things happen by degrees and stretch out over time. At home, I begin the day with a sweep, mop and wash-up: ritual actions that wake me up to the surrounding bricks and mortar. I like a stretched-out day where I can move back and forth, multitasking between the banal and the virtual. This house is expanding as I make new demands of it. I alternate between my different selves: manager, house cleaner, artist, archivist, heat merchant, builder, decorator and the person who knows where things are. The domestic space is where things converge. The house has been busy all year with visiting artists living with us on short-term stays. My partner, Mick, has a more structured working week and usually leaves early in the day, not knowing what he’ll encounter upon his return home. Thinking space evolves, constructing devices for new thoughts to surface. The House as an Intersection Working from home without a specific workspace caused a gradual change within my work, both conceptually and in terms of the materials I use. I became curious about the process of creativity, how it occurs and what causes the convergence between thinking and materials. I often sit at my laptop, writing about an idea I’ve just had. The radio delivers uncanny associations, and a leftover newspaper, ready for the bin, reveals an unseen image in its crumpled form. Five years later there is still no studio, but I did build a woodwork shed at the back of the garden with help from friends and family. It was put to use this summer. When open, the large doors create a stage, ready for some yet-to-beconceived-of performance. I have shifted my perspective regarding building a studio and replaced my original feelings of urgency with a more experimental and sculptural approach. It has become an interesting puzzle, and I am excited about the possibilities. A Confluence of Incongruous Things Part of my collaborative practice includes culinary adventures with Domestic Godless (thedomesticgodless.com) and, when the pressure is on, the kitchen adapts to a new form of edible expression. There are numerous links between the Guesthouse Project and my home. They have become parallel spaces, connected through kitchen projects and the resident artists who come and go. The Guesthouse as an Intersection Recently, we hosted a Sunday lunch event featuring food and performances. German artist Angelika Hogar cooked mashed potato with sauerkraut and onion, while artists-in-residence Tristan Clutterbuck and Aongus McEvoy used their culinary experience to cook a Thai curry with baked tofu. Claire Guerin and I made mascarpone custard, poached pear, blackcurrant and almond cake, and tarte tatin. After eating and meeting, we all headed upstairs to listen to sound performances by Tristan and Aongus and by Seamus O’Donnell. Helen Horgan and Angelika Hogar gave a presentation and screened a film documenting the Legs Foundation for the Translation of Things (LFTT) Library, the library’s European road trip and its collaboration in Bielefeld (thelfttlibrary.com). Angelika had been an artist-in-residence with us earlier in the year and had returned to have an exhibition in the Sirius Art Centre, Cobh. The LFTT Library has had a continuous influence on the Guesthouse since early 2014. Encounters, Conversations and Emerging Collaborations The presentation led to a stimulating conversation between Helen, Angelika and I on expanded practice. We discovered a shared interest in translating thinking to material form. Our aim is to compile and share images and texts that will translate the complexities and dimensions of our working experiences onto paper.
Roundup THE FUTURE IS SELF-ORGANISED
McAleer stated: “Instead of a fixed view of landscape, I like the idea that the images suggest a sense of movement, of passing through: a journey through open land with big spacious skies in changing light, broken by glimpses of trees, buildings, markers and tracks.”
Her work has recently moved into the realm of children’s illustration. Gough stated in the press release: “I love taking popular and traditional characters and giving them a playful and contemporary edge.” She has recently completed her first set of children’s books.
RECREATION OF MIND JOURNEYS ‘The Future is Self Organised’’ exhibition poster
Curated by Pallas Projects, Dublin, ‘The Future is Self-Organised’ examined artist-led practice, and the role and contribution of artist-run spaces. Hosted by Limerick City Gallery of Art, 13 Nov – 15 Jan, the spaces involved included 126 Galway, The Black Mariah Cork, Catalyst Arts Belfast, E.S.P. TV New York, Occupy Space Limerick, Pallas Projects Dublin, Suburban Video Lounge, Rotterdam Projects: the Artist-Led Archive and Real Art Project (RAP). The exhibition incorporated artwork, installation, documentation and ephemera, and included work by artists including Fiona Chambers, Mark Cullen, Brian Duggan, Blaithin Hughes, Gillian Kane, Gillian Lawler, Breda Lynch, Eimear Jean McCormack, Gavin Murphy, Mark O’Kelly, Jim Ricks and Kathy Tynan. To celebrate the 20th year of Pallas Projects/Studios, the book relating to the exhibition, ArtistRun Europe – Practice/Projects/Spaces, will be released in early 2016. pallasprojects.org, gallery.limerick.ie
EMERGENCE Running from 12 – 22 Nov, ‘Emergence’ was an exhibition of work by 13 recent photography graduates. The IADT Dún Laoghaire alumni – Helen B. Burrows, Julia Cuprina, Leanne Furlong, Stephen Golden, Kevin Keane, Kelsey Lennon, Hannah McCarrick, Grainne McCarthy, Fergal O’Sullivan, Vera Ryklova, Eliot Smith, Laura Jane Waters and Svetlana Zabelka – delved into themes of human condition, politics and culture. steambox.imoca.ie, emergence2015.tumblr.com
Image from ‘Endless Wander’
Curated by Sarah McAvera, ‘Endless Wander’ (5 – 28 Nov) was an “exhibition of movement,” the press release noted. The two-artist show featured the work of Kevin Killen and Clement McAleer. Killen’s neon sculptures are based on light drawings/photographs of city lights and of passing vehicles in the night. Speaking of his work,
LUNAR Polish artist Dorota Borowa’s first Irish solo show, ‘Lunar’, ran at the Eight Gallery, Dublin, 27 Nov – 6 Dec. It comprised of a series of black and white landscape themed paintings. Dorota’s works are not based on a preconceived image, and this freedom allows her to either accept or impose her own will on the way the paint flows. In doing so her paintings occupy a place between reality and abstraction. eightgallery.com, cargocollective.com/dorotaborowa
‘Recreation of Mind Journeys’ exhibition poster
THE ODYSSEY At Eight Gallery, Dublin, Westportbased James Kirwan’s ‘Recreation of Mind Journeys’ incorporated paintings and sculptures made since his move to the Mayo town two years ago (14 – 22 Nov). The artist writes that these works “tell stories of communication with ancient civilisations and exploration of places I’ve visited (with the power of Any Aichinger, The Odyssey, 2012–2014, casein tempera my mind) from local areas to far-flung on unprimed linen parts of the planet and beyond”. Dublin’s City Assembly House played eight-gallery.com, jamesmakeart.blogspot.ie host the first Irish exhibition of Anja Aichinger’s painted sculpture, titled STILL The Odyssey (21 Nov – 6 Dec). On a 35m piece of linen, Aichinger describes the story of Odysseus as he journeys home. Homer’s tale is told as crossings of path, with characters and sections represented by their own colour. As the Irish Georgian Society’s Zoe Coleman writes: “On a stretch of unprimed linen, Homer’s Odyssey is reduced to the narrative essence. Using only natural pigments that would have been available at the time the Trojan War is asExhibition image from ‘STILL’ sumed to have taken place, characters Mary Fitzgerald exhibited ‘STILL’, a are assigned colours that interact aclarge-scale installation, and several cording to the lore.” individual smaller works, at Green on anjaaichinger.com Red Gallery, Dublin (13 Nov – 12 Dec). Fitzgerald’s works engaged with the gallery and its architecture, altering FATHOM the layout of the space. The exhibition challenged visitors with a “new encounter with time and space,” the press release noted. Boxed and/or mirrored paintings, cameras and replayed video combined to create a space of active surfaces, where “subjects become objects and disruptions and constructions cycle”. Intrigued by Shintoism and its idea of passage, the artist sum- Still from Fathom moned different realms and realities. greenonredgallery.com Curated by Eilis Lavelle, ‘FATHOM’ ran at the Regional Cultural Centre, LetONCE UPON A PAGE terkenny (10 Nov – 11 Dec) and comMill Theatre Gallery, Dundrum ex- prised a series of works by Marie Brett. hibited a collection of work by Irene The exhibition explored the waters Gough, a Kildare-based artist who has surrounding Malin Head, which conworked in design and illustration for tain more German U-boats than any more than 20 years (14 Nov – 16 Jan). other location in the world. ‘FATHOM’
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
was a collaborative effort between the divers and underwater filmmakers of Inishowen’s Dive North and the artist to represent the experience of being underwater, amongst these remnants of World War II. The consequent film work features the sounds of divers breathing, as well as submarines, shipping notices and Morse code signals, which collectively became the live score of the underwater site.
Departures & Arrivals THIS is the first column I’ve written in five years without Jason Oakley’s editorial hand. Have your red pens at the ready. Editing is a very intimate thing: you nurse the writer, encourage them, carefully improve them, cut bits out and add better things in. I wanted to set a task for people to ‘spot the Jasons’ in my columns. Anyone spot ‘derring-do’, for example? (March – April 2014). When you spend time with someone, you inherit snippets of their character as well as the more tangible objects that they leave behind. I am writing this wearing my uncle’s jumper. Coincidentally, he had his final farewell in the same crematorium as Jason. Seeing Jason’s brother wearing his inherited bespoke shoes reminded me of all the pairs of shoes my uncle wore but couldn’t wear out. Friends are also something we leave to others when we pass. In London, I stay with a friend I inherited. She is someone I can call up and I know I’ll be accommodated and also accompanied to art events (usefully, she is a member of all the important art institutions and can bring along a guest for free!). We never forget how our friendship was forged. When inherited friends unite, it feels like the departed are joining you. Anyway (such a useful segue, that word, innit!), London once again. Ai Weiwei once again. Frieze Art Fair and a new Turbine Hall commission yet again. This time, I was primarily travelling to hear P.J. Harvey, who was performing at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the London Literature Festival. Harvey recently produced a book with Irish photographer Seamus Murphy, and the night comprised a conversation between Seamus and a compère, followed by a performance of poetry and song by Harvey. Murphy has won seven World Press Photo Awards for his work in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Gaza, Lebanon, Peru, Ireland and England, and he has worked with Harvey before. I must admit I had never heard of him. He invited Harvey to accompany him on a series of journeys to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington DC. Harvey wrote lyrics and poetry, while Murphy took stills and made short films about the trips. This was one of those high-quality events that you only find in big cities. The process behind Harvey’s work and the fragmented, experimental nature of the evening was lost, however, on some members of the rather restless London crowd. A cringe-worthy heckler shouted, “Why we listening to that man? Where is P.J. Harvey?” I don’t know why, but I felt pretty relaxed about paying €50 and giving two hours of my time for such an exploratory evening. Them Londoners are spoiled. Ai Weiwei makes art from stolen time. He was detained in 2011 for 81 days. In his retrospective, which ran from 19 September to 13 December 2015 at the Royal Academy of Arts, Weiwei constructed scaled mock-ups of the interior of his detention cell. The work, Sacred, consists of six large iron containers into which you are invited to peek, cleverly reflecting the voyeuristic and perverse nature of his detention. He sees this work, where we look down at a naked Weiwei taking his daily shower accompanied by his two jailors, as a form of exorcism or therapy. When asked about the political element of his art, he says, “It is not about choice; it is my life. Art and politics are inseparable.”1 Much of Weiwei’s work directly evokes China. He does not suggest something in an abstract way, he demonstrates it in a very baroque fashion. If he wants to make us visualise the extent of the Sichuan earthquake disaster (2008), he lists all the children who perished: their names and dates of birth and death. He collects all the iron rods that failed to support the school building and straightens them to form a monumental installation. He states: “To remember the departed, to show concern for life, to take responsibility, and for the potential happiness of the survivors, we are initiating a ‘Citizens’ Investigation’. We will seek out the names of each departed child, and we will remember them.” Weiwei previously exhibited all the children’s school bags in a work titled Remembering (2009), displaying them on the outside of the Haus der Kunst in Munich. His Sunflower Seeds installation for Tate’s Turbine Hall in 2010 was an immense work that highlighted the individual among the masses. Here he displayed 100 million hand-painted ceramic seeds in one giant mass spread over the floor of the Turbine Hall. All of this would be poignant and moving if it were not for two things. Weiwei’s work now attracts so many people that you are jostled and pushed. It feels like you are fighting your way through the Beijing rush hour. Some of the work is also so expensive to ship and exhibit that galleries have had to crowdfund the exhibitions. At the Royal Academy, the funders were rewarded with their names displayed in huge letters on the entrance stairs. This slightly diminished the impact of the list of earthquake victims. Meanwhile, the latest Turbine Hall installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas relies on real seeds, collected from across London, sprouting in common dirt. Nothing had sprouted at the time your correspondent visited. Do I get a refund, guv’nor? Note 1. From an interview with Tim Marlow for the Royal Academy, London
inviting them to “explore initially hidden aspects of the pieces”. riverbank.ie
TIME IS WHAT HAPPENS
Image from ‘Time is What Happens’
At the rear of OPW’s Dublin offices, just past the RHA, sits a (previously) disused gate hut. From 17 Nov – 23 Dec, this space housed a narrative-driven collaborative work titled ‘Time is What Happens When Nothing Else Does’ by Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske, described in the press release as “a meditation on sentinels and solitude”.
O’Reilly, Mary Patterson, Paula Pohli, Dermot Seymour, Andrew Smyth, Amelia Stein, Tracy Sweeney, Michael Wann and Marie Wood.
IRRESISTIBLE DRIFT & MASK
TO THE SHORES A meditation on human interactions with geographical landscapes, ‘To the Shores of my Brittle Bones’ ran at Inspire Galerie, Dublin, 13 – 16 Nov. Featuring the poetry of Dino Notaro alongside photographs of Dublin Bay by Gavin Stokes, this personal exploration of human relationships combined both words and images to build, the press release stated, a “bittersweet atmosphere of reflection”.
January – February 2016
Charles Freger, Babugeri, Bansko, Bulgaria
E.GRESS & PLURA From 3 Nov – 13 Dec, IMMA’s Project Spaces hosted two exhibitions which explored the duality of absence and presence, and the relationship of ambiguous loss theory to the experience of dementia. E.gress, a multi-layered audio-visual artwork, produced by artist Marie Brett and musician Kevin O’Shanahan in collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, examined the ways in which those diagnosed with dementia navigate and adapt to a changing world. Daphne Wright’s Plura, a film work commissioned by South Tipperary County Council, used fragmented eighteenth-century classical figurative sculpture and, the press release noted, “the guttural sounds of male and female phonetic voices,” to invoke the act of remembering and the loss of memory in the context of language, conversation and relationships.
Belfast Exposed Gallery played host to Peter Evers’s video and motion capture recordings of human subjects in a laboratory, titled ‘Irresistible Drift’ (30 Oct – 23 Dec). Evers appropriated the sequences from the Perceiving Systems Department at Tübingen’s Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, whose scientists seek to make computers see. Running in the gallery during the same period, ‘Mask’ featured the work of contemporary photographers Charles Fréger (France) and Axel Hoedt LONG DIVISION (Denmark). Hoedt’s Dusk documented the carnival culture of southwestern Germany, Austria and Switzerland, while Fréger’s Wilder Mann captured the costumes and rituals of the myth of the ‘wild man’.
MAYO GOD HELP US!
daveymoor.com, opw.ie ‘Long Division’, exhibition poster
INSIDE OUTSIDE Catalyst Arts, Belfast presented Susan Boyle and Derek Sutherland’s ‘Long Laura Gallagher, image from ‘Mayo God Help Us’ Division’ from 6 – 28 Nov. Curated by The challenge to engage with the age- Mirja Koponen, Director of the Edinold phrase ‘Mayo God Help Us!’ was burgh arts space Interview Room 11, set by Rosemarie Noone, Director of the works dealt with the “unsaid” as Claremorris Gallery, in collaboration it manifests in contemporary culture, with Gaynor Seville of Mayo County the press release noted. Both of the Council’s Arts Office. Catherine Mar- Scottish artists played with chaos and shall, former head of collections at confusion in their investigations of IMMA and Patrick Murphy, director the unexpressed. Boyle’s photographs, Isobel Egan, image from ‘Inside Outside’ of the RHA, selected the works for the titled Disorder, appear at first glance to Riverbank Arts Centre presented a new exhibition, which was held at Clarem- be regular, but on closer examination exhibition of wall-mounted ceramic orris Gallery, 31 Oct – 30 Nov. The fea- reveal a sense of disruption. Suthersculptures by Isobel Egan (5 Nov – 22 tured artists were: Breda Burns, Peter land’s sculpture/installation Never Dec). Investigating the simplicities Burns, Aoife Casby, Mags Duffy, Laura Been in a Riot portrayed the remains of a and complexities of physical form and Gallagher, Michael Gannon, Pauline riot, where the audience is left to move inner perspective, the translucent, Garavan, Virginia Gibbons, Marliese amongst this ghostly debris. catalystarts.org.uk paper-like porcelain works engen- Hertfelder, Niall Kerrigan, Imelda der questions of space, stillness and Kilbane, Jo Killalea, Chris Leach, Alice containment, the press release noted. Maher, Caroline Masterson, Niall Mc- FLOATING WORLD Egan, who was awarded the Kildare Cormack, Shania McDonagh, Ruth Mc- The UK/Ireland/Japan-based FloatCounty Council’s Emerging Visual Donnell, John McHugh. John McNulty, ing World artists’ collective presented Artist Bursary in 2014, stated her desire Mary Noonan, Niamh O’Doherty, ‘Unfolding the Archive’ at Bank Street to “pique the curiosity of the viewer”, Conor O’Grady, Ann O’Mahony, Maeve Arts, Sheffield (4 Nov – 5 Dec), which
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
was held earlier this year at NCAD Gallery and F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio. The exhibition investigated the archives of the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL), with each artist responding to the archive in a way their reflected their own research and interests. With work ranging from the purely visual to the highly conceptual, the participating artists included Glenn Holman, Glynis Candler, Sarah Carne, Edwin Aitken, Simon Burton, James Fisher, Andy Parsons, Elizabeth Kinsella, Diane Henshaw, Niamh O’Connor and Hidehiko Ishibashi.
essay. The gallery is also hosting a solo exhibition by O’Kane, which encompasses prints, drawings, paintings and animated video. cavancorgallery.ie, imaginationdeadimagine.com
Seamus O’Byrne exhibited a series of oil paintings inspired by secret places in Sligo’s The Hyde Bridge Gallery, 20 Oct – 7 Nov. In O’Byrne’s work, the press release described, “lush tree tops and cascading ivy give way to high walls and musty sunlight”. The exhibition featured a series of oil paintings, which describe secret places, including craggy western coves, Knocknarea’s Hidden Glen and a Dublin garden loft, which is holds childhood memories for the artist. seamusobyrne.com Fix 2015 exhibition poster
SILVER, PART 3
bankstreetarts.com, floatingworldbooks.com Work by Dave West
A PROPOS DE...
Brian MacMahon, work from ‘A Propos de’
The House Restaurant, Howth, was the site of artist Dave West’s 15th solo exhibition (10 – 23 Nov). The works included his harbour paintings and paintings from Catalonia, a place which has proven to be a great source of inspiration for West over the past few years, and a number of paintings from his new series of still-lives. thehouse-howth.ie
Limerick’s Hunt Museum hosted ‘A propos de...’, an exhibition of Brian MacMahon’s recent paintings (30 Oct – 19 Nov). Born in Limerick in 1955, MacMahon studied in LSAD 1974 – 79 under Jack Donovan. His work encompasses richly coloured landscapes, still lifes and figurative subjects, conveyed in his trademark heavily-worked canvases.
Darn Thorn, Arcadia in Grey, 2015
12 artists from the Backwater Artists Group showed work in the ‘Silver Part 3’ exhibition in Uilinn: West Cork Arts Centre (21 Nov – 16 Dec). This was the third in a series of exhibitions celebrating the 25th anniversary of the group and featured the artists: Darn Thorn, Donna McNamara, Lorraine Cooke, Megan Eustacen, Éilis ní Fhaoláin, Fiona Kelly, Helen O’Keeffe, Angie Shanahan, Ben Reilly, Jo Kelley, Lorrain Neeson and Róisín Lewis. backwaterartists.ie, westcorkartscentre.com
ATRIUM Harry Moore’s pinhole photographs, ‘Atrium’, were displayed in the Irish Architectural Archive, 4 Dec – 29 Jan. As a chamber of the heart or as a central meeting point, atriums represent circulation, both of people and of blood. These cathedral-like spaces provide architects with the opportunity to play with structure, and it is this that interests Moore. iarc.ie/exhibitions, harrymoore.net
IMAGINATION DEAD IMAGINE BELTANY
CATCH OF THE DAY
‘Workhouse Union’ , exhibition poster
Curated by Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch, Callan Workhouse Union in Co. Kilkenny hosted a weekend series, which encompassed installation, video works, film screenings, performance and discussion (20 – 22 Nov). New work and research was shown by: Bridget O’Gorman, Brian Cregan, Deirdre O’Mahony, Vagabond Reviews, Katherine Waugh and Orlaith Treacy, while further contributions were made by Imogen Stidworthy, Aislinn O’Donnell, Sylvere Lotringer (via Skype) and Clara Rose Thornton.
SEAMUS O’BYRNE Image from ‘Imagination Dead Imagine’
Cavanacor Gallery, Lifford is currently hosting two exhibitions, ‘Imagination Dead Imagine’ and ‘Beltany’ (7 Nov - 20 Mar). To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Samuel Beckett’s Imagination Dead Imagine, typographic artist Jamie Murphy and artist David O’Kane collaborated on a new edition portfolio of loose sheets. Beckett scholar Stanley E. Gontarski introduced the work with an
includes local and international artists making live, sonic and performance art. For over 22 years, the event has presented an innovative programme in the city of Belfast. One of the longest running live art festivals in Europe, FIX has generated opportunities for emerging and established practitioners alike and provided work for a diversity of professionals, including artists, photographers, videographers, writers, curators and arts administrators. Opening on 3 Dec with a variety of events in the vicinity of Catalyst, the eleventh installment of the festival ran until 10 Dec. The opening festivities, in particular, emphasised the necessity of collaboration within the Belfast arts community in particular while endeavouring to achieve greater communal goals. Featured artists included: Cian Donnelly, Continuous Battle of Order, School Tour, Atom Tick, Dave Sherry, Emer Lynch, Harun Morrison, Ting Tong Chang, Rhubaba Choir, Ali Matthews, GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN, Kevin Burns and Patrick Coyle. Additional events took place across Belfast, including at Platform Arts, Array Studios, Pollen, The Bathhouse and QSS. FIX15 was supported by local artists, arts organisations, businesses and communities.
Pat Harris, Shaft, 2015, oil on linen, 90 x 115 cm
In ‘Thin Places’, Pat Harris’s paintings account the landscape of North Mayo, in particular Stonefield, Carrowteige and Kilgalligan in the parish of Kilcommon, Erris, where he and his partner have recently built an artist’s dwelling. In 1937 this area was described by Robert Lloyd Praeger as the loneliest place in Ireland, although he did admit that he found “such a place not lonely or depressing or inspiriting”. Exhibited in Taylor Galleries from 20 Nov – 14 Dec Harris’s paintings are as much about the space which rocks and island occupy as about the rocks and islands themselves. taylorgalleries.ie, patharris.info
Image from ‘Catch of the Day’
Following her 2014 residency at Sirius Arts Centre, Angelika Höger returned to Cobh with a solo show (6 – 26 Nov) investigating the “unsung undertones of the sea”, the press release stated, which had influenced the experimental studies of her time there. Höger situated kinetic objects as well as sound and video works in a laboratory-type setting, examining abandoned objects and observing the easily-missed aesthetic and acoustic happenings of the Cork coast. As part of the exhibition, a talk/performance with artist and musician Katie O’Looney took place on 25 Nov.
JOIN THE DOTS Sylvia Callan exhibited a selection of new work in Signal Arts Centre (23 Nov – 6 Dec). Tailored to the Bray space, the exhibition demonstrated the artist’s investigations into patterns, using traditional methods of gesso on board. signalartscentre.ie
FINDERS & KEEPERS John Kindness, Aristotle Contemplating Laundry (after Ibn Bakhtishu), enamel, oil and gold leaf on steel washer panel, 60 x 62 x 6cm
Seamus O’Byrne, Woodland Veil, 2015
In March 2015, artist/curator Claire Halpin began working with a group of older people from Dún LaoghaireRathdown to curate the exhibition ‘Finders and Keepers’, which ran at the Municipal Gallery in the dlr Lexicon, 20 Nov – 16 Jan. The show contained works from the State Art Collection, selected after a series of weekly meetings, during which the group researched and selected from the collection. The resulting exhibition included an eclectic mix of state-owned art. Running alongside the exhibition was a series of workshops, demonstrations, talks and discussions.
FIX15 Established in 1994 by artist-led organisation Catalyst Arts, FIX is an internationally renowned festival, which
Image from ‘Finders Keepers’
The Molesworth Gallery in Dublin 2 played host to the work of John Kindness, Catherine Barron and Norman Mooney (5 – 28 Nov). The work of the exhibiting artists is concerned with surfaces, constituting an integral part of the aesthetics and concepts of their art practice. The exhibition also incorporated
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
ROUNDUP paper works by Mooney, where delicate and kinetic images were formed by smoking the paper. molesworthgallery.com
THE ECONOMY OF APPEARANCES
Image by Salah Ibrahim
Mark Curran, ‘The Economy of Appearance’
Mark Curran’s exhibition ‘The Economy of Appearances’, curated by Helen Carey, ran at Limerick City Gallery of Art 3 Sept – 30 Oct. Curran drew from a cycle of long-term projects, beginning in 1998, which addressed the predatory context resulting from flows and migrations of global capital. Curran further expanded and developed this enquiry with newly commissioned work completed in the financial district in Amsterdam, heart of the highly-complex international trading culture and shadow banking system. Incorporating photographs, film, soundscape, artefacts, 3D visualisation/virtualisation and testimonies, Curran’s themes included, he stated, “algorithmic machinery of financial markets, as innovator of this technology, absorption of crises as normalisation of deviance, and long range mapping and consequences of financial activity distanced from citizens and everyday life”. gallery.limerick.ie
NORTH OF MYTH – NORTH OF HOME
Sudanese artists Salah Ibrahim and Ahmed Hussein, both of whom are based in Darfur. Salah Ibrahim’s work is inspired by the ethically-diverse tribes of Darfur. Ahmed Hussein hails from the Dajo tribe, who were prominent in the ancient kingdom of Kush, the black pharaonic dynasty of Sudan. Much of the symbolism and imagery of this civilisation imbues his work. This exhibition promises to offer an insight into a fascinating, ancient and richly diverse culture that is little understood and remains in relative obscurity.
WORD MADE FLESH: ILLUMINATIONS IN A TIME OF DARKNESS
Lisa Bell, Deus Misereateur, Psalm 67, 2013
Christ Church Cathedral presented an exhibition by American artist Lisa Bell (6 Jan – 8 Feb). Bell’s work is a fusion of contemporary painting and Early Christian and Medieval manuscript illumination. The press release stated: “Combining bold, visceral fields of colour with historical scripts, she illuminates texts taken from Christian liturgy, music, and scripture. Traditional calligraphy and colour symbolism are juxtaposed with modern materials and a lush, painterly style”. christchurchcathedral.ie
Telegraph Line III
‘North of Myth – North of Home’, an international collaborative art exhibition by Northern Irish artist Maurice Orr and Canadian artist Joyce Majiski, ran at the Mid-Ulster Museum 11 Dec – 6 Feb. The exhibition is the result of an international cultural exchange between both artists, who share a love of exploring new places and their natural surroundings. thebraid.com
DESERT TO DOORUS From 30 Dec – 10 Jan, Kinvara Area Visual Arts at the Courthouse, Kinvara, County Galway, presented ‘Desert to Doorus’, which featured paintings by
196 ‘196’, by Bernadette Dolan, ran at the Copperhouse Gallery, Dublin (9 – 22 Dec). Between 2000 –2010, 196 children died while in care in Ireland, and Dolan takes these startling statistics as the impetus for her exhibition, which comprises 196 individual representations of the young lives lost in varied circumstances throughout this decade. The artist states: “Behind every number in a statistic is an individual, but often the faces get lost in the masses of numerical data”. thecopperhousegallery.com, bernadettedolan.com
Culture Night Belfast – Cathedral Quarter Trust, Gentle Dental Care Belfast IRELAND 2016 COMMUNITY and Cinemagic Film and Television PARTICIPATION PROGRAMME Festival for Young People and Translink It was announced there would be a €3m and Cinemagic Film and Television funding package to support the proFestival for Young People gramme of local events planned to mark Visual Artists Ireland is also shortthe centenary of the Easter Rising. Over listed for the Allianz Arts and Business 2,000 events and initiatives have already NI Arts Award alongside Arts Care, been confirmed for next year as part of Belfast Photo Festival, c21 Theatre the local-authority-led county plans for Company Ltd, Cinemagic Film and Ireland 2016. The programmes feature Television Festival for Young People, events and initiatives ranging across all Culture Night Belfast – Cathedral seven strands of the national programme, Quarter Trust, Lyric Theatre, Millennium with a strong emphasis on arts and culForum Theatre and Conference Centre, tural events. This funding package will PLACE NI, Sestina Music, South Bank enable local communities to deliver on Playhouse, the MAC (Metropolitan Arts their ambitious programmes for next Centre) and Waterside Theatre and Arts year. It will also help to ensure the maxiCentre. Further information and a full mum level of participation and engagelist of categories and shortlisted organiment, across all sectors of the communisations are available on the Arts and ty, in this once-in-a-century moment in Business website. Ireland’s history. artsandbusinessni.org.uk The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme is a yearlong programme of NEW APPOINTMENTS TO THE BOARD activities to commemorate the events of OF IMMA the 1916 Rising, to reflect on Ireland’s Minister of Arts, Heritage and the achievements over the last 100 years and Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has to look towards Ireland’s future. The 31 announced appointments to the board of local and community plans are a core the Irish Museum of Modern Art. element of the Community Participation Humphreys indicated her intention strand of Ireland 2016, one of the seven to appoint Mr David Harvey as Chair of programme strands alongside State the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The Ceremonial, Historical Reflection, An Minister will also be appointing Mr Teanga Bheo – the Living Language, Dermod Dwyer, Ms Penelope Kenny and Youth and Imagination, Cultural Ms Mary Apied as ordinary members of Expression and Global and Diaspora. The the board immediately. Mr Tim Scanlon, programmes are the outcome of 84 pubMr Denis Hickie, Mr Declan Moylan and lic consultation meetings held all around Ms Mary McCarthy will be appointed as the country during the Spring and early vacancies arise in January and early Summer. Full details of the county proFebruary 2016. Mr Gerard Byrne will take grammes are available on the website his place on the board on 3 February. below. The appointees applied for the posiireland.ie tions through stateboards.ie and were recommended through the Public VAI SHORTLISTED IN ALLIANZ ARTS Appointments Service as having the reqAND BUSINESS NI AWARDS 2016 uisite skills requirement for the board of The shortlist for the Allianz Arts and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The Business NI Awards 2016 were appointments are for a term of five years. announced, with Visual Artists Ireland For further information contact shortlisted in three categories. The email@example.com. nesses shortlisted range from the worlds of banking and dental to legal and printing. Arts entrants cover a variety of art CULTURE IRELAND ARTS SUPPORT forms, including theatre, music, photogCulture Ireland has awarded €1.2m for raphy and literature. The Arts Award Irish artists and arts organisations to supincludes a £3,000 prize, while the Allianz port the presentation of Irish arts globalCommunity Art Award and a prize of ly in 2016. £2000 will be presented to the winning The projects, covering circus, dance, organisation. The winners will be film, literature, music, theatre and the revealed at the Allianz Arts and Business visual arts, will take place across 35 NI Awards ceremony, which takes place countries in 2016. Included in the fundat the Grand Opera House, Belfast on ing is annual support for key partner Wednesday 20 January 2016. organisations, the Irish Arts Center New Suki Tea Ltd and Visual Artists York and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris Ireland are shortlisted for the Allianz for their programmes presenting Irish Arts and Business NI Cultural Branding artists in these key venues. The grant Award, alongside Fielden Clegg Bradley funding will facilitate Irish arts events in Studios and PLACE NI, Gentle Dental priority countries such as Brazil, Russia, Care Belfast and Cinemagic Film and China and India, in addition to various Television Festival for Young People, Iris European countries, the United States Colour and Belfast Photo Festival, the and Canada. A significant number of the Allianz Arts and Business NI New events will take place over the St. Patrick’s Sponsor Award, with Belfast Harbour Day period, which offers a special opporand Arts Care, Belfast Harbour and tunity to highlight the strength of Irish
January – February 2016
artists at a time when there is a global focus on Ireland. These events span Irish traditional bands touring the US to an Irish film, music and theatre festival in Moscow. Many Irish visual artists will be presented at key international art fairs throughout 2016 including fairs in Hong Kong, New York, Brussels and London. The support awarded by Culture Ireland helps to ensure that Irish artists continue to reach international audiences and foster new connections worldwide, maintaining Ireland’s reputation as a country of strong creativity. cultureireland.ie, ahg.gov.ie
ADDITIONAL 2016 FUNDING An additional funding allocation of €5m for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was announced today. It brings the total 2016 allocation for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to over €315 million, an increase of almost 14% on the 2015 allocation. The additional funding breaks down as follows: an additional €1 million for the Arts Council for 2016; €2 million for the new Mary Robinson Centre, Ballina; an additional €1 million for Udaras na Gaeltachta; €500,000 boost for the Irish Film Board, soon to be Screen Ireland; an extra €500,000 in support for the Heritage Council. ahg.gov.ie
DUBLIN ART BOOK FAIR The fifth Dublin Art Book Fair took place 18 – 22 November in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios and featured a wide variety of art and photography books and publications for sale. The fair joined with ID2012 and VIEW Temple Bar Arts and Politics weekend in staging a series of events, which focused on design and its effects. There was newly commissioned art by Miranda Blennerhassett, a showcase of new furniture design, a public lecture by Dr Linda King, political debates, a design panel discussion on ‘The Future of the Book’, book signings and workshops, a concert by the Contemporary Music Centre, a spoken word event from Meat Scandal and a pop-up café by The Market Kitchen. templebargallery.com
WORKSPACE SCHEME 2016 The results of the Visual Artists’ Workspace Scheme for 2016 have been announced. This scheme offers grants of up to a maximum of €30,000 towards the running costs of visual artists’ workspaces. In keeping with the Art Council’s policy document Visual Artists’ Workspaces in Ireland – A New Approach, this scheme has the aim of assisting artists workspaces throughout the country to provide the best possible environment for working visual artists and, where feasible, to enable a level of subsidy for resident visual artists. In total, 14 were awarded funding for 2016. The total amount awarded was €185,000.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
South County Dublin: Resources & Activities Room For Response RUA RED aspires to foster the human need to explore possibility and, as the hub of creativity for the south of Dublin, it aims to do so in the context of a gallery space. Over the course of 2015, the vaulted white cubes of RUA RED have provided the space to ponder myriad themes. The programme has not shied from engaging with the difficult issues of modern society and has always allowed the viewer room for response. The year began with new work by Stephen Skrynka in Gallery One. ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ was based on the artist’s endeavour to learn how to ride the Wall of Death constructed by Longford men Connie Kiernan and Michael Donoghue in the late 1970s. The exhibition served as a meditation on perseverance and dreams. As part of the exhibition, the Messhams, a family who have been performing the Wall of Death for generations, spent two days actually performing the feat. In Gallery Two, juxtaposed with ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ and helping to place the local, national and universal alongside one another, was a series of 10 paintings of Tallaght family homes by Dublin artist Mary Burke, curated by Tallaght Community Arts. RUA RED seeks to respect and explore the spectrum of both audience and artist perspectives. The principle objective of any exhibition is to engage the public with meaningful content, which allows for personal interpretation according to individual sensibility. This may be an obvious proclamation, but it is pertinent. The difficulties of exhibiting such material and gaining such traction are very real considering the absence, until recently, of any platform for the arts within the local area. This makes exhibitions such as ‘Young Curators’ and the ‘Winter Open Exhibition’ integral to the centre’s success. The invitation to participate must be sung out as loudly as the content on show. RUA RED’s calendar has developed an intrinsic sense of continuity, borne of the awards and residencies granted by the centre. This sense of continuity is furthered by the success of Glitch, which is unique in being the only digital art festival in Ireland. With the notion of a discombobulated war room as his point of reference, resident curator Paul McAree presented ‘Telling Lies’ (25 April – 23 May). The exhibition examined significant issues that many simply don’t know how to discuss. Pieces such as Cliona Harmey’s Data-Sky, which utilised elements of sculpture, programming, hacking and electronics, serve as testaments to the breadth of potential materials and the focus upon volition and meaning that is central to RUA RED’s attitude towards the arts. As the information age firmly takes root, its nefarious elements,
Exhibition view, ‘Deadeye’, RUA RED
The Finer Details such as dehumanised drone and digital technologies, are placed to the fore. The artists in this group show explored the consequences of our sacrifice of awareness and privacy for all that falls under the blanket term ‘security’. Alongside this, RUA RED’s artist in residence Sinead Hughes investigated the role of the home in contemporary life. Personal narratives of local individuals were granted de facto depiction, for how we are is equally important as how we might be. Maggie Madden’s ‘Field’ featured delicate, detailed constructions of both natural and processed materials whose points of nexus held abundant tension as well as all the fragility inherent to our highly networked society. Marie Farrington’s sculptures engaged in a poetically introspective exploration of numerous materials and how they decay, as well as the values and significance that have come to be held by these objects. Curated by Paul McAree, September’s exhibition ‘Deadeye’ comprised selected works from some of Ireland’s most eminent artistic figures: Martin Healy, Lorraine Neeson and Niamh O’Malley. Again, a breadth of materials and creative domains were employed to bring about the exhibition. A litany of contemplations like “How much does our environment control us?” and even “What does it mean to be?” spring forth as the viewer engages with the works. The RUA RED ‘Winter Open Exhibition’ ran until 24 December and served as a testament to the centre’s expansion of the arts in the locality over recent years. The winner of last year’s Judge’s Award, Oisín O’Brien, presented a solo exhibition in tandem with the Open. All the components of his site-specific installation convened to express a fascination with some basic oral acts: talking, smoking, palette cleansing and sticking your tongue out to concentrate. A chattering about the anxieties of contemporary lifestyles and the battle to subdue and control them plays out in the work. The RUA RED gallery provides a focal point for the building; however, it is the close intertwining of the disciplines held within the space that ensures no facet of the arts is forgotten. It is important to remember how much theses influences contribute to developing a creative atmosphere. With this in mind, RUA RED can look forward to continuing relevant, meaningful discussion that builds upon the successes of 2015 and strengthens the significance of the arts across south Dublin. Orla McGovern, Marketing Assistant, RUA RED ruared.ie
Image from ‘Wall of Death, RUA RED
Shevaun Doherty, Carrots of the Revolution (Daucus carota), Egyptian Purple Carrots
Shevaun Doherty awarded a gold medal at Bloom
LIKE many artists, I have loved art ever since I was a child. Growing up in an artistic home, there was always plenty of encouragement, but, as so often happens, my life took a different route. It was only when I moved from Ireland to Egypt in 2005 that I started to paint full time. I have always had a keen interest in the natural world, and so it was when I visited the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew Gardens, London, in 2008 that I realised I wanted to be a botanical artist. I was mesmerised by the work that I saw there. The intensity of the colours and the sheer technical skill required to achieve such meticulous detail was mind-blowing. I was still living in Egypt at the time but discovered that the Society of Botanical Artists (SBA) offered a Long Distance Diploma Course, which suited my needs perfectly. Botanical art needs patience, skill and an appreciation for nature. It is a form of visual storytelling wherein the role of the artist is to describe how the plant grows, looks and feels. Each piece takes careful research and planning, because as well as being aesthetically pleasing, it has to be botanically correct. I would normally spend a week doing studies and colour matching and then spend anything from two weeks to a month on a painting. I work with magnifiers so that I can see the finer details, like the hairs on the leaf or the tiny spots on a petal. I love the challenge of getting the details just right and I’m constantly learning amazing things about the natural world. The course lasted 27 months and, while I was living in Egypt, the revolution took place. The city was under curfew and there were tanks outside my home, but I kept myself busy and calm by painting purple carrots. It was very surreal. I moved back to Dublin in 2011, where I completed the rest of the SBA course, gaining a distinction. As most of my work is painted from life, I missed the bright sunshine of the Middle East, but I have to admit that when the sun shines here in Ireland, it’s just glorious. I also appreciate the long hours of daylight that we get here in the summer, as it extends the painting day. The great thing about being an artist in Ireland is that the Irish people are inherently friendly and have a genuine appreciation for art. Being in Dublin is fantastic because there are a wealth of museums, galleries and gardens on our doorstep. Unlike in many other big cities, I have found
that galleries here are also very approachable and are willing to share their resources and to give access to artists. Shortly after I completed my course, I contacted the National Botanic Gardens, and the seeds of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists (ISBA) were sown. Botanical art is experiencing something of a revival at the moment, and there has been a keen interest in the society from the start. Through the ISBA I have met other botanical artists, who have been really encouraging and supportive. The ISBA had its inaugural exhibition, ‘Aibítir’, in 2013, and preparations are now underway for a second project, ‘Plandaí’, with the Irish Garden Plant Society, to take place in 2016. One of the highlights of the botanical year in Dublin is the ‘Botanical and Floral Art in Bloom’ exhibition at the Bloom Festival in Phoenix Park. Now in its fourth year, it is growing in popularity, with more and more artists submitting work each year. It’s a juried exhibition and the standard is extremely high, so I am honoured to have been awarded two gold medals and one silver medal for my paintings. Conservation is another area that really interests me, and botanical art is a perfect way to raise awareness. People might not read an article, but good art will catch their eye. So when I was asked by the National Biodiversity Centre to paint a bumblebee for the cover of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (National Biodiversity Data Centre, 2015), I immediately said yes. This is a nationwide plan to make Ireland a place where pollinators thrive and survive. More bees mean more beautiful gardens! Given the time required to complete a painting, botanical art is not hugely profitable for the artist, but it is very satisfying to be able to do something that I feel passionate about. I am a tutor for London Art College and the SBA, both of which offer distance learning programmes. I find teaching very rewarding and write a blog about my art process. I am also studying digital marketing, an area that I feel could be of great benefit to artists in Ireland, given our small population. I am excited by new possibilities and am really looking forward to the year ahead. Shevaun Doherty is an artist based in Dublin. botanicalsketches.blogspot.ie shevaundoherty.com
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Dorota Borowa, Blue Black Wave,2015, 180x120cm, oil on canvas
Dorota Borowa, Charcoal Grey Mountain, 2014, 15.5x30cm, oil on paper
Dorota Borowa, Touching the Moon, 24x30cm, oil on canvas
I start my day in Adamstown with meditation (my favourite souvenir from Thailand). It’s proven very beneficial to my work, as it helps me to deal with the ups and downs of painting. I paint quickly; I can do a painting in a couple of hours, but I am very rarely happy with it and often cover it with primer again. Meditation helps me to remember that it is just a part of the process and allows me to serenely paint the canvas white and start afresh. Landscapes have become my main source of inspiration. I choose simple subjects: a whole panorama with sky, hills, trees, fields and clouds is too much for me. So now I pick only one: one wave, one mountain, the moon, a cloud, a circle, a line. I do not want to capture one scene, but rather reflect a memory, a mental picture that has been inspired by several different photographs or sketches. Then I start working. I usually start on an oil pad as I like small paintings or very big ones; nothing in between. My work reminds me of maths, which I really liked at school. I paint the canvas and then I remove the paint from it by using various liquids. I add, subtract, add and subtract again. I am always open to accidents. That’s what makes my work so exciting to me. I never know where I will end up. Sometimes I follow the way the paint flows; sometimes I impose my own will. I hope that in this way my painting becomes a place between reality and abstraction, between accident and design, between perfection and destruction. I also try to use tools other than brushes to add meaning to my works. I painted Touching the Moon, for example, using my fingerprints. Light is probably the main subject of my work. Limiting myself to one paint lets me work with the painting’s own radiance, the natural light of white primed canvas. Light is also the main theme of my video works Light Paintings. I start by making paper Academy of Fine Arts, knew many people and had collages, which, when attached to a window, evolve lots of friends – to start a completely new chapter in through sunlight. The final result of this process is a a new country. But I suppose that’s what can happen video work documenting the changes made by the sunlight on my collages. The aim is not to paint when you fall in love. In Poland I had unconsciously developed a sunlight but to make the sunlight paint my work. network of other artists, curators, art critics, galleries The works are very subtle; the mountains get etc., so I found it challenging to learn about the Irish blurred and later you can slowly make out their art scene from scratch. I was very grateful for the edge, like a fragment of landscape on a distant opportunity to intern at the Talbot Gallery and horizon. Painting is a process like life. You have to live to Studios for a few months. It was a perfect introduction and led me to participate in my first understand some things. I believe I have to paint quite a few bad paintings to get to where I want to Irish group show. Last year I had the good fortune to be able to be. I can’t really speed it up. I was very excited to travel in Asia for five months. It was amazing to live have two of my works exhibited at the recent art fair my life without a fixed abode, duties or deadlines, VUE in the RHA. I was also delighted to present my and with only one rucksack. It was an experience first Irish solo show ‘Lunar’ at Dublin’s Eight Gallery that forced me to really stop and reflect on life. It in November 2015. It comprised the highlights of also inspired me to start a new project called Map my last two years of work. Books. I created several books, each of which poses Dorota Borowa is an artist based in Dublin. one question to the reader before being passed on to cargocollective.com/dorotaborowa facebook.com/mapbooks a carefully chosen fellow traveler. ADAMSTOWN is a very quiet and green suburb of Dublin. It was supposed to be the pièce de résistance for a number of planned towns in South Dublin County, but only Adamstown made it. I guess that’s where the name Adam comes from. You can see traces of grandeur, especially at the train station, though I have never seen more than 10 people inside the station at any one time. With its wide open architecture, more suited to a tropical hotspot, it looks deserted and melancholy, like one of Hopper’s paintings. I decided to live in Adamstown in April 2013. It was a strange and difficult choice to leave my Warsaw life behind – where I graduated from the
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Public Purpose SOUTH Dublin County Council Arts Office works in partnership with individuals and organisations to deliver arts services and programmes that have a public purpose. It supports creative spaces such as RUA RED South Dublin Arts Centre, which opened in 2009, to facilitate opportunities for artists and producers to create and present their work in a professional environment. It is an objective of the council to promote and support the county’s arts and cultural providers as well as its individual practitioners. Direct support for visual artists takes the form of bursaries and awards. The council has made over 130 awards since the introduction of the Individual Artist Bursary Award in 2000, the majority of which have been in the visual-arts category. The annual Bursary Award, which will next be promoted in March 2016, is open to artists living or working in the South Dublin County administrative area. The scheme aims to provide support for individual artists of all disciplines to pursue a particular project or to further enhance their career within the arts. The maximum amount of any award is €2,500. Artists are chosen on the basis of the quality of their ideas, the uniqueness of the proposal, the clarity of their artistic direction and vision, their commitment to innovation in form and content, and the significance of the proposal to the artistic development of the applicant. Recipients of the award have included Margaret O’Brien, Richard Carr, Nora O’Murchu, Molly Dwyer, Jessica Kennedy, Kevin Gaffney and Fiona O’Reilly. The Young Artist Development Award was introduced in 2015. This award is designed to support the practice and/or career development of young artists aged 18–25 in any art form other than music. The winners of this award for 2015 were textile artist Jessica Sheil and visual artist Ciara O’Brien, both recent graduates of NCAD. In general, there have been fewer commissioning opportunities under the Local Authority Per Cent for Art schemes in recent years, alongside a downturn in publicly-funded housing construction. South Dublin County Council, however, is currently preparing a strategy for the commissioning of a new public-art programme, the fourth
phase of ‘In Context’, which will lead to commissioning opportunities for artists in 2016. Public-art advisors and curators Claire Power and Aoife Tunney were recently appointed to the programme. Claire Power is a Brussels-based independent cultural consultant and producer who works with a variety of arts organisations and individuals internationally. She was director of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios until 2014. Aoife Tunney is an independent curator who has worked with Wicklow County Council, Eva International, The Model and Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. Partnerships between venues, artists and the local authorities have been an increasingly prominent feature of project-based programming, such as artistic residencies, festivals and events, in the county. Creative Campus, which supports student artists in the development of their practice, is another example of this move towards collaboration. The programme, run in partnership with Tallaght Community Arts and NCAD, takes place from January to May each year. Participants work with their peers to realise artworks for public exhibition, focusing on the potentialities of audience interactions with and reactions to the work produced. The student artists establish mentoring relationships with professional artists and curators while they work towards exhibition. Furthermore, the mentees themselves link with second-level students through workshops and exhibition tours. This collaborative approach is likely to continue into the future. Currently, South Dublin County Arts Office is entering a brief research phase in order to inform the development of a new five-year South Dublin County Arts Development Strategy. The purpose of this is to explore the vital issues for the arts at present and in the future. Artists are invited to participate in this consultation and to bring their expertise and insight to this process. Feedback from similar consultations in the past has had an impact on the strategy.
Andreas Kopp, The Marker Tree, part of the In Context public art project
Andreas Kopp, The Marker Tree, part of the In Context public art project
Orla Scannell, South County Dublin Arts Officer sdcc.ie
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
HOW IS IT MADE?
Vanessa Donoso Lopez, ‘Eye before e except after see’, Limerick City Gallery of Arts, 2011, installation shot
Unpolluted Language VANESSA DONOSO LÓPEZ DISCUSSES THE WORK BEHIND HER EXHIBITION ‘EYE BEFORE E EXCEPT AFTER SEE’, WHICH RAN AT LIMERICK CITY GALLERY OF ART, 16 JULY – 28 AUGUST 2015.
Vanessa Donoso Lopez, ‘Eye before e except after see’, Limerick City Gallery of Arts, 2015
January – February 2016
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
HOW IS IT MADE?
Vanessa Donoso Lopez, ‘Eye before e except after see’, Limerick City Gallery of Arts, 2015
Vanessa Donoso Lopez, ‘Eye before e except after see’, Limerick City Gallery of Arts, 2015
GROWING up in Spain when it was emerging from a 35-year dictatorship, my experience of diversity was very limited. The country at that time was overtly homogeneous, but this sparked my inquisitiveness about alternative ways of achieving things. Seeing my older sister, now a doctor of anthropology, travelling the world also fed my curiosity and gave me an insight into other cultures. After a revealing trip to Sweden in my early twenties, I decided to learn English so that I would be able to communicate better with the world. I applied for an Erasmus grant at the Winchester School of Art and ended up staying for two years to finish my degree. Life in the UK was very different. The cultural shock was massive. Huge. Ginormous. The mundane became dramatic and the familiar became terrifying. But as Lacan would have described it, it became a real jouissance experience; it felt so pleasurable that it hurt. Living in a foreign land, the limitations of oral communication become more obvious. I often find myself inadvertently rescuing unusual words or inventing new ones when I am unable to express my thoughts with the relatively limited English at my disposal. These attempts at expressing myself, which might be incomprehensible to some, could be understood as an ‘unpolluted’ form of language. Perhaps this alternative manner of speech is in fact more authentic, as it emerges organically when you have not yet learnt to manipulate a language, to shape its appearance or to form lies, sarcasm and puzzles. But it is sometimes sad to think that I might only be enjoying a watered-down version of the relationship I could have with someone if we shared a mother tongue. I also risk saying something that might be misunderstood or hold unintentional weight. Learning English was only the beginning of a much longer journey towards understanding the culture of my new home. On completion of my art degree, I was selected to do a residency at the Cyprus College of Art. Interaction with some Irish artists during my stay turned my interest towards Ireland. Dublin seemed like a comfortable place to live and an ideal base from which to work. In 2004, I undertook a nine-month work placement at IMMA, which fully seduced me into moving permanently to this green island, where I have lived ever since. This new culture fuelled my interest in language, cross-cultural identities, acculturation processes and other issues related to inhabiting another culture. In 2012 and 2013, when I was selected to show at Ormston House in Limerick, I met Helen Carey, then director of Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA). Over the following months, we had some interesting conversations about my work, followed by studio visits, and a year later Helen offered me a solo show at LCGA. I was thrilled. This gave me the chance to evaluate and analyse the work I had produced over the past 10 years. At the time I was particularly focused on ideas surrounding adult homesickness and acculturation processes. The title of the show, ‘Eye Before E Except After See’, is a play on the common rhyme used to assist with English spellings. It reflects the constant misunderstandings that occur when you are learning a language, which often lead to a
these rooms contained a mix of old and new work. The installation on show in the Carnegie Gallery, however, was a completely new body of work made specifically for this exhibition. Prior to the show, I had received a six-month Sculpture and Bursary Award from the Fire Station Artists’ Studios; there, I produced the clay pieces for this room, which became a crucial aspect of the exhibition. As the material was new to me at this time, I started working with industrial clay, which is easy to obtain. After a while, I found ways to manufacture my own. The Wicklow Mountains were the first place I chose to dig. I recovered white and ochre clays, both of which produced exciting results when processed. In January 2015, Dublin City Council contacted me after hearing that I was working with self-dug clay. I was commissioned to undertake a project on Bull Island, Dublin, looking specifically at its soil, as part of the United Nations International Year of Soils. Following this, the investigation expanded into different areas: Wicklow, Dublin city centre and then Barcelona and Mallorca. Hundreds and hundreds of study pieces came out of the repetitive, labour-intensive method of digging that I developed. They were first placed chronologically along the wall of the studio and later in the gallery space, though only the paler pieces I made were selected to be shown. The repetitive action of digging was a primal and intimate process. As I dug continuously on my own, I considered clay as a representation of genesis and origin. I deliberately chose manual labour in order to maintain a close and familiar relationship with the works. With this material, I created fired-clay beads, as well as plaited and knotted shapes. Many pieces were strung in necklace-like forms, which brought some order and pattern to the clay’s organic and somewhat chaotic beginnings. It reflected our journey from the primordial to the comfort of familiarity. The show was accompanied by a booklet, which I developed with three writers. Dr. Ross Birrell, lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art, wrote a piece in response to ideas around material experimentation. Beatriz Escudero García, curator and friends’ coordinator at MACBA Barcelona, focused on play. Finally, Helen Carey, former director of LCGA and current director of the Fire Station Artists’ Studios, wrote on repetition processes. I am currently working on my upcoming solo show at Dublin’s Cultural Spanish Institute, Instituto Cervantes, which opens in February 2016. In April 2016, I will be taking part in the Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm, with Ormston House, Limerick. My solo show at The Lab, Dublin, will open in September and will feature more thorough results from my ongoing research into self-dug clay.
Vanessa Donoso Lopez, ‘Eye before e except after see’, Limerick City Gallery of Arts, 2015
feeling of displacement. Looking at my work retrospectively, I soon identified the three main ways that I cope with homesickness: play, material experimentation and repetition. These three actions determined the physical divisions within the show. In the LCGA’s Herbert Rooms, I centred my attention on material experimentation. I explored my chosen materials in a basic and almost infantile way, using a wide range of materials in the installation: paper, dyes, inks, wood, branches, plaster, fabric, glass and live plants from Barcelona. I made works using chromatographic techniques that I learned in school, using absorbent paper sourced in Ireland and Spanish inks, which separate when they are absorbed. The way in which the object is formed in this process symbolises how certain things separate in time and space and are then reunited. It reflects our eternal search for answers by reducing things down to simpler forms. Within the exhibition, information was carried from one context to another in a very literal way. I wanted to engage with a range of materials from different sources. It became a “direct investigation of the properties of materials” (Robert Morris on Eva Hesse, 1968). In the Dark Room Gallery, I focused on play, using elements from both my culture of origin and my chosen culture. The pieces of small furniture and most of the other objects were gathered or made from materials found in Barcelona or Dublin: collected sounds, gadgets, lights and magnets. I built a transitional space where my inner Spanish reality and outer Irish reality met, inspired by the concept of transitional space defined in 1951 by the English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. The audience was then invited, almost forced, to play within this area. In these two first rooms, I wanted to show the various approaches that I have taken towards my practice over the last decade, and both
vanessadonosolopez.com kevinkavanaghgallery.ie templebargallery.com
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Kooshk BARRY KEHOE REPORTS ON THE IRANIAN AND IRISH CRITICAL ART WRITERS’ EXCHANGE, WHICH WAS SPONSORED BY THE KOOSHK ARTIST RESIDENCY, TEHRAN AND IMMA, DUBLIN, AND HELD IN TEHRAN (2 – 24 NOVEMBER) AND DUBLIN (26 NOVEMBER – 12 DECEMBER).
Siamak Denzeldeh, Anne Mullee and Barry Kehoe at Kooshk Artist Residence
ART writer Anne Mullee and I were selected, through an open call, to be the first Irish participants in this new exchange programme. The Iranian art writer selected for the exchange was Siamak Denzeldeh. Though the Kooshk Artist Residency in Tehran was founded only two years ago, to foster creative cultural exchanges between Iranian and international art practitioners, Anne Mullee and I were not the first Irish people to have enjoyed their hospitality. In June of this year, Kevin Gaffney received the Kooshk Artist’s Residency Award (KARA) and undertook a fully-funded, month-long residency. In September 2015, the artists/filmmakers Esperanza Collado (Michael Higgins and Dean Kavanagh) stayed in Kooshk for two weeks while the Experimental Film Society ran a series of screenings and talks in Tehran galleries. Their work was shown in the cinema at the Museum of Contemporary Art along with films by Rouzbeh Rashidi, Maximilian Le Cain and Atoosa Pour Hosseini. Kooshk is located in the heart of one of the world’s megacities. With a population of over 16 million, the immense scale of Tehran and the sheer number of human beings who live there take a bit of getting used to. Friday is the best day to visit galleries in the city. In the weekly religious cycle, Thursday/Friday is the equivalent of our Saturday/Sunday, and as a result the endless traffic jams that fill the streets abate a little, making it possible to drive around. The city gallery guide lists 35 private contemporary art galleries, but during our short stay we only managed to see a fraction of these. In an attempt to better understand the history and culture of Iran, we took five days out of our contemporary art schedule to travel through central Iran. We visited several ancient sites: the Zoroastrian fire temple in Yazd, where the sacred fire of Ahura Mazda has been burning since 470 AD; the twelfth-century palace of Chehel Sotoon in Esfahan, built by the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I and decorated with the most exquisite miniature murals; the seventeenth-century Masjed-e Shah mosque, also in Esfahan, complete with beautiful ceramic tiled decoration; the shrine of the martyr Sayyed Mir Ahmed in Shiraz, with its incredible mirrored interior; and the inspiring ruins of the ancient capital of the first Persian empire, built by Darius and Xerxes at Persepolis. This exhausting whirlwind tour through these ancient and historic monuments helped us to begin to understand the cultural heritage that informs much of contemporary art practice in Iran. One of the contemporary art highlights was the New Media Society exhibition ‘Strangeness of Banality and Other Stories’, curated by Amirali Ghasemi and Behzad Khosravi Noori and recently shown in Stockholm. It included a short animated film called The Noise, directed by Pooya Razi, in which the protagonist struggles to maintain his privacy when a troublesome neighbour takes exception to his
Barry Kehoe, Anne Mullee and Siamak Denzeldeh speaking at Hanooz Publishing
behaviour. The theme of tension between public and private life in Iranian culture resurfaced several times during our short visit. We also had the opportunity to do several studio visits and had meetings with artists whose work focused more on the social tensions arising from Iran’s recent history. We met Ghazal Radpay (Ghazel) at her exhibition ‘Intersections’ in the Azad gallery. Her performancebased work stems from her meetings and collaborations with people that she calls ‘the invisible’ – the immigrants she meets working on the streets of both Paris and Tehran. Painter Masoumeh Mozaffari, whose studio we visited, makes large-scale figurative works that record the mood and atmosphere in Iran during moments of social tension and turmoil. These themes are also evident in the work of Tooraj Khamenehzadeh, in his photo series Apprehension Jungle, and in the work of Jinoos Taghizadeh in her show ‘Open Wiring’ at the “O” Gallery. Collaborating artists Ramyar Manouchehrzadeh and Ali Nadjian explore similar ideas in their photo series We Live in a Paradoxical Society, featuring domestic tableaus that reveal the paradoxes that arise as a result of the strong social division of public and private life in Iran. Our visit included three scheduled public talks. The first was held at the Rybon Arts Centre. It was designed so that the three of us participating in the exchange could talk about our writing practice and try to find some common ground. The second was a large public talk held in the bookshop of Hanooz Publishing. This talk was titled ‘The crisis in criticism’, and there we each spoke about challenges that face art and art writing in the ever-changing world of culture and the arts, looking at global, Irish and Iranian contexts. The third and final talk took place at the Darbast Platform, a space attached to the Mohsen Gallery that is used for talks and screenings. We selected works by Iranian contemporary artists that we had seen over the previous two weeks and wrote a short critical text to present. This was an exercise in exchanging our approaches and points of view on the selected works. Siamak and I both spoke about the works of Abbas Akbari in his exhibition ‘An Oriental Devotion’, held at the Aun Gallery. Abbas, a lusterware ceramist, remade a thirteenth-century mihrab, the original of which was appropriated by a British collector of Persian antiquities and is now in the Pergamon museum in Berlin.1 In his re-making of the mihrab, Akbari incorporated modernist interventions that disrupt the historic object and, interestingly, suggest the possibility of modernist ideas and Islamic religious traditions finding common and harmonious ground. Anne Mullee and Siamak Denzeldah both spoke about the photographic work of Alireza Fani, which we saw in a show titled ‘Fake Lake/Fake Desert’ in the Moshen Gallery. The photographs are of two lakes: Lake Kahrizak, a leachate lake created from the 7,000 tonnes
of daily waste deposits produced by the city of Tehran, and Lake Urmia, a toxic salt lake created from the diversion of water for human and industrial consumption. Both of these lakes are products of environmental mismanagement. The photographs portray idyllic landscapes of contemplation and serenity that have arisen from the damage caused by human indifference. In our three weeks in Tehran, we barely scratched the surface of the city’s complex and vibrant art scene. It was evident that the social and political situation makes it quite difficult to openly express critical ideas, and there is little freedom to criticise or comment directly on social and political issues. I even found myself experiencing the paranoia that pervades Iranian public life and felt reluctant to write about the political content of particular artists’ work for fear that it might get them into trouble and draw the unwanted attention of the authorities. Despite this tension, artists, like those mentioned above, still manage to address issues concerning contemporary society in their work through the use of allegory and metaphor. Also evident is a strong desire to reach out to the global art world and form important links and networks for Iranian contemporary art through small independent art organisations like the Kooshk Artists’ Residency. Most importantly, all the art practitioners that we met during our brief time in Iran were hopeful and positive about the future of Iranian contemporary art as the political atmosphere within Iran changes and its relationship with the West improves. Kooshk residency is a non-political, cultural and artistic space in Tehran. Kooshk tries to provide a convenient space for artists, curators, researchers, writers and filmmakers to encourage intercultural dialogues and art creation. kooshkresidency.com
The exchange provided the living space and a full itinerary of gallery/studio visits during Anne Mullee and Barry Kehoe’s time in Iran and Siamak Denzeldah’s time in Dublin. The participants had to cover the expenses for airfare, insurance, medical coverage, visa fees and daily living expenses such as travel and food. Anne Mullee was the recipient of a Travel and Training Award from the Arts Council; Siamak Denzeldah received the cost of his flight from Hanooz Publishing. barrykehoe.wordpress.com
Note 1. A mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla (the direction of Mecca)
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Art 4 Regugees auction at A4 Sounds
Artists’ studios at A4 Sounds
Sand animation workshop at A4 Sounds, Culture Night 2015
Art That Matters
combines innovative storytelling and sound production techniques to create a thrilling drama tied to real historical events. From our beginnings as an arts collective focused on site-specific installations, A4 Sounds has steadily flourished to become a dynamic interdisciplinary arts organisation with a mission to make art that matters. We consider the studio an extension of this work and plan to add new programmes in 2016 to advance this mission. These will include artist residencies and support for socially engaged art projects. A4’s first artist in residence is Darragh Wilkins, who recently collaborated with anti-fracking group Love Leitrim to create a 100-foot-high illuminated heart on the peak of Benburb Street, overlooking Manorhamilton. We have also selected Siobhán Clancy and her group, the home|work collective, as A4’s first supported project in 2016. Growing out of a collaboration between Siohán and the Abortion Rights Campaign, the collective uses art, action, performance, conversation and camaraderie to confront censorship and self-censorship on the subject of reproductive decision-making. We plan to select two or three socially engaged art projects per year to support, through access to training, facilities and gallery space. In addition, 2016 will see the launch of our new five-day residency programme, in which one artist per month will be invited to spend five consecutive days in the studio. They will then hold an exhibition of their new work on the evening of the fifth day. During 2016, we also intend to extend the studio’s educational programme with the addition of new workshops and lectures, allowing members to share their knowledge and learn new skills. These events will also be open to the public. The educational programme will build upon the success of recent classes on life drawing and art documentation, and will include topics such as screen-printing, darkroom photography, storytelling through sound, critical design, stop-motion animation, creative stitch and more. Memberships to A4 Sounds are flexible and modular, and can be tailored to the needs of particular artists. The focus of the studio is on shared workspaces and resources, and the majority of members pay a low monthly fee for unlimited access to these. For those who require it, private storage can be provided for an extra fee, and some private workspaces are also available. A waiting list currently exists for prospective members, who are invited to complete an online application form and submit documentation of recent work. Anyone wishing to find out more about A4 Sounds can contact us via the details below.
LISA CROWNE, ANDREW EDGAR AND DÓNAL HOLLAND INTRODUCE A4 SOUNDS, A MULTIDISCIPLINARY ARTS SPACE IN NORTH CENTRAL DUBLIN. NESTLED away in an unassuming two-storey industrial building on a side road just off Dorset Street, in Dublin’s north inner city, is a hub of creative endeavors where over 50 visual artists and cultural workers from across a host of disparate disciplines come together to carry out their creative practice. Photographers, animators, sculptors, filmmakers, theatre practitioners and printmakers mingle and mix with musicians, writers, technologists, craftspeople, and folks whose art crosses the boundaries of many of these disciplines. The 5000 square-foot studio complex houses a large-build woodand-metalwork workshop, shared and individual workspaces, a photographic darkroom, screen printing facilities, performance and rehearsal spaces, and meeting and workshop rooms. It’s usually a hive of all sorts of activity, with individual member artists and groups crossfertilising each others’ ideas and approaches with perspectives from their respective practices. It’s one of the few places in the country where a CNC machinist can rub shoulders with a traditional lacemaker; or where electromechanical art robots might be assembled at the same moment as some stop-motion animation is being put together in the next room. This is all infused with a strong sense of community, and the studios serve as something like an informal professional support network for members. As well as working alongside each other, member artists often embark on collaborations, where a conversation over a cuppa can wind up with the exchange of expert advice or practical help. A4 Sounds had its genesis in 2009, when a group of friends came together to make absurd art projects like ‘A4 Corp is a Shop’ and ‘A4 Sounds is a Wind-Up’. To support this work, we formed a collective and opened a small studio in Harold’s Cross in 2010. This building served as a base of operations until 2013. From there, we planned and executed several site-specific, interactive art exhibitions. In early 2014, we were on the move, viewing numerous properties with a view to finding a new headquarters. In February we moved to a larger building and began our renovations, and in June we launched a new membership structure, which allowed us to open our doors to a greater number of artists. Output from the studio is tremendously diverse. Members have exhibited, performed, broadcast, and won awards both internationally and closer to home. For example, Fiona Harrington began studying Textile Design at NCAD. Here, she developed an interest in lace and
became the only person in Ireland at the time to specialise in lacemaking at undergraduate level. Her recent work incorporates the use of CNC cutting and engraving with plexiglass as a means of translating the transparency, the fragility, and the voids so frequently associated with lace. Last year she was awarded both a National Craft Award for lace and the Eleanor De La Branchardiere Prize for innovation in lace design. In addition to individual artists, the studio hosts groups such as Paper Panther Productions, an award-winning group of animators who come together to develop and create short films, commercials, TV series and workshops. Maker.ie also work from A4 Sounds, teaching electronic musicians, instrumentalists and sound artists how to build and customise the electronics they use. Both groups have hosted a range of public and private workshops within the A4 Studio and throughout Ireland, working with community organisations, schools and colleges. Recent events at the A4’s fledgling gallery and event space reflect the diversity of the studio’s output. In November, we hosted an art exhibition and auction to raise funds for charities addressing the current refugee crisis, with all proceeds going to Global Giving and other grassroots organisations. Conceived by Paper Panther’s Eimhin McNamara, the exhibition featured the work of over 30 artists. Due to its success, we plan to make it an annual event, supporting a different charity each November. In September, Culture Night 2015 at the A4 studio featured an exhibition of nine artists who practice their varying disciplines in the studio, which included sculpture, photography, painting, collage, illustration and glitch art. The studio opened its doors to hundreds of visitors on the night, who got to enjoy a range of theatrical and audio-visual performances, as well as short film screenings, an all-ages animation workshop, and tours of the studio and its facilities. The studio also plays host to Hackfest, an annual independent animation festival, and the Firehouse Film Contests, a monthly competition and screening session for short films made by emerging filmmakers. In its downtime, the events space lends itself to everything from workshops and rehearsals to film shoots and radio drama recordings. For example, Gareth Stack’s recent project The Wall in the Mind is an exciting historical drama series that was produced in part in the studio and will be aired on Newstalk in 2016. The series
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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Tales From A Changing World MICHAELE CUTAYA REPORTS ON ‘SEACHANGE’, THE TULCA FESTIVAL OF VISUAL ART 2015, WHICH WAS CURATED BY MARY CREMIN AND TOOK PLACE IN VENUES ACROSS GALWAY, 14 – 29 NOVEMBER.
Installation view of Clare Langan’s Floating World, Maria McKinney’s Abyssals and Ruth Lyons’s Afterings at Nun’s Island, Galway; photo by Jonathan Sammon
Installation view of Jason Dean’s More Equal Than Other and Allan Hughes’s video The Pyramid of Mars at the Festival Gallery, Galway; photo by Jonathan Sammon
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Installation view of Owen Quinlan’s Time and Place; photo by Jonathan Sammon
Richard Long, Kilkenny Limestone Circle,1991, in the Festival Gallery, 2015; image by Jonathan Sammon; copyright Richard Long; all rights reserved, DACS, London/IVARO
CLIMATE change and tales of the sea were the two threads that ran through this year’s Tulca Festival of Visual Arts. Curator Mary Cremin chose the mythical island of Hy-Brasil as a way to reflect on the transformations of our environment. The island was said to lie off the west coast of Ireland and to have sunk in the ocean like Atlantis or Anaïs Tondeur’s Nuuk Island. 35 artists participated in the exhibitions, which took place across six venues in Galway city. The festival featured an extensive lineup of events, including talks, storytelling, workshops, a film screening and an education programme. In the festival’s main exhibition space, the Connacht Tribune Print Works, there was a great variety of work on show. Colin Crotty’s representational paintings of idle teenagers tagging miniature Greek temples in gardens, reminiscent of Watteau’s fêtes galantes, sat tantalisingly close to Dennis McNulty and Ros Kavanagh’s installation piece How Will I Know When To Go Indoors, which describes how to survive a nuclear bomb according to guidelines set out by the Irish Civil Defence in the 1960s (hint: tarpaulin helps). Perhaps most impressive were the floor works, with Richard Long’s Kilkenny Limestone Circle as the centrepiece. Long’s circle possesses a timeless, universal quality, which contrasted with the methodical rectangular arrangement of Owen Quinlan’s Time and Place. Quinlan collected, sorted and arranged seashore materials into two aligned rectangles, one comprising manmade materials and the other natural objects. The items were then sorted by size: the larger items placed side by side. A spider-crab skeleton and a sheep skull faced a plastic buoy and a rusted tin. As they receded to tiny fragments, the objects looked increasingly similar. Pieces of glass and ceramics did not look very different from pebbles and shells, suggesting a common horizon where distinctions between the manmade and the natural are no longer pertinent. For Solid, Liquid, Gas, Tue Greenfort caused a glass bottle of frozen water to explode in the gallery. The ice melted into a puddle and eventually evaporated, enacting the three states of water. More Equal Than Others, a work by Jason Deans, also depended on the states of water. 15 pillars of compressed mortar sand, made specifically for the exhibition, were built to slowly crack and crumble as the exhibition wore on, with the rate of decay depending on the moisture levels in the gallery. Seoidín O’Sullivan’s Orchard System was situated in a space
adjacent to the main gallery, which also facilitated meetings and workshops. The installation comprised eight octagonal platforms, each of which supported a heritage apple tree from Irish Seed Savers. The platforms were on wheels and could be moved around into different formations. After the exhibition, pupils from the Lettergesh National School planted the trees on the school grounds. In advance of the planting, O’Sullivan conducted workshops with the children, both in the exhibition space and in their school, to talk about the trees and how to protect our common green spaces. Also situated in this room was O’Sullivan’s Seating System, designed in collaboration with architect Karol O’Mahony as a nomadic school system (seoidinosullivan.com). These modular wooden boxes, along with the apple-shaped blackboards also included in the installation, were used as part of the continuing Tulca education programme (T. Ed) conducted by Joanna McGlynn and Hilary Morley. The Festival Gallery and the Galway Arts Centre featured a large and varied selection of video works. Water Gold Soil (American River Archive, doc. 2), by Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris, is a visually stunning historical and geological exploration of a Californian river, presented over two screens. Anne Maree Barry’s No Mean City features striking cinematography, with haunting images of snow-covered cityscapes. Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet’s The Waterway explores fantasies of rejuvenation through seawater treatments that promise a future of eternal underwater youth. The Nun’s Island Theatre contained artworks by four artists that merged in such a way as to be experienced as a single immersive installation. The eerie imagery and soundtrack of Clare Langan’s video Floating World set the tone. Accompanied by the music of Jóhann Jóhannsson, slow aerial views, altered film contrasts and reverse motion combine to transform the islands of Skellig Michael, the lavacovered Montserrat and the skyscrapers of Dubai into floating or drowned places. In Maria McKinney’s Abyssal, blue and green stage lighting drew strange columns of expanded foam out of the darkness. The columns are modelled on salt structures found in ocean depths. The overall impression of otherworldliness was completed by Ruth Lyons’s Afterings, comprising receptacles made out of rock salt, and in the blue neon of Martin Healy’s Pale Blue Dot, which references the most distant photograph of Earth ever taken. Having lost access to The Shed and the Niland Gallery, this year’s
Tulca exhibition felt very compact. The Niland Gallery would have offered a better setting for projections than the side spaces of the Festival Gallery. However, the concentrated nature of the exhibitions allowed Cremin to tie the venues together with strong geometrical and material dis/associations. Long’s Rock Drawings (1994), in the Galway Arts Centre, echoed both the stone circle in the Festival Gallery and Lyons’s rock-salt bowls. Barbara Knezevic challenged methods of presentation in her displacement and packaging of rocks between the Galway Arts Centre and the James Mitchell Geology Museum. Langan’s Dubai skyscrapers engulfed in a sand storm were still lingering in my mind as I encountered Deans’s crumbling sand pillars. The programme of events included two days of talks in NUIG’s Aula Maxima and an afternoon of film screenings at An Taibhdhearc Theatre. The ‘Hy-Brasil Dialogues’ featured geographers, geologists, marine researchers, linguists, architects, designers and artists, all engaging with the complexities of our changing environment. The film programme reflected the key themes of the festival through documentary, fiction and science fiction. It opens with Robert J. Flaherty’s Man of Aran (1934). His shots of waves crashing over the Inis Mór cliffs have lost none of their power, and I found myself fascinated by the backbreaking labour involved in literally creating the soil for growing food. The shorter films that followed combined, in various degrees, archival material, lyrical landscape, texts, abstractions and performances. The most memorable for me was Hydra Decapita by the Otolith Group, in which sounds, spoken words and songs are densely layered over alternating still and moving images. The film takes J.M.W. Turner’s Slave Ship as its starting point. The painting is glimpsed towards the end, and its description by John Ruskin is sung as an incantation. The film suggests an underwater fictional world, Drexciya, the population of which was born from the pregnant African women thrown overboard during storms, such as the one represented in Turner’s painting. Weaving together sinister events and poetical projections, Hydra Decapita, not unlike ‘Seachange’, brims with intriguing potentialities. Michaële Cutaya is a writer and researcher on art living in County Galway.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Roots of the Matter LOUIS HAUGH DESCRIBES HIS TIME AT ARTFARM (11–27 SEPTEMBER 2015), A RURAL ARTISTS’ RESIDENCY IN COUNTY GALWAY.
Louis Haugh, Aghrane woods, 2015
FOR the past year, I have been researching the history and practice of commercial forestry in Ireland. I’ve always been perplexed by the wealth of non-native coniferous trees across Ireland’s landscape and by the dwindling number of our native broad-leaf trees, such as oak, ash and beech. So I traced the roots of this matter (quite literally) back to the National Herbarium in Glasnevin. It is here that the Augustine Henry Collection is housed: an archive of thousands upon thousands of tree samples, including leaves, twigs, seeds, cones and roots, all meticulously boxed, labelled and archived. Over the course of eight site visits in early 2015, which were kindly facilitated by the director Dr. Matthew Jebb, and the brilliant research botanist Dr. Noeleen Smyth, I began to discover that these samples serve as a blueprint both for Ireland’s landscape and for the forestry industry as we know it today. I rummaged through the archive, row after row, stack upon stack, not knowing what in particular I was looking for, until at last it was staring me in the face. A manila folder with some crushed twigs and cones inside. Sent to Ireland from Alaska in 1919 and labelled “On His Majesty’s Service”, it contained Picea sitchensis, more commonly known as the Sitka spruce, the conifer tree most predominant in Ireland. I found these samples fascinating and spent a lot of time photographing this entry and many others like it. I then shifted my focus from the archive to the landscape and began recognising these trees in every county in the country: Wicklow, Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Laois, Kerry, Donegal, Galway. I became almost obsessed and photographed them at every opportunity. It was through this creative engagement with the forests that I started to understand them as a type of architecture. I noticed that they have boundaries and borders, corridors and footpaths, elements that I would normally associate with a city or a built environment. I knew that I had to spend as much time in these forests as possible. While I was researching, I heard about the call for applications to ARTfarm, a rural residency programme in County Galway funded by Galway County Council Arts Office. Nestled away behind a town called Newbridge (not the one that’s famous for silver cutlery), ARTfarm comprises a beautiful stone cottage, a separate open-plan studio and a few acres of land. The location itself is heavily forested for commercial use and serves as a perfect example of how Picea sitchensis
Louis Haugh, Picea Sitchensis, National Herbarium, 2014
has taken over the landscape of Ireland. The application process itself was quite swift. I saw a call for proposals on the VAI website and rang the arts office for some more information. I felt as though my current research was very much in sync with what was being offered, and I hoped that they would see this. Within a week, I received a call from Galway congratulating me on my successful application and putting me in contact with Sheila, who runs the residency. As I approached ARTfarm, the many road signs pointing in different directions towards a town called Creggs disorientated me. I later discovered that all roads lead to Creggs. Even later, I found out that there are no road signs pointing out of Creggs. I pulled over and rang Sheila to ask for directions. Within five minutes she had come to get me from the side of the road, and my residency had begun. Pulling into the driveway of ARTfarm is something I will never forget. I was presented with a brilliant confusion of plants, flowers and sculptures. I even caught sight of a giant Chinese dragon tucked away in an open shed, waiting for a parade worthy of its presence. The next few hours were spent conversing with Sheila over pots of tea and coffee. She told me that her dream for ARTfarm is that it would give artists the opportunity for creative exploration in a peaceful and quiet environment. If in some way ARTfarm could help towards furthering their work, then all the better. Later that afternoon, we took a drive around the neighbourhood and seldom passed a house. I took in forest after forest. My trees were everywhere, and I was right where I needed to be. Over the next couple of weeks, the forests that were so new to me would become familiar. Each one developed its own significance and relevance to my work. Every morning I set out with my camera and tripod, photographing new forests and revisiting others. I spent hours walking though the densely populated coniferous forests, which were so dense that each tree had but a few needles at the top of its trunk, as the light could not penetrate deeply enough to sustain the lower branches. About a week into my residency at ARTfarm, Sheila took me to a different forest, one that I would never have discovered on my own: the ‘forest of many names’, as I jokingly call it; or Castlekelly, Aghrane or Old Forest, as the locals call it. Here, amongst the various firs, pines and spruce trees, lay the remains of ancient oaks: stumps of trees that
were felled by people long gone. Most of the oaks were dead, though some were miraculously still growing a branch or two. It is difficult for me to describe the reaction that I had to this place, but after multiple visits I began to realise that, as a non-religious person, it was the closest thing to a religious experience that I’ve ever had. These relics stood as monuments or even sentries. My work slowly took a tangential path, and I began documenting these stumps each day, returning to see how the light fell on them at different times. Mid-afternoon was my favourite time to photograph them, as the sun was high enough to briefly penetrate through the surrounding conifers and illuminate the clearing in which the stumps remain. I have not been back to this forest since completing the residency, but a return visit is high on my list of priorities. Through my involvement with the various trees and forests, I built up a sense of the rural environment in which I was living. The community and local towns that at first seemed so sparse and spread out started to seem more tightly knit and connected. Although we were technically in County Galway, I came to learn that the locals read the Roscommon newspapers and tune their radios to Roscommon stations. There is a fine line between Galway and Roscommon, and it lies 11.7km away from the border in Ballygar. Through Sheila’s feverous work within the community, I began to see the importance of art and of creative hubs in rural contexts. Sheila has fostered a sense of creative opportunity within the town of Ballygar, where the local residents have recently restored a beautiful old courthouse. It is now used for recitals, exhibitions and events. On Culture Night, the place was truly buzzing with people who had come from miles around to participate or to spectate in the events. Afterwards, we went to the local pub, The Thatch. It served the best Guinness I’ve ever had, and I was amused when I got a euro change from a fiver. My time at ARTfarm came to an all-too-sudden end. It felt as though I was still unpacking my things when the day came to pack them all up again. My last weekend was spent paying final visits to familiar forests, having one last cup of tea with Sheila and saying my farewells. On my way back to Dublin, I passed three more signs for Creggs and finally decided to turn on my satnav.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
Critique Supplement Edition 23: January – February 2016
Niamh McCann, ‘Just Left of Copernicus’; photo by Carissa Farrell
Niamh McCann, ‘Just Left of Copernicus’; photo courtesy of VISUAL
Niamh McCann ‘Just Left of Copernicus (The Roof of the Story)’ VISUAL, Carlow, 3 October – 3 January they were never commercially successful. On a facing wall, the image of an Aer Lingus air hostess, taken from a 1960s pocket calendar, is rendered in a cheerful nostalgic style. The threemetre-high mural brings to mind the ideal of Lemass’s sparkling and unblemished Ireland, untarnished by the dark memories of industrialisation that haunted other nations. The post-war zeitgeist that Fuller embodied was one of a desire for atonement, where western society seemed suddenly to discover humanity as a phenomenon worthy of attention. It was a time of social democratisation, of betterment and of innovation, all with the ambition to improve humanity rather than simply advance the cause of capitalism. It was a hunt for heile welt, or an ideal world, where nature, technology, humanity and capital could all exist in harmony. Viewed holistically McCann’s practice appears to capture, overlap and juxtapose these zeitgeists of the twentieth century. But the very idea of a zeitgeist hinges on the existence of a collective consciousness and a collective memory, which have the potential to be moulded by the ‘spirit’ of the age. By probing and extracting important moments from this collective memory, McCann begins, whether intentionally or not, to fracture its legitimacy and truth. Gramsci identified capitalism’s greatest weapon as cultural hegemony, i.e. its ability to give rise to an accepted weltanschauung or single, dominant world view. In the title McCann references Copernicus, who challenged the established and literal worldview of his time, and the German industrial architect Hans Poelzig, who, conversely, was noted for his pragmatic approach. In 1906, Poelzig wrote: “We all too frequently seek to save the emotional content of past epochs, without first thinking what use it is to us”.1 By lining up Fuller, Copernicus and Poelzig alongside references to the emergence of modern Ireland, McCann emphasises the contested ways in which history is used and calls for a more critical interpretation of its perceived failures. McCann’s research material is laid out on glasscovered tables and shows a preoccupation with space exploration and engineering. She includes a charming image of Soviet poster boy Yuri Gagarin, photos and maps of lunar landscapes (including the Copernicus Moon Crater), handmade geodesic maquettes, the architect’s sketches for the plywood joints and schematics for the full-scale structure. the ‘modern’ period, when civil innovation was The earnestness of this material matches the playful understood as a means to better the conditions of nature of the dome and underpins the entire project man. This ties into her collaboration with Limerick with a sweet childlike optimism. It brings to mind Fab Lab, one of many fabrication laboratories (see my own childhood poring over the Junior World also WeCreate and Workbench) providing the Encyclopedia, marvelling at wonders like the Brussels public with an environment in which to design, Atomium, Fuller’s Dome for the 1967 World Expo make and construct pretty much whatever they and German spaghetti junctions. But curiously, on a wall opposite the lovely Aer Lingus lady, there is choose. The logistics of McCann’s dome were devised painted a deflated weather balloon that casts a by architects Séamus Bairéad and Jack Byrne using a withering chill over the galleries. I couldn’t help but neat modular system of bespoke flexible joints and feel that somewhere along the way something went industrially produced cardboard tubes of varying wrong that McCann is trying to put right. In ‘Just lengths. The design allows the structure to spread Left of Copernicus’ she is both persuasive and into a series of connected domes, which ascend and captivating, drawing attention to a worthy dream – curl while remaining tectonically weighted to the even if you weren’t born before 1975. floor. The making process is foregrounded in its skeletal form and raw, uncoated materials. The Carissa Farrell is a writer and curator based in palette of soft grey paper and warm plywood is Dublin. earthy and wholesome in a way that Fuller’s proposed domes never were. Although his visionary Note 1. Hans Poelzig, Die Dritte Deutsche Ausstellung, 1906 designs won him both critical acclaim and notoriety, THE core work in ‘Just Left of Copernicus’ is a large geodesic structure installed in VISUAL’s main gallery. This is a challenging space, but the work is big enough to successfully withstand compression by the room’s engulfing depth and volume. It is inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, a pioneering engineer/designer who patented geodesic building design in 1960 in an effort to achieve cheaper, faster and more efficient home building. McCann’s motivation for making this work seems ostensibly to come from nostalgia for
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet CRITIQUE SUPPLEMENT
January – February 2016
Katherine Elkin, Seamus Harahan ‘Katherine Elkin, Trees Prosper & Len Graham’ 10 October – 28 November, CCA, Derry
Trees Prosper and Len Graham, The Boys of Tandragee/The Bunch of Kale; photo courtesy of CCA, Derry
CCA’S latest show explores the temporary nature of exhibition alongside residual cultural processes. It activates the build-up to an opening performance, or the post-processing of creative method, and the legacy left by those actions. The first collaboration is founded in Irish folk music. Artist Seamus Harahan formed the group ‘Trees Prosper’ with Patrick Morgan, Christina Anna Morgan and Sara J. Barry, who, in this venture, collaborated with established traditional singer Len Graham. The musicians worked toward the opening-night performance Along the Faughan Side, and their chairs remain in an arc in the space as a part of the recorded and exhibited rehearsal process. A full rendition of their performance plays on a cracked 4:3 television, with each song portraying romantic and nostalgic stories of local scenes. The film itself is shot outside, showing the musicians as leaning silhouettes against bright sunlight. The steady, handheld camera moves occasionally and eventually picks up enough detail and light to show the musicians against the walls of the city. In these understated films, it feels as though the rehearsal is captured almost incidentally. In another work, the song The Rollicking Boys of Tandragee is followed by what seems to be an impromptu solo of The Bunch of Kale. This time the musicians rehearse inside, seated on the foldout gallery chairs, which squeak as they sway to the rhythm. In this work, the musicians’ process is foregrounded; the performance element, the film and the stories that are shared in the song are secondary. The lyrical communication becomes a side effect, and so its informal structure and potency remain in spite of overt re-presentation within the gallery. A live microphone points toward the empty chairs, capturing the audio of surrounding films. It’s plugged into an old tape deck, so visitors can play another rehearsed song, The Newry Highwayman, on top of this ambient sound. This musical layering and the sound quality of the cassette produce the most evocative rehearsal record; there’s almost a synthetic session in the background. The outmoded equipment, which is used in this work and dotted throughout the collection, gives no indication of the work’s timeframe, yet the surrounding recordings are made immediate in the space when converted into ambient sound. These very subtle prescriptions and shifts in the music’s status between forefront and background, old and contemporary, play with the active/passive nature in our own receptive role: we consume their results, but without seeing the true performance, and so we are left with its decommissioned suggestions. The performers have produced another myth of the
opening-night work, which can only be alluded to in this rehearsal documentation. In her work, Kathryn Elkin addresses a collaborative archetype in an entirely different cultural realm: specifically, that of the celebrity talkshow interview, where formal transactions of influence and image-building are dressed up as casual discussions. Her work replicates and distorts the format, expanding and borrowing from two interviews with Dustin Hoffman; in one, the young actor discusses his method and, in a more recent interview, he talks about how he plays the song La Bamba to “stay loose” on set. The work John Shuffling His Tarot Deck & Playing Guitar recreates a retro interview set-up, complete with black background, swivelling leather chair and a vase of pale flowers. Whilst a tinny and tentative guitar solo of La Bamba plays, the sitter slowly does as the title suggests, giving an awkward smile. It’s a combination that’s almost comically esoteric. John’s gestures in the title sequence are left unexplained, and the viewer can’t see any of the cards. It operates like a trailer for the next work, Why La Bamba? In this work, shown on a cinematic scale in the next room, John sits on the same set, repeating selected lines from an old interview given by Hoffman just after he made The Graduate. Elkin prompts his lines off-camera, and they converse and joke in between, at one point discussing Hoffman’s sincerity while they imitate him. John repeats statements about method acting – “I’m not a sailor, I’m a captain” – which are occasionally overlaid with a Spanish translation and become increasingly abstracted. We join the dots between the statements as if they were rumours, assisted by John, who slips in and out of character. The mix of humour and sincerity parallels the original interview with Hoffman, which is on show in the CCA library space, itself a display of discomfort and wandering comedy. In a similar way to Harahan’s work, the performative myth is built upon, this time focusing on the man rather than the tale. ‘Kathryn Elkin/Trees Prosper & Len Graham’ is a show that riffs on cultural output on two temporal levels: the effect of time on cultural communication, and the amalgamation of two widespread points in a creative career. When combined with the brief nature of this exhibition and the artists’ one-stepremoved methodology, these disparate points in time don’t consolidate but instead build up fictitious, contemporary legends of performance and performer, and new paradigms therein.
Paul McKinley ‘Hanuman’ 20 November – 19 December, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin HANUMAN is the Hindu monkey-god, a follower of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Shiva, and a warrior credited with the ability to slay thousands of demons. The exploits of Hanuman are told in the epic poem the Ramayana, a 24,000 verse composition regarded as a great work of Indian literature. The warlike god also lends his name to the latest solo exhibition from British-born artist Paul McKinley. This new body of work draws on the events that took place towards the end of the brutal Sri Lankan civil war, which lasted from 1983 until 2009, and on its folklore of gods and monsters. Often free from inhabitants, McKinley’s work uses landscape and the natural world to explore the nature of mass killing and genocide, attempts to eradicate entire races or tribes of people. Even the works which don’t directly reference these themes still radiate an aura of discomfort, a suspicion that there is something dark and unwelcome concealed in the lush vegetation and bucolic landscapes scrutinised in his beautifully rendered drawings and paintings. In this compendium, the artist once again reflects on a specific tragedy in recent history, exploring the complex legacy of civil war, ethnic cleansing and the advent of ‘dark tourism’, where such sites become destinations for ‘adventurous’ tourists seeking an authentic connection with the less palatable aspects of human history. In his 2013 exhibition at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, titled ‘Operation Turquoise’, McKinley worked from photographs of Rwandan flora and fauna, taken by Trinity College Dublin ecologist Shane McGuinness. Replicating images of volcanic craters, the indigenous ancient shoebill bird and the country’s rust red earth, he captured what writer Gemma Tipton described in the accompanying text as “meditations on never truly knowing a place”. This sense of unknowing and of a vague unspecified threat also permeates the work here. Once again working from photographs, he addresses diverse subjects. The spirit of the monkey god is referenced in the eponymous and finely executed ink drawing Hanuman, where a long-tailed primate is captured mid-leap between branches. In the watercolour Call to Arms, a bright green meadow hosts a vast troop of monkeys stretching from foreground to background, while a lone deer in a dense forest is picked out in gold leaf in the detailed ink drawing Deception. These relatively small-scale drawings are joined by oil paintings of varying sizes, from the
dazzling vibrance of the painting Sita’s Flowers (a reference to Rama’s wife Sita) to the commanding canvas of Towards Mullaitivu, where a beaten earth road takes the eye to the crest of a small hill before it disappears. Subjects are sometimes framed almost as though the image is cropped, zooming in on details like tree branches. As with so much of McKinley’s work, there is a pregnant atmosphere, an expectancy that brings the viewer to wonder both what next will happen or what just has happened. All of the locations in the works have been touched in some way by the Sri Lankan civil war, which ended when the insurgent Tamil population were quelled by government forces. Disturbingly, these sites were witness to terrible events even while tourists enjoyed other ‘safe’ parts of the country, oblivious to what was happening. In the small publication produced to accompany the exhibition, former UN spokesman Gordon Weiss describes the “awful irony of of tourists still flocking to Sri Lanka’s southern beaches during the final phase of the war … even as hundreds of Tamil civilians and Tamil Tigers were besieged and bombarded by government forces on a beach on the northern coast”. The beach was Mullaitivu, just out of sight in McKinley’s gorgeously lush painting. Elsewhere the artist plays with colour and the kinds of images one might treasure as holiday snaps. A shoal of bright orange fish swim about in Lolanda Reef, while the yellow ochre tones of Mines evoke a faded Kodachrome photograph, where spindly palm trees fringe an idyllic tropical beach scene. Compelling and enigmatic, each work pulls off this feat of unsettling ambiguity. McKinley’s exceptional skill and his ability to switch between media, whether creating impressionistic vistas or executing detailed drawings, allow him to pose these questions of occluded histories again and again. Operating as emissaries between brutal histories and the present, few of the works are as explicit as the vibrant Battle, with its raging jungle flames, or as disturbing as the monochrome oil painting Burning Books, with its immediate affront to free speech and liberty. These are, in a way, exceptions to the rule, while the overall ambiguity only serves to invite us to look, and look again, more closely.
Paul McKinley, Burning Books, 2015, oil on canvas, 45x37cm
Paul McKinley, Bunker, 2015, oil on canvas, 57x70cm
Anne Mullee is a Dublin-based writer and curator.
Dorothy Hunter is an artist and writer based Belfast.
January – February 2016
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet CRITIQUE SUPPLEMENT
Lisa Fingleton ‘Holding True Ground’ 30 October – 4 December, Siamsa Tire, Kerry THE central work in ‘Holding True Ground’ is 30 Days of Eating Local Food. Located in the Round Gallery, the work takes the form of a diary, with each day unfolding through diagrams, notes, sketches and photographs. Day one includes a mind-map questioning the artist’s reasons for undertaking such a project. She quotes Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. In the centre of the room are a number of objects, which shuttle between the sculptural and the everyday. A wooden structure echoing a tree, its wellington-capped branches radiating from the central trunk, could be a subtle allusion to Duchamp’s Bottle Rack. There are also garden implements, a watering can, small trees and tomato plants. A battered armchair completes the Relational Aesthetics-style set. I was confused as to whether Lisa Fingleton, image from ‘Holding True Ground’, 2015
Lisa Fingleton, image from In the Stillness Something Moves, 2015
production and our relationship with nature. They are very concise documentary pieces, which bear witness to people’s attempts to propose alternative ways of living. Projected onto the opposite wall, Love Darts is a much more ambiguous piece. The image is hazy, the colours muted and washed out; there is an atmosphere of suspension about it. An organic, gloopy, viscous object is suspended from a line, almost unmoving. On the gallery floor stands a pair of wellingtons, each with a small torch attached. All is revealed by putting on the headphones and listening to the soundtrack, a recording of the artist interviewing gardeners about their relationship with snails. The title is explained in the exhibition literature, which describes “the love making antics of snails, hermaphroditic creatures lunging their love darts into each other’s flesh”. The Back Gallery is screened off with a red curtain, but the Irish air My Bonnie Irish Girl escapes its confines and wafts through to the Middle Gallery. The song accompanies the short video piece The Good Wife, which documents Fingleton’s partner engaged in various tasks around their small farm. She is shown digging spuds, collecting seaweed for fertiliser, chopping wood, minding chickens, zooming around on the farm quad bike and baking cakes. It is a celebration of the idea of the ‘good life’ and a humorous testament to things both changing and staying the same. Another video piece, What Goes Around, is shown in the Corridor Gallery. Fingleton made the film at a masterclass in London with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Through the double screen of tank and lens, densely-packed fish swim and tendrils of plants drift, accompanied by the burbling, bubbling sound of water. This piece calls for a more contemplative engagement, with the absence of a voice-over allowing the viewer to imagine how it relates to the other works. Sharing a wall with What Goes Around are three framed watercolours titled Craving Colour. A lobster’s claw, a flower, a seed head, each delicately rendered in a palate of reds and oranges, are isolated on the white paper. In the Stillness Something Moves is a suite of nine A3 ink drawings pinned to the opposite wall. Thick black undifferentiated lines depict the artist’s farm and garden. The supporting material explains that the drawing project was undertaken as a way to try to escape from the technological devices of the studio. The computer is a dominating technology for the contemporary artist. It can be a tool for making art, but it is also the instrument of administration and promotion, which are crucial for any artist working in the highly competitive, individualistic contemporaryart world. The drawings show a desire to engage the hand and the body, to embed a more physical labour in the artwork. ‘Holding True Ground’ is a celebration of the attempt to create an ethical, purposeful and pleasurable way of life. With an air of humour and a light touch, it also portrays the challenges faced by those who choose this path.
this was an invitation to sit. Was it a found object transformed into an art piece by its placement in the gallery or did it remain a functional object? The chair can be seen as one of the pivotal objects in the show. It troubles the relationship between art and non-art. I decided to err on the side of caution and remain standing. Three small black-and-white photographs in kitsch gold frames are placed on the wall beside the entrance to the Middle Gallery. Two are stills from the film Darby O’Gill and the Little People (Disney, 1959) and the other is a photograph of Lisa’s intrepid wife. To their left is a table on which is placed a fanzine-style booklet, Lisa Fingleton: Artivist, which refers back to the piece 30 Days. It is an expanded Catherine Harty is member of the Cork Artists’ and denser version of the wall piece, the title an Collective and a director of The Guesthouse explicit acknowledgement of the artist’s desire to Project. intermingle art and activism. Breathing the Same Air is a short video piece documenting various community projects that engage with issues around sustainable food Lisa Fingleton, image from ‘Holding True Ground’
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Moving Image FOUNDERS MICHAEL HANNA AND JACQUELINE HOLT INTRODUCE ARTISTS’ MOVING IMAGE NORTHERN IRELAND.
Jamie Buckley, video still from Dorf, 2015, 5 mins
ARTISTS’ Moving Image Northern Ireland (AMINI) is an artist-led initiative founded in 2015. Our mission for the project is to develop artists’ moving image practice within Northern Ireland and to promote artists connected with the region on an international platform. We are both practicing artists, and graduated together from the MFA at University of Ulster. Being based in Belfast we identified the need for an organisation like AMINI to create connections for artists working here.1 Northern Ireland’s visual arts community is a vital, mutuallysupportive system that has grown in a unique way as a result of its historical isolation. This environment was key to the formation of AMINI, as was the acknowledgement of the importance of collective organisation for the sustainability of an individual artist’s practice. In Northern Ireland, organisation happens formally and informally, through studio groups, medium-specific organisations (Bbeyond), collective exhibition practice (Catalyst, Household, Prime Collective), self-organised critical practice or theory discussion groups (Ulster Research Salon, Array Sunday Salon) and less obviously in the attendance of screenings, talks and exhibitions, where participation happens from the standpoint of shared interests. Alongside these grassroots organisations, Digital Arts Studios (DAS) offers the time, space and production facilities to create new work through a yearround residency programme. A series of international residencies are also run in parallel with residents from the UK and Ireland. It is from within this cultural climate that we have begun making connections and developing a network of collaborators and associates, both within Northern Ireland and internationally. There are a vast number of organisations worldwide which focus on artists’ moving image work. AMINI’s role is to turn relationships with these organisations into opportunities for individual artists. To create a sustainable practice as an artist it is vital for developing exhibition opportunities outside of Northern Ireland. While this might sound obvious, it is not always easy to achieve. AMINI will provide practical help for artists looking to get their work out into the contemporary art world with confidence. In September 2015, we held the first AMINI screening at Platform Arts, Belfast. We put out an open call for moving image work made by artists with some connection to Northern Ireland. The responses we received provided us with a good initial snapshot of current artists’ moving image practice in Northern Ireland and introduced us to a host of new artists. From there, we selected a programme of films, the artists included Jamie Buckley, Aideen Doran, Emily McFarland, Dan Shipsides, Robert Herbert McClean, Samantha McGahon, Ryan Moffett
work and ideas in a mutually supportive environment. LUX also host critical forums in London, Bristol, Dublin and Glasgow. The Belfast Critical Forum will reopen for new members in September 2016. Currently, we are working to create a free and open online platform for high definition video. The purpose of this will be to facilitate high quality presentation of works for artists applying to exhibitions and film festivals. Individual artists will also be able to create online portfolios in order to present their work to curators and gallerists. The platform will be accessible and open, so that people can explore different artists’ works. It will serve as a collection and an archive of practice. An important focus for us is to show contemporary moving image work here in Northern Ireland. One way this will be done is through screening programmes compiled by AMINI and shown in various locations around the country. We are also planning a festival of artists’ moving image to be held in Belfast on a biennial basis, beginning in 2016. Each festival will include invited artists, whose works will be installed in various locations around the city. The screenings will take place over a weekend and will be complemented by artists’ talks and events. In 2016 we will travel to New York under the Artists’ International Development Fund, through the support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council. The purpose of this trip is to develop screening and exhibition opportunities for AMINI artists in the U.S.
Robert Herbert McClean, Artist Statement, 2015, 1-min video
and Steven Quinn. This screening programme was part of the two-day event at Platform. It was shown alongside a programme from the Critical Forum group in Dublin, which had previously been screened as part of the Plastik Festival of Artists’ Moving Image (plastikfestival.com) in early 2015. It was introduced by Daniel Fitzpatrick, who is part of the Critical Forum in Dublin and who is one of the founders of Plastik. Ben Cook, director of LUX (lux.org.uk), brought a programme of work by Anne Charlotte Robertson. This work had been newly acquired and restored by the Harvard Film Archive and the event was a great opportunity to experience an intense and in-depth viewing of her work. The following morning was dedicated to setting up the LUX Critical Forum in Belfast. Ben Cook introduced the thinking behind the structure of the forums and, as a group of interested artists, writers and curators, we discussed how to make this work in Belfast. Following that initial meeting, AMINI hosted the first LUX Belfast Critical Forum in November last year, with the support of the MAC. The forum is a monthly discussion group for artists, curators and writers whose work is situated in and around moving image practice. The purpose of the group is to develop our individual practices, with the meetings providing an opportunity to talk about
Note 1. Michael Hanna is an artist based in Belfast. He graduated from Edinburgh college of Art with BA Sculpture in 2009, and completed his MFA at the University of Ulster in 2012. His work has been shown in exhibitions in the UK and internationally, including Rencontres Internationales at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Multiplicity at NURTUREart, New York. Hanna’s work stems from research into psychology and architecture, and takes the form of video installation. Recent projects include: ‘Relearning to Speak: a scientific and cultural mapping of the mouth’ and Short Films about Learning, a video installation juxtaposing images taken from the Belfast Exposed archive with excerpts from a lecture series outlining theories of social and environmental psychology. Since 2014 he has been one of the artists working with Corners of Europe, a socially engaged project designed to connect artists around the edges of Europe. Jacqueline Holt is an artist living in Belfast. She completed the MFA at the University of Ulster in 2012. Her work has been shown in Belfast, London, Nice and Dublin. Recent exhibitions include ‘The Composition of Here’ at Catalyst Arts and ‘Diagrams’, an exhibition shown at Pallas, Dublin and QSS, Belfast. Holt works with installation in the form of video, photography and sculpture. She is focused on the realisation of ideas rather than any specific medium. Using the self as site, she contextualises personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. A recent and ongoing project, ‘An Artists Illustrated Lecture’, was developed on a residency at the Bath House in East Belfast and was recently performed in its third iteration as part of ‘The Composition of Here’ exhibition. Before moving to Belfast in 2010, Holt worked for LUX, an artists’ moving image agency based in London. As part of her expanded practice she continues to write and curate artists’ moving image. artistsmovingimageni.tumblr.com
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
Eamon O’Kane, Black Mirror Building I (Case Study House), 2014, acrylic on canvas, 150x200cm
Photo of Eamon O’Kane’s greenhouse studio
And Time Begins Again EAMON O’KANE WRITES ABOUT THE PROGRESSION OF HIS CAREER OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS.
Eamon O’Kane, ‘Where there are people there are things’
Eamon O’Kane, ‘Twentieth of April Sixteen Eighty Nine’
January – February 2016
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Photo of Eamon O’Kane’s greenhouse studio
IN 2005, I wrote an article for the VAN titled ‘Constant Production and Exposure’, which outlined my career trajectory up to that point (eamonokane.com). At that time, I was living in Bristol and was a lecturer in Fine Art at the University of the West of England. Myself and four others had set up an artist-run gallery space called LOT, which ran for one year and involved an ambitious and dynamic programme. For the exhibition I curated with LOT, titled ‘REMOTE’, I asked all of the artists in the show to send me instructions, drawings and photographs for projects by post or email, and I then carried out those projects in the space. The idea occurred out of necessity, as we didn’t have any core funding at that time, and out of an interest in Sol LeWitt’s instruction-based work. I was interested in seeing what would happen in the process of translation from idea/instruction to artwork. I translated instructions for wall-and-window-based artworks from artists such as David Shrigley, Katie Holten, Niamh O’Malley, Garret Phelan, David Sherry, Liam O’Callaghan, Sophia Gref, John Beattie and Joel Croxson. The following year I undertook a six-month residency at the British School at Rome, and I produced works for solo exhibitions in Baden Baden, Berlin and at Draíocht in Dublin. Residencies have always proved to be important for me, and I have been reaping the benefits of the residency in Rome ever since. I returned to full-time teaching in Bristol for one year but then took the difficult decision to leave my job as a senior lecturer there and move to Denmark with my family in order to take up a residency in my wife’s hometown of Odense. I also undertook a three-month residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in the spring of 2008, where I produced works for solo exhibitions in New York and Berlin and a series of solo exhibitions in the UK. It was during the residency in Odense that I began my engagement with the legacy of Freidrich Fröbel, the inventor of the Kindergarten. My wife had borrowed a book from the local public library for me titled An Eames Primer, written by Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles and Ray Eames. I not only discovered that Charles Eames was expelled from studying architecture for his loyalty to the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright but also that, like Wright, Eames had studied in an original Kindergarten in the USA. In addition, the book outlined how Charles Eames’s grandfather Henry had emigrated from Limerick to America in the 1800s. This gave me the idea for an artwork that would reconnect Eames with Limerick, where I had lived for a year in 2000– 2001. I began with the idea of constructing a two-room walk-in model, a hybrid of the Eames house and studio, and using one of the rooms for a series of works based on the connections between Eames, Lloyd Wright and Fröbel. I also managed to get permission to screen the films of Charles and Ray Eames within the installation. The other smaller room became an interactive space where Fröbel gifts were accessible alongside objects designed by Eames and others as well as furniture that I designed. I found that providing access to the Eames films alongside this interactive ‘play area’ had many surprising consequences. Children and adults embarked on parallel journeys of discovery and shared experiences. Given the rich and varied histories, contexts and
Eamon O’Kane, Fröbel Studio
approaches referenced by the Eames films and the open-endedness of the interactive Fröbel studio, the participants were able to investigate complex questions around the advent of computing, human mortality and the origins of the universe. The work became a foundation for my subsequent interactive installations.1 Another project, which has developed and taken many forms, began in 2007 when I was preparing work for a solo exhibition at the newly built RCC Art Centre in Letterkenny. ‘The House and the Tree’ featured a reconstruction of an original part of my parents’ house that was demolished half a century ago, and it also included a film of derelict vernacular architecture from the county, augmented by audio recordings of Sean-fhocail (Gaelic proverbs). A sycamore tree, under which King James II dined, was blown down in a storm in 1999. The cut-up fragments of the tree formed the centerpiece of the show, along with a large wall drawing of the tree itself. I had previously used charcoal to make wall drawings of trees, but this was the first time where the burnt tree, the wall drawing and the fragments of wood were exhibited side by side. The project turned into a touring exhibition with the works evolving and changing as they moved from venue to venue. At the time I was developing ‘The Eames Studio’, Limerick, I was also working in Bristol with a local carpenter to transform the sycamore tree into a seventeenth-century-style table and chairs, similar to those used by James II. I approached an installation of the exhibition at Plan 9 in Bristol in much the same way that I would approach a period of research in my studio. My intention was to work directly with the material and not from any preconceptions about how the show was to be installed prior to the four days of installation. I kept all the waste wood from the process, worked with these wooden fragments in the space for four days and eventually settled on laying the fragments out over the floor. In 2009, I used the replica furniture to stage a re-enactment of James II’s meal at ArtSway in the New Forest. Again, I intentionally took an improvised approach to how the artwork should evolve. Using the seventeenth-century-style furniture produced in Bristol, I directed the reenactment, which was performed by the English Civil War Reenactment Society. This took place at two sites in the New Forest on 19 April, almost 320 years to the day from the actual event. I gave the re-enactors a brief synopsis of the background history and asked them to improvise the roles they were given. The film was shot in one take and then edited. The furniture was installed in the gallery space with the video documentation of the reenactment. This was connected to another re-enactment, which took place on the same day, of a hunt led by James II, who was the last king to hunt in the New Forest. I was interested in connecting the two places using the fact that James II had visited both. The exhibition came back to Ireland in 2010 for my solo show ‘The Twentieth Of April Sixteen Eighty Nine’ at the Crawford Municipal Gallery in Cork, while at the same time Fröbel Studio was shown in an exhibition titled ‘School Days: The Look of Learning’ at the city’s Lewis Glucksman Gallery. Works from both exhibitions were included in Dublin Contemporary 2011. Installing two apparently unrelated installations in the same exhibition caused me
to reflect on the connections between them, and this led me to a new body of work dealing with entropy and carbon. The most recent work related to this is titled Wood Archive and is currently on show at the Vigeland Museum in Oslo as part of the Norwegian Sculpture Biennale. Another body of work that explores ideas around entropy relates to the plant nursery complex outside Odense that I bought in 2009. The greenhouses (6,000 square metres in size) were in use up until the day we took it over, and I have been documenting its steady decay since then. Surveying the buildings in those first weeks, I became aware of the various work processes involved in maintaining and running a ‘controlled horticultural environment’. The architecture and design facilitated the most efficient use of the space for plant growing with minimal staffing. Every inch of space was used, and an elaborate system of huge rolling tables enabled access to all the plants. These were ingeniously built using various off-the-shelf components from a standard building-supply warehouse: concrete drainage pipes used as support pillars, steel piping for the rolling mechanism and then the large plastic table with aluminium frames. Long concrete paths connected all of the spaces from the greenhouses themselves to the potting room, with its huge soilspitting monster of a machine, to the canteen, the packing room and the loading bays. Large trollies were used to transfer plants from space to space, and the elaborate watering system consisted of thousands of plastic pipes supplying water from the mains as well as a groundwater well and a huge rainwater catcher. The process of adapting this complex into working artists’ studios began the day we took it over. The setup was curiously compatible with the needs of a studio: spacious buildings of various sizes and heights with good access to one another. Many of the tools and materials also found a new life: plastic for packing artworks, plant pots for mixing paints, extension cables, lighting, pallet trucks, and so on. Thousands of smashed-up concrete pipes were used to fill in an unwanted pond, while the metal transport trollies were used to build moveable walls and a huge stainless steel table was used in setting up an etching workshop. All decisions followed a particular logic and felt like a series of Chinese whispers between the buildings themselves. Throughout this process, I felt the ghostly presence of those who had built and worked in the buildings. Working at this site over the last six years, I have slowly begun trying to trace my own logic. The artworks I’ve produced here have been largely lens and installation based. An interesting element of these mediums is that, although there are iterations, the works are never finished, or at least their completion is suspended until the site has fully returned to nature or I have expired – whichever comes first. I am developing this work for a major solo show at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny in 2017, and I am using images taken at the site for solo exhibitions that will take place in the USA, Germany and Denmark in 2016–2017. Note 1. The Fröbel Studio has been shown in New York, L.A., Quimper, Dublin and Norwich, and it has recently toured Ireland with support from the Arts Council Touring Scheme in a series of solo exhibitions curated by Linda Shevlin, starting at Roscommon Arts Centre and then travelling to Riverbank Arts Centre, Galway Arts Centre and, most recently, The Model in Sligo.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Exhibition image from ‘Betwixt and Between’, 2015
Exhibition image from ‘Betwixt and Between’, 2015
Betwixt & Between KIERA O’TOOLE LOOKS BACK AT HER RESIDENCY AT THE COURTHOUSE ARTS CENTRE, COUNTY WICKLOW. IN August 2014 I applied for a month-long residency at the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, County Wicklow. My intention was to develop a research project with one or more people and to explore the role of drawing as a human activity in the creative and non-creative sectors in County Wicklow. The Arts Centre kindly provided me with access to administration, a graphic designer, a technician and an exhibition space. I began by engaging individuals, groups and organisations, asking the question: What do you draw? The responses were numerous and diverse, and came from artists, architects, councils, and town planners. One woman even graciously donated her wedding table plan as a response. In order to create this work, I applied for and received funding from Wicklow County Council’s Strategic Projects Scheme, which is funded by the Council’s Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland. I was particularly pleased to be selected as one of three recipients, as the council saw applications increase by 300 per cent that year. The award offered the support for me to develop a new collaborative visual arts project examining Irish cultural identity in Sligo and Wicklow over the period of a year. This culminated in an exhibition in Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre in December 2015. To undertake the award I was required to have insurance in respect of public liability insurance, maintain and comply with health and safety legislation and Wicklow Council’s marketing and promotional guidelines, adhere to all aspects of the project schedule and, upon completion, write a report that documented the project, the outcomes of the project and the final budget. I recently returned to Ireland after spending nearly 10 years in Australia, and this project was intended to be a development of my Masters of Philosophy (Fine Art) thesis, which was titled Beyond the Pale: Australia: The studio as site where notions of Irish national identity are translated into works of art. The research I produced was selected for the exhibition ‘Not Just Ned: the True History of the Irish in Australia’, held at the National Museum of Australia. This research evolved into an interdisciplinary and collaborative project titled ‘Greetings from the Irish in Australia’, which engaged Irish Australian academics and artists across Australia, asking the question: What does it mean to be part of the Irish diaspora in Australia? Following this, I worked on a collaborative project titled ‘Marian Thread’, with Irish-Scottish visual arts practitioner Dr Annemarie Murland, which examined the complexities of migration, diasporas, religion and female sexualities in relation to Catholicism.
As my research at this point was concerned with aspects of Irish cultural identity, it felt like a natural progression to meet Yvonne Whitty (Director at De Faoite Archaeology), who was seeking to further develop the Heritage Council funded archaeological project, ‘The Story of Preban Graveyard’. The ancient site at Preban includes hallmarks of an enclosed early medieval church/monastic site, Neolithic rock art discovered by archaeologist Chris Corlett and the slate stones of the accomplished eighteenth-century stonemason Denis Cullen of Monaseed. Taking Preban as a site of departure, I approached the research by examining the material culture of graveyards and ancient burial grounds. I documented the process through rubbings, drawings and photography, focusing on the emblematic, geometric patterning and ambiguous imagery found in graveyards in the counties of Wicklow and Sligo, where a fusion of pagan, famine, Catholic and Protestant stories merged. The county of Wicklow is both where my name, ‘O’Toole’, derives, and my childhood home (Bray, Kilcoole, Ballinaclash and Aughrim). In January 2015 I migrated to County Sligo, which is where my mother’s surname originates. The impulse behind the residency and exhibition, titled ‘Betwixt and Between’, was to explore the interstices in between the personal and the spiritual and religious heritages that shape our current systems of belief. As a returning migrant, I hoped to find new interpretations of what it means to be Irish today. When I wrote the application for this project, I never imagined that I would spend a lot of the time crying. I expected to be preoccupied with discoveries of Neolithic rock art and decorated stones, with medieval churches and ruins. I didn’t expect to identify the small graves of six-week-old babies or notes handwritten by children to the mothers they had lost. I visited Kilvarnet graveyard in County Sligo, where a farmer tended to a grave, gently picking off the pebbles and rearranging the fresh flowers. At Gurteen graveyard, a middle-aged man tenderly placed his hand on the headstone and said goodbye to his wife – her final resting place situated beside the grave of a fouryear-old child. The unbaptised and those who died from suicide lay at unmarked ring forts. In Had Me Made, A Study of grave Memorials of Co. Sligo from 1650 to the Present (Tasks, 2005), Mary B. Timoney notes that death, funerals and graveyards play an important role in the psyche of the Irish, so perhaps we can find some clues to today’s meaning of Irishness from the humble, the neglected and the mixed graveyards
dotted around the Irish landscape. In archaeological terms, drawing is employed as a tool for investigation, problem solving and recording. As an artist, drawing is a mode of thinking and doing that offers me new knowledge through the manifestation of the mark. My approach towards drawing is openminded and inquiring, an intuitive process that navigates between control and chance, generating conditions where unexpected knowledge can emerge. The drawings in this exhibition are a measure of the presence of the self, where a subjective dialogue of enquiry mines the liminal spaces in history to articulate old and new interpretations of Irish identity. Conceptually, the artwork posits the question: Can these markers of individuals, societies and cultures help us explore spirituality in a contemporary and increasingly secular Ireland? In between the marks and the surface exists a space where new knowledge exists. It is in this liminal space that Irish identity is explored. The split gallery space in the courthouse permits a unique viewing position where audiences can encounter the two gallery spaces concurrently. Downstairs, I presented eight charcoal and graphite drawings, which portray the ‘publicly private’ and sacred spaces that I explored in my research “through a process ... with a measured delicacy and refinement”. In the upstairs gallery, four large-scale drawings were hung centrally in the window frame, allowing light to activate the incised and punctured surfaces, resulting in a “fragile intensity”. In the video piece (1.22 minutes) I captured the mouth, which is employed as a drawing tool, blowing pigment. This evokes the notion of presence, time and existence, resulting in work with an intimate and persuasive intensity.1 Throughout the exhibition, the sound of breathing pulsates around the space as a reminder of our own mortality. As I became immersed in the residency and the stories held in graveyards, I found that in conversing about death, we inevitably talk more about life. Kiera O’Toole’s residency was assisted by Maggie Gallagher (Courthouse Arts Centre, Mary McAuliff (Wicklow County Council), Yvonne Whitty (De Faoite Archaeology), Brian Fay, Iseult Healy, Gerard O’Toole, and her son Cionn and husband Craig Gallaway, who endured many hours spent searching for hidden graveyards. Note 1. 1,2,3. Brian Fay, ‘A Fragile Intensity’, Betwixt & Between exhibition catalogue
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Ulster Research Salon DAVE LODER AND MIRJAMI SCHUPPERT INTRODUCE THE ULSTER RESEARCH SALON, WHICH WAS FOUNDED IN 2012.
Beatrice Jarvis, How to Show?, ‘A Lab for Research and Art’
AT the two-day conference ‘On Artistic Research’, held to close the Maybe Education programme at dOCUMENTA (13), an audience member asked: “So, artistic research is more than a report with beautiful illustrations and diagrams?” This rather innocuous question highlighted the difficulties that the event was attempting to both reveal and describe. In Europe, the taxonomy of research has become ensconced in the art academy, through organisations such as the European Artistic Research Network (EARN), the Society for Artistic Research (SAR) and the more recently formed Platform for Artistic Research Sweden (PARSE), but this relationship to academia has also created further difficulties for practitioners and onlookers, both inside and outside the discourse of artistic research. The crux of the challenge appears to lie with the term itself: ‘research’ is tethered to notions of the academic and the contentiousness of this very attachment. The organisations listed above, as well as others, have championed the legitimacy of artistic research and the valuable contribution it can make to both art and theory, but they face a range of detractors: those who adhere to Benjamin’s definition of academic art; those who maintain that research methodologies limit art production; and the more basic prejudices indicated by the audience member’s question at dOCUMENTA (13). Thus, the relationship between the academy and research remains problematic, especially when related to designations of the artistic, which trends towards the para-academy or para-institution have yet to adequately resolve. It was in relation to these concerns that we formed the Belfastbased Ulster Research Salon in 2012 with a small number of artists and curators engaged in doctoral artistic research projects in the School of Fine Art at Ulster University. The Ulster Research Salon is a loose collective of individuals, of both doctoral and non-doctoral standing, who are all similarly preoccupied with or engaged in artistic research practices and the resulting challenges. The Salon began with a series of roundtable discussions and talks from invited artists, and has now expanded into curated exhibitions, publications and panel discussions, becoming a critical platform from which the concerns of artistic research can be probed and discussed. Although we function both within and outside of the exhibition context, the Ulster Research Salon deploys focused curatorial strategies which approach and negotiate explicit issues of artistic research and its topology. Equally, these precise schemes are approached in a multidisciplinary fashion, seeking to draw together methods and ideas from a range of practices that loosely fall under the rubric of the ‘artistic’. For example, the exhibition ‘A Pattern Language’ (2013) at the University Gallery, Ulster University, commissioned work from individual researchers from a range of disciplines, which included architecture, photography, sound and language, to specifically address
Andrew Molloy, Untitled, from ‘A Pattern Language’ exhibition
notions of peerage. The agenda was to probe the territorial disposition of the ‘peer’ in order to cartographically reveal relations of culture and knowledge in artistic, academic and legal environments. The project not only engaged with the culture of academic knowledge production within which research functions, but also teased and unravelled such structures, testing the boundaries of this regime of knowledge when pressed up against concepts of social and legal production. The Salon has welcomed a number of international practitionerresearchers as nomadic members, who we commission and collaborate with on research projects. We have also sought to partner with other organisations outside of Ireland to build relationships with the international artistic research community. In 2014, we co-organised a series of research residencies in a number of Berlin galleries, in association with the European Society for Research and Art (EGFK). The ‘How To Show? Lab for Research and Art’ residency and exhibition programme, which ran over the course of three months, supported 11 researchers from across Europe, hailing from institutions including the Academy of Fine Arts and Aalto University (Helsinki), Bauhaus University (Weimar) and the University of Ulster. The participating artists/PhD researchers had the opportunity to experiment with the installation of their work and to use the exhibition as a learning process, rather than for purposes of display or the illustration of completed research. More recently, the Speculate This! research strand and reading group have been questioning the implications of recent developments in continental philosophy such as new/speculative materialisms, posthumanism and object orientated ontology, and their relation to contemporary art practice. This group is currently undergoing a transition from reading to experimental writing, developing methods and tactics to embed these current and, at times, complex modes of theory into textual research practices. One of our early exhibitions in 2013 was titled ‘Invisibility’ and we feel this still preoccupies the direction of the Salon. This originary exhibition was concerned with the visibility of practice-based artistic research in both academic and extra-academic environments. The work considered how the ‘doctoral’ or academic bias of artistic research is rendered visible or legitimate, and what might be the most suitable platforms on which to reveal research. The Salon itself is an ongoing experimental platform, which has taken and deployed a number of forms including the exhibition, the roundtable and the publication. But more pointed is the notion of visibility, not superficially in the sense of legitimisation, but rather of appearance: how does research appear and how does it register as research? Many artworks already have some type of research embedded in them. For example, a painter may use a specific technique developed from a protracted period of research and which might be invisible,
‘An Attempt at Definitions’, panel discussion, Catalyst Arts
unpresented or uncontextualised. This challenges the notion our understanding of what research is and also the manner in which it can (or should, or may) be rendered. Following a praxis of platforming, the Salon seeks to construct new (re)configurations on which to test the instrumentality of artistic research, creating and composing alternative platforms and structures through which research can perform with distinctive agency. It follows that the structure of Ulster Research Salon is itself, in order to accommodate a variety of researchers and collaborators, mutable, versatile and adaptive in its form. Rather than being a closed collective, it is our intention to provide a stage for artistic research. By occupying the role of the curator, we initiate, facilitate and collaborate, and by doing so provide an expanding platform to reveal new forms and registers for artistic research. In contrivance to notions of the paraacademy, the Ulster Research Salon does not seek to reveal existing or make new regimes of legitimisation, but instead looks to produce platforms and other tools by which artistic research can have effective agency. Dave Loder is a Belfast-based artist-researcher concerned with language, territory and materialism. His art practice manifests as itinerant processes, abstract apparatus and prototype instruments. Mirjami Schuppert is a curator based in Belfast. In her practice she deploys dialogical curatorial strategies and is interested in the concept of the curatorial as an open, slowly evolving process. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Water samples collected in Gdansk, images courtesy of Ruth Le Gear
Ruth Le Gear collecting sea water
Nowy Port crystals
Intuitive Processes RUTH LE GEAR DESCRIBES HER EXPERIENCES ON THE CCA LAZNIA RESIDENCY IN GDANSK. CCA Laznia, located in a former bathhouse in Nowy Port, Gdansk, Poland, is an art institution that exhibits contemporary work concerned specifically with the social presence of artists and their involvement in social discourse. It offers an artists’ residency programme, educational activities and a programme for social integration. Laznia also contains a cinema, a library, a workshop space and eight residential studios for artists. I applied for the residency at CCA Laznia as part of an open call. Residencies are an integral part of my practice. They provide time and space away from daily life and allow me to become completely immersed in my work. The Laznia residency is organised in two stages: firstly a two-week research visit and then a two-month residency that follows sometime afterwards. CCA Laznia provided me with an assistant, an artist’s fee, living expenses, travel costs and a space in which to live and work. My work involves various meditations that help me find a place to communicate with water. From there, I take samples and make homeopathic remedies. Space and time are entwined in a number of ways, together forming a whole in which no aspect takes precedence. Past events may still be held within certain spaces, and I use these intuitive processes to release energy and resonance in such spaces. During my research residency, I took an in-depth tour of the Nowy Port area and visited various wells, rivers, fountains and streams in Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. I also took expeditions to the sea and a long journey on bus number 666 to Hel, which is located on the tip of the Hel Peninsula. On one research visit, I kayaked around the canals and water systems of Gdansk. People there seemed very connected to the waters, many sitting around the inhalation fountain in Sopot for healing. When the canal was redirected through the city, it was named the Marta Wisla (Dead Vistula River). I was struck by how apt this name was. The water there is highly polluted, with no life and no movement. Working in Nowy Port was interesting. Previously, I would tend to overlook polluted, dark, disturbed places and instead look for clearer sites in which to work, such as the Arctic icebergs I studied for my work Polar Forces: universe of an iceberg (2012). My method involves serial dilutions, which form tiny poetic time machines where each sample is explored to see what is held within. These outcomes are translated into moving image installations, sound and photography. My work at the Laznia revolved around a number of sites, where I collected the waters and explored them through various processes to unlock their stories. This process is a meditation within the space, a
ritual conversation with the water. Nowy Port became the main site of my work. It lies across the waters from Westerplatte, which is considered the symbolic site of the outbreak of World War II. It’s a busy industrial port on the Baltic Sea, and the waters are very polluted. The Martwa Wisla is a branch of the Vistula that flows through the city of Gdansk and out to sea through the port. My work there concerned the waters of the place, from which I created a homeopathic remedy. The remedy is full of light and hope and joy. I was confused when I first discovered it, so I made the remedy again. I didn’t think a place of such grief, trauma and pollution could hold such light. It reminded me that nature will always find a way to heal itself and that we can’t turn our backs on places which seem polluted or beyond hope. This is a quiet, intangible work that I translated into a tangible form through documenting both the processes of both creation and return. I also created video and sound works about the spirit of the place. The video works are like a porthole into another world. The projections are experimental investigations into the temporal aspects of water memory and the poetic debris of investigations. One day while walking by the waters, I noticed a boat with a polar bear on the side and a sign that said “Svalbard.” This was very exciting for me, as I travelled aboard a similar vessel for my Arctic project. It turned out to belong to the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN). IOPAN conducts scientific research in the Baltic and European Arctic Seas. I made contact with the Sopot branch, and they invited me to come and give a talk on my work to the Arctic research scientists in Sopot. I met Wojtek Moskal and Marcin Wesławski, both magnificent Arctic scientists; and previous Laznia resident Sigbjørn Bratlie, an Arctic adventurer. It was magical event. A few of the scientists thought my work with dilution of water and icebergs was a bit odd, yet most of them came up to me later in the day, while I was filming their collections and samples around the building, asking for one particular Arctic iceberg remedy or another. I was then invited back to work on my water collection with them. We performed various tests and created images of the waters under extremely powerful microscopes. I was also given the prestigious honour of an invitation to pose as the cow in the group photo for their Christmas card. There is a certain interaction between the remedy from Nowy Port and the Magdalena remedy I made in the Arctic. When you take them, one unlocks a key in the other. Most women will take the Magdalena before the Nowy Port remedy and the other way around for
men. This dance between the two remedies did not fully distill for me until my return this year for the exhibition. Upon my return this year, I was invited to have dinner with a number of homeopaths and doctors to share my work about the remedies. It was wonderful to sit around having these conversations, which stretched much further than I could have imagined. Sometimes it’s difficult when you work in the ‘art and science’ sphere; I find myself guarded, ready to defend my ideas and explain myself. There, I didn’t have to; they understood. This is just one example of the amazing level of support I received on this residency. There was no pressure to have a finished outcome at the end of the two-month residency, which I find to be the most encouraging way to work. I went back to my studio in Leitrim Sculpture Centre with an abundance of water, imagery and videos and continued to work. I also developed a text with Padraic E. Moore, which gave clarity to what I was doing. This text will be published in the exhibition catalogue in January. A few months ago I was invited to have a solo show in CCA Laznia. Again, they were extremely supportive and generous. I spent three weeks installing the show, taking time to contemplate everything while sitting on a large grey beanbag in the space. I gave the Nowy Port water remedy to people in the area, and this always resulted in interesting conversations. The contradiction of a remedy made from water and diluted with itself provoked engaging questions about the uses and permutations of a landscape in which energy fields mediate and co-exist with the human body. The Nowy Port water remedy brings a lightness to your being; it is like an instant pink light. It brings an awareness of the need to control others. It helps to release hard, heavy, unforgiving thoughts and feelings. It is like being wrapped in a pink shawl made of light. It works with militant and unloving thought forms. It helps your heart to become centered in a state of love. In these waters, both historic experiences and private stories are reflected. The work attempts to transcend physical and mental barriers, resonating the past in the hope of evoking a lighter future, from a place where the waters would have stagnated in inertia. My intention from here is to bring this water remedy to other water bodies around the world, to share this light and joy with places that also hold grief and trauma. ruthlegear.com
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
HOW IS IT MADE?
The Ties That Bind JENNIFER TROUTON DISCUSSES THE PROCESS BEHIND HER WORK ‘THE TIES THAT BIND’, WHICH WAS SHOWN AT THE ROYAL ULSTER ACADEMY’S 134TH ANNUAL EXHIBITION (16 OCTOBER 2015 – 3 JANUARY 2016).
Jennifer Trouton with The Ties That Bind at the Royal Ulster Academy
MY painting The Ties That Bind has its roots in the 1700s and the patriarchal mindset of the founding president of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds. In a sweeping generalisation, Reynolds decreed: “Let men busy themselves with all that has to do with great art . . . let women occupy themselves with those kinds of art that they have always preferred, the painting of flowers”. This statement, and the attitude toward still-life painting that it evokes, put fire in my blood in 1999 and has continued to be a source of motivation to this day. My initial reaction to Reynolds was to create a piece of work titled Looking at the Overlooked, which consisted of 304 still-life works on sixinch-square boards. It was my intention to create a large contemporary work of art that owed its very existence to a traditional genre and which, as a whole work, could not be easily overlooked. I had worked in multiples before, but never on such a scale. Neither had I used multiples as a rhetorical storytelling device. Looking at the Overlooked was exhibited in 2003 at the Ashford Gallery, Dublin and from that point I have experimented with the use of multiple images as a narrative device to explore wider issues. Even in 2003, however, I knew that I wanted to attempt a single large-scale work, but somehow always managed to cleverly talk myself out of it until The Ties That Bind. In 2012, with the aid of an Arts Council of Northern Ireland grant, I was able to buy a number of Milliken Brothers six-foot oil-primed linens. They were carried up eight flights of stairs and through the labyrinth of the old Queen Street Studios to my workspace. The delivery men left me 100 square feet of intimidating white linen to stare at and I continued to stare at that bare linen for a further 12 months. During that time I was invited to take part in a three-person painting show in the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan. Solstice is an expansive gallery with acres of open wall space. It almost demanded that I face my fear and start work on the large linens. So after a few false starts I finally did, and along with a multiple piece of mixed media on wallpaper entitled What Remains, I began The Ties That Bind. Having previously undertaken an ACNI-funded research trip to Massachusetts, I knew the themes I wished to explore: class conflict, the famine, industrialisation and the Irish diaspora. My American research focused on the story of my family’s emigration from rural County Armagh to the factories and railroads of Massachusetts. My discoveries triggered a series of potential intersections for enquiry, such as urban/rural, wealth/poverty, factorymade/handmade, home/ abroad and authenticity/illusion.
Jennifer Trouton, The Ties That Bind
Jennifer Trouton, Looking at the Overlooked, installation view
I also knew that wallpaper would become the unifying motif of the works, both large and small. The Ties That Bind would be a political painting that used the traditions and techniques that have been historically associated with still life paintings, the techniques and tropes that Reynolds himself would have understood as women’s art, and women’s subject matter. What I didn’t know was how and where to start painting on such a large scale. The physical reality of negotiating the linen was truly daunting. With procrastination as my mistress, I spent three months ruminating, designing and refining the composition. Each element was carefully considered before I made a single mark. I remember clearly the day I began work on the linen, as it was my 42nd birthday. Realising I didn’t have brushes large enough to paint a ground colour, I rather nervously laid down my first layer of paint with a roller from B&Q. Once in place, I finally relaxed and set about slowly and patiently plotting out the composition, gradually realising as I went along that it was going to take a while. I was not wrong. The piece ultimately took a full year to complete. What I also could not foresee was how The Ties That Bind would help me through personal tragedy. After suffering a miscarriage in April 2013, I fully immersed myself for many months in the mechanism of painting, allowing the daily rituals and routines of the studio to provide temporary respite from the profound grief I was experiencing. The dominant feature within The Ties That Bind is the wallpaper. Wallpaper is often the last tangible mark of a person’s presence left in an abandoned domestic space, and it can reveal so much about their history. In The Ties That Bind I have reproduced a toile wallpaper entitled Stag Hunting. The original wallpaper depicts the rich at play. For the rich the land is a lush playground to be enjoyed. The scene is
one that reinforces aspirational and reassuring ideas of status and wellbeing. By subtly replacing a number of the original motifs with images of the peasant classes, toiling and perishing on the land, I have subverted the idealised vision of the landscape and created a new narrative. The original unthreatening images of aristocratic enjoyment are now mixed with Irish looms and with the dead, the dying and the starving. The American factory towers that lured so many from their faceless agrarian pasts represent an urban, industrial future: a geographical and cultural shift well known to my own ancestors, who emigrated in the 1800s. The still-life table arrangement further extends the narrative. The imported embroidered silk contrasts with the pink fabric, which is a family heirloom. The silk represents the ‘new world’ and its infinite possibilities. Its decorative opulence is mass-produced and counters the handmade, functional fabrics of the domestic spaces left behind in Ireland. Spaces like the crumbling two-room home of my great-greatgrandmother, which are fading into the Irish landscape. The twine and the candlesticks, which belonged to my great-grandmother, serve as a reminder of the cottage industries lost to the industrialisation of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Ties That Bind is a response to Reynolds, to his eighteenthcentury misogyny, and to a patrician attitude that excluded women from being ‘serious artists’. However, these long-dead men, with their work that hangs row upon testosterone-fuelled row in the galleries of Europe, ultimately failed. Women stepped out from their petticoats and created art that spoke about the world, and about politics, hunger, rage and desire. They showed that they were much more than reproducers of flowers and fruit and, although, still, relatively few works hang alongside those created by men, women have broken out of the box that the establishment would have had them occupy. But even now, within contemporary art, where ideas can be elevated above execution, figurative painting has been kept in the background. Consequently, The Ties That Bind is also a response to the contemporary world, to those who think that aesthetically pleasing art is no more than a decorative craft. It is possible to look at The Ties That Bind and see just that: classical composition and academic lines, still life in its traditional sense, conservative, safe and unthreatening. But wait a while longer, take time to explore the possibilities and you will see that still life, like the women who were shackled to it, continues to be much more. It is a vibrant seanachaí – centuries old but still telling stories that we want and need to hear. jennifertrouton.com
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
Adam Burthom, Hibernian Rasquachismo, 2015
Angie Duignan, Interactive Self-stirring Spoon, 2014, sculptural installation
David. J, Marrakech, 2014, photographic print
Jolanda van Herk, Reflection on the Bog, 2015, photographic print
Katrina Regan, Gather, 2015, oil on canvas
Making Visible JOANNE LAWS INTRODUCES THE ROSCOMMON VISUAL ARTISTS FORUM (RVAF).
January – February 2016
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
Frances Crowe, Life Blood, 2015, woven
Siobhan McGibbon, Technologies for Internal Explorations, 2015
Adam Burthom, Hibernian Rasquachismo, 2015
THE Roscommon Visual Artists Forum (RVAF) was established in early
galleries; and artist Mark Garry, who considered research
Network Ireland (est. 2007 at IMMA, Dublin) and the Visual Arts
2014 by Linda Shevlin as part of her ongoing Visual Arts Curator
methodologies for visual artists. Inviting arts professionals to the Workers’ Forum (est. 2010 at Project Arts Centre, Dublin) highlight the
Residency at the Roscommon Arts Centre. Given that the objectives
region to share their insights and expertise has allowed forum
for this Arts Council–funded residency prioritise “engaging new members to situate their own practice within nationally relevant audiences” at local, regional and national level while promoting a conversations, while potentially enhancing perceptions of the
merits of country-wide networks in providing information, support, advocacy and spaces for collectivity and dialogue on critical issues. Roscommon Visual Artists Forum builds on the momentum of
previous regional initiatives, including BAG (Boyle Artists Group, est. “coordinated approach between curators and organisations”, Linda felt county’s art scene beyond the region. In response to the perceived and expressed needs of local artists, 1996), Tower Arts Project (TAP, est. 1998) and Westmeath Arts it was important to work closely with Roscommon County Council the Roscommon Visual Artists Forum Award was established in 2014.
Movement (WAM, est. 2009) – collectives of artists who were
that a membership-based forum might galvanise the regional visual- Applications were invited from artists to realise a new project that arts community, which had become increasingly detached from both would be exhibited in Roscommon Arts Centre’s gallery space in
committed to developing the regional arts scene. Working Artists
the Arts Office and the Arts Centre. The original rationale was simple: spring 2015. The award included a production budget as well as to provide visual artists from or living in County Roscommon with a organisational and curatorial support. Siobhan McGibbon received
Frances Crowe, Anne Rigney and Noel Molloy. With other local artists,
platform to develop their practice through professional development the inaugural 2015 award, and Vida Pain has just been announced as opportunities, exhibitions and events. I was later appointed to winner of the 2016 award.
workshops, symposiums and exchanges.
coordinate the RVAF 2015 programme, allowing Linda to devote more
Channelling Complexity: What should forums do?
Arts Office to establish a network for local artists. There was a sense
Roscommon (WAR) was co-founded in 1990 by RVAF members they exhibited nationally and internationally and organised numerous
time to her curatorial programme at Roscommon Arts Centre. Though
North-West Curators in Conversation
the county seemed to have a pretty active visual-arts community,
To coincide with ‘Shifting Perspectives’, RVAF hosted a public ranging discussion addressed several issues. In terms of identity,
many artists work in isolation from home studios across peripheral or
conversation between curators of contemporary-art spaces located in
members described the RVAF as a group of practicing visual artists
remote townlands and villages, suggesting that peer-to-peer the north-west region. I facilitated an informal panel discussion between Linda Shevlin (curator-in-residence at Roscommon Arts networking and social events are all the more important.
who are from or living in County Roscommon. With regard to the
Centre), Sarah Searson (director of The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon),
should give a voice to the region’s arts scene; encourage the sharing of
RVAF Programme (2014–2015)
Miriam Mulrennan (Westmeath Arts Officer and former manager of
information, expertise and strategies between members; provide
Based on initial correspondence with forum members, it was clear that
the Luan Gallery, Athlone) and Sean O’Reilly (director of Leitrim social spaces for local artists to forge friendships with like-minded
local artists wanted more opportunities to exhibit their work. The first
Sculpture Centre, Manorhamilton). Discussing their roles within their
people; and promote the good use of existing local infrastructures,
RVAF members’ exhibition took place in Roscommon Arts Centre in
respective institutions, the curators reflected on the challenges of
services and businesses. It was acknowledged that in order to sustain a
March 2014 as a two-phase presentation of artworks by locally based
being situated away from major urban hubs. The ways in which
vibrant arts community, several elements have to converge: a vibrant
During my first meeting with the RVAF group in April 2015, our wide-
forum’s ideological function, members suggested that the RVAF
students, recent graduates, amateur enthusiasts and full-time geographical location informs each institution’s remit and potential arts centre, a proactive arts office, a committed arts audience and professional artists. These showcases provided an opportunity for the audiences was discussed in relation to developing visual-arts sufficient infrastructures for artists, including access to facilities, general public to familiarise themselves with the diversity of arts programmes of local, regional, national and international significance. practice occurring in the region, from craft and painting to sculptural Encouragingly, nearly 60 people attended the event. Most striking was
equipment and work spaces. As arts audiences often include other artists, the forum should support members by attending each other’s
installation and new media. ‘Here/Now’, held at Boyle Arts Festival
the sheer appetite for discussion, which caused a tremendous buzz in exhibition openings – a personal investment that arguably will create
2014, was a curated open-call exhibition of members’ artworks that
the room. I found myself introducing local artists to one another, and sustain the forum.
initiated a dialogue on art production in rural contexts – a curatorial though I had initially presumed that most of them already knew each inquiry that was further explored in the RVAF exhibition ‘Shifting other. A lengthy post-panel Q&A session seemed timely and much Perspectives’ for Boyle Arts Festival 2015, which focused on the
As well as calling for opportunities to exhibit, forum members
office? In virtual spaces such as mailing lists and social media posts? When members convene in one place? Other issues, including the
realities of maintaining contemporary-art practices away from urban centres.
Questions of a more philosophical nature are yet to be resolved, such as ‘Where does the forum exist?’ As a programme of the local arts
archiving of the forum’s activities, are yet to be comprehensively
From an art-historical perspective, horizontal modes of organising
addressed. Even something as basic as membership has proved difficult
also expressed interest in mentorship, including one-to-one clinics, have been an integral way for artists to establish social contacts and to define. The core RVAF programme is developed for Roscommonconsultations and talks. A quarterly RVAF newsletter was initiated to assert shared artistic visions. Societies such as the Art Workers Guild based members; however, artists in the neighbouring counties of circulate details of upcoming exhibitions and opportunities. With
(est. 1884 in the UK), the Artists’ International Association (est. 1933
Leitrim, Sligo and Westmeath are often invited to attend particular
modest annual funding from Roscommon Art Office, it has been
in London) and the Art Workers Coalition (est. 1969 in New York)
events, with the ‘north-west’ often seeming like a more appropriate
possible to deliver an ongoing programme of bi-monthly events at two
were developed by artists as counter-cultures to the prevailing political
spatial designation. An unspoken stratum of committed and casual
venues: Roscommon Arts Centre and King House, Boyle. Working in
or institutional agendas. In recent years, similar modes of affiliation
memberships has emerged, reflecting differing levels of commitment
partnership with Visual Artists Ireland, Show & Tell and Common
have resurfaced within the Irish arts community. It is notable, however,
and expectation. In short, the RVAF offers a flexible network of
Room Café events were hosted at Roscommon Arts Centre, offering
that many of these initiatives, though forged in direct consultation affiliation, with the capacity for artists to engage in ways appropriate
opportunities for local artists to convene in social and discursive
with artists, have tended to be ‘administrator led’. In the context of to their individual circumstances, priorities and needs. The challenge
settings. A range of professional-development workshops have been
diminishing arts funding, a desire to ‘make visible’ the always present is to consider how this momentum can be maintained or further
delivered by VAI speakers, including Annette Maloney, Eilís Lavelle,
yet frequently disconnected creative fabric of a region (to institutions, expanded to generate more opportunities for artists living and
Alan Raggett, Helen Carey and Áine Phillips, covering diverse topics
funders, publics and each other) has become increasingly prevalent.
such as ‘Proposal Writing’, ‘Peer Critique’, ‘Installation Skills’ and
This is evident in the spatial clustering of initiatives around the
‘Conservation Issues’, ‘Writing about your Work’ and ‘Working with
country, including Sligo Artists Network, Artlinks (Wexford Arts Joanne Laws is an arts writer and current coordinator of the
Public Galleries’. Other invited speakers have included independent
Office), Donegal Artists Network and the Hello Sessions (Cavan Arts
RVAF. This text was developed in consultation with Adam
curator Shelly McDonnell, who discussed working with artist-led
Office). At a national level, initiatives such as the Artists Studios
Burthom and Linda Shevlin.
working in the region.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
PUBLIC ART ROUNDUP
Public Art PUBLIC ART COMMISSIONS, SITE-SPECIFIC WORKS, SOCIALLY ENGAGED PRACTICE AND OTHER FORMS OF ART OUTSIDE THE GALLERY. four Mayo-based artists following a six-week summer residency organised by the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in Castlebar, which was until recently St. Mary’s Psychiatric Hospital. Both the tradition of de- and re-institutionalisation of buildings with negative histories and the cultural context of the GMIT building itself were important points of reference for the artists’ work, as was the exhibition title ‘OFF THE WALL’. Conor O Grady’s work, Ni, Me (Mayo-Monologues), consisted of video work and a series of poster campaigns. It was the culmination of public interventions and research into Ireland’s cultural and hisSteve Maher, Discordian, 2015 torical legacy of Magdalene laundries, reformatories and psychiatric asylums. The work was based on the symbology and imagery evoked in the female voices of Samuel Beckett’s Not I and the poem Self Heal Artist’s name: Steve Maher by Michael Longley. Title of work: Discordion Bryan Gerard Duffy’s works culminated under the title Sin-thoCommissioning body: Pixelache – Living Spaces 2016 (Finland) me. Derived from Jacques Lacan’s seminar ‘Sinthome’, its meaning Date advertised: July 2015 Date sited/carried out: 25 September 2015, Helsinki City Tram, Fin- translates from the Latin for ‘symptom’, in relation to illness, whilst ‘sin-tho-me’ plays on the Catholic Church’s involvement in Irish land institutions. It further explores the re-institutionalisation of these Budget: €400 buildings into the direct provision and third level education systems, Commission type: Public interactive art installation Project Partners: Taidelinja (Finland) and These Animals (Finland) and their architectural significance through sculptural and video inBrief description: In celebration of 70 years in operation, Helsinki stallations. The theme of absence/presence was evoked in Breda Burns’s Area Transit Authority (HKL) has invited a host of artists to produce works which reference the company’s deeply entrenched history work, which featured recurring images of the body and an empty within Helsinki itself. For the past 70 years HKL’S own Harmonikka- chair. Her large painted screens, looped video and 200 hand-made orkesteri (Accordion Orchestra) have been performing throughout chairs floating in tiny bottles evoked thoughts of the many people who had resided in the building over the years. the city. Jo Killalea’s installations and paintings explored progression in There exists a visual correlation between the construction of the tram itself, its central pivot point with its accordion-like walls approaches to mental health within the GMIT building. It contrasted and the accordion music played by some of the drivers. The driver is the long-term residential confinement and medical models of the not typically engaged with by most passengers. Their responsibili- asylum with the modern approaches of the Mayo Recovery College, ties are paramount to safe passage so protocol dictates that they must founded on the belief that people can become mentally well if given not be distracted. This project negotiates how collaboration can be the right mix of supports. realised on a subconscious level, with the performance of music dictated by the actions of the driver, the interaction of the passengers and the streets themselves. UNITY THROUGH DESIGN Discordion is a socially activated sonic sculpture, which makes use of human relationships and the moving central corridors of a Helsinki city tram. Making use of the tram’s movement as it navigates the city, a piano accordion is suspended from the bellows-like junction of the tram. As the tram moves the bellows of the accordion expand and contract. Passengers interact by pressing buttons and keys, which causes the accordion to play its traditional sound as limited by the movements of the tram. In this way the artwork is a collaboration between the driver and their passengers. DISCORDIAN
OFF THE WALL James L. Hayes, Unity Through Design
Conor O ‘Grady, Ni, Me (Mayo Monologues)
Artists’ names: Conor O’Grady, Bryan Gerard Duffy, Breda Burns, Jo Killalea Title of exhibition: OFF THE WALL Date sited/carried out: 25 November – 8 December 2015 Commission type: Summer residency programme (non-residential) Project Partners: Galway Mayo Institute of Technology Mayo Campus (Dr John Mulloy) Brief description: ‘OFF THE WALL’ featured works developed by
Artist’s name: James L. Hayes Title of work: Unity Through Design Commissioning body: The Arts Council of Northern Ireland Date advertised: December 2014 Date sited/carried out: June 2015 Budget: €40,000 Commission type: Public tender Project partners: ACNI, Dundalk Institute of Techology (DKIT) Brief description: This work was commissioned and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Building Peace through the Arts: Re-Imaging Communities programme and the European Union’s Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE III) managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and the International Fund for Ireland. The 5-metre stainless steel sculpture is installed on the grounds of the Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) Campus in County Louth. The work is intended to respond to the cross-border peace and reconciliation intentions outlined in the Building Peace through the Arts programme by the ACNI. The project involved working closely with the stakeholders and students of DKIT.
Frieda Meaney, Buceros Rhinoceros, 2015
Artist’s name: Frieda Meaney Title of work: Transient Worlds Commissioning body: BEES UCC Date advertised: March 2015 Date sited/carried out: June – September 2015 Budget: €2,500 Commission type: UCC DUETs programme Project Partners: Dr John Quinn at BEES, UCC and the University Strategic Research Fund Brief description: The transience of life and art form the inspiration for this collaboration between artist Frieda Meaney and Professor John Quinn from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) at UCC. The project was made possible through a grant awarded by the University Strategic Research Fund and proposed a response to the idea of the evolution of birds from both a scientific and artistic perspective. John Quinn is a biologist with a special interest in birds as a model for studying key questions in the evolution and ecology of behaviour. He believes that the distinction between art and science is largely superficial and that all biologists should strive to see the artistic merit of their work. Frieda Meaney has been working as a professional artist for over 30 years and has always drawn on the biological, botanical and geological sciences for her inspiration. In selecting specimens from the Natural History Museum at BEES, her choices were made from an aesthetic viewpoint rather than a scientific one. The hornbill and toucan specimens were chosen for their similarity to dinosaurs. In this installation she has depicted several examples of pterosaurs and other flying species. Birds represent the only group of dinosaurs to have survived the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago. Today over 8,500 species of birds populate the skies.
Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw, Waggle Dance
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
PUBLIC ART ROUNDUP Artists’ names: Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw Title: Waggle Dance Commissioning body: NUI Maynooth Location: The Iontas building NUI Maynooth Date advertised: Invited by limited competition in 2012 Date sited: Spring 2015 Budget: €70,000 Brief description: The Scott Tallon Walker designed Iontas Building at NUI Maynooth houses the National Center for Geocomputation and An Foras Feasa, a research facility for the digitisation and archiving of Irish historical and cultural traditions. Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw’s concept was to draw on the activities within the building and reflect these in the work. The honeycomb or beehive references the archiving of data and geometric global mapping techniques as well as the pastime of beekeeping, which took place at the original seminary from which the university grew. The sculpture aims to embody the creativity and intellectual vitality within the university through the geometry, complexity and ecology associated with the beehive. Consisting of 670 stainless and bronze plate cells, it is perforated with dozens of apertures which, together with faceted edges, give it a playful tension and feeling of lightness and transparency. racheljoynt.com remcodefouw.net illuminationsgallery.wordpress.com
Alan Counihan, found photograph among personal effects
Project partners: Sara Greavu Brief description: Artist Sarah Browne recently completed ‘Between a Dog and a Wolf’, a public project in collaboration with CCA DerryLondonderry and curator Sara Greavu. The commission involved the artist leading the first year of a public programme titled ‘Our Neighbourhood’, which took place in the gallery, and offsite around the city, from November 2014 – August 2015. The project was commissioned with the support of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Derry City Council and Arts Council of Northern Ireland Legacy Funding. ‘Between a Dog and a Wolf’ attempted to experience the urban environment differently by asking the question: What do animals know about our neighbourhood that we don’t? A community of interest was formed through an open call process, who went on to participate in workshops, screenings, talks and performances over a 10-month period. Workshops were led by Aislinn O’Donnell, Clyde Doyle, Matt Green, Steve Batts, Laura Durán, Jessica Foley, Rory HarTom Lane, Maeve Stone and Rory Grubb ron and Didem Durak, centring on subjects such as philosophy, sound recording and movement practice. Through investigation of Commission type: Open submission our relationships with animals in their intimate and personal dimenProject partners: Clara Musical Society sions, as well as the roles assigned to animals in public and political Brief description: Meeting House was a site specific performance aclife, the group attempted to redraw boundaries around established companied by an installation, which transformed the Friend’s Meetgroups and values in the city. ing House into a playable instrument. The project culminated in the publication of a 148-page spiral On two cold November nights in a transformed Friend’s Meetbound book, Between a Dog and a Wolf: An Animal Empathy Workbook. ing House, the story of the Goodbody legacy was illustrated through Designed by Studio Hato and printed on a Risograph stencil duplia performance by Clara Musical Society of a choral piece composed cator, the book includes critical essays and a series of exercises and by by Tom Lane. documentation from the workshops. It was decided that it should be Collaborating with Clara Musical Society on the project were classified as ‘397 Outcast Studies’ within the Dewey Decimal system. Limerick-born theatre director Maeve Stone, composer, singer and Although the ‘397 Outcast Studies’ classification is no longer used, it multi-instrumentalist Tom Lane, whose most recent work includes is befitting that it should be classified within ‘390 Customs Etiquette composition and scoring of Oedipus by Wayne Jordan in the Abbey and Folklore’ to which ‘Outcast Studies’ once belonged. Theatre, and artist Rory Grubb, who provided sound engineering and additional composition. Audiences in the three sell-out performances were first treated TIME to spoken extracts from Robert Goodbody’s memoirs, before being seated in the main room. Upon entering the room the scale of the installation was revealed. The interior was strung like a giant jute harp, behind which the singers performed. With beautifully lit setting and a rich atmosphere, the performance reflected echoes of the Goodbody family’s role in the industrial and architectural heritage of Clara. The namesake of the project, Friend’s Meeting House, formerly the Quaker House, has its own rich history. In 1989 Clara MS acquired a 99 year lease to the building from the Goodbody Family trustees for £1. Historically, the Quaker faith, to which the family belonged, had shunned instrumental music; consequently these particular performances made for a wonderful irony. For those who missed the performances, the installation was left in place for one month at the Meeting House where visitors were welcome to try their hand at playing the giant jute harp strings.
Artist’s name: Alan Counihan Title: Personal Effects Project type: Ongoing self-initiated project Brief description: The Personal Effects Project is an ongoing work by Alan Counihan that began as an exploration of the personal effects of dead or discharged patients of Grangegorman Mental Hospital, which were discovered in an attic of that institution in 2010. The fruit of that research and exploration was exhibited as a multime- BETWEEN A DOG AND A WOLF dia installation that was first shown in 2014 at the Long Stores of St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman, Dublin. Counihan writes: “Following two years of research and development, this installation was created in response not only to the possessions discovered within the hospital complex but also to their possessors, who were in turn possessed by the institution for the duration of their care. The work also responds to the official archival records of the Richmond Asylum, latterly St. Brendan’s Hospital, and to the history of institutional care for the mentally ill in Ireland as a whole.” This project has expanded to include the legacy of five other asylums in the south-east of Ireland through the support of a 2015 Artlinks Bursary Award. A radio documentary, Ghosts of Grangegorman, based on the Personal Effects Project, was broadcast on RTE radio in September 2015.
MEETING HOUSE Artist’s name: Tom Lane Title of work: Meeting House Commissioning body: Offaly County Council Date advertised: September 2014 Date sited/carried out: 27 – 28 November 2015 Budget: €10,000
‘Walking with Blaise’, video and language workshop with Laura Durán; photo by Sarah Browne
Artist’s name: Sarah Browne Title: Between a Dog and a Wolf Commissioning body: CCA Derry~Londonderry with Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Legacy Funding Location: CCA Derry-Londonderry and Derry City Council Date completed: August 2015
Finbar247; photo by Nicholas Grundy
Artist’s name: Finbar247 Title: Time Commissioning body: Galway University Hospital Arts Trust Location: Galway University Hospital Date advertised: Direct invitation Date completed: 12 – 18 September 2015 Budget: €8000 Project partners: HSE, Healthy Ireland, Saolta University Health Care Group Brief description: Finbar247 transformed the main foyer of the hospital into an inspirational space that gives patients, staff and visitors the opportunity to reflect on how they use time in their daily lives. With a background in graffiti and visual communications, Finbar247 chose to use black and white emulsion to create these large scale conceptual messages that highlight the importance of living in the now, meditation, gratitude and a healthy, balanced lifestyle. One of the works was a large wall covered in 10,000 black dots. They were created by Finbar with the help of hospital staff and patients. The idea of spending 10,000 hours doing something can be daunting at first but seems manageable when you break it down. 10,000 hours can be broken down into 100 hours, 100 times. Each dot represents and hour spent doing something that you love. The artist stated: “When you start doing more of what you love in life, the hours will begin to add up quickly as you will be following your true path in life”.
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
Opportunities COMMISSIONS SCOIL BHEININ NAOFA CAILINI Scoil Bheinin Naofa Cailini wishes to commission a new visual artwork to celebrate and coincide with the opening of the school. The Per Cent for Art Scheme commission aims to provide an opportunity for artists, at any stage of their career, to develop a work influenced by the history, context and aspirations of the students, teachers, parents and community of Duleek and the surrounding region. Projects should maintain the highest level of artistic excellence, be innovative in nature and display a high level of understanding of the context of the commission. The maximum budget for the commission is €25,000, inclusive of all artists’ fees, costs, expenses, VAT, insurance, transportation to site installation cost, foundations, if applicable, and any other charges. This is a two-stage selection process, with a maximum of six artists invited to submit a stage two proposal. Each shortlisted artist will receive a fee of €500 to develop their proposal further. Proposals for the commissions at both stages will be selected by a committee consisting of representatives from the teaching staff, board of management, an independent professional artist and the Meath County Council arts officer. Shortlisted artists may be asked to attend an interview with the committee and be requested to elaborate on their proposals. To register your interest in the project in advance of the stage one submission, provide your name, address, telephone number and email address and indicate if you require to attend a project site visit. Deadline 4pm, Friday 22 January Email email@example.com BANBRIDGE PUBLIC ART Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council seeks expressions of interest from experienced and suitably qualified artists or design teams in developing a new public art project. This project is an initiative of Armagh City, Banbridge, Craigavon Borough Council and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio to commission a major public art project to be located on the outskirts of Banbridge, in a location adjacent to the main Dublin to Belfast road and in close proximity to the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio. Visible from the A1 northbound carriageway, the result of this project will occupy a prominent position on the main crossborder route and has the potential to become a focal point which will raise the cultural profile of Banbridge and build on the increasing recognition of North-
ern Ireland as a destination for cultural tourism. The proposed total budget for the final artwork/s is up to £150,000.Expressions of interest are sought from artists (or a team of collaborating artists) to deliver a public art project. Shortlisting will be based on the information provided. At stage 2, £1,500 will be made available to up to four artists/teams who will be invited to present their proposals to the selection panel. Interested artists/teams are invited to submit an expression of interest in English, with prices in Sterling and including VAT via the eSourcing Portal. Tender documents can be downloaded by registering with e-sourcingni. Deadline 4pm, Friday 29 January Email Riann.Coulter@armaghban Web bridgecraigavon.gov.uk
SUBMISSIONS / OPEN CALLS
ing critical texts and reviews on ‘Resourcefulness’ in thinking, practice and presentation of visual art. This theme can be interpreted flexibly and invites discussion on material, use and necessity. ‘Resourcefulness’ can relate to the use of generic components of a gallery space and exhibition props as art objects or the practice of reusing stuff-less stuff, such as ideas, thoughts and texts. Submissions can take the form of a review, an interview or an article. Creative writing is also welcome. Issue 12 of Critical Bastards will be predominantly an online publication with a limited print run. CB is committed to creating conversations between all parts of the island of Ireland and welcomes submissions from Northern Ireland. Word count: 500 words. Format: Word document or PDF. Deadline Friday 29 January Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web criticalbastards.wordpress.com
GALWAY 1916 Galway 1916, a community based group, SUPERMASSIVEBLACKHOLE seek submissions for their 1916-themed SuperMassiveBlackHole (SMBH) magaart exhibition. The exhibition will take zine are seeking new writers and conplace at the Market Street Gallery (Contributors. SMBH are looking for people nacht Tribune Print Works), Market who can create regular content, whether Street, Galway from the 12 March to the that be a weekly picture or comment on 29 April 2016. a single subject, a monthly column or a Interested artists should submit fortnightly review. The editors are open images of work or a short proposal statto all ideas, jurisdictions and genres. ing the themes they wish to explore toEmail gether, with 100 words detailing their email@example.com own interest in 1916. Web Deadline sbmhmag.com/expansion Sunday 14 February Email ABRIDGED 0-14: FLOODLAND firstname.lastname@example.org Taking its title from the Sisters of Mercy, Telephone Abridged is exploring paranoia and fear 0860593295 in its 0 – 14: Floodland issue. Abridged are looking for poetry (up to three poCLONAKILTY COMMUNITY ARTS ems) and art (up to A4 landscape size Submissions are now open for the and 300dpi or above). 2016/2017 exhibition programme. Describing the issue, the press Clonakilty Community Arts Centre release states: “Floods are the sky fall(CCAC) is interested in collaborating ing. ... All floods are mindless, and fully with emerging visual artists working in charged with the violence of mindlessany medium and in particular particiness. ... We are flooded with panic and patory art. The Arts Centre programme paranoia: time, economy, global crises, provides exhibition opportunities for and fear are made immediate, vital and both West-Cork-based artists and artists simultaneous. ... Why would the world from other areas. There is no fee to apply make war with us? Our eyes ask of the for an exhibition at CCAC. sky, our bodies of the ocean, our minds Clonakilty Community Arts Cenof our bodies, our art, our institutions. tre is a fully inclusive creative hub for Our old stories knot colossal floods up the Clonakilty community and West with beginnings and re-beginnings. Cork region. Born from the water we are swallowed Deadline and reborn of it, stripped to infancy by Monday 15 February the huge indifference of the elemental.” Web Deadline clonarts.com/exhibition-opportunities Friday 22 January Address Email Clonakilty Community Arts Centre, email@example.com Astna Square, Clonakilty Web abridgedonline.com WINDOW TO EDEN Window to Eden is seeking rolling subCRITICAL BASTARDS missions from visual artists across all Critical Bastards Magazine (CB) is seekdisciplines for an art window.
Window to Eden is a community based arts project, running two exhibition windows, which provides artists with a public space to showcase their work, offers local communities access to art and opens up dialogue. Artists and collectives are encouraged to submit their work, be it photography, painting, writing, collage, crochet or illustration. The windows are located in Dublin 5 at Raheny Library and St Monica’s Community Council Info Centre, Edenmore. The windows are 230 x 270cm and 190 x 200cm and can be seen from a busy street. To apply, please email your proposal (including dimensions and media used), an artist statement, a brief CV and some low resolution jpegs. Deadline Ongoing Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web windowtoeden.wordpress.com RHA ANNUAL EXHIBITION Ireland’s largest and longest running open submission exhibition will open in March 2016, to coincide with the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, when the RHA’s original building was destroyed. As part of the centenary programme, the 2016 exhibition will revert to its origins, opening in March rather than May, as it usually does now. Application forms are now available to download from the RHA website. Terms and conditions, along with further information, are also available online. Deadline Sunday 24 January Email email@example.com Web rhagallery.ie Address Ely Place, Dublin 2
RESIDENCIES DIGITAL ARTS STUDIOS Digital Arts Studios is offering a residency as an award to a disabled/deaf artist to coincide with and compliment the IDA Grant Scheme. With support from the Arts and Disability Forum, DAS will award a fourmonth residency to one disabled/deaf artist. The residency will provide the selected artist with 24-hour studio access, technical support, free audio/visual equipment hire and access to training. The residency will last for four months and will run from the beginning of February until the end of May 2016 (dates may be flexible on request). Deadline 4pm, Friday 15 January Web digitalartsstudios.com
January – February 2016
ZK/U BERLIN In the context of its research and residency program, ZK/U offers a ‘living and work’ space for artists, scholars and practitioners working in urban research, geography, anthropology, urbanism, architecture and the humanities. The residency consists of furnished studio-apartments (some with private bathrooms), communal facilities and an open platform for public events, lectures, discussions, screenings, performances and presentations. ZK/U organises various events which allow residents to present their work to a selected audience. The residency also organises monthly curator studio visits, a monthly public group presentation (OPENHAUS), online and local promotion of public events, and the opportunity for the residents to propose their own format. Depending on the type of studioapartment and the length of stay, the resident’s costs are between €500 and €800 per month. The price covers all utility costs and space usage. Deadline Sunday 31 January Web zku-berlin.org/apply
COURSES / WORKSHOPS / TRAINING EMBROIDERY AND SEWING Maria Tapper will run a series of workshops in The Constant Knitter on the weekend of 30 – 31 January. Classes are small and limited to 6 – 8 students. Beginners Embroidery (30 January, 10am – 1pm) is a three hour hands-on workshop exploring the creative techniques of hand embroidery using traditional basic stitches and a contemporary approach. Cost: €39 (includes all materials). Intermediate Embroidery (30 January, 1.30pm – 5pm) teaches new and more advanced stitches. Students will start their own stitching project and further explore the fascinating world of embroidery. Cost: €45 (includes all materials). The Sewing Workshop (31 January, 1pm – 5pm) caters for first timers and those who want to further their skills with commercial patterns, cloning garments, alterations, upcycling or making patterns. Sewing machines are supplied or bring your own if you prefer. Cost: €55 (includes all materials). Deadline firstname.lastname@example.org Web theconstantknitter.ie mariatappercostume.com Telephone 0877690873 Address The Constant Knitter, 88 Francis Street, Dublin 8
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
OPPORTUNITIES INTRODUCTION TO BOTANICAL ART From 10 January – 15 March, a 10-week course in botanical art, using graphite, watercolour and coloured pencils, will be lead by artist Ida Mitrani and assisted by Elaine Moore Mackey. The course is suitable for both beginners and improvers and will take place on Tuesdays 10am – 1pm at the Royal Horticulture Society of Ireland in Marlay Park. Tea and coffee will be provided. Cost: €320. Email email@example.com Web facebook.com/IdaMitraniArtist.Art Telephone 0876887064 Address Royal Horticulture Society of Ireland, Laurelmere Cottage, Marlay Park, Dublin 14 FULL-TIME DRAWING COURSE From 11 January – 13 July, The Drawing Studio will host a full-time drawing course with an emphasis is on teaching the discipline and skills which facilitate art making. Topics covered include the discipline of drawing, the Bargue-Gérôme cours de dessin, artistic anatomy, portrait sculpture and life drawing. Tutored class units are supplemented by personal tutorials, gallery/artist studio visits, and art history and theory lectures by visiting lecturers, as well as renowned artists. Classes will take place Monday through Wednesday, 9.30am – 4.30pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web drawing.ie Telephone 0872980409 Address The Drawing Studio, 74 Merrion Square South, Dublin 2 MASK ACTING WORKSHOP On 13 December and 24 January (10am – 6pm), Alain Servant will hold a mask acting workshops in the Back Loft. During the workshops, participants will explore how mask acting can help performers to develop their expression. The workshop will focus on characters, the link between body, emotions and imagination, spatial awareness, internal rhythm and breathing (feminine/ masculine), intensity of acting, improvisation and the autonomy of the actor, awareness of the audience and projection, creation and performance and acting with two, three or more persons. The workshops are open to actors, dancers, singers, performers, musicians as well as those without stage experience. Coat: €30 per day. Web lacatedralstudios.com Telephone 0863583557 Address The Back Loft, St Augustine Street, Dublin 8
35 NORTHERN IRELAND UPDATE
ARTS AND HEALTH CHECK UP Arts and Health Check Up is a gathering of arts and health care practitioners which will take place on Friday 29 January (9.30am – 5pm). Hosted jointly by artsandhealth.ie, Create and Dublin City Council’s The LAB, against the backdrop of 1916 commemorations, the conference will take the pulse of arts and health in Ireland and explore the notion of a shared manifesto for this field of practice. The event will feature: a presentation from Clive Parkinson of Arts for Health, Metropolitan Manchester, chaired by Pat Cooke; a hands-on, manifesto-themed workshop with artists Jesse Jones and Eleanor Philips; Pecha Kucha presentations featuring Jennie Moran, Mary Dineen, Marie Brett, Rionach Ní Neil, Alan Counihan, Charlotte Donovan, Marielle MacLeman and Ray Yeates; a panel discussion exploring creative and collaborative practices of resistance and care featuring Professor Gerry Kearns, Maynooth University, Dr. Austin O’Carroll and artists Dominic Thorpe and Niamh O’Connor. Cost: €20 (including lunch). Email email@example.com Web artsandhealth.ie Telephone 051842664 Address The LAB, Foley St, Dublin 1
FUNDING / AWARDS / BURSARIES ARTS COUNCIL BURSARY AWARDS The Arts Council Bursary Awards application window opened on Tuesday 22 December 2015, with an application deadline of Thursday 21 January 2016 at 5.30 pm. The Bursary Award is available in architecture, dance, film, literature (English language), music, theatre and visual arts. The awards are provided to assist individual artists in the development of their art practice. The award emphasises the value and benefit to an artist’s development derived from a focused period of engagement with their practice. Guidelines for each award are published on the available funding section on the Arts Council’s website. Please note: applications will only be accepted through the Arts Council’s online services website. Applicants who have not previously used this system must register in advance of making an application. It is recommended that applicants allow five working days for registration prior to making an application. Deadline Thursday 21 January Web artscouncil.ie
Artist at Sea ALICE CLARK INTRODUCES A NEW RESIDENCY OPPORTUNITY FOR ARTISTS INITIATED BY CATALYST ARTS, BELFAST.
Alice Clark, Herrings, 2015
Alice Clark, Sorting the Catch, 2015
IN early summer 2015, Catalyst Arts offered me a residency on
fish are to be found. The shoals are then fished and data on the
board an oceanographic research vessel operating from the
weight, size and sex of the catches are recorded. All of this
port of Belfast. The ship is called the Corystes and is owned by information eventually goes towards setting fishing quotas in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). The ship spends the Irish Sea to maintain sustainable stocks. more than 250 days a year out on the Irish Sea, with several
Much of the information that the scientists collected was
scientists on board. These scientists undertake a diverse
presented, unwittingly, in an aesthetically pleasing way. The
programme of marine environmental research on behalf of
live feed from the acoustic survey was like a moving pointillist
various nations who have an interest in the Irish Sea and the
painting and the seabed mapping graphics were depicted in a
sustainability of its marine habitats and fish stocks.
very painterly way.
Before setting off I had to undertake a sea survival course
Since the residency, I have been to AFBI in Belfast to see
and prepare for a residency on a moving site. I went with an
firsthand how the process continues in the labs. In February I
open mind with regards to the work I might make aboard the
will take part in a joint exhibition with AFBI at the Titanic
ship, but the fact that the site was moving and I was unusually
Centre in Belfast during the Northern Ireland Science Festival.
stationary caused me to consider automatic drawings, which
My work will include sketches made and materials used during
would somehow record the movement of the ship itself.
the project alongside the work I have made in response to the
My first voyage was in late August and it was particularly
rough. I suspended a pen from my cabin’s porthole and
My art practice revolves largely around issues of climate
recorded, on paper, the swell of the ship as it moved. I made a
change and finding ways to address these issues that speak to a
few series of these drawings until the weather got so calm that
wider audience. Undertaking this residency, the first of its kind
the pen hardly registered any movement on the page.
aboard the Corystes, gave me the space and opportunity to
While I was busy making drawings in my cabin on this
research alternative ways of making work and expanding on
first trip, the Corystes was undergoing its annual nephrop
these ideas. It also encouraged me to consider other residencies
survey. This involves making a catch of prawns at 24 different
within the scientific community. The sciences and the arts
stations in the western Irish Sea, in order to assess the health of
have much to learn from each other and working in
the population. Although the net used is designed to catch
collaboration can have mutual benefits, while also providing
prawns near the seabed, fish were inevitably caught too. These
an enriching experience for those involved.
were all weighed and measured and, once the analysis was done, they were thrown overboard. The anticipation of the
Alice Clark will be giving a talk about her residency at
seabirds, in particular the gannets, for this free food was a
R-Space, Lisburn on Thursday 26 February.
tremendous sight. They circled the ship and then swooped down onto the sea in a feeding frenzy.
Artist at Sea was the first in a series of residencies facilitated
The movement of the birds became another focal point in
by Catalyst Arts, which allow artists to develop work
my drawing. I wanted to record on paper aspects of flight, the
within a site and context specifically tailored to their
spectacular dives and the confusion of so many birds in pursuit individual practice. The residency continues the experimental public programme at Catalyst Arts, in which of the same food. My second voyage started a few days later in early September. There were eight scientists on board conducting
projects are developed at unconventional sites, engaging new audiences with local contemporary art.
the annual clupeoid acoustic survey. For this survey an instrument has to be carefully positioned under the ship to send out pulses of sound. These pulses then bounce off the swim bladders of herring and record where the aggregations of
The Visual Artists’ News Sheet
January – February 2016
VISUAL ARTISTS IRELAND operates a wide range of professional development training events throughout the year. The delivery of this programme is greatly supported by our relationship with local and international visual art professionals and partner organisations throughout the island of Ireland. Visual Artist Ireland works in partnership with local authorities, visual arts venues and others, combining resources to support the professional development of visual artists at regional level.
ROI Many thanks to all the local authority and venue partners who worked with us in 2015 to deliver continuing professional development to artists across the country. Throughout the year, we collaborated on 32 events and met with over 700 artists through the Professional Development days, Café events and the annual VAI Get Together. The Visual Artist’s Cafés and Show & Tell events have grown in popularity and have been crucial in creating space for artists to meet and share their work and in assisting us to stay tuned to the needs and experiences of our artist members. We look forward to continued work with our valued partners on the following events and more during the New Year, and welcome connections with other local authorities, artists’ groups and venues.
Dublin City THE ART OF MENTAL HEALTH First Fortnight Festival and The LAB Gallery in partnership with Visual Artists Ireland: talks and discussions for artists and freelancers in the visual arts around good mental health. @The Lab, Foley Street, Dublin 1 RESILIENCE AND SELF-SUPPORT WITH ADIE CLARKE AND DR. NIALL CRUMLISH Wed 13 Jan (11.30 – 13.30) HEALTHY WORK PRACTICES WITH ARTIST THERESA NANIGIAN AND DR LOREN DUFFY Sat 16 Jan (11.30 – 13.30) THE ART OF MENTAL HEALTH WITH ARTISTS GEORGE BOLSTER, DR. SEAMUS MCGUINNESS AND CIARA MCKEOWN Tues 19 Jan (13.00 – 14.00) A panel discussion with artists whose practices address mental health and the issue of suicide. Places: 20 – 25 per event. Cost: FREE.
Spring and Onward 2016 Dates and details for the following topics will be announced during January 2016. Our Dublin training is supported by funding from Dublin City Council.
Clare CHILD PROTECTION AWARENESS TRAINING HEALTH & SAFETY FOR VISUAL ARTISTS In partnership with Clare County Council (details to be confirmed)
Dublin City HANDLING, TRANSPORT AND STORAGE OF YOUR ART WORKS WITH MAURICE WARD @Visual Artists Ireland, Central Hotel Chambers, 7–9 Dame Court, Dublin 2. Places: 18 – 20. Cost: €30/15 (VAI members). WRITING ABOUT YOUR WORK @Visual Artists Ireland. Places: 10. Cost: €60/30 (VAI members). TOURING EXHIBITIONS @Visual Artists Ireland. A series of presentations and
case studies of successful touring visual art exhibitions. Places: 20+. Cost: FREE (VAI members/€5 non-members). LEGAL ADVICE CLINICS FOR VISUAL ARTISTS In partnership with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. PRESENTATION SKILLS FOR VISUAL ARTISTS; MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA FOR VISUAL ARTISTS; DEVELOPING CREATIVE PROPOSALS; DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK; DIGITAL IMAGING BASICS; CHILD PROTECTION AWARENESS TRAINING; HEALTH & SAFETY FOR VISUAL ARTISTS. BEALTAINE FESTIVAL We look forward to working with the Bealtaine Festival in May with presentations and talks supporting mature artists and their practices. @Visual Artists Ireland. Fri 20 May (day-long event). Cost: FREE (VAI members/€5
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA FOR VISUAL ARTISTS DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK VAI ARTISTS’ CAFÉS AND SHOW & TELL DATES FOR YOUR DIARY VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ & SHOW & TELL – SLIGO In partnership with The Model . Including Show & Tell and professional practice session with writer Joanne Laws. @The Model, Sligo. Fri 4 Mar. Places: 30+. VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ & SHOW & TELL – DUB LAOGHAIRE @DLArtNet. Sat 30 Apr Other dates: Fri 3 Jun, Sat 3 Sept, Fri 28 Oct, Sat 3 Dec. VAI has scheduled the above dates for Café events during 2016 and invites interested artists groups, venues or partners to get in touch if interested in hosting a Café. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fingal POSITIONING & NETWORKING YOUR PRACTICE Fingal ArtSoup – Artists’ Crowd Funded Projects & Networking Event. In partnership with Fingal Arts. (details to be confirmed)
Galway WRITING ABOUT YOUR WORK COLLABORATION & PARTNERSHIPS FOR ARTISTS AND ARTIST-LED GROUPS In partnership with Galway County Council and Galway City Council Arts Offices. (details to be confirmed)
Kerry TAXATION AND FINANCIAL PLANNING WITH GABY SMYTH BUDGETING & COSTING YOUR WORK & YOUR TIME WITH ANNETTE MOLONEY In partnership with Kerry County Council Art Office. @ Siamsa Tíre, Tralee. Thurs 4 Feb (10.30 – 17.15). Places: 15 - 20. Cost: €10/5 (VAI members). TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY – MAPPING YOUR PRACTICE FOR ARTISTS AND DESIGNER MAKERS In partnership with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland.
Laois DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK In partnership with Dunamaise Arts Centre.
Meath TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY WITH PATRICIA CLYNEKELLY Ii partnership with Meath County Council (details to be confirmed)
Tipperary CREATIVE PROPOSALS WITH ANNETTE MOLONEY In partnership with Tipperary County Council. @The Source Arts Centre, Thurles. Wed 10 Feb (10.30 – 16.30). Places: 15 – 20. Cost: €10
FEES VAI members receive preferential discount of 50% on fees for all VAI, training and Professional Development events. Fees range from €5 – 40 for VAI members. TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAINING NEEDS! If you are interested in training please do get in touch with us directly or forward an expression of interest in a topic/s through the Professional Development Training web page. We often repeat workshops when there is a strong demand for a topic. ARTIST & TUTORS PANEL Visual Artists Ireland has an ongoing open submission process for artists and arts professionals interested in being part of an available panel of tutors contributing to the VAI Professional Development Training Programme. For details go to our training registration page and click on Register for the PDT Artists’ Panel.
BOOKINGS / INFORMATION Monica Flynn Professional Development Officer, Visual Artists Ireland T: 01 672 9488 E: email@example.com visualartists.ie/professional-development VAI members receive preferential discount of 50% on fees for all VAI, Training and Professional Development events. Fees range from €5 – 40 for VAI Members.
NI Bangor WORKING WITH GALLERIES AND CURATORS WITH MARY CREMIN @North Down Museum, Bangor. Sat 9 Feb (13.00 – 16.00). Both commercial and public galleries offer opportunities for artists, and most professional artists will choose to work with a gallery at some point in their career. This session will look at how to choose and build a relationship with the right gallery and how to meet both your own and the gallery’s expectations. The workshop will be hosted by Mary Cremin (curator TULCA 2015, previous director of Dublin’s Green on Red Gallery and Venice Biennale Irish Pavilion project manager). PRICING YOUR WORK WITH PATRICIA CLYNE KELLY @North Down Museum, Bangor. Wed 13 Feb (13.00 – 17.00). Whether you are submitting a commission proposal, working to a project budget or selling your work, it is essential to know how to price your work to
include both costs and funds for future research and development during the quiet times. This workshop will look at basic financial accounting, developing a day rate for your work as an artist and building ongoing overheads into your costings for projects and work. Please bring a pen and paper! PROJECT CLINIC WITH ANNETTE MOLONEY @North Down Museum, Bangor. Sat 12 Mar (12.00 – 17.00). This Project Clinic builds on the November proposal-writing workshop. Participants will receive expert feedback on a range of items including artist statements, artist CVs, project proposals and funding applications. All written work must be sent in advance in order for Annette to give the best possible support. Annette Moloney is a Limerick-based socially engaged curator and collaborator. She works with the Arts Council of Ireland as the Per Cent for Art Scheme Adviser, is currently County Cavan’s Curator in Residence, with Maeve Mulrennan and in 2015 received the Arts Council of Ireland Curator in Residence Award to develop ‘endurance | resilience’ with Curated@ Source.
Belfast PRESENTING YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY WITH MARY CREMIN AND NADJA SAYEJ @Visual Artists Ireland, Belfast Office. Tue 26 Jan (12.00 - 17.00). Mary Cremin will be offering her advice on how to choose the curators that suit your practice best, how to maintain that relationship and what curators and galleries expect of you as artists. Arts journalist and broadcaster Nadja Sayej, a contributor to the Guardian and the New York Times who has interviewed the likes of Marina Abramovic, Yoko Ono, James Franco, Gilbert and George and John Waters, will be speaking about how to perfect your online presence, looking at everything from your website to newsletters and social media strategy.
BELFAST OPEN STUDIOS XL: SPEED CURATING Venue TBC. Wed 27 Jan (13.00 - 17.00). Everyone’s favourite event from our annual Get Together comes to Belfast for the first time. We have 10 curators from across Ireland ready to hear your 10-minute pitches. You will be able to see up to three curators during the afternoon so come prepared with your images (a laptop or tablet are great, but a phone is just too small) and make the most of the tips you got from the event on Tuesday!
Derry-Londonderry DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK WITH SIMON MILLS @Void. TBC Mar (13.00 –17.00). Good quality documentation of your work can make all the difference to exhibition proposals, funding applications, curator visits and promotional materials. Professional photographer Simon Mills documents exhibitions profes-
sionally for The MAC, works on Freckle Magazine and was a founding member of online Visual Arts Magazine Collected.
Bridget O’Gorman, still from In the Flesh, filmed on location at National Museum of Ireland, 2015
The LAB Gallery is pleased to present:
IN THE FLESH Bridget O’Gorman
Preview: 6–8pm, 28 January 2016 Continues until: 12 March 2016 Part of Dublin City Council Commemorations Programme, in collaboration with writer Sue Rainsford and Brenda Malone of the National Museum of Ireland. Curated by Sheena Barrett.
The LAB A: Foley Street, Dublin 1 T: 01 222 5455, E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.thelab.ie T: @LabDCC F: facebook.com/TheLABGalleryDublin V: www.vimeo.com/dccartsoffice Open Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm