Visual Artists' News Sheet - 2017 March April

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet ISSUE 2 March – April 2017 Published by Visual Artists Ireland Ealaíontóirí Radharcacha Éire

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Inscriptions #5 (detail), 2015; pigment baryta print


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet


March – April 2017


WELCOME to the March – April 2017 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet.

Cover. Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Inscriptions #5 (detail), 2015; pigment baryta print, 2017.

5. Column. Arno Kramer. Claiming Space Beside Time. In January 2017, we learned of the sad passing of the influential British writer and cultural theorist Mark 6. Column. Declan Long. Mark Fisher 1968 – 2017. Fisher, who was a columnist for VAN for many years. Declan Long’s poignant tribute features alongside 7. Column. Mark Fisher. The Game Has Changed (from 2011). a reprint of Mark’s column ‘The Game Has Changed’, which was first published in the January – 8. News. The latest developments in the visual arts sector. February 2011 issue. 9. Regional Profile. Resources and activities in Antrim and Newtownabbey are profiled by the local In other columns for this issue, Arno Kramer outlines the growing momentum of contemporary drawing in Paris and the Netherlands, while VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilton discusses prominent painting exhibitions across Northern Ireland. An Organisation Profile of MART, Dublin, by Bernard O’Rourke, offers insights into the evolution of the artist-led space 10 years after it was established. Declan Sheehan discusses Future Artist-Makers, a project showcasing the work of Derry’s FabLab, housed at the Nerve Centre. This issue features reports from seminars that recently took place around the country: Lisa Fingleton covers ‘Sites of Tension – Sites of Collaboration’ in Portlaoise; Linda Shevlin reports on the Arts Council’s ‘Place Matters’ conference at Dublin Castle in January; while Joanne Laws outlines the ‘Radical Actions’ seminar that took place in December 2016 in county Roscommon. A number of artist residencies are profiled in this issue: Tinka Bechert looks back at her participation in Leitrim County Council’s SPARK residency; internationally, Sam Keogh reflects on his ongoing residency at Rijksakademie in Amsterdam; while Jim Ricks discusses his residency and exhibition at Casa Maauad, Mexico City.

arts office, Jordanstown Arts Club and artists Andrea Spencer and Alan Milligan.

11. Seminar. From the Margins of History. Joanne Laws reports on the ‘Radical Actions’ seminar held at

King House, Boyle, in December 2016.

12. How is it Made? Exile, Dereliction & the Authentic Image. Trish Brennan talks to Ailbhe Ní Bhriain

about her current body of work.

14. Seminar. Sites of Tension: Collaboration & Beyond. Lisa Fingleton reports on the recent art and

ecology seminar held at Dunamaise Arts Centre.

15. How is it Made? Searching for Truth in a Post-Truth Climate. Sami Giarratani details the Truth

Booth’s American tour.

16. Residency. Shadowgraph: Seeing the Invisible. Tinka Bechert reflects on her experience of the

SPARK residency in Leitrim.

18. Career Development. Taking the Scissors to Society. Roger Hudson looks back at his decades-long

practice in photomontage and the production of his recent artist’s book.

19. Critique. ‘Gut Instinct’, Lewis Glucksman Gallery; Locky Morris, Naughton Gallery; ‘Guest 2’, Arts In the Career Development section, Roger Hudson reflects on his artistic career and discusses his artist book Taking the Scissors to Society. Aideen Doran outlines the trajectories of her ongoing practice to coincide with the premiere of her new film at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham this spring. Trish Brennan interviews Ailbhe Ní Bhriain about recurring themes in her recent work, while Sami Giarratani discusses the Truth Booth’s tour of America in the run up to the presidential election. The Regional Profile for this issue comes from Antrim and Newtownabbey, outlining recent activities of the Arts Office’s Flax and Oriel galleries, as well as Jordanstown Art Club. Artists Andrea Spencer and Alan Milligan discuss the pros and cons of maintaining an arts practice in the region. Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Gut Instinct’ at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Locky Morris at Naughton Gallery, Belfast; ‘Guest 2’ at Arts and Disability Forum, Belfast; Mark Garry at Luan Gallery, Athlone; and Phillip Allen at Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

and Disability Forum; Mark Garry, Luan Gallery; Phillip Allen, Kerlin Gallery.

23. Seminar. What Happens When We Invest in the Arts? Linda Shevlin discusses the Arts Council’s

‘Places Matter’ conference.

24. How is it Made? Speculative Provocations. Aideen Doran reflects on her practice. 26. Residency. Amsterdam Diary. Sam Keogh details his residency at Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. 27. Organisation. From Virtual Space to Creative Hub. Bernard O’Rourke reflects on the evolution of

MART studios over the past 10 years.

28. Project Profile. Creative Friction. Declan Sheehan profiles Future Artist Makers, an ongoing

international project led by Nerve Centre, Derry.

30. Residency. I Left My Heart in Mexico City. Jim Ricks describes his recent residency and exhibition

at Casa Maauad, Mexico City.

32. Northern Ireland Manager. Painting in Dialogue. Rob Hilken looks at painting exhibitions

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public in Northern Ireland. art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities. 32. VAI Advocacy. Changes to Social Welfare for Artists. VAI provides an update on recent changes to


social welfare provision for artists.

34. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and

other forms of art outside the gallery.

35. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions. 36. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.

Visual Artists Ireland provides practical support, services, information & resources for professional visual artists throughout their careers. REPUBLIC OF IRELAND


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Production: Features Editor: Joanne Laws. Production Editor: Lily Power. News/Opportunities: Siobhan Mooney, Shelly McDonnell. Invoicing: Bernadette Beecher. Contributors: Joanne Laws, Aine Phillips, Arno Kramer, Declan Long, Mark Fisher, Andrea Spencer, Alan Milligan, Isabelle Strugnell, Phillip Magennis, Trish Brennan, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Lisa Fingleton, Tinka Bechert, Roger Hudson, Iain Griffin, Catherine Harty, Ben Crothers, Alison Pilkington, Linda Shevlin, Aideen Doran, Sam Keogh, Bernard O’Rourke, Declan Sheehan, Sami Giarratani, Jim Ricks, Rob Hilken. A: Visual Artists Ireland, Windmill View House, 4 Oliver Bond Street, Dublin 8 T: 353(0)1 672 9488 E: W: A: Visual Artists Ireland, Northern Ireland Office, 109 –113 Royal Avenue, Belfast, BT1 1FF W: Board of Directors: Mary Kelly (Chair), Naomi Sex, Michael Corrigan, David Mahon, Niamh McCann, Donall Curtin, Richard Forrest, Clíodhna Ni Anluain. Staff: CEO / Director: Noel Kelly. Office Manager: Bernadette Beecher. Publications: Lily Power. IVARO: Alex Davis. Communications Officer:/Listings Editor: Shelly McDonnell. Professional Development Officer: Monica Flynn. Bookkeeping: Dina Mulchrone. Membership Services Officer/Listings Editor: Siobhan Mooney. Northern Ireland Manager: Rob Hilken (

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017


Arno Kramer Claiming Space Beside Time



Artist Leonard Sexton exhibited a series of work at the Doorway Gallery, Dublin (4 – 20 Feb). In ‘Somewhere City, Paintings’, the press release stated, “the use of colour and brushworks combine towards complications, questions and away from a clear expression of an abundance and perfect nature. The paintings are about dissolving, movement and the change over time”.


And catch the heart off guard and blow it open Seamus Heaney, Postscript, first published in The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber, 1996

AS a visual artist, my need to express my thoughts and feelings about drawing is informed by what poetry and drawing arouse in me. I would not be able to write a sound theoretical treatise on either art form, but I use language to come as close as possible to an interpretation. I want to express what I experience as a beholder, and to use language as a vehicle to convey drawing’s character, richness and sensitivity. If poetry offers new forms of language, then drawing similarly offers unlimited scope and opportunity. Who better to articulate this than a poet? As described by Seamus Heaney, drawing is always close to the pure moment of perception. We must create in order to know. A drawing does not exist until we have knowledge of it. We must communicate in order to verify our thoughts and to develop as individuals. If we fail to develop, we cannot be, think or live. The Belgian writer Erwin Mortier once wrote that, in effect, the artist claims space beside time. Inherent in this admirable premise is the idea that much occurs on the periphery: sound can be on the verge of my hearing; images can be on the verge of my perspective; language can define a choir of images. Over the years my interest in curating drawing exhibitions has grown. My main motivation is simply that there is a lack of attention given to drawing in museums and institutions. In response to this situation, I curated ‘Into Drawing’, a showcase of work by 22 artists working in the Netherlands. The exhibition toured five European countries and was presented at Limerick City Gallery of Art in 2005. Mike Fitzpatrick, former director of LCGA, was very enthusiastic about the exhibition and he later invited me to curate a similarly-themed exhibition ‘Into Irish Drawing’, which featured 22 artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland. In 2009, the exhibition travelled to Northern Ireland, Paris and the Netherlands. When I was selecting work for ‘Into Irish Drawing’, something became apparent: the Irish artists were nearly all working in other disciplines, from sculpture and installation to painting and film, while the majority of the young Dutch artists seemed to work exclusively in drawing. This denoted a growing trend in the Netherlands, particularly among students or recent graduates, of artists increasingly working in drawing as their main discipline. Another important observation is that there seems to be few limitations in terms of subject matter, scale or presentation within contemporary Dutch drawing. Drawings can be very large or developed as site-specific works for certain spaces. It is difficult to say whether this revival of drawing is linked to a strong art historical tradition in the Netherlands, but you can go back to Rembrandt, Van Gogh and nowadays to Marlene Dumas to see that drawing has always been important for Dutch artists. Acknowledging this growing momentum, I co-curated ‘All About Drawing’ in 2011, an ambitious exhibition of 100 Dutch artists at the Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, which provided an overview of 50 years of Dutch drawing. While many Dutch and Irish artists working in drawing have gained plenty of national recognition, it seems that they have received less attention internationally, especially when we consider their lack of representation in important drawing publications over the last few years, such as: Vitamin D, Drawing: The Bottom Line, Walking the Line, Drawing Now, The Primacy of Drawing: Histories and Theories of Practice, among others. In my opinion, this is less to do with the general quality of work, and more to do with the commercial art world and the possibilities of promotion by museums, galleries or international art fairs. In 2008 I established the Drawing Centre in Diepenheim – the country’s first exhibition space dedicated to contemporary drawing. Each year we develop four exhibitions featuring Dutch as well as international artists. We aim to follow developments in contemporary drawing, which means some risk-taking in terms of presentation and installation. In April 2016 I invited 20 artist-run galleries to participate in ‘DRAWING FRONT’. Usually, most of these organisations feature a wide range of disciplines in their programme, but we asked them to select and show particular aspects of drawing practice. Visitors were very interested in the varied ways of looking at drawing. A two-day symposium and publication followed the exhibition. The success of this project means that we have decided to do a follow-up exhibition every two years. In February 2017, Drawing Lab Paris was opened. The art centre was founded by the Endowment Fund for Contemporary Drawing and Christine Phal, director of the art fair ‘Drawing Now’, which has been running in Paris since 2007. Drawing Lab Paris is located on the lower level of Drawing Hôtel – a functioning hotel established by Carine Tissot in the vicinity of major cultural sites including the Louvre, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Centre Pompidou. In each of the 40 rooms at Drawing Hôtel, a site-specific drawing is presented. All of this activity suggests that attention towards contemporary drawing is still growing. It would be interesting to see if Ireland could follow this lead. Arno Kramer is a visual artist, curator and founder of the Drawing Centre, Diepenheim.

Kay Maahs, Uncode All Landscapes

Film still from ‘Persistence of Visions’ exhibition

water will instantly fill the void’, refers to the futility of attempting to dig a hole in ‘Persistence of Visions’ was a series of sand that is underwater. Clancy’s ‘On the screenings and presentations that ran at Horizon’ depicted the islands and outthe National Sculpture factory, Cork (14 croppings off the Irish coast. “Islands and – 16 Nov), and aimed to create cross-disheadlands are seen as profiles beneath ciplinary dialogue between visual artists the blanket of the stars and glow of the and filmmakers. The programme feamoon”, the press release stated. “The tured Anthony Haughey’s films islands are tangible yet remain out of Unresolved and Manifesto, the first of reach, sparking our curiosity to discover which reflects on the anniversary of the the unknown”. Maahs exhibited work in Srebenica genocide and the other on the the Red Couch Space. Having lived and promise of an egalitarian republic set worked in the Burren since 2003, her forth in the 1916 Proclamation. Clare painting practice is informed by the local Langan’s work ‘From Metamorphoses’ landscape. The exhibition title reflects explored ideas of place and space her aim (in the words of Seamus Heaney) through video and multi-screen installato ‘Uncode all Landscapes’ through tion. Aideen Barry presented four video “recording and reconstructing” her eveworks: Levitating, Possession, Not to be ryday rural surroundings. Known or Named and Enshrine, tive films that often involve “huge physical and endurance commitments that GEOLOGICAL CAKE manifest as visual fictions, meditating on feminist observations and the monstrous female”.


Liing (1iing) Heaney, Clew Bay

Brian Duggan, image from Untitled, Miami

In December 2016 Brian Duggan presented a new body of work at Untitled in Miami. The installation consisted of several marble sculptures, a glass-etched cube and a new series of works that map the exact locations of 2054 nuclear test sites. Atmospheric, Underground, Exoatmospheric and Underwater represent these specific locations, which are now seen as one of the markers of the Anthropocene.

COURTHOUSE GALLERY The Courthouse Gallery exhibited new work by Aileen Hamilton, Blawnin Clancy and Kaye Maahs (20 Jan – 25 Feb). Barcelona-based Hamilton installed 3D drawings in the main gallery space, as well as showing new works on paper. The exhibition title, ‘The surrounding

The Burren College of Art held an exhibition of work by Emerging Irish Artist Award recipients Liing (1iing) Heaney, Alex Holzinger, Fiona Kelly and Dervla Mulcahy. ‘Geological Cake’ ran 3 – 24 Feb and opened with a talk by local geologist Eamon Doyle. “Utilizing discarded, quarried and invisible technological geographies,” the press release noted, “the four artists visually explore historical, geological, psychological and gadgetry debris to construct ley lines in which to navigate a terrain saturated with stuff. Absorbed in the landscape are layers of anthropic intervention within this ancient gateaux”.


Leonard Sexton, detail from Urban Approach


Brian Kielt, work from ‘Fictive Perception’

Brian Kielt’s exhibition ‘Fictive Perception’ ran at Goose Lane Gallery, Belfast, 2 – 23 Feb and comprised drawing and painting works examining the idea of trauma. In the exhibition, “drawings and paintings merge and overlap found and original imagery from eclectic sources which hint at sinister motifs of the viewer’s own making. These fictive narratives are continually shifting”.

#DEADBOYCATFILMSEXYSELFIESUCCESSFULQUOTESGAL 126 Gallery, Galway, held an exhibition by Swedish/German artist Sebastian Mügge (19 Jan – 5 Feb). ‘#deadboycatfilmsexyselfiesuccessfulquotesgal’ comprised a large-scale composite drawing made from social media posts and submitted pictures. Mügge works in the intersection of painting, drawing, found objects, sculpture and installation. He uses recycled material alongside carefully selected objects, playing with “historical and everyday references, mixtures of cultural backgrounds and art historical quotations”.


Stephen Brandes, ‘Parc du Souvenir’

Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, held an exhibition of work by Stephen Brandes titled ‘Parc du Souvenir’ (26 Jan – 24 Feb). Brandes’s work focuses on two figures: eccentric polymath Patrick Geddes and author Günter Grass. Through his multidisciplinary approach – using drawing, installation, video and collage – “Brandes has developed these points of interest into a broader meditation on historical periods of ‘enlightenment’ and their subsequent periods of ‘suspension’. Architecture, monuments and artefacts recur throughout the work as displaced


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet



Declan Long

signs that remain after the ideologies that produced them have collapsed, out of context and often out of shape”.

Mark Fisher: 1968 – 2017 SOMETIME back in the early 2000s, I began following a blog by a mysterious character called ‘K-Punk’. K-Punk wrote with rare brilliance – and at astonishing speed – about music and other idiosyncratic preoccupations: J.G. Ballard’s urban dystopias; films by Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and David Cronenberg; 70s sci-fi TV series; the coastal landscapes of south east England; writers of otherworldly stories like Ursula Le Guin and H.P. Lovecraft; X-Men comics; Christopher Nolan’s Batman; Kate Moss; the England football team. His rapturously eloquent, bracingly erudite posts on pop music – in its various underground and overground forms – were, though, the first to snag my interest. Often, they were hilariously spot-on in their caustic hostility towards sacred cows. My heart leapt when I read his lacerating take on The Clash: “The music is unredeemable: a frustrated, frustrating, blocked, blunt, ugly sludginess. None of the Pistols’ cascading Glam power, none of Lydon’s sorcerous incandescence...” His assessment of Glastonbury was equally glorious: “What’s positively sinister about Glastonbury now is that it’s not just accidentally crap, it’s systematically crap – the hidden message screams out: it’s all finished, roll up, roll up, for the necrophiliac spectacle, it’s all over.” But if there was frustration and fury, there was also unrelenting fascination with – and mesmerised fixation on – pop’s most urgent or undervalued presences. K-Punk’s texts combined an entirely non-precious and energetically conversational commentary on the passing world of pop culture with generous, undemonstrative displays of theoretical agility and – increasingly, over time – clear-sighted political insight and commitment. When Francis Halsall, Tim Stott and I had the chance in 2006 to organise a mini-symposium at NCAD, K-Punk – AKA Mark Fisher – was the first name on our list. And to be honest, our main reason for wanting to plan this symposium was so that we could bring Mark to Dublin. Hence our chosen theme of ‘Hauntology’: a punning post-structuralist concept first dreamt-up by Jacques Derrida, but made more immediately compelling by Mark. In a series of revelatory blog posts and related articles (later collected in his 2014 book Ghosts of My Life), Mark helped to broaden the scope and implications of ‘hauntology’ through explorations of ghostliness in assorted songs, stories, sites and images – sensing out the manifold and melancholy ways in which contemporary culture remains haunted by the spectres of unresolved pasts or unrealised futures. In different forms, with varying intensities, the ‘spectral’ was for Mark a source of necessary disruption: its disconcerting effects were flickers of instability in the apparently ‘real’ world that we are conditioned to believe in: that “sunny, gleaming world of the postmodern or the end of history” (to borrow from Fredric Jameson, a thinker whom Mark greatly admired). Mark’s own term for our apparently post-historical, ideologically static present-day predicament was ‘Capitalist Realism’. It’s a concept discussed in the accompanying article: one of the many columns he wrote for VAN – pieces commissioned, with typical savviness, by the unforgettable Jason Oakley, who tragically passed away in October 2015. Capitalist Realism was also the subject (and title) of Mark’s best-known book: a text written in resistance to the shrugging assumption that “not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it”. The book rejects the “business ontology” that has begun to dominate all forms of labour, learning and leisure, rebutting the commonplace understanding that “it is simply obvious that everything in society, including healthcare and education, should be run as a business”. Capitalist Realism is a book that I’ve recommended to scores of students over recent years – but more encouragingly, it’s a book that students have repeatedly recommended to me. More and more, its arguments seem relevant to the current ‘realities’ of education: to the experience of students and to the demands made on staff. And, in fact, one standout memory I have of Mark is of his speech at a degree results meeting for the Goldsmiths Department of Visual Cultures in 2015 (Mark was a lecturer and exams officer there during my stint as external examiner), during which he made a special point of both celebrating the exceptional efforts of students and staff, and also challenging, with impressive clarity and sincerity, some of the exhausting, absurd new norms of life in higher education. One crucial thread through Mark’s work is depression. Not only did he make an important case for re-politicising mental health – encouraging us to de-personalise depression, refusing the “privatisation of stress”, connecting it instead to wider situations of social malaise – but he was also courageously frank about his own struggles. Even as now, with deep sadness, we learn that these struggles finally overwhelmed him, we can be sure that his writings have inspired numerous readers who suffer from similar types of ongoing distress. ‘Inspiration’ is, indeed, what most comes to mind in relation to Mark. I can’t imagine how much those closest to him –most of all his wife and son – will miss him; but I know Mark and his work will continue to be an inspiration for many, many people, for a very long time to come.

March – April 2017



Dorothy Hunter, work from ‘Anticipated Fictions’

The work explored two examples of the “bookending of time and space through the private sector, urban planning and public space” in Magherafelt. The exhibition consisted of a film installation and sculptural installations that played with the “potentiality and tension between stability and instability”.

Helen Hughes, Grace, space, pace,2016

‘A Bounce Borrowed’ ran at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon (4 Feb – 25 Mar) and featured work by Felicity Clear, Richard Forrest, Helen Hughes, John O’ Kane and Jane Rainey, who are collectively motivated by “an interest in the play and interplay of materials”. The exhibition explored the ways in which group shows can possess a special kind of energy and conversation, “the bounce” in the title reflecting the dialogue between works or between the five artists . ‘A Bounce Borrowed’ was the second in a series which brings together artists at varying stages of their artistic development and careers.


Channelle Walsh, image from ‘Beatland’

‘Beatland’, an exhibition of paintings by Chanelle Walshe, was held at Pallas Projects, Dublin, 16 Feb – 4 Mar. The YOU & I paintings depict human hearts and lungs. “The forms are isolated,” the press release notes, “unearthed from a nourishing ground, and offered up to the viewer like a gift or a sacrifice”. The title of the exhibition, taken from Jeannette Winterson’s novel Art and Lies, refers to the “permeable boundaries of our bodies and how the experience of space and ‘You and I’ exhibition image energy can extend beyond our five sens‘You and I’, a group exhibition at es”. For ‘Beatland’, Walsh took inspiration Millennium Court Arts Centre, from Irish poetry, bog-bodies and musePortadown (17 Feb – 1 Apr), curated by um displays. Alissa Kleist, features new and existing video, sculptural, installation and eventBREATH, BREATHLESS based works by Rhona Byrne, Mitch Conlon, Harrell Fletcher, IM Heung-soon, and J. Ross and Sons. ‘You and I’, the press release states, “examines the social, political and formal functions of art at a time when individualisation, capitalism, neoliberalism, and privatisation – which benefit few, whilst disadvantaging and alienating many others – hegemonise Sally O’Dowd (top) and Kevin Killen, ‘Breath, Breathless’ our society”. Kevin Killen and Sally O’Dowd presentPlaces where men come to die, a new ed ‘Breath, Breathless’ at R Space Gallery, collective performance choreographed Lisburn (18 Feb – 18 Mar), the outcome by Mitch Conlon, took place as part of of a 12-month collaboration. Through the exhibition and explored “the spaces drawing, installation and neon light and temporalities where individual and works, the artists explored their shared collective narratives can co-exist and interest in the “hidden footprint of the from which new communities emerge”. everyday made visible”. ‘Breath, Breathless’ also looked at ideas of domesticity, materiality, human behaviour, life, ANTICIPATED FICTIONS From 17 Feb to 3 Mar, Dorothy Hunter’s relationships and conversation in the exhibition ‘Anticipated fictions; monu- context of the R-Space building – a formental configurations’, curated by mer Georgian rectory.

Detail from Emma Finn, Diorama

Galway Arts Centre presented the group show ‘Between Dog and Wolf’ from 27 Jan to 4 Mar, which featured work by Emma Finn, Hannah Fitz, Helen Mac Mahon, Nicos Nicolaou, Karen Roulstone, Anna Spearman and Rory Tangney. These seven artists were asked to respond to the exhibition title with existing work or with works in progress. ‘Between Dog and Wolf’ refers to the French phrase L’heure entre chien et loup and describes several different things: the twilight or gloaming hour when transformation can happen; when something is vague and can be mistaken for something else; or when it is hard to tell the difference between things, i.e. dogs and wolves, friends and foes. Curator Maeve Mulrennan was also interested in how the phrase “relates time and light to the animal kingdom and the body”.

Mirjami Schuppert, ran at Ps2, Belfast.


‘Mountains Move While Oceans Do Not’ exhibition image

Des Cullen’s exhibition ‘Mountains Move While Oceans Do Not’ ran at Leitrim Sculpture Centre, 27 Jan – 14 Feb, and comprised a series of large-scale organic structures made mainly from discarded limestone. Cullen describes his process as “evolutionary”, inspired by the work of ancient cultures, as well as the structures suggested by fractal geometry. Using a variety of techniques, such as grinding, carving and the use of found cut-stone, Cullen creates “illicit patterns that operate across different scales and origins in the natural world […] which are repeated with varying degrees of intensity and gesture throughout the exhibition”.


‘Watermarked’ exhibition image

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017




Mark Fisher

The James Barry Exhibition Centre, Cork, held an exhibition of paintings by Holly Walsh titled ‘Watermarked’ (6 Feb – 3 Mar). Walsh’s work is inspired by the subtleties of landscape, and “the subjectivity of our perception of the spaces around us”. Winner of the Cork Arts Society Student of the Year Award for her degree show, Walsh had a concurrent exhibition in the Lavitt Gallery.

series of work in drawing, photography, film, installation, sculptural works and sourced objects. McKenna’s practice is concerned with systems of information that describe the universe and our place in it. “She traces different forms of data extraction, collection and communication, which can include scientific experiment, technological progression, intuitive belief or myth”.

The Game Has Changed

This column was originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet. A selection of columns written by the late Mark Fisher can be found at IN my column for this publication a few months ago, I called for a new negativity, in the spirit of Herbert Marcuse’s claim that the proper function of art was to be a “Great Refusal”. What better answer could I get than the massive ‘NO’ painted on the grass of Parliament Square in London during one of the recent series of protests against government cuts in the UK? Only four weeks ago, this kind of negativity still seemed to be only a distant possibility in a place like the UK. When, at a conference on public art and civility organised by SKOR in Amsterdam at the end of October, I suggested that there would soon be expressions of massive public anger in the UK, some of the UK-based delegates were sceptical, accusing me of “revolutionary nostalgia”. I was confident that they were being unduly dismissive – but I still didn’t anticipate the scale of the recent protests. Like Ireland, the UK has been at the forefront of what I have called ‘capitalist realism’ – the view that, since capitalism is the only game in town, all we can do is find a way of accommodating ourselves to it. Part of leftist capitalist realism has been the disavowal of people’s own pessimism and disillusion and its projection onto others. Nothing will happen; people will remain apathetic. That kind of diagnosis has been blown apart by the astonishing student movement that has changed the political landscape in the UK so dramatically since November. Apathy is dead, said a placard at one of the London protests. The game has changed, the protestors have chanted, and so it has. What we’ve seen is an efflorescence of oppositional activity: not only massive protests – which have led to increasingly naked displays of antagonism – but occupations and flashmobs invading chainstores. Comparisons with ’68 have inevitably been made, but this movement is in many ways much more remarkable than what happened 40 years ago. ’68 came at the end of the “cultural revolution” of the 60s – a series of challenges to the monolithic Marxist meta-narrative (its claim that everything could be reduced to class conflict). ’68 presupposed both a credible leftist political project (from which it could deviate) and a social democratic context (which provided the conditions for its exorbitant demands). But both of these have definitively disappeared. They are a distant memory even for the parents of many of the teenagers who took part in the recent UK protests. The current movement has had to build itself up almost from nothing, in a situation where the revolutionary left has no infrastructure and the moderate left has long since acquiesced to capitalist realism; and, perhaps most astonishingly, it has been constructed by those who had previously been the most obvious victims of capitalist realism – the young. And it should also not be forgotten – even though it often is - that ’68 failed. The new breed of protestors expect to win. They do not have the ingrained defeatism – and romanticism of failure – that has been the vice of so much of the so-called radical left since the 60s. Another difference between ’68 and now is the class composition of the protestors. Where the university students of the 60s were a small elite, many of the students involved in the current wave of demonstrations are working class. ’68 was about a short-lived alliance between workers and students, but many of today’s students are already workers, forced to do part-time – and often full-time – jobs in order to support their studies. Similarly, the Fordist model of the worker (as someone who does 40 hours a week in a factory for 40 years of their life) has long since been replaced by precarious work, which assumes “flexibility” and short-term contracts. Finally, new technology has played a crucial role in the current movement. The rapid-response nature of the protests has only been made possible by social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In the UK, the government has targeted education, the arts, public services and benefits, imposing cuts that are breathtakingly punitive. The justification for cuts in all these areas has been the capitalist realist rationale that “there is no more money”, but opponents have rightly identified this as a thin pretext used by the rump of neoliberalism in order to pursue its uncompleted ideological project of totally eliminating public space. But this has created the conditions for an alliance between all those groups, which are ‘naturally’ hostile to neoliberalism. In terms of art and education, what we are potentially seeing here is the reconsolidation of a relationship between bohemia – those elements of the bourgeoisie, which disdain business values – and the working class. That relationship – which allowed the arty working class to escape drudgery, and for the bohemian middle class to make contact with the mutational energies of proletarian culture – was the engine of British and Irish popular culture during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Could today’s antagonism revive this? I see no reason not to be optimistic.

EXPOSURE ‘Exposure’, a solo exhibition by photographer Emily Peat, curated by Vis Cult, ran at NCAD Gallery, Dublin, 30 Jan – 1 Feb. The large photographs use strong colours to demonstrate the complicated relationship between fluorescent lights in motion. Representing a departure from her earlier work, Peat created the images in ‘Exposure’, she stated, “through experimentation, serendipity and happy accidents”. The subjects of many of her photographs are friends, old and new.

complex etymology in more detail. “Poetically,” she stated, “the word suggests the twisting together of strands of collective memory of place – perhaps forming a single narrative core, or (in a more visual idiom), a tapestry weaving together place and people, memory and experience, history and present desire”.



Susan MacWilliam, image from ‘Modern Experiments’

Susan MacWilliams’s exhibition ‘Modern Experiments’ runs at Daniel Chester, After the Deluge Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, 18 Feb – 8 The Hyde Bridge Gallery, Sligo, presented April and presents key pieces from the QUADRANTS ‘In pursuit of stillness’ by Daniel Chester artist’s career to date. The exhibition (20 Jan – 11 Feb). Chester’s work was focuses particularly on MacWilliams’s selected from the Cairde Visual group video works, which examine “obscure show in 2016. The exhibition consisted and overlooked histories, and cases of of 12 oil on aluminium paintings of vari- perceptual and paranormal phenomeous sizes, depicting rural locations in na”. The 28 works on show represent “a Leitrim, Sligo and Mayo. The work exam- unique and significant body of material ined the role of nature “in an age of con- exploring peripheral subjects, and those tinuous personal bombardment of tech- that are beyond mainstream scientific nology,” the artist stated, adding that and psychological study”. ‘Modern “finding stillness and solitude in our Experiments’, touring from Highlanes world can be at a premium”. Gallery’s cross-border partner, the F.E. Tom Climent, Ascent McWilliam Gallery and Studio in Custom House Studios, Mayo, held Banbridge, is the largest and most com‘Quadrants’, an exhibition of paintings BUZZ & HUM prehensive exhibition of Susan by Cork artist Tom Climent, from 27 Jan MacWilliam’s work to date. to 19 Feb. Climent’s recent works focus on “creation of a structured space, while DOPEY DICK IS 40! investigating the boundaries between abstraction and representation”. The paintings in this exhibition examine our connection to land and our desire to find a place within it. Climent’s process is largely intuitive, starting with the discovery of “unintended connections and ‘Buzz and Hum’ installation view, courtesy of LCGA relationships”. Limerick City Gallery presents an exhibition by Richard Gorman and Samuel ASTRONOMICAL MASHUP Walsh (9 Feb – 16 Apr) titled ‘Buzz and ‘Dopey Dick is 40!’ exhibition image Hum’. The exhibition brings the work of both artists together so that “the rhythm CCA Derry-Londonderry presented of each artist’s work is allowed its own Dopey Dick is 40!, a performance by artist space while also tuning into the rhythms and academic Colin Priest, on 18 Feb, of the other’s work,” the press release marking the third event in CCA’s Spring states. For this exhibition, both artists programme of one-day exhibitions, reviewed and revised their respective ‘The Edge of Things’. Dopey Dick is 40!, works to respond directly to the gallery the press release noted, marks the 40th space. A special publication, BUZZ + anniversary of ‘Dopey Dick’, the killer HUM, accompanies the exhibition. whale that got lost in Derry’s River Foyle. For the exhibition, Colin Priest hosted a special celebration “with party RECLAIMING SPACE hats, some Mendelssohn and a special Diane Henshaw’s exhibition ‘Reclaiming tray bake to remember this venerable Space’ ran at Galway City Gallery, 17 Dec visitor”. Local people shared their recolLucy McKenna, Crescent Moon, 2016 – to 7 Jan, and sought to express the lections of Dopey Dick’s visit and poet/ Lucy McKenna’s solo exhibition “spirit” of the Irish word dinnseanchas. songwriter Conor O’Kane performed ‘Astronomical Mashup’ runs at The LAB, Officially translated as ‘topography’ (the his work Dopey Dick Triptych. Dublin, 17 Feb – 26 Mar and comprises a science of place), Henshaw’s explored its



Action Plan seeks to revitalise rural towns and villages through a range of CAPITAL FUNDING FOR ARTS & investments and initiatives. Of the €9 CULTURAL CENTRES million in funding I am announcing On 13 February Minister Humphreys today, over 85% is going to projects outannounced capital funding of more side Dublin. However, a number of very than €9 million for arts and cultural important cultural facilities in the capicentres across the country. Humphreys tal will benefit, including the Irish Film made the announcement as part of the Institute, the Ark, the Gallery of Creative Ireland programme, with Photography and the Project Arts funding provided under her depart- Centre.” ment’s Arts and Culture Capital Scheme 2016 – 2018. A total of 56 cultural organisa- TEMPLE BAR STUDIO AWARDS tions will benefit from this capital Temple Bar Gallery and Studios aninvestment, including theatres, herit- nounced the five artists awarded age centres, galleries, archives, integrat- Project Studios for the year 2017. Four ed arts centres, artist studios and crea- Project Studios were awarded to Martive and performance spaces. Seven cel Vidal, Vanessa Daws, Kathy Tynan flagship projects will receive substan- and AKVK_TW (Tanad Williams and tial funding allocations: Solstice Arts Andreas Kindler von Knobloch). These Centre, Meath (€300,000), the Irish five artists will begin their tenancy in Arial Creation Centre (home of Fidget December 2016 and in January 2017, Feet) (€350,000), the Hunt Museum, and will maintain their studios for 12 Limerick (€400,000), The Hawk’s Well months. The new artist members were Theatre, Sligo (€550,000), Cavan Town awarded their studios by a selection Hall Theatre (€750,000), the Riverbank panel, following an open submission Arts Centre, Kildare (€1 million) and application process which took place in Wexford Arts Centre (€1 million). A October 2016. This year, the selection further 49 projects will receive funding panel for studio membership consisted ranging from €20,000 to €276,000. of Mary Cremin, Clíodhna Shaffrey, Minister Humphreys said: “This €9 Anne Kelly, Ronan McCrea and Susan million announcement is the most sig- MacWilliam. nificant investment in regional arts and cultural centres in a decade. The Creative Ireland programme places a TBG+S RECENT GRADUATE focus on investing in our cultural infra- Temple Bar Gallery + Studios have structure, because high quality infra- announced artist Julia Dubsky as structure is critical for a vibrant arts the 2017 Recent Graduate Residency and culture sector, which in turn under- recipient. The TBG+S Recent pins social cohesion and supports sus- Graduate Residency is a professional tainable economic growth. development opportunity aimed at “I have visited numerous arts and recent graduate artists in Ireland to cultural centres over the last number of assist in focusing their studio practices years, and it is abundantly clear to me at this crucial point in their careers. that we are well served in terms of the Now in its fourth year, the residency number of centres nationwide. The offers a 12-month studio at TBG+S main objective of these capital grants is with added professional development to maintain and enhance the existing supports, a €1,000 stipend, €500 stock of arts and culture centres, many international travel bursary, and of which need to be upgraded. a variety of institutional supports “We deliberately made this scheme including mentoring and a programme as flexible as possible to ensure projects of visiting curators’ visits. of varying sizes could benefit. The largDubsky was awarded the est funding awards – of €1 million each residency by a selection panel of five – are going to Wexford Arts Centre and people following an open submission the Riverbank Arts Centre in Kildare. process that took place in January However a wide variety of other pro- 2017. Working mainly in a wide, jects will also benefit including new mostly muted pallet range on shallow lighting and sound systems in theatres, stretchers, Dubsky’s work appears both the conversion of an old Post Office to figurative and abstract, grappling with an artist studio and the improvement of the confined, flat surface. digital facilities. These projects all aim to improve the audience and creative experience. This funding package will CENTRE FOR PHILOSOPHY & THE also ensure past investment in these VISUAL ARTS, KINGS COLLEGE arts and cultural centres is protected Siobhán Tattan was selected as Artist in Residence at the Centre for Philosoand sustained. “This kind of investment goes to phy and the Visual Arts, Kings College the very heart of what I am trying to London. The Centre for Philosophy and achieve through Creative Ireland and the Visual Arts is a major multi-discithe Action Plan for Rural Development. plinary initiative. Its aim is to bring toCreative Ireland aims to place culture gether academics, artists, curators and and creativity at the heart of every com- gallerists to explore the connections munity nationwide, while the Rural between philosophy, theory and the

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

visual arts. Siobhán Tattan will follow Christopher Hamilton’s lectures on ‘The Search for Meaning’.

WEXFORD EMERGING ARTIST Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford County Council and the Arts Council are delighted to announce artist Katie Watchorn as the recipient of the 2017 SECRETARY GENERAL APPOINTEE Emerging Visual Artist Award. As a The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Re- joint initiative between the three orgional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, ganisations, the award’s aim is to recHeather Humphreys TD, announced in ognise and support the development February that the Government has ap- of promising and committed visual pointed Katherine Licken as Secretary artists in Ireland. The winner receives General of the Department of Arts, €5,000 to supplement and assist in the Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gael- production of new work for a solo exhitacht Affairs. Katherine Licken was bition at Wexford Arts Centre. As the previously Assistant Secretary in the recipient of the award, Watchorn will Department of Communications, Cli- create a new body of work throughout mate Action and Environment, where the period of January – December 2017, she has responsibility for telecommu- to be exhibited in January 2018. nications market interventions, inKatie Watchorn works with a dicluding the National Broadband Plan, verse range of agrarian materials to EU and national telecommunications create tactile pieces illuminating the and internet policy, cyber security, nuances and materiality of Irish rural the National Digital Strategy and the farming, drawing on her own experiEmergency Call Answering Service. ences and upbringing in the farm environ.

PROJECT ARTS CENTRE CURATOR Project Arts Centre, Dublin welcome Lívia Páldi to the team as Curator of Visual Arts. Born in Budapest, Lívia Páldi has held a number of key positions – Director of the Baltic Art Center (BAC), Visby, Sweden (2012 – 2015), Chief Curator of the Mucsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest (2007 – 2011) – as well as cofounding the Institute of Contemporary Art, Dunaújváros, Hungary. The Curator of Visual Arts at Project is core part of the team, responsible for developing, delivering and managing the visual arts programme in keeping with the vision of the organisation. This is a key appointment for Project as it enters an important new phase of its development following its 50th anniversary. Páldi will join an expert team dedicated to supporting artists in every art form, at every stage in their career, to make and present extraordinary work.

CRAWFORD GALLERY BOARD The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, announced in February that she has appointed eight new members to the board of the Crawford Gallery. All appointees have been vetted by the Public Appointments Service and were found to have the requisite experience to serve on the board. The appointments are for a duration of five years. The Minister has nominated Rose McHugh as Chair. Her formal appointment will be made after she appears before the relevant Oireachtas Committee. The new members of the board of the Crawford Gallery are: Josephine Browne, Catherine Hammond, Karen Kelly, Eamonn Maxwell, Rose Mc Hugh, Frank Nyhan, Gareth O’Callaghan and Barrie O’Connell.

GOLDEN FLEECE AWARD The trustees of the Golden Fleece Award have announced John Lee as the winner of the 2017 Golden Fleece Award. Lee, a craft-based cabinetmaker from County Meath, was awarded €15,000 prize on 21 February during a ceremony at the RHA, Dublin. A graduate of the furniture college in Letterfrack, County Galway, Lee is a third generation cabinetmaker and has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. His work has been shown at SOFA Chicago, COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery, London and DESIGN BASEL in Switzerland. His furniture can be found in numerous private collections and in museums, including the National Museum of Ireland where his Carrigeen tallboy and Core low table can be seen. In 2011 John won a prestigious commission to design and make a new presidential inauguration chair to be used in the inauguration ceremony of President Michael D. Higgins and in future presidential inaugurations. Lee’s work is inspired by naturally occurring geometric forms and his current work explores the enhancement of timber’s natural properties while experimenting with form, function and finish. Other artists and craft makers shortlisted for the Golden Fleece Award 2017 were Chloe Dowds (ceramics), Gerry Davis (painting), Fiona Mulholland (sculpture and jewellery), Nuala O Donovan (ceramics) and Yanny Petters (painting on glass). Fiona Mulholland received a Special Award of €5,000 while four remaining shortlisted artists received Merit Awards of €2500 each. The Golden Fleece Award, now in its 16th year, is the most valuable prize available to Irish artists and craft makers. It is an independent artistic prize fund established as a charitable be-

March – April 2017

quest by the late Lillias Mitchell, who died in 2000. The first Golden Fleece Award was launched a year later and was awarded in 2002. This year’s judging panel was led by Neil Read and included Helen McAllister, Dara O’Leary, Eoin MacLochlainn and Robert Russell.

VAI WEBSITE SURVEY As VAI has grown over the years, we have seen many changes to our website as we seek to find ways to provide information that can be trusted. Due to the complexity and wide ranging nature of our work, it has been difficult for us to come upon a 100% accepted design for the site. This year we are looking to engage a user interface architect to look at the site to see if we can create an even better user experience. The first step in this is a small user survey which we hope that you will take the time to complete. Please note that this is only for at the moment. We will be looking at and at a later stage. The survey can be accessed via our website.

PUBLIC ART IN THE VAN If you have recently been involved in a public commission, Per Cent or Art project, socially engaged project or any other form of art outside the gallery, we would like you to email us the information for publication in the the next issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet. Send one high resolution image and a short text (no more than around 300 words) with this information: artist’s name; title of work; commissioning body; date advertised; date sited/ carried out; budget; commission type; project partners; brief description of the work. The work must have been undertaken in the last six months. Send your info to Production Editor Lily Power at:

REDUCE THE THRESHOLD FOR THE ARTIST’S RESALE RIGHT IN IRELAND Visual Artists Ireland is petitioning Minister Heather Humphreys to reduce the threshold for the Artist’s Resale Right. In Ireland the threshold before the Resale Right becomes relevant is €3000. By comparison, the UK is €1000. By reducing the threshold in Ireland to €1000, a greater number of artists will benefit from this scheme, which will have a direct effect and reduce the number of artists dependent on social welfare. There is still time to sign the petition and ensure that artists’ voices are heard. Please sign now and ask your friends and colleagues to join us in this important work.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017


Antrim & Newtownabbey: Resources & Activities The Art of Glass

A Vague Sense of Order

Andrea Spencer, Circulatory, from ‘Fragile and Fugitive States of Being’

Andrea Spencer at work

ORIGINALLY from Hertfordshire, England, I left Edinburgh College of Art with a degree in Architectural Glass in 1993. A week after graduating I moved to Belfast. Shortly after this, the Northern Ireland peace process began to bring about significant changes. There was an injection of investment in healthcare infrastructure, which instigated a series of new builds, replacing or updating old facilities and providing new centres to accommodate the changing face of healthcare. Outmoded Victorian facilities were replaced with modern architecture, encompassing large expanses of curtain wall glazing and presenting possibilities for architectural glass commissions. Considering the small glass arts community in Northern Ireland at that time, I was uniquely placed to capitalise on these developments. I was awarded my first public art commission in 2003 and over the past 14 years I have worked consistently on one or more commissions per year. To date I have completed over 20 commissions, all within Northern Ireland, and comprising a variety of approaches, including large suspended sculpture, curtain wall glazing and mixed media works. All of the commissions I have designed and fabricated feature glass as the primary material. I use blown, cast, fused and flame-worked glass, depending on what the project requires. I design the work so I can produce the glass myself, preferably in my own studio. Over the years, when possible, I have reinvested any profit back into the studio to purchase equipment, thus expanding the range of work I can fabricate. In 2008, having been awarded a significant commission for the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre – which proposed bespoke blown glass elements alongside a custom fabricated stainless steel armature – my practice began to outgrow my studio (at that time located in the centre of Belfast). I needed to consider taking on a larger studio space to accommodate the fabrication of a project of this scale. I had also begun collaborating with my partner, glassblower Scott Benefield, so we decided to build our own glass studio. We began looking for a suitable space in Belfast. However, we found that the kind of space we required was not readily available in a city that seemed to be rapidly losing most of its gritty artists’ spaces. One weekend we ventured out of Belfast for a short family holiday in a Heritage Trust property in Randalstown, County Antrim. Prior to this, I had never even set foot in the area in my 15 years of living in Northern Ireland. During that visit a

happenstance conversation with an estate agent coincided with the retirement plans of a local builder, and within two weeks we had secured both a studio space and a new place to live. What we had been looking for in Belfast we found in Randalstown, with more advantages than we had imagined. The new studio was the former joinery workshop of a family-run building business. The building – approximately 1000 square foot with double barn doors and solid floors – had a 100A threephase electricity service and panoramic views across the fields towards Slemish. At the time, it fulfilled all the requirements crucial to our needs. With a larger space and financial support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, I was able to build a large-format fusing kiln. We then self-funded to build a glassblowing furnace and invested in the equipment required to run a comprehensive glassmaking facility. For the past nine years, we have taught workshops, fabricated pieces for other artists, produced props for Game of Thrones, introduced a blown glass production line, undertaken large-scale architectural commissions and provided rental of the facilities. The Randalstown studio has been essential for making our autonomous work for gallery shows and exhibitions. Relocating my practice to rural County Antrim brought many unanticipated benefits. Being positioned within a farming community provided access to many varied resources: an extensively stocked local hardware shop, neighbours with a forklift and a nearby facility that can roll stainless steel sheet metal. There are hidden gems in the smaller towns, such as the Clotsworthy Art Centre in Antrim and the viaduct and river walk of Randalstown. There were other intangible benefits to living outside of a major city as well. Having a studio in a rural location provides me with access to nature and close proximity to inspiring landscapes, which I have drawn upon time and time again to provide imagery for my gallery pieces and public commissions. Artists form communities, both virtual and real, wherever they practice, and this is as true in far-flung settings as it is in cities. Belfast and Derry may be the cultural and artistic hubs of Northern Ireland, but there is a surprising amount of good work coming from artists practicing in the more remote corners of Ulster. Andrea Spencer

GLENGORMLEY can be a place people pass through on the way to somewhere, but one never knows what things are being created in the anonymous garages of the Belfast suburbs. They say it’s always a little colder above the blue-grey valley than in town, a fact not lost on the fingers of a sculptor. I have a studio in the garage that I built with my da. It once housed our ponies and their painted carts. Some were wild, unbroken. Now this place houses a wild mess and a wild heart. My youth was spent in Glengormley. My parents moved to this house during my teenage years. When I look out of the studio, which is still half a horse stable, I can almost hear Bowie and Prince. I remember the me who lived in the attic, painted murals in the city, and had mad long hair and piercings that ran up the side of my ear. There is organisation in the chaos, a vague sense of order, like one might discover on an archaeological dig. Across a long table from left to right, from permeable to rigid, there are a number of materials: plaster, wax, rubber, clay and stone. A single gas ring burns, blackening the blades and the tips of pointed tools in its flame. I am planted in this place. Roses grow wild outside the door. I am holding a figure of a man in wax balancing on a unicycle with a heart-shaped saddle in one hand. I’m hoping the wax captures the words of Stewart Parker’s play Spokesong, representing his version of life in my city. It’s a broken yet hopeful vision, where a vein of humanity, as he says, runs through it all. The commission, this time, is private. Lynne Parker of Rough Magic Theatre Company is the playwright’s niece. The work came to me as most work does, over a pint in a pub. Lynne had seen my Beckett bronzes in the RHA in Dublin and asked me to create a life-size representation of Stewart Parker’s work. There are plans to place it in Belfast, hopefully in Writer’s Square, but I enjoy the challenge no matter where the work ends up. Parker once said that Spokesong was about asking how “one could, in Ireland, cope with the past”. It’s a young man’s tale, a powerful slice into the psyche of life in troubled times. The struggle is familiar, although Parker’s hero Frank is ahead of his time in terms of urban vision and environmentalism, seeing bicycles as the answer to urban congestion. However, like everyone, the hero is just trying to have a life. Writers’ Square would be a fitting spot for the bronze: it was recently one of the first places to

install bicycles that you can rent and drop off around the town, which I thought was quite apt. The destination of this work is not something I dwell on. I try not to get my hopes up while I make. The idea of manifesting Parker’s vision is daunting enough, as he is not only a cultural icon but someone’s brother, uncle, partner and son. Public and private lives collide when you make a sculpture of this scope but the story that inspires it is always the most important element. Using bronze to illustrate literature is difficult but ultimately satisfying. Although the process is temperamental, it does allow for the appropriate gestural detail. In this sort of work, detail is everything. You have to get it just so. With the bronzes of my last work, the Samuel Beckett Chess Set, I had 32 opportunities to show moments of detail that would illuminate the writer’s work, but with the Parker commission there was just one chance to capture and express the substance of his play. The piece had to become an amalgam of the characters’ spirits. I was inspired by a line in the play about Belfast: “...There’s a rich vein of humanity in it, no doubt” and chose to call the piece The Common Wheel. This is the subtitle of the play and a combination of two of details: the Trick Cyclist’s unicycle and Dunlop’s first pneumatic tyre (another creation born in an anonymous garage). And so I placed Parker’s hero Frank balancing on a unicycle made with the first pneumatic tyre rising out of a gold-leaf vein in the granite slab. I thought of Kintsukuroi or ‘golden repair’, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and powdered gold, a philosophical approach that treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. This seemed fitting when speaking of my native city. Being an artist in Belfast means working in collaboration with fellow artists and craftspeople, in this instance the kind twin sisters Claire and Karen Gibson at Red Earth Designs, and gentleman Ken Barr, Lecturer in Foundry Practice at Belfast Metropolitan College. Being an artist in the suburbs means that the unveiling of a commissioned work does not include fine wine but tea with homemade scones and jam.

Alan Milligan at work

Alan Milligan casting bronze

Alan S. Milligan is a lecturer at South West College, Enniskillen. ‘The Common Wheel’ maquette is now at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017


People & Place

Maria Walker, A Woman’s Work is Never Done, from ‘The Lightfoot Letters’

Laura Butler, The Old Dispensary, Kilcoanbeg, oil and acrylic on canvas

Sharing Skills by the Trust artists in residence, Helen Bradbury and Ciara O’Malley. Taking us into the summer in the Oriel Gallery is renowned textile artist Helen Kerr with her ‘Batik and Stitch Retrospective’ from 9 May until 30 June. Having trained in textiles at Belfast College of Art, Kerr later discovered batik while at Brighton College of Art, and machine embroidery on a course at University of Ulster, and realised how batik and stitch complemented each other. A year spent in the Textiles department of Goldsmiths College in London further extended her horizons, and she has used these techniques over 40 years as a means to create statements in textile ‘paintings’, enjoying the accidental results of applying hot wax and dye to cloth, as well as the additional texture and colour that machine and hand stitching add to the finished piece. From 23 February to 25 March the Flax Gallery played host to ‘Past Lives and Abandoned Spaces’ by Antrim artist Laura Butler. Long drawn to the places where traces of people and the impact of their presence on the landscape can be found, Butler’s work depicts many ruined and forgotten homes over time as homage to the people who lived there including her own ancestors. Her focus is divided between paintings encapsulating the haunting evocations that surround abandoned homes and paintings depicting old family photographs that depict a similar quality of a time lost. Following on with the people and place theme from 30 March until 29 April will be ‘Framed: People and Place in Irish Photography’, an exhibition drawn from the Ulster Museum’s extensive historic photograph collections covering the history, topography and personalities of Ireland. The invention of photography in 1839 was one of the most significant achievements in the history of human communications, giving us the ability to capture a moment in time and to see what people in the past saw. It enabled history to speak to us directly with great clarity. This exhibition concentrates on the twin themes of people and place to illustrate the range and depth of these collections and how the photographers they represent framed and shaped our view of the past. The Conservatory Gallery at Clotworthy House hosted the illustrations of local Antrim artist Bob Ross from 31 January to 3 March. Bob has worked in illustration for well over 30 years, and his drawings of local historical sites and work for architects and property developers are well known, but today he mainly concentrates on pen and ink drawings of sites both locally and abroad. Following this, Glengormley Art Club will exhibit in Antrim for the first time (7 – 31 March), showing a wide range of members’ work in a variety of media including oils, acrylic, watercolours, pastels, pen and ink, and mixed media. Completing the Spring programme of the three Antrim and Newtownabbey galleries, ‘The Garden’ by Sara Maconkey, running from 4 April to 26 May, will provide a fitting conclusion, with an exhibition of floral work exploring colour, shape and pattern from the landscapes around County Antrim.

ANTRIM and Newtownabbey Borough Council is in the fortunate position of being able to display art on an ongoing basis across three galleries. The prestigious Oriel Gallery at Antrim Castle Gardens hosts high quality touring exhibitions showing work from around the world, while the Conservatory Gallery at Clotworthy House has more of a community focus. The Flax Gallery at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey, emphasises local artists and heritage and showcases a wide range of artistic styles, media and interests. ‘The Lightfoot Letters’, a touring show coordinated by Halton Borough Council in Cheshire, ran at the Oriel Gallery until 24 March. Textile artist Maria Walker found a bundle of old letters in an antique shop, which provide a remarkably detailed portrait of working class life in 1923 in Widnes, Cheshire, England. She was enthralled and inspired to create a body of artwork around them. When she later met and worked with poet Angela Topping, she was not to know that Angela was in fact the daughter of one of the letter writers, Peter Lightfoot. The exhibition explores the letters through a range of different textile artworks and poetry, creating an amazing fusion of concepts and imagery. ‘Leaves Across a Landscape’ is currently running in the gallery (30 March – 29 April) and will move to the Flax Gallery from 4 May until 3 June. This is an exciting first collaborative civic/health exhibition between Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust showcasing a range of artworks created through the Trust’s innovative arts programme, which is supported by Arts Care. It brings together an eclectic mix of media including pho- Phillip Magennis, Culture and Heritage Officer, tography, film, sculpture, drawing, creative writ- Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. ing and painting created by Trust service users and the local community, through projects facilitated

JORDANSTOWN Art Club has been successfully running for over 30 years. The Club comprises keen amateur artists living in the Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and neighbouring areas who meet to paint together and share their skills and techniques. We produce traditional landscapes, seascapes and still life along with more modern acrylics, oils, pastels, watercolour and mixed media paintings. Always striving to improve, innovate and even take risks, members are encouraged by monthly demonstrations given by local professional artists, such as Paul Holmes, Paul Wilson, Belinda Larmour, Ray Elwood and Grahame Boothe. These artists also lead workshops in which participants can expand their knowledge of the arts. Members can choose to attend the club on one of two sessions available each week, either on a Monday evening or a Thursday afternoon. The majority of current members paint in watercolour and have been greatly encouraged by books, publications and articles written by internationally renowned artists such as Ray Balkwill, Trevor Chamberlain, Shirley Trevena and Alan Cotton, to name a few. Speaking about his love of watercolour, Chamberlain says, “My interest in pure, transparent watercolour painting was stimulated by the work of J.M.W. Turner, John Singer Sargent, R.P. Bonington and Jack Merriott, who alone could make this deceptively difficult medium appear easy. I love the ease and weightlessness of watercolour and the way it allows me to incorporate chance effects. I find such exhilaration in knowing that I am treading a narrow line between triumph and disaster”. John Varley’s view of a flat wash, for example, is “like a silence in which you can hear the faintest whisper”. Members in the club do find that watercolour’s unpredictability, as well as its delicacy and translucency, make it perfect for capturing the subtle nuances of light and colour in the landscape. This is always a welcome challenge for painters. Several members prefer the tactile nature of pastels. This is not an easy medium to work with, but with perseverance and a willingness to experiment, the end result can be joyful and rewarding. It has been said that working in pastel bridges the gap between drawing and painting, but can be

Edwin Clarke, Towards Fair Head, County Antrim

extremely challenging as the medium is mixed and blended on the working surface. Master pastellist Margaret Glass notes in her book Light Through Glass that pastel can have both the delicacy of watercolour and the strength of oil paint. Painting with oils offers our members a chance to experiment with a wide variety of applications, such as palette knives and different brushes. For many, the physical act of applying oil paint with a knife is a sensuous and satisfying experience. Oil paint also retains that wonderful reflective, light-catching surface forever, exemplified in the works of the Impressionists, many of which still look as if they were painted yesterday. Encaustic painting is also becoming popular again and a few members enjoy the versatility of this medium, which creates a textural, colourful and modern effect. Within the Club there are members who have achieved membership into other prestigious art societies, such as the Arts Society of Ulster (ASU), the Ulster Society of Women Artists (USWA), the Pastel Society of Northern Ireland and the Ulster Watercolour Society (UWS). Exhibiting with these societies requires each artist to constantly strive to be imaginative and innovative. Members also compete for awards such as the H.R. Brown Art Award (from the Rose Society of Northern Ireland) and have won some significant prizes over the years. Jordanstown Club are happy to exhibit regularly in local venues including Carrickfergus Civic Centre, the Flax Gallery, Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey and Clotworthy House, Antrim. All paintings are for sale. Members also regularly donate works to charity auctions. The Club are currently looking at the possibility of having a themed collective exhibition in a new Belfast venue, which should be a very exciting project. Future venues in 2017 will be announced throughout the year and members look forward to having the opportunity of inviting guests and visitors to view their fresh new exhibits. The Club welcomes new members at any time and they will be guaranteed a warm welcome to either of the two weekly painting sessions. Isabelle Strugnell, Jordanstown Arts Club.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017




Jesse Jones, The Other North, 2013; -Kennedy Browne, Ireland is Good for You, 2014; ‘Radical Actions’, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, September 2016

‘RADICAL Actions’ was an ambitious, three-part international project curated by Linda Shevlin, curator-in-residence at Roscommon Arts Centre. The first phase was an exhibition in RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, in September 2016, that formed part of Culture Ireland’s commemorative programme ‘I Am Ireland’, aimed at highlighting the centrality of the arts to the evolution of Irish identity over the hundred years since the 1916 Rising. The exhibition featured the work of Duncan Campbell, Jesse Jones, Seamus Nolan and the collaborative duo Kennedy Browne – Irish artists perceived as identifying with the “politics of social agitation, revolution and rebellion” by engaging with non-idealised versions of Ireland’s past. The second phase of the project was an exhibition by Duncan Campbell at Roscommon Arts Centre, which ran from November 2016 to January 2017. Campbell’s film Bernadette (2008) focuses on female Irish dissident and social activist Bernadette Devlin and subverts the conventions of traditional documentary filmmaking by combining archival material with modern footage. The final strand of ‘Radical Actions’ was a day-long seminar to coincide with Campbell’s exhibition. Many of the artists involved in the Melbourne show discussed their work, alongside contributions from photojournalist Paula Geraghty and filmmaker Treasa O’Brien. These important practitioners share a desire to excavate previously marginalised or non-idealised versions of history in order to somehow oppose or disrupt prevailing narratives.

productions and comedy shows, as well as cinema screenings in Dublin’s new suburban picture-houses, which collectively elucidated the ‘social life’ of the city. A new world of mass media had permeated popular culture, making household names of various film stars. Adverts for Charlie Chaplin impersonation competitions amused the audience, as did a newspaper cartoon from 1915 which mockingly depicted Irish nationalist politician John Redmond as Chaplin. Mildred Harris, Chaplin’s first wife, also loomed large in the public imagination at this time. Her films were regularly screened in Boyle, courtesy of the west of Ireland mobile cinema, set up by Ballaghaderreen-born Frank Shouldice, a sniper during the Rising who was imprisoned in the UK following the War of Independence. BLOOD SACRIFICE As described by Gibbons, sectarianism and Catholicism took centre stage during the Rising, along with notions of ‘blood sacrifice’, a term long-associated with Greek and Roman empires that was popularised by Wolfe Tone, leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion, who had been influenced by the French Revolution. This idea reshaped our conceptions of the Easter Rising, framing the executed leaders as heroic martyrs. The radical socialist Paris Commune of 1871 also reportedly had a profound influence, most notably on James Connolly, who deployed a range of guerrilla tactics synonymous with urban warfare, including using street barricades and tunnelling escape routes through private houses. The links between theatre, literature, poetry and rebellion were carefully illustrated by Gibbons, who suggested that the influence of Dickens on Pearse’s family may have explained the mix of archaic and modern in Pearse’s later writings. Joyce’s writings seemingly gave hope during the rebellion, with Ernie O’Malley – writer, devotee of the arts and leader of the IRA – rumoured to have studied Joyce for “a way out of the dark”. According to Gibbons, Boyle has a ‘speaking part’ both in the history and internationalism of the Rising. Margaret (Gretta) Cousins (nee. Gillespie ) was a feminist and activist from Boyle who actively campaigned for women’s suffrage, co-founding the Irish Women’s Franchise League in 1908. Not only did the suffragettes introduce hunger striking – the ultimate weapon of twentieth century Irish warfare that would taunt successive governments – but the Irish Women’s Franchise League also revived usage of the Irish tricolour, which Connolly symbolically unfurled above several Dublin buildings. In 1915 Cousins moved to Madras (now Chennai), India, and founded the Women’s Indian Association. She was a natural egalitarian and traced her militancy to her upbringing in Boyle. Gibbons suggested that Cousins worked tirelessly to relay the Irish experience during the Chittagong Uprising (1930 – 34), which is believed to have been inspired by the Irish Rising.

THE BI-WAYS OF MATERIAL HISTORY A fascinating introductory presentation, ‘Screen Memories: Popular Imagery and the Rising’, was delivered by Luke Gibbons, Professor of Irish Literary and Cultural Studies at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Gibbons is a native of Keadue, County Roscommon, and it was therefore extremely fitting for him to present a material history of the 1916 Rising through a ‘Roscommon lens’. Key figures and micro-histories of the Rising were traced back to Roscommon through the shrewd assemblage of cultural and anecdotal references. This approach was welcomed by the audience – which comprised artists as well as locals with interest in regional history – whom Gibbons eagerly consulted on various details throughout the session. Gibbons set out a number of careful distinctions, the first being that while traditional historians deal strictly with fact, artistic or literary historians focus mainly on perceptions. He went on to make further distinctions between history and the scholarly field of Material History, which examines the conditions upon which the social world is ordered. From fashion and technology to literature and film, Material History takes account of the various cultural influences that add texture to our understandings of the past. He describes it as an examination of the meandering ‘bi-ways’, as opposed to the linear ‘highways’, of history. This divergent approach is embodied through the examination THE EVOLUTION OF PROTEST of the margins and corners of historical newspapers. Juxtaposed along- After Gibbons’s illuminating presentation, the audience convened side reports of the Rising, Gibbons found advertisements for theatrical upstairs for a screening of Eat Your Children, a 2015 film by Treasa

O’Brien and Mary Jane O’Leary that documents the evolution of protest in modern Ireland. It was most interesting that audience members – many of whom might not have typically attended an art event like this – seemed to feel somewhat invested in the day’s proceedings, following Gibbons’s generous interactions, and most of them stayed for the afternoon. As many multi-purpose Celtic Tiger art centres nationwide struggle to maintain committed arts audiences, such astute programming has the capacity to address local, national and global concerns in ways that are not mutually exclusive. The title Eat Your Children came from Jonathan Swift’s controversial 1729 essay A Modest Proposal, wherein Swift satirised British foreign policy by suggesting that “the impoverished Irish should eat their children”. With Ireland’s colonial history providing a stinging undercurrent to the economic hardship of recent years, the film relays the journey of two friends who set out to uncover the extent of Ireland’s acceptance of government-imposed austerity and a crippling national debt. In the first few scenes, media footage from 2008 onwards conveys the extent of the country’s crisis, yet there is little evidence that resistance of any sort is taking place. Turning to the past for answers, the filmmakers emphasise Ireland’s long and rich history of rebellion, from the Land League in the 1870s, to the mobilisation of labour during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. They argue that a degree of fatalism began to accrue around protest in Ireland after the late 1960s and the violent state repression of Bloody Sunday. The Social Partnership agreement of the late 80s enforced strike and wage moderation, further eroding workplace solidarity. Overall the film felt like an important historical record, documenting a period of powerlessness and indecision that was swiftly followed by direct action. In the closing scenes, momentum is beginning to gather around the water protests of 2014, when the sense of betrayal and anger felt by the Irish people spilled out onto city streets. Speaking afterwards in a panel discussion with photojournalist Paula Geraghty and filmmaker Johnny Gogan, O’Brien quoted political theorist Chantal Mouffe in describing art and activism as “agonistic companions” – a timely sentiment as art increasingly inhabits the vocabulary, discourse and domain of protest. O’Brien also highlighted the inadequacies of state media in reporting working class resistance – a situation that also prompted Paula Geraghty to take action. In 2009 she established Trade Union TV as a platform to “disprove the narrative that nothing is happening”. Capitalising on liberating technological developments, Trade Union TV disseminated short films via YouTube to demonstrate the widespread anger, isolation and depression being felt across the country on issues such as direct provision, water ownership and fracking. Geraghty identified the Marriage Equality referendum of 2015 as a pivotal moment in which the public asked themselves: “What sort of society we want to live in? Are we citizens or consumers?” In that moment, the ‘Ladybird’ version of Irish history was irretrievably disrupted, along with the false belief that we, as citizens, are powerless. The closing panel discussion, ‘The Artist as Activist’, was chaired by Wexford Arts Officer Liz Burns. Sarah Browne and Gareth Kennedy briefly discussed The Special Relationship (2013), which examines Ireland’s neutrality in light of the use of Shannon Airport by US military aircrafts. The duo amassed dozens of images found online of these planes landing in Shannon between 2001 and 2013, roughly coinciding with US conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. What might otherwise be considered ‘digital debris’, now constitutes a potent civic archive. Jesse Jones discussed her film The Other North (2013), which was cocommissioned by CCA Derry and Artsonje Center, Seoul, South Korea. Following a trip to the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) – a biodiverse, uninhabited border region between North and South Korea – Jones began to reflect on the ‘psychic partition’ of her own country. The Other North dramatically recounts turbulent histories of Northern Ireland, conveying the exhausting fragility of conflict resolution. Seamus Nolan’s ‘The 10th President’ was a political campaign to commemorate victims of institutional abuse. Nolan proposed that William Delaney, a 13-year-old boy who died in state care, be made President of Ireland for one day. The artist felt it was important for the public to actively reflect on their own relation with this recently-acknowledged history. Nolan conceded that it may be optimistic to think that your voice can be effective; however, it is always important to try. Joanne Laws is an arts writer and the recently appointed Features Editor of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet


Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, The Passenger #2 (detail), 2015; pigment baryta print

Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, still from Reports to an Academy #4, 2015; video & CGI composite


March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, ‘New Irish Works’ installation view, The Library Project, Dublin, 2017

Trish Brennan: It seems as though 2017 will be a busy year for you, with exhibitions in Domobaal, London, The Dock, Carrick on Shannon and the Broad Museum, Michigan, to name a few. What work will you be showing? Ailbhe Ní Bhriain: I’ll be showing video installations spanning 2011 to 2016, as well as two recent series of photo-collages. The solo exhibitions will bring a number of works together for the first time. They aren’t intended as survey shows, but it is interesting to consider the various works in this way – as a set of relationships. TB: There are clear thematic overlaps within your video installations from this period. What primary focus do they share? ANB: Architecture and landscape are the recurring motifs; all of my work exploits and tries to interrupt the readymade associations that surround certain sites. I tend to work with archetypal imagery and locations – museums, thatched cottages, iconic landscapes and so on. I’m interested in the relationship such sites have with idealised traditions like Victorian collections, classical statuary or the genre of landscape painting. I try to explore how these traditions link with collective identity and what they mean in the contemporary moment, in the absence of the philosophical or pictorial certainties that might have defined them in the past. TB: You are originally from the west of Ireland and this landscape crops up a lot in your work. Is this connection to your background important? ANB: It probably was originally, but I became more interested in the difficulty of representing this landscape than whatever might have led me there in the first place. In trying to work with the landscape, I was amazed by how things invariably tipped into cliché – the Bord Failte/ Enya/Paul Henry pitfalls were everywhere. It made me aware of the constructed or iconic relationships between place, image and meaning. The other thing that struck me was the ownership that Irish literature and poetry have over this territory. Irish writing has grappled so brilliantly with ideas of place, roots and identity, so inescapably this became something to take on. The attempt to address this daunting literary heritage alongside the iconic baggage of place came to define my work in a way. TB: Why do you think Irish writing has been able to avoid the clichés you mention in its ‘grappling’ with place? ANB: One critic referred to Irish writing as being ‘a monument to its own failure’ and I like this idea. The suggestion is that our relationship to place and language in Ireland has been interrupted by historical and cultural disinheritance, but it is this very interruption or lack which fuels Irish writing. The search for identity, necessitated by historical

rupture, itself becomes a form of cultural identity and the frustrated connection to place forges the impulse and the subject of the work. In this way, you can think of Irish writing as being located in its own dislocation; you see it in contemporary writing, modernist literature, ancient mythology. They are all infused with ideas of exile in a way that seems almost prophetic and circular.

glance, the work seems to conform to some familiar representation, but as the viewer spends more time with it, a sense of strangeness kind of leaks out. These dilemmas of representation are a touchstone in my work and link to questions of identity. I am interested in the way national identity is forged, often upon a representation of itself. For example, Irish free-state identity was informed by the Irish cultural revival of the early 1900s. But as a TB: As an artist you are known for your use of digital technology retrieval of a lost culture, via drama, literature and art, this cultural and CGI. How does this technical approach link to these ideas of revival was by its very nature constructed and also intrinsically politihistory, mythology and literature? cal. In it was a fiction of authenticity which in turn became a model ANB: I decided to take this cultural and literary paradox of location-in- for our national identity. I think assumptions around authenticity dislocation and extend it into a strategy of image-making, aimed at always need to be probed; what we think of as authentic is so often locating the work in a continual oscillation between place and place- founded on some kind of fiction or construct. It is strange and frightenlessness. So yes, I often do this through the use of computer-generated ing to see these one-dimensional versions of national identity being so imagery in order to simulate altered and impossible versions of a exploited around the world right now. place. But I also try to achieve it through material interruption, simple collage devices or ad-hoc stage sets. What these strategies have in com- TB: A lot of your work uses literary titles. ‘Reports to an Academy’, mon is that they undermine the authenticity of the image; the image for example, refers to a Kafka short story, while ‘Great Good is no longer strictly ‘believable’ or ‘real’ and with that, the usual asso- Places’ and ‘The Passenger’ are taken from works by Henry James ciations that it carries come undone. The emphasis becomes one of and Nabokov respectively. Can you talk about this relationship displacement and uncertainty. with literature? ANB: Embedding details from a novel or short story into a film or colTB: You often work with the interiors of public spaces, such as lage feels like inserting a little narrative code: the films are in no way offices, airports, museums and libraries. Why are these architec- representations of the stories they take their titles from, but they do tural spaces significant for you? pick up on some intrinsic idea or atmosphere. I like the way the titles ANB: Public spaces tend to create a kind of collective conformity to themselves suggest narrative, as though alluding to the absent elecertain prescribed ideas or behaviors. I work with spaces that are ment in my films (which themselves loop endlessly and are caught in empty or derelict, precisely because of the way the construct of that a state of perpetual anticipation or aftermath). Literature is where conformity gets exposed when the façade or function breaks down. It’s ideas take shape for me. I discovered this pretty starkly last year, after this tension that is always there in architecture between the pure a head injury left me unable to read for eight months. I’ve just space of the imagined ideal (typified by the architectural model) and ‘relearned’ how to read and with it my work suddenly makes sense to the messy compromises of the real – the failures of materials, funds or me again. people. This question of what remains when the ideal collides with the TB: What are you working on at the moment? real is always of interest to me. It comes back again to this issue of how ANB: I’m in production for a new multiscreen film work with actor these large subjects can be addressed or represented in the contempo- Eileen Walsh and composer Susan Stenger. I’m working with a project rary moment, when the certainties and ideals of the past no longer award from the Arts Council and this is facilitating a push in new seem relevant or even possible. I think it leads me to enacting the same directions. This work will be shown in a number of galleries across process of disturbance or deconstruction on the images I’m working Ireland and the UK in 2018. with, as though a certain kind of representation has also suffered a dereliction. Trish Brennan is Head of Fine Art at the CIT Crawford College of Art and Design. TB: Working with such archetypal landscapes, do you worry that your work will be misinterpreted as overly traditional or Ailbhe Ní Bhriain is a Cork-based artist who works with film and romanticised? computer-generated imagery. ANB: I purposely skirt close to this dilemma all the time. At first


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Ecologist Dr. Fiona Mac Gowan explaining the vital role of Sphagnum as the bog-builder moss at Dunamaise Arts Centre; photo by Denise Reddy

Badjao boat in a sea of rubbish, 2016; photo by Rena Blake

LAST year I spent some time filming in South East Asia. While working with the Badjao in Cebu City in the Philippines, I was saddened to see the amount of plastic and refuse filling the sea.1 In order to get into their boats, fisherman had to wade through thick sludge and rubbish up to their thighs. During a visit to the rainforests of Borneo, I was again horrified to see the destruction caused by palm oil plantations. For the last eight years, we have been growing organic food on our farm in Kerry. I have become increasingly concerned about the noticeable absence of bees, the essential pollinators of so much of our food. As I looked down from Brandon mountain last week, I couldn’t help thinking about the precariousness of the beautiful Maharees peninsula as it stretches out into Tralee Bay, just above sea level. It made me think about the vulnerability of so many low-lying communities all over the world who need our support and about how interconnected we all are. The ecology of our world is expansive, extraordinary and sometimes overwhelming. We cannot individually take action on all global issues, but we can choose a suitable level at which to engage. On 19 November 2016, artists, ecologists and activists converged at Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, for the ‘Sites of Tension’ seminar. The seminar was organised to coincide with Monica de Bath’s solo exhibition ‘Plot/Ceapach’, curated by Denise Reddy. On a simple white shelf in the gallery, glass jars contained samples of sphagnum moss – something de Bath describes as the “quintessential bog-builder”. Like a sponge, sphagnum steeps in water and expands. Over thousands of years this created the raised bogs of Ireland. The artist described how she uses sphagnum as “a lens through which to look at the fragility of the land”. In many ways, the seminar embodied the essence of sphagnum: we were invited to soak in the shared knowledge in order to expand the ecological consciousness of our communities. Weaving together aesthetic, organic and political strands, the exhibition and seminar focused on the role of artists, ecologists and communities in creating a sustainable future. Speakers articulated new visions for socially-engaged practices in the areas of ecology and art. Local and global land-use and the complex sites of tension between nature and humans were discussed at length. During the course of her research, de Bath worked closely with Bord na Mona employees, including restoration ecologists Catherine Farrell and Mark McCorry, who presented at the seminar. Their work focuses on the rehabilitation of vast tranches of black earth, left behind after years

Installation of sphagnum mosses from Abbeyleix bog at ‘PLOT/CEAPACH’ exhibition, Dunamaise Arts Centre, 2016; photo by Monica de Bath

of peat production. Farrell stated that “as an ecologist, you’re sort of an artist in ways. The art unfolds as the great artist of nature takes over”. She emphasised the need for “creative imaginings” in lieu of the more cynical ‘greenwashing’ – a term used to describe situations where companies spend significantly more money advertising their products or policies as being environmentally friendly than actually implementing business practices that would minimise environmental impact. Chris Uys from the Abbeyleix Bog Project, based in County Laois, proposed a focus on ecological, as opposed to ‘egological’, approaches to land use. His quote from American writer and ecologist Aldo Leopold resonated with the audience: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”.2 The conversation seemed especially timely in the current era, when the earth’s resources are subject to escalating privatisation, evident in the fact that rights to Irish seaweed are being sold to the highest international bidder, while multinationals claim exclusive ownership of water around the world. In de Bath’s film Ag Saothru Cois Farraige/Making a Living by The Sea (2016), blacksmith John Monaghan talked about the contested construction of the Corrib Gas Line. In a poignant interview, he expressed his concern that “to be able to breathe or paddle in the water has become potentially dangerous”. Referencing Edward Said, de Bath stressed the importance of “paying attention to more than one voice, particularly voices other than the dominant one”. This proved to be a recurring theme throughout the day, with many speakers referring to the ‘tacit knowledge’ of farmers and indigenous communities. How do we listen properly to these voices and share this knowledge for the common good? Outlining her practice in the Burren, artist Deidre O’Mahony stated that her work “has been shaped by tensions created by polarised positions”. O’Mahony re-appropriated an old post office in Kilnaboy, County Clare, as an “in-between space for dissenting propositions”. She stressed the importance of “opening up a conversation about sustainability and food production” and outlined how her project ‘SPUD’ (2013 – ongoing) negotiates a transgressive space for the humble potato, which never had a natural home, either “in the contemporary art world or in the world of cutting-edge cuisine”. Gareth Kennedy offered insights into his project ‘Post Colony’

(2014) which took place in Killarney National Park, outlining the potential for artists to manifest a “real, engaged, embedded and sustained third space”. He conveyed his strategy for building communities of interests, identifying stakeholders and developing clear artistic outcomes. In a world obsessed with social media and online presence, it was refreshing to hear artists reflect on the importance of sitting down with someone and having a cup of tea to listen and share knowledge. As Kennedy stated “the art is in the dialogue”. In mediating the seminar, chair Paddy Woodworth allowed plenty of time for the ‘traditional art of neighbourliness’, or building relationships through frank conversations. As the seminar drew to a close, there was a palpable desire to extend these discussions and activities. We left with a real sense of potential, as well as a clearer understanding of how sites of tension can also become sites of collaboration. As with any thought-provoking debate, we were also left with a number of questions: What is the role of the artist? Where do we situate ourselves in times of controversy? Are we speaking up enough on issues such as climate change, fracking or the privatisation of natural resources? Do we choose the part of activist, ‘clicktivist’ (endlessly signing online petitions), passive observer or neutral facilitator? How can we help to creatively imagine solutions and act in solidarity with those who have less power in the globalised economy? As artists, we can choose to perpetuate global myths by ‘photoshopping’ nature out of the natural world, or we can find creative ways to expose the truth and support those seeking to bring about change. Art organisations can take simple steps to reduce, reuse and recycle. We can insulate buildings and incubate spaces for dialogue on issues that matter. We can plant trees and create bee-friendly gardens. We can have our LOAF and eat it, by supporting Local, Organic, Animalfriendly and Fairtrade produce. We can resist the commodification of our imaginations and artworks by the materialistic art market. Small steps are sustainable and our local actions have a global impact. In this era of instantaneous mass media, individual and collective consciousness have never been more closely calibrated. Lisa Fingleton is an artist, filmmaker and writer. Notes 1. The Badjao are a seafaring tribe who traditionally lived on small houseboats in the sea around the Philippines. For various reasons many communities now live on land. 2. Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac, Oxford University Press, New York, 1968.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



The Truth Booth parked at the Y Not Lot, Baltimore, Maryland, 2016; photo by Sami Giarratani

The Truth Booth at Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

The Truth Booth at Theaster Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago, Illinois

Searching for Truth in a Post-Truth Climate SAMI GIARRATANI REPORTS ON THE TRUTH BOOTH’S AMERICAN TOUR, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE SUMMER OF 2016. A middle-aged man in a blue jacket stares straight into the camera through the glare in his glasses. “The truth for me is that it’s probably going to be hard for me to go two minutes without crying,” he said, gulping back the tears. Unintentionally, this man showed me, in two minutes, the profundity of truth. I watched the video with my fellow volunteers. We were working for a public art organisation in the city of Boston, where the Truth Booth was due to be installed in a few months’ time along the Greenway, downtown. The public art curator briefed us on the artists’ biographies and their project, which had, at that time, toured internationally and solicited over 9000 video responses. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the man in the blue jacket and his willingness to reveal the causes of his anguish: being laid off; his recent divorce; confronting disillusionment at being middle-aged. What had compelled him to confess such deeply personal truths on camera? The Truth Booth is a giant inflatable cartoon speech bubble and video recording booth. It is part of the long-term public art project ‘In Search of The Truth’ by members of the Cause Collective: Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks, Will Sylvester and Hank Willis Thomas. The project was initially funded by an Arts Council Project Award and commenced a tour of Ireland at the Galway Arts Festival 2011. The Booth has since toured Afghanistan, South Africa and the US, giving the continuing project a truly global thrust. The artists believe that the project functions as a kind of social document or time capsule, because it has collected thousands of ‘truths’ and personal insights from a diverse range of people across different timeframes, countries and locations. Using art installations to explore ideas that affect and shape society, the Cause Collective gives the public a platform to express their experiences and opinions. In short, they put the ‘public’ back into public art. The Booth toured to over 30 locations across the United States last summer. Beginning in mid-June in New Jersey, the tour continued into October, having reached Portland on the west coast, and travelling back again. Typically, the Booth was set up with the assistance of artsrelated or community organisations in prominent public spaces, ranging from the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and Carhenge in Nebraska, to Republican and Democratic National Conventions and farmers’ markets. Participants were greeted as they approached the booth and set up with a microphone. Within a small

white inflatable room – the recording booth – the seated participant clicked a waiver on the touchscreen and had up to two minutes to finish the statement “The truth is…”. After volunteering with the Truth Booth in Boston in 2015, I was hired to assist the collective, acting as project coordinator and guide for their continental tour of the United States in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself about a week after I resigned from a teaching position that I had held for six years, so I had no problem packing my bags to go in search of the truth across America. Telling my family and friends wasn’t difficult either. They even bought me a new suitcase. However, my uncle approached me a few weeks before I was due to leave and said “Do you really think this is a good idea? Do you really want to see what your home country truly is like?” The magnitude of finding out what America ‘truly is’ became clear pretty early on in the tour, and remained at the fore during the entire four-month journey. I got a taste of the first uncomfortable truths on our second stop, Baltimore, where privilege seems to be based mainly on race and geography. It turned out that the installation took place on the same day as the trial of the Baltimore police officer accused in relation to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black American man who fell into a coma while in police custody in April 2015. This controversial case echoed a larger, national truth for nonwhites across America. As I watched participants line up to speak their truths, I thought that if I had been raised in this neighbourhood, perhaps I too would be shackled to a life of poverty and drug addiction, or feel equally abandoned by my city government. New mother and Truth Booth participant Patrice spoke about being stuck in a cycle of addiction and seeing the light as she brought her daughter into the world, stating: “She makes me want to be better”. In a similar vein, footage shot by the Truth Booth in Detroit captured the truths, opinions and aspirations of the city’s poorest black people. In this context, the Booth gave voice to a community that has long witnessed and lived another side of the American Dream. The Truth Booth later travelled to Princeton, an abandoned coal town in southern West Virginia, where the truth was that it’s not impossible to rebuild after destruction, but it takes a strong community effort. It also takes a lot of passion, vision and commitment, as we learned from Lori McKinney, who recognised the potential of her hometown. Lori saw

the importance of empowering people through creative approaches and single-handedly took on the mission of rebuilding her beloved Princeton one project at a time. “They told me it would never work,” she said of authorities who responded negatively to her idea for a community garden. “They said the drug addicts would ruin it. Now, after three years of having a garden, they run it.” Until that point, progress in Princeton had been prevented due to a combination of widespread unemployment, following the collapse of the coal mining industry, and people self-medicating with recreational drugs. However, Lori’s spirit and optimism inspired not just us as visitors, but whoever had the benefit of knowing her. I began to look at my country through her lens, which caused me to encounter another truth: when opportunity is not given to you, you must give yourself to opportunity. Bringing the project to so many parts of the country, I began to think deeply about how we were perceived. From cart-wheeling with kids in New Jersey, and being covered in ladybugs on top of a mountain in Utah, to dancing for peace in Wisconsin, and consoling the witnesses to a suicide during our installation in Georgia, it is difficult to condense this experience into one short text. Returning to my question regarding what had compelled the man in the blue shirt to confess such deeply personal truths on camera, I think he felt there was just no space for him, either mental or physical. What we learned during the Truth Booth tour of America was also widely echoed in the rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign: so much of the nation is feeling unheard and underrepresented, while the concept of ‘truth’ has accrued new meaning. Truth is no longer ‘self-evident’ but rather conditional. On the tour, we learned that what is inherently true growing up in Milwaukee is not necessarily true for people in Nebraska. In a ‘post-truth’ climate – where opinions are reported as alternative facts and proliferated as fake news by our ‘junkyard media’ – platforms like ‘In Search of the Truth’ accurately represent and amplify voices that are overlooked by government and the media. The truth is that we, as a nation and as a planet, have a lot of falling down and picking up to do. Sami Giarratani is an artist, activist and manager for public projects. She is currently project coordinator for More Art, a community arts organisation based in New York that works in the areas of public art, education and social justice.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet



Tinka Bechert, Shadowgraph close-up

Tinka Bechert, still from Illuminate

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Tinka Bechert, Studio, 2017; installation in progress

MY father dedicated his life to aerodynamics, turbulence research and the then emerging fields of bionics and biomimicry, so I have been around the sciences most of my life. When I was five, we visited the NASA facilities in Houston. Physics had a tangible aura of excitement and adventure for me, but it was only much later that I began to understand how challenging this highly creative discipline really is. My upbringing instilled a firm belief that human curiosity, wonder and a need for reason are shared driving forces across both the arts and the sciences. There has been a growing interest in art-science collaborations in recent years, both in Ireland and internationally. A number of residencies and awards currently support various opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration – a proposition that seems to merge the apparent objectivity of scientific research with the more subjective individual experience of artistic endeavor. As a visual artist, I have been invited to participate in a number of residencies across a range of settings – from museums and academic institutions to laboratories and factories – and have developed several bodies of work at the intersections of art and science. Working in scientific contexts has been hugely enriching for my practice and has led on to many other opportunities. In 2010 I took part in a residency in Giza, Egypt, where I initiated my ‘Triangulations’ project retracing the expedition made in the 1840s by the Egyptologist Richard Lepsius. The bulk of the project was realised during another residency the following year at the BerlinBrandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), one of Germany’s most distinguished and historic institutions. The work was well received and I was particularly pleased with the positive reactions from the in-house scientists who showed great interest in the complex project. I was subsequently invited by the Neues Museum, Berlin, to outline my project in a book about Lepsius that was published in 2012. It was particularly gratifying to feel that Egyptologists within the specialist field of archaeology perceived my contribution as valuable. In 2013, I was invited to showcase a 10-year retrospective of my work in a large Kunsthalle outside Berlin. A comprehensive monograph, Of Painting and other Adventures, was published to coincide with the exhibition, which offered useful ways to contextualise the work and helped me recognise my recurring interests. I had initially been concerned that developing research-based projects in science settings might somehow negatively impact on my established painting practice; however, my use of different materials across a range of media has in fact reaffirmed painting as the backbone of my practice, particularly

Tinka Bechert, Blue Collar/ White Collar, 2017; work in progress

regarding my approaches to composition and installation. The following year I undertook a fellowship at the HanseWissenschaftskolleg, Institute for Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany, where I worked alongside neuroscientists to observe cutting edge research on neuroplasticity. It has been important for me to consolidate my experiences in science contexts with gallery exhibitions. Having been out on a ‘pioneering limb’ with scientists for a long time, I found my gallery exhibition in April 2016 very refreshing, not least because I was reminded of the wide-ranging knowledge existing within the art world that sits in contrast to the extreme specialisms that tend to occur in the sciences. Overall, it has been an enriching experience for me to explore the symbiotic relationships between art and science and it is always beneficial to connect with people outside the echo chamber of one’s own peer group.

and questions about their fields of expertise. I hope that my interactions were somewhat mutually beneficial, even if the employees just got to view what they do every day in a new light. I quickly began to understand that one of the major strengths of the company is the way in which scientific theory and material knowledge of tool-making and engineering are successfully interlinked. During my residency at the company, I learned a lot about their intriguing inventions. I witnessed the highly unusual application of the historic Schlieren imaging technique, which was used in conjunction with innovative medical devices. I encountered engineering processes in which ‘shadows’ facilitate highly precise measurements. The shadowgraph technique dates back to the seventeenth century and has origins in optics and the development of telescopic lenses. The use of shadowgraph processes in the factory makes visible microscopic details, such as thermal differences, that are generally invisible to the human eye. Making something visible through the use of shadow is an intriguing concept. I began to direct my artistic thinking towards mapping and measuring the ‘immeasurable’. The use of shadow in early cinema and popular culture was also a point of reference, in its capacity to create mysterious, threatening or foreboding atmospheres. Metaphorical notions of shadow also poignantly convey the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of illness that the medical device sector is ultimately trying to assist. The artworks I developed explore the effects of light and shadow and are punctuated with the inhalations and exhalations of human breath: the literal inspiration and expiration of corporeality. The use of transparent materials in an installation made from industrial packaging offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the production process. Machines used to manufacture medical devices are theatrically lit to cast sharp shadows. Not only do these machines support man in his frail existence, but they merge and interact to form new entities. The interactions of organic and mechanical systems take centre stage in a new site-specific artwork, which offers a fitting way to conclude my residency in this remarkable environment. The reception and opening of the exhibition ‘Shadow of Ourselves’ takes place at 6pm on 31 March 2017 in the industrial complex (behind Kennedy’s petrol station), Dublin Road, Carrick-on-Shannon.

2016 SPARK ARTISTS’ RESIDENCY PROGRAMME Last summer I was awarded a six-month supported residency as part of the SPARK Artists’ Residency Programme, a partnership project of Leitrim County Council Arts Office and the Leitrim Local Enterprise Office. The SPARK Residency was initiated in 2012 and is aimed at artists who are interested in working in new environments and companies interested in collaborating with artists and promoting creativity within their organisations. Leitrim County Council Arts Office has been remarkable in developing this residency over the years and has built strong partnerships within the county. Because of the support structures offered, the proximity to my home, and the relatively long duration, SPARK enabled me to develop more in-depth dialogues than are usually possible in residency situations. The 2016 SPARK Residency was hosted by Prior PLM Medical – a medical device company situated in Carrick-on-Shannon. My recent residency in the neuroscience research centre in Germany, coupled with my previous experience in science settings, meant that I was quite familiar with the medical sector. Prior’s is a family-run business employing about 30 staff members who research, invent and manufacture medical devices in collaboration with firms across Ireland, Europe and the US. Their work is highly ambitious, involving physicsdriven research, product design, engineering and precision mold making: a dizzying array of activities and a new world of material investigations for me to learn about. During the site visit in May 2016, I was pleased to encounter an Tinka Bechert is an artist, originally from Berlin, who lives and unexpected open-mindedness towards art and design among the staff. works in Sligo. I subsequently found them to be very patient during my observations


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Roger Hudson, section of Story of the World, No Less – Past, Present, Future?, 1981 – 1984

Roger Hudson, Only the Famous Have Wrinkles, 1980

IT is only now, at age 80, when I assemble the bulk of my photomontages in the pages of this one book, that I find myself appreciating the artistic journey I have been on over the years and just how many creative decisions were involved. As I discuss it with David Newton, who will speak at the Drogheda launch, I realise just how much of myself and my life experience the book contains. I grew up in a country village in England as an evacuee from London during World War II. As a young adult, I returned to the big city for university and work. I experienced post-war austerity, the Cold War, anti-war demonstrations and concern about the environment. Nature plays a recurring role in my work, as does warfare and the threat of nuclear annihilation, commercialism, pollution, the abuse of power, poverty and equality of the sexes. I later moved to Dublin and Drogheda. Though I did art to A-level in England, my degree was in economics, and I returned to painting in oils only in my spare time. I developed a strong enough style (formalised townscapes and roofscapes in strong colours) to exhibit in open shows. But pressures of full-time jobs and a young family ruled even that out for a time. Then, with no space or time for a studio of my own, I opted in 1980 for an evening adult education class at the City Literary Institute in central London to gain a share of studio space and to ‘get back into art.’ Here, after a few sessions, the enthusiastic tutor introduced me to photomontage by bringing along the raw materials of colour magazines, scissors and paste. I became fascinated by what my first effort achieved and determined to take the experiment further. That picture, Only the Famous Have Wrinkles, was limited to one subject/material and colour-range (human skin) and the actual shapes of heads, hands and feet. So in a series of small works I tested out the effects of intercutting two or more contrasting or related subjects in different photographic colourways and realised the different emotions and associations the combinations aroused. These were quite small, created simply by scissor-cutting two photographs from a magazine into strips and pasting them alternately. Regarding materials, I was happy with what was to hand. The neutral-coloured cartridge paper provided a good base, though I later tried smooth cartridge, board and stretched canvas in experiments at a larger scale (up to 78 x 110cm). The adhesive proved a problem. Needing to take uncompleted work home at the end of the evening, I wanted to be able to tack it down but be free to move each piece later as I changed my mind, in a process of trial and error. But the school-

Roger Hudson launching his book at the Dublin Art Book Fair 2016, Temple Bar Gallery

room paste dried too firm and the paper could tear. Fortunately, Pritt Stick arrived just at that time – a dab of that would hold a scrap of cut paper in position till I finalised the work. I then applied more adhesive to stick everything down firmly. I was accustomed to using scissors so never tried a scalpel. Though printed on somewhat flimsier paper, I found that Sunday newspaper colour magazines gave me a greater range of subjects and colours than glossy magazines. The next step was to explore the effect of different geometric shapes by making templates from the thin card used for filing folders. Triangles of different sizes could be assembled in larger triangles, themes or concepts creating a kaleidoscope effect that proved quite exciting. Initially I assembled these images in a fairly random way, so that the accumulation could be sorted into topics later on. Circles, I found, carried connotations of the peacefulness of animals or dreams and could be contrasted with arrow shapes of warfare or the ugliness of some animal forms. Painted backgrounds in curving shapes offered another variant. From its early days in Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia, photomontage has been used by artists for political and social comment, and I am no different. In my work I have used photomontage to address a wide range of themes, from war, savagery and loneliness to civilisation, imperialism and nuclear holocaust. The biggest development in my process came with the use of more complex templates. I experimented with large head shapes, and removing the dark areas of shadow that normally surround the eyes, mouth and nostrils. This triggered more complex and ambitious work involving multiple uses of the head, with inner shapes featuring as connecting elements. Introducing a narrative aspect, this series looked at the impact of the human race on our planet, and I called it Story of the World No Less – Past, Present, Future?. I embarked on a conscious search for appropriate subsidiary images before I found a way of representing the planet. The birdlike eye shapes here prompted me to search for other bird and animal shapes that could provide templates with recognisable silhouettes. These could then be made into cut-outs that would carry associations: of calmness, fun, aggression, etc. From this, I started thinking about possible themes for larger, more complex works rather than relying on being inspired by images that emerged from a random trawl through accumulated cut-outs from tear-sheets. Pattern and colour, I learned, could also be important factors in decision making. Another variable that I explored was the soft edges produced by tearing instead of the hard edges of the scissor cut. Free-hand cutting

proved liberating from the discipline of the template, bringing more instinctive, organic shapes. The choice of themes naturally reflected my own background and what was going on in my head. I was keen to exhibit, and sought out opportunities to do so, but they can be erratic. So when an artist/designer and friend John Moloney suggested creating an artist’s book to assemble the work, I leapt at the idea. I also wanted a chance to recount the processes behind each work, so we opted for a glossy magazine format in the style of art publications like Irish Arts Review rather than a traditional art book. The initial publication comprised individual pages printed by a local stationer’s and Sellotaped together in a concertina formation. It was shown first at the VAI Get Together in 2014 but a grant from Create Louth (createlouth. ie) made possible a printed edition in a limited run. In assembling the book, I chose to group and sequence the works by technique. Irish artist Sean Hillen’s speech when opening my last Dublin exhibition was an obvious choice for the book’s introduction, which he kindly agreed to. Creating a ‘dummy’ using spiral binding of individual sheets gave me something to show to printers in order to get quotes. I also made inquiries at last year’s VAI Get Together and received advice from Read That Image ( Digital printing seemed the best option in terms of price and the quality of the colours. However, coming myself from a magazine background, I wanted the images to bleed right to the edges of the page. Most of the printers insisted that a border or cropping off a sizeable chunk of the image was necessary. In the end a small but excellent local printer was persuaded to compromise with splendid results. With several large works running over two pages, sewn binding ensured wider opening, though I have learned since that Dutch binding might have been even better for this. Writing the text and this article and talking about the process with artist David Newton have forced me to recognise that my photomontages are part of a much wider exploration project that encompasses most of my life and is ongoing. Overall, I think my work is trying to reveal the reality beneath the images we are presented with by the media and by society. Referring to my use of metaphor and repetition, Sean Hillen said: “One can go back to them and find new things, both literally and metaphorically. Poetry indeed!” Roger Hudson’s most recent exhibition was held at the Centre for Creative Practices (2013). The book (€25.00) is available in Dublin from The Library Project, Winding Stair Bookshop or

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

Critique Supplement Edition 30: March – April 2017

‘Gut Instinct: Art, food and feeling’ Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 25 November 2016 – 19 March 2017 Marina Abramovic, Sonja Alhäuser, Domestic Godless, Elif Erkan, Fiona Hallinan, Siobhan McGibbon, Abigail O’Brien, Thomas Rentmeister, Neil Shawcross THIS exhibition, curated by Professor John Cryan, Chris Clarke and Fiona Kearney, draws on research by Cryan and colleagues at the Anatomy and Neuroscience department of UCC, in order to “explore how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states”. A flesh pink wall forms the backdrop to Siobhan McGibbon’s The cell that consumed me (2014). The work comprises three minimal wallhung lamps and three mechanical hands, each holding a Viewmaster – a device for viewing slides that simulates binocular depth perception. McGibbon has replaced the film slides with cartoonish drawings depicting bodies merging with trolley legs and bulging, blobby, fleshy growths. Venous Malformation (2012) and Proteus Syndrome (2012) are figures created from fiberglass resin painted an immaculate shiny white; realistic and life-size from feet to above knees, they then meld into bulbous, tumorous blobs. The statues’ pristine material seems at odds with the mutation depicted, exaggerating their grotesqueness. These works embody many of the themes and practices that run through the show: art as research laboratory, interdisciplinary crossover, close looking as a tool for acquiring knowledge, the processed versus the raw, a blending of the alluring and the repulsive.

Thomas Rentmeister, Untitled, 2011; photo by Tomas Tyner

Siobhan McGibbon, Venous Malformation, Proteus Syndrome (both 2012) and The Cell That Consumed Me, 2014; photo by Tomas Tyner

In the video The Onion, Marina Abramovic is shown in close-up eating an onion, her face dominating the frame, with blood red nails and matching lipstick. It is easy to be dismissive of Abramovic, her celebrity status side-lining her artwork, but her artistic persona is an intrinsic component of her work. Eating the onion provokes tears; the physical act of crying then becoming the emotion of sadness. The sound of the piece is a combination of atmospheric sounds from the performance: the crunch of the onion, the sniffling and snorting of the artist and a voiceover. The latter is a commentary provided by Abramovic that alludes to the tropes of melodrama and noir evoking the femme fatale. In a jaded voice Abramovic speaks her ennui: “I am tired of waiting for endless passport controls. Fast shopping in shopping malls. I am tired of more career decisions, Abigail O’Brien, Judy Chicago, 2013; lambdachrome print, 88 x 120cm; image courtesy of the artist

museum and gallery opening, endless receptions.” Thomas Rentmeister’s work Untitled (2011) is an enormous wall piece composed of Nutella spread on laminated chipboard. The smell of the Nutella is underwhelming but pleasant. It did taste good though. Just joking! This is a gallery: no touching, unless it is explicitly invited. Should it be called a painting? It certainly resembles a painting with its vast size and expressive swirling brushstrokes alluding to monolithic, monochrome paintings. All this grandiosity is undercut by the aroma of Nutella. Usually the tendency with works of this size is to move back, to capture the whole field in sight. This work invites the viewer to come closer – to become a sniffer! The thick-textured chocolaty swirls bring to mind shit. Is this a shit painting? Is it perhaps a joke on value judgements and taste? Rentmeister’s other piece, a sculpture also Untitled (1993), takes the form of a large, shiny brown resin blob, plopped on the gallery floor. The piece tempts touch with its smooth, shiny, rounded surface, but there is a sign explicitly admonishing the viewer from doing so. Rentmeister’s and Abramovic’s pieces both prompt the speculation that once senses other then sight are brought into the field of art, it starts to become more unstable. Elif Erkan’s sculptural works mingle living ‘ingredients’ with inanimate materials. Taken Care Of (Lotus Eater/Shelter Piece) (2016) combines plaster, seaweed and wheatgrass. Triangular plaster structures reminiscent of corrugated iron stand on a low chipboard platform. They seem to be contaminated – rusting, decaying or perhaps becoming something else. The two smaller wall pieces have an organic earthy quality. Their titles, Frown and Small Talk, invite the viewer to anthropomorphise them. They evoke political theorist Jane Bennett’s notion of vital materialism, a vibrant matter. The installation by Domestic Godless’s (2016) contains texts and objects which riff off Nietzsche’s theorisations on the correct philosophical diet. A poster describes their experiments in developing suppositories to combat “philosophical, gastric disharmony”. Neil Shawcross’s paintings depict food products, his Heinz Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup (2013) evokes the famous Warhol painting featuring a different brand of the same product. Abigail O’Brien’s photographs of bread-making are surprisingly repellent in their gloopy, oozy viscosity. Sonja Alhäuser’s drawings combine portrayals of feasts and harvests with those of ingestion and excretion. Fiona Hallinan’s (2016) installation awaits an audience that will animate it with their presence. Her sculptural arrangement anticipates the food and the diners that will transform it into a site of conviviality, no longer art but life. ‘Gut Instinct’ attempts to ferment a dialogue between different areas of research, one goal-orientated (science), and the other more speculative (aesthetics). The result of this dialogue is an exhibition that offers many entrances into aesthetic taste. Catherine Harty is a member of the Cork Artist Collective and works in a variety of media including painting, photography and video. She holds a Masters in Contemporary Art Theory from NCAD, and in Fine Arts Practice from Birmingham School of Art, University of Central England.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet CRITIQUE SUPPLEMENT

Locky Morris ‘Stop Lookin’ at Photographs!’ Naughton Gallery, Belfast 8 December 2016 – 29 January 2017

March – April 2017

‘Guest 2’ Arts and Disability Forum, Belfast, 2 – 22 January 2017 Alice Burns, Charissa Martin, Elaine McGinn, George Robb, Paula Clarke, Stephanie Harrison

THE work of six recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists (iDA) grant scheme comes together in ‘Guest 2’, a thought-provoking and challenging exhibition curated by artist Colin Darke at the Arts and Disability Forum Gallery. The exhibition space on Belfast’s Royal Avenue is modest but well-executed, benefitting from large windows and glass walls, which flood the space with natural daylight and create an attractive setting in which to consider the work of this diverse range of artists, whose practices encompass printmaking, photography, glasswork, video and performance. Before entering the space, we are confronted with two large-scale sculptural works by Charissa Martin, which hang in the glass-walled entrance to the gallery. These three-dimensional textile works are said to express the realities of the artist’s own Locky Morris, Opening Act, 2016; photo, readymade frame, artist’s keyboard flight case; photo by Simon Mills, courtesy of the Naughton Gallery physical pain through the manipulation of fabric, CLOCK speaker radio, printed mug, foam lining, tograph of a vertical dog shit with a loom band which has been distressed, pierced, knotted and laser crystal photo frame, photograph, hand cleans- placed on the top like a crown on its head. Equally, twisted. Their off-white colour and rigid form er dispenser, sunglasses, workshop broom, photo- in Frozen Export, a frozen bottle of lager is shown at resemble surgical casts from which something has graph, tilt display stand, C-print aluminium plate, various stages of defrosting across six printed photo- broken free following an unthinkable physical injury. We are left only to imagine the suffering that mounted photographs, pigmy light, screw, rotating graphs. In other works, photography is entangled with must have been endured. photo cube, painted MDF pedestal display case, The main exhibition space contains work by photographs, city centre paving block, mounted other mediums in a more complex way. photographs, cardboard box, office cabinet (adapt- Teabreakdowns features a mug printed with the four of the six artists selected by Darke: Alice Burns, ed), adapted digital photo frame, JPEG, adapted image of a mug hanging from an adapted clock Paula Clarke, Stephanie Harrison and George Robb. shelf, five-litre Poundstretcher utility box, spool of radio. This is flanked by images of the decayed pen- Visually, Robb’s photographic work is dominant thread, photograph, plate stand, plastic strips for cil used for too many years to stir the tea for lack of within the space, the deep blacks and fiery oranges wall plugs, wall plugs, cable ties, small plate stand, a teaspoon. Most interesting though is First Thing, in of the Eleventh Night bonfires undoubtedly familfour-gang extension lead, night light, cotton buds, which a photograph of a contraption made from iar to the majority of visitors. In contrast, Harrison acrylic paint tube, decorating clips, mounted photo- assorted household materials (wire, cotton buds, an adopts a softer colour palette, but similarly considextension lead) is placed above a box containing ers the social history of the city through her practice graph. The above may read like the by-products of those same materials. In these works Morris shows as a printmaker, with references to Belfast’s shipspring clean that will end up at either the charity his matured skill at blending photography and building industry. As an artist diagnosed with inherited Multiple Sclerosis, Harrison’s work also conshop or the recycling centre. To some extent that is installation into one single medium. The Naughton Gallery is a unique space. tains a highly personal consideration of family and exactly what they are, but on this occasion they are also the edited materials list of Derry-based artist Situated in one of the wings of the elaborate Tudor- memory, which Darke has successfully grouped Locky Morris’s recent exhibition ‘Stop Lookin’ at style Queen’s University buildings, the space is alongside Alice Burns’s Synapse (2016), a small glassPhotographs!’, held at the Naughton Gallery in about four times as long as it is wide. It can easily fused sculptural piece which explores the complex feel as though you are walking through a corridor notions of memory: a visual representation of the Belfast. While well known for his public artworks, lined with artworks. One of the most satisfying neural networks in the human brain that are Morris is probably most renowned for his political- aspects of ‘Stop Lookin’ at Photographs!’ is the cura- involved in memory and recall. Paula Clarke’s Wild Horses (2013) – video doculy-themed sculptural installations relating to the tor Ben Crothers’s sensible consideration of such a Troubles in Northern Ireland, which featured Belfast space. Morris’s work suits the long gallery space mentation of a previous performance – is a particubin lids and army helicopters. His recent work, and perfectly, due to the combination of photography larly successful work – simultaneously frustrating, this show in particular, could not be more different. with both wall-based and floor-based installations. humorous and thought-provoking. Within her ‘Stop Lookin’ at Photographs’ features a series of In Morris’s varied work, the distinctions between practice, Clarke uses performance and video to new and previously unseen work, including instal- mediums are eradicated and a seamless connection translate theatre, music and poetry through British lations, images and sculptural assemblages that is formed between all areas of the gallery. Sign Language, in this case re-enacting Britain’s Got focus on the role of the photograph within the art- Furthermore the works in the exhibition equally ist’s wider practice. Morris intelligently incorpo- benefit from the long narrow gallery space as they rates photography as a genre into his recent work could easily be overwhelmed by a larger space. A practice focused on everyday life using everather than photography as a medium. Though photographs have often featured in his previous ryday objects could easily threaten to become repetworks, they were usually incorporated into sculp- itive. Thankfully though, Morris’s works are so pretural installations. In some instances, photography cisely focused on seemingly inconsequential incifeatured without the use of actual photographs, dents and moments that the everyday life he presuch as in the work Itch, in which scratchings from sents becomes wonderfully theatrical and comical. a lottery scratch card are set under a Jessops magni- Take for example Michelangelo’s House, in which a photo of scaffolding is printed onto all six sides of a fier lupe. As you might expect from the list of random, rotating photo cube encased within a glass display everyday objects from which the installations are case. Or Stop Lookin’ at Photographs, comprising a made, these works produce an iconography of ordi- cardboard box filled with printed photographs, connary life – more specifically the artist’s everyday life. tained within a wood and glass cabinet and topped However, the everyday is presented in the extreme, with a photograph that bears the exhibition title. If becoming an absurd, hyperactive representation of this, and Morris’s many other outlandish and absurd daily detritus. This is most evident in the piece Loom image-based installations in this show are not comBand on Turd, a fairly self-explanatory piece in edy gold, then I don’t know what is. which a digital photo frame proudly displays a pho- Iain Griffin is an artist based in Belfast. Elaine McGinn, We are Fluid performance, 2017; image courtesy of ADF

Talent star Susan Boyle’s rendition of Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones. In the original performance, Clarke signed along to the music, but here we find a mute video with nothing but the title to assist us in our understanding of the piece. Unless, of course, one can read sign language. And there lies the crux of this work: we are frustrated by our inability to understand the piece with no audio or textual support, and as a result are struck by our privilege in a world which is not often so accommodating to those who are deaf. Accessibility has been reversed as we are confronted by our own limitations. Two photographs by Elaine McGinn lead us out of the main exhibition space to the site of her two-hour performance piece, We Are Fluid (2017), a short part of which I was fortunate enough to see upon my first viewing of this exhibition. Within her performance, McGinn navigated the gallery and street outside with her mouth full of pins – almost to the point of choking – allowing them to spill from her mouth as she moved, falling to the floor and pushing them into the gallery walls. She also marked the walls by tapping and dragging a larger metal object, which filled the space with persistent clatters and tings as it came into contact with other surfaces in the gallery and entranceway. In such a vulnerable state, McGinn expressed a striking sense of control, composure and strength, enabling the audience to become absorbed within the piece, rather than feel tense or fear for her safety. McGinn’s accompanying photographs document a previous version of the performance, and aid the audience in interpreting the physical remnants, which remained in the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. On a repeat visit to the space, I found the gallery floor scattered with the fine metal pins once held within the artist’s mouth, along with an upturned chair and red sheet of fabric used within the original performance. Upon closer inspection when leaving the gallery I also noticed several pins on the windowsill and the street outside, debris from a beautiful work of performance, and undoubtedly one of the highlights of this exhibition. ‘Guest 2’ successfully calls attention to the important work that ADF is doing in the promotion of disabled and deaf artists in Northern Ireland, with the iDA grant scheme proving fundamental to their development and exposure. Ben Crothers is Curator/Collections Manager at Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Charris Martin, The Duality of Pain, 2015; image courtesy of ADF

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet CRITIQUE SUPPLEMENT

Phillip Allen ‘Deep Drippings’ Kerlin Gallery, Dublin 11 February – 25 March 2017

PHILLIP Allen’s exhibition ‘Deep Drippings’ comprises a series of paintings with intensely worked and highly textured surfaces. The material of paint is both subject matter and medium. This exploration of paint’s materiality can be traced through the artist’s earlier work, where thick globs of impasto paint were used as framing devices for the pictorial spaces within them. Where Allen’s earlier works often explored quasi-figurative spaces or referenced the genre of landscape, these new paintings display an ‘all-overness’ that operates beyond pictorial space. In reproduced images, these paintings might recall Jackson Pollock; however in reality, something different is going on. In terms of their construction, the paintings are quite ambiguous. Thin layers of paint are placed on top of thicker ones to Phillip Allen, Theoplienge, 2016; oil on board, 26 x 30 cm; all images courtesy of the artist and Kerlin Gallery

Phillip Allen, ‘Deep Drippings’ installation view, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin

ing again. Conversely, Allen’s paintings retain every aspect of their construction. Rather than producing facture, Allen’s paintings seem concerned with the idea of texture. The thickly built-up surface of a painting has long signified a unique type of labour that is often associated with both the intellectual and physical processes of ‘painting’, often underpinned by romantic notions of ‘struggle’ with material. However, Allen has been painting in this way for many years and there is a sense that he understands his craft as much as he might struggle with it. The paintings appear carefully constructed through intense concentration and commitment rather than through battles with the medium. It may be worth considering what is lost when viewers only experience a work through reproductions. Images of the work that have appeared online concentrate on side angles and traverse the surfaces in an attempt to demonstrate contrasts between surface and texture. Viewers without cameras would also approach and appreciate these paintings in a similar way, instinctively treating them as objects as well as paintings. Images can now be endlessly disseminated, yet there is something unique about an artwork’s presence – described by Walter Benjamin as the ‘aura’ of the artwork – which allows it to be present in time and space.2 It would be impossible to capture in a photograph the depth and play of illusion on surfaces that manifests in Allen’s work. This idea of being present with an artwork also highlights the subjectivity of viewers’ interpretations depending on their own position in front of the work. British philosopher Richard Wollheim once stated that where one stands to view a painting is essential to interpreting and understanding pictorial experience, and is potentially unique for each viewer. “Two-foldedness”, as he termed it, is the “strange duality of seeing a marked surface and of seeing something on the surface”.3 Despite the paintings’ seeming resistance to photographic reproducibility, it is the very act of reproduction and circulation via digital technology that extends their interpretation beyond materiality. ‘Deep Drippings’ made me consider the shifting meanings of painting in the digital age. We can now zoom in on digital images as if looking at artworks through a microscope. Such close visual scrutiny of a painting was described by German philosopher Theodor Adorno as “dissolving its particular vital element”.4 It no longer functions in the way that it was meant to function and becomes something else. In this way, Allen’s paintings set up interesting challenges for the medium, particularly in the digital realm, where their status as artworks beyond objectness is abundantly tested.

create an illusionary quality. Bulky lower layers operate as supports for imagery that emerges through the painted surface. As a viewer, I was drawn back and forth, examining both the pictorial space and the surface of paintings like Chin music (soft octopus version) (2016), where organic shapes merge and dissolve. The elements of material, image and surface are set up in combative ways. The pull of the image draws the viewer in, while the sheer bulk and materiality found in smaller paintings like Theoplienge (2016) and Bombay Soutin (2016) interrupt and draw the eye back towards three dimensional form and object-ness. This push and pull of surface detail and seemingly infinite depth is hypnotic, particularly in the larger works. Alison Pilkington is an artist based in Dublin. Referencing Mark Rothko’s work, American Notes abstract painter Robert Ryman once remarked that 1. Robert Ryman interviewed by Jeffrey Weiss (May 1997) in Jeffrey Weiss et “the painting looks easy; it looks as if it just hap- al., Mark Rothko exhibition catalogue, Yale University Press, 1998. 2. Walter Benjamin, ‘A Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ pened”.1 Ryman was suggesting that making some- (first published 1936), in F Fascina, Y. Har (eds.), Modern Culture, Westview thing ‘look easy’ is a complicated business. Press, 1993. 3. Richard Wollheim, Painting as an Art, Princeton University Press, 1987. Achieving this in painting often requires a great 4. Theodore Adorno, (R. Hullot Kentor, trans.), Aesthetic Theory, Athlone Press, deal of preparatory work, of scraping off and start- 1997.

Phillip Allen, Bombay Soutin, 2016; oil on board; 26 x 30 cm

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet CRITIQUE SUPPLEMENT

Mark Garry ‘An Afterwards’ Luan Gallery, Athlone 11 February – 22 April 2017 piece glistens with its own temporality, like a flower preparing to wilt. All of the artworks shown in this exhibition express Garry’s formative experience of the rural, while also conveying a profound relationship with the classical and romantic traditions of landscape art. Garry acknowledges the influence of nineteenth-century German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, particularly his depictions of stoic contemplative travelers in solitary relationships with sublime, bleak and dramatic landscapes. Friedrich’s influence is keenly felt in Darondo, Garry’s emotionally complex photographic diptych in which the statuesque figure of the late William Daron Pulliam – a 1970s funk/soul singer from San Francisco – gazes out from a high window across a forested landscape. The image is tinted and mirrored to suggest a hallucinogenic daze. Conversely, a series of new oil paintings, Landmass II – VI, propose ways of looking into Mark Garry, Seville; image courtesy of the artist nature, rather than gazing across its terrain or admiring its scenery. Using an abstract, Colour Field approach, the artist explores layers of resonant colTHE Luan Gallery appears to float over the River our, achieved through successive staining and the Shannon like a perfectly formed geometric ice pooling of paint. Scraping and erasing reveal underblock. The site and architecture of the building lying substrata of contrasting pigments which conallude to fusion between natural and environmen- jure micro-topographies and fractal landscapes. tal conditions – concerns that are further elaborated Manifesting a similar approach towards the in Mark Garry’s ‘An Afterwards’, currently installed subject matter of seascapes, North of the West (2017) across the Luan’s gracious exhibition spaces. is a new single-channel moving image work develA native of County Westmeath, Garry often oped in collaboration with cinematographer spent time in Athlone as a child, and this exhibition Padraig Cunningham. Recorded at Mullaghmore – presents new works that attempt to forge connec- an exposed peninsula on Sligo’s Atlantic coastline tions between kinship and place. The cool intensity – the film depicts scenes of turbulent, foaming of Garry’s diverse body of work – which includes water, evocative of Russian filmmaker Andrei lithographs, oil paintings, video and Giclée digital Tarkovsky’s haunting portrayal of a sentient ocean prints – is given nuance by the nostalgic inclusion in his 1972 film Solaris. Gustave Courbet’s monuof (admittedly excellent) amateur artworks by his mental 1870 painting, The Wave, also comes to parents. This intimate familial gesture also func- mind, when the camera zooms out to reveal a tortions to support a Beuysian assertion that everyone mented, glowering sky in a dyadic relationship with is an artist. the sea. This hypnotic piece is adequately projected The eponymous centrepiece of the exhibition, within the space; however, it could benefit from An Afterwards (2017), is a surging, rainbow-like future screenings at a larger, more cinematic scale, structure composed from multilinear threads held as I feel its enigmatic drama could be more persuain tension by aluminium braces. The aerodynamic sively communicated in a fully immersive setting. piece evokes ethereal sensations as a spectrum Supplementing the film is a musical score entirefracting light above the heads of viewers. This tled Drift, which evolved out of a collaborative perinstallation exemplifies Garry’s familiar sculptural formance in Horseshoe Bay – a natural amphitheatapproach, while channeling the natural world and er on Sherkin Island off the west coast of Cork. A its climatic states. Art that gives us direct physical vinyl disc is poised to play on a record player, which sensations and moves us emotionally helps us gallery visitors are invited to activate if desired. understand the world in a direct bodily way. Music-making is an important strand of the artist’s According to Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson practice. According to Garry, music generates entire – who is best-known for his immersive sculptural networks of relationships and is fundamental to installations that harness elemental materials such how we experience the world and each other.2 as light, water and temperature – this “felt feeling” While Garry’s installations are the beating has the power to mitigate the numbing effects of heart of this exhibition, his two-dimensional pieces, information overload, inciting us into action and including photographs, painting and etchings, serve motivating us to turn our thinking into doing.1 to elaborate on the experiential aspects of his sculpOn encountering Garry’s work in the past, I tures and moving image works. The sensorial and have felt this too. His artworks enable new experi- physical experience of installation allows us to ences of nature and help us to sense something transcend cognition and trigger our capacity for phenomenal that we recognise as not unfamiliar. action – something that is increasingly urgent in With his spatio-temporal installations, Garry offers the face of climate change and potential ecological refreshing ways to engage with and feel the beauty demise. ‘An Afterwards’ addresses such topics in of the world. Another piece that achieves this is subtle, discerning and relevant ways. Afterglow, a double-sided glass frame set into a trianÁine Phillips is a visual artist, writer, curator gulated walnut bracket. Behind the glass is a voland academic living in County Clare. canic stream of powdered pigment, which forms a Notes pyramid of densely-layered, effervescent colour. 1. Garry recreates this work for each exhibition. The 2. Quoted in Aidan Dunne,‘Mark Garry’s show of many threads’, Irish Times,13 February 2014.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017




‘Places Matter’, 2017

HOSTED by the Arts Council and local government, the ‘Places Matter’ conference addressed a very broad remit from the offset. It was pitched as the “inaugural national conference” of a planned biennial series “under the auspices of the new Arts Council/local government agreement”.1 With the newly published Framework for Collaboration, the relationship between the Arts Council and the local authorities has been subject to much-needed revision. The first formal agreement between the Arts Council and a local authority took place in 1985, with the appointment of the first county arts officer in Clare. In the intervening years, a diverse arts infrastructure has been developed across Ireland, with responsibility for arts policy, planning and implementation integrated into local governance – to varying degrees of success. Now, 30 years on, this strategic partnership has been reassessed, while concerns for a new era of arts development have been shared through the framework document. The conference set out to address the “societal benefits from state expenditure on the arts” and to explore the role of the arts in “building cohesive and sustainable communities”.2 The occasion of the conference seemed particularly timely, given the recent announcement of continued investment in the arts through the government initiative ‘Creative Ireland’, a legacy programme put in place to follow last year’s 1916 commemorations. Needless to say, expectations were high when local authority officials, artists, policy-makers and other stakeholders gathered in Dublin Castle on 12 January. An introductory speech by Director of the Arts Council, Orlaith McBride, focused on the “transformative power of art” in creating a sense of place or “place-making”. McBride noted that local government and the Arts Council face a number of challenges, including the continuing need to address urban/rural divides so that the arts can be shared and allowed to flourish across the country. This sentiment was echoed by Anna Marie Delaney, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, whose opening speech addressed the pivotal role of local authorities in the new ‘Creative Ireland’ initiative, which will be guided by the draft framework policy for Culture 2025.3 The Culture 2025 national policy was also referenced by Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. Acknowledging the diversity of the assembled audience – which ranged from CEOs of local authorities and venue managers to Arts Council representatives and individual artists – Coveney called on the arts community to engage with and contribute to this new framework, in order to “plan for a country we want to build and create” and for this to be “less of a political conversation and more of a community-based one”. Conference chairperson Dr. Frances Ruane commenced her welcome address with some timely observations about how the arts haven’t been a prevalent consideration for some time, because the country has been economically rather than culturally driven. Ruane referenced how the National Development Plan of the 1990s had been created in the absence of strategic spatial planning.

Emmet Kirwan performing at ‘Places Matter’, 2017

The conference was structured around three thematic inquiries: ‘Why do the arts matter?’, ‘What happens when we invest in the arts?’ and ‘What is the place of the arts in Ireland’s future?’ Keynote presentations, case studies and performances yielded wide-ranging responses and reflections throughout the day. Scheduling ‘Why do the arts matter?’ as the first session of the conference was strategic on the part of the organisers. I’ve noticed a trend at these types of events for the numbers of senior managers to dwindle as the day progresses, meaning key decision makers frequently don’t get to hear the main issues that such gatherings are intended to articulate. In this case, most stayed long enough to hear the valuable insights of Geoffrey Crossick, Professor of Humanities at the University of London, and John O’Hagan, Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin. Crossick’s keynote address relayed the findings of his 2016 research report, Understanding the Value of Arts and Culture, commissioned by the Arts Council of England. Discussing the relationship between regeneration and gentrification, Crossick conceded that those who have been instrumental in shaping a place are frequently priced out of the urban landscape they helped to form – a scenario that is all too familiar among Irish urban arts communities. Reinforcing his argument, Crossick very aptly quoted the German Professor Emeritus of European Spatial Planning, Klaus Klunzman, who stated that “each story of regeneration starts with poetry and ends with real estate”.4 Following on from Crossick’s statement that “the cultural world’s complex interactions in complex situations make it difficult to quantify,” John O’Hagan attempted to do exactly that, predicting that, as the arts continue to compete with housing, health and education for funding, some sort of evaluation will unfortunately become a necessary evil. O’Hagan highlighted the empowerment of art figures in political situations like the 1916 Rising. He also suggested that, in a contemporary society, a sense of identity is linked to social cohesion and is essential for stability and economic success. Furthermore, he highlighted the instrumental role of local authorities in building, enabling and empowering these identities, and in rolling out future cultural and social policy. Citing the economic impacts of cultural activities through direct employment and tourism, he asserted that Ireland’s international reputation and prestige is built on our cultural producers. Arguably, most people working in the sector already know this, but O’Hagan reinforced the necessity to support experimental and progressive practice in the arts that is less concerned with attendance figures and more focused on challenging societal norms, with the aim that such practitioners will, in time and with continued investment, reach their career goals, whatever they may be. The morning session closed with presentations from Louise Lowe of ANU productions, Kim Wide from Take a Part Plymouth, Anne McCarthy from Mayo County Council and Margharita Solon from McAuley Place, who offered examples of best practice across a range of fields. The afternoon was packed with five presentations, including insights into future demographics and places by Deirdre

Cullen, Senior Statistician in the Central Statistics Office (CSO), and discussions on planning for Ireland’s potential future by Alma Walsh of the National Planning Framework. The two-hour timeframe for these five presentations was extremely challenging, both for the audience and for the speakers, with the aforementioned senior manager numbers having dwindled significantly at this point. Similarly, all this talk of statistics and ‘place-making’ had taken its toll on the less academically-minded in the room like myself. Following a panel discussion with each of the presenters chaired by Dr. Frances Ruane, actor and writer Emmet Kirwan succinctly reminded us what all this rhetoric was for. In response to the morning’s proceedings, Kirwan perfectly articulated the concerns and sense of distrust among the arts community, who believe that good art should be contradictory, stating: “I’m nervous of politicians; I don’t trust them, so I’m very tentative about this Culture Ireland programme”. With so many policy documents coming down the line, Kirwan can’t be blamed for confusing Culture Ireland with Creative Ireland. Like many arts practitioners, Kirwan’s work has been assisted by support from various organisations, including the Arts Council and the Project Arts Centre, who tend to work “at arm’s length from government”. Echoing my main reservation about the new Creative Ireland framework, Kirwan speculated that such relationships might change and that departmental influence might begin to infringe on artistic progress. Kirwan also highlighted the introduction of third level fees as a potentially catastrophic blow to the future of the arts, as students are corralled into “more employable careers”. This is particularly true for aspiring students coming from marginalised communities. We were then witnesses to a remarkable performance by Kirwan entitled Heartbreak that proved a highlight of the day and has since become a viral phenomenon. Kirwan’s strong words and powerful presence firmly grounded us in the very raw and corporeal power of art as social commentary. Statistics, future planning and upcoming policies seem immaterial when the harsh realities facing society’s most marginalised groups are so poignantly articulated. Linda Shevlin is an artist and independent curator. She is currently curating the programme for Roscommon Arts Centre and co-curating visual art for Bealtaine Festival 2017. Notes 1. Places Matter conference programme, Dublin, 2017. 2. Ibid. 3. The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, has presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs for consideration a draft version of the proposed new National Cultural Framework Policy, entitled Culture 2025/Éire Ildánach. Publication of Culture 2025 was identified as a priority in the government programme. Following consideration of the document by the Joint Oireachtas Committee it will be submitted to government for approval. Publication of the policy will be followed up with the development of a cross-sectoral plan, which will be guided by the priorities set out in this document. 4. K. Klunzman, ‘Keynote speech to Interreg III Mid-term Conference, Lille’, in Regeneration and Renewal, London, 2004.



Aideen Doran, ‘Im Bau’ installation view, Grand Union, Birmingham, 2015

Aideen Doran, ‘Im Bau’ installation view, Grand Union, Birmingham, 2015

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Aideen Doran, still from The Revolutionary Machine, 2014; three-channel digital video with single channel of audio, 10.45 minutes

I’VE been working as an artist for just over a decade. In that time, I have changed cities, altered my practice, completed an MFA and a PhD, and observed the political, social and economic climate in which I work as an artist change dramatically. How these societal transformations are organised, enacted and expressed has become a subject of endless fascination for me in my work, alongside the question of how art anticipates and reflects these changes. My practice traverses moving image, installation and writing. This is underpinned by an extensive research process, which emerges in deliberative, intuitive ways from prolonged periods of reading, writing and visual research. Often I work on one particular idea or project for years at a time, collecting and ordering information, images and questions. This information accretes into narratives, which in turn accrete into artworks. For example, my three-channel video work The Revolutionary Machine, which was first shown at Galway Arts Centre in September 2014, actually began early the previous year, as part of a residency and new commission for CCA, Derry. The research and development process took me from the archives of the Science Museum in London to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I was International Artist in Residence at Britto Arts Trust. There are unresolved elements of that particular project that still persist in my work. I make work primarily with found materials: archival documents, YouTube videos, screen grabs from Google Images, excerpts from novels, technical manuals and works of theory. I don’t author works so much as I assemble them from constituent fragments of images, sounds or texts. A large part of this process is my attempt to make points of connection between seemingly unrelated images, objects or texts that I come across, in order to transform them in some way through these new relationships and to know them better. For example, in my video work, The Acute Disaster (2012), I traced links between the 1973 military coup in Chile (which brought the dictator General Pinochet to power) and trade union activism in Scotland, which were interspersed with disaster management strategies for archivists. In working with these materials to establish new systems of ordering, I also disassemble whatever structures previously assigned meaning or significance to them. In a way, it’s a process of co-authorship, working with images, video or texts to establish and assert new forms of agency. I don’t work with the stuff of the real world in order to demystify reality, rather I absorb and cannibalise this material in order to create speculative provocations. We’re living in a time when the distinctions between information and disinformation, rationality and hysteria, truth and lies, are no longer clearly distinguishable. My practice operates in this kind of indeterminate zone, oscillating between truth and fiction, enchantment and disenchantment. Oblomov’s Dream, a single channel video work completed in 2015,

Aideen Doran, The Mechanical Child (detail) (work in progress), 2017; digital video

Not long after that, I joined Catalyst Arts for a two-year stint as a co-director. There I gained an expansive education in exhibitionmaking and crisis management, and worked alongside amazing artists and curators – far too many to mention. During this time, as arts funding was being frozen or reduced, terms like ‘the precariat’ began to gain mainstream traction as a way of defining an emerging social class characterised by insecure employment and precarious conditions of existence. This left an indelible impression that uncertainty and insecurity were not only the conditions under which I was working, but also the materials with which I could work. As an artist, I could do more than just endure these conditions; I could critique them too. The politics of labour and artistic labour are ongoing research interests for me. I often play with the idea that art practice is a subversion of productivity and material labour. The Revolutionary Machine (2014) channels some of these ideas, mixing advice from management textbooks of the 1960s and 70s on how to maximise the productivity of your workforce via scientific methods, with footage shot in garment factories of Bangladesh and screengrabs documenting my own leisurely process of editing. After my time at Catalyst, I jumped straight into an MFA at the Glasgow School of Art and subsequently commenced a practice-led PhD in Visual Art at Northumbria University. Although I live and Aideen Doran, still from The Acute Disaster, 2012; 11.30 minutes work in Scotland, I maintain close ties with the city where I first found works in this indeterminate way. The script was adapted from three my voice as an artist. I’m currently working with Catalyst Arts on a texts: the 1849 novel Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov, a satire on the indo- new moving image commission that has grown out of my PhD lence of the Russian aristocracy; 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of research – a project which, even after three years of thinking, writing Sleep (2013) by Jonathan Crary; and Jan Verwoert’s 2008 essay and making, still continues to raise more questions than I am able to Exhaustion and Exuberance: Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform. A disem- answer. bodied narrator reads this adaptation over a shifting backdrop of still One of the most persistent questions is: what makes a mind in the images and video that are ripped from multiple sources, both online age of intelligent machines and ‘vibrant matter’? From something as and off, a backdrop that at times is entirely abstract, and at other times material as oil, to entities as abstract as the Blockchain – a distributed resembles a computer desktop. In my reworking of the texts into a database for Bitcoin transactions – it seems that non-human actors narration for video, Oblomov is elevated from being the ultimate have a political and social agency that exceeds our ability to contain or ‘superfluous man’, wasting his life through his own laziness, to the understand them. Current developments in AI, robotics and biomeposition of an anti-hero. His refusal to perform any social function and chanical engineering, from machine ‘sight’ to chatbots and battlefield to produce anything of use is reinterpreted as a radical act, an opposi- robotics, begin to blur the boundaries between traditional dualities of tional stance in a world that prizes high performance. life and non-life, object and subject. These new possibilities for mind My formative experiences as a young artist in Belfast have left the and body are uncanny and unsettling but also potentially emancipadeepest and most profound imprint on how I make and think about tory. I address these possibilities with a combination of pathos, menart. When I graduated from art school in the summer of 2007, Tony ace and black humour. My new film (provisionally titled The Mechanical Blair, Bertie Ahern and George W. Bush were in office, Facebook was Child) will be premiered at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham still a loss-making company and the global financial crisis had yet to this spring. happen. I was feeling very lucky to receive the Flax Art Graduating Student Residency, which offered a full year of professional mentoring Aideen Doran is a visual artist based in Glasgow, working across and support to get me into the habit of having something called an ‘art moving image, installation and writing. practice’.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Crown for the King of Ardra, anonymous, c. 1664; image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum

Geo Wyeth performing at Waag Society, Amsterdam, 5 February 2016

29/01/2016 I was given the keys to my studio in the Rijksakademie last week. It’s the biggest space I’ve ever had. The next few days were spent touring the workshops and facilities which include: a spacious metal and wood workshop with more machines than I knew how to use; a ceramics workshop with a 6 x 15-foot electric kiln; a paint workshop with a proper spray booth and a media lab, with photo and editing facilities that I have yet to see. The technicians were universally friendly and patient when explaining everything on offer and knew all 25 new residents by their first name on the first day. Faced with a near limitless supply of high-spec tools for fabrication, I’m incapacitated. I can only draw, paint and experiment with dropping effervescent vitamin C tablets into wet plaster. It’s a massive privilege to be here, to be provided with a flat in the middle of Amsterdam, a studio, a materials budget and a stipend to buy food for two years. I don’t have to get a job and can concentrate solely on my practice. It seems perfect – a temporary paradise for artists to experiment and develop their work with generous support. But the 10-foot parameter fence with fob-activated gate reminds me that it’s also a fortress, its existence predicated on the exclusion of some 1200 applicants who weren’t lucky enough to get in.

giving him curt, mimed instructions that the man struggled to understand. He pushed it to a point where the man either had to accept humiliation or retaliate with violence, but then Geo somehow did this weird emotional ju-jitsu move where he made himself suddenly vulnerable. He returned to the posture and gestures of the frail old woman, giving the man a clear escape route. After struggling out of this last garment, he skated off stage. The performance straddled its own boundaries – audience, performer, race, gender and age – and held them in delicate tension. Though there were elements of drag, it was without ridicule; it was closer to homage than caricature. The audience was held in a strange suspension, while being implored to accept this suspension as sufficient grounds for an expanded form of kinship. 06/02/16 I was woken up today by the sound of a helicopter. It was loud enough to feel like it was just above the building, but I couldn’t see anything in the narrow sliver of sky visible through the window. I went out to the street. It was hovering above my flat, but seemed to be pointed towards the river at a tightly-grouped bunch of people waving big Dutch flags. I initially thought they were football fans until I spotted a ‘Rapeugees Welcome’ flag. They were fascists, about 30 of them, and they were outside the opera house surrounded by 200-odd police. On the other side of the bridge was a slightly bigger group of anti-fascists dressed mostly in black. But even they were outnumbered by ambivalent tourists, milling around with Nutella pancakes. It was cold but the sun was shining and the air smelled sweet with sugar and weed. I was disturbed by how unremarkable it all felt.

that many of its current students would otherwise have pursued an MA in London, were it not for extortionate UK university fees. The lineup of speakers has so far included Katrina Palmer, Samo Tomšic, Hannah Black, Suhail Malik and Maria Fusco, with Fred Moten and Novara Media due in the next few months. It’s a relief that this place exists in a city with almost zero subcultures, queer scene or sense of a radical left. 26/06/16 Came to London for Tai’s 40th last night. It was a really nice party, but tinged with fear and grief after the Brexit result. I woke up this morning hungover and looked at my phone to check the time but got immediately sucked into a rabbit hole of news alerts. The front page of everything looks like a compendium of the scariest headlines over the course of a year, but this is only day one.

19/10/16 I attended a writing workshop by John Welshman at the Rijksakademie with five other residents. John is an art historian who worked very closely with the late Mike Kelley for many years, and since his death is the foremost expert on his work. Last month I had a studio visit with him and he was unimpressed but enthusiastic about what I showed 05/02/16 him, which was a very useful response. He unpicked the differences I went to an event called ‘Lost & Found’ tonight. It was held in the old between my performances and Kelley’s, and made me realise that my anatomy theatre in Neiumarkt, a building that was the setting for reading of Kelley-as-phenomenon was an obstacle to understanding Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, the conceptual nuances of his work. which depicts the body of an executed criminal being publicly disI brought a performance script I’ve been working on which ties sected in the name of science. The event held there tonight had a €15 together disparate themes of marine biology, high fashion and science entry fee and unfolded as an evening of film, music and Ted Talk-esque fiction as a means to consider the Medusa myth. I’m trying to identify ‘lecturetainment’. The informality bothered me. It anticipated an audi- 18/02/16 ways of seeing Medusa without being killed – like using tangential ence who expected to be entertained and made everything into a ‘lite’ Today I visited the Rijksmuseum. Consistently busy crowds concen- information to look at her sideways – which forces me to take account version of what it might have been. But then Geo Wyeth performed trated around the Gallery of Honor, an expansive corridor leading to of my own gender in relation to the work. This is proving difficult and and it was exceptional. Rembrandt’s enormous Night Watch, flanked by a number of enclaves it feels like the work might end up as a tangled knot of unresolved He came out unsteadily on roller-skates, dressed in a skirt with which house other treasures of the Dutch Golden Age. I found the problems. The group tried to understand the relationship between the glasses that obscured his vision and a long ponytail coming out the fame of the masterpieces overbearing so I mainly wandered around textual format and my claims for the work. We discussed the text’s back of a gold helmet. He held a tennis racket and skate-wobbled the smaller galleries. inconsistencies, readability and flow and identified which sections around in a circle with his shoulders crunched up around his ears and In a room filled with artefacts from The Netherlands’ colonial were immersive, visceral or just boring. It was invaluable to get a close his face squeezed into a ball of effort. After a few minutes, the music past I found a crown made for the King of Adra (now southern Benin). reading of this work-in-progress, and it reinvigorated my own excitechanged tempo to signal some painful transformation. He dropped the The didactic read: “Although impressive, this crown is actually made ment about finishing it. I only wish we had spent longer at it: a week, racket with a scream and picked up a microphone. “HONEST TO GOD, of inexpensive materials. It was meant to be a gift from the English to rather than an afternoon. I’M GLAD SHE WON, SHE PLAYED A GOOD MATCH!” He continued the King of Adra on the west coast of Africa. The English (as well as the in a tone of exasperated regret and barely-concealed bitterness about a Dutch) used such diplomatic incentives to foster the trade in enslaved 26/11/16 crushing defeat in an all-or-nothing tennis match. “LISTEN TO ME Africans. It’s the most cynical object I’ve ever seen. ‘Diplomatic incen- I did my performance for the second time tonight at the private preWHEN I TELL YOU! ALL I WANT IS TO BE BEAUTIFUL! AND TO tives’: how polite. But as a trap, it’s elegantly designed. If the king opening of the Rijksakademie open studios. I think it went well, but SING!” accepts the false crown, the slavers become vindicated in their belief last night was better. I’m finding it difficult to be jubilant about anyHis words were clawing at some lost potential of youth. He’s an that the king and his people are idiots and deserving of their subjuga- thing since Trump was elected. My inner monologue keeps repeating old woman now, but was once a famous athlete, his physical prowess tion. a sentence I read in an article about the Battle of Cable Street, variawizened with age and spite. tions on “Oswald Mosley wasn’t beaten in the ballot box, he was beatThe music shifted again as he began skating in faster and faster 15/06/16 en in the face with a chair leg”. I did not go to the Jordan Wolfeson circles, singing into the mic. His voice was incredible. He sang about The public talks organised by the Critical Studies department in the opening at the Stedelijk Museum, or the cocktail afterparty on the top loneliness and maternal advice and finding another person to be with. Sandberg Institute have been fantastic this year. I’m really missing floor of the Shell building in Amsterdam-Nord. He became a tornado of song and flailing limbs as his helmet, wig, skirt them now that the summer holidays have kicked in. The relatively Sam Keogh works across installation, sculpture, performance, and top were flung off until he started struggling with a particularly new MA course seems to attract artists who want to write more, or drawing and collage. Originally from Wicklow, he is now in his tricky piece of Spandex. He picked the most macho man he could find writers who want to make more art. There’s a tangible community second year of a residency at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. in the audience and pulled him on stage. He kind of antagonised him, here which feels uncompetitive, engaged and really smart. It seems

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



MART opening exhibition, ‘Curb Your Carrie Bradshawism’, 2013

MART, Rathmines, Dublin

From Virtual Space to Creative Hub

In the three years after launching, MART Studios soon expanded beyond the fire station building and took over a number of vacant offices and industrial spaces. It currently operates 8 studio buildings with 80 studios and over 130 studio members, making it a cultural and creative hub and one of the largest independent suppliers of affordable artists’ workspaces in Dublin. This expansion also saw the introduction of other activities, including a residency programme, the opening of the (now closed) MARTCADE café, and the use of MART gallery as a space for art experiments, live music and poetry readings, alongside exhibitions curated by Nevin and Scanlan. In 2017, MART seeks to expand its studio network even further, developing new opportunities for as many artists as possible. Having just moved into a large warehouse in Portobello Harbour, MART plans to develop their biggest studio space yet, where it will be possible to create larger scale projects. Maintaining their international approach, MART have worked to develop long-term relationships with the Los Angeles art scene. In 2016 MART presented ‘Activating Pangea’ – the beginning of a threeyear series of exhibitions in Los Angeles which, along with an upcoming international studio exchange programme with Santa Monica Art Studios, aims to build long-lasting and sustainable cultural exchange. The second iteration of ‘Activating Pangea’ is a group exhibition of seven Irish artists that will be presented in Santa Monica Arts Studios from 8 July to 5 August 2017. The exhibition aims to create new dialogues surrounding politics and culture that will challenge preconceptions about contemporary art and its relevance for the society we live in. In January 2017 MART announced ‘Destroy These Walls’, a yearlong programme of exhibitions and off-site projects curated by Ciara Scanlan, Matthew Nevin and Deirdre Morrissey, supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Culture Ireland. This programme reinforces MART’s founding principles: to showcase artwork across a range of media (such as digital and video art, performance and installation); to support the creation of work that reinvents materials and technologies; and to expand the perceived limitations of the gallery environment. Unlike previous years, when MART Gallery alternated between curating shows and hiring out the space to cover costs, ‘Destroy these Walls’ will see the gallery space used solely for exhibitions curated by MART – something the organisation has strived to achieve since it first opened the doors of the old fire station. Beyond the gallery, MART will continue its partnership with Tallaght’s RUA RED Gallery for Glitch Festival 2017, a month-long digital arts festival that will take place in May. Glitch Festival will work with visual artists who utilise technology, digital media, video and the internet, to showcase experimental, technology-driven artworks for public engagement and participation. Further information on MART’s 2017 programme, off-site projects and studio availability can be found on their website ( and via social media.

BERNARD O’ROURKE REFLECTS ON THE EVOLUTION OF MART OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS. IN 2007 Ciara Scanlan and Matthew Nevin were recent art graduates living in Galway. Like most of their fellow graduates, they found that “a barrier existed between them and the Irish art world”. “The notion of accessing a gallery or creative space to showcase our work,” Nevin stated, “seemed like a closed shop … so we took it upon ourselves to create our own opportunities”. Before they established their current base of operations in Dublin, MART ran a website promoting artists and their work, and, as a curatorial partnership, they organised exhibitions, often in makeshift venues outside traditional gallery settings. With a focus on diverse art forms such as video, installation, performance and digital or new media, the online gallery aimed to make artworks accessible to a wide audience, creating a public for work that might otherwise struggle to gain attention. In this way, Scanlan and Nevin took on the task of promoting the work of other artists – a role that has since remained central to their activities at MART. MART has a core principle of making art more inclusive, both in terms of viewership and production. Since its inception, Scanlan and Nevin have worked to create new platforms for emerging artists to make and display work. They have also prioritised the need to create and connect with new audiences. With more traditional or commercial gallery spaces seeming impenetrable for young artists, MART embraced a pop-up approach, setting up exhibitions in non-traditional spaces. Their first shows took place in an old fruit market warehouse and in a 200-year-old thatched cottage in Galway. According to Scanlan, the response from locals was very positive: they offered valuable insights into the architecture and history of the buildings while engaging in conversations about the artworks in this unconventional setting. Scanlan and Nevin quickly branched out to organise exhibitions across Ireland. In 2010 the duo embarked on ‘An Instructional’, an ambitious international exhibition of upcoming Irish artists that toured six galleries in Europe and the US: Entrée (Bergen, Norway), Shunt (London), Space (Bratislava, Slovak Republic), Stattbad (Berlin, Germany), Molesworth Gallery (Dublin) and the Lewis Art Gallery (Jackson, Mississippi, USA). The tour was an experiment in how to – with only limited means – create a cultural space for artists to promote their work. The curatorial inquiry centred on the readymade in contemporary art and showcased artworks that used materials, objects

and concepts influenced by the readymade and the re-constructible. As well as several white cube spaces, the touring exhibition was also presented in less conventional, makeshift gallery spaces. For example, Stattbad in Berlin is a huge, abandoned, 1950s swimming pool complex that has been converted into an art venue. On this trip, Nevin and Scanlan encountered various artist-led models that would influence the future organisational structure of MART. Following the success of the ‘An Instructional’ tour, MART made a second trip to the US in 2011. ‘Invite or Reject’ was an ambitious exhibition that showcased the diverse work of 15 emerging and established Irish artists across contemporary art spaces in the heart of America’s most influential cities: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. After five years of curating shows, from pop-up spaces to worldrenowned galleries, Scanlan and Nevin made the decision to establish a permanent base for MART as a creative hub dedicated to the creation and exhibition of contemporary art. They moved into 190a Rathmines Road Lower, a derelict former fire station that had lain empty for more than 25 years. Built in 1837, the building was transformed into a fire station in the 1870s, serving the Dublin 6 area until the construction of Donnybrook Fire Station in the 1980s. The space was crumbling and filled with litter, yet beneath all this, the building retained its original nineteenth-century charm. Without the financial support to hire a professional building crew, Scanlan and Nevin worked tirelessly to transform the space themselves, with help from friends and volunteers. The inaugural exhibition at MART was ‘Curb Your Carrie Bradshawism’, which opened in September 2013. A unique and defining architectural feature of the MART Gallery is the building’s five-metre-wide bay doors, painted fire-engine red. As well as the gallery space, the old fire station became home to six artists’ studios, which were rented out to visual artists, photographers, designers and other creative practitioners. By renting out these spaces, MART looked towards self-sustainability. While MART has received relatively small amounts of funding from bodies such as Dublin City Council, Arts Council Ireland and Culture Ireland, the studios continue to be used to increase the organisation’s self-sufficiency, so that it doesn’t rely entirely on such funding. While temporary initiatives are a valuable part of Ireland’s arts ecosystem, Scanlan and Nevin envision MART as having longevity Bernard O’Rourke is a freelance journalist based in Dublin and and continuing to evolve during its second decade of existence. Marketing Assistant at MART.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet



Benjamin Gaulon, ReFunct Modular, ‘Copy of Future Artist’, 2015; hacked and linked electronic devices

Martin Boyle, The mugs of eternal life, ‘Copy of Future Artist’, 2016; maquette for piece to be completed with laser-cut glass

Jiann Hughes, Moveable Type, ‘Copy of Future Artist’, 2016; laser-cut books

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Cecile Babiole, Miniatures - Kits, ‘Copy of Future Artist’ , 2011 – 2013; 3D printed models

OVER the last year, Derry’s new Nerve Visual Gallery and FabLab Nerve Centre have led the ongoing project Future Artist-Makers, an international programme of artist residencies, artist training and a touring exhibition, on the theme of engaging with digital fabrication technologies. Supported by Creative Europe and ACNI, Future ArtistMakers was developed in partnership with FabLab Limerick and Ultra Lab Madrid, and the exhibition will tour these venues in the coming months. The thematic inquiry of Future Artist-Makers starts with digital fabrication. ‘Digital’ has become a particularly dynamic and fluid term, although at its most basic it indicates that a process or action has been computerised. In recent years, usage of the term has expanded to denote all manner of cultures and subcultures, revolutions and innovations, utopias and dystopias. In the early years of the internet, the word ‘cyber’ held similar aspirational status and was used to speculate on a futuristic present or a technology-driven, networked future. Conversely, the term ‘fabrication’ is commonly associated with large-scale manufacturing. As an alternative to such industrial contexts, FabLabs were conceived in 2001 by the Centre for Bits and Atoms at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). FabLabs are digital fabrication laboratories that provide access to the tools of advanced digital manufacturing technology, digital design and digital fabrication, including computer-controlled CNC Routers, laser cutters and 3D printers. These new technologies help to develop and foster the ‘iterative’ processes of design, creativity and prototyping. There is now a global network of hundreds of FabLabs. In contrast to the secrecy and exclusive patents of the hi-tech commercial sector, FabLabs take an open source approach, based on the inclusive ethos of Creative Commons. All designs and processes developed in FabLabs must remain available for individuals to use and learn from. The FabLab Charter specifies that objects and processes fabricated in FabLabs may not be designed to cause harm and that each lab should make contributions to documentation, instruction and sharing knowledge across a global open creative network. Derry’s FabLab in the Nerve Centre was established with a particular focus on community access. This ethos of sharing knowledge and resources was central to development of the Future Artist-Makers project. Each of the three partner organisations would bring its unique focus to the project. It was decided from the outset that artists and makers who are not readily identifiable as digital artists would not be excluded from participat-

ceramicists Jonathan Keep, Francesco Pacelli and Charles Stern (in collaboration with Belgian design team Unfold), convey the disruptive impact of digital fabrication through new techniques and specialised hardware. In a similar vein, the artist duo Varvara & Mar developed Knitic, a form of open hardware technology that controls an obsolete 1980s Brother knitting machine via an open source electronics platform. Emergent biomedical technologies and ‘post-human’ explorations feature in Juan José Tara’s project Dsruptive (2015 – ongoing). Documentation of bodily implants and bio-hacking featured in the exhibition at Nerve Visual Gallery, while a live event will take place at FabLab Limerick. An associated ‘lab’ aesthetic is reflected in various works developed by artist Jiann Hughes during her Future ArtistMakers residency at Ultra Lab Madrid. Speculating on the interface between 3D printing and biomedical technologies, Hughes’s projects provocatively explore earlier paradigm shifts in technological innovation, such as anatomical examination and the moveable-type printing press. Similarly, works by Delia Milan refer to obsolete technological innovations during the ages of navigation and exploration. Milan, who is developing a new FabLab in Cuenca, Spain, led a residency at Nerve Visual Gallery that focused on public participation in digital fabrication. Architect Aoife Browne and musician and instrumentmaker Ed Devane also developed work for the exhibition during a student boot camp last year led by FabLab Limerick. Paola Bernadelli’s artwork More Men Than Columbus (2016) was developed during a digital fabrication training programme for artists at FabLab Nerve Centre. The work explores what the artist describes as an “awkward” historical anomaly: the large civic welcome given to a fascist general of the Italian Air Force and his seaplane squadron when they refuelled in Derry en route from Rome to Chicago in 1933. Although the artist had never previously used digital fabrication, her single artwork embodies a chronological cross-section of technologies – from early twentieth century newspapers, photography and microfiche, to scanned imagery, digital design and laser cutting. One element of Bernadelli’s artwork features a quote from a 1933 newspaper in which a local cleric fears for a future led by a “blind devotion to technological innovation”. This calls to mind a memorable account of modern-day delusions about digital innovation that featured in the HBO comedy Silicon Valley. A montage of short clips parodies CEOs from commerce-hungry tech start-ups as they pitch for investors. Rather than promises of profit, the pitches assert pious claims that their particular technological innovation is “making the world a better place through data compression”, “algorithms for consensus protocols” and “canonical data models”. Both instances suggest that new technological innovation can nurture strange interactions between dystopia and utopia, self-delusion and collective aspiration. The exhibition also features two projects created through digital activism in which new technology is used for social good. A new digital work by YoHa reflects on their year-long project Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone (2015 – ongoing) which uses digital fabrication, activism and collaborative artistic partnerships (with the collective Critical Art Ensemble, among others) to deliver a dynamic citizen science project exploring the degradation of the River Thames. The activism of digital archaeology also features, with live printing in the galleries of 3D models from the #NEWPALMYRA project. #NEWPALMYRA is an online community attempting to virtually reconstruct the ancient Syrian city recently destroyed by ISIS. The project uses digital participation and digital fabrication to recreate Palmyra in virtual and physical forms, preserving the rich history of this heritage site for future generations. Future Artist-Makers ( has developed a dynamic model for promoting digital fabrication technologies in the context of artistic practice, community engagement, international partnerships and contemporary art exhibitions. As a project, it is still developing. Future Artist-Makers will run at FabLab Limerick from mid March to May and will subsequently be presented at Ultra-Lab Madrid, from May to June. Art critic Pip Shea has been commissioned to write a collection of texts to reflect on the project. ‘Future ArtistMakers’ is supported by Creative Europe, Department for Communities NI, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.

ing in Future Artist-Makers. Artists were selected based on a sense that the concerns and methods of their practice would generate an energy or a creative friction in their encounters with the tools of digital fabrication and the open source culture of FabLab. Jim Ricks undertook an artist residency at FabLab Nerve Centre in 2016. He hadn’t used the tools of digital fabrication prior to the residency, but had engaged extensively across his art practice with the concepts of originals and copies. Ricks used 3D printing as a vehicle to critique the ‘commemoration culture’ of the 1916 centenary and used a large-scale CNC router to make work memorialising radical political activism. Several artworks were conceived to gradually develop across the three exhibitions. Martin Boyle’s The Mugs of Eternal Life (2013 – ongoing), was included as a prototype in the first exhibition at Nerve Visual Gallery. As Boyle trained in digital fabrication at FabLab, he developed work from his initial maquette based on screenshots of selfies taken from Instagram. Works from each phase as well as the final piece will be shown in FabLab Limerick and UltraLab Madrid. Ciara Finnegan’s work Draw Rabby is an interactive, online project that explores remote, multi-authored, collaborative storytelling through digital drawing (drawrabby. Gallery audiences and virtual publics are invited to draw on a shared digital canvas, while interacting in some way with other people’s drawings. Notions of iteration, re-iteration and shared creativity are central to this process. Draw Rabby was developed as an artwork in the gallery setting and as a live artist’s event for the recent ‘Future Artist-Makers Symposium’ in Nerve Visual in February. The Future Artist-Makers project engages provocatively with some commonly held conceptions about digital innovation. One such notion held by many active in digital culture is that digital fabrication acts as a disruptive technology, which will shatter the existing social and commercial models of design, production, distribution and exchange. This notion of disruption is highly evident in the design of the exhibition. In a radical break from traditional white cube displays, the galleries are transformed with a vibrant backdrop of rich primary colours. The theme of disruption is also referenced across numerous artworks selected for the exhibition: Benjmain Gaulon uses hardware hacking to examine the built-in obsolescence of consumer electronics; Declan Sheehan is Visual Arts Manager of Nerve Centre, Derry. 3D printed works by Cecile Babiole recreate mass-produced consumer electronics as tiny, toy-like artefacts; works by prominent European


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet


Jim Ricks, Pre Columbian Linguistics Piñata, 2016; piñata filled with sawdust, cocaine, chicken feathers, three cans of corn, candy and confetti


Jim Ricks, Synchromaterialism V, 2016; installation of found objects on metal and wood market tables; Jim Ricks, Tarp of Tarps, 2016; digital print on tarp

March – April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Jim Ricks, ‘Centro de Ontología Nacional’ exterior

SELF-FUNDED by Mexican artist Anuar Maauad (known simply as Mau), Casa Maauad is an 1880s mansion in Mexico City that was originally constructed as a brothel. With 14-foot-high ceilings, it competes with the grandeur of Dublin’s Georgian houses. The three-storey building has garden-style studios in the basement, a gallery and offices on the first floor, and a living space and kitchen on the upper floor. The living area is shared between Mau and two visiting artists or curators. The lovely Siamese cat Cindy is a permanent resident. Jonathas de Andrade, a talented Brazilian artist, shared the neighbouring apartment for the first half of my stay at Casa Maauad last autumn. The generous space allocated to residents is remarkable. My accommodation included three rooms and a giant bathroom. The residency and exhibition is fully funded and includes everything you need. There was laundry provided by a housekeeper, Marina, and meals by an excellent cook, Clarita, who was tragically killed in a public transport accident while I was there. Casa Maauad is described as an “artist-run, non-profit production residency programme for artists and curators in Mexico City”. Founded seven years ago, it is probably one of the best artist-run projects in the world, because it is unstructured and offers plenty of space to work, a generous production budget and access to the best fabricators in the city. Interestingly, Mau undertakes fundraising for the project himself by selling editions at art fairs. He even established a restaurant nearby to generate additional income. Parts of the historic building are also rented out to film crews and are occasionally used for weddings. My relationship with Casa Maauad began in 2014 when I was exhibiting my collaborative project ‘In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth)’ at ‘Public’, an exhibition curated by Nicholas Baume at Art Basel, Miami Beach. It was there that I met Mau and Nancy Brown, the residency manager, who were selling artwork editions from their stall. I submitted a proposal during the next Casa Maauad residency call out and my application was successful. I was able to fund the trip through support from the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust and the Arts Council of Ireland, and in early September 2016 began a threemonth production residency that would culminate in an exhibition from December 2016 to January 2017. Mexico City is full of life. Stunning architecture, graffiti and hand-painted signs on every surface create an intoxicating vista. The neighbourhood surrounding the house is known as San Rafael, and is vibrant but relaxed, with a large mercado nearby. The street of San Cosme is only a block away and is packed with street venders who gather outside the San Cosme Metro Station. Amazing stalls popped

Artist unknown, Untitled/Cabellito; paper mache and paint

up around seasonal holidays like Día de los Muertos and Christmas, with signs of gentrification also evident in the nearby doggie daycare, boutique hotel and good coffee shops. The side street next to Casa Maauad is home to a number of galleries and workspaces, including a tiny commercial gallery, Galerie Mascota ( Yautepec gallery (, a super cool, post-internet, commercial space, is also within walking distance. None of the art spaces have any signage, yet draw large crowds for openings and parties. My work during the residency began with a period of research. Modes of display in market places, as well as human improvisations within the city itself, became a source of aesthetic and conceptual inspiration. Museums, walks and stories played a formative role in my understanding of the city, its culture and identity. Like a kind of ‘gringo flâneur’, I examined the repetition, revision and speculation taking place within the urban sprawl. The colonial, pre-Columbian and revolutionary histories of this most populous city began to ring loud in my phenomenology. The residency allowed me time to reflect on my practice as a whole, to gain a deeper understanding of my ongoing themes and interests. I work fluidly between forms and concepts, and examine the use of metonymy in my ongoing methodology of Synchromaterilism, as well as the relationship between epistemology, ontology and my quest for challenging cultural preconceptions. Given the wide-ranging corruption visible among government bodies in Mexico City, I began to play with the idea of creating my own institution or museum, which I entitled the ‘Centro de Ontología Nacional’ or CON, a new national institution that would interrogate the common narratives, myths and constructs of national identity, both Mexican and international. The exhibition space at Casa Maauad comprises six separate rooms, which I decided to transform into a series of museums, each embarking on its own theme. These included the Museo de Semántica (Museum of Semantics), the Museo de Cotidiano (Museum of Quotidian) and a gift shop. This ‘National Centre of Ontology’ manifested as a multilayered installation spanning the six spaces, the street outside and the neighbouring Santa Maria la Ribera, where I developed a mural, embedding my work into the language and fabric of everyday life in Mexico City. ‘Centro de Ontología Nacional’ embraces institutional critique, tricks, cons and ‘con-ceits’ as provocations to identify new common truths in the everyday. The spaces at Casa Maauad were filled with collected works, as well as a several anchor pieces that were developed in collaboration with local fabricators and craftspeople. Everything took longer than

planned but production costs were very low. Significant pieces included a 3.5-metre-tall piñata shaped like North America. This map was compiled from several other historical maps, with blocks of colour denoting pre-Columbian language clusters. The back room was painted with a mural inspired by a photograph of the smoggy Mexico City skyline that covered all four walls from floor to ceiling. It recalls pollution, brightly-coloured sarape shawls and Muralisme – a twentieth century Mexican art movement that promoted nationalistic, social and political messages through murals on public buildings. In the centre of this space was a replica of a monolithic carving on display at the Museo de Antropología – the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. Entitled Toltec Torta Truck, the replica was fabricated in iron and wood to resemble a street vendor’s cart, combining two disparate strands of Mexican identity in one hybrid form. In another room, I curated an exhibition of diverse artworks by largely unknown artists who exist on the margins of contemporary art, which comprised mass-produced posters, ex-voto-style religious paintings, ‘tattoo flash’ design work and still life paintings that are widely sold in parks around the city. In the pink ‘Museo de Synchromaterialism’, steel and wood replicas of market tables formed a ring. Found objects interlocked in a loop of political and absurd information, operating as a system of collage. On the wall were digitally designed paintings of tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and an etched reproduction of the most famous didactic plaque in Mexico, complete with its own didactic plaque. There was a performance on the opening night by María del Mar Terrón Martínez, the 10-year-old (now an adult) whose voice emanates from ubiquitous pick-up trucks throughout the city selling scrap metal. Del Mar Terrón Martínez now works full time as a professional clown, and at the launch she recited the lyrics to Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. During the opening, the parking space in front of the gallery was blocked off with reproductions of a traffic cone, fruit crate and Styrofoam cup, fabricated in terracotta, cedar and bronze respectively. A banner marking the inauguration spanned the front of the building, interjecting the show into the urban landscape by declaring the presence of the ‘Centro de Ontología Nacional’. My residency at Casa Maauad was an overwhelmingly positive experience, which allowed me to explore a truly fascinating and energetic city while learning from talented, friendly and generous people. Casa Maauad will launch a new programme in August 2017. Jim Ricks is an American and Irish conceptual artist currently based in San Francisco.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Painting in Dialogue

Social Welfare for Artists

ROB HILKEN DISCUSSES RECENT PAINTING EXHIBITIONS IN NORTHERN IRELAND. SOME artistic practices are heavily represented in exhibitions throughout Northern Ireland on an ongoing basis. Photography and moving image, for example, are ever present. The Belfast School of Art BA and MFA programmes, along with Source Magazine, ensure there is an ongoing discourse by academics in these fields. Belfast Exposed is dedicated to exhibiting lens-based work, and it is also shown heavily in most contemporary art galleries, in addition to the Late Night Art Film screenings and discussion forums that occur every month, and the film and photo festivals that punctuate the annual calendar. Similarly, performance art has been a staple in Northern Ireland since the 1970s. Bbeyond and its sibling Bebedeebe (Bbeyond Derry Branch) both run ongoing programmes of workshops and events, inside and outside of galleries. Pollen Studios and Gallery have monthly exhibitions where emerging performance artists test out new work and Catalyst Arts host FIX, Europe’s longest running performance art biennial. Galleries such as The MAC, Golden Thread, CCA DerryLondonderry and Millennium Court all regularly programme performance work. Some practices, however, come in and out of fashion. Sound art began to cast major sonic waves across Belfast a few years ago and more recently painting has returned to galleries in a big way. Joy Gerrard’s monochrome painting Protest Crowd is a focal point of ‘MAC International 2016’ in the MAC’s Upper Gallery. Politics dominates the space and this painting enters into a dialogue with the other works: digital photographic prints, video, installation and photography. The process of painting evidenced within the work blurs the image almost to the point of abstraction. The viewer is asked to spend time deciphering the image, much as the artist took time to create it. This serves as a counterpoint to the photographic works that purportedly capture only a single moment, and Ismar Cirkinagic’s digital photographic works that rely on a pre-existing understanding of the process. The effect this painting has on the other works is to slow them down: it acts as a metronome for deciphering the room. The Ulster University Gallery, under the stewardship of curator Feargal O’Malley, has now shown three back-to-back exhibitions of paintings. One might think O’Malley has a point to make, considering the fact that he also recently co-curated the retrospective of David Crone’s work at the RHA in Dublin, but he assures me this isn’t so. Currently on show is a body of work by David Haughey, entitled ‘According to Our Historians a Meteorite Fell Hissing’. Haughey’s monochrome images resemble those that a photojournalist might capture, revealing a narrative in which the boundary between fact and fiction is uncertain. The artist’s technical skill is undeniable and the

Craig Jefferson, Figure and Camel Still Life; 47 x 79cm, oil on panel; photo by Simon Mills

series of paintings and drawings he presents demand equal attention. Previous exhibitions at the Ulster University Gallery featured Brendan O’Neill and Mark Greavy, whose bodies of work, when viewed alongside Haughey’s, show three utterly distinct approaches to the medium of painting, although each are linked through the ambiguity of their content. While O’Neill obfuscates religious texts behind frosted glass, Greavy battles with imagery and ideas from his own memory to reveal imagined Fauvist landscapes, as much philosophical as painterly explorations . Bangor-based painter Craig Jefferson became an elected member of the respected and competitive New English Art Club in 2016 and was their Artist of the Month in January this year. His colourful and expressive explorations of still life, figures and landscapes verge on abstract expressionism but he never fully lets go of his influences, which include figurative painters such as David Park, David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach. Jefferson’s work was recently shown in a group exhibition at the Engine Room Gallery in Belfast and he has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Stafford Gallery. 2016 saw the highly anticipated first solo exhibition in Ireland of Portadown-based artist Ian Cumberland. Already a mainstay at the BP Portrait Awards (receiving third prize in 2011), Cumberland was awarded an ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to develop a new body of work. The resulting exhibition, ‘Once Removed’, was presented last August in Millennium Court Arts, Portadown. This new work was ambitious in scale and embarked on a surreal, nightmarish journey that went beyond the hyperrealist figurative paintings that Cumberland is known for. The artist seemed to have decided that painting alone cannot express the entirety of his unsettling vision, as he ventured into a world of theatrical sets and installation. These experiments beyond painting worked most successfully when his canvases were paired with domestic objects such as carpets and mirrors. Cumberland’s recurring reflections and voids were given physical form and presence within the gallery’s immersive spaces. The list of notable success stories could go on: Colin Davidson recently unveiled a new portrait of the Queen and Jennifer Trouton won first prize in the 2016 Golden Fleece Awards. There can be no doubt that painting in Northern Ireland is in a good place. The challenge for artists now is to build on the spotlight that our brightest talents bring to the region, to ensure that not only does contemporary painting continue to thrive here but it also becomes one of the mainstays of our public galleries. Rob Hilken, VAI Northern Ireland Manager.


THE launch on Thursday 8 December by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, of the Creative Ireland Plan/Clár, Éire Ildánach has been greeted with a largely positive response from the arts sector. According to the plan, the departments of Arts and Social Protection will devise a pilot scheme to assist self-employed artists who have applied for Jobseeker’s Allowance. In Visual Artists Ireland’s response to Culture 2025, dated Tuesday, 29 September 2015, we specified that “Ireland must adopt a specific social insurance regime by which the precarious nature of artists’ lives is recognised and artists are given the opportunity to benefit from social coverage under the same conditions as salaried or selfemployed workers, with the addition of a sector-funded top up for those who currently fail to qualify for automatic assistance due to gaps in payments as a result of their precarious incomes”. Since the submission we have had a number of conversations with the department to discuss the practical ways in which this could be rolled out and have also provided them with details on the current situation in dole offices. Therefore, we are delighted to see that the discussions have been fruitful, although we are also aware that these changes will take time to filter down to each office. VAI encourages artists to contact our help desk so we can pass on your feedback to the department. HOW IT WILL HAPPEN When an artist is seeking social welfare support in their local office they need to say: “I am a visual artist and I have fallen on lean times. I wish to continue my work as a visual artist and need support.” The social welfare office will then calculate an artist’s income for the past 12 months. Taking an average for the year, they will then make a calculation of what top up is needed to bring them to a social welfare payment level. There are caveats to this and also some simple guidance. The social welfare office will ask if this is going to be a constant state, i.e. need for support, or if there are prospects for improvement. The recommended answer to this question is “for the foreseeable future...” This makes it clear that you are not seeking short-term support. If you say your situation is expected to change in the near future, it puts them in the difficult position of having to assess you again in a very short time. When being assessed artists need to be very clear on what their income is. If they have been working on large projects or any that give a lump sum, this needs to be broken down to show what their actual income is, i.e. the fee rather than money that is ring fenced for production budgets. This advice also applies to artists who are registered as self-employed. Those with other PAYE jobs will be treated as all others and encouraged to look for other work that replaces the PAYE work they may have lost. As yet it is unclear what length of time an artist can expect this form of support for, i.e. how long they can declare themselves as artists if they have no activity to underpin it. We will continue discussions with the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Social Protection and keep our members updated with information as we get it. If you are an artist and experiencing difficulty when seeking social welfare support, please feel free to contact VAI. We would also like to monitor the responses artists are receiving from Social Welfare as these changes are rolled out. Please make contact with Shelly McDonnell, VAI Communications & Advocacy Officer, at or 01 672 9488.

SPACE FOR RENT AT VAI’S NEW OFFICE! The spacious upper floor at our new Dublin 8 office is now available to rent. The large, light-filled room is suitable for rehearsals, auditions and presentations, as well as meetings, talks and conferences. Please call 01 672 9488 or email to discuss options.


The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



was designed to provide support for the activation of creative, social and pedagogical activities with the children. The second part is a programme of artist-led workshops with professional contemporary artists and designers which include the garden as both site and source of inspiration/research for making artwork. In October 2016, artists Stephen Brandes, Dragana Jurisic and Slavek Kwi visited the school. Workshops with artists Elaine Leader, Aideen Barry, Amanda Coogan, Beth O’Halloran, Superfolk and Eamon O’Kane will take place in Spring/Summer 2017. The third aspect of the project was the commissioning of permanent bronze artworks by artist Atsushi Kaga. Mushroom Pickers features familiar characters from Atsushi’s work: Cat and Bunny. Tinkerbell-m is an entirely new character created specifically for Bracken Educate Together NS. The neon work I was here, sited on the wall of the garden, was based on the fifth class children’s handwriting.


Description: Reflective Sanctuary was a 14-foot pentagram-shaped enclosed structure created by artist Caitríona Sheedy in a public park in Ennis. Sheedy’s practice includes painting, drawing and mixed media. The subject of the work leads her towards a particular medium. The paintings in Reflective Sanctuary explored ideas around humanity, evolution and our inextricable link to nature. Colour, physical places and personal experiences or emotions also provided inspiration. This work was developed in order to bring her practice outside into a public space and was also exhibited as part of the Electric Picnic arts trail.


Artist’s name: Fiona Aryan Title of work: Fox on a Box Commissioning body: Dublin Canvas Date advertised: April 2016 Date sited: September 2016 Budget: €150 plus materials Commission type: Open call Description: Fiona Aryan produced Fox in a Box as part of Dublin Title of work: The Studio That Has No Roof Canvas, an ongoing project that began a year and a half ago in which Commission type: Per Cent for Art Scheme artists and designers are commissioned to decorate traffic light boxes Commissioning body: Bracken ETNS, Balbriggan (with funding across Dublin city. Aryan used exterior metal gloss paint for the work, Artist’s name: Noel Molloy from the Arts Council Young People, Children and Education bursary) which is located under trees in Donnybrook Village. She sought out a Title of work: DA DA MA MA THE CHILD RISING Date advertised: June 2015 box in an area of Dublin with a high concentration of urban foxes. Commission type: Self-initiated work Date sited: February 2016 – June 2017 Date sited: 17 December 2016 Budget: €33,000 Project partners: Produced as part of the exhibition ‘REDDOT’ Project partners: Superprojects, Zero-Degree Machine REFLECTIVE SANCTUARY Description: Noel Molly’s performance DA DA MA MA THE CHILD Description: ‘The studio that has no roof’ is an ongoing collaborative Artist’s name: Caitríona Sheedy RISING took place in Roscommon Town, beginning at the Harrision Per Cent for Art commission at Bracken Educate Together NS, Title of work: Reflective Sanctuary Shopping Centre and moving onto Main Street. Molloy stopped at Balbriggan with three principal aspects. The first was a garden created Commissioning body: Clare Arts Office/Clare Culture Night various points along the way, such as businesses and traffic crossings, by architects Zero-Degree Machine in collaboration with Date sited: 16 September 2016 ending at the exhibition ‘REDDOT’, curated by Angie Duignan. horticulturalist Niall Maxwell. Sited within the school courtyard, it Budget: €7000

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

March – April 2017



Opportunities FUNDING/AWARDS/ BURSARIES BCA ALUMNI ARTIST IN RESIDENCE AWARD The BCA Alumni Artist in Residence Award was created in 2014 as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Burren College of Art. The aim of the award is to recognise the valuable contribution alumni have made to the continued growth of the college. Former Individual Study Abroad undergraduates, postgraduates and Summer School students are invited to apply for these awards annually. Artists in Residence and students from faculty-led study abroad groups are not eligible to apply for this award. Each award provides the resident with four weeks of: individual studio space on campus, access to all college facilities and single room, and self-catering accommodation in Ballyvaughan at the reduced-rate of €300 for the month. Artists will be welcome to participate in campus activities such as visiting artist talks, gallery openings and orientation week events. Deadline 15 March Email Web

BUTLER GALLERY Open submissions for Butler Gallery 2018/2019 programme are now being accepted. The Butler Gallery specialises in one-person exhibitions for emerging and mid-career artists. Submissions should include CV, artist’s statement, documentation, images and proposal if appropriate. Web links accepted. No group show applications. Deadline 7 April Email Web Telephone 056 7761106

FULBRIGHT ENGAGE Through the Fulbright Engage Video Competition, the Fulbright Commission in Ireland seeks submissions from students of multimedia/design to develop and deliver a fresh and engaging short video that will promote the Fulbright Irish Awards and showcase creative talent in Ireland. The competition winner will receive a prize which includes a one-week trip to Manhattan in New York, plus an opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art and shadow the Design Studio team as well as visiting the School of Media Studies at The New School, to take part in classroom visits, tour of facilities, meetings with students and faculty. The competition is open to current FINGAL ARTISTS’ SUPPORT SCHEME Fingal County Council announce the undergraduate and postgraduate stu2017 Artists’ Support Scheme. This dents, or graduates who completed their strand of funding allows professional studies in 2016, in the areas of multiartists to avail of up to €4,000 of an media, film, animation, design or other award towards travel and professional relevant fields. Applicants must be Irish development opportunities, a residency, citizens, or EU citizens who have been or the development of work. The objec- resident in the Republic of Ireland for tive of the Artists’ Support Scheme is the last three years. Videos may include to support individual professional art- animation, stop motion, voxpops, sizzle ists from Fingal to develop their artistic reels, interviews with Fulbright alumni practice. The award seeks to provide or other innovative media. time and resources for artists to think, Deadline research, reflect and engage with their 5pm, 6 March Web practice. The award is open to practic- ing artists at all stages in their profes- Web sional careers working in music, visual art, drama, literature and dance. To be eligible to apply, applicants must have JOB VACANCIES been born, have studied or currently reside in the Fingal administrative area. The funding is for projects or initiatives DANCE IRELAND which will take place between 1 June Dance Ireland are looking for an Administrator/Book Keeper to join their team. and 31 December 2017. As the representative body for dance, Deadline Dance Ireland operate on a local, nation4pm, 24 March al and international level. As a memberEmail ship organisation, they celebrate, velop and promote all forms of dance Web through training and development grammes, special events, partnerships Telephone and commissioning. As a member of a 01 890 5099 busy team, you will carry out a multi-

faceted role which includes book keeping, administrative support and venue assistance. Full job description and person specification can be found online. Shortlisted applicants will be called for interview on Tuesday 21 March. Please submit a CV and cover letter outlining your suitability for this role and why you are applying to with Administrator/Book Keeper in the subject line. Deadline 10 March Web Email

COURSES/WORKSHOPS/ TRAINING LEITRIM SCULPTURE CENTRE Leitrim Sculpture Centre present a series of spring workshops. Traditional Printmaking Relief/Block Printing: 1 – 2 April. Tutor: Deirdre Nolan. Places: 6. Cost: €150. Welding: 1 – 2 April. Tutor: Michael O’Hara. Places: 6. Cost: €190. Vernacular Carpentry: 22 – 23 April. Tutor: Niall Walsh. Places: 6. Cost: €130. Stone Carving: 29 – 30 April. Tutor: Jackie McKenna. Places: 7. Cost: €180. Sand Casting in Aluminium: 29 – 30 April. Tutor: Kate Oram. Places: 6. Cost: €130. Email Web Telephone 0719855098 ANIMATION WORKSHOP As part of the forthcoming exhibition ‘Broken Tale: Work from Pawel Kleszczewski and Kasia Zimnoch’ (opening on 3 March), the Courthouse Gallery and Studios, and Clare Arts Office present a one day stop-animation workshop aimed at professional practitioners, taught by Pawel and Kasia (Saturday 4 March, 11am – 5pm). The artists will be working with Adobe Photoshop (optionally Dragonframe) and Adobe After Effects. Award-winning artists Kleszczewski and Zimnoch create animated works based on mythology, folklore and legends. Cost: €12. Includes lunch and some materials. Please bring a DSLR camera if you have one. Email Web Telephone 065 707 1630 PULSE COLLEGE SCULPTURE COURSE Master sculptor Bruno Carv will lead a workshop at Pulse College, Dublin, from 4 April to 11 May (6 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6.30 to 9pm). In this course, you will learn how to develop life-like sculptures, with both fantasy themes and realistic details. Carv will

introduce you to the skills needed to bring your own ideas to life in highly detailed sculptures, with a focus on anatomy and detailing as well as creativity and imagination. The course is entirely hands-on, and participants will be introduced to skills such as bust study, geometric blocking and human reference. Cost: €550 with €100 deposit. Web CRAFT NI & THE ULSTER MUSEUM Craft NI & the Ulster Museum host a series of free talks on Japanese pottery by Mike Robinson, former Head of Applied Arts at the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Beginnings: Wednesday 8 March, 1pm. Cha No Yu, Ceramics and the Tea Ceremony: Wednesday 15 March, 1pm. Porcelain: Wednesday 22 March, 1pm. In Our Time: Tuesday 28 March, 1pm. Web PARTICIPLE NOTES/ART+FEMINISM Art+Feminism is a campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia. Participle Notes is a nomadic, biannual gathering of artists, academics and others with an interest in social practice and cultural production. Art+Feminism and Participle Notes invite participants to attend a communal updating of Wikipedia’s entries on contemporary art and feminism. Anyone and everyone with an interest in learning more about editing Wikipedia, regardless of experience, gender or background, is welcome to attend. The event will be hosted by Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI), located at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway. Deadline 11am to 4.30pm, 4 March Web

OPEN SUBMISSIONS CRITICAL BASTARDS Critical Bastards magazine invites writers and artists to critically respond to “the idea of hope in all its guises, shapes, textures, positivity, negativity, falsity and problems”. Applications should be no more than 500 words, sent as a Word document or PDF to Critical Bastards magazine is committed to creating conversations between all parts of the island of Ireland and beyond. International submissions are always welcome. Articles are accepted on their suitability for inclusion in each issue. Deadline 14 March Website OSKA BRIGHT FILM FESTIVAL Oska Bright Film Festival are seeking

short films and digital media that feature people with a learning disability. The short films can be any length but must be made by people with learning disabilities or feature people with learning disabilities in leading roles. The next festival will take place in November 2017. Please see website for more guidance. Deadline 30 April Email Web Telephone (+44) 01273 234734 INTO THE VOID Irish print and digital literary magazine Into the Void seeks visual art submissions for Issue 4 to be used as the cover and within the publication. There is no theme, and no restriction on medium, genre or style, as long as submissions are in the format of high quality JPEGs. Please email up to 12 images plus an approximately 50-word bio to Deadline 15 March Email Web

STUDIO SPACE THE COMPLEX The Complex, Dublin, have a large studio for rental. Located just off Capel Street, the studio is bright and warm and would suit a single occupancy or studio share. All bills (internet, heating and electricity) are inclusive of the overall cost. There is a large communal area attached to the studios which is clean and fit for purpose. The cost per month is €400. Email Web

RESIDENCIES CILL RIALAIG The Cill Rialaig Project invite applications for residency awards at their artist retreat on Bolus Head near Ballinskellgs, County Kerry. The Cill Rialaig Arts Centre is located in one of the great, untouched rural landscapes of Southwest Kerry. The selecting panel sits twice yearly. Deadline 15 March Contact Mary O’Connor Email

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.

Spring 2017

ROI Fingal DEVELOPING CREATIVE PROPOSALS WITH ANNETTE MOLONEY In partnership with Fingal County Council Thurs 9 Mar (10.00 – 16.30) @Malahide Castle Visitors Centre. Places: 15 – 20. Cost: €10/Free (Fingal artists).

Dublin City NYCI CHILD PROTECTION AWARENESS PROGRAMME FOR ARTISTS 11 Mar (10.30 – 14.30) @Visual Artists Ireland. Places: 15 – 18. Cost: €60/30 (VAI members). PEER CRITIQUE PAINTING WITH MARCUS COPE In partnership with RHA 14 Mar (10.30 – 14.30). @RHA. Places: 6. Cost: €80/40 (VAI members). WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES WITH TIM DURHAM 22 Mar (10.00 – 17.00). @Visual Artists Ireland. Places: 15 – 18. Cost: €70/35 (VAI members). BEALTAINE FESTIVAL PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE EVENT Bealtaine Festival in association with Visual Artists Ireland and the RHA School A day-long professional development seminar for mid career and older artists. 23 May 2017 (10.00 – 16.00) @ RHA School. Places: 30+. Free. DEVELOPING CREATIVE PROPOSALS In partnership with RHA Autumn date tbc @Royal Hibernian Academy. Places: 10 – 12. Cost: €80/40 (VAI members). RDS VISUAL ARTS AWARDS In partnership with the RDS Visual Arts Awards Building on the success of last year’s collaborative event, we aim to run another event in 2017 to support recent graduates. Oct 2017 @RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Places: 30+.

West Cork BUDGETING & FINANCES FOR VISUAL ARTISTS In partnership with Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre Fri 5 April (10.00 – 14.00). @WCAC. Places: 20. Cost: €20/10 (West Cork Arts Centre artist members).

Galway SUSTAINING YOUR PRACTICE FOR MID-CAREER ARTISTS In partnership with Galway County Council & Galway City Council 23 Jun (10.30 – 16.30) date tbc. @Galway City venue tbc. Places: 20+. Cost: tbc.

Sligo CHILD PROTECTION AWARENESS TRAINING FOR VISUAL ARTISTS In partnership with Sligo County Council Arts Office Mar 2017 date tbc @City Hall, Sligo. Places: 15 – 20. Cost: €40/20 (VAI members).

Tipperary DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK WITH TIM DURHAM In partnership with Tipperary County Council & Damer House Gallery Sat 1 April (10.00 – 17.00). @Damer House Gallery. Places: 10. Cost: €40/20 (VAI members). WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES WITH TIM DURHAM In partnership with Tipperary County Council Fri 28 April (10.00 – 17.00). @Damer House Gallery. Places: 10 – 12. Cost: €40/20 (VAI members). DEVELOPING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR WORK In partnership with Tipperary County Council Date tbc @Clonmel tbc. Places: 15 –20. Cost: €40/20 (VAI members).

Kerry POSITIONING YOUR PRACTICE In partnership with Kerry Council Arts Office Artist, critic and curator perspectives on artists working from a rural or regional context. Wed 26 Apr @Kerry County Council Chamber, Tralee. Places: 15 – 20. Cost: tbc

Leitrim VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ FOR GRADUATES In partnership with Creative Frame Leitrim Jun 2017 date tbc @tbc . Places: 20+.

Other events planned for 2017: Writing About Your Work, Marketing & Social Media for Visual Artists, Writing About Your Work, Regional Artist 1-to-1 Clinics – Legal, Financial & Career Advice, Cataloguing & Archiving Your Work, Child Protection Awareness Training, Creative Proposals (Dublin), Visual Artists Café (Portlaoise), Handling, Packaging & Storing Your Work, Creating Opportunities for Your Work, Peer Critique: Mixed Media, Visual Artists’ Cafe (including professional practice talk), Creative Proposals (regional), Documenting Your Work (Dublin), Health & Safety for Visual Artists, Health & Safety for Visual Artists (regional), Peer Critique: Sculpture/Installation. VAI will schedule 4 – 6 Show & Tell events during 2017 and invite interested artists groups, venues or partners to get in touch if interested in hosting a ‘Show & Tell’.

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.

VAI Show & Tell Events: SHOW & TELL FOR DUN LAOGHAIRE RATHDOWN ARTISTS In association with ArtNetDLR Sat 20 May (10.00 – 12.00) @Lexicon Studio. Places: 25+. SHOW & TELL FOR CREATIVE FRAME & LEITRIM ARTISTS In partnership with Creative Frame & Leitrim Sculpture Centre Autumn 2017 date tbc. @Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Manorhamilton . Places: 25+. 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 01 672 9488, VAI members receive preferential discount of 50% on fees for VAI, Training and Professional Development . Fees range from €5 – 40 for VAI members.

NI Belfast VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ: ARTIST’S MEDIA TOOLKIT 28 Feb (12.00 – 16.30) @VAI Office, Belfast Cost: £5/free (VAI members). This practical workshop from Sharon Adams and Simon Mills looks at what information you make available online about you and your work, and how to make low cost, effective promo videos. VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ: PLANNING A TOURING EXHIBITION Wed 15 Mar (13.00 – 16.30) @VAI Office, Belfast. Cost: £5/free (VAI members). This event is designed for artists and curators thinking about creating a touring exhibition. Long before funding applications are written, a carefully thoughtout project will make every subsequent step fall into place. VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ: INTRODUCING WEST BELFAST April tbc. Free. Find out more about the visual arts exhibition spaces, studios, resources and col-

lectives in West Belfast. This networking and information event will be an excellent opportunity to meet other artists and arts organisations in an informal setting. MASTERCLASS: SETTING YOUR OWN AGENDA April/May tbc. Shift your mindset, find your focus and sharpen your creative mind. This event will offer an exploration of best practices for making ideas happen. Pragmatic, action-oriented insights and skills will be shared to empower you to develop your ideas. When it comes to creative work, every decision, everyday, matters.

Bangor & Ards MASTERCLASS: REFLECTIVE WRITING WITH FREDERIC HUSKA Sat 25 Feb, 13.00 – 16.00, Sat 11 Mar, 13.00 – 16.00, Sat 25 Mar, 13.00 – 16.00 @Bangor. Cost: £60/£30 (VAI members, for all three workshops). As artists are increasingly required to articulate the underpinning of their work, writing has become an essential skill. This workshop will consider writing as a method of exploration beyond just explaining one’s work. VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFÉ: FACILITATION SKILLS FOR ARTISTS WORKING WITH GROUPS Sat 1 Apr (10.00 – 16.00) @tbc. Cost: £5/free (VAI members). This event will explore the theory and practice of facilitation skills, which can be applied to both group and individual activities as well as collaborations in social and community contexts. VISUAL ARTISTS’ CAFE: INTRODUCING ARDS May (tbc) @Haptic, Newtownards. Free. Find out more about the visual arts exhibition spaces, studios, resources and collectives in Ards and the surrounding area. This networking and information event will be an excellent opportunity to meet other artists and arts organisations in an informal setting.

Derry Visual Artists’ Café: Artist’s Media Toolkit Thurs 2 Mar (12.00 – 16.30) @Void, Derry. Cost: £5/free (VAI members). This practical workshop from Sharon Adams and Simon Mills will look at what information you make available online about you and your work, and how to make low cost, effective promotional videos. BOOKING INFORMATION Rob Hilken (Northern Ireland Manager), 028 9587 0361

NEW EQUIPMENT AT VAI! Members can now rent out our EOS 7D Mark11, Canon EOS 80D, Macro EF 100mm f/2.8L, Macro IS USM Lens and Sennheiser EW 135-p G3: everything you need for professional quality photography and video. Please call 01 672 9488 or see for more details.

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