Visual Artists' News Sheet – 2018 July August

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Issue 4: July – August 2018

The Visual Artists' News Sheet


Contents On The Cover Gerry Blake, 3:00 p.m. October #1 (detail), 2017, location: Sandycove; photograph © Gerry Blake.

First Pages 6. Roundup. Exhibitions and events from the past two months. 8. News. The latest developments in the arts sector. Columns 10. Opinion. Our Collective Voice. Cecily Brennan. Opinion. Framework for Reconciliation. Victoria Durrer. 11. Northern Ireland. Self-Organising for the Future. Rob Hilken.

Editorial WELCOME to the July – August 2018 issue of

the Visual Artists’ News Sheet.

In light of the historic vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, we asked Cecily Brennan to reflect on the contributions of the Artist’s Campaign. In other columns, Victoria Durrer, lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at Queen’s University Belfast, discusses a new collaborative research project, aimed at evaluating the impact of art as a catalyst for reconciliation. VAI NI Manager Rob Hilken reports on the symposium, ‘Best Practice in Developing Sustainable Artist-led Workspaces’ which took place on 11 June in Belfast.

Belfast in April. In the new Art Education section, facilitators offer insights into ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ – an education programme for the 38th EVA International. Two conference reports also feature: Rebecca Kennedy reports on the Turbulence symposium at The Model, Sligo, while DIT students and inaugural Create fellows, Gemma Browne and Bianca Kennedy, report on the recent CAPP staging event in Madrid. Organisation profiles for this issue come from Cork: John Thompson outlines the evolution of the artist-led intitiave, the Guesthouse Project, while Kirstie North interviews Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery, about her future plans for the gallery, including its renovation and extension.

In the How is it Made? section, Aidan Kelly Murphy interviews emerging artist Áine Mc12. Working From the Outside In. Simon Carman, Sculptor. Bride, while Sarah Ellen Lundy discusses her The Regional Focus for this issue comes from Divination and Ritual. Helen Sharp, Visual Artist. ecology-themed art practice. Daniel Berming- Omagh and Fermanagh. Insights on the realities 13. Regional Variations. Susan Hughes, Visual Artist. ham interviews Eimear Walshe and Emma of living and working in the region are offered On and Along the Waterways. Noelle McAlinden, FLive Arts Festival. Haugh about their recent exhibition, ‘Miracu- by visual artists Helen Sharp and Susan Hughes lous Thirst’, which ran at Galway Arts Centre and sculptor Simon Carman, while Noelle from 5 – 25 May. Brenda Moore-McCann out- McAlinden discusses the evolution of FermanHow is it Made? lines some of the new work commissioned by agh Live Arts Festival. 14. The Static Aftermath. Sarah Ellen Lundy discusses her ecology- Sirius Arts Centre as part of the ongoing Brian themed art practice. O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland project, ‘One, Here, Reviewed in the Critique section are: Martin 16. How Do We Get Off? Daniel Bermingham interview the artists involved Now’, including new work by Brendan Earley, Gale at Taylor Galleries; Elizabeth Magill at the in ‘Miraculous Thirst’. showcased in his solo exhibition, ‘Present Per- Ulster Museum; Sarah Walker at Oliver Sears 18. Landscapes of Potential. Aidan Kelly Murphy interviews emerging fect’. In other features for this issue, Jonathan Gallery; Gerry Blake at Mermaid Arts Centre; artist Áine McBride. Carroll discusses some of the main international and Leo Boyd at Atom Gallery, London. 19. Labyrinthine Mind. Brenda Moore-McCann outlines new contemporary art fairs attended by Irish com commissions from Sirius Arts Centre. mercial galleries, while Christopher Steenson As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI provides an overview of Visual Artist Ireland’s Professional Development Programme, exhibiGet Together 2018 and also reports on Sonori- tion and public art roundup, news from the secVAI Event ties, a sonic arts festival that took place across tor and current opportunities. 20. A Perfect Day. Christopher Steenson reports on Visual Artist Ireland’s Get Together 2018. The Visual Artists' Features Editor: Joanne Laws News Sheet: Production Editor/Design: Christopher Steenson Art Education News/Opportunities: Shelly McDonnell, 22. Alternative Energy. Facilitators of ‘Sing the Body Electric’ offer Siobhan Mooney insights into the education programme for EVA International 2018. Visual Artists Ireland: CEO/Director: Noel Kelly Office Manager: Bernadette Beecher Festival and International Northern Ireland Manager: Rob Hilken 24. Sounding Out. Chris Steenson reports on Belfast’s experimental music Communications Officer: Shelly McDonnell and sound art festival, Sonorities Festival 2018. Membership Officer: Siobhan Mooney 26. Art Fairs, Art Fairs Everywhere. Jonathan Carroll discusses some of Publications: Joanne Laws, Christopher Steenson the main international contemporary art fairs. Professional Development Officer: Monica Flynn Website Listings: Shelly McDonnell & Christopher Steenson Conference Bookkeeping: Dina Mulchrone 27. Work in Process. Inaugural Create fellows, Gemma Browne and Bianca Kennedy, report on the recent CAPP staging event in Madrid. Board of Directors: 28. Strategies of Resistance. Rebecca Kennedy reports on the Mary Kelly (Chair), Michael Fitzpatrick, Richard Forrest, Turbulence symposium at The Model, Sligo. Paul Moore, Mary-Ruth Walsh, Dónall Curtin, Michael Corrigan, Cliodhna Ní Anluain Regional Focus: Omagh and Fermanagh

Organisation 29. 30.

The Art of Hospitality. John Thompson discusses the artist-led initiative, the Guesthouse Project, Cork. Journey Through the Centuries. Kirstie North interviews Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.

Last Pages 32. Public Art Roundup. Art outside of the gallery. 34. Opportunities. Grants, awards, exhibitions calls and commissions. 35. VAI Professional Development. Upcoming workshops, seminars and peer reviews.

Republic of Ireland Office

Northern Ireland Office

Visual Artists Ireland Windmill View House 4 Oliver Bond Street Merchants Quay, Dublin 8 T: +353 (0)1 672 9488 E: W:

Visual Artists Ireland 109 Royal Avenue Belfast BT1 1FF T: +44 (0)28 958 70361 E: W:

Principle Funders

Project Funders

Corporate Sponsors

Project Partners

Critique Supplement i. ii. iii. iii. iv. iv.

Cover Image: Elizabeth Magill, Wildlife (detail), 2016–2017. ‘Bloodlines’ at Taylor Galleries. ‘Headland’ at Ulster Museum. ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’ at Oliver Sears Gallery. ‘Into the Sea’ at Mermaid Arts Centre. ‘Welcome to the Simulation’ at Atom Gallery, London.

International Memberships



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018





A Visibility Matrix is a collaborative artwork between Sven Anderson and Gerard Byrne, which runs at the Douglas Hyde Gallery until 25 Aug. The work intends to propose an alternative to the hyper-networked version of visibility in contemporary culture – supported by smartphones and social media platforms – by presenting the viewer with “an offline matrix” of video materials. The video material presented is contributed by a number of different collaborators and will continue to evolve as the artwork tours to Toulouse Arts Festival in Sept 2018 and Void Gallery, Derry, in Jan 2019.


From 13 Apr until 3 Jun, Green on Red Gallery presented an exhibition of new paintings by Ramon Kassam, titled ‘Study for a Studio by the Sea’. The paintings on show were an extension of Kassam’s continuing interest in developing a “world in which to cite an artist”. The works essentially function as landscape paintings, comprised of abstracted two-dimensional surfaces that the artist can inhabit or traverse. The paintings also demonstrate the artist’s enthusiasm for modernist art, with flattened compositions, hard edges and blocked masses of colour featuring prominently.


As part of their thirtieth anniversary programme, the Kerlin Gallery presented a group exhibition of work by Dorothy Cross, Aleana Egan, Siobhán Hapaska, Isabel Nolan and Kathy Prendergast from 3 May to 21 Jun. This exhibition of gallery-represented artists showcased the intergenerational talent operating in the Irish contemporary art scene. Each exhibiting artist presented works that demonstrated their unique approaches to sculpture and installation. During the middle of the exhibition’s run, the artworks were also changed.


‘Realtime’ was an exhibition by Róisín Lewis, which ran at Pallas Projects/Studios from 17 to 26 May. For the exhibition, Lewis showed two bodies of works, thematically connected through the act of swimming and its inherent rhythms. In her ‘S’ series, the drawings displayed “the ephemeral paths created by each of the 121 swimmers who swam from England to France during the summer of 2014”. In ‘Night Swimmers’, Lewis used data collected from swimmers’ support crews, with each estimated stroke made by the swimmer being represented by a looped glyph.


NCAD’s first-year MFA Fine Art and MFA Digital Art students had their end-of-year exhibition, ‘All Other Places’, in a vacant commercial unit at the Point Square. Featuring 14 artists, the exhibition brought together painting, installation, moving image and participatory projects, which demonstrated the wealth of talent emerging from NCAD’s ranks. The artists were: Barbara Lee, Andrew Carson, Claire McCluskey, Dominika Gierzewska, Cristin O’Loughlin, Riin Kaljurand, Istvan Laszlo, Kevin Kelly, Jessica Mackey, Julie Weber, Margaux Basch, Glenn Fitzgerald, Sharon Ramsey and John Conway.


Jesse Jones’s exhibition, ‘Tremble, Tremble’, which was her representing work for Ireland at the 57th Venice Biennale 2017, opened at Project Arts Centre on 8 Jun and will run until 18 Jul. In the context of current developments surrounding #MeToo, #IBelieveHer, the gender pay gap and the Eight Amendment referendum, the Irish premiere of Jones’s work is extremely timely. In video, installation and performance, Jones presents the witch as the ultimate feminist archetype – a magical force who has the power to change reality.

Sharon Ramsey, Elemental, 2018, bitumen, debris scaffold netting, metal; installation view at the Point Sqaure, Dublin; photograph © Steven Maybury


As part of ‘Framewerk + Guests’ series of events for Late Night Art Belfast on 3 May, sound artist Richard Davis presented his ongoing, site-specific installation/performance piece ‘Nowhere’ in The Art Department nightclub, investigating ways of translating song into an immersive installation environment. The work at The Art Department consisted of an eight-channel sound installation, playing randomised vocal lines and guitar parts from the song Nowhere, composed by Davis. Lighting programmed uniquely to each audio clip provided a visual manifestation of the voice heard in each speaker.


‘TRANSACTIONS’ was an exchange between the Boston-based performance art group, Mobius, and BBeyond, a performance art collective based in Belfast. The exchange, which featured as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, provided a platform for both groups to learn from one another and to perform collaboratively in various locations around the city. ‘TRANSACTIONS II’ will take place in downtown Boston on 22 and 23 Sept 2018. The exchange is supported through grants from Live Art Boston and Culture Ireland.


On 24 May Creative Exchange Artists Studios presented ‘Eastside Lighting Talks’ the first in a series of multi-speaker talks which invites presentations by individuals and organisations who are shaping East Belfast’s growing cultural landscape. The idea of the series is to create an informal environment for ideas exchange throughout our communities. The event was organised by Deirdre Morrisy (Creative Exchange) and supported by EastSide Arts. Speakers on the night included Tonya McMullan (artist and beekeeper founder of Infinity Farm) and Paul Moore (artist).


Platform Arts presented the exhibition ‘Life on Land’ by Dublin-based artist Steven McCullagh from 7 to 30 Jun. ‘Life on Land’ was a multi-format exhibition that explored ideas relating to phenomenology and subjective perception through the use of photography and installation. The exhibition was accompanied by two commissioned texts by Dr Francis Halsall (Co-Director MA Art in the Contemporary World, National College of Art and Design) and Dr Ruby Wallis (MFA Lecturer, Burren College of Art, Galway), which were published in a booklet designed by the artist.

Dorothy Cross, Everest Floor (detail), 2017, marble slabs, 200 x 320 cm; image courtesy of Kerlin Gallery


‘Kiss of Light from a New Dawn’ was a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Aidan Koch, which ran at the Naughton Gallery from 19 Apr to 3 Jun. Consisting of all-new work by the artist, the exhibition spanned the mediums of drawing, painting, video, books, comics and ceramics. In doing so, Koch blurs these medium-specific conventions to create “dreamlike narratives which explore the relationship between perception and reality”. Referencing early aesthetic developments in crafts, the exhibition also draws directly from the internet, highlighting its potential as an "accessible, ever-growing archive"


From 4 to 31 May, QSS Gallery exhibited works from Norwich Union House – Belfast’s newest studio group, which is a satellite branch of QSS. The group formed in January 2018 after the former British Council offices at Norwich Union House were cleared and 15 new artist tenants were chosen to occupy the space. Featured in the exhibition was: Gerard Carson, Hannah Clegg, Jessica Ellis, Wendy Ferguson, Eimear Friers, Joy Gerrard, Andrew Haire, David Haughey, Meadhbh McIlgorm, Roisin Owens, Katherine Penney and Karine Talec.

Ramon Kassam, Nearest Town, 2018, acrylic on linen, 125 x 175 cm; image courtesy of Green on Red Gallery

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Rachel Fitzpatrick, Fionn, 2018, installation view at European Cultural Centre, Venice; image courtesy of the artist



Helena Hamilton, Untitled (With), 'Semblance and Event', Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown; photograph by Simon Mills

Amanda Moström, Doing it in the park, doing it after dark, 2017 and Don John, 2018, 'Architecture of Change', Void, Derry; image courtesy of Tansy Cowley



Regional & International


Irish artist Brian Duggan is presenting work in the exhibition ‘The End is Where We Start From. On Tsunamis, Nuclear Explosions and other Fairy Tales’, currently showing in balzer projects, Basel, Switzerland (6 June – 21 July). The show brings together eight international artists whose work navigates the intersections of art and long-term scientific research. While examining the relationship between nature, time and human intervention, these artists generate new readings of our surroundings and possible perceived futures.

Clare-based visual artist Marie Connole’s exhibition, ‘Immrama: Voyages to Kilstipheen’ ran at the Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, from 4 May to 16 Jun. Immrama is a literary genre concerning the activities of individuals seeking the Otherworld in mystical islands off the west coast of Ireland. Kilstipheen is one such island featured in these tales, which is said to become visible for one day every seven years. Connole's exhibition, which consisted of new and old works, can be seen as an extended legacy of these stories.


Designer and artist Rachel Fitzpatrick is currently exhibiting as part of ‘Venice Design’, the largest international design exhibition, running annually alongside the alternating Biennales di Venezia for art and architecture. The six-month exhibition opened at the European Cultural Centre on the 26 May, and will continue until 25 Nov. Fionn is a sculptural chandelier that Fitzpatrick created specially for the exhibition. The piece was made using industrial hook and loop fastening tape. Fitzpatrick’s work is supported by the British Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.


‘Made in Manorhamilton’ was a collaborative exhibition between artist-in-residence Deirdre Nelson and the residents of Manorhamilton. The artist’s intention was for the show to be a celebration of the “act of making”. Nelson invited local residents of the town to interact with the exhibition by including their making practices alongside her own work. The exhibition acted as a way of celebrating the diverse making practices, both past and present, evident within the rural north Leitrim community, showcasing a variety of forms, materials, objects, colour and text.


‘Future Perfect’ was a group exhibition showing at the Model, Sligo, from 5 May to 1 Jul. Featuring the work of contemporary artists based in Germany, the exhibition included films, photographs, sculptures and paintings that collectively reflected on future visions and speculated on the course of history. ‘Future Perfect’ was an exhibition created by the Institut fur Auslandsbeziehunge. It was curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler, and presented by the Goethe Institut and The Model.

Wesport’s Custom House Gallery and Studios hosted the exhibition ‘Architecture of Emotions’ by painter Jane Hughes from 17 May to 10 Jun. According to the press release, the paintings on show “delve into memory not as something which is singular, but rather a montage of memories as slices in time laid on top of one another”. These concerns were presented in the paintings through snippets of remote landscapes, fragments of room interiors and methods of abstraction and loose line work.


‘Fused’ is an exhibition by ceramic artist Caroline Getty, which runs at the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, Armagh, until 14 Jul. Getty’s work plays on the memory of the once booming linen industry that existed across Northern Ireland. The cool, tonal colours of the linen, depicting a resemblance to past memories, are juxtaposed against bold ceramic objects. Both materials are connected by bungee chords, representing the bridge between the past and future of Northern Irish craft. The exhibition is part of Northern Ireland’s first Linen Biennale.


‘The Lost Moment – Civil Rights, Street Protest and Resistance in Northern Ireland, 1968–69’ was a group exhibition, curated by Sean O’Hagan, which ran at Nerve Visual, Derry, from 1 May to 17 Jun. Encompassing photography, video, installations and other historical ephemera from the period, the exhibition provided an indepth look at the contextual factors that led the formation of the Civil Rights movement, which was first formed 50 years ago this year and influenced one of the most tumultuous period in Northern Ireland’s history.


Curated and edited by Pádraic E. Moore, ‘Letters of Last Resort’ is a publication, exhibition and performance programme currently showing at Damien & The Love Guru. The title refers to government letters located on Trident defence submarines carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles. In the face of “mounting anxiety and socio-political uncertainty”, the project highlights the possibilities of collaboration. Work by Irish artists, Liam Gillick and Frank Wasser, feature alongside international artists including Éric Baudelaire and Jenny Holzer. Closing performances will take place on 8 July.


Helena Hamilton’s exhibition, ‘Semblance and Event’, ran at the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, from the 7 Apr until 23 May. Hamilton is an artist, whose practice encapsulates sound, installation, drawing and performance. First exhibited at The Agency Gallery in London, ‘Semblance and Event’ drew together both new and old works made by the artist. The work blurred lines between digital interaction, physical action and performance, through installations and video works, all underpinned by the use of both incidental and composed sound works.


The latest iteration of the Remote Photo festival took place at the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, from 11 to 13 May. The theme of this year’s festival was ‘Reframing the Border’ and revolved around the status of the Irish border at a time when it has resurfaced as one of the most important factors affecting the island. The festival featured exhibitions by Kate Nolan, Donovan Wylie, Enda Bowe and Dara McGrath, amongst many others. The festival programme also featured a series of talks, panel discussions, workshops and a one-day symposium.


‘Architecture of Change’ is a group exhibition, which runs at Void, Derry until 21 July. The exhibition explores the urban ecology of Derry as a “city of the future”. Assemble are showing a filmic work that interrogates the importance of play within the urban context. Similarly, Andrea Moström’s work looks at play and the different responses that art can prompt from audiences. Meanwhile, Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Tom Watt and Tanad Williams have collaborated to create a site-specific installation responding to the local sites and architecture of the city.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


VAI News

General News


In May, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) announced new acquisitions for the third year of the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection, which includes work from Barbara Knezevic, Susan MacWilliam, Mary McIntyre and Helen O’Leary. Each of these artists have well-established and diverse practices, and have exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally. The works chosen for the collection span sculpture, video and photography. Each engage with issues of contemporary culture and the artist’s outlook on the modern world. The works will be exhibited at IMMA until 18 September 2018 and will now be included as part of IMMA’s National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. The panelists for the 2018 iteration of the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA collection were Hugh Mulholland (Senior Curator, The MAC, Belfast), Cliodhna Shaffrey (Director, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin and IMMA Acquisition Committee member) and Christina Kennedy (Senior Curator, Head of Collections, IMMA), assisted by Claire Walsh (Assistant Curator, Collections, IMMA).


The work of Alan Butler has been selected as part of the IMMA 1000 purchase for the IMMA collection. The selected piece is titled On the Exactitude of Science and was originally commissioned by IMMA for the 2017 exhibition, ‘As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics’. It is a two-screen synchronised video piece, consisting of the Godfrey Reggio film, Koyannisqatsi (1983), played alongside Butler’s shot-for-shot remake of the film, titled Koyannisgtav (2017). Emulating the real-world scenery from Reggio’s film, Butler created his remake using computer-generated scenery from the video game, Grand Theft Auto V. Both videos are linked in Butler’s installation by Philip Glass’s soundtrack from the original film. The title for the installation is drawn from a short story by the Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, in which a fictional civilisation creates a 1:1 map of their territory. IMMA 1000 was set up to “secure the artist ecosystem for the future”. It intends to do this by supporting artists through commissions and exhibitions, purchasing work for the IMMA collection, as well as providing bursaries and residencies to artists. The fund was conceived on behalf of CheckRisk director John Cunningham, alongside corporate founders Goodbody. IMMA aim to raise an additional €250,000 by the end of 2018, with Goodbody committing to contribute significant funds to the initiative over the next three years.


On 30 May it was announced that Chris Baldwin had stepped down from his role as Creative Director of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture (ECOC). It was stated that Baldwin left under “mutual agreement with the Galway 2020 board”. Baldwin was appointed director of the ECOC programme last summer, after working as the curator of Interdisciplinary Performance for Wroclaw, Poland, during the 2016 ECOC. Along with the news of Baldwin’s departure, it was announced that a number of other important personnel changes have also taken place. Liz Kelly will be the producer for Galway 2020’s flagship programme ‘Small Town, Big Ideas’. Kate Howard has been appointed as the new Visual Arts Curator, while Craig Flaherty has been given the role of Audience Development and Programme Producer. The full programme events for Galway 2020 is due to be released later in 2018, with a number of local and national roadshows expected to take place to publicise the event.


Good news came for PS2 (Paragon Studios/Project Space) in June, with the announcement that they will be receiving a £375,000 grant from the Freelands Foundation over the next five years under the Freelands Artist Programme. This news comes just two months after PS2 lost their annual funding from Arts Council of Northern Ireland. This new source of funding means that PS2 can continue to develop its programme of exhibitions, supporting 80 emerging artists in the process. The funding from the Freeland Artist Programme also covers individual grants for each artist working with the PS2, as well as organisational travel and logistical costs that will allow the gallery to participate in a UK-wide symposium and showcase highlights from their exhibition programme in an annual exhibition in London, hosted by Freelands.


In June the Arts Council of Ireland published a new set of resource documents to support individuals and arts organisations on the issue of dignity and respect in the workplace. The documents come after increased media attention in recent months surrounding discrimination and sexual harassment in the arts sector. The documents were developed in April over a series of information sessions, conducted alongside human resources and employment law firm Graphite HRM. Through these sessions, new resource materials were developed that update previous dignity and respect work policy and procedures. The documents are available to download from the Arts Council website (





Eight artists have been selected as part of the Children’s Hospital Public Art Programme to develop public artworks for spaces surrounding the new children’s hospital and the two new paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres at Connolly and Tallaght Hospitals in Dublin. The artists selected for the programme are: Róisín DeBuitléar, Jason Bruges Studio, Remco DeFouw, Vera Klute, Rhona Byrne, Ian Wilson, Gareth Kennedy and Martin Healy, who will now work with the project’s design team, and its stakeholders, on developing their artwork proposals. All of the proposals have been conceived with the aim of creating a child-friendly environment in the public areas of the new children’s hospital and the two paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres. These include the waiting areas, entrances and concourse areas and parking areas. Also included is the ‘frieze’ surrounding the new children’s hospital – the base of the garden on the fourth floor, which forms a continuous single storey around the building’s perimeter.

Following an overwhelming open call response, with almost 300 submissions, three selection phases have been conducted for the Fingal County Council’s public art programme ‘Infrastructure 2018 – 2021’. Nine commissions have been awarded under two categories: ‘Public Art Awards’ (which are projects that demonstrate a high level of artistic excellence, innovation and ambition for Fingal) and ‘Co-Productions’ (where artists will work collaboratively with specific Fingal community groups or a new community of interest). John Byrne, Sarah Browne and Adam Gibney (Fingal) have been selected under the ‘Public Art Awards’ category. Declan Gorman (Fingal), Anthony Haughey and the Migrant Collective (Balbriggan), Michelle Hall (Blanchardstown), Gareth Kennedy, Yvonne McGuinness (Malahide) and Aoife Dunne (Blanchardstown) have been selected under the ‘Co-Productions’ category. The commissions are across many contemporary art forms including theatre, film, virtual reality and digital art, performance, engaged and expanded practice and literature. ‘Infrastructure’ is predominantly funded through the Per Cent for Art scheme and is valued at €400,000. It is co-curated by Fingal County Council’s Public Art Co-ordinator Caroline Cowley and independent curator, Aisling Prior. Academics, Declan Long and Valerie Connor, local public representatives and a range of specialist staff drawn from Fingal County Council’s Community, Heritage, Cultural and Planning departments were also involved in the selection process.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has commissioned a new sculpture of Roger Casement, who was born in Sandycove, to commemorate his role in the 1916 Rising. The chosen location for the sculpture is a plinth at the end of the jetty at Sandycove beach, which will be constructed as part of the ‘Baths Project’, due for completion at the beginning of 2020. The winning artist, Mark Richards, was selected following a two-stage process, which was administered by Visual Artists Ireland on behalf of dlr County Council. Four artists were shortlisted from 40 open call submissions. The sculpture will be a figurative representation of Roger Casement and will measure three metres in height (just over 1.5 times life size). The figure will be cast in bronze and, as a result, will mature over time to reflect the climatic conditions of the statue’s seaside location.

Four curators have been selected to take part in the New Spaces programme, a new collaboration between Derry City and Strabane District Council and Visual Artists Ireland that will bring 16 contemporary art exhibitions to four different venues across Derry and Sion Mils. The curators selected to take part in the programme are: Edy Fung, Rebecca Strain, Mirjami Schupert and Alice Butler. Each curator will create exhibitions featuring work from artists based in Ireland and further afield. The venues that will be used to host the exhibitions are: The Walled City Brewery in Ebrington, Derry; Gwyn’s Cafe and Pavilion, Brooke Park, Derry; The Cottage in The Craft Village, Derry; and Sion Stables in the heritage village of Sion Mills. The first series of exhibitions will open on 14 July. Through using alternative public spaces to exhibit art, New Spaces aims to create opportunities for local artists by engaging with the private sector, whilst also allowing people to experience exciting and challenging contemporary art in new ways. The project also aims to develop the skills of local art professionals by giving them experience of working in alternative public spaces. New Spaces is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, National Lottery Challenge fund, Arts and Business Northern Ireland and the partner venues hosting the exhibitions.


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018




Our Collective Voice

Framework for Reconciliation

Cecily Brennan

Victoria Durrer



THE OBJECTIVE OF the Artists’ Campaign was

THE ARTS ARE ARGUED to provide spaces for

to remove the damaging Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, thus allowing legislation for abortion and reproductive rights to be put in place. When myself and Alice Maher, Eithne Jordan and the poet Paula Meehan first spoke together in February 2015 about starting the campaign, we were outraged that so little progress had been made, despite frequent calls for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment since 1983. This amendment had overshadowed our lives and was regarded as unfinished business for every feminist in Ireland. We were determined to push forward on the issue of reproductive rights for women in Ireland with crisis pregnancies. The first, the absolutely essential, task was to persuade the Oireachtas to agree to call a referendum. It is worth noting that when we started the campaign in 2015, very few politicians would touch the issue. We felt confident that, if we set up an Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, our fellow artists in all disciplines would support us. And they did, in huge numbers. The 66.4% majority vote on 25 May was achieved through the extraordinary commitment and energy of tens of thousands of citizens, who campaigned tirelessly in dozens of campaigns, but we believe that, as artists, we contributed more than just our time and commitment. As the national campaign gained momentum, thousands of artists signed the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment’s statement, many hundreds of artists gave their time and expertise in the myriad details integral to any social campaign – distributing badges, managing the bank account, maintaining the website, making placards, maintaining the social media accounts and so on – but the campaign brought something else to the extraordinary victory for reproductive rights in Ireland. During the campaign filmmakers, poets, actors, editors, writers, playwrights, directors, producers, singers, musicians, composers, songwriters, but mostly visual artists, combined art and politics to amplify our voice. This had a number of elements. Firstly, we needed a badge as a means of public declaration and to build a sense of community. Our badge was one of the first designed with Daragh O’Toole, and in my view the most effective. We sold tens of thousands of them and, with the exception of one generous fund-raising event, the income raised from badge sales paid for everything else that we did. Secondly, we knew the vital importance of telling the stories of individual women who had suffered appallingly as a result of the Amendment. We organised a day long event ‘A Day of Testimonies’ in Project Arts Centre on 26 August 2017 culminating in an evening of readings by actors of women's stories. Filmed, edited and subtitled, these stories became a resource for use on social media and were later combined with short films that had also been shown at the day

long event. The combined readings and films we called ‘WITNESS’, an online and on-DVD resource that the Artists’ Campaign made free to pro-repeal groups for their events nationwide. This simple format meant that women’s stories could be heard and viewed easily (on view at Thirdly, and most effectively, there is the visual imagery that the Artists’ Campaign brought to the national campaign. We are especially proud of the banners. There are far too many people (literally hundreds) involved in the campaign to give everyone the credit that they deserve but Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon, Áine Phillips, Breda Mayock and Sarah Cullen have to be especially thanked for their work on the banners. Given the grotesque imagery used by the NO side, the Artists’ Campaign banners were a triumph of creativity over toxicity. The banners also formed a key part of the Artists’ Campaign’s contribution to EVA 2018 in Limerick and were used in the ‘Repeal! Procession’, a solemn procession through the streets of Limerick by over 200 artists, singers, dancers and performance artists subsequently cut into a beautiful four-minute short film ( I think that the Artists Campaign has reframed public perception of artists in Ireland. It has dismantled any ideas of artists as uncaring, removed or elitist – stereotypes that we as artists know are completely untrue. Do artists have a duty to participate in the social and political life of the society they live in, aside from or additional to their normal rights and responsibilities as citizens? Of course not, but the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment has shown that if artists choose to organise themselves and contribute they can make a significant and powerful contribution. Not everybody agrees however that artists should be allowed to speak out. A significant number of attempts to silence artists emerged during the campaign – painting over a mural, cancelling a book launch, cancelling performances of an award-winning play have led to a chilling effect on administrators and Board members of arts organisations trying to avoid unspecified repercussions. Any attempt to undermine freedom of artistic expression must be pushed back not only by artists but by advocacy bodies and arts organisations. We cannot allow censorship to take hold in any form.

Cecily Brennan is an Irish artist who lives and works in Dublin. She is a member of Aosdána.

personal and communal interaction, reflection and expression, in ways that are particularly helpful for reconciliation processes. The arts are funded and employed in a variety of ways for these purposes in the EU and internationally. In places like Northern Ireland, former Yugoslavia Bosnia/Serbia, Tamil/Sri Lanka, Palestine/ Gaza, Australia and with Greek/Turkish communities in Cyprus, such arts-based interventions are aimed at preventing a return to conflict, presenting a voice for those harmed by political violence and, in so doing, transforming relationships between adversarial groups. What we have termed ‘Art for Reconciliation’, or AfR, can take many forms. These can include: films and film screenings; presenting and developing exhibitions; making and presenting theatre works (through community theatre, theatre for social change and/or forum theatre); dance and music projects; as well as collective visual arts projects (such as in the form of murals across a range of ages and communities). Yet, as noted in Cultural Value, the final report of a three-year, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project: “long-term evaluations of arts and cultural initiatives in post-conflict transformation have rarely if ever been attempted”. Without such ‘attempts’, we have been facing a series of problems. Firstly, the outcomes of AfR are not adequately understood. It is suggested that AfR can enable processes of healing, witness testimony and intercommunity engagement that can transform and stimulate positive relational change between communities in conflict. But it may also be the case that AfR replicates these divisions as well. Researching the differing forms and outcomes of AfR is required to adequately understand how positive reconciliatory outcomes can be realised. Secondly, we currently lack appropriate evaluative forms for measuring how AfR may achieve a shift out of, and away from, conflict. Evaluations are often tied to audience reaction, as opposed to more in-depth and grounded techniques that capture positive relational change between communities in conflict. Thirdly, we do not yet fully understand how funding practice, community response and the management and production of art can affect the landscape of AfR, and thus the arts more generally. As a result, it has not been possible to fully and widely share the value of varying AfR practices. To address these problems, researchers at the University of Liverpool, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University have come together with practitioners, funders, and participants of AfR in Northern Ireland to research and develop a framework for capturing the impact of this work. Through a focus on AfR practice from the early years of the Northern Ireland peace process, from 1995 onwards, we are exploring: what is currently known about AfR and its potential to achieve conflict transformation; what the dis-

tinctive strategies and practices within the field of AfR are; and whether or not (as well as how) we might be able to improve these practices and better promote their value. The project has begun this year and will take place in two phases. At present, there is insufficient knowledge of the reasons for AfR funding decisions, how these decisions define the field, or detail on the motivations of AfR applicants. The utility of present evaluation techniques to determine the ways in which AfR addresses conflict transformation is also limited, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland, where arts funding is precarious. Not only do methods often emphasise a more statistical and quantifiable picture of AfR, but evaluation questions about the outcomes of AfR practice typically stress demonstrating positive impact, rather than a process of learning, much to the detriment of understanding what actually may be taking place and how this work itself may be part of a larger framework for reconciliation processes in different territories. In response to these concerns, we are working with funders and arts practitioners to produce an inventory of AfR practice that will enable the creation of a workable typology. This typology will locate various forms of work within a continuum of reconciliatory outcomes. By placing AfR projects within this continuum, we can better determine the efficacy of policy, funder, community and practitioner approaches for future conflict transformation strategies. The second phase of the research will involve detailed case studies of different AfR projects. At the heart of our approach is a collaborative process of data collection and analysis with those individuals and organisations involved in AfR work. Through the support of a Research Advisory Committee, a website and a series of public events, we are aiming to constantly check the assumptions held about the role of the arts in reconciliatory and conflict transformation processes. In doing so, we aim to provide a more robust and meaningful process for evaluating the practice that fits the purpose of both funders, as well as the practitioners and participants who engage in this work on a daily basis. ‘The Art of Reconciliation: Do reconciliation-funded arts projects transform conflict?’ is funded by AHRC and led by Peter Shirlow (University of Liverpool) with Peter Campbell, Sarah Jankowitz and Rebecca Spencer (Liverpool), Victoria Durrer, David Grant and Des O’Rawe (Queen’s University Belfast) and Matt Jennings (Ulster University). Victoria Durrer is a lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy at Queen's University Belfast. She is co-founder of the research network, Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland, and serves on the editorial panel of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy, based at UCD.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2018

Northern Ireland


sium in June to explore how artist-led organisations can become more financially sustainable. We invited Matthew Nevin (MART, Dublin), Stina Puotinen (Islington Mill, Salford) and Doug Francis (Artspace Lifespace, Bristol) to discuss the methods employed by their respective organisations to ensure longevity. Islington Mill is a creative hub, artist workspace and community comprising 100 artists and over 50 businesses. They host exhibitions, international residencies, an art academy and a public events programme. Artspace Lifespace turn unused and abandoned buildings into multi-purpose arts venues. They currently operate five spaces across Bristol and count over 300 artists as part of their community. MART currently offer workspaces to 170 artists and creatives across eight venues in Dublin. They run an exhibitions programme at their gallery space and create opportunities for their members to exhibit internationally. When discussing financial sustainability, it became clear that generating income is not a standalone challenge, but is heavily dependent on having the relevant resources, staff and skills. There was a clear message from the panel that getting the right team together and ensuring that staff are paid, is fundamental to an organisation’s capacity to generate extra income. The panel stressed that their organisations would not have been able to grow, had they not had a team in place to manage day-to-day operations. It was suggested that smaller organisations could join forces to employ people with specific skills, such as bookkeeping or marketing, potentially freeing up directors and senior staff to focus on strategic and financial planning. Many artist-led organisations operate on a voluntary basis, often using rotating boards of directors, with two-year contracts. Catalyst Arts (Belfast), Transmission (Glasgow) and Royal Standard (Liverpool) use this organisational model but acknowledge that it also brings challenges, particularly regarding long-term planning and maintaining ‘institutional knowledge’. Panel chair, Joanne Laws (VAI), suggested that appointing an advisory board of previous directors would provide a degree of continuity for organisations and support for strategic decision-making. Security of tenure was highlighted as a real threat to sustainability, with each of the three organisations tackling this issue in different ways. MART recognised early on that having just one building was precarious and so quickly began to lease multiple properties. They now look for ten-year leases for new ventures, in order to minimise administration costs. Artspace Lifespace often pay minimal rent on properties, on the understanding that they will regenerate the property and the local area. They have occupied 13 separate buildings during their existence and see regeneration as one of their core purposes. Their strong reputation in this field often sees them engaged as a strategic partner on urban regeneration projects. Conversely, Islington Mill

own their own building, but continually seek ways to expand by pursuing interim projects that will build their reputation and create opportunities for artists. They have an excellent working relationship with Salford City Council (that began with a complaint about noise levels) and this level of trust continues to generate new opportunities. Another common theme to emerge from the discussion, was that sustainability can be enhanced by expanding the scale of operations. Audience engagement was highlighted as an important way to demonstrate their value and public benefit to decision-makers. Raising their public profile has created a larger base of stakeholders and advocates who support them, including local businesses, politicians and civil servants. Notably, all three organisations have adopted a multidisciplinary approach to studio provision. Artists and studio holders at Islington Mill and Artspace Lifespace stage various events – including music, circus, cabaret and food events, as well as exhibitions – making them more accessible to local audiences, from the very young to the elderly. This multidisciplinary approach generates further opportunities to expand resources and generate income. MART also recognise the importance of broadening their membership base beyond visual artists, dividing their studios between artists and ‘other creatives’, including designers, architects, producers, animators and other creative industry professionals. They offer a tiered approach to pricing, where different facilities are leased for different types of use. It was understood that the different organisational models and practical solutions discussed on the day would not suit every organisation. The panel felt that understanding an organisation’s uniqueness and vision should directly inform the most effective structure and approaches. Nevin advocated learning from other successful studio-providers, highlighting the 2016–17 annual report published by Baltic Creative CIC in Liverpool as a useful resource. Similarly, learning from established models of collaboration and collectivity, such as Common Practice in London, was also suggested as a way of asserting a collective voice for Northern Ireland’s small-scale arts sector, in order to build confidence and counter the perceived inexperience of artist-led boards. Other practical advice included only carrying out fundraising to solve specific problems. Tackling individual problems one at a time will help to build morale. If staffing levels and other resources are addressed early on, other challenges become easier to overcome. A final thought from the panel stressed the importance of being ambitious and strategic. Regular collaboration with local, national and international partners (both within and outside the arts) was seen as essential, while the ability to demonstrate your value to stakeholders was deemed critical to generating investment of any kind. Rob Hilken is Visual Artists Ireland Northern Ireland Manager.

Regional Focus Omagh and Fermanagh

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Divination and Ritual Helen Sharp Visual Artist

Working From the Outside In Simon Carman Sculptor

I WAS RAISED in Dublin, attended Glasgow

School of Art and now live and work in County Fermanagh. I predominantly work with stone, but my practice also incorporates bronze, clay and drawing. I have worked in professional foundries for many years and worked with the Leitrim Sculpture Centre for a long time, before dedicating my life fully to my own practice. Stone engages me on holistic level, stimulating the technical, physical and artistic parts of my brain. For me, the stone-carving process is conceptual, physical and meditative. It’s the material nature of stone – the challenge of it – that engages me. I find clay very easy and, in a sense, that’s why I don’t use it as much. There’s also something fantastic about being part of an ancient lineage of stone carvers. In some ways, the medium is outside of the ‘contemporary’; it forms part of a bigger picture, reaching back thousands of years. However, you will see a lot of popular culture in my practice. I am currently working on a series of pieces inspired by Grace Jones, for an exhibition at Generator Gallery in Dundee. I like the idea of turning an iconic popular culture image into a classical sculpture, as if elevating it to the status of a deity. More recently, the challenge of mastering horses has obsessed me – how muscle lies on bone, how skin sits on muscle. That’s the demanding aspect of stone that intrigues me – working from the inside out, but by carving from the outside in. I am currently undertaking a major commission for the Irish National Stud – a government-owned thoroughbred horse-breeding facility in County Kildare. The opportunity came to my attention via curator Linda Shevlin, who I had worked with previously. I was drawn

to the open call as I had recently completed a commission for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre – a memorial for equine artist Debi O’Hehir, who died in 2015. Whilst carving that piece – and spending a lot of time around horses – I began to think about the correlation between Ireland’s incredible limestone pasture and the horses that graze upon it. The Irish National Stud is located in Kildare, precisely because of the limestone ground that is so good for the equines. Inspired by this connection, I proposed to carve a lifesized limestone sculpture of their champion racehorse and sire, Invincible Spirit – a huge undertaking that has never been done before. The sculpture is an attempt to tell the story of the connection between Irish limestone and our incredible Irish thoroughbreds. The limestone I’m using to create the sculpture was sourced from McKeown’s stone quarry in Kilkenny. I was immensely lucky to find a flawless stone of such high quality to allow the project to proceed. The stone itself started out at 32 tonnes, which I then trimmed down to 19 tonnes in the quarry. On completion, the sculpture will weigh approximately 16 tonnes and will stand at 2.5 metres tall, 2.7 metres long and approximately 1.3 metres deep. It has been a pleasure to work at the quarry. Since the quarry was established in the mid-1950s, most of Ireland’s top stone sculptors have worked there, at one stage or another. It is an honour to be part of that lineage and in particular, to work alongside Eileen McDonagh and to follow in the footsteps of my mother, the sculptor Cathy Carman. The lads at the yard have been nothing but professional and encouraging from the moment I turned up with the idea for this colossal piece. Everybody has been immensely helpful, from the management to the stonecutters in the quarry. McKeown’s have the best quality monumental limestone in Ireland and possibly Europe, with the expertise to match. I don’t think it would have been possible to get a stone of that size and quality anywhere else.

Simon Carman, Invincible Spirit, work in progress; image courtesy of the artist

Helen Sharp, After August, Because Things Often Get Better, 2017, photo collage; image courtesy of the artist

I GREW UP in the Outer Hebrides and left the

islands to take up a place in Edinburgh College of Art, where I gained a first-class honours degree in sculpture in 1996. I went on to graduate from Dartington College of Arts in 2001 with an MA in Time-Based Art and subsequently completed a PhD at the University of Ulster in 2010. In a jailbreak from art in 2015, I studied Equine Science at agricultural college and am now a freelance equine journalist and have four horses of my own. Horses have always been a strong totem in my work. I exhibited three works as part of the group exhibition, ‘Horse’, at Void, Derry (21 February to 18 April 2015). On residency at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre in 2013, I converted a horsebox into a mobile museum, in celebration of animal sentience. My artworks often playfully explore divination and spiritual rituals for modern anxiety, focusing particularly on animal, rural, magical and pop cultural iconology. Such visual navigations extend connections between astrology, astronomy, club culture, psychology and geography, promising reassurance in the positive wonder of the universe! For example, What the Birds Told Me was a sculptural work based on the idea that the birds can guides us – in this instance, jackdaws. I documented the clattering of jackdaws above my local Spar for a number of months and then created a set of bespoke oracle cards from the resulting photographs. I asked a tarot reader to perform live readings for gallery visitors using these cards, channeling guidance directly from neighbourhood birds. In 2015, in collaboration with sculptor Simon Carman, and on the invitation of curators Linda Shevlin and Sean O’Reilly (as part of the Agri_ Culture Residency award), I developed a large installation called Wilderness in Modified Landscapes for Roscommon Arts Centre and Leitrim Sculpture Centre. This work fulfilled a longtime ambition to make a large sculpture from working electric fencing and allowed me to spend time developing ideas with one of Ireland’s most exciting stone sculptors (who I happened to marry

last year!). In August this year, we will present a two-person show called ‘Fresh from the Altar’ in Scotland at the Generator Gallery in Dundee. I will be exploring the concepts of rural fantasy and urban memory and will make a new film installation influenced by the song Dream Baby Dream by the band Suicide (and featuring the cover version by Bruce Springsteen). I am also working on a large wall drawing featuring show-jumper Jessica Springsteen (Bruce’s daughter) and an intimate sculpture involving the smell of straw and Jeyes fluid – a smell associated with the birth of foals, the memories of nightclub bathrooms, and where those two experiences meet in my mind, as I sit on my island in Fermanagh. In addition, I am currently working on a piece involving red agricultural barns, which is to be exhibited in Armagh at the invitation of Fermanagh-born poet, Maria McManus. This project involves two elements that have often reoccurred in my practice since moving to Fermanagh 11 years ago: agricultural imagery and collaborative working. Aside from my artistic practice, I have also previously worked on a number of freelance curatorial and design projects. In 2012, I curated ‘Humbly Through the Dust’ in Fermanagh for British Council Northern Ireland, featuring 20 artists including Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Henry Moore and Mark Wallinger; I am currently working on the sequel to this exhibition. I also curated an experimental music event, ‘Dark At Its Full’, with Jarman Award-winner Seamus Harahan for the Happy Days International Beckett Festival 2012. In 2014, I was production designer for acclaimed music producer David Holmes’s award-winning film, I Am Here, shot entirely on location at my home in Fermanagh, with the world-renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle. I am currently curator for the Hambly & Hambly commercial gallery in Enniskillen and am working on an exhibition of 18 women artists with gallerist Ciara Hambly, called ‘Liberté, Egalité, Sororité’, which runs until 28 July.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Regional Focus

Regional Variations

On and Along the Waterways

Susan Hughes

Noelle McAlinden

Visual Artist

Chair, Fermanagh Live Arts Festival

AS A YOUNG ART STUDENT at the University

of Ulster in the early 2000s, I attended fiddle classes at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. At some point during this time, someone said: “You have to go to the Glencolmkille Fiddle Week” – and so I went! Glencolmkille is a beautiful, bleak, historically isolated outpost of South West Donegal, which has retained a specific repertoire of fiddle tunes. It was there the realisation hit me that traditional music was not simply a series of notes placed together in a pleasing pattern, but a direct reference to the sea, the land, the traditions, language and stories of a place. The style and technique of traditional music develops and changes from townland to townland, just as ecosystems vary and change from valley to valley. The experiences of Glencolmkille greatly influenced my artistic practice and created new patterns in my behaviour. Everywhere I now go, I use my fiddle as a way of allowing different places to inspire me. Through the intensely social aspect of playing folk music, I invariably meet someone who will bring me out in a boat or take me on a walk to somewhere I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. Essentially, I use my music as a bartering tool to gain a deeper insight into a place. This draw to the rich cultural heritage of coastal areas, such as Glencolmkille, is also entwined with my desire to be by the sea or in the liminal space of an ocean coastline. These coastal areas shift something in me. Experiencing direct immersion through swimming compels me to engage with the sea as a living, breathing space: unknown, dangerous, powerful, full of life, simultaneously reassuring and terrifying in its relentless rhythms. Ever difficult to come to terms with is the fact that I – although feeling minuscule and futile in the face of such power – am a representative of humanity, who has actually altered the balance and behaviour of the seas I swim in. By stepping off the land and into this other world – an opposite world to that which is familiar and human – I reach something else: submission, freedom from suppression, unsavoury desire, visceral euphoria, bare grief. It is these feelings and experiences that I take back to the studio to create my work.

My work is mixed-media based. I often incorporate underwater photos, taken while swimming, which are worked and reworked to create an intimate collage composition. Gradual tone is interrupted by sharp, aggressive lines, which attempt to map and control the space. Quiet text draws the viewer in and weighs the image down with ambiguity to create an uncomfortable and unexpected voyeurism. All the while, I retain abstraction and, therefore, control of what I reveal, creating little letters to anonymous and oblivious individuals or notes-to-self. Eimear McBride and Margaret Atwood’s writings have influenced me in the way they abstract internalisations of visceral sexuality, disgust, shame and joy. As has my own mother, who wrote up to ten handwritten letters per day to friends and family and occasionally strangers, politicians and celebrities. Since her death, I keep coming across her writing in old notebooks, in unsent letters, in my own received notes from her. As time goes on, I have come to appreciate her rich, descriptive and chaotic writing style more and more. And so goes the cycle of playing tunes, swimming, being alone, being with others, loving, grieving: making artwork. I am currently based in Belfast, but I previously lived in Fermanagh for four years, where I worked as an art teacher and was chairperson of Visual Arts Fermanagh. In 2010, a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie centre planted the seed to leave teaching and pursue my visual arts practice in full. Since 2012, I have attended a number of residencies, most notably Kunstnarhauset Messen in the Hardangerfjord in Norway, where I also learned traditional Norwegian fiddle, Rathlin Island’s West Lighthouse and Hrísey Island in North Iceland. This December I will undertake a residency in Halingdal, Norway.

Susan Hughes, The Gannet (detail), 2017, mixed media collage, 20 cm x 13 cm; image courtesy of the artist


Niall McCaffery-Cassidy, Freedom, 2017; shown as part of Fermanagh Live Arts Festival 2017; image courtesy of Fermanagh Live Arts Festival

NOW IN ITS eleventh year, Fermanagh Live

Arts Festival (4 – 7 October), continues to go from strength to strength, with a diverse and dynamic visual and performing arts programme that celebrates art in all its forms in the island town of Enniskillen. Despite limited resources and the recent closure of the town’s Higher Bridges Gallery, the appetite for the arts continues to grow and flourish. I am fortunate as chair of Fermanagh Live (FLive) to work with a dedicated team of artists, educators and volunteers that are actively engaged with the cultural life of Fermanagh. With over 30 years experience as a cultural programmer, arts educator, artist and arts activist, I see the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of working in collaboration with a range of partners in order to promote arts and culture. Sourcing performance and exhibition spaces has been a challenge. My own solo exhibition last year, ‘Precious Cargo II’, proved to be a novel solution, using a barge as an arts space. It demonstrated the increasing potential of alternative venues for exhibitions, poetry readings and performances. Last year’s Flive provided an exceptionally vibrant and eclectic visual arts programme, which will influence planning for this year. Mavis Thomson’s solo exhibition, ‘Postcards from Japan’, attracted regional audiences of all ages. Equally popular, our Visual Arts Trails celebrated the talents of emerging artists from Enniskillen’s South West College, including solo exhibitions from more established regional artists, such as Douglas Hutton and Tara Moran Woods. This year, Hambly & Hambly Gallery will build on previous success, attracting emerging artists to exhibit and participate in imersive cultural experiences. The Devenish Gallery continues to celebrate artists that are both locally and internationally renowned, supporting exhibitions within and beyond their gallery walls. This year’s porgramme includes a retrospective exhibition celebrating the work of Liam Blake. Flive continues to promote the health bene-

fits of the arts through ‘Art of Wellbeing’, which places artworks in accessible health settings such as South West Acute Hospital (SWAH). Last year, Jenny McGrail gifted a piece so that it could be enjoyed in SWAH. This year, Michael Brown will exhibit his recent body of work, ‘Fermanagh Landcapes’, at SWAH in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Devenish Gallery. Brown’s unique perspective creates original works, with a palette that lightens the spirit. Our ongoing strategic partnerships – including working with Visual Artists Ireland to host a creative exchange for artists at Waterways Ireland – have proved significant in linking artists throughout Ireland. Our collaboration with the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA) has also proved beneficial in promoting RUA Masterclasses and FLive’s programme, as has our ongoing partnership with Northern Ireland’s Association of Art and Design Education. We hope to build on support from our festival partners, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, the Arts Council. Waterways Ireland have been pivotal in providing access to exhibition spaces. New partnerships are evolving with creatives and educators, exploring sources of inspiration using the waterways. As the exhibition schedule evolves, plans are underway to launch a series of exhibitions, on and along the waterways, from early September until November. Pop-up spaces in coffee shops, libraries, local businesses, banks, barges and bistros will also continue to provide platforms for artists, authors and musicians to exhibit and perform. We are under no illusion about the challenges that continue to impact upon the survival and sustainability of the festival and the sector. The fragile funding landscape coupled with the uncertainties of Brexit, undoubtedly will impact going forward. However Enniskillen, and indeed Fermanagh, has much to celebrate in terms of its own culture, creativity, history and heritage.


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?

Sarah Ellen Lundy, Umble[bumble], 2017, installation view at Leitrim Sculpture Centre; image © Oakfield Photography (Pat Mullan), courtesy the artist


LAST SUMMER I was awarded a residency at Leitrim Sculpture Centre which led to

my solo exhibition, ‘Umbel[bumble]’, being presented across the three gallery spaces at LSC. This new work was based on my exploration of several themes, from plants and pollinators to botany and the body. My practice has increasingly turned toward the incorporation of ecological elements – including live meal-worms, dried shelf fungi and bees – owing, most likely, to my ongoing horticultural work at The Organic Centre, in Rossinver, County Leitrim. My aesthetic and professional interest in plants is also influenced by my values as a vegan and my opposition to the exploitation of animals in the dairy and agriculture sectors. I am currently studying for a certificate in Irish Wildflower Identification at Sligo IT. Whilst I adore the splendour of nature in bloom, the fragile and figurative expressions of dried plant specimens is of particular interest to me. This preoccupation takes form in my work through plant preservation and a large herbarium that I constantly add to. My father, who is a great inspiration to me in general, has always had a deep respect for the natural world. He practiced taxidermy throughout my childhood and ingrained in me an interest in preserving nature after death. The term taxidermy derives from the ancient Greek taxis (meaning to arrange) and derma (referring to skin). As a child I was fascinated by this process, however with puberty came a growing repulsion towards gore and a stiffening towards the unethical sourcing of creatures through hunting. I subsequently turned my attention towards the plant world but retained an interest in the presentation of deceased natural specimens – something I describe in the context of my work as the ‘posthumous poise’ or, indeed, the ‘static aftermath’. My exhibition at LSC, ‘Umble[bumble]’, was a personal testament about the natural world, centring on a perceived connectivity between plants, pollinators and humans. The body, fragility and femininity were addressed through a series of cyclical motifs. The title makes reference to the bumblebee insect, as well as a family of plants known as Umbelliferae.1 Plant specimens used in the exhibition included dried giant hogweeds and cow parsley. Presented upright, as though growing out of the gallery floor, these slender stalks and bulbous heads had the fragility and grace of Giacometti’s figurative sculptures. The central installation comprised 199 dead bumble bees, suspended from the ceiling at head-height in individual clear cylindrical vials – a quasi-scientific presentation technique that offered 360-degree views of each little body. The piece was an

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?

Sarah Ellen Lundy, Sigil Sun, 2017, wall painting, installation view at Leitrim Sculpture Centre; image © Oakfield Photography (Pat Mullan), courtesy the artist

aesthetic response to the global epidemic of pollinator decline due to pesticide poisoning. In the context of the white cube gallery space, it provided a clinical, postapocalyptic vision of the extinction of bees, with the sheer volume of dead bees presented in the work invoking anxiety about the toxic environment in which we reside. Information on the ‘All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015–2020’ was available in the gallery for the public to peruse. My eleven-part photographic print series, ‘Spectre’, with its negative images of dried flowers, echoes the Victorian era’s preoccupation with compiling herbariums or pressed plant collections. The aesthetic of this print series references early technology, namely the cyanotype tradition of solar printing, with a nod to English botanist Anna Atkins, the first female photographer to use this technique. In the photographs, the delicate white lines of the pressed specimens contrast against blank charcoal backgrounds. Floating in dark space, these eerie, ghost-like forms again reference a postapocalyptic future, where once-existing plants are recalled only through old images. They also have a strong figurative poise, conjuring connections between flora and the female body. While on residency at LSC, only a small fraction of the work I created was ultimately presented in the exhibition. I also spent several months compiling a large herbarium, collecting, pressing and photographing plants, before printing and mounting selected pieces for presentation. In response to these apparent ‘solar prints’, I created Sigil Sun – a large yellow circle painted directly onto the gallery wall, which was overlaid with an abstract black grid. Derived from the Latin sigillum, meaning ‘seal’, sigil is an inscribed or painted symbol, considered to have magical power. In this piece, geometric pattern and elongated lettering created solid

Sarah Ellen Lundy, The Snare, 2017, single-channel video, installation view at Leitrim Sculpture Centre; image © Oakfield Photography [Pat Mullan], courtesy the artist

black stripes across the huge yellow circle, appearing like a giant deconstructed bee. Pube is a drawing on graph paper made from plant roots. Through suggestive titling, it draws parallels between nature and femininity and a compulsion towards control. The natural trajectory of the roots is juxtaposed against the paper’s static gridwork, prompting dialogue about the natural-synthetic binary. Other elements in the exhibition included: individually box-framed bee wings that resembled tiny and fragile stained-glass windows; the delicate dried tendrils of a once-flowering mashua plant, cascading down the sides of a plinth; and Anatomy, the skeletal fine lines of the fleshless cape gooseberry, presented alongside dried poppies. Elsewhere, another piece consisting of three analogue aerial heads was suspended from the ceiling, their protruding central receptors mimicking the stamens of a flower. The title, Ariel, is a play on the fact that it is constructed of actual aerials, while also referencing Sylvia Plath’s poetry collection of the same name. Below these suspended aerials lay a mound of magnetic tape, entitled Magnetic Mycelium, referring to the subterranean fungal network of mycelium, which acts as a communication device between plants. In using largely outmoded communicative formats – defunct aerials and compact cassette tape – the piece suggests both the aesthetic of a simple flower bed, and conceptually, a communicative vacuum in which no information is imparted. Another ongoing interest underpinning this body of work is the shortcomings of language. Perspectives on futility and meaninglessness, found in the work of Derrida and Beckett, are referenced in this work, with regard to comprehension, communication and dialogue. The notion of ‘bumbling’ one’s speech is a key element. Though technically mute, this work connected with soundscapes in other areas of the gallery. Plath’s poem, The Rabbit

Catcher, inspired my audiovisual installation, The Snare. With an early cinematic aesthetic of grainy black and grey imagery, this work depicts a series of natural forms that morph into each other around a central dark void. A slug morphs into a beetle, a moth, and then into the hands of a clock. This cycle repeats in reverse, ending with the same opening image of a long instrument piercing a Petri dish. The accompanying audio is a recording of electronically-contorted female voices. At once both hymnal and heinous, it conveys the sacred/savage binary of nature, and matriarchal notions of the wise-woman, the witch and mother nature. This haunting wail permeated the other gallery spaces, creating the intended atmosphere of a strangled and suffocated natural world.

Sarah Ellen Lundy is an emerging artist from Sligo who is currently based in County Leitrim. Lundy has been awarded a 2018 Research & Development Award by Create and the Arts Council of Ireland. Her work was recently selected for the exhibition, ‘Hustle’, currently showing at The Science Gallery, Detroit.

Note 1 Umbelliferae are identifiable by their large inflorescent heads, with multiple stalks protruding from a central point, mimicking the spokes of an umbrella, from which the name was derived. Umbra means shade in Latin. The Umbelliferae family is also called Apiaceae, a term derived from the Latin apic meaning ‘bee’. Umbellifers are attractive to bees, due to their high nectar content, and are therefore beneficial to pollination.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?

Eimear Walshe and Emma Haugh, ‘Miraculous Thirst’, installation view, Galway Arts Centre, mixed media, dimensions variable; photograph by Tom Flanagan


Daniel Bermingham: The exhibition title, ‘Miraculous Thirst’, is a totem for shameless desire, in the face of personal sexual trauma. During the development of your show, Ireland responded to a particularly violent period of national sexual trauma. Can you discuss the relationship between personal and collective trauma? Eimear Walshe: Coming from the online lexicon, ‘thirst’ is a playfully condemning word for shameless displays of queer desire. I use ‘miraculous thirst’ to describe persistent, undisguised desire that has been suppressed, under whatever personal or systemic regime. Such desire should not exist – especially in the context of the dystopian legal, medical, political and sexual landscapes that we’ve been subjected to in Ireland – but somehow it still does. It’s painful to acknowledge how intertwined national and personal sexual traumas are. I think it’s appropriate to name a lot of the desire that I see around me in Ireland as ‘miraculous’. Personally, I’d beatify many of my friends and lovers for not just going on sex-strike over it. DB: I’m curious how some of your artworks operate. You used gay men's literature in the performance, Sex in Public, and incorporated the body in Clothes for Queer Cruisers, denoting a ‘dyky land reclamation’ of the male cruising area of the Teufelssee in Berlin. Is this an intentional reclamation of queer history from cis gay men1? Emma Haugh: I would say that the borders here are quite amorphous; it’s a bit of a trickster move that marks desire and sexuality as a terrain that can be shared. It took me some time to unravel the implications of these appropriating actions for myself. I understand them more and more as a performative questioning of identity, ownership and spatial politics in relation to history. I don’t so much propose to reclaim history – or the future – from gay men; I propose that I am already there and perform an alternate narrative of visibility. DB: How do you see the role of our individual queer histories (dyke, non-binary, trans, cripple, fag, poly, bi) and does this inform a certain hybrid futurity in your work? EW: I think those histories were central; the show integrated and emphasised a set of united interests, without ignoring difference. There were a lot of shared motifs in the work and common reference points. Snakes were recurring figures, so, in a serpentine fashion, I think of our work as picking up where the other leaves off. For me, the exhibition facilitated a different type of thinking – thinking with agency around desire and thinking with hope – making space for futurity in queer discourse without centring reproductive futurism.2

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?

Top and bottom: Eimear Walshe and Emma Haugh, ‘Miraculous Thirst’, installation view, Galway Arts Centre, mixed media, dimensions variable; photographs by Tom Flanagan

DB: ‘Miraculous Thirst’ touched on the overlapping discourses of queer theorists, José Esteban Muñoz, Gloria Anzaldúa and Kathy Acker. Did these textual inclusions amount to a homage? EH: I would say it’s more of a presence. The desire was to bring these people and their brilliant work together and to acknowledge, through dedication and remembrance, their importance in queer world-making practices. I would say it’s also a citational act of love, to stay close to the voices of those who inform our work. DB: You have previously spoken about the “obviousness” of work that speaks for itself. Can you discuss your desire and intent? EW: I think I’ve been using ‘obviousness’ as another way of speaking to what might be euphemistically be called ‘visibility’. Obviousness is a way of psychologically grappling with what’s implicit in an artwork, regarding the extent to which work reflects its author. In the same sense that ‘thirst’ implies some kind of ‘indiscreetness’, I wanted the sculptures to be flirtatious or wanton in some way. Take for example the word, ‘Middle Spoon’, which was rendered in pink cursive neon on the gallery wall. You can interpret that as a proposal, in the sense of a neologism, or as a proposition, maybe even a personal ad! Or as an idle fantasy, a threat to society – inclusion gone too far, or not far enough, depending on what you project. In the spirit of indiscreetness, I’d say the works are also a retort to two classic harassment slogans: “Do you have to advertise it?” and “Get a room!” The collective works answered “yes!” and “no!” respectively. DB: Your performance, Sex in Public, (which took place on

Eimear Walshe, Middle Spoon, 2018, neon, 130 x 30 cm; photograph by Tom Flanagan

5 May as part of the exhibition) used self-described “theory poetry”, comprising the quite slippery use of language. I want to say this was an attempt to establish a future queer language, but what informed it? EH: This was directly informed by Kathy Acker saying that she wanted to increase possibility and her own pleasures within her writing – a process that involved her use of reappropriated, plagiarised texts. I wanted to try this method as a means of loosening control and rigidity within my own writing practice, so that multiple voices and histories could be channelled through the avatar of my performing body. I find it interesting that an audience so easily ascribes the spoken experience to the speaking body – I enjoy playing with this device. The texts have been appropriated form literature written by gay men describing experiences of sex in public, and also from theory dealing with sexual politics and public space. They all come together with me as the channel, with my own desires being loosely woven between the reappropriated words. DB: We have proposed a certain open-ended futurity for the show and artworks. Where do you see this afterlife enacting itself? EW: The exhibition operated around the idea of an ever-expanding horizon of hope, I think. For me, that’s ongoing work – involving making and learning new vernaculars in language and images – and I see this already manifesting in the aftermath of the exhibition. I remember the first time I saw a show by Emma Haugh; it left a pressing question in the back of my mind, one that’s still unresolved. That’s a real gift. I’m really glad we got to show together, and hopefully these works meet again in the future, to perform some more miracles.

Eimear Walshe makes sculptures, writing and research with a focus on queer theory and feminist epistemology. Walshe is research fellow at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and will initiate The Department of Sexual Revolution Studies. Emma Haugh is a visual artist and educator based in Dublin and Berlin. She is interested in reorienting attention in relation to cultural narratives and develops her work from a queer/feminist/working class questioning of what is missing? She is co-founder of the performative publishing collective, The Many Headed Hydra. Daniel Bermingham is a curator based in London. Bermingham is interested in publicness, community space and pedagogy, particularly with regard to intersectional queer and crip audiences.

Notes 1 As a prefix, ‘cis’ refers to the term ‘cisgender’, denoting people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. 2 The term ‘Reproductive Futurism’ was developed by American academic, Lee Edelman, to describe the tendency to define political value in terms of a future “for the children”, insisting that the power of queer critique is in its persistent opposition to this narrative and, therefore, to politics as we know it. Edelman argues that to be queer is to oppose futurity. See – Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004).



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?


Left: Áine McBride, 'Work suite', 2018, installation view at Mother's Tankstation. Top right: Áine McBride, floor unit, 2018, plywood, timbre, formica, paint, mild steel fabric. Bottom right: Áine McBride, t unit, 2018, plywood, timber, tiles, tile adhesive, grout, jesmonite, mild steel, paint; all images courtesy of the artist Mother's Tankstation

Aidan Kelly Murphy: Prior to studying art, you obtained a degree in structural engineering. Was this something you had planned or was it something that just evolved? Áine McBride: It wasn’t some grand master plan. I dabbled in painting, knowing that there was something interesting there, but not knowing how to articulate it; being an artist was never framed as something I could realistically pursue. I was interested in looking at art and had friends who were artists so I had an idea of what was going on, but more from the periphery. About halfway through studying engineering, I knew that I wasn’t really interested in pursuing it professionally. Then I went to New York, where I went to a lot of galleries. When I came back, I applied to do an undergraduate degree in art and rented a small studio where I developed a portfolio myself. AKM: Aside from the architectural and structural aspects of your work, what other influences do you feel this discipline has had on your practice? ÁMcB: I didn’t have that much of an interest in architecture until I studied art, when it and engineering started to manifest in my work in interesting ways. The bigger connection is more to do with ways of piecing things together, in terms of modularity and layering, rather than, say, the physical capabilities of actual structures. In my sculptural practice, I continue to come back to this idea of creating some sort of landscape, and then occupying that landscape by building it up in iterative ways. In an abstract way, that’s the influence of my engineering background. AKM: Your work can be described as ‘site-specific interventions’. With that in mind, how does your approach change when installing in gallery spaces or in the public realm? ÁMcB: I tend to use the term ‘site-responsive’, because the setting helps to make the work, but when the work is made, it is mobile, so it can go elsewhere. ‘Habitat HQ’, an offsite project at The Douglas Hyde (13 – 24 March 2017), was a great exercise, in terms of acknowledging how a work operates in a space. When installing the work, I became aware that one of the places I wanted to install work was a spot where a homeless man came in everyday to read, and whilst the work would have looked well there, I’m not going to put

in anything in such a way to disrupt how he engages with the space. It’s more about occupying spaces that were either empty or had had space taken away. A lot of these things come back to a political sensitivity or importance, but not in an overt way. Galleries deal with space in different ways; I’m interested in how they tether themselves back to something that’s outside that space, to consider what’s feeding the work. Mother’s Tankstation doesn’t have a window to the outside, which lends itself to being more of an enclosed space. However, it’s not a clinical white cube; the space has architecture and a domestic aesthetic. ‘Work suite’ at MTS (21 February – 28 April) opened up a new way of working. Things that I thought were individual works, merged and moved towards being conceived as ‘clusters’. I knew they should be presented near one another, but it wasn’t until they were installed, that their proximity emerged and they fused into a singular thing – which was great, because now I’m more open to that prospect. AKM: How do you feel about terms like minimalist or post-minimalist being attributed to your work? ÁMcB: I don’t know how much artists can situate their own work, and even if it’s interesting for them to do so. I think you put the work out and it’s for other people to interpret it. I was reading a text by Liam Gillick, where he was talking about people being overly familiar with what’s going on and making work that very easily slots itself into the ongoing dialogue, and what ends up happening is that they slip stream and get immediately absorbed. Eventually you encounter people who are making art that just looks like other art. AKM: You avoid sensationalising your materials and objects; is this to maintain the mundane aspects they exhibit in their normal usage? ÁMcB: I avoid ornamentation, but I’m aware that design is nearby. Design is something that I think about, but I would be wary of making things appear too ‘nice’. I use a lot of trade materials that are fairly basic. It’s important to find a way of demarcating those lines where you let new materials in and use them, whilst also being careful not to fetishise them or rely on nice materials and finishes to do something for you – you don’t want it to look too tasty.

AKM: Do you think growing up in Donegal has made you acutely aware of the urbanity of cities, thus informing a different view on how these spaces work? ÁMcB: I grew up just outside Letterkenny. I love cities, but I’m never really looking for the park in the middle. I prefer cities that have life in them; those that have a lot of development can actually be sterile. Cities or spaces within cities that are very pristine are denying their reality on a political level. They haven’t fixed things, they have just pushed people out that they don’t want, who occupy spaces elsewhere. Dublin is different, as these lived-in spaces are still visible, and as such we can become more engaged with the fabric of the city. In Donegal, I have a connection to the bog; my father was from Falcarragh and I would have gone there with him to visit my grandmother. I find that dark, barren, amber landscape really rich. The bog for me is about the flatness; you become more aware of your own body in relation to this space. I would have a stronger relationship to that terrain and think it’s more reflective of ‘Irishness’ than the rolling green hills. AKM: The largest continuation of a landscape in Ireland is probably around the Meath/Westmeath area, with its flat bog land and marshes. Do you think those long straights show the possibility of a landscape? ÁMcB: You hit on something there with ‘possibility’. I have been thinking a lot about this and I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m attracted to spaces in flux. It’s because they haven’t been completely defined in terms of what they are yet, so there’s still potential. For a while I kept coming back to the concept of ‘provisionality’, but I think it’s more about potential. Which again is political, because it could potentially be something for everyone or something we need before it’s finished, but once it’s complete and fully defined, there is no longer the space for possibility.

Aidan Kelly Murphy is a writer and photographer based in Dublin. Áine McBride is an artist based in Dublin.

The Visual Artists' News Sheet

Critique Edition 38: July – August 2018

Elizabeth Magill, Wildlife (detail), 2016–17, oil and silkscreen on canvas, 153 x 183cm; image courtesy Hugo Glendinning and the artist


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Martin Gale ‘Bloodlines’ Taylor Galleries, Dublin 11 May – 2 June 2018

Martin Gale, Harrier (detail), oil on canvas, 105 x 120 cm; image courtesy of the artist and Taylor Galleries

MARTIN GALE’S REALIST oil paintings, pre-

Martin Gale, Weekender, 2017, oil on canvas, 105 x 120 cm; image courtesy of the artist and Taylor Galleries

sented in his recent solo exhibition ‘Bloodlines’ at Taylor Galleries, bring to mind the work of masters of the American Realism genre, including Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. Whilst Wyeth expressed a rural American splendour and Hopper depicted lonely urban dwellers of apartments and American diners, Gale’s paintings are distinctly Irish – resulting in singular visions of our own ‘wild west’ (though probably Kildare, where the artist lives). Minus Wyeth’s ethereality and doubling down on Hopper’s ominous isolation, Gale paints technicolour scenes reminiscent of The Quiet Man, minus the humour, suggesting Ireland, at moments, as perhaps No Country for Old Men.2 Born in 1949, Gale is a member of both Aosdána and the Royal Hibernian Academy, and has been exhibiting at Taylor Galleries since 1981, while his art is in many major public collections nationwide. Considering Gale’s career thus far, the paintings are formally perfect; one could not fault his application of oils. The real art, however, is in Gale’s framing – the back of a man’s head and body going somewhere fast, jacket flapping, in Short Step, or the foregrounding of a hare in Harrier, as a distant jogger passes – which creates odd angles and disquieting viewpoints. Unlike Wyeth’s dreamlike painting, Christina’s World (1948), which inspired the film Days of Heaven 2, Gale’s skies are cloudier and noir-esque, with a predominance of greens and greys, attributable to the Irish weather. Like Hopper’s paintings, it’s not Gale’s people or their stylings that are desolate or downcast, but the contexts in which they are placed and the spaces that encase them. The men that populate these environs are

mostly alone, coming towards or away from the viewer on puddled roads and laneways, journeying to do something, or having already done something – it is left to us to speculate as to what. The physical transience of these protagonists probes at the greater existential transience of us all. A couple of outstanding instances featuring lone women – The New Girl, displayed individually in an upstairs hall, and the politically timely The Appointment – are loaded with ambiguity, akin to Cindy Sherman’s staged photographic series, ‘Untitled Film Stills’ (1977–80). The works are realist, sure, but in a dramatised way. Everyday moments – waiting, walking, conceivably hesitating – are elevated, escalated, through Gale’s scenes. Due to a lack of subjective choices, we all see ourselves as the hero or antihero of our own reality. Gale’s paintings reflect this inner state, this spotlight that we, at times, imagine ourselves to be illuminated or imprisoned by. Technical illumination is certainly one of Gale’s skills. In Brighter Later, one of the smaller, unpopulated environs, light hits the horizon whilst the road ahead veers off course, suggesting much more than sundown – perhaps the end of the road in its entirety. We hit a stumbling block when it comes to animals. The gallery’s press release highlights a focus on birds and animals, most notably horses, with the titular implication of an equine presence within the artist’s family history. While obviously bookending the premise of the exhibition, I found these animal paintings to be somewhat shoehorned in. They were not operating at the same level of nuance and complexity as the more peopled paintings. In conjunction with the human subjects, the presence of an animal or bird within a canvas seems totemic or eternal. Along with the aforementioned successful foregrounding of the hare in Harrier, a larger work titled One for Sorrow (which features a man facing a foreboding magpie) articulates the permanence of nature, while highlighting our own ephemerality. The artist’s best works have an edge; a composition that is particular or peculiar, alluding to something – or, bone chillingly, to nothing – on the horizon. We read Gale’s human subjects as being laden with anxious landscapes. However, when depicted alone, his animals often lack the depth achieved in other works, where human presence can suggest a kind of finitude. In my view, Gale’s five watercolour studies were least successful – the artist’s dramatic edge quite literally watered down – and there were generally too many paintings on display – twenty-nine works spread over four rooms, halls, stairs and landings. Those that broke from the herd were indeed quite startling, suggesting that our twisting rural laneways are perhaps not as pastoral as they seem.

Lily Cahill is co-editor of Critical Bastards Magazine based in Dublin. Notes 1 No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007, based on the 2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy, which took its title from the W.B. Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium (1928). 2 Days of Heaven, Terrence Malick, 1978.


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Elizabeth Magill ‘Headland’ Ulster Museum, Belfast 11 May – 23 September 2018

‘HEADLAND’ IS A MAJOR exhibition of recent

paintings by Elizabeth Magill, powerfully displayed across two large gallery spaces at Belfast’s Ulster Museum. Developed in partnership with Limerick City Gallery of Art and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (both of which have hosted the exhibition already), ‘Headland’ has finally come to Belfast and will by no means disappoint those who have long anticipated its arrival. The exhibition, which presents 24 landscape paintings, draws attention to Magill as one of the region’s finest painters. The bare limbs of trees dominate the dimly-lit gallery spaces, twisting their way across the majority of the works on display. Beyond the dark branches lie half-concealed, uncanny landscapes, rich with colour and detail. Magill’s non-naturalistic colour palette is particularly worthy of mention, with toxic yellows, fierce reds, and enchanting purples making these landscapes seem both recognisable and otherworldly, as if conjured from the artist’s dreams. Magill may be depicting real Northern Irish landscapes, but they have been processed through the filters of memory and imagination, creating rich dreamscapes that captivate the viewer. The works are simultaneously beautiful and unsettling, calm and eerie. The red branches that crackle and splinter across Red Bay (2016–17), for example, could be viewed as autumnal, but also suggest something more sinister, as the blood red pigment diffuses into the water below. Solitary figures, almost ghostly in their appearance, can be seen in many of Magill’s landscapes – strolling along a beach, sheltered under a tree, or rowing across a lake – giving the works a haunting quality. Similarly, flocks of birds often dominate the multicoloured skies, while splashes of bold colour seem almost violent in their application across more naturalistic undertones. Despite the synthetic colour palette used in the many of the works, there is strong sense of natural and seasonal cycles. As one moves through the exhibition, wintery, snow-capped mountains and the aforementioned autumnal shades, give way to the new buds of spring, and the warm, dewy, almost stifling forests of summer, as strong rays of sunlight burst magnificently through the branches. Within the exhibition,

Sarah Walker ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’ Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin 10 May – 22 June 2018

one feels like something of a voyeur, spying on scenes that we perhaps should not be viewing. Large branches in the foreground provide a kind of concealment or protection, as if allowing us to observe without being seen ourselves, offering cinematic perspectives that I have rarely seen used in painting to such great effect. The large canvases clearly demonstrate Magill’s sophisticated use of mixed media, incorporating painting, screen printing and photography to create multi-layered works which reward closer inspection. One work, Les Demoiselles (2014–15), is particularly alluring. Directly referencing Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1901), the painting again features Magill’s signature branches, which slice across the canvas. The faces of several women begin to appear, almost camouflaged, in beautiful hues of yellow and purple. As hidden creatures within the forest, the women feel almost nymph-like, not fully noticeable at first glance, but then impossible to ignore. Magill’s art historical interest in this Picasso painting is further explored in one of a series of nine smaller works. Here, the artist uses collage to depict Picasso’s famed angular women, set against her own signature brushstrokes. The smaller, intimately scaled works on display are demonstrative of the artist’s ability to work across a range of scales, and it is impressive how much detail Magill can incorporate into these works, giving them just as much atmosphere as the larger pieces. In the smaller paintings we see a couple promenading by a lake, a remote cottage and a particularly vivid twilight scene, amongst other striking landscapes. ‘Headland’ no doubt comes at a prolific and exciting time in Magill’s career, and it is promising to see such an established talent continue to push boundaries and experiment within her work, testing new theories and embracing new approaches. This exhibition has been a highlight of the Ulster Museum’s recent fine art programme and is highly recommended.

Ben Crothers is the Curator/Collections Manager at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast.

Elizabeth Magill, Only Tune (detail), 2016; image courtesy Hugo Glendinning and the artist

Sarah Walker, Mauve Tree (detail), 2018, wool, 100 x 120cm; image courtesy the artist and Oliver Sears Gallery

“When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult.” 1 OLIVER SEARS GALLERY is located in a Geor-

gian building on Molesworth Street. It was designed as a home, but now its rooms are beautifully used to show artwork. Recently shown at the gallery was Sarah Walker’s ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’, a series of nine tapestries based on drawings from the period immediately prior to the death of her mother, the art critic Dorothy Walker (1929–2002). While walking to the upstairs gallery, the building’s former use as a living space was tangible. The setting transported me to the story of a family told by these tapestries. All but one of the pieces depicts a single tree. Each tree tapestry has a dominant colour and a distinct style, depicting a frozen moment. Trees can symbolise many things, from family relationships and nature, to sustainability and life. Walker’s tapestries feature trees she encountered whilst driving around Ireland, during the winter of her mother’s death. However, it was interesting to notice that eight of the nine pieces do not give a sense of travel or motion, and that the titles, which include Spring Tree and Autumn Tree, do not mention winter. It felt like these lushly woven tapestries are Walker’s poetic lament. The ninth tapestry, Road, stood out in terms of size, format and technique. Larger than the other pieces, it depicted a full scene of trees planted on the side of a road at night. Weaved in a tighter knit of wool and silk, this tapestry-painting acts as the narrative driver of Walker’s story. Headlights are depicted on the grey road but there are no cars. Together with the other darker work, Tree Before Dark, these pieces told of the loneliness we sometimes feel when life – and sometimes the life of others – takes over. Prior to turning the work into tapestries, Walker captured the trees using thick impasto layers of paint, giving the impression that they are popping out of the canvas. The other works, which have the quality of drawings-turned-paintings-turned-tapestries, featured boldly coloured images, placed in the centre of a white background. The mix of weaved materials worked

very well with this idea of impasto. The white backgrounds remained flat and allowed the longer threads in different colours and textures to give the pieces a sculptural quality. They existed like symbolic objects, silent and soft, calling to mind moments of waiting for a cycle to draw to its close. Compared to the use of tapestries within wider contemporary art practice – where it can often form part of a socio-political commentary – Walker’s use of the medium is quite personal. Notable artists using tapestry in their work include: Isabel Nolan, who creates woven paintings in response to geographically and historically specific stories; Jim Ricks, whose Afghanistan-made hand knotted carpets display drone catalogues; and Grayson Perry, who uses tapestry as an upper-class marker of wealth, to convey intricate storytelling. Walker’s choice of style, production, and even her choice of tapestry fabricator, stayed true to her family’s story. Here, again, the external detail revealed in the exhibition statement completes this narrative: Sarah Walker produced these pieces with the same fabricator as her mother’s best friend, Irish artist Patrick Scott (1921–2014). The interactions between the quiet sitting room-like space, the thickly painted tapestries, and the cluster of darker, tighter weaved pieces, successfully conveyed the role of trees within Walker’s story, as witnessing her mother’s last few months. The layering and mixing of colours made visible the process of production, in what I would consider to be accomplished ways. It would be interesting to see such techniques used with more complex imagery, while pushing this impasto-weaving concept even further might produce pieces that would exist as painted-sculptural tapestries. Having said that, ‘Tree Drawings on the Sky’ successfully created a sense of intimacy, through telling the story of an inevitable time in any family’s life. Dr Moran Been-noon is an independent curator and artist based in Dublin. Note 1 Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte, (Trees. Reflections and Poems) (Frankfurt: Insel Verlag, 1984)


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Gerry Blake ‘Into the Sea’ Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray 19 May – 30 June 2018

WHEN IS A PHOTOGRAPH just a photograph? How can we ask questions of the photographic image that interrogate the specificity of the medium, without having the subject matter consume our attention? The flippant answer is that we can’t; or at least it is not possible without turning a blind eye to the material world disclosed through the photographic image. Even the vernacular modernism of the 1950s and ‘60s, which sought to create a culture of ‘photography for photography’s sake’, drew on the flow of everyday life to gesture towards photography’s intrinsic characteristics as a medium of visual communication. These questions may seem too large to contemplate in relation to Gerry Blake’s exhibition of photographs depicting the everyday rituals of sea swimmers. However, such modest projects exploring the seemingly inconsequential routines of people’s everyday lives frequently bring such medium-specific questions into sharp relief. It is difficult not to speculate about the lives of the subjects who ritually swim in the ocean or conjecturing how their bodies provide clues to an individual’s identity, at the expense of questioning what such images may say about photography more broadly. This is not to say that Blake’s exhibition has deliberately posed questions about the specificity of the medium that may somehow have become overshadowed by his subject matter; rather it is sometimes through micro-photographies exploring everyday life that larger questions of the medium arise. This iteration of ‘Into the Sea’ consists of 22 photographs, taken at ten bathing spots along Dublin’s coastline over a 12-month period. Mostly a series of portraits taken from behind (showing bathers either entering or observing the sea), the photographs are punctuated with the architecture of bathing spots, including rusted metal railings, concrete steps and the cracked walls of changing rooms. In addition, an illustrated poster print documents these locations. Within the gallery, the photographs are loosely configured into groups. Framed photographs are accompanied by white-bordered prints, pinned directly to the wall. There is a visual clarity to the photographs and high production value to the prints. The differences in framing convey alternating approaches: the wooden frames prompt

Leo Boyd ‘Welcome to the Simulation’ Atom Gallery, London 5 – 26 May 2018

enclosure of the pictorial space, establishing sequential relations between photographs; while the white borders of prints bleed into the gallery wall, deliberately positioning the viewer in relation to the subject matter. The exhibition opens with three photographs – 7.00 a.m. September #1 (2016), 7.00 a.m. September #2 (2016), and 8.00 a.m. September #2 (2016) – close-up, distant and elevated back-facing portraits of female swimmers looking towards or entering the sea. These photographs document distinct moments, but their configuration in relation to one another makes it difficult not to interpret them as the depiction of sequential actions. In another pairing of photographs – 11.00 a.m. May (2017), and 1.30 p.m. November #2 (2016) – two bathers, one female the other male, grip onto metal railings from the left and righthand sides respectively, as they descend into the sea. The effect draws the viewers’ eye into the blank wall space between the two photographs. It is through such configurations of distinct moments that questions emerge around the specificity of the photographic image. Distinctions of time and place are erased, as the photographic series establishes relationships between the subject, photographer and viewer. Notably, the artwork titles eschew the specificity of place and exact dates in favour of time and calendar month. Such contextual ambiguity allows the representation of discrete, ritualistic moments of individual swimmers to be brought into relationship with one another. However, this ambiguity is not without its problems; the anonymity of the subjects, combined with the rear-view portraits is troubling. The viewer’s identification with individuals is relegated in favour of accentuating a generic temporality. Blake’s exhibition touches on broader questions of photography, but in a way that only raises more questions about how the medium can allow the viewer to identify with the subjects, while making them appear as remote and anonymous figures within the pictorial frame. Justin Careville is a lecturer in Historical and Theoretical Studies in Photography at IADT Dún Laoghaire, where he is also chair of the BA (Hons) Photography programme.

Gerry Blake, 2:00 p.m. October #3 (detail), 2016, location: Low Rock, Malahide; photograph © Gerry Blake

Leo Boyd, God Does Not Play Sims (detail), screen print and paint on plywood, 63 x 76 cm; image courtesy Atom Gallery

THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE urgency to ideas

surrounding the digital – whether in terms of its technological capabilities, the dark underbelly of its culture, or in its increasing influence across political and economic spheres. It feels definitive of the present moment in a way that is all-consuming, whilst also being difficult to fully articulate. Belfast-based street artist and printmaker Leo Boyd wrestles with the philosophical questions posed by artificial intelligence, by taking influence from the work of Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. Are we living in a computer simulation? Perhaps life as we know it is nothing but fragments of data on some other being’s hard drive... Boyd’s recent exhibition, ‘Welcome to the Simulation’, was presented at the small-scale commercial Atom Gallery, featuring paintings and prints that reference techno-utopianism, religious belief, political radicalism and retro advertising. Boyd’s titles clearly show an interest in puns, evident in a piece referencing agitprop titled Keyboard Warriors, or the Holy Mary with a heart emoji on her chest called Our Lady of the Emoji. This kind of punning isn’t limited just to artwork titles; it’s evident in how images are mashed up and used to communicate their message. When Mary’s sacred heart is substituted for a digital icon, it’s determinedly satirical, but also signals the relationship between technology and belief, contrasting an information economy with religious tradition. Boyd’s artworks demonstrate a wide and varied assortment of gestures and marks. The flow between paint and print is fluid but controlled. It’s in this interrelationship that the works are at their best. When it’s just paint or just print, the works feel somewhat insubstantial; a little too small, with their surfaces failing to capture much attention beyond the visual gimmicks. Every artwork contains at least one character, and every character has a computer for a head. Sometimes this works to humorous effect, as in God Does Not Play Sims or Searching for Signal; the former shows a protester holding a sign with the titular phrase boldly printed on it, and the latter shows a huddled group of monks looking dramatically into the distance. Boyd’s work is weird and playful because of this, but can some-

times miss the mark, with the joke coming off a little too trite. Other moments feel adolescent in approach; one piece is a pixelated image of a Cézanne painting that is wholly out of touch with a generation of painters who’ve used glitch art to great effect, such as Enda O’Donoghue or Konrad Wyrebek. While Boyd’s varied mark-making lends a kind of energy to his art, the far-reaching references in the works make the original premise feel quite flippant. There is a notable disconnect between the ideas of Nick Bostrom, the supposed premise of the exhibition, and what the artworks in question are actually addressing. Looking across the paintings and prints, we see religion, political movements, landfills, soldiers, gaming and so on. The series of references is so broad, it becomes incoherent. We could say that digital technology is so pervasive today that it has influence across all cultural arenas; that we can’t understand belief, power and consumption without it. But these notions are very far removed from specific points that Bostrom raises. Contemporary art has an uneasy relationship with puns. What is gained in humour and accessibility, feels like a subtraction from the deeper meaning and dialogue found in a more ambiguous approach. Banksy might be the most established critical shorthand for a brand of street art that embraces both politics and humour. And while he may lack credibility amongst critics, he’s more than made up for it in mainstream popularity. In one sense, this isn’t surprising, as his street art borrows from and sits comfortably within the world of popular, accessible visual culture. One of the most interesting things about Banksy is this gap between his critical standing and his widespread popular appeal. The phrase contemporary art is not as broad as it seems, instead signalling a hyper-specific ecosystem of white cube galleries and the rolling series of art fairs and biennales that they participate in. Humour in art is always risking this gap.

Chris Hayes is an Irish art critic based in London and Assistant Editor with CIRCA Art Magazine.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

How is it Made?



is to be commended for her inspired project to restore Brian O’Doherty’s wall painting One, Here, Now: The Ogham Cycle (1996), hidden behind wallpaper for twenty-two years. Having seen the original wall paintings, the restoration has been a great success, with the artist declaring that it looks even better now than he had remembered. The nine panels sit on the walls as if they were made for the beautifully-lit central gallery, with its wonderful views out to the shimmering sea. Each individual panel of Ogham vowels or the words “One, Here, Now”, is bound by a coral-coloured band that gives a visual unity to the work. Inspired by the composition of Giotto’s fourteenth-century fresco cycle in the Arena Chapel in Padua, O’Doherty’s contemporary Ogham Cycle is made from house paint, using a lovely range of colours (greens, purples, reds, blues) from the company Colourtrend, one of the sponsors of the restoration project. The project, which is presented at Sirius Arts Centre until April 2019, has been richly enhanced by a series of welljudged commissions and supporting exhibitions across several venues including Crawford Art Gallery, the Glucksman Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) [see VAN Issue 3, 2018]. While Crawford concentrated on the film work of O’Doherty, including the prize-winning Hopper’s Silence (1981), both the Glucksman and IMMA developed mini-retrospectives of O’Doherty’s work. Both venues exhibited the series of ‘Rotating Vowels’ prints (2016), made with Stoney Road Press, and the installation Flipped Corner, Rope Drawing # 129. IMMA also showed the latest print edition of Structural Plays (1967–70), made by master printer, James O’Nolan, at Stoney Road Press in 2018. At the opening in IMMA on Friday 27 April, O’Doherty – who was born in Ballaghaderreen – was awarded the Freedom of Roscommon. Responding, the artist declared that he was stunned at this unexpected gesture, adding that the unexpected had always been a part of his life. The event was convened by Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator and Head of Collections at IMMA, along with Professor Luke Gibbons, another esteemed Roscommon man. Gibbons gave a delightful talk which linked O'Doherty’s labyrinthine mind to that of Chevalier O’Gorman (1732–1809), who cracked the code of Ogham in the Book of Ballymote (Royal Hibernian Academy). O’Gorman also makes an appearance in O’Doherty’s latest novel, The Crossdresser’s Secret (2014). Another group associated with the Sirius Restoration Project was Gare St. Lazare Ireland, internationally acclaimed Beckett interpreters, run by artistic directors Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor Conor Lovett. They performed Here All Night, a hybrid collaborative production, on 23 April in the Everyman Theatre, Cork. The connection to the project is a Beckettian installation which O’Doherty made at the National Gallery in 2011 as part of Dublin Contemporary, titled Hello, Sam Rope Drawing # 126. Since 2016, this work has been included as the visual art element of Here All Night, which has been performed in London, Boston, Cork and Dublin. The Liz Roche Dance Company also presented a new commission, Pilgrimage, in response to One, Here, Now: The Ogham Cycle at the Sirius Art Centre on 24 June. This immersive dance and music installation was a collaboration between composer Linda Buckley, the Sirius Centre and Cork Midsummer Festival. The first in the series of new commissions was One, Here, Now: A Sonic Theatre, composed in response to O’Doherty’s Ogham Cycle paintings, by composer Ann Cleare, and co-produced with the experimental music, vocal and performative group, Tonnata. Cleare – who is Assistant Professor of Music and Media Technologies at Trinity College Dublin and Associate Lecturer at the University of York – has an impressive track record with her commissions being presented by the BBC and RTÉ, among many other broadcasters in Europe. This new piece was a completely immersive, uplifting sonic journey in which Tonnata singers Emma Nash, Michelle

O’Rourke, Robbie Blake and percussionist Alex Percu, translated through sound and movement, the complex layers of O’Doherty’s marriage of the archaic and the contemporary. It was an unforgettable experience! Prior to this, Tonnata performers devised a ‘prologue’ performance, inspired by the musical contents of O’Doherty’s issue of the experimental magazine/box, Aspen 5+6 in 1967, using extracts of works by John Cage, Morton Feldman and Irish composers Garrett Sholdice, Sarah Wentworth and Conal Ryan. The first of the commissioned visual artists to respond to the restored wall paintings was Brendan Earley, who had previously worked with O’Doherty on his retrospective exhibition at Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane in 2006. Moving through the two adjacent galleries at Sirius was like stepping into two different universes. O’Doherty’s One, Here, Now: The Ogham Cycle, is full of exuberant colour, line and pattern with a power that envelopes eye, body and mind. Earley’s ‘Present Perfect’ exhibition in the adjacent gallery strikes a much quieter note, with discrete works on walls and floor that encourage consideration one by one. There is also the contrast of a pale palette using emulsion and markers in some works and stainless steel, ink and embroidery on linen, in others. Using textiles and embroidery in his drawings and sculptures, Earley provides a meeting between the pictorial and the tactile to consider the conceptual implications of the woven structure and its relationship with time. By doing so, he aligns the work with some spatial experiments undertaken by minimalism and some forms of conceptual art, of which O’Doherty was a leading exponent. The process of textile-making alludes to the present moment – it becomes, through its own manufacturing, an embodiment of time itself, whether the accelerated pace of industrial linen production, or the deliberate pace of the hand-embroidery. Process, as a medium in itself, has always played a central role in Earley’s work. This element, allied with the language of assemblage, seeks to explore the uneasy relationship we have now, between objective form and early visionary experiments in Modernism. At first sight, it would seem that these two artists from different generations do not have a lot in common. The key, however, is drawing. As Earley outlines in his exhibition statement, he considers all of his works to be drawings “with a longing to form a bond between the process of drawing and thought, freedom and place…” creating a “restless reality” in the “search for present perfect”. Here again, we can see direct affinities to O’Doherty’s work since time, space, line and drawing have all been stable elements in the work of O’Doherty (and Patrick Ireland) for decades. Aptly, in an echo of O’Doherty’s archaic references, through use of the Ogham language, Earley invokes the myth of Ariadne’s thread, which led Theseus out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Like O’Doherty’s labyrinthine works, that lead us through space and time so that we can create a fully inhabited place physically and psychologically, Earley searches in his work for his own thread into the present moment of ‘One, Here, Now’. In an allied event, American artist Dan Graham worked with O’Doherty on Aspen 5+6 in 1967, and the two subsequently became friends. Graham’s Schema (March 1966), which succeeded in breaking away from the art object, was first included in Aspen 5+6. Graham will present his first solo exhibition in Ireland, ‘beyond walls’, at Sirius Arts Centre from 7 July to 2 September. The exhibition, curated by Eamonn Maxwell, will feature two of Graham’s important early film works and will examine the artists’ shared interests, notably their use of text in art. Brenda Moore-McCann is the author of O’ Doherty’s first monograph, Brian O'Doherty/Patrick Ireland: Between Categories, published in 2009. She is currently editing a book of selected letters by O'Doherty from the 1970s to the present day, which will be published by Smith + Brown, London, in September 2018.

Top: Brendan Earley, Bits of Me (tent, coat, pillow case, sleeping bag), 2018, textiles and stainless steel, 155 x 80 x 30 cm Bottom: Brendan Earley, The Runner, 2018, aluminium wire, cast aluminium and pen on cotton; photographs by Ros Kavanagh, courtesy of Sirius Arts Centre


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

VAI Event

Artists Speak Presenations. Left: Atsushi Kaga; Top Right: Margaret Irwin West; Bottom Right: Pádraig Spillane; all photographs by Jonathan Sammon



the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) on the 21 May. Operating as ‘Ireland’s national day for visual artists’, the annual event offers important opportunities for arts professionals to meet, share ideas and learn from one another. Despite the fact that the event took place only nine months after its previous iteration, due to planned renovation work at IMMA, this year’s Get Together was the busiest on record, with over 200 attendees. As usual, the day consisted of various panel discussions and artist presentations in IMMA’s Baroque Chapel, while one-to-one Specialist Clinics and Speed Curating sessions took place in the Johnson Suite and Drawing Room. In the Great Hall, arts organisations, galleries and funding bodies from all over the country were on hand to offer information, as part of the Visual Artists Café. Meanwhile, a specially-curated programme of Irish moving image works was screened in IMMA’s Lecture Room. CURATING IRELAND

Kicking off a series of discursive events in the Chapel, the panel discussion ‘Curating Ireland – New Ways of Working’ explored the diverse curational practices operating across Ireland, with invited speakers Matt Packer (Director, EVA International), Jenny Haughton (Public Art Coordinator, DIT Grangegorman) and Daniel Bermingham (Director, Basic Space). Chairing the session was Mary Cremin (Director of Void, Derry), who commenced by asking each of panelists how they consider their roles as curators. Acknowledging that curatorial practice is a relatively recent phenomenon that has only existed for the past 30 years or so, Packer sees himself more as a collaborator who works closely with artists to realise their vision. Conversely, Bermingham’s curatorial role is one of “facilitator”, often “undermining personal authorship” to “open up spaces for queer and disabled artists”. Haughton rejects the title of curator, instead describing herself as someone who coordinates projects in “situational contexts” beyond the confines of the “white cube”. Discussions turned to how curators develop programmes using open-call processes. Packer noted that EVA’s

open-call mechanism has been a positive force for over 40 years. It prohibits international guest curators from relying on their own pre-established networks to create biennial programmes, encouraging them to connect with the existing talent in Ireland. However, as only 50 artists are generally picked from over 3,000 applications, Haughton views the outcomes of EVA’s selection process as rather troubling. Haughton’s approach within DIT Grangegorman revolves around community concerns. Rather than assessing artist projects through paperwork and documentation, “artistic intent” is assessed in person, through conversation with a panel composed of local residents, social activists, as well as representative from DIT and the HSE – a process she described as “active democracy”. Open-calls have been important for appointing candidates to residencies at Basic Space, but Bermingham is critical of the hierarchical nature of the wider opencall process, arguing that artists need the relevant know-how to effectively apply through these mechanisms, which automatically leaves those with less experience at a disadvantage. Other topics addressed included the role of gallery-based curators, funding cycles, and the importance of artist-led practice (noted as being particularly under threat in Ireland). RESIDENCIES

Led by Sean O’Reilly (Director of Leitrim Sculpture Centre), the panel discussion ‘Residencies: Time Space and New Environments’ explored the nature, benefits and challenges of residencies, from the perspectives of artists and institutions. The panel consisted of artists Mark Clare and Amanda Rice, and Janice Hough, who manages the Residency and Artist Programmes at IMMA. With the official announcement that VAI will be creating a new residency opportunity in Iceland in 2020, Ingibjörg Gunnlaughsdóttir (Director of SÍM, the Association of Icelandic Artists) was also invited to contribute to the discussion. The SÍM Residency in Reykjavik was the first international residency for artists in Iceland, proving an important way of bringing international talent to the country. Gunnlaughsdóttir noted that artists often use the Icelandic landscape as a source

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Speed Curating sessions. Top: Seán Kissane; Bottom: Heather Nickels

of inspiration. As an artist who has participated in residencies for over 15 years, Clare initially viewed them as a way to develop his practice and expand his networks and audiences. More recently, residencies have also become potential sources of income, particularly in the US, where artists are often paid to participate in academic research programmes. On the subject of funding structures, Hough noted that IMMA’s biggest awards go towards Irish artists. International artists are offered free studios and accommodation and smaller stipends. Regarding residency proposals, Rice stressed the importance of being succinct, following the brief and avoiding jargon. Clare also recommended researching the host venue, and conveying how your proposal will benefit both you and the institution. He went on to emphasise the importance of being sensitive to the specifics of the site, stressing that conversations about local politics and culture can greatly inform work made during the residencies. Rice reiterated the importance of engaging with local residents, particularly where there are no gallery spaces, as in the Askeaton Contemporary Arts residency in Limerick. According to Haugh, there is little point in doing a residency if you already have a fixed plan for your work. It was noted by the panel that artist’s talks and exhibitions are common outcomes at the end of residencies, while documentation – through photographs, audio recordings, online activity and publications – is another important priority. ARTISTS SPEAK

During morning and afternoon sessions, various artists spoke in detail about their work. Tokyo-born artist, Atsushi Kaga, talked about his various influences, from Katsushika Hokusai and Japanese Manga to Caravaggio, while Pádraig Spillane provided an informative presentation on his recent work and philosophical and literary influences. Susanne Wawra discussed her artistic practice, which explores her experiences of growing up in the old Democratic Republic of Germany. Sam Walsh outlined early-career advice offered to him by Cork-based sculptor John Bourke, who urged him to “apply for everything”. Walsh submitted work nationally and internationally to build his experience, until eventually, galleries and curators began to offer him opportunities. Younger artists Marcel Vidal and Evgeniya Martirosyan provided overviews of their practice, while Cecily Brennan discussed her involvement in the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth, which

VAI Event

'Curating Ireland – New Ways of Working' Panel Discussion. Pictured (L – R): Daniel Bermingham, Matt Packer, Mary Cremin

was met with a spontaneous round of applause from the audience. At 92 years of age, Margaret Irwin West was the oldest speaker at Get Together 2018. Her talk focused on the various techniques and processes she implements as an intaglio printmaker – including etching on aluminium and copper and using different inks and materials – proving to be one of the most informative and engaging presentations of the day. IRELAND’S EYES

The final panel presentation ‘Photography: Ireland’s Eyes’ was chaired by Tanya Kiang (Director, Gallery of Photography) and provided multiple perspectives on the distinctive voice of Irish photographers. Special guest, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (Professor of Exhibition Studies and Spatiality at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki) discussed the emergence of the ‘Helsinki School’ of photography in the late 1990s. The movement is typified by strong use of colour and a focus on objects as subjects within the frame. Fiona Kearney (Director of The Glucksman, Cork) highlighted the photographic work exhibited at the Glucksman over the years, noting the work of Willie Doherty, as well as Cork-based photographers such as Miariam O’Connor and Rosanne Lynch. As a practicing photographer and course director for photography at Ulster University, Clare Gallagher focused on the ‘Belfast School’ of photography, which was born out of the Troubles. Gallagher noted that the concept of “post-truth” has historically been well-understood within Northern Irish communities. Photographers of the period interrogated this idea, by documenting Belfast’s “paranoid landscapes”. However, Gallagher noted that this approach is changing, as Ulster University students are beginning to take more risks. A common critique amongst panelists was that the Belfast approach to photography is generally saturated by male voices. Seeming determined to debunk this male stereotype, John Duncan (Editor of Source Magazine) oriented his presentation around the work of female photographers who have featured in Source since the magazine’s inception in 1992. Their thematic approaches were loosely grouped into three categories, namely ‘performing for the camera’ (e.g. Trish Morrisey), ‘making use of online networks and platforms’ (e.g. Jan McCullough) and the ‘new generation of documentary photography’ emerging in Northern Ireland (e.g. Bernadette Keating).


In IMMA’s Lecture Room, a series of screenings was curated by Fifi Smith of MExIndex – an online database of Irish moving image works. Recently made by Ireland-based artists, these films were: Avril Conlon’s Latte Art (2017); Aisling O’Beirn’s Vastness (Meteor Showers) (2016); In Your Film (2015) by filmmaking duo Visto Desde el Zaguán; and Play Ground (2017) by Maximillian Le Cain and Vicky Langan. Smith noted that, despite the busy Get Together schedule, “attendance at the screenings was more than we had projected”, generating “many useful conversations”. Visual Artists Café took place throughout the day in the Great Hall. Featuring stalls from Ireland’s leading galleries, arts organisations and funders, the café offered an informal atmosphere for information and networking. The Health and Safety Authority-affiliated organisation, recently contributed to VAI advocacy work on artist studios. They stated that having a stall at the café was a “great opportunity to help raise awareness of health and safety within the sector”. Speed Curating sessions gave artists one-to-one sessions with curators from around the country. Reflecting on his experience, Ben Crothers (Naughton Gallery, Belfast) noted that these sessions are invaluable for meeting artists from rural areas “who often lack opportunities to exhibit or have their work meaningfully critiqued”. Finally, the Specialist Clinics provided artists with the chance to receive career advice from arts professionals. Providing portfolio review advice, Jennie Guy noted that, among the common challenges facing artists was the “need to expand the thematic elements of their practice”, in order to find “new areas of enquiry that will ensure momentum within their work”. Christopher Steenson is Production Editor for the Visual Artists' News Sheet Notes VAI would like to thank the IMMA team and our Get Together Assistants for all their help as well as all the participants and attendees who made the day truly enjoyable. We are also grateful to our sponsors: Arts Council of Ireland, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Dublin City Council, Standard Utilities, Suki Tea and the Gallery of Photography. Each year we fine-tune the Get Together events based on your feedback. Please let us know how you got on so we can continue to improve the event.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018

Art Education



‘I Sing the Body Electric’ is an Art School project that I directed and produced for the 38th EVA International, Ireland’s biennial of contemporary art. A central consideration was to give students from three West Limerick national schools a first-hand understanding of the curator’s role. Working through the themes of electricity, power and selfhood, ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ aimed to introduce the main concepts of EVA International 2018, curated by Inti Guerrero. I was invited by EVA Director, Matt Packer, to focus on Guerrero’s curatorial approach, which comprises an ‘ecology of exhibitions’ in response to a painting by Irish artist Séan Keating. Night’s Candles Are Burnt Out (1927) depicts the construction of Ardnacrusha, a hydroelectric dam built on the border of County Limerick in 1927. Looking at Ireland during this historic period, prompted me to re-read Walt Whitman’s poem, I Sing the Body Electric (1855), which conveys the complexity of the human body and its own inherent ecosystems. I subsequently invited artist Clare Breen, and curators Maeve Mulrennan and Orlaith Treacy to engage with these ideas, while bringing their own curatorial and artistic insights. It is generally uncommon for curators to talk about exhibitions in school contexts, so this was a unique opportunity for us as a team. We also worked with three assistants – Mary Conroy, Stephen Murphy and Ciaran Nash – who are all artists and educators. Over a six-week period, we began to realise that we had co-curated our own ecology of autonomous and collaborative off-site exhibitions. Jennie Guy is an artist, curator and educator based in Dublin.

Sixth class students, Mahoonagh National School; photograph by Deirdre Power


I created a series of four workshops that explored contemporary art and curating with fourth and fifth class pupils of Ahalin National School, County Limerick. Jennie Guy provided the starting point with the proposal of introducing schoolchildren to curating and contemporary art in Limerick city. However, the pupils live about 40 minutes away from the city, making it unlikely that they would see EVA or visit Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA). I came up with the idea to borrow artworks from the LCGA National Collection of Contemporary Drawing. Three works – Dorothy Cross, Rococo Loft (1986), Robert Janz, Way Works: Permanently Impermanently (1995) and Siobhan Piercy, Acrobat II (1990) – drew on the themes of water and power. They were installed in the classroom for a two-week period, becoming part of a larger exhibition curated by the students. The workshops commenced with an introduction to curation and various different artforms, including performance, video and sculpture. We discussed the different contexts for curation, such as museum, art galleries and EVA. The third workshop introduced Séan Keating’s painting, Night’s Candles Are Burnt Out, and we spoke about Ardnacrusha, drawing out themes of power, water and electricity through group work. Their homework was to bring in a drawing or object to go into our exhibition. The final workshop explored the pupils’ objects – everyday items from remote controls and tins of tuna, to light-up letters and shells. We then collectively curated the exhibition by voting for our favourite location for each object alongside the three LCGA works. The outcome was a fun and playful mixed-media exhibition. Orlaith Treacy and Ciaran Nash, Ahalin National School; photograph by Deirdre Power

Orlaith Treacy is an independent curator and producer based in Kilkenny.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


I began the series of four workshops with ‘Breadfellow Chats’ – a term I have developed to denote the practice of collaboratively making ceramics to use during a shared meal. The process foregrounds talking, making together and sharing food as intimate gestures of care. In the second week, we talked about what a curator does. We looked at some of the artworks in EVA through the eyes of a curator, including works by Seán Keating, Mainie Jellett and John Gerrard. The children later came together in groups to enact some of these artworks with their bodies. The following is an excerpt from our conversation on the subject of curating:

Art Education Does anyone know what a curator is? No. Does anyone know what an exhibition is? Yes, they’re in museums... an exhibition is when you've done all your hard work and you want to show it off to people, what you've done. So in my opinion, what a curator does is a very important job. Curators take care of artists and artworks. Do any of you take care of something? My dog... my little brother... rabbits... animals... your family... pets... baby cousins... your belongings.

And is it easy or difficult to take care of something? Hard... easy... especially if you love it a lot. That means it’s easy. For a baby, you have to take care for a long, long time. Does anyone take care of you? Mam... Dad... Nanny and Grandad... friends... teachers… If you really want to take care of something, you have to do a lot of work. What kinds of things do you have to do? Giving it food, giving it somewhere to sleep... keeping it clean... tickling it, playing with it... giving it clothes. So, taking care of artworks is sort of the same. Curators read about artworks, they think about what they need and decide where artworks should go. What do you think an artwork wants most in the world? For people to see it... to appreciate all of your hard work. If you were an artwork what would you like most? For people to see you and love you and buy your work... to admire you. So not all artworks are beautiful; sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are supposed to make people angry, or to think about something in new ways. Curators spend all their time caring for artworks and thinking about them. It’s a curator’s job to look very closely at the artwork, to decide what angle it looks best from, to decide when to put things together and when to leave something with lots of space. So, curators are like Mammies of artworks? Or like teachers? Yes, in ways I think so. Today we are going to think like curators about the artworks I am going to show you.

Clare Breen, Classroom performance exercise of John Gerrard's Solar Reserve, Raheenagh National School; photograph by Deirdre Power

Clare Breen is an artist and educator.


During a project with sixth class students of Mahoonagh National School, I explored the theme, ‘I Sing the Body Electric’, by addressing notions of the body and interconnectedness. Stephen Murphy assisted on the project. The pupils had never attended EVA and, at the time of writing, have no plans to visit. However, I don’t think this was essential to their participation in the project. While it would be great for them to view the exhibition, the classroom experience was engaging and fulfilling in itself. The only downside is that the participants may not have felt that they were part of something bigger. We began by looking at Seán Keating’s painting Night’s Candles Are Burnt Out and discussing Keating himself, a Limerick man making work during a period of incredible change. The pupils could tell me all about the historical context of Ireland in the 1920s, and we connected this period of transition to an exploration of their own identities, future lives, and the connections between our inner and outer selves. I also incorporated more art making into the project on the teacher’s request, in order to consolidate their thinking and discussions, but also to learn some new artistic skills. This slightly diluted the idea of me being there as a curator. However, the pupils were interested in both curating and making. They saw the difference and were able to occupy both roles. They curated their own photographs (featuring personal belongings, family members and beloved pets) in a way that even experienced curators might struggle to be subjective about. Maeve Mulrennan is Head of Visual Arts at Galway Arts Centre. The 38th EVA International continues until 7 July.

Maeve Mulrennan, Mahoonagh National School; photograph by Deirdre Power



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Calum Scott, Scare the Deer, installation view at Framewerk, Belfast; image courtesy of the artist


IF SOMEONE ASKED YOU where they might find a week-

long, international festival dedicated to the latest developments in experimental music and sound art, you might recommend somewhere like Berlin. But since 1981, when Sonorities was founded at Queen’s University (QUB) as a “festival of twentieth century music”, Belfast has been just the place for an exploration of all things sonic. This year’s Sonorities Festival, which featured artists from over 40 countries, made a conscious effort to be more inclusive and open to the general public. By partnering with Moving on Music, the Belfast Film Festival and the club nights and labels, RESIST and Touch Sensitive, Sonorities was more widely-publicised and integrated within the city than it has been before, reaching beyond the festival’s usual academic circles. Most of the programme revolved around music and performance, with emphasis on how new technologies can be used to augment the music-making process. This theme was variously explored through concerts in the Sonic Arts Research Centre's (SARC) world-renowned Sonic Lab and during a one-day symposium, which focused on “techno-human encounters” in sound production, performance and composition. The opening performance, Re-Breather, by Franziska Schroeder, Jules Rawlinson and Dara Etefalghi encapsulated the festival’s reputation for daring experimentalism, comprising computer-generated visuals and the choked sounds of an electronically-treated saxophone, played without its mouthpiece. Other performances took place in Accidental Theatre, where highlights included Jon Kipp’s and Stuart Bowditch’s sound-sculpture performance, Fogou, and the slow motion body movements displayed by Federico Visi for SloMo Study #1. In conjunction with Belfast Film Festival’s programme

of screenings and events, festivalgoers experienced a different kind of audiovisual delight with a new performance by People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett), titled The Mirror (2018). Working for over two decades as a multimedia artist, Bennett weaves together audio and moving image material to create collage-based works. The piece began with a chimeric soundtrack formed from cover versions of the song The Windmills of Your Mind (first made famous by the English crooner Noel Harrison). The lyrics to the song – which reference circles in spirals, wheels within wheels, turning carousels and tunnels – act as a roadmap for the recurrent imagery in the 40-minute performance. As the audience entered a hauntological world of Hollywood films and radio hits, a fractal and circular narrative was formed, whilst all the while being propelled forward by Bennett’s accomplished methods of live audio mixing. Other noteworthy video works included Fergal Dowling and Mihai Cucu’s surround-sound, fixed media piece, Ground and Background. Sonorities also included an array of exhibitions and installations. In SARC’s basement-level Broadcast Room, the sound art collective Umbrella presented newly created multimedia works. Titled ‘Same Place’, the exhibition featured work by 11 members of the collective, who each explored different locations around Belfast and their related soundscapes. John D’Arcy’s North Street, for example, acted as a commentary on the Royal Exchange development that will see parts of Belfast’s historic North Street demolished to make way for a new retail area. In the video, D’Arcy walks along North Street with a virtual reality headset, intercutting his vantage point with simulations of a shopping centre. The open soundscape of North Street is contrasted with clinically-produced pop music, reverberating within the shopping

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Top: John D'Arcy, North Street, 2018, video still; image courtesy of the artist

Stuart Bowerditch performing Fogou at Accidental Theatre, Belfast; image courtesy of Sonorities Festival

Bottom: 'House Taken Over', installation view; image courtesy of Ciara Hickey

centre’s enclosed environment, creating an amusing – if not bleak – future vision of the area. Other works on the grounds of QUB included John Kefala-Kerr’s Book of Bells in the Graduate School, whilst off-site there were exhibitions in QSS Gallery and Framewerk. As implied in the title, ‘Silent Sonorities’ at QSS inverted the general paradigm of the festival by focusing on the act of listening rather than sound-making. In one room, Iris Garrelfs’s project, ‘Listening Wall’ featured a selection of “listening scores”, encouraging visitors to engage with their auditory environment via several verbal and graphic instructions. The project is motivated by the isolationist stances that currently typify the modern political climate. In the context of Belfast’s Peace Walls and Northern Ireland’s continuing deadlock at Stormont, as well as a divisive focus on national borders in the era of Brexit and Trump, Garrelfs sees the ‘Listening Wall’ as a means of connecting people in the face of increasing threats of separation. However, the exhibition’s amateur presentation in the gallery, which saw pages affixed to walls with Blu-tac, could have been more refined. In the second space at QSS was ‘SchuhzuGehör_path of awareness’ by Berlin-based artist Katrinem. Katrinem’s practice concentrates on sound and its relationship with space, which she investigates through performance-based ‘listening walks’. Originally developed in 2012 at Festival Klangstätten in Braunschweig, Germany, ‘path of awareness’ has since evolved into an international project with the artist recording her walks in various locations, including Marseille, Tehran, New York and, now, Belfast. Maps of these routes were presented on the gallery walls, while a video monitor with headphones, showed documentation of these walks, comprising video stills and binaural recordings, captured from Katrinem’s

own ears, as she walked through the different locations. In these recordings, the artist’s “soundful shoes” act as a percussive focal point for the listener, revealing the material and spatial qualities of these environments and how they change as the walks progress. Glasgow-based artist Calum Scott’s sound sculpture, Scare the Deer, was shown at Framewerk in the east of the city. The work draws influence from the Japanese suikinkutsu sound-producing water ornaments and shishi-odoshi water devices, used by farmers to scare away crop-threatening animals. Taking these traditionally analogue modes of sound production, Scott’s sculpture also incorporated modern technology – such as Max software, Arduino boards and servomotors – to create a marvelously complex, yet graceful piece of work. Water dripped down into a set of metal buckets, creating delicate bell-like sounds. As the buckets were filled, they moved downwards and were tipped out, in a computer-coordinated dance. It was a highly meditative piece that invited prolonged periods of listening and viewing, proving to be a highlight of the festival programme. The site-specific exhibition, ‘House Taken Over’, was curated by sisters Ciara and Nora Hickey. Taking place inside the curators’ family home in south Belfast, the exhibition was inspired by the discovery that the house was previously used as the Northern Irish Intelligence Headquarters during World War II. Logs recorded by a secret network of listeners across the country were forwarded to ‘Heathcote’ house, to be logged, before being sent on to code breakers at Bletchley Park. Lorcan McGeough’s parabolic sculpture, Swallow (2017), rose up from the lawn outside. Echoing the appearance of an ‘acoustic mirror’ (large, concrete structures used in WWI to detect the sound of approaching enemy aircraft),

the work immediately suggested the presence of intruders. Its resemblance to a trumpet or a satellite dish seemed to imply that the secrets of Heathcote were finally being broadcast into the world. Paintings, moving image works and sound installations – each toying with the ideas of military surveillance, radio communication and audio technology – were installed in different parts of the house. Searching for the artworks, visitors got the impression that they themselves were spies in search of lost historic objects. In the living room, Dorothy Hunter’s audio installation, Unofficial Secret (2013), softly announced itself from the fireplace, playing field recordings from a Cold Warera spy base in Berlin. Similar in content, Allan Hughes’s audio and video work, The Listening Station I (2008), was played on a video monitor in the downstairs bathroom, showing footage of the British army’s communications base, Black Mountain, in northwest Belfast. A concurrent soundtrack called out numbers, reminiscent of an intelligence war tactic. Meanwhile in the dining room, Colin Martin’s paintings, Stasi Museum II and Drum machine, visually referenced locations and technologies used for spying and music-making respectively. Over the five days of the Sonorities programme, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of work on display. From concerts to installations and insightful presentations, you might not have liked everything you encountered, but you certainly came away with a whole new appreciation of what the possibilities of sound can and will be. Christopher Steenson is Production Editor of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet. He also practices as a sound artist.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018



Kerlin Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 (1 – 4 December 2016), Hall C, Booth G9, featuring Willie Doherty (background) and Siobhán Hapaska (foreground); image courtesy Kerlin Gallery

IN 2002 the graduating students of the Royal College of

Art’s MA in Curating Contemporary Art programme presented their annual exhibition. They called the show ‘Fair’, an art fair of sorts in the context of London, described in their catalogue as “a city in which, despite the presence of an active market, there is no major international art fair”. This modest proposal invited 14 galleries from mainly peripheral locations (including Bilbao, Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Havana, Warsaw, Prague and Moscow) to set up shop beside Hyde Park in London. The following year in 2003, Frieze Art Fair was established by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, co-founders of Frieze magazine. Their aspiration was “simply to get really good galleries, put them together in a park in a nice part of London and the artworld would come”.1 Not only did the artworld flock to Regents Park in their thousands, but Frieze Art Fair expanded within a decade to become Frieze Week – the most significant event in London’s art calendar. There was already a major change in attitude towards contemporary art in Britain, culminating in the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. Contemporary art was no longer shorthand for ‘con job’, but was seen as a major cultural, tourist and capital attractor. Now every major institution and auction house in London, as well as all the commercial galleries, were putting their best exhibitions on during Frieze Week. The phenomenon of the proliferation of art fairs is quite overwhelming. With now over 200 art fairs globally (up from 68 in 2005 and 189 in 2011) any attempt to give an overview of art fairs would be difficult. However, if one keeps in mind the basic fact that these are trade fairs that simply bring traders closer to buyers, then you only have to follow the money. Global art fairs largely happen in capital cities, where the main collectors are wealthy individuals who are too busy to travel far to find the art they want to be associated with. Hence, we have the continuing rise of art fairs in China and the Arab states. Art Basel and Frieze London now have multiple offshoots in Miami, Hong Kong, New York and, from next year onwards, the inaugural Frieze LA (14 – 17 February 2019). Established in 1967, Art Cologne (11 – 14 April 2019) claims to be the oldest art fair of its kind and, for our purposes, provides a more manageable starting point for the history

of art fairs, than the Salon de Refusés of 1863 in Paris, or the International Exhibition of Modern Art (The Armory Show) in New York in 1913. Art Cologne has evolved as a rather conservative fair, which now combines sales of twentieth-century art with twenty-first-century art. When Art Cologne was founded, Germany (particularly the Rhine-Ruhr region) had a booming industry-driven economy and was buying contemporary art for its regional galleries and corporate collections. There was a similar scenario with The Armory Show, from which the founding collection of MOMA was purchased. If you go to any regional art gallery in Germany – such as Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie (founded in 1968) or Mönchengladbach – you will see many of the same blue-chip artists in their collections. There is a sense that Art Cologne is a reliable fair with an inexhaustible client base. Why change something that works? But now with multi-millionaires in China opening their own private museums and the massive interest in art in the Arab states, galleries are showing more in Hong Kong and Dubai, with art fairs in these regions providing prestigious platforms. Founded in 1970, Art Basel (14 – 17 June 2018) is considered the premier modern and contemporary art fair, with good reason. Featuring 291 galleries and over 4,000 artists, Art Basel dwarfs all other global contemporary art fairs with its sheer pomp, ceremony and unrestrained wealth. It really is a region-wide art event. Many of Switzerland’s extraordinarily wealthy art institutions – such as the Beyeler Foundation and the Schaulager museum – put on mind-boggling exhibitions during Art Basel week. Art Basel manages to be both conservative and avant-garde, depending on which way you turn, setting the bar for most other global art fairs. As well as curated exhibitions and solo presentations, there are numerous events, talks, film screenings, sculpture gardens, and multiple VIP lounges with a regional festival vibe. ARCO in Madrid (21 – 23 February 2019) was established in 1981 and, much like Cologne and Basel, is held in a convention centre on the outskirts of the city. ARCO’s distinguishing feature is its inclusion of galleries from Latin America, as well as its yearly invitation to different countries to showcase their galleries. Like Basel and Frieze, ARCO has branched out, having just presented ARCO Lisbon (17 – 20

May 2018) for the third consecutive year. Frieze London (4 – 7 October 2018) emerged in 2003 to shake everything up, by locating their fair in an architecturally-designed tent in Regents Park in the heart of the city, as opposed to the aforementioned peripheral trade halls. Frieze managed to remove the trade fair atmosphere and established itself as a major cultural event. The commercial art market is not as established in Ireland, so many contemporary Irish artists and galleries benefit from the international exposure offered by global fairs. I approached a few Irish gallerists for insights into their experiences. In general, the responses I received indicate that Irish galleries recognise the importance of art fairs in increasing the profile of their artists over the long-term. This is evident in how prominently they list their attendance at art fairs on websites and press releases. However, Kevin Kavanagh told me he stopped attending fairs in 2016, with the hope of returning to the circuit in 2019. Several other galleries have also stopped going to certain art fairs, with the most obvious reasons being cost and faltering sales or, perhaps even more interestingly, that they have been attracted to several of the newer fairs. A 100-square-metre booth at Art Basel can cost up to €73,000, with Artinfo estimating that the overall costs of showing at Basel can be as much as €122,550. Similarly, showing at Frieze London can cost up to €37,000, while a modest booth at ARCO can be yours from €12,000. However, incentives do exist, including offering reduced prices for young galleries (under eight to ten years), while many fairs now curate separate areas for cutting-edge, peripheral and new galleries. Frieze’s ‘Focus’ programme, for example, shows galleries that are 12 years or younger. While some Irish galleries were happy to disclose the percentage of their annual sales achieved from art fairs (up to 50% in some cases), the Kerlin Gallery gave me a more nuanced response, suggesting that sales are only part of their reason for attending art fairs, with the profile of the gallery and its artists improving through attendance. Furthermore, if Frieze London are to be believed, sales can happen after the fair has ended and, therefore, fall outside the official sales figures for each edition. For this reason, Frieze stopped publishing its sales figures in 2005. ARCO Madrid publishes its institutional and corporate sales figures after each edition, with a piece by Jesus Rafael Soto (an artist well-known to visitors of IMMA) selling in February 2018 for €800,000 and the Reina Sofia Museum spending €224,480 – which is startlingly down from the €700,000 it spent in 2012. These institutional and corporate buyers are crucial in boosting sales at art fairs and in attracting subsequent exhibitors. But, as Kerlin reminded me, nothing is guaranteed in sales. Of course, there are plenty of Irish artists who show with international galleries. For example, Gerard Byrne shows with the Lisson Gallery, London, and Richard Mosse with the more obscure Leyendecker Gallery based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which I noticed sold several of his works at ARCO. Culture Ireland do offer some limited funding for galleries to bring Irish artists to art fairs, as they seem to recognise the need for Irish artists to be shown abroad. As for incentives, it seems it is more the collectors and curators who are enticed to attend the art fairs, with the intended result of boosting sales for the exhibiting galleries. ARCO, for example, spent over a million euros, inviting people of interest to their fair in 2014. I envy anyone planning to attend an art fair for the first time. Uncynical eyes are a must to best enjoy the variety of art on display – but be warned, there is an entry fee. Vue, Ireland’s National Contemporary Art Fair, held at the RHA each November, has free entry and is a more manageable size, for anyone contemplating visiting an art fair closer to home. Jonathan Carroll is an independent curator based in Dublin. Note 1 Alice Jones, ‘Frieze Art Fair: Our idea was simply to put art in a park’, Independent, 7 October 2011.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018



THE LEARNING DEVELOPMENT programme is a unique

initiative between Create and Dublin City Council’s exhibition and project space, The LAB Gallery, as well as third level art institutions including NCAD, IADT Dún Laoghaire, DIT and the Tisch School of the Arts (New York University). It is an experiential learning programme for students and artists interested in socially-engaged, collaborative practice. The LAB is closely involved in shaping the programme, as well as offering access to curatorial expertise. Working in partnership with these institutions, Create offered an important opportunity this year for emerging artists to connect to the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP) as CAPP Fellows. Nominated by their colleges, the CAPP Fellows come from third-year and fourth-year Fine Art courses and have a strong interest in collaborative practice. We – Bianca Kennedy and Gemma Brown from DIT – were the inaugural CAPP fellows, and attended the fourth CAPP Staging Post in late January in Madrid, hosted by cultural platform Hablarenarte. Titled ‘Work in Process’, this three-day event combined workshops, excursions, an exhibition, a book launch and several public talks. We were nominated as CAPP Fellows by DIT lecturer and artist Dr Glenn Loughran. Opportunities like this are scarce for third-level students, but having worked with the Director of Create, Dr Ailbhe Murphy, on a community-based, collaborative project in 2017, we were honoured to be chosen. ‘Work in Process’ provided us with a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in the field, attending workshops, talks and, importantly, also allowing us to network with other delegates and the other European artists who were in attendance. Upon arrival at the main venue of the MediaLab Prado, we took part in a facilitated ice-breaking exercise, allowing us to establish connections that would bear fruit throughout the event. The Thursday morning session began with a workshop hosted by La Sonideras that focused on sound and radio. Technical problems and the difficulties of translation had the unplanned side effect of encouraging discussion and assistance from other delegates, which we happily contributed to by sharing stories of our own collaborative experiences. When emphasising that we were art students, rather than fully-fledged collaborative artists, to the people we met, we were reassured that this did not matter. We were openly invited to share our opinions and experiences about the collaborative practices we had engaged in thus far. There was a mixture of professional disciplines represented, with practices ranging from doctors to actors, jewellery makers and performance artists. Fitting right into this eclectic gathering, we listened intently to reflections on the various engagements, facilitations and situations of collaboration. We soon realised that having had the previous year of experience with Create, we were deserving to be there to gain more knowledge, thus experiencing something quite unique. That evening we attended a panel discussion, led by Ailbhe Murphy, Lois Keidan and Gloria Dura, who reflected on the role of collaborative art in society today. The audience comprised artists from varying fields of practice, who have been engaging in long-term projects that consider a shift towards more process-based collaborations. We were confronted with the question: “What is the art object in collaborative work? Is documentation a sign of the event?” The panel discussed the experience of art, visibility, audiences, conversations, methodologies, documentation and communication fora, posing the question: “Is it important to make the process visible? ... Can the presence of the artist or the presentation of documentation as an event be enough? Can traces of the contextualisation of the work – at local, regional and national level – be transferable?” Friday began with an energetic workshop hosted by Los Torreznos – a theatrical/performative duo comprising Jaime Vallaure and Rafael Lamata, who have collaborated for the past decade. Los Torreznos claimed that “applause is a tool in

CAPP Staging Post: Work in Process, hablarenarte & Medialab-Prado, Madrid, 2017; photograph by Guillermo Gumiel

communication between the artist and its viewers”. Following on from this premise, participants were each invited into the centre of the group, with the group clapping, applauding and chanting the individual’s name for a continuous minute. This task lasted for forty minutes in total, as each participant took their turn. A variety of other performances were presented for the group to partake in, keeping everyone engaged throughout the day. Friday evening began with the book launch of Impossible Glossary – an editorial project and compendium of collaborative arts terminology by Hablarenarte – which was attended by all participants, fellow artists and the Irish Ambassador to Spain, Síle Maguire. Welcoming remarks came from Ailbhe Murphy and were followed by a roundtable discussion covering the topics of place, power, comfort and politics. As part of this conversation, Selena Fernandez-Arconada questioned participants about their relationship to the word ‘place’, which led to a broad-ranging discussion, addressing concepts of the childhood home, the relationship to the body and the sensation of feeling settled in a place. It was a truly engaging and inclusive discussion, which thoroughly held the groups’ interest. When the timer went off, we felt like we still wanted to engage more with the subject. Lois Keidan held another discussion around the topic of politics. The conversation varied from the use of political discourses in art projects, to what is considered political in collaboration, and whether the artist has an agenda of a location or is deemed to have a political stance from the outset. Individual artworks were addressed, which then opened the conversation to political redress and was finished off with group engagement by participants sharing names of artists who they felt were influential to the theme of politics and art. The Staging Post provided us with an invaluable opportunity to meet some very interesting artists and groups. Dublin-based artist, Seamus Nolan was one person we built a strong connection with. Seamus was awarded the CAPP commission with Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and

Create in 2017. Seamus offered advice on life after college and the ways in which to establish oneself as an artist. His engagement with the CAPP commission offered him the opportunity to connect with his chosen collaborative group and to receive support from the Create team. We have remained in touch with Seamus and are very appreciative of the support he has given us since we became CAPP Fellows. All in all, the experience in Madrid reassured us of our abilities going forward as emerging artists in the field of collaborative arts. We gained a lot of connections through networking, in addition to expanding our knowledge of European collaborative and socially-engaged art projects. Having established these new relationships, we feel that this was an important start within this field of practice. Since Madrid, we have contributed to an artwork by collaborative artist, Suzanne Bosch, which was showcased during the final staging post ‘Power and Practice’ hosted by Create in Dublin, from 20 to 23 June. In completing the final year of our studies, it has been extremely uplifting and reassuring to see how the Create team have kept us informed and involved in upcoming events and we have honestly felt valued as part of their community. Our apprentice role continues through listening, learning, communicating, engaging, contributing, growing and collaborating. Our differing reasons for choosing to engage with the Learning Programme in 2017 have united us. The event ‘Practice and Power’ offered us yet another chance to be a part of this experience, which we accepted with open arms.

Bianca Kennedy and Gemma Brown are final year Fine Art students at Dublin Institute of Technology.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018



Panel Discussion at the Turbulence Symposium (L –R: Elaine Hoey, Joby Fox, Anna Morvern, Cengiz Tekin, Gülsün Karamustafa, Sarah Glennie); photograph by Heike Thiele

THE TURBULENCE SYMPOSIUM was held on 8 March at

The Model, Sligo, to accompany ‘Turbulence’ (2 December 2017 – 22 April 2018), an exhibition which explored the ways in which artists are responding to the ongoing refugee crisis. The symposium questioned how artists can contribute meaningful discourse, solidarity and strategies of resistance in times of humanitarian crisis. Central to the seminar, was a meal prepared by Sligo Global Kitchen, an art and food collective composed of current and former refugees living in the Sligo community. Sarah Glennie, Director of NCAD, delivered the opening remarks, commenting on the obstacles that artists and art institutions alike must navigate, when addressing the migrant crisis. Criticism of European responses can be difficult, as funding is often rooted in the European Union (EU). Glennie introduced the first speaker, Anna Morvern – a human rights lawyer and activist who has represented refugees and torture survivors at all levels of the court system. Morvern gave an eloquent yet searing speech, outlining the European Union’s catastrophic treatment of refugees. In 2014, Operation Mare Nostrum, the Italian government’s mission to rescue people in the Mediterranean, was terminated. Morvern stated that since then, the EU has systematically implemented operations, such as EUROSUR and OCEAN 2020, which have mutated humanitarian search and rescue missions into militarised surveillance and border control operations. Morvern quoted The International Organisation for Migration stating, that “deaths at sea have risen nine times since the ending of Operation Mare Nostrum.” 1 Morvern also criticised the EU for extending its border security operations deep into Africa, replicating its ‘externalisation’ policies in Libya, where the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (also known as FRONTEX) is working with the Libyan Coast Guard. Since this collaboration, the Human Rights Watch has commented: “Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, including children, who flock to Libya mostly

en route to Europe, experience torture, sexual assault and forced labor at the hands of prison guards, members of the coast guard forces and smugglers.” 2 However, Morvern did praise civil society for extending aid against the failure of the EU. Organisations such as ‘Cork-Calais Refugee Solidarity’, ‘Refugees at Home’ and ‘Home from Home – Ireland’ have provided tents, clothes and medical supplies to migrants at borders, as well as accommodation once they reach Europe. In terms of art impacting the refugee crisis, Morvern concluded her speech by quoting Natasha Watler, Founder of Women for Refugee Women, who stated that “in times when inspiration runs dry, we need to dip into the reservoir of imagination.” Next to speak was Gülsün Karamustafa, a Turkish artist whose work explores political turbulence and displacement-migration. Karamustafa commented that the migration she references in her practice is intertwined with her personal history. Her artwork, The Courier (1992), was created in response to the forced migration of her family from Crimea to Bulgaria, following The Russo/Turkish War (1977–78). Comprising a collection of small vests with poetry embroidered into the fabric, the piece has a haunting presence. “While we were crossing the borders”, remarked Karamustafa, “we were hiding what was important to us by sewing them inside children’s vests.” For the Turkish artist, the struggle of migrants is extremely personal; Karamustafa spent a term in prison for her political activities before having her passport confiscated for fifteen years. With regard to artist’s responses, Karamustafa stated that an artist should foremost “act like an activist” and “respect the ethics of working with migrants.” The artist condemned what she called the “sensationalist exploitation” of the migrant crisis in the work of certain artists. An introduction and screening of the documentary, True North, The Crossing, by Joby Fox, initiated the second-half of the symposium. The documentary chronicles rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, by ordinary people who intervened. Fox testified that he was deeply affected by distressing imagery

of migrants, stating: “I know what it feels like to lose a child; I lost my daughter to cancer. When I saw children drowning and dying in the sea… the children never asked for this, you know? That’s my motivation.” Fox echoed Karamustafa’s sentiment that artists should become hands-on activists during times of crisis, stating: “Art has its place, but it has its limitations. You can’t eat it for a start. I’m not having a go at it; I’m an artist myself, but before anything else, I am a human being.” Fox travelled to Lesbos to volunteer, offering assistance but soon realised that to prevent deaths at sea, a boat was needed. A lifeboat named Mo Chara was donated by British artist Jake Chapman, which has since rescued over 6,000 individuals in the short stretch between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos. Cengiz Tekin, a Kurdish artist currently operating in Turkey, who travelled from Diyarbakir on the Turkish border with Syria, gave a presentation with the aid of a translator. Tekin’s Life Jacket (2016), a marble sculpture of a life preserver, was exhibited as part of ‘Turbulence’, conveying the sheer gravity of the ongoing crisis. In contrast to the opinions of Karamustafa and Fox, Tekin argued that every artist has the social right to make work regarding the migrant crisis, asserting that “providing answers is not the job of the artist […] the artist can only provide solidarity with his art. If [they are] establishing a relationship with the community, regardless of why and where, this is the right relationship.” Tekin went on to note the importance of retaining honesty in contemporary art, stating that in his photography, he disregards editing, preferring to “capture the truth of the time in which it is made.” For the final artistic input, Sarah Glennie interviewed Elaine Hoey, whose virtual reality installation, The Weight of Water (2016) was also presented at The Model. Glennie began by inquiring if Hoey felt that art has the power to contribute to meaningful discourse, solidarity and strategies of resistance. Hoey pointed out that the refugee crisis is not just political, it is social and cultural, and that the polarisation of politics amidst the rise of right-wing nationalism across Europe must be responded to with urgency. Hoey warned that leaving such nationalism unchallenged has had dire consequences in the past: “if you look at Ireland in the last 70 years, you see what unchecked nationalism leads to – sectarian violence and tighter border controls.” The artist suggested that contemporary art can act as a catalyst to bridge gaping socio-political divides, sparking frank and open discussions. However, “if those conversations don’t happen, things won’t change. It took two opposing groups, sitting down and finding common ground to form the Good Friday Agreement”. The last screening of the evening was the Irish premiere of I had no place to go, a visually-rich and highly experimental film by Turner Prize-winning Scottish artist, Douglas Gordon. At 22 years of age, Lithuanian filmmaker, Jonas Mekas, was forced to flee his home under threat of Nazi Persecution. I had no place to go relays the story of Mekas’s exile and his life as a young immigrant in America after WWII. The Turbulence Symposium offered many opportunities to ponder the potentials and pitfalls of artists responding to the refugee crisis. As Joby Fox pointed out during the Q&A session, the issue of artists responding to the migrant crisis is constantly in flux. “We are all evolving, everything is evolving; and I can see both sides” he said. By bringing together varying artistic perspectives on the migrant crisis, the symposium unfolded as a vibrant, but necessarily complex and nuanced, conversation. Rebecca Kennedy is a freelance writer based in Sligo. Notes 1 Anna Morvern ‘The ‘refugee crisis’ in the Mediterranean: the role of EU states, civil society and art’, Open Democracy, 18 April 2018. 2 Ibid.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018




THE GUESTHOUSE PROJECT is an artist-led initiative that

aims to facilitate an artist residency programme, while also hosting various art events in Cork City. The idea of such a space emerged from the Cork Artists Collective (an artists’ studios based in Cork since 1985) in the run up to the 2005 City of Culture, held in Cork City. The project has served, in part, as a continuing legacy since then. The initiative grew out of a need for other types of creative spaces that would encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration, as well as social interaction beyond the visual arts. The project began as a question about what practice could be. Located at 10 Chapel Street, Shandon, on the north side of Cork City, the building the project occupies is divided into four floors: the bottom floor is a social space, which includes a kitchen; the first floor houses sound and screening equipment, as well as a performance space in which Helen Horgan’s nomadic library project, ‘The LFTT Library’, is currently installed; and the second floor acts as an adaptable workspace and studio for the artists-in-residence, either those on local residencies or those in residency in the attic apartment space. The project aims to offer an artist residency programme that caters to local, national and international artists. The project’s curators (Irene Murphy, Mick O’Shea, Catherine Harty and myself ) programme a basic framework for the year around longer-term residencies. We then programme additional residencies, along with public performances, screenings, workshops and ongoing projects. At the heart of the project is the social space, enlivened by Mick and Irene who use their culinary and artistic skills – also present in their collaboration with Stephen Brandes as the absurdist food collective, The Domestic Godless – to excite the tastes of audiences and bring them into conversations. Many of our public events allow time for audiences and artists to interact and to discuss the work in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. This aspect of the project made engaging with the arts a welcome prospect in Cork City, when I first came across the Guesthouse Project. This unique approach has been highlighted to me on many occasions, through conversations with visiting performers. For example, an experienced American poet commented, during the long-running SoundEye poetry festival, that “you never get this type of engagement at poetry conferences in universities”. Similarly, sound artist Giancarlo Nicolai, of the experimental music group Trio Lost Frequency, delighted in the ease with which art happenings could take place in such a social environment. We have a history of working with other arts organisations, as well as providing a space for new collaborations to emerge between contemporary art practitioners. Our ongoing collaborations with the Experimental Film Society (EFS), run by film-makers Maximilien Le Cain and Rouzbeh Rashidi, bring a mixture of contemporary as well as ‘classic’, if somewhat obscure, experimental moving image works to Cork ( We have also recently collaborated with the video-art curatorial group AEMI, on a screening of the programme ‘Common Visions’, curated by Herb Shellenberger and Almudena Escobar López (aemi. ie). This programme presents contemporary collaborative practitioners who work in the field of non-fiction film. As a concept, non-fiction signals more than documentary, though it has certain affinities with the genre. Screened were moving image works that presented self-referential practices, such as that of New York art-collective ESP TV, along with works that meld aspects of documentary with poetic meditations on the medium of film. This programme also aimed to showcase collectively authored works, to make visible the realities and assemblage-like character of these artworks. While being managed by visual artists, the space caters to all mediums, in keeping with an age of expanded and transversal practices. Many who know the project will associate it with the vibrant sound art scene in Cork and the wider Munster region. This aspect of our programming is spearheaded by

Thomas Spencer, Closet Case, 2017, video still, endurance/stop-motion performance work; image courtesy of the artist. Spencer is currently in residence at the Guesthouse Project

the practice of Mick O’Shea, who has done immense work in bringing sound artists, new music practitioners, experimental musicians and noise artists to the space. The durational performance and sound art festival, Sonic Vigil, has been linked to the Guesthouse Project in the past, with the venue often providing a recreational space for artists and audiences during performance intervals. We were also honoured to have Pauline Oliveros, pioneer of post-war electronic music and the concept of ‘Deep Listening’, perform in the space in 2014. From poets to researchers, we have a history of hosting artists who work with language. The project provides space for artists and other practitioners to collectively research through the weekly Guesthouse Reading Group, convened by myself and Catherine Harty. The group aims to select texts that have both historic significance and contemporary relevance, in relation to visual art practice and aesthetic appreciation. Currently, the group is reading Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch (1998), a book that has been read in many circles recently. The book details the origins of a specifically capitalist form of misogyny, emerging during the transition to capitalist economic relations between the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. It prompts better understandings of the enemy, in the current global struggle against sexism, oppression and reactionary bourgeois ideologies. We aim to foster the arts across the city and county and thus try to develop orientations towards emerging artists, students or graduates from fine art courses in CIT Crawford College of Art and Design and Limerick School of Art and Design. Following last year’s CIT Crawford degree show, we awarded four inaugural desk-based residencies to graduating students. The recipients were Enid Conway, Donna Rose, Sofie Santa-Barbara and Thomas Spencer. These three-month residencies offer recipients the use of either first-floor or second-floor facilities, depending on the type of practice the artist is engaged in. Currently, performance and video artist, Thomas Spencer, is using the first-floor space to research and create sound pieces to accompany his video work. Revolving

around stop-motion footage, Thomas’s practice sees him assume many different costumes and roles within short narratives that interrogate gender and other social identities. The Guesthouse Project is a collaborative endeavour made possible by the support of all those people working in the arts who have engaged with the project to date. In recent years, funding streams have diminished, due to cuts occurring across the wider sector. Reduced budget constraints have increased the stress upon artists and art organisations alike, impacting the ability to realise projects that sufficiently reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the Irish art scene. Like many other arts organisations, both nationally and internationally, we see the continued maintenance of the arts, in spite of cuts, as neither feasible nor sustainable. Into the future, the Guesthouse Project aims to continue strengthening ties with artists and organisations who practice and facilitate contemporary art. The early months of the summer are a busy time for our programme. Upcoming residencies include Lichun Tseng, a filmmaker concerned with the materiality of the medium of film itself, who realises her work through installations tied to the moving image.

John Thompson is an artist, co-curator of The Guesthouse Project and PhD candidate at University College Cork. His PhD research examines the aesthetic and philosophical deployment of conceptual art. Taking up Henry Flynt’s definition of an art “whose material is concepts, just as sound is the material of music”, Thompson argues against the ‘de-materialisation’ thesis of concept art.


Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Phillip Toledano, from the photographic series Maybe, 2015; © Phillip Toledano. Shown as part of the exhibition, 'Phillip Toledano Maybe: Life & Love', in Crawford's Lower Gallery (16 March – 24 June 2018)


Kirstie North: Congratulations on becoming the new director of the Crawford Art Gallery. I think all of us in Cork were delighted to hear that you had been appointed. What first attracted you to the Crawford? Mary McCarthy: The first thing was the gallery’s potential, because it has a very important legacy, in terms of presenting contemporary art exhibitions and shows of the collection, both of which are culturally very significant. The organisation is grounded in its location in Cork, but it has amazing national and international connections. When it was founded in 1884, parts of the building had existed since the 1730s, so it’s an organisation with a lot of history. What attracted me was the potential to connect those worlds – the realm of the collection and contemporary artistic responses – and the ongoing responsibilities of the organisation to both aspects. KN: Can you discuss your immediate plans for the gallery? MM: We are currently working on a strategic three-year plan to establish a set of future parameters, through internal consultation as well as consultation with some external stakeholders. The board, the staff and I are all very committed to bringing this building up to standard over the next five to ten years. As we have three buildings from different periods, significant work needs to be done on the fabric of the site. We have the old customs house, where the restaurant is located, which was built in 1734, while the building that currently houses the sculpture gallery and west wing originates from the 1830s. The most recent building, which was once a courtyard, was built between 1998 and 2000. It’s very exciting to be a part of the new-build, as the finished site will span four centuries. It’s a huge challenge to create something that is of its time, while also enhancing legibility of the existing sites. We’re also looking at our visitor experience and how audiences navigate these spaces. We have over 200,000 visitors a year and this figure is rising. During last May alone, there were 20,000 visitors and we now open seven days a week. We also have a very strong exhibition programme over the next two years. Following successful partnerships with Sirius Arts Centre (on the Brian O’Doherty project) and the Midsummer Festival (on a range of interdisciplinary events) another key priority is to collaborate more, generating different audiences and usage of the building. The extraordinary library exemplifies how the heritage and former functions of the building are still of real interest to our artists and to the public. We probably need to start telling these stories somehow, through either online platforms or visitor experience. KN: Perhaps also through artist commissions?

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Dragana Jurisic, 100 Muses, 2015, © the artist; courtesy of Caoimhe Lavelle. Shown as part of the exhibition, 'Naked Truth: The Nude in Irish Art', Crawford Art Gallery (13 July – 28 October)

MM: Yes absolutely, I’d like to provide resources for artists to have a longer lead-in to shows. Crawford has always had a good relationship with contemporary artists, enabling them to make new work for this building. I’m also keen to support emerging artists through a number of rolling projects, rather than just big exhibitions. There will be new rooms for this, where artists can test out their ideas. Previously, Crawford also played a significant role in touring Irish artists’ work. For example, the exhibition, ‘0044: Contemporary Irish Art in Britain’, was a big show of Irish artists’ work which toured to PS1 in New York in 1999. So, Crawford’s legacy as an advocate for Irish artists is really important. We have a distinctive voice, as we look to other Atlantic port cities like London, Boston or New York for historic connections. It makes sense to explore these points of resonance. KN: In terms of the long-term expansion plans, do you have an idea how the new building will eventually look? MM: The masterplan is to restore the existing buildings sensitively, so that visitors feel they are transitioning through the centuries. We don’t want to lose the feeling of this very special place, where you can have intimate experiences with art that are not monitored or over-monetised. The new-build will comprise a tall structure at the rear of the site, where the lecture hall and restaurant are currently located. The new building will house administration offices, so that the staff can be in one space, while the Explore and Learn section will be central within the new structure. The collection will also be housed there, in a new environmentally-controlled space. The new galleries won’t be huge, but they will be suitable for singular large-scale works, digital works or workspaces. We also need to consider how we interact with the urban envi-


Robert Fagan, Portrait of a Lady as Hibernia, c.1801, oil on canvas © Private Collection. Shown as part of the exhibition, 'Naked Truth: The Nude in Irish Art', Crawford Art Gallery (13 July – 28 October)

ronment. At the moment there is one entrance; we envisage a much bigger entrance, and potentially more than one, creating a much more open engagement with the heart of the city. The real challenge is how we engage materially and architecturally with the existing three sites. The quality of Irish architects is exceptional and their investment in the culture of this place leaves me with no doubt that this will be achievable. Studio spaces feature in the plan at the moment too, as we would like to encourage research and to have artists onsite. KN: I’ve seen that format work well in other galleries – having studios and spaces for research onsite. MM: Yes, absolutely, and we also get a lot of requests from researchers who want to view the collection. We have a breadth of really interesting and seminal works from bequests and there are certain works not on display that people want to see. Sometimes we have international researchers who want to study an artwork and currently that’s a little cumbersome – we would like that to be easier, to encourage live research on the collection. We need to foster dialogue between past and present to create natural points of contact, not necessarily through a curatorial agenda, but by exploring how the historic and contemporary can be activated together. We are embarking on a programme called ‘Activating the Collection’ that will display three or four artworks over an extended period, offering a range of new contextual information on those works. There are some really fascinating backstories, such as how the Canova Casts arrived from London, and how Sean Keating’s Men of the South (1921–2) was bought directly from the artist in the 1920s. KN: This reminds me of how historic works from collections

and contemporary art can really activate one another, as they did at EVA International this year. Sean Keating’s Night Candles Are Burnt Out (1927) became a centrifugal point for contemporary art in a way that I thought was very affective. MM: Yes and sometimes these narratives are not necessarily linear for artists, they are more contextual I think. There are amazing stories surrounding our works and, in some cases, the women behind those works. Take John Lavery’s painting, The Red Rose (1923) (or Lady Lavery’s Rose), for instance. We recently did a whole restoration on The Red Rose and we know that there are lots of other faces beneath the surface, so the number of women, literally, who are behind that canvas is amazing. These are the things that I think will be interesting to escalate; the compelling stories that we already have. KN: What excites you the most about becoming director of the Crawford gallery? MM: For me, it’s just about being around art every day. I don’t take that privilege lightly. I am excited and deeply challenged by the new capital development. I am aware of our responsibility within the many regulations and frameworks, to deliver something really great – something strikingly different and bold. Mary McCarthy is director of the Crawford Art Gallery and former director of the National Sculpture Factory in Cork.

Kirstie North is an art historian and independent curator who lectures at University College Cork.


Public Art Roundup

Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Leabhar na Beatha


Artist: Beata Daly Title: Leabhar na Beatha Site: Inis Oírr, Áras Éanna Date sited: Installed on 27 October; destroyed by weather and environmental conditions around December 2017/January 2018 Commission Type: Private Project Partners: Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr

Artist: Camilla Fanning Title of work: WORDSTEPS Commissioning body: Waterways Ireland Date advertised: March 2017 Date carried out: December 2017 Budget: €1,200 (actual cost €3,000) Commission type: Heritage Funding strand

Description: Leabhar na Beatha (Book of Life) was a bio-land artwork installed on the grounds of Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr, by artist Beata Daly during her residency there from 14 October to 3 November 2017. The piece was made of biodegradable materials and was presented in the form of a book, with the environmental conditions inevitably becoming the writer. This ephemeral work aimed to invite participants to form a new collective narrative – a new world of imagination, an evolving shared heritage of education and ecology – which would physically grow from the landscape as a manifestation of our evolving human condition. The bio-landmark was inspired by a workshop with secondary school students (under the same name) where the pupils explored the evolution of language and technology and its influences on wellbeing.

Description: This public commission for Waterways Ireland was completed by artist Camilla Fanning in 2017. The audio includes interviews, archival audio clips, field recordings and contributions from random passers-by on the Grand Canal in Dublin. These different elements are blended together to create a soundscape that can be listened to by walkers along the canal using their own smartphones and headphones, either by streaming or downloading the content as a podcast. As listeners walk along the canal, they hear various voices and stories, both past and present, evoking the people and locus genii of the Grand Canal. It is as if you, the listener, are being accompanied by a series of companions who join you from time to time, as you stroll along the canal path. The soundwalk references key landmarks along the route. It is designed to start at the bridge near Google HQ and end after roughly half an hour, at the Bridge near Ranelagh. After that, the soundscape becomes less location-specific.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2018

Consumer City

Artist: Roger Hudson Work title: Consumer City Site: Peas Park, Belfast Date displayed: November 2017 Commissioning Body: PS2 Gallery, Belfast Commission Type: Billboard Project, part of an annual programme funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland Description: Consumer City is a six-sheet enlargement of an existing photomontage artwork created by Drogheda-based artist, Roger Hudson. The artwork was as a contribution to an ongoing project in the context of a people’s park and garden, created to encourage community reconciliation within the peace process in Northern Ireland, close to the so-called ‘peace line’. The park was also aimed to take space back for the community from the surrounding bricks and concrete. Installed in November 2017, the image’s satire on consumerism was seen as especially relevant in the run-up to Christmas. Intended to remain in place during the month of December, half of the image was torn off during a winter gale. According to the artist, this could be “whimsically presented as Santa striking back by sending Rudolf to put the hoof in”.



Visual Artists' News Sheet | July – August 2018


Open Calls







Deadline 13 July 2018, 5pm

Deadline 31 August, 5pm

Black Church Print Studio is now inviting applications for its ‘Recent Graduate Curator Award’. This addition to Black Church’s programme is designed to provide a platform for emerging curatorial research. To date, the Studio’s exhibition programme has involved significant Irish artists and curators who have approached exhibitions with a keen sense of experimentation. Although the studio activities tend to prioritise print processes, the exhibitions often include alternative forms. This contemporary and inclusive approach to production is what characterises the Black Church Print Studio. This award is open to recent graduates from academic backgrounds including Art Theory, Art History, Aesthetics and other related disciplines. The successful applicant will be given the opportunity to realise a public exhibition of work at the prime location of The Library Project in Temple Bar in January 2019. Black Church Print Studio is offering the successful applicant: a €500 curatorial fee; a three week exhibition slot at The Library Project with an additional week for installation/take down; full creative autonomy; equitable payments for selected exhibiting artists; professionally designed graphics and invite; PR, marketing and administrative support; technical installation support; and a public dialogue event specific to the exhibition.

Tel 087 2065111


Deadline 30 July










Damer House Gallery is currently organising the fifth iteration of their ongoing exhibition project, ‘Homeland 2018’. They are delighted to invite artists to showcase contemporary video art. This year, they are collaborating with curators Angel Garcia and Natalia Foguet, from the Safia Art Contemporani in Barcelona. Their focus is to show a selection of Irish and international film and video works in Damer House Gallery, Roscrea, for a two-week duration in mid-August 2018 and later at the Loop Festival Barcelona 2018 in November and in a Dublin gallery (Venue TBC). Damer House Gallery hope that by bringing exciting new work to the midlands, conversations will be initiated between artists and local audiences. Films must be of a high standard and no longer than 7–9 minutes in duration. Submissions can be made in a format of your choice, via online platforms like Dropbox, WeTransfer or, preferably, via USB stick. Please note: unfortunately, due to lack of funding, this is an unpaid opportunity.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is inviting proposals from an artist or a creative team to devise and implement an integrated public art scheme for the minor streets and alleyways in the centre of Armagh City. The artist or team will be required to research, develop and finalise the design in close partnership with local people. The scheme is part of the Connected Project, an ambitious new collaborative cultural programming initiative being delivered across the borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon in 2018/19, which is co-funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Local Government Challenge Fund. Budget for artist’s fees: £17,650. Budget for production and installation: £60,350. For full details of the brief, email Louise Rice, Community Arts Development Officer

Dublin Airport, National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and Business to Arts are inviting past and present students and staff of NCAD and artists resident in Ireland to submit works for selection for the Billboard Project. The two-year project is aimed at bringing an enhanced public art programme to Dublin Airport. Seven sites have been chosen across the airport campus to host works within Creative Journeys. The sites are located in landside and airside areas to allow both departing and arriving passengers to view the works of art. The landside sites will enable members of the public who are at the airport, but not travelling, to view the art installations. Submissions are open to past or present students of NCAD or current staff at NCAD, all Irish/Non-Irish (Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland) artists resident in Ireland for at least 3 years, and Irish Diaspora referring to Irish citizens and their descendants who live outside Ireland. The selected artists for the Billboard Project will receive a set honorarium fee of €1,250. For further information and to download the submission form, please visit the website.

PhotoIreland Foundation’s triennial call in search of relevant projects by artists based in Ireland returns in 2019 with more ambitious plans for this edition. In previous editions, the project travelled nationally across Dublin, Cork, and Limerick, and internationally to Paris, Madrid and beyond, generating a collection of 20 solo publications in 2016 and a book featuring 25 artists in 2013. The shape of New Irish Works 2019 will be determined by PhotoIreland’s curatorial team in response to the works selected. PhotoIreland Foundation are calling all photographers and artists based in Ireland, Irish artists developing their practice abroad to submit their recent and ongoing projects to be considered. The submissions will be reviewed by an international panel, and a list of the selected projects will be announced in December 2018.The launch of New Irish Works will take place on the 4 July 2019, during the 10th Anniversary of PhotoIreland Festival, which will run from May to July. For more information on how to apply, visit the website link below.

Young artists aged 25 to 30 are invited to apply for this year’s Young Artist of the Year, hosted by The Braid Arts Centre and sponsored by Vision Express and developed in partnership with Ballymena Rotary Club. The competition is a platform for young artists and now in its 5th year. First prize is a £1,000 cash prize for the winner to develop their practice. There will also be a solo exhibition on offer for a finalist at The Braid Arts Centre. To enter, submit 3–5 images of your work to the Facebook page using PM (private message). Include your name, address, telephone number, your age, and up to 100 words about you and your work. Entrants must be resident in Northern Ireland. Work can be submitted in any medium but size restrictions may apply to be included in the exhibition. For full entry details, visit the website below. For clarification on any matters, please PM the Facebook page.

The Arts Council of Ireland’s Visual Arts Bursary Award includes two strands: Strand 1 (Visual Artists) and Strand 2 (Curators). Strand 1 (Visual Artists) emphasises the value and benefit to an artist’s development derived from an extended process of engagement with their practice. The award seeks to provide artists with the time and resources to think, research, reflect and engage with their artistic practice. Strand 2 (Curators) seeks to provide curators with the time and resources to think, research, reflect and engage with their practice. The award emphasises the value and benefit to a curator’s development derived from an extended process of engagement with their curatorial practice. The award also seeks to develop capacity for commissioning, producing and touring of the visual arts in Ireland. Please note the budget for Visual Arts Bursary Award Strand 2 (Curators), will be a separate budget allocation to that of Visual Arts Bursary Award Strand 1 (Visual Artists). The maximum amount available to be applied for under the Visual Arts Bursary Award is €15,000. Guidelines for the scheme are available on the Arts Council website. Deadline 12 July, 5:30pm

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has joined TG4 and the Arts Council as a partner on the new round of ilDÁNA 2018. This is an exciting opportunity for a film artist to make a once-off, landmark and cinematic long-form documentary on the arts in Irish. One creative documentary project will be selected with funding of €120,000 and will have both a theatrical window and a primetime TG4 broadcast. Applicants are encouraged to explore subject matter and approaches that are creative, inspired, distinctive and ambitious in scope in order to deliver a 60 to 70 minute film. The production budget is up to €120,000 per film. An additional funding, of up to €5,000 per successful project, may be made available to support theatrical exhibition where a convincing audience strategy is proposed. For further information, visit the Galway Film Centre website.

Deadline 21 June, 5pm Deadline 27 July, 5pm Email Louise Rice, Community Arts Development Officer

Deadlines Early Submissions: 1 November (€10 submission fee/free for PhotoIreland Foundation Patrons) Late Submissions: 11 November (€20 late submission fee)

Web Deadlines 14 September

Tel 091 770748




professional development Summer/Autumn 2018

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland Dublin City








Ards & North Down

In association with MART Date/Time: 10 Jul. 12:30 – 14:00. Location: MART Gallery, Rathmines. Places/Cost: 12. FREE. DOCUMENTING YOUR WORK

Date/Time: 14 Sept. 10:00 – 17:00. Location: Visual Artists Ireland. Places/Cost: 10. €60/€40 (VAI members). TAX & SELF EMPLOYMENT

Date/Time: 21 Sept. 10:30 – 13:30. Location: Visual Artists Ireland. Places/Cost: 12. €60/€40 (VAI members). FILING YOUR TAXES ONLINE – REVENUE ONLINE

Date/Time: 27 Sept. 10:30 – 13:30. Location: Visual Artists Ireland. Places/Cost: 12. €60/€40 (VAI members).

In association with Sligo Arts Service Date/Time: Autumn (TBC). Location: Sligo. Places/Cost: 20+. €10/FREE (VAI members). Other events in planning for Winter 2018 in Dublin and regionally: Peer Critique Painting - with the RHA Peer Critique Drawing – with the RHA Websites, Marketing & Social Media for Visual Artists Child Protection Awareness Training Writing About Your Work Creative Proposals Developing Opportunities for your Work Sustaining Your Practice More topics & locations to be announced


Date/Time: Sept (TBC). 10:00 - 16:00. Location: TBC. Places/Cost: TBC. £10/£5 (VAI members/ DAS members).

Screenings and discussion. In association with The MAC and The Belfast Film Festival Date/Time: 10 Oct. Time TBC. Location: TBC. Places/Cost: TBC.

Date/Time: 27 Sept. 14:00 – 15:00. Location: Visual Artists Ireland. Places/Cost: 4. €35 /€25 (VAI members). WORKING WITH DIGITAL IMAGES


Date/Time: 28 Sept. 12:00 – 14:00. Location: Visual Artists Ireland. Places/Cost: 10. €60/€40 (VAI members).

With Shiro Masuyama Date/Time: Sept (TBC). Location: Golden Thread Gallery. Places/Cost: Talk: FREE, Clinic £5/FREE (VAI Members).


In partnership with Solstice Arts Centre A professional practice talk and peer sharing event Date/Time: 10 Aug. 10:30 – 15:30. Location: Solstice Arts Centre, Navan. Places/Cost: 20+. Talk: €15/€10 (VAI members)

Development Partners

Date/Time: 18 Jul, 15 Aug, 12 Sept. 11:00 – 16:00. Location: Visual Artists Ireland [NI] Places/Cost: 6. FREE.



ROI Bookings and Information To register a place or to find information on any of our upcoming Professional Development events in the Republic of Ireland, visit:

Date/Time: 4 Jul. 10:30 – 13:00. Location: Visual Artists Ireland [NI]. Places/Cost: 30. FREE.


Date/Time: 21 Oct. 11:00 - 17:00. Location: Various City Centre Locations Places/Cost: FREE.

NI Bookings and Information To register a place or to find information on any of our upcoming Professional Development events in Northern Ireland, visit:

With Shiro Masuyama Date/Time: Oct/Nov (TBC). Location: Belfast Exposed. Places/Cost: 6. £25/£15 (VAI members).


Date/Time: 14 Aug. 13:00 – 16:30. Location: Ards Art Centre. Places/Cost: 20+. £10/£5 (VAI members).


Date/Time: October. TBC. Location: Waterways Ireland HQ, Enniskillen. Places/Cost: 20+. FREE.


Date/Time: July (TBC). 13:00 - 16:00. Location: R-Space Gallery. Places/Cost: 20+. FREE.

Causeway Coast & Glens Winter Programme (Sept – Jan TBC): Introducing Causeway Coast & Glens Peer Critique Peer Critique (Documentation) Let’s Make it Happen! Location: Flowerfield Arts Centre / Roe Valley Arts Centre. Places/Cost: 20+. £10/£5 (VAI Members).

Fees VAI members receive preferential discount of 50% on fees for all VAI, training and professional development events.

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.

VAI Show & Tell Events VAI will schedule Show & Tell events during 2018 and invites interested artists, groups, venues or partners to get in touch if interested in hosting a Show & Tell. E:

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.