The Visual Artists' News Sheet – May June 2023

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Laurence Cunnane, Brian Mac Domhnaill, Laura Fitzgerald, Patrick Hogan, Michele Horrigan, Tom Keeley, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Ciarán Óg Arnold, Erica van Horn, Ruby Wallis, Katie Watchorn. Curated by Miriam O’Connor & Paul McAree

VAN The Visual Artists’ News Sheet A Visual Artists Ireland Publication Issue 3: May – June 2023
Crying (Comic), 2022. C-print. Courtesy
Institute/ Toby
Anton Kern
Ballyin, Lismore, Co Waterford, P51 A2R5
2023 Lismore
The Mill Image: Ruby Wallis, from the series A Woman Walks Alone at Night With a Camera. Courtesy the artist. Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, Ireland THIS RURAL Inside This Issue ACCESS: ECHOE’S BONES IRELAND AT VENICE TOUR MAMMALIA AND THE PSYCHE THE QUEERATORIAL
ANNE COLLIER Eye 25 March29 October 2023 Lismore Castle Arts
Collier, Woman
Webster Ltd., Glasgow;
York; Galerie
Berlin; and Gladstone Gallery, Brussels.
20 May16 July
Castle Arts:

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet

May – June 2023

Irina Gheorghe, Principles of Space Detection, 2023, performance at NCAD Gallery; image courtesy of the artist.

First Pages

6. Roundup. Exhibitions and events from the past two months.

8. News. The latest developments in the arts sector.

On The Cover Columns

9. The Eviction. Adam Doyle discusses the rationale behind his digital image and its historical and contemporary relevance. The Queeratorial. Aoife Banks outlines the rationale underpinning her long-running curatorial project.

10. Paintings on Your Pillow. Cornelius Browne reflects on his ancestral landscape and its significance in his early paintings. Why Latin American Art Matters Now. Veronica Sanchez discusses the contemporary relevance of Latin American art.

11. On Parallel Play. Sarah Browne outlines a recent collaborative film-making project with autistic young people in Dublin. Communicating Access. Iarlaith Ni Fheorais applies principles of access to the TULCA Festival 2023 curatorial brief.

12. Back to School. Jennie Ridyard outlines her experience of continuing education in art and design at NCAD. Making and Place. Noelle English reports on the MAKE Symposium 2023 at MTU Crawford College of Art and Design.

13. Keening Garden Door. Day Magee considers the ancient funerary custom of keening as a performative device. Saying Hard Things. Neva Elliott discusses the role of vulnerability in her art practice.

In Focus: Irish Arts Abroad

14. From Capel Street to Koganecho. Suzanne Mooney, Tokyo The Meandering Road. Arno Kramer, The Netherlands

15. Untitled (Bodies). Kira O’Reilly, Helsinki

16. Appetite for Visual Culture. John Kindness, London Irish Arts in California. CIACLA, Los Angeles

17. National and International Hub. Irish Arts Center, New York

18. Cultural Flagship. Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris A Home for Irish Arts. Irish Cultural Centre, London


19. A Klass, Untitled skateboarding photographs, 2022

20. Niamh O’Malley at The Model

22. Richard Gorman at Hugh Lane Gallery

23. Philip Moss at Molesworth Gallery

24. Bernadette Kiely at Lavit Gallery

25. ‘Fix Your Pony!’ at Naughton Gallery


26. The Bogs Are Breathing. Nessa Cronin interviews Siobhán McDonald about her current exhibition at The Model.

Exhibition Profile

28. Abstract Intra-Actions. Gianna Tasha Tomasso reviews two recent exhibitions at Limerick City Gallery of Art.

30. At The Gates of Silent Memory. Colin Graham reviews Clare Langan’s exhibition at Luan Gallery.

31. The War between Friends. Brenda Moore-McCann reviews Eoin Mac Lochlainn’s recent show at Olivier Cornet Gallery.

32. Vox Hybrida. Colin Darke reviews Alice Maher’s recent exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast.

Performance Art

33. Principles of Space Detection. Jennifer Fitzgibbon reviews Irina Gheorghe’s performance and show at NCAD Gallery.

Project Profile

34. Through Light and Shade. Brendan Maher interviews Therry Rudin and Patricia Hurl.

36. Fictional Reconfigurations. Georgia Perkins outlines a recent online workshop series with artist Amanda Rice. Remaking the Crust of the Earth. Gavin Murphy discusses his project shown at the Irish Architectural Archive.

Book Review

37. Hettie Judah, How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents), Lund Humphries, 2023.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet:

Editor: Joanne Laws

Production/Design: Thomas Pool

News/Opportunities: Thomas Pool, Mary McGrath

Proofreading: Paul Dunne

Visual Artists Ireland:

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Office Manager: Grazyna Rzanek

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Services Design & Delivery: Alf Desire

News Provision: Thomas Pool

Publications: Joanne Laws

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Michael Corrigan (Chair), Michael Fitzpatrick, Richard Forrest, Paul Moore, Mary-Ruth Walsh, Cliodhna Ní Anluain (Secretary), Ben Readman, Gaby Smyth, Gina O’Kelly, Maeve Jennings, Deirdre O’Mahony.

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International Memberships Principal Funders
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ARC students develop and produce ambitious self-directed projects for presentation in a range of contexts, including gallery exhibitions. Classes take place at The LAB in Dublin city centre and students have full access to IADT campus production facilities, including studio access during the summer months.

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Bernadette Doolan

“Transference; how you see me is how you see yourself”

A solo show of paintings and sculpture

June 2nd to July 1st

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm Saturday 2pm-5pm

South East Technological University School of Art and Design, Wexford

BA Hons Art Degree Show

Wexford Arts Centre

Opens 11 May 18:00

Runs to 31 May 2023


Hang Tough Contemporary

Hang Tough Contemporary presented ‘One hand clapping’, an exhibition of new paintings by Katarzyna Gajewska. This was the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery. ‘One hand clapping’ borrows its title from the critically acclaimed 1961 book by Anthony Burgess. He explains the title: “The clasped hands of marriage have been reduced to a single hand. Yet it claps.” It is a metaphor that we are defined by what is around us; how we relate to others and the world. On display from 23 March to 9 April.

Photo Museum Ireland

Rachel McClure’s exhibition ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ was on display at the Photo Museum Ireland from 23 March to 15 April. Her work is driven by her curiosity about spirituality and her connection within the natural world. There is a drive in her practice to take the intangible and make it tactile, embedding the ethereal into material. Rachel follows her intuition and allows the medium to help her feel a deeper connection to the world within, and around her.

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios

The second exhibition of the Irish Tour of Ireland at Venice took place in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, marking the 40th anniversary of TBG+S and the start of its 2023 Programme. Niamh O’Malley’s ‘Gather’, which represented Ireland at La Biennale di Venezia, was presented in an extended form including new sculptures and moving image. The artworks respond to the architecture of the gallery, its location in a city centre, and its close relationship to artists’ working environment in the studios. On display from 3 March to 30 April.

Pallas Projects

Pallas Projects/Studios presented Daniel Tuomey’s ‘Control Centre Charlois’, the first exhibition of the gallery’s Artist-Initiated Projects 2023 programme. Tuomey gathered a body of work which uneasily layers roleplaying games with the alienation of life under bureaucratic biometric capitalism. This layering is staged in Charlois in Rotterdam – an area traditionally occupied by dock workers, immigrants and squatters and is currently the target of a public-private gentrification project. On display from 23 March to 8 April.

Rua Red

Each year Rua Red holds an annual open call exhibition of fine and applied arts. In the group show and Spring Open Exhibition 2023 In ‘Displacement and Belonging – Home’, the selected artists explored the idea of ‘Home’: What is home? Where is home? Is this my home? Thematics emerge such as migration, dislocation and relocation; from the most personal sense of being connected to a place, and to each other, to the wider context of the prevailing disconnection and uncertainties in society today. On display from 24 February to 22 April.

The LAB Gallery

The LAB Gallery presents ‘Molecular Revolutions’, curated by the ARC LAB Curatorial Scholar Shannon Carroll, from 30 March to 27 May. ‘Molecular Revolutions’ is a multi-disciplinary group show presenting work by Bassam Al-Sabah, Mark Clare, Clodagh Emoe, Jennifer Mehigan, Erin Redmond, Rosie O’Reilly and Trevor Woods. Inspired by the French Philosopher and eco-activist Felix Guattari, and his concept of molecular revolutions, this exhibition aims to draw attention to our relationship with the natural world.

ArtisAnn Gallery

Barbara Allen’s exhibition ‘Mastering the Art of Change’ was presented from 5 to 29 April, highlighting a selection of artworks from her career. Allen is a renowned watercolour artist and is a six-time winner of the Watercolour Prize at the Royal Ulster Academy. She has exhibited extensively including at the White House and at Bergen in Norway. Her work is held in many important collections, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland, Invest NI and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in London.

Platform Arts

‘Both, And’ was a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by Natalie Pullen, on display from 5 to 22 April. Pullen is an artist who makes paintings which are almost drawings, and drawings that are almost paintings. She works in the mediums of oil bar, watercolour and oil paint on linen canvases, paper and panel. The abstract surfaces reference landscape and organic forms and are informed by her body’s relationship to the land, during travel and residencies in South America, rural Spain and the West of Ireland.


‘Salad Curse’, by Belfast-based artist, Ekaterina Solomatina, was a mixed-media art show which invited the audience to a confined place of anxiety and excitement, where cursed creative minds seek escape and relief. Inspired by Seamus Heaney’s translation of the Irish folklore story about the mad king Sweeney – who was cursed to wander forever as a half bird-half human – Ekaterina creates a purgatorial part physical-part virtual space within the walls of PS2. On display from 23 March to 15 April.

Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich

In her exhibition, ‘The Land of Gemini’, artist Michelle Harton desires to show how beautiful the earth is through the lens of an imagined dream world named after her star sign. She is inspired by the magical glimpses we get daily, be it a sunset, a rock pool, light reflecting off a body of water, or the energy seen and unseen that emanates from each living thing. Michelle invites the viewer to leave their burdens within the paintings and take relief from the movement and colours and time spent with a piece. Continues until 27 May.

Pollen Studio and Gallery

Indigo Azidahaka is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Belfast, whose practice is informed by queer identity, disabled bodies, and displacement. Within the work they explore society and the human condition, isolating key behaviours and rituals and analysing their cause and effect through absurdity. Azidahaka carefully considers a message, levels of immersion, and the audience’s reaction. ‘The Second Coming of Auntie Lynn’ explores human empathy, the idea of superiority, and being roommates with God. On display from 6 to 12 April.


On 7 April, two new exhibitions opened at The MAC. In the Tall Gallery, ‘Louise Wallace: Midnight Feast’ presents a new body of painting which looks at desire, excess and the feminine, with the title suggesting forbidden, or Bacchanalian behaviour. In the Sunken Gallery, ‘Sharon Kelly: Red-toRed’ considers the body – and in particular the fragmented body, the torso and broken gesture – as a generative force, emanating from personal encounters with severe illness and its aftermath, while embracing ideas of liminality and transformation. Both exhibitions continue until 13 August.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 6 Exhibition Roundup
[L-R]: Seiko Hayase, Unnatural Ordinary, Overflowing, installation view; Joseph Heffernan, Puppet installation view; image courtesy of Rua Red. Michelle Harton, Embodied Within The Land, painting; image courtesy of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich.

Regional & International

Crawford Art Gallery

The group exhibition ‘RADHARC: Perspectives in Print’ is presented with bilingual labels (Irish and English) and offers a cross-section of printmaking practice over the past century. Featuring works by artists ranging from Katherine Boucher Beug and Fiona Kelly to Robert Indiana and Pablo Picasso, ‘RADHARC’ surveys topographical perspectives and introspective states. The Irish word radharc suggests a prospect, view, scene, range of vision, or something seen. On display from 4 February to 21 May.

Galway Arts Centre

The exhibition ‘Set to go’ by Benjamin de Búrca and Bárbara Wagner takes its title from the duo’s first film work, Faz que vai (2015), which is the name of a Frevo dance step from Pernambuco in Brazil. This dance step feigns a moment of imbalance where the body lurches forward only to stop on its heels, arms spread wide to steady the action, before returning to the first pose. ‘Set to go’ at Galway Arts Centre presented a selection of the artists’ films from 10 March to 22 April.

Island Arts Centre

For the exhibition ‘Rip it up and start again’ Anushiya Sundaralingam has taken the sari, a traditional item of Sri Lankan clothing, and reworked metres and metres of cloth to tell a new story of the generations of women who wore this fabric. Collected saris from the Sri Lankan diaspora, many passed down in families, have been ripped and refashioned to create new works. Fabrics, from everyday settings to special occasion wear, are imbued with meaning, sadness, joy, celebration, and nostalgia. On display from 9 March to 6 April.

Centre Culturel Irlandais

‘To the Edge of Your World’, is an exhibition of recent work by Anita Groener (7 April to 4 June). Questions of migration, memory, place, and time have catalysed Groener’s practice since 1982, when she left her native Netherlands to establish herself in Ireland. ‘To the Edge of Your World’ asks what it means to be human today. The works in the installation painstakingly transform discarded materials such as twigs, twine, and cardboard into delicate sculptural metaphors for the interconnectedness of individual experience and world events.


Cork Printmakers Studio Gallery

‘Flail’ by Debbie Godsell was on display at Cork Printmakers Studio Gallery from 20 February to 6 April. ‘Flail’ was a test ground and fluid project space for new work by Godsell, who explores the meaning of custom and tradition, ethnicity, identity and belief systems through the lens of the Church of Ireland tradition of the harvest thanksgiving. ‘Flail’ examined the symbolic frameworks of this annual tradition, bringing together contemporary and historical iterations and their collective meaning within a modern Ireland.

GOMA Gallery of Modern Art

Fountain Street Gallery

Fountain Street Gallery in Boston screened Walk the gog and Irish Sky… (2022) by Noel Molloy from 2 to 29 April. In February 2021 Fountain Street launched ‘The Sidewalk Video Gallery’, a public viewing gallery for video and other digital media art. Exhibitions of short, silent, experimental work are being displayed on two 50-inch monitors facing out from gallery windows at sidewalk level. The programming is designed to promote diversity and include a broad array of artists, styles, thematic content, and levels of experience.

Green on Red Gallery


3 March to 29 April, glór showed a selection of work from The National Photography Collection, including a number of Clare-related works. The National Photography Collection was established in 2021 by Photo Museum Ireland. It aims to reflect the development of the medium of modern and contemporary photography in the Irish context. It charts the work of leading Irish artists, critically framing their practice to build awareness of the politics of place and the role of photography in shaping cultural identity.

John Martin Gallery

Martin Finnin’s latest exhibition, ‘The Grammar of Clouds’, brings together paintings from the last two years alongside four sculptures begun in 2021 and recently completed. Over the last 20 years, Finnin has evolved a highly distinctive approach to abstraction in which forms exist in their own space, as if floating in a measurable void. As such they form a very distinct and separate body of work. On display in London from 26 April to 19 May.

‘Fruity Bodies’, a new exhibition by artist Joanna Hopkins, ran from 25 February to 9 April. ‘Fruity Bodies’ was a multimedia installation that explored folklore with landscape and the human form, focusing on the female body, native plants, and sites of manmade structures. The work seeks to make abstract, hybrid connections between non-human entities and our human selves, as a way to explore identity, the rural and the urban, empathy for our natural environment, and to better understand the human condition.

Scarriff Library Gallery

Clare Arts Office in conjunction with Scarriff Library Gallery presented “Into the Woods”, an exhibition at the Scarriff Library Gallery by Steven Doherty. “Into the Woods” portrayed the power and beauty of trees, a photographic and magical journey into a small native woodland near Flagmount, Co. Clare. Doherty has worked for many years as a photojournalist and picture editor for national UK newspapers and magazines. On display from 21 March to 21 April.

‘In Essence’, an exhibition of new and recent artworks by Kirstin Arndt, Fergus Martin, and Nigel Rolfe was presented at Art Düsseldorf 2023 – the gallery’s third participation in this new German art fair, founded in 2017. Working across a wide variety of sculptural, photographic, painted and performed media, each artist uses their materials in a stripped down, distilled or purified form to convey something fundamental about existence, usually with the minimum of physical and material means. On display from 29 March to 2 April.

Wexford Arts Centre

Wexford Arts Centre presented ‘Not somewhere else but here’, an exhibition of new paintings by artist Serena Caulfield. The exhibition ran in the lower and upper galleries from 14 February to 25 March. Caulfield was selected to take part in the MAKE/Curate programme and work with curators Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll and Cliodhna Shaffrey towards her solo exhibition in Wexford Arts Centre. Distinct from the curatorial support, Serena was also mentored by artist Sinéad Ní Mhaonaigh.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 7 Exhibition Roundup
Serena Caulfield, Where This Place Is 2022, oil on canvas, 100 x70cm; image courtesy of Wexford Arts Centre. Nigel Rolfe, Blue Pigment Hands, 2010, Giclée Print on 300gsm Fabriano, Edition of 5, 60 x 80 cm; image courtesy of the artist and Green on Red Gallery.

Golden Fleece Awards 2023

The Trustees of the Golden Fleece Award are thrilled to announce artist and designer Richard Malone, who divides his time between Wexford and London, as the recipient of the 2023 Golden Fleece Award. He receives the main award, worth €15,000. Two Golden Fleece Special Awards worth €10,000 each are also being granted to ceramicist Cathy Burke, from Wicklow, and Laois-based woodturner Alan Meredith.

Aisling O’Beirn (installation / mixed media), Barbara Knežević (sculpture / installation / video), Clodagh Emoe (participatory events / mixed media), and Pierce Healy (metalwork / jewellery) were also shortlisted for the 2023 Award.

The 2023 Golden Fleece Award Ceremony took place at the Roy-


al Hibernian Academy, Dublin on Wednesday 22 March. This year, the award attracted a record 320 applications from artists living on or originally from the island of Ireland – over 100 applications more than were submitted for the 2022 Award. The 2023 prize fund worth a total of €35,000 makes the Golden Fleece Award the most generous art prize open to both visual artists and craft practitioners/makers in Ireland.

Now in its twenty-second year, the Golden Fleece Award was established through a bequest by Dublin-born artist, educator and researcher Lillias Mitchell (1915-2000). In her Letter of Wishes to her Trustees she stated her desire that the Award should "give artists a 'boost' in times of particular need."

Mary Conlon New Director of The Dock

The Dock recently announced the appointment of Mary Conlon as the new Director. Mary will step down from her current position as Artistic Director of Ormston House in Limerick to take up the new role in Leitrim in May 2023. Mary will take over from the outgoing Director, Sarah Searson, who has led The Dock since 2015 in enhancing the organisational structure, artistic quality, visitor and audience experience, and national reach and reputation of the centre.

Commenting on the appointment, The Dock Chairman, Seamus Newcombe said:

“The Board of The Dock are thrilled to welcome Mary Conlon as its new Director. Mary comes to us with an exceptional track record of achievement in her previous role as Director of Ormston House in Limerick. I have no doubt that the same enthusiasm, innovation and ideas that she brought to Ormston will help shape the ongoing strategic development of The Dock and its impact on communities and audiences in the coming years. We wish to sincerely thank our outgoing Director, Sarah Searson, for her artistic vision and commitment to the organisation, particularly during the challenging years of the pandemic, when she led with an ethos of care to reassure staff, artists, and audiences alike.”

Commenting on her new appointment, Mary Conlon said:

“I am delighted to be appointed Director of The Dock. It is an honour to be entrusted to lead the next phase in growing this key resource for artists and communities in Leitrim and the wider region. I look forward to working with the team on developing a new strategic framework and multidisciplinary programme of national importance, rooted in local conversations and place. At the same time, I am excited to expand the international connectivity of the centre, particularly in relation to the role of the arts in climate action, social cohesion, and well-being in rural contexts. I would like to thank Sarah Searson for her exceptional leadership over the past eight years and for the legacy of artistic excellence she has built throughout her tenure. I wish her every success in the future.”

IMMA New Senior Management Team

IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) announced on 2 March 2023 the appointment of two new members to the Senior Management team – Sheena Barrett as Head of Research & Learning, and Mary Cremin as Head of Programming.

Welcoming the appointments IMMA Director Annie Fletcher said “The future for IMMA feels really bright with these two appointments. I couldn’t think of a more dynamic addition of intelligence, energy, and strategic thinking to our already brilliant and passionate team. In their individual ways both Mary and Sheena have proven through incredible careers and innovative practices how art is pivotal to our society, and we can’t wait to work with them in imagining an even bigger and more ambitious Irish Museum of Modern Art.”

Sheena Barrett joined Dublin City Council in 2006 as Assistant Arts Officer and Curator to lead the development of the LAB Gallery as a critical platform for emerging arts practice in Ireland. Having previously held roles at Breaking Ground Public Art Commissioning Programme, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, the National Gallery of Ireland, and the National Museum of Ireland, she has extensive curatorial experience, supporting artists and audiences through ambitious public programmes and commissioning. Barrett is part of the curatorial team for Living Canvas, Europe’s largest digital screen for cultural use developed by IPUT in partnership with Dublin City Council. She is a founding member of MONTO Arts and Dublin Placemaking Network and part of the programme team for MA Art Research Collaboration at IADT, Dun Laoghaire.

Mary Cremin has been Director of Void Gallery, Derry since 2017, where she has supported artists to produce and present ground-breaking new works, including commissioning Helen Cammock’s Turner Prize-winning film, The Long Note (2018). Cremin was the Commissioner and Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with artist Eva Rothschild in 2019. Working with organisations such as the Afghan Visual Arts & History Collective and Beirut Art Residency, her programme focusses on revealing new narratives and

histories that address and challenge the disparities that exist within Western culture. Her areas of research are embedded in ecology, ethics and are informed by politically and socially engaged practice. She is a co-founder of the North South Visual Art network, an advocacy group for the visual arts sector encompassing both north and south of Ireland. She is currently chair of Ormston House, Limerick.

Crawford Art Gallery Redevelopment

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has welcomed the decision by Cork City Council to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of Crawford Art Gallery. The project, which is being funded by the Minister’s Department, has been designed by an interdisciplinary design team, led by award-winning Grafton Architects, and is being delivered by the Office of Public Works and Crawford Art Gallery.

The project will expand and modernise Crawford in line with international museum standards, providing new exhibition spaces and a Learn and Explore facility to engage new audiences, as well as a new public gallery providing panoramic views of Cork city. The redevelopment will also address long-standing challenges with the fabric of the historic building, providing fitfor-purpose storage spaces for the National Collection, and will significantly enhance the sustainability of the building. Critically, the project will create a new entrance onto Emmet Place, opening Crawford onto a new urban plaza at the heart of the cultural life of the city. The gallery will remain open to visitors until the Autumn of 2024, after which time the redevelopment will commence on-site.

The redevelopment of Crawford Art Gallery is a flagship project in the Minister’s programme of investments under the National Development Plan, which will see many of the much-loved National Cultural Institutions restored, renewed and futureproofed for generations to come.

Chair of the Crawford Art Gallery, Rose McHugh, said: “It is an exciting time for Crawford Art Gallery and this ambitious and well considered plan will ensure Crawford remains at the core of Cork and

Ireland’s cultural life into the future.” She thanked the team involved and the OPW and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their collaboration on all elements of the project.

CCI Residencies 2023/2024 Awardees

CCI Paris are delighted to announce the recipients of Artist Residencies for their 2023-2024 programme:

Film – John Connors, Alan Holly (in association with Cartoon Saloon), Deirdre Mulrooney (Limerick Arts Office), Atoosa Pour Hosseini

Literature – Moya Cannon (in association with DLR Arts Office), Luke Cassidy, Madeleine D’Arcy, Nidhi Eipe (Literature Ireland), Karl Geary, Eva Griffin (Poet- ry Ireland / Éigse Éireann), Ingrid Lyons, Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, Michael Magee, Oisín McKenna (Meath County Council), Eimear Ryan (Literature Ireland)

Music – SÍOMHA Brock (in association with Music Network), Irene Buckley (The Contemporary Music Centre), Shaun Davey, John Francis Flynn, Morgana, Anselm McDonnell (The Contemporary Music Centre), Fiona Monbet, Méabh Ní Bheaglaoich (Irish Traditional Music Archive / Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann), Lisa O’Neill

Performing Arts – Tobi Balogun, Eoghan Carrick (in association with Abbey Theatre – International Residency for Theatre makers), Emma Martin, Phillip McMahon, Dominic Montague, Mónica Muñoz Marín (Draiocht Blanchardstown), Donal O’Kelly (Leitrim County Council), James Riordan (Ealaín na Gaeltachta)

Visual Arts & Design – Vaari Claffey, Avril Corroon (in association with Tomi Ungerer Residency), Susan Hughes, Clare Langan, Sharon Lee (Graphic Studio Gallery), Christine Mackey (Visual Artists Ireland), Richard Malone, MASER, Rudi-Lee McCarthy (Visual Artists Ireland), Tara McGinn (Wexford Arts Centre/ County Wexford Arts Department), Pádraic E. Moore (DLR Arts Office), Eilis O’Connell, Shane O’Driscoll (Print Network Ireland), Julia Pallone (Cork County Council)

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 8 News
Richard Malone, installation view, Figures, Ormston House, Limerick, 2022, featuring knight ii (despair) untitled (twirl i) and form, limit, gestures; image courtesy of the Golden Fleece Award,

Visual Culture

The Eviction


Curatorial The Queeratorial


THE QUEERATORIAL BEGAN with the question: what is a queer space? What does it look like, or feel like? Is it material, emotional, intangible, invisible? What are the material components that make up a queer space? In a curated space, how can the addition, subtraction or movement of objects and bodies create a queerscape? Is a queer space one that deviates from the hegemonic cishet structures that we usually encounter in our day-to-day lives? Is it a space queered by the presence of bodies, seen as ‘other’, that inhabit it? Is it a moment of divergence, or deviance?

from a constant state of flux.

THE INSPIRATION FOR my artwork, The Eviction (2021), came to me in the boxroom of my mother’s house in rural Wexford. I had recently returned from living in Clonmel for a spell, after leaving college. The optimism I had felt, on nights out with mates and during carefree student life, had totally diminished.

Growing up, I had imagined life as an ascending stair toward a house and a nuclear family. When I entered my mid-twenties, however, I saw how that was a luxury now completely out of reach for me and most of my peers. I wouldn’t get the opportunities my parents had; I wouldn’t be able to offer my kids any security – if I could even afford to have kids at all. Instead, my life would likely be entirely lived subordinate to landlords, outside of Ireland altogether or, God forbid, in the box room, thereby forgoing relationships, babies, and the trappings of adulthood to be financially stable.

Having been forced to leave the house I grew up in during my early teens – due to family circumstances rather than eviction – I had already attached monumental importance to the sanctity of a space that is truly one’s own. Though I wasn’t thrown out by bailiffs, the reality of seeing your possessions go into a skip, living in hotels, and watching family members struggle to keep the head through it all, still made a deep impression on me. Being a young enough man, I realised I still had relative mobility, even if security was out of the question. Unfortunately, some of my friends were not in the same position. When young children or family members in need of care become part of the equation, the lack of protection quickly becomes an existential threat.

And this existential threat becomes a hard reality for some; bailiffs do knock on people’s doors and the Gardaí have been documented standing by while people are thrown out onto the kerb. I drew on these truths and made what I believe to be an honest and obvious parallel to the reviled landlordism of the 1900s. The Eviction is a

scene depicting the sharpest, coldest end of the state’s failed housing policy, but the inspiration came from a desire to depict the utter travesty that Ireland has foisted upon its poor, its vulnerable, and its young. According to housing expert Rory Hearne 11,868 notices to quit were issued in Ireland last year. Between 1849 and 1854, there were 48,740 evictions, averaging 8,123 per year. At the current rate, modern Ireland is actually surpassing the rate of evictions during the famine era.

The process of making the piece itself was rather simple. I digitally super-imposed figures over a depopulated image of Daniel MacDonald’s painting, Eviction Scene (c.1850). I grabbed the Gardaí from media images of the Strokestown eviction and the North Frederick Street eviction, both events in 2018 that saw the establishment putting the interests of property, banks, and private landlords before people. There have since been calls for greater transparency on how An Garda Síochána police evictions, and their relationship with private security operators. Without rental protection, tenants in Ireland are simply a resource; become unprofitable or inconvenient and your landlord, with state backing, can throw you out.

For the most part, the recent reaction to the piece was a flurry of the exact same emotions I felt when creating it – a desire for change and a sense of betrayal by a country whose leaders only seem to offer condescending platitudes rather than workable solutions. The Eviction has received all the vitriol, condemnation, and faux outrage that one might expect from a money-hungry monster, finally catching a glimpse of itself in the mirror.

Adam Doyle’s prints of The Eviction are currently available for purchase, with 100% of profits being donated to a homeless charity.


As a curator, these questions have accompanied me through years of research into the conceptual and material potential of both the queerscape and the phenomenology of the queer body in space. The queerscape, as I see it now, is an ever-fluxing exchange between Mind - Body - Space - Object. No one can exist without influence from the other. Just as our mind informs our bodily movement and positioning, the spaces we inhabit and the objects that surround us inform the ways in which our limbs move and rest. We are in constant communication with what surrounds us, and what surrounds us inevitably becomes a part of us.

As Sara Ahmed writes in Queer Phenomenology, orientations shape not only how we inhabit space, but how we apprehend this world of shared inhabitance.1 Heteronormative and cisnormative hegemonies orient the queer mind and body, so as to make them queer, or ‘other’. As we navigate this world, we are constantly reminded of this otherness. It informs where we go and how we journey through. Deviating from the ‘straight’, our path through life is oriented by our queerness; it determines how we interact with the bodies we encounter and the spaces we inhabit. This otherness that has been imposed upon us informs our bodies as we find ourselves in uncomfortable positions – rigid, bent out of shape –in order to maintain our palatability in an often-intolerant world.

The question of how we are constantly directed or oriented throughout our lives leads us to question how we, as queer subjects, may reorient, or disrupt space. The impression of space upon a queer body constitutes the relations that occur between corporeal matter and architecture. Just as we are informed by the spaces that we inhabit, we can inform these spaces to form a queer spatiality or queerscape; a place of rest, a space where we are not ‘other’.

After years of thinking in and around the spatial relations of queer interactions, the flux of affect between bodies and space, and the journey of orientation and disorientation, I was met with a temporary respite to a never-ending stream of enquiry: the waypoint. A waypoint is a point or place on a route or line of travel – a stopping point. The waypoint allows us a moment of rest

By way of example, in the summer of 2021, I curated the group exhibition, ‘Shiftings’, at Kilkenny County Council Office, which included sculptures by Kian Benson Bailes. Kian’s practice is informed by investigations into rural Ireland, the aesthetic language associated with rural and regional art spaces, and queer communities. In this exhibition stood a sculpture of a púca – a mythical creature said to be a shapeshifter in Celtic mythology. The púca features consistently throughout Kian’s practice, appearing as ephemeral queer monuments in regional galleries. These waypoints are made in response to the feelings of uneasiness that often accompany one’s journey through an unknown or treacherous landscape and considers manmade land markers as navigational tools. The idea of a waypoint was, according to the artist, loosely based on video game experiences from the 1990s in which there were no options to ‘save progress’ unless one was at a ‘waypoint’. This instilled anxiety throughout the gameplay yet brought a sense of security when one reached the waypoint.

The respite this offers is familiar to many of us; a sense of relief that washes over us as we enter a familiar space of safety, in which our identity is acknowledged, and we are truly seen and accepted. The waypoints that I happened upon, during my journey as a young queer in a staunchly homophobic community, were largely embedded in visual culture; teasing pop music videos or obscure sapphic films were little monuments of queerdom that allowed me to exhale the tension I didn’t realise I was holding and just be. After spending so long analysing and hypothesising the affectual relations between the Mind - Body - Space - Object, perhaps it’s time to exhale, if just for a moment, and be. Perhaps this is what a queerscape could look like: a person sitting in any space at all, mind still, body slack, perfectly at ease.

Aoife Banks is Curator and Programming Coordinator at Luan Gallery.

1 Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006)

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 9 Columns
Adam Doyle, The Eviction 2021, digital image; image courtesy of the artist.

Paintings on Your Pillow


ALTHOUGH SHE LIVED with us until her death in 1977, when I was eight years old, I never saw my grandmother stand or walk. My perch on the edge of her lumpy mattress often bore dirt from our waterlogged fields, but these marks sang in harmony with the bubbling plaster and black mould of the corner in which Maggie O’Donnell was slowly leaving the world. She and I – our lives briefly overlapping and often talking over each other – were the hopes and dreams of families who for untold generations had worked the clay of this narrow ambit of west Donegal. We belonged to smallholdings that relied on migratory labour – tattie-picking, building sites, and hospital cleaning in Scotland – as well as child labour, knitting, seashore foraging, domestic service, and hiring fairs to keep body and soul together. It was only with the confinement of grave illness that my grandmother finally knew rest.

On certain mornings, her longing for weather, fields and sea blossomed disturbingly. Her weathered skin and calloused hands and feet had been earned. Her wild hair was the whitest thing I had ever seen. I remember, vividly, the evening it dawned on me that under this mop was the knowledge of where every tree grew, every stream flowed, and every wildflower clump sprouted in a landscape I was just beginning to know. Together, we stepped into this mirror. Across years, as my parents tended my infant brother and sister, who arrived close together, I was my grandmother’s companion on word-walks as she relived her long life. Her intimacy with the coastline held a tenderness I thought odd for a place of such ferocious nature. We gazed at boats from the shore whose timbers had rotted away long before I was born. We clambered over drystone walls and headed into the hills, meeting storms that almost lifted us into the air in that dank bedroom.

My grandmother was trapped inside her mirror, but I could come and go freely.

My earliest expeditions, the year I started school, were taken to test the accuracy of her reflections. Always, I was delighted to find a hidden well in the right place, or a lane going where it had gone the night before in speech. However, something began to gnaw. Returning empty handed to Granny’s bedside felt inconsiderate. I had heard of souvenirs, tiny objects in which holidaymakers (a concept as alien to me as Martians) stored memories of trips to foreign lands. Soon, on my walks outside the mirror, I was making drawings and paintings of the trees, boats and sea that filled my grandmother’s yearning. At first, these were on the insides of cigarette packets using pencils and crayons. In no time, I was swiping Corn Flakes boxes before the cereal had been eaten and had got my hands on cheap watercolours. My grandmother loved birdsong, and could mimic a variety, so I tried to make my pictures sing like blackbirds or robins. Granny was often asleep when I came home with a souvenir, and I’d place the little painting on her pillow, for when she would wake.

The morning came when my grandmother’s bed was empty. I mirrored that emptiness for many months. I had fallen into the habit of painting, however, and it occurred naturally that I filled this void with industry. I had never seen a painting by anyone else, or even a reproduction, and didn’t know that art galleries, museums or artists existed. I had no name for the things I made out of boxes, wire, household paint, ashes, driftwood, hardboard, seeds, sand, gravel, wool and sticks. I just needed to use the odds and ends that nobody else wanted. Painting now in the same place where my grandmother lived her life, I still try to paint as a bird sings. As a child, I carried my paintings home out of love, and this is something that continues.

Cornelius Browne is a Donegal-based artist.

Why Latin American Art Matters Now


FOR YEARS THERE’S been a constant level of questioning around Latin American art. What is it? Can it truly be classified as art? Does it resonate with others on a global level? Critics suggest that what Latin American art generally portrays has hindered its ability to connect with a more international audience, since it has proven to consistently comment on provincial political and social issues of the moment. Where artists choose to portray themselves as political messengers, critics question whether this places them more as advocates or activists rather than artists. Others suggest that Latin American art poses a challenge to popular European twentieth-century notions of what art is. Furthermore, there are Pre-Columbian influences within Latin American art, which critics believe place the genre even further from the globalised art world.

Mayan, Olmec, and Aztec influences continued to reverberate among Latin American countries throughout the 1900s. Indigenismo, although a movement in literature, was also experienced in art and became known as Pictorial Indigenism. In very broad terms, indigenismo was an intellectual trend that denounced political and economic exploitations of Native American populations. However, it’s worth noting that not every country within Latin America had Pre-Columbian influences. For example, the work of Argentine artist Alejandro Xul Solar was highly influenced by Cubism, Spanish and Portuguese languages, and various intellectuals like Jorge Luis Borges. Despite being from Argentina, Solar’s work had very minimal Pre-Columbian influence, which is not wholly surprising since Argentina did not have a significant Indian civilization. Whereas Mexico and Peru, as the locations of the capital cities of the Aztec and Incan empires, are typically identified as the regions where Indigenismo flourished.

Diego Rivera, a renowned figure in Latin American art, drew many influences from Pre-Columbian art, which can be seen in various murals such as The Offering (192328). Artists like Francisco Goitia painted native Mexico by immersing himself in the Civil War; Tarsila do Amaral devoted herself to capturing the essence of Brazil in her paintings; while Saturnino Herrán created powerful paintings that depicted indigenous Mexicans with heroic force and dignity. Such artists uplifted the lives of their own people, but their art was so much more than political propaganda; it was a means of restoring narrative and giving people the strength to continue.

Latin American artists have consistently found themselves at the nexus of political and social upheaval, utilising the arts as a means of combating these issues. Over the course of history, Latin American countries have suffered greatly through conquests, monopolisations of land, civil wars,

rebellions, authoritarian regimes, uprisings, violence, drug epidemics, and more. Throughout Latin American history, artists had a civic responsibility to their people and country. Jamaican-born English writer and art critic, Edward Lucie-Smith, phrases it perfectly by saying: “Because political structures have failed at times to support a sense of national identity, Latin American audiences have consistently turned to literature and the visual arts to discover the real truths about themselves...”1 In times when government institutions and systems continued to fail, people found stability and liberation in art.

Now seems a particularly relevant moment for Latin American art to be experiencing a resurgence. There’s been a greater call from individuals, especially younger generations, to be re-connected with our roots, with nature and with ancestors, to build a new foundation from which future generations can benefit. As already outlined, a lot of historic Latin American art contains ‘ancestral’ and indigenismo influences; however, many contemporary artists are also responding to a global call for action when it comes to political systems, environmental issues, immigration laws, reproductive rights, policing, and so on. There’s a greater public need to support a sense of identity. As Latin American art infiltrates the contemporary art canon, it gives us spaces to feel seen and heard, and liberation from the conflicts surrounding us.

With the recent appointment of São Paulo-based curator, Adriano Pedrosa, as curator the International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2024 – the first Latin American to take on the prestigious role, indeed, the first curator based in the southern hemisphere – there are renewed aspirations for the rise of Latin American representation in the contemporary art world. In addition, The Whitney Museum recently appointed Marcela Guerrero as its first Latino Senior Curator, specialising in work by artists from Latin American and Caribbean regions such as Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. The messaging of Latin American art is now more relevant than ever! May it be a vibrant moment that galvanises recognition of the struggles of these countries, through art that empowers its people by honouring the culture.

Veronica Sanchez is a young artist and up-and-coming curator. She has a bachelor’s degree from New York University specialising in The Power of Art in Reclaiming the Narrative of Self for Latinos.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 10 Columns
1 Edward Lucie-Smith, Latin American Art Since 1900 (London: Thames & Hudson, 2020) p. 10.
Plein Air
Cornelius Browne painting near his grandmother’s birthplace, 2022; photograph by Paula Corcoran, courtesy of the artist.


On Parallel Play


‘PARALLEL PLAY’ DESCRIBES a type of play between children where each child may be engaging in similar activity, but this play appears to be beside each other rather than quite between them – adjacent, together, but not usually making eye contact or talking that much. It is often described as a phase of learning that precedes more obviously social activity, such as associative and cooperative play. Within a neurotypical understanding of what kinds of play are most ‘developed’, and what kinds of socialising represent full maturity, parallel play that continues beyond early childhood can be seen as an inability to socialise ‘properly’; it can also be seen as a deficit in communication that might form part of a diagnosed disorder.

Echo’s Bones is a collaborative film-making project with autistic young people that takes ‘parallel play’ as a method of being and creating together but turns any pathological value judgement of such play insideout. Echo’s Bones borrows its title from a short story by Samuel Beckett, set in north county Dublin. The project – our parallel play – takes its title from the dead-end of this unpublished story and runs off with it in another direction, in another time. The young people who took part, aged 16-22, mainly did not know each other before responding to the call-out for participants. For some, it was their first chance to meet ‘people like us’. Over three months, the group of 13 met online and explored representations of autism in the media, developed writing and performance, created maps of our pandemic routes, and explored works by Samuel Beckett and disabled and neurodivergent artists, such as Jess Thom (Touretteshero), Sharif Persaud and Mel Baggs.

Through the development process, we identified a set of representational principles and proposals for our film: autism shouldn’t be the only interesting thing about a character (but it’s annoying not to acknowledge it at all); we could emphasise the capacity for sensory pleasure (rather than considering sensitivity only in terms of pain and overwhelm); we should emphasise complexity of experience and emotion; and we must avoid repeating boring, inaccurate and harmful stereotypes. The motivation that emerged was partly corrective, a way for the group to produce a picture that counters media and medical representations that do not align with their inner lives.

We referred back to early psychological utility films documenting autistic behaviour to create our own disclaimer: This is not a (neuro)typical film / intended for screening in sensory-friendly environments / characters appearing in the film are fictional / may or may not contain reference to echoes, bones, or Samuel Beckett. Our disclaimer is also an in-joke: in mainstream media, autistic people are typically shown as isolated or

alone, but there is autistic community too. This task – to create an autistic ensemble without a ‘main character’ – emerged as the central challenge to the artistic, social and political imaginary developed through the project.

Autism within Echo’s Bones is not treated as a deficit or a disorder, rather as a condition of sensitivity and divergence from what’s socially and cinematically measured as ‘normal’. As a condition, it is a way of asking what a neurodivergent cinema, and art, and world could be like. We can look to Beckett’s writing for a cast of characters who might be talking from dustbins or buried in a hill, moving with difficulty, recording themselves talking and then listening back, muttering over each other, gibbering into the dark, or unspeaking altogether –sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious to witness.

As a project, Echo’s Bones questions why such neurodivergent styles of language and communication may be socially rejected or subjected to psychiatric scrutiny in everyday situations but valued as artistically exciting and formally experimental in others. Echo’s Bones is also a way for me to enquire into what normate modes of communication, dialogue, speech – and ‘manners’– are baked into the artistic discourses of ‘socially-engaged practice’. I think of documentation of many people in a room, engaged in vigorous activity and discussion, and wonder about what forms of social engagement might be possible if that activity was unspoken, nonverbal, or out of sync: who are the implied authors, collaborators, and participants in such projects – and who is included or excluded as a result?

So far, Echo’s Bones has been screened at the Light House Cinema, Dublin, both as an initial community screening and a premiere public event at the conclusion of the commission. It’s also been presented by LUX Scotland as a sensory-friendly screening at Aberdeen Art Gallery, including a live-captioned talk and Q&A. This summer it will be screened at the Middletown Centre for Autism annual conference, where the young people will present it to an audience comprised mainly of professionals in education, psychology, and public policy. A book reflecting on the project, Echo’s Bones: a parallel play, will be published in 2023, featuring newly commissioned writing by Blindboyboatclub, Hamja Ahsan and Roy Claire Potter – further extending our method of parallel play to engage with other neurodivergent artists.

Echo’s Bones by Sarah Browne was commissioned by Fingal County Council through Infrastructure 2017-2021, funded by the Per Cent for Art Scheme.

Access Communicating Access


AS DISCUSSED IN my previous column, access is a conversation; it is an ongoing dialogue with oneself and those around you. Holding an open conversation around access is essential in creating a culture that ensures that our ever-changing needs are centred. In that sense, the foundation of access is the clear and consistent sharing of information, and that is where we should begin.

In considering clear and consistent communication, there are a number of access tools and practices that can be implemented to ensure that disabled, d/Deaf, and chronically ill people can access key information and make informed decisions. As with everything concerning access, there are adaptable tools that can be applied in a way that works for you, your project or organisation. For the recent TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2023 open call, I used suggestions on accessible events from the San Francisco-based disability justice centred, POC and queer performance art project, Sin Invalids.1

As curator of TULCA Festival 2023, I launched the open call in February, in consultation with festival producer, David Finn. This included a curatorial brief and practical information on how to make a submission, involving several versions that would make the open call more accessible. This included an Easy Read document in a downloadable PDF format, using a large and simple size 14 font, recognisable images, and short, jargon-free sentences. Easy Read documents are designed for people with intellectual and learning disabilities but are useful for people who find reading difficult, have memory issues, English isn’t their first language, or anyone who is in a rush. Easy Read documents are often used for open-calls, job descriptions, reports and meeting minutes.

We also included an audio version of the open call. This is a clear, well-paced audio recording of someone reading a document. You can either use professional recording equipment for a high-quality file, hire someone to make the recording, or if resources are limited, you can record it yourself using the Voice Memos app (or similar), which is what I did. We also included a downloadable Microsoft Word document of the standard text, which can be viewed by visually impaired people who use screen readers. Finally, we also provided an Irish version, translated by Seán Ó Muireagáin. Access is an intersectional practice and providing an Irish version honours the bilingual nature of County Galway. All of these versions are archived on the TULCA website (

When communicating to audiences, another essential tool is an access statement, which includes access information relating to an event or venue, such as whether there are steps, wheelchair access, accessible bathrooms, quiet rooms, or public trans-

port connections. Events should also outline whether there will be a sign language interpreter, audio description, captioning or breaks; requests to wear a mask, or not wear perfume, can also be outlined in an access statement. It is equally important to communicate what isn’t accessible, such as steps or inaccessible bathrooms, so that audiences can make informed decisions about attending. An email that is checked regularly should be provided, and/or a phone number, where access enquiries can be made.

In terms of everyday communication, which often has the greatest impact on how we work, there are also some tools we can adopt. Firstly, it’s best to ask what method of communication is best for those you work with. Some people find emails inaccessible and might prefer texting, voice notes, or phone calls. Everyone works at different paces, so it’s important not to pressure people to reply urgently. If you prefer certain ways of communicating or take a certain amount of time to reply, you can state that in your email signature. Others may also need support when attending meetings, such as hiring a support worker to transcribe for them, hiring a sign language interpreter, or needing regular breaks.

I have shared a number of tools and practices we can use to make communication more accessible, but there are so many ways this can be done. Take stock of your own needs and centre that. Accessible communication is one of the most cost-effective methods of improving access in your practice or organisation. Equally, it is essential to ensure colleagues, artists, participants, and audiences are included and kept informed about your programme, opportunities and any access barriers they may face. Access is an act of solidarity, so I want to thank Jamila Prowse for showing the way in accessible communication, including the use of voice notes over email, and the importance of taking our time. I would also like to acknowledge the work and legacy of Sins Invalids and to thank Saverio Cantoni for sharing this information with me. Finally, I want to thank Róisín Power Hackett for her advice and support in relation to the TULCA open call.

Iarlaith Ni Fheorais is a curator and writer based between Ireland and the UK.


1 Sin Invalids suggestions on creating accessible events can found at: access-suggestions-for-a-public-event

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 11 Columns

Art & Education

Back to School


WHEN I WAS 13 and heading into high school, something dastardly happened: I was meant to be taking art, but I ended up in the German class. Scheisse! How did this mix-up even happen? Well, at my intended school, we were given a choice of two electives, though one had to be accounting. The remaining options included subjects like Latin, economics, and art, but I was lumped into German. Please, I begged my parents, please make them change me to art. No, said the parents – lovely people normally – you’re better off doing something useful, like German. This, I might add, was in South Africa in the 1980s; learning Zulu would have been a lot more useful. So would art! But no meant nein, and so German I attempted, and German I failed, while my dream of an art career became just another tiny personal tragedy.

“Maybe you can do art after school”, said my parents, “if your maths mark improves.” Instead, I became a rebel. I finished school with bad grace, got pregnant and became a waitress, and then the world’s worst bank employee – the accounting lessons hadn’t worked either. Finally I became a journalist and, in time, a published author. I’m not the only one with a similar story of naysayer parents, missed opportunities, or dreams that slipped away – but it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I know this because I now study art part-time in the department of Continuing Education in Art and Design (CEAD) at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), where there are upwards of 500 mature students. We are office workers, homemakers, managers, doctors, IT specialists, teachers, architects, academics, salespeople, surfers, and more. We range in age from twenty-somethings to pensioners. We come from all over the world, a vibrant community united by one thing: a yearning to make art.

I moved to Ireland in 2004 with my Irish partner, but I knew next to no one, and I was quietly, achingly lonely. “Go to night school”, people said, so I did. I attended short courses in everything from literature and architecture to film studies and food science, but the one that stuck was art. I later signed up for The Drawing Challenge summer course at NCAD. It was a full week of daytime classes for both beginners and improvers, dedicated to drawing, which included working with pastels, charcoal, graphite, self-portraits, still life, and life drawing.

I loved it, so next I applied to CEAD’s one-year University Certificate in Drawing and Visual Investigation (DVI) – one of several part-time, accredited courses at NCAD which don’t require a portfolio. There are also certificates in Visual Arts Practice (VAP), each focusing on one area of study, such as painting, ceramics, textile design, sculpture, or even creative embroidery. DVI was busy but invigorating, involving two

nights a week of lectures and practicals and an essay in the first semester. I made friends and almost accidentally created a body of work. Thus emboldened and armed with the necessary portfolio, I applied for the Higher Diploma in Art – a two-year part-time programme. And God laughed, because 2020 happened; my dad died, my family in South Africa were unreachable, and the world imploded. Everyone’s Covid story is different, yet ultimately the same.

In September 2021, I accepted my deferred place on the Higher Diploma and threw myself into the most stimulating, exhausting, mind-bending two years of my life, alongside a group of people who I suspect will remain my friends forever. The Higher Diploma presupposes a certain level of skill in drawing – it’s not for beginners – but we have practical workshops in sculpture, film, photography, printmaking, and installation art, and modules in painting and multimedia too, under the guidance of a cast of inspiring tutors, all artists themselves. We’re encouraged to ‘play’ with materials to expand our practice. It’s a deeply supportive environment, with encouragement and constructive criticism coming from both classmates and tutors alike.

In addition, for the first half of each year, there are weekly online lectures on theories and concepts in critical cultures, where we learn about things like neoliberalism’s effect on the art world, the role of museums, political art, public art, and what art is now. We each had to submit an academic essay, and we lost ourselves in the heavenly warren that is the NCAD library. During the summer break, we even organised our own outings to exhibitions, followed by mandatory cake.

The Higher Diploma takes students who have progressed through the shorter certificate programmes and stretches them further, engages them deeper; we explore our developing interests and our emerging artistic identities. We are even planning and managing our own exhibition. Two years is nearly over now. Soon we’ll be submitting our final projects – mine’s a clay quilt –and then we will graduate. Best of all, we can then apply directly for admission to the final year of NCAD’s Bachelor of Arts degree.

Jennie Ridyard is a copywriter and columnist living in Rathmines who is currently studying on the part-time Higher Diploma in Art at NCAD. The CEAD annual graduate exhibition runs at NCAD from 30 June.


Making and Place


THE MAKE SYMPOSIUM on 4 March at MTU Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork brought together an exceptional line-up of guest speakers, including two eminent theorists – British anthropologist, Tim Ingold, and Finnish architect, Juhani Pallasmaa. The tension between their dual perspectives on embodiment, in particular, made this a really thought-provoking seminar.

Professor Ingold, with his characteristically probing and nuanced examinations, challenged the static idea of embodiment within the maker, and the implications of this idea for epistemologies of growth and making. The maker is not, he asserted, a sink to receive the sediment of previous generations, but a demiurge who launches new beginnings. Similarly, life is not an already-written prospectus, but rather a never-ending process of rewriting the prospectus itself. Capturing the centrality of trust within the making process, he compared it to the act of walking and trusting the floor ahead.

Ingold uses language and imagery in a purposeful way, and during the panel discussion he offered a fascinating lexicon of alternative terms to the ones commonly used in art theory and practice. For example, rather than the idea of tacit knowledge as an iceberg, he suggested the metaphor of an archipelago of islands through which knowledge flows. Similarly, rather than the term ‘embody’ he suggested ‘animacy’; he also offered the wonderful term ‘hapticality’ as an alternative to ‘relational’; and instead of ‘reflective practice’ he suggested ‘attunement’. Central to Professor Ingold’s rejection of embodiment was a rebuttal of ethnocentrism – defined as the evaluation of other cultures based on preconceptions framed by one’s own ethnicity – in which the static tower of incremental knowledge dismisses the indigenous experience.

Juhani Pallasmaa’s presentation on the embodied and empathic imagination considered architecture as part of the ‘flesh of the world’. Professor Pallasmaa embraced the term embodiment, but in the context of Paul Valéry’s description of the architect who tends to a building as though it were their own body. A gifted architect, according to Pallasmaa, feels and imagines the building, its countless interrelations and details, as if it were an extension of their own physicality and self. Describing a building as ‘the architect’s embrace’, he said that there are distinct sensual and erotic qualities in meaningful spatial and architectural experiences.

It was interesting to hear the architect examine the concept of aesthetic embodiment, which had just been dissected by Ingold, through a shift of emphasis towards the philosophical and poetic. Side by side, these presentations showed two distinguished thinkers challenging the con-

straints of inherited knowledge in fascinatingly divergent ways.

The panel of visual artists was led by sculptor Eilis O’Connell, whose impressive body of work – ranging from public art commissions to pieces created for exhibition at Eileen Gray’s modernist house in the south of France – confirm her legacy as an important Irish artist. Her slide show was complimented by understated yet moving descriptions of her relationship with each of the pieces, in particular, those now located in her garden in Wicklow. In the context of this international panel discussion, the uncomfortable truths that O’Connell told about the need for public works of sculpture to be maintained and respected, raised urgent questions about Irish society’s ability to value our relationship with urban and artistic environments.

The next presentation was delivered by acclaimed weaver and designer, Ismini Samanidou, whose work incorporates her Greek identity, while also responding to the international spaces in which her projects take place. Among these spaces was her residency at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Connecticut, during which she restored and created new work on Anni Albers’ looms, in keeping with the foundation’s aim to continue her artistic legacy.

The final speaker was the inimitable American visual artist, Ann Hamilton. Describing her process of creating works – such as her project for the Cortland Street subway station in New York City, or her walking meditation structure on the Mekong River in Laos – she often asks herself: “How to form when what you are responding to has no form? What is needed? Why am I here?” Her turn of phrase was exquisite in describing the feeling of being on a swing in her installation, the event of a thread at the Armory in New York, as “the heart falling open.”

Hamilton’s engagement with the rest of the panel was equally delicate and sensitive, as she highlighted the importance of the written word, both created and erased, in her work. She also likened trust within her process to a maker passing a needle through cloth, knowing where it will reappear, thereby threading her own thoughts back to those of the previous speakers with effortless sophistication.

Dr Noelle English is a witness writer based in Cork, where she is working with The People’s Land Trust across writing and social art practice.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 12 Columns

Keening Garden Door


Memento Mori

THIS IS HOW tears are made. The amygdala signals the hypothalamus. The autonomic nervous system triggers the sympathetic nervous system, inducing the body’s fightor-flight response. One’s heart rate increases. The openings between one’s vocal cords close, so as to prevent bodily secretions from entering the lungs. The hypothalamus then produces acetylcholine, a chemical bound to receptors in the brain, activating the lachrymal glands beneath the eyes.

A body that fulfils the conditions to be socialised as male is told that boys don’t cry. I remember my father, fatigued from a gruelling bus shift, coming home to some infraction on my part, admonishing me, then snapping “those aren’t tears – those are crocodile tears!” And that was that. At seven years old, I imagined a crocodile crying a river in which to lay in wait. I would go on to conceive of my tears at best as vulgar displays of emotional wealth, and at worst, crude tools of manipulation. I dared not reach for them again for many years.

On a cancer ward 19 years later, my father’s voice pushed through his failing lungs to randomly tell me: “when a child puts on a bee costume, it actually feels that it’s a bee… he’s going inside the bee, wearing the bee, and in some way is able to reproduce it… oh, I don’t know what I’m talking about…” The executive performativity of being – life insisting, persisting upon itself, to the point of becoming. Five days later, he was gone. My mother would read to me Psalm 56: “You have collected all my tears in your bottle.”

Death taught me how to cry again. I recorded, with his permission, my father’s last gurgling breaths, mediated through a ventilator. Weeks later, I fitted a makeshift butterfly net with shards of rose quartz, said to contain feminine energies. Playing his breaths from a nearby speaker, I spun the net through the sheer air, magnetising

the otherwise masculine soundwaves, so as to catch them – the sound of the past mediated through a speaker, through the present. Time is a language of its own. It communicates itself, consecutively punctuating events like sentences, its structures ever fluctuating in dynamic rhythm. It is a multitude of voices articulating and wavering accordingly, each a parallel world with its own distinct energetic signature. Upon absorbing the last of his voice, my own began to sound.

Keening was an Irish funerary practice – a term derived from the Gaeilge ag caoineadh, meaning to cry. It is a vocal lamentation of ecstatic grief in the form of wailing, improvised without time signature. Often unacquainted with the bereaved, the assigned keener acted as a proxy for mourners to express their grief vicariously. Historically, the role of the keener – to enact a literal performance of emotional labour – was assigned to female, matriarchal figures.

I performed four keenings over clear quartz, charging the crystals in a transubstantiating manner over time with the sonic reproductions of loss. The quartz, carried from one successive iteration of the work to the other, was kept in a glass bottle of water from which I would drink. Each performance reflected the first four stages of grief. In 2019, a little over a year after his death, I performed Keening Garden Door as part of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts, ‘Tactical Magic’, curated by Kerry Guinan. The charged quartz were set like teeth into a door frame. The portal was rooted in a mixture of soils, including some from my father’s grave. I keened a fifth and final time, before passing through the Door into Acceptance.

Day Magee is a performance-centred multimedia artist based in Dublin.

Saying Hard Things


“LIVING AS MATERIAL” just reading your article now, it’s beautiful. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this, especially “living with transparent vulnerability”. Day Magee messages me on Instagram after the last issue of VAN comes out, having read my column, which ran next to theirs.

Living with transparent vulnerability, saying the hard, uncomfortable, and unpretty things... There is a short answer; how you live when you have nothing left to lose. When the worst has already happened, you arrive at a place where people’s opinions don’t matter anymore. Discomfort doesn’t register when crowded out by its louder siblings: grief, sorrow, and heartbreak.

Of course, that’s a somewhat glib response. There will be people in your life whom you care enough about to not want to hurt through your actions, and there is always something to lose, even if self-preservation is not high on your agenda anymore. What are those feelings that hold us back? Shame, embarrassment, fear of failure or being different, othered, beyond what is acceptable, and of making others uncomfortable. One of the motivations in making my work is the hope of creating a connection that negates these creeping feelings for someone else. If I can say the hard thing, you don’t have to say it, and you will know that you are not alone. For me, this artmaking has been a kind of “living as material”, where working through grief became working.

In the making, there is only yourself; it wasn’t until standing in the gallery before my recent solo exhibition opened that I realised other people would actually see the work, read the words I had written, and know. I had exposed myself. The predicament is wanting to reach even one person to whom this may matter, but in doing so, also reaching those I know personally. My realisation that they would see and read the work came with wanting to protect them from what was an unsanitised expression of my struggle with grief and my guilt of not doing widowhood ‘right’. From the exhibition, some works revealing this vulnerability are:

Letters from men who are not my husband (2017-2022)

I asked him to write me a letter, he said he would, but did not get to write it. After he died, whenever a man was interested in me romantically or sexually, I asked him to write me a letter. I stopped asking when I fell in love again.

I am discomforted, a bad widow for being romantically and sexually attractive and attracted to others. I am guilty of still being here, with a functioning body, without the mark of widowhood so visible as to repel others. In my life, I acknowledged the existence of these feelings, confronting them through the act of asking. The later

artwork gave this process presence and put it high on the wall, just out of reach.

On honeymoon with a man who is not my husband (2018-19)

We planned a honeymoon to Italy, which we did not get to take, as our wedding was brought forward on the advice of palliative care, and he died 19 days later. On our second wedding anniversary, I went to Italy with another man and took photographs with him there.

I see my face in selfie after selfie from a mini-break in Rome, my companion blackened out. I see my eyes tired and weary, pushing myself to be here and do this. The night I arrived I caught a fever; hot, sleepless crying that could be put down to germs picked up on a Ryanair flight but felt like bodily insurrection, saying to go through this was too much to ask.

The Boxer (2020)

I met a man who was a kickboxer. Looking to feel something other than my emotional pain, I wanted him to hit me. When he would not, I asked him to write down why.

For me, it was not an opportunity to make a piece but to have a real, momentary release from emotional pain. Taken alone, this could be called self-harm by proxy; being an artist, I examined my behaviour and turned it into art. Here is my depth of grief, my uncomfortable, unpretty feelings and actions made manifest.

Putting work like this into the world is not without difficulty. Making a new piece recently and writing the accompanying note, my boyfriend (yes, I have one, bad widow) said, “Do you want to say so much, baby?” Protective of me, he suggested some edits. I accepted them, for now, as I further interrogate myself about what I’m doing and why, considering how it affects me and those around me.

Am I trying to create the connections to have something positive come from a traumatic experience? Is it survivor’s altruism, being brave and saying hard things for those who cannot? Is this my fighting back so as not to drown, or have I nothing left to lose except my practice, and so everything goes into making? Apologies, TMI.

Neva Elliott is a contemporary artist based in Dublin. Her solo exhibition ‘How to create a fallstreak’, a body of work around grief and healing, ran at The Linenhall Arts Centre from 21 January to 4 March.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 13 Columns
Memento Mori
Day Magee, Keening Garden Door 2019, performance as part of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2019, ‘Tactical Magic’, curated by Kerry Guinan; photograph by Jonathan Sammon, courtesy of the artist and TULCA Festival.

In Focus

Irish Arts Abroad

From Capel Street to Koganecho

BACK IN THE eighties, once a year on Christmas Day, my father would make a very expensive phone call to Perth, Australia. He would speak to his brother, and they would talk about everything and nothing, sharing all of the trivial details of everyday life and talking about none of the big issues of the world. As a child, this was what I knew of Irish emigrants; that they leave, and decades can pass before they return. That mothers will cry for absent children, even those who are fully grown, while simultaneously feeling the paradox of pride in their successes and happiness, and at their having escaped the hardships of working-class Ireland. That migrants can hold deep anxiety about returning to their country of birth, even just to visit. I now live in Japan, which is not quite as far as Australia, and I am well connected to home by technology, but at times, one can really feel the distance.

I graduated from IADT in 2002, and then NCAD in 2005. I began travelling to shoot works for my MA, first to the west of Ireland and then to Iceland. I was looking for remote, timeless landscapes. Later, I began travelling regularly for residencies and exhibitions, and in 2007 was selected for the International Artist Studio Program Korea (IASK) in Changdong, Seoul, run by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Korea. I had never considered moving to Asia before this experience, but found that there were aspects that suited my professional and personal life. In 2009, I had a studio space in the Market Studios off Capel Street in Dublin, with several exhibitions and projects lined up, but the financial crisis was beginning to hurt, so I dropped everything and moved to Japan.

I never experienced culture shock in Japan, but I did have an identity crisis for the first time in my life. However, as I bat-

tled through by doctoral degree, writing in English but defending in Japanese, I found my feet and started to shape my arts career abroad. Connecting with a community through my university, Tama Art University, was important. I also spent six years as a long-term artist-in-residence in Koganecho, Yokohama, subsidised by the local government. The Tokyo art world can be very disjointed, but Koganecho is a melting pot of creatives, which felt like the Dublin art community I had left behind.

I gave up my studio in 2021, finding it difficult to travel there often, after I took on a full-time job at Tama Art University, but I have since found a new rhythm and approach to my practice. I am currently pursuing practice-based research with national funding, in addition to teaching graduate classes and running a special graduate project with artists from abroad. I am creating a new body of work for Nakanojo Biennale, which will open in October.

However, while I am putting down strong roots here in Japan, in recent years I have felt my connection to the Irish art world lessening. Due to pandemic travel restrictions, I have only been back to Ireland once in the last five years. Annual long-distance phonecalls are now an antiquated idea; new generations enjoy the luxury of Facetime and Zoom calls, while artists have fully embraced the online global community. I am excited to share my work in Ireland, and to engage with the work of others there, too. The physical distance is an obstacle, but I hope this article will be one small step towards reconnecting with home.

The Meandering Road

“And there was nothing between us there / That might not still be happily ever after.”

THE ROAD, WHICH lead us from Rosslare to Ballingskelligs in County Kerry, was meandering up the hill. I had no idea where we were because it was dark – there were no streetlights at all. Eventually we arrived at the nice and cozy cottage and unpacked our bags. When I went out the next day, I could not believe my eyes as I looked out over the sea towards the small islands opposite the coast – it was a miracle to be there. That feeling lasted for the month we were invited to stay in Cill Rialaig in 1995. Another miracle was that we had only one day of rain.

My first experience with Ireland was so wonderful and intense that I’ve come back nearly every year since then to work and to exhibit my drawings. Being there, sitting and working in different places, has been so important to my development as an artist. In the beginning, I was so impressed by the landscape in County Kerry and County Mayo – the places where I have worked the most – but this magnificent landscape could not find a place in my work; it was too overwhelming.

Because of my interest in Irish poetry, every time I travelled back to The Netherlands, my suitcase would be full of Irish poetry publications. Besides making drawings, I also write poetry, and in 2017 Salmon Poetry published my poetry collection, Morningrustle

As I became more established, my contact with Irish museums and galleries grew.

I was surprised by how many curators paid attention to my work, when I did succeed in making appointments. Most curious to me was how quickly after my first trip to Ireland I was invited to showed my work in the Green On Red Gallery, with whom I have been involved ever since. I have since had solo shows in The Model, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Galway Arts Centre, Mermaid Arts Centre, and Ballina Arts Centre. My work has also been shown in group exhibitions in Crawford Art Gallery, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and more. After my solo exhibition last summer at Limerick

City Gallery of Art, ‘In Time’ (titled after Seamus Heaney’s last poem), I was lucky enough to have the Arts Council of Ireland purchase a huge drawing of mine for their collection.

Because of my background and interest in teaching, I have given lectures and tutorials in nearly every art school in Ireland. Beside that, I was asked to curate some exhibitions and one of the most challenging was the travelling show, ‘Into Irish Drawing’ in 2009, with works from more than 20 Irish artists. The exhibition toured to Paris, Portadown and Holland as well.

I discovered that most of the Irish artists are not only focused on drawing, but also on making paintings, sculpture or videos. This was in contrast with what I had previously found in 2005 with ‘Into Contemporary Dutch Drawing’, when I presented the work of Dutch artists. In Holland, you see more and more artists just focusing on works on paper and some of them, like myself, are often working on huge sizes.

It is not easy to explain what Ireland –its literature, landscape, and my travels –means to me. Shaking hands with the King of Tory Island, walking around on Inis Oírr, standing at ‘the end of the world’ in Malin Head; finding great art as well, from James Dickson Innes to Alice Maher, Nick Miller, Dorothy Cross, Ronnie Hughes, Anita Groener, Brian Fay, Gerda Teljeur, Niamh O’Malley, Eoin McHugh and many others. All of these encounters in Ireland have been very special to me.

Arno Kramer is a visual artist, curator and poet who works in The Netherlands and in Ireland.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023
Arno Kramer, In Time 2020, charcoal and pencil, 152 x 280 cm; photograph by Peter Cox, image courtesy of the artist. Suzanne Mooney is a visual artist and Associate Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo. Suzanne Mooney, Clear Morning II, Wuxi 2019, inkjet print on Hahnemühle photo rag, 1500mmx1000mm ; image courtesy of the artist.

Untitled (Bodies)

I GRADUATED IN 1998 from Time Based, a dynamic, experimental department within Fine Arts, at what was then University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. To this day, I continue to work with ephemeral and experimental media – including performance, installation and sculpture, biotechnical practices and writing – often in relation to speculation around the body and how that intersects with the social, private and intimate. My practice has meandered across live art, dance and visual art contexts, and interfaces of art, science and technology, sometimes in recognised art venues, other times in non-art spaces, where site itself becomes a generative dimension of the process. The monograph, Kira O’Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), edited by Harriet Curtis and Martin Hargreaves, provides an expansive visual and discursive retrospective of my work from 1998 to 2017.

In 1986, when I was a 19-year-old young adult, I left Ireland for the UK. From the late ‘90s, my artistic practice benefited from flourishing contexts for live art, both in the UK and Europe. The Live Art Development Agency in London, and its former creative director Lois Keidan in particular, was a vital force in highlighting how marginal art forms might receive support, be curated, and most importantly, be experienced by viewers.

With the impact of austerity politics, surviving the harsh economic climate of London became impossible. I moved to Helsinki in 2016 for a short-term teaching contract at University of the Arts. Working in Finland was a complete contrast, with an opportunity to run a pilot for an MA programme in ecology and contemporary performance.

I found a community with Helsinki-based Bioart Society, who produce projects in “art and natural sciences with an emphasis on biology, ecology and life sciences”. My introduction to the society was in 2013 when I participated in ‘Field_ Notes’, a week-long art and science field laboratory in which five groups work in the sub-Arctic environment of Sápmi (Sámi traditional lands in northern Finland) to develop, test and evaluate specific interdisciplinary approaches to a theme. I have since made several projects with the Bioart Society, and co-edited its decade-marking publication, Art As We Don’t Know It (Alto University, 2020), that surveys art and science practice and it’s evolving futures.

I have been immensely fortunate to receive support from The Finnish Cultural Foundation, Taike. I am also an alumnus of Saari, a generously resourced two-month residency opportunity in rural south west Finland, funded by Kone Foundation, a significant funder of arts and research.

The biggest challenge I experience is getting my work shown here in Finland, where curatorial relations are not particularly developed. It is widely recognised that artists who are not Finnish and who have not emerged via the Finnish arts education system are explicitly disadvantaged. There is also enormous and proactive will for this to change.

Whilst I do not have a defined professional profile and presence in Ireland, I find myself increasingly hopeful this will change. As my parents age, I return to Ireland more frequently. Visits to North Kerry, where my artistic journey began, never fail to inspire creative projects. I have several works I wish to develop, pending interest and funding, including a work in my family home in Listowel.

In August I will present work at Live Art Ireland’s Convergence Festival in County Tipperary. I will also give a workshop in the Burren at the invitation of Áine Phillips, performance artist and head of sculp- ture at Burren College of Art. Áine did the enormously hard work of editing the ground breaking publication, Performance Art in Ireland: A History (Intellect Books, 2015), which I was grateful to be included in. She has been tremendously generous in offering advice on how to bring my work to Ireland, as have Dublin-based artist Karen Donnellan and Helsinki-based Irish artist Suzanne Mooney.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 15 In Focus
Kira O’Reilly is an Irish artist currently based in Helsinki. Kira O’Reilly, I came to the sea and I was scared, my heart is broken, 2016, performance; photograph by Panos Kokkinias, courtesy of the artist. Kira O’Reilly and Jennifer Willet, Refolding (Laboratory Architectures), 2010; photograph by Hugo Glendinning, courtesy of the artists.

Appetite for Visual Culture

BEING FROM BELFAST and having had a British state school education, perhaps I shouldn’t consider myself to be ‘living abroad’ in London. When I lived in Belfast and was starting to exhibit in other countries, people sometimes asked me if I thought of myself as a British artist or an Irish artist. My answer was ‘yes’. I can quite easily think of myself as one, the other, or both and in the early days of struggling to build a career, pragmatism trumped patriotism. I was very happy when both the British Council and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs were funding a touring show. It seemed like the perfect arena for cross border co-operation; thin on the ground in the 1980s.

London has always nourished my insatiable appetite for visual culture. My older brother lived here in the 1960s and it became my learning ground on summer holiday visits. Before I ever crossed the threshold of an art school, I was devouring the collections of Tate, National Gallery and British Museum. Much as I loved Belfast’s Ulster Museum, it was just a trailer for these treasures of empire. Yes, I’m afraid that the really great art collections are generally in centres of former political or commercial domination, but it is those collections that have always attracted me to the city.

When I moved here 20 years ago, it was still reasonably easy to find a studio if you didn’t mind working in the grittier parts of the city, but now that grittiness is fashionable (as long as it is close to good coffee), that has changed. There are some good not-for-profit studio providers, but waiting lists are long and most of the studios are non-residential. If anyone reading this is thinking of moving to London, the best advice I can give is: look for places with bad coffee, where people don’t paint their houses with Farrow & Ball colours. Get a bike and look at industrial zones with bad transport connections. That’s fine when you are young of course; most artists have had that rite of passage.

Irish Arts in California

Contemporary Irish Arts Center Los Angeles Los Angeles

Having lived in the Republic for ten years, I still have very good friends and strong connections there. In Belfast I still see my ‘short trouser friends’; people from the street I grew up in. But there is an element of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ if you don’t show up for a few years. I particularly feel a lack of connection with younger artists in Ireland. The late Nicola Gordon Bowe used to bring me in to NCAD in Dublin every so often to give a talk to students and we always made it a rule that all departments and disciplines were welcome. Although the recent embargoes on travel have put a dent in those relationships, I will be in Dublin in November of this year showing at the RHA and hopefully talking to anyone that wants to listen.

I still get invited to propose or submit ideas for shows and commissions in other countries. When I was young, I just said ‘yes’ to everything (very good training when you are young), but now I do a bit more research and if there isn’t a fair remuneration and a good level of creative freedom, I have to say ‘no’. One of the best reasons for taking on a commission is having the opportunity to work with a medium or on a scale beyond your normal means, but it has to be something you really want to do and not the execution of a committee mandate.

CONTEMPORARY IRISH ARTS Center Los Angeles (CIACLA) is a non-profit arts organisation that supports and promotes contemporary Irish art and culture in Los Angeles County, California. The journey of CIACLA began in 2011 when myself and Ciara Scanlan of MART Gallery & Studios, Dublin, started curating exhibitions and events in Los Angeles. With my experience in the film and television industry in LA since 2005, and Ciara’s co-founding of MART in 2007, we embarked on a mission to produce annual exhibitions in the city. We started with a group exhibition, titled ‘Invite or Reject’, which included artists such as Sofie Loscher, James L Hayes, Ella Burke and Nicky Teegan, as part of the government’s Imagine Ireland initiative in 2011, supported by Culture Ireland.

Over the next few years, we curated annual exhibitions promoting Irish and American artists while collaborating with LA galleries such as Hive, LACE, C4, CB1, DAC, and Arena 1. In 2018, we created a pop-up gallery on Hollywood Boulevard as part of Ireland Week, all while building a strong community of artists, creatives, Irish immigrants, and audiences eager to connect with contemporary Irish culture.

In 2019, following eight years of successful exhibitions and events, Ciara and I, along with Director of Development Jennifer Minniti-Shippey, founded CIACLA as a California-based non-profit 501(c)(3) arts organisation with a goal to promote contemporary Irish culture. With the help of Jenn McGuirk and a fantastic team of volunteers and cultural advisors, we put together an exciting multidisciplinary programme of summer events at a pop-up gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, including exhibitions by MASER and Amanda Coogan, theatrical productions by Lords of Strut and InHouse Theatre, a music event by Eímear Noone, a contemporary dance performance and residency with Luke Murphy, and the first year of CIACLA’s Irish Film Showcase which is now in its fourth year and growing.

Since its inception, CIACLA has been a bridge between the Irish and LA art scenes, providing a platform for artists from

both regions to exchange ideas and exhibit their work. CIACLA’s ongoing programme includes a range of activities such as exhibitions, residencies, talks, workshops, and screenings. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, CIACLA thrived online, providing artists with a platform to engage with our audience. In 2022, we returned to in-person programming, partnering with local venues to support the growth and flourishing of theatre, music, literature, and visual arts, which included the inaugural ‘Irish Contemporaries’ exhibition, held at Building Bridges Arts Exchange in November 2022, with the second instalment happening this July. This year CIACLA will continue to produce multiple exhibitions, live performances, professional development Culture Chats, screenings and monthly Creative Network events.

CIACLA’s connection to the region is a crucial part of its identity. As an organisation that aims to foster dialogue, CIACLA recognises the importance of engaging with the local community. In addition, our partnerships with local organisations provide further opportunities for collaboration and outreach. The organisation’s connection to Ireland remains a vital aspect of its mission and continues to foster relations with Irish artists and organisations. These collaborations have included residencies for Irish artists, exhibitions featuring Irish artists, and partnerships with Irish cultural institutions.

CIACLA’s commitment to promoting contemporary Irish art in Los Angeles has resulted in vibrant programmes and opportunities that reflects the diversity and creativity of Irish art today and continues to play a vital role in fostering dialogue and exchange between the two regions. The organisation’s connection to the region and to Ireland underscores the importance of cultural exchange and collaboration in today’s globalised art world.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 16 In Focus
Matthew Nevin is the Executive Director of CIACLA and Co-Director of MART Gallery & Studios, Dublin. Francis Fay, A Knight of Mirrors, 2022, Live Performance; photograph by Matthew Nevin, courtesy the artist and CIACLA. John Kindness is an artist working a range of media including sculpture and painting. John Kindness, Scylla & Charybdis, 2012, engraved/scumbled toilet seat and lid, each 45 x 37 cm; image courtesy of the artist.

National and International Hub

Irish Arts Center New York City

THE NEW IRISH Arts Center (IAC) opened to the public in December 2021, with a brand-new home designed to support a contemporary, multidisciplinary arts and culture programme. Based in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, IAC presents, develops, supports, and tours work from artists with careers spanning from emerging to established. It serves as a national and international hub for artists and audiences of all backgrounds who share a passion for contemporary Irish and Irish-American art.

The center’s new home, at 22,000 square feet, was built for flexibility and an expanded multidisciplinary scope, with substantially increased capability in the visual arts. In these important first seasons, IAC has sought to explore ways to enhance the role of the organisation in supporting Irish visual artists to develop a presence in New York. During the planning process, IMMA in Dublin helped IAC to develop a building-wide visual arts canvas from both a practical and technical standpoint, including four specific areas designed for the presentation of visual arts: the flexible theatre as installation space; the atrium, visually accessible from the first, second and mezzanine floors, as well as the street; the first floor; and building-wide interstitial spaces.

Alongside the physical capabilities of the new building, IAC’s curator-in-residence programme further expands relationships in the Irish and American visual arts ecosystems, to stay connected with practitioners in both spheres. The opening brief for curators includes a prompt to consider how the building creates interactions between the work and audiences; as the life of the building evolves, so too will the curatorial remit. With exhibitions spanning four to six months, a significant investment in time and resources in each exhibition further supports this expansion.

IAC’s first curator-in-residence, Miranda Driscoll (former director of Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh and Solas Nua in Washington, DC), curated both the opening exhibition and the first theatre installation. Miranda visited during the completion of the construction process, which helped inform the work selected for ‘The Space We Occupy’ (December 2021 to May 2022), featuring six artists: George Bolster, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Neil Carroll, Colin Crotty, Katie Holten and Fiona Kelly.

In June 2022, Maud Cotter’s solo show, ‘a consequence of ~’, included a largescale sculptural installation in the theatre and throughout the building. The show brought together works created by Cotter for exhibitions in Limerick City Gallery of Art (2019); The Dock (2019); and Hugh Lane Gallery (2021), courtesy of the domobaal gallery in London. As noted in Hyperallergic: “this body of sculpture evinces a sense of play and open-ended curiosity about nature’s material logic”; while ArtNet selected it as one of the top ten shows to see.

IAC’s current exhibition is curated by Moran Been-noon, a Dublin-based artist, curator, and co-founder of the Angelica Network – an Ireland-wide network

which amplifies the voices of artists who self-identify as women or minority genders, from underrepresented cultural or ethnic backgrounds. ‘If You Only Walk Long Enough’ continues until July and features the work of Leanne McDonagh, Ellie Berry, and Edy Fung, who each explore concepts around travel and returning.

As IAC looks ahead to the continued growth of the visual arts programme, we will further develop relationships, including those built for ‘The Space We Occupy’, which traveled to Solas Nua, and ‘a consequence of ~’, which traveled to MOCA Jacksonville. In its new home, IAC aspires to be a hub of activity, play and discovery for curators and artists, as well as New York audiences seeking cultural experiences that are innovative, collaborative, diverse, authentic, and emotionally and intellectually transporting.


Director of Pro-

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 17 In Focus
Gilkey is the gramming and Education at the Irish Arts Center in New York. Edy Fung, Negotiating Laplace’s Demon [Detail], 2022, digital prints on matte paper; photograph by Julia Gillard, courtesy of the artist and Irish Arts Center. Neil Carroll, Rupture 2018, emulsion paint, plaster, paper, burlap, tarpaulin, electrical tape, galva-band, lining paper, steel, wire mesh, wood; photograph by Julia Gillard, courtesy of the artist. [L-R]: Maud Cotter, a dappled world, (one – three) 2017, birch ply, paint, plastic mesh, thread, mild steel, prestia, sponge, pencil line; without stilling, 2017-18, Finnish birch ply; a breather of air, 2019, stainless steel, card, primer, jesmonite acrylic, polythene sheeting; photograph by Adam Reich, courtesy of the artist and domobaal. Leanne McDonagh, Nature & Nurture 2020, Lambda c-type print mounted in liquid acrylic; photograph by Julia Gillard, courtesy of the artist and RTÉ.

Cultural Flagship

Centre Culturel Irlandais


IT GOES WITHOUT saying that the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris is one of a kind. When the new team first turned up on Rue des Irlandais a few months before inauguration in 2002, the eighteenth-century building was still covered in scaffolding! Now, nearly 21 years later, it has become a flagship of the Irish arts, not only within the Parisian cultural landscape, but as a veritable benchmark for Irish practitioners – an exhibition or artist residency here is considered a prestigious opportunity.

We have a myriad of connections with galleries and arts organisations throughout the island of Ireland, as well as county council arts offices. These are true partners and have allowed us to expand our residency programme exponentially over the last ten years. The artists in turn become ambassadors of the CCI on returning to Ireland and beyond. As the only Irish arts centre on the European continent, our mission and horizon is not just restricted to Paris or even France, but also involves creating connections further afield. CCI director, Nora Hickey M’Sichili, is currently President of FICEP – a forum that gathers 58 countries’ cultural institutes based in Paris, to exchange on best practices and programme festivals together. This regular contact with an international network allows the centre to develop bilateral or multi-lateral projects as well. The CCI works closely with the Embassy of Ireland in Paris and regularly teams up with French institutions, universities, publishers, festivals and cinemas to work on co-productions.

Since the renovation of the CCI over two decades ago, when the old refectory of the Irish College was transformed into a gallery, more than 60 temporary exhibitions have been mounted. Last year’s centenaries saw the opportunity to curate a group exhibition looking at themes in Ulysses (Shakespeare and Company, 1922) that are still of contemporary relevance in independent Ireland one hundred years on. We also showcased work by George Bolster and presented our first contemporary exhibition in the intimate Old Library –

Siobhan McDonald’s ‘The week the sun touched the earth’. Guggi’s respective was timed to mark the CCI’s twentieth birthday and we invited one of our first-ever visiting artists, Aideen Barry, to return with her spectacularly visual show, ‘oblivion / seachmalltacht’.

This year we mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement with an installation by Niamh McCann, and Irish-European relations with an exhibition by Dutch-Irish artist Anita Groener, which addresses fragility and migration. In September, Colin Martin’s CCI exhibition ‘Empathy Lab’ will explore spaces that blur boundaries between the real and the virtual, while Electronic Sheep’s installation, NOTIFICATIONS OFF, will plead for us to switch our devices to just that.

Every November, we open a major photographic exhibition, often of new work, to coincide with Paris Photo, the international art fair. The opening is always a diary highlight with hundreds of photographers, curators, collectors, publishers and art lovers coming to the CCI for a preview of the exhibition and to attend our after-party. For many years, we have been part of the official off-site Paris Photo and part of the Photo Saint Germain festival. This year, we are presenting photographer Kate Nolan’s ‘Lacuna 2016-2022’ which considers the physical and psychological impact of partition on young people of the Irish borderlands. Deirdre O’Mahony is collaborating with the CCI to create a Sustainable Experiment Feast investigating the question of the survival of small farms. Looking ahead, 2024 will be an exciting year with the Olympics coming to Paris and Team Ireland spending post-competition time at the CCI – a wonderful opportunity to mark the centenary of Jack B. Yeats winning a silver medal in the 1924 Games, and to highlight the connections between art and sport.

Rosetta Beaugendre is the Head of Communications and Public Relations at CCI Paris.

A Home for Irish Arts

Irish Cultural Centre London

THE IRISH CULTURAL Centre (ICC) is based in Hammersmith, London. It has been the home of Irish arts and culture in the UK for the last 28 years. The venue’s state-of-the-art building houses an impressive performance auditorium, modern bar lounge, Irish library, art gallery and multiple meeting spaces.

As a primarily cultural entertainment venue, the ICC’s extensive events programme includes concerts, screenings and exhibitions across all art forms, including music, film, theatre, literature and visual arts. It has hosted many notable guests, such as HRH King Charles III, Colm Tóibín, Edna O’Brien, Adrian Dunbar, Ardal O’Hanlon, Dame Sheila Hancock, Ralph McTell, Mary Coughlan, Martin Hayes, Tommy Prine, Fergal Keane and more. In addition, the centre offers formal courses in Irish Language, dance and Irish Traditional Folk Music, and maintains close links with Irish Film London and The Irish Literary Society, amongst other organisations.

The ICC is currently home to the exceptional exhibition, ‘Painting Ulysses’ by Aidan Hickey, which marks the 100th anniversary year of the publication of James Joyce’s masterpiece. The exhibition comprises 18 paintings, depicting each of the 18 episodes in the novel. As each episode was written in a different literary style, Hickey has designed each painting in a different visual style. In some ways ‘Painting Ulysses’ shares the same chequered history as James Joyce’s novel. Aidan Hickey began his odyssey in 2016 when he mentioned to fellow artist Tom Mathews that he was painting an episode from Ulysses. “I hope you are not intending to paint all 18 episodes” was Tom’s reply. Aidan pondered on this and decided ‘Why not?’. And so Aidan’s journey began.

The ICC also plays an active role within the wider community, aiming to promote Irish culture to the Irish diaspora in London and beyond. Celebrating equality, inclusion, and diversity, its programme aims to attract people of all ages, backgrounds,

interests, and diverse heritages. The centre prides itself on being an open, welcoming space for anybody who enjoys Irish arts and culture. It has been a registered charity since 2013.

The ICC has played an integral part in the local community and region in helping to celebrate and reflect on the history of the Irish in London, as well as adding to the vibrancy of the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere that celebrates world literature, art, and music days.

In 2019, we held a celebration of female art in the centre with local and Irish artists to celebrate St Brigid’s Day and female creativity. The council deemed it so successful they added it to their dates of notable cultural events, alongside St Patrick’s Day. We are now currently helping our friends at Irish In Britain to complete a large heritage project on the life of the Irish diaspora in the UK with an immersive exhibition.

The UK, and London in particular, continues to be a beacon of Irish emigration, but we have also seen in the last four years since the impact of Brexit, a hunger from people with Irish Heritage to connect with their roots and history. The reality of maintaining this visibility and professional outreach to the wider community is now immensely important to people of inherited Irish descent, as there’s a pride for the nation and desire to be a part of this community. As a centre, we also have a responsibility to reflect a modern and changing Ireland. One that embraces the successes that the country has gained in all forms, as well as acknowledging the large strides in political affairs that the country has made in the last 25 years. For us, there’s work to do, in communicating with those who have left, the new parameters of home, but also discussing what hopes people still have for the future of the island.

William Foote is the Centre Director at The Irish Cultural Centre.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 18 In Focus
Aiden Hickey, Sirens, 2022, oil/acrylic board, 24"x36"; image courtesy of Aidan Hickey and the Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith. Oonagh Young, Reading Ulysses, February-June 2022, installation view; image courtesy of CCI Paris.

The Visual Artists' News Sheet


Edition 67: May – June 2023

A Klass, Untitled skateboarding photographs, 2022, ‘Fix Your Pony!’, installation view; photograph by Simon Mills, courtesy of the artists and Naughton Gallery.


Niamh O’Malley, ‘Gather’

The Model, Sligo

3 February – 15 April 2023

A ROVING SHADOW appears; a haze of mist over the Garavogue River casts faint ripples through the window grille pattern, thrown up on the gallery wall at a slant. Rain-mottled windowpanes layer texture over the grain of the wooden floor and the buffed limestone of Drain (2022). A glint of sunlight picks out the yellow in Shelf (2022) and there’s a glow about it. Niamh O’Malley’s, ‘Gather’ at The Model in Sligo, includes sculptural works first presented at the Irish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale last year. Her dedication to site specificity and references to the local environment anchor the exhibition in both Venice and the west of Ireland.

By shaping raw materials often hewn from the land, and in detailing microclimatic shifts, O’Malley instigates a fresh dialogue on what it means to be connected to a landscape. The correlation and ephemeral biotic relationship between nature and culture finds expression in a number of the works. Many of her sculptures appear as descriptors for features in the landscape: a promontory, the rock spine of a mountain pass, flagstone floors, drystone walls, dense aged wood smoothed and polished. Steel, limestone, wood, and glass are utilised to consider brackish rivers and bog oak, briar thickets, gnarled branches, quarries, kelp and marram grass, ecological and archaeological curios, mounds and forts.

To orientate us, O’Malley introduces a crow. In ‘Gather’, the crow might act as a guide, encouraging us to consider alternative value systems in our surroundings. We encounter the bird through the phone-recorded video, Hooded Crow (2022), where it drinks water from a garden pond, pausing intermittently to take in its surroundings. When we understand that our human-centric pivot blinkers us, we can make space for other readings of our environment. O’Malley often builds such devices into her exhibitions, to shift our perspective and consider a reordering of materiality and form through abstraction. The mark, transposed onto the slope of the mountain from the camera lens in Nephin (2014), also functions in this way, orientating us as we circle the peak, offering a different vantage point.

The artist collaborates with several different craftspeople on the fabrication of these objects, moving through various possibilities, while celebrating a particularly exceptional piece of stone. Surface finishes and treatments emphasise its specificity. Limestone for example, which appears throughout the exhibition, has been quarried and worked in many parts of Ireland since prehistoric times, having been used in the Neolithic burial chambers found on many parts of the island. Covers (2022) is a composition of limestone set into beech veneered MDF; it looks a bit like an aerial view of a passage tomb but more directly references marble storm drain covers from the municipal drainage system in Venice. This assonance draws the two disparate terrains into dialogue with one another – a strategy of comparison which deepens our awareness of nuance.

Some of the assemblages in ‘Gather’ incorporate other building materials like textured glass. The use of the ubiquitous

Everglade pattern in Corner (hold) might remind us of windowpanes or door panels in the bungalows of rural Ireland. The leaf pattern in the glass, emulating the thick summer foliage outside, creates a perceptual mise en abyme. This familiar motif also elicits a sense of nostalgia, a collective reminiscence on the materiality of the Bungalow Bliss era, after the widely disseminated design changed the face of the Irish countryside forever.

Similarly, the steel in Shelf (2022) recollects corrugated roofs of sheds and barns, while the architecture of The Model also plays a part. Initially purpose-built as a school in 1862 and refurbished in 2001 for use as a museum, its structural idiosyncrasies converse with this series of formal sculptures and accompanying video. A thick, cumulous cloud yields to the insistence of light as rays crack through and cast contours onto the floor from Holds (2022). Titles of individual artworks suggests a nonverbal, dissociative, and decentred way of describing intensely quotidian natural objects and forms. Much of O’Malley’s work has a honed palette which emphasises the play of light and prioritises material tactility.

Throughout the exhibition, O’Malley pays homage to the natural landmarks, vernacular architecture, and geological characteristics of rural Ireland. The work in ‘Gather’ is often descriptive of such features in the landscape – expansive skies over jagged mountain tops, cliff faces in profile, refractions, and pools of light on the sea – though her depictions have been meticulously pared back in search of quintessence.

The work incorporates contradictions that further activate the artist’s treatise, including rigid and fluid, fragile and robust, wild and cultivated. Such dichotomies speak of the romanticisation of the west of Ireland, misconceptions of modernity, and the often-mawkish descriptors that dominate its expression in art. Always on the lookout for catalysts and anomalies that offer new perspectives on hackneyed tropes, O’Malley asks how the idyllic west of Ireland landscape can be represented in contemporary art, and in so doing, she deciphers fresh narratives in the descriptions of place.

Ingrid Lyons lives and works in Donegal. She writes about contemporary art and is currently developing a number of works of fiction and creative non-fiction.

The Irish Tour of Ireland at Venice 2022 presented iterations of ‘Gather’ in The Model and TBG+S (2 March – 30 April). A discursive event was hosted in the Linenhall on 11 March, featuring readings by Eimear McBride and Brian Dillon (who wrote for the publication), a conversation with Niamh O’Malley and the Curatorial Team (Clíodhna Shaffrey and Michael Hill) and screenings of films by Jenny Brady and Ros Kavanagh.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
Top & Bottom: Niamh O’Malley, ‘Gather’, installation view, the Irish Tour of Ireland at Venice, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, 2023; photograph by Aisling McCoy, courtesy of the artist and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios.
Critique Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
Bottom Left: The Irish Tour of Ireland at Venice, panel discussion, Linenhall Arts Centre, 11 March 2023 [L-R]: Kate Strain (mediator), Brian Dillon and Eimear McBride (writers), Niamh O’Malley; photograph courtesy of the artist and Ireland at Venice 2022. Top Left, Top Right & Bottom Right: Niamh O’Malley, ‘Gather’, installation view, The Model; photograph by Aisling McCoy, courtesy of the artist, The Model, and Ireland at Venice 2022.


Richard Gorman, ‘Living Through Paint(ing)’ Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin 9 March – 20 August 2023

RICHARD GORMAN IS well known for his colourful and abstract geometric paintings, prints and works on paper. He is firmly established on the international art scene, with exhibitions all over the world, from Dublin and Milan to London and Tokyo. Gorman’s current exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery features his signature graphic paintings in square format, spread over three gallery spaces, with a fourth space containing Japanese paper works. All presented works were completed between 2018 and 2022.

The first room contains 12 paintings. Sheelin (2022), perched high up on the wall, presents a vertiginous tension; a calm grey shadow fails to prevent the central jagged pink form from engulfing the neon green. Best viewed from a distance, other paintings are placed on the longest wall, creating an overall sense of unity and motility. Throughout the space, motifs are repeated that activate adjacent works, achieving what the artist describes as a “precarious balance”.1 Works such as Tilt Magenta (2018) and Squeeze Orange (2018) have a playful dynamism; the eye is drawn to the outer edges of forms that appear to wheel around one another. Blam (2021) echoes Wrack (2021) in terms of shapes and colour palette; their interacting motifs seem to frolic and slide back and forth, contrasting angular industrial shapes with organic or botanic forms.

Derravarragh (2022) – a large painting at 170 x 170 cm – contains geometric shapes with an overall illusion of three-dimensionality. The eye is drawn to the centre of the painting where neon green diagonal forms balance on top of blue and purple quadrilaterals, reminiscent of the gable ends of houses. The second space contains four large paintings, all named after Irish lakes or islands. The incantatory titles – Rathlin, Sherkin, Corrib, Erne – have a pleasing rhythm. The high contrast and bright colours lend a hypnotic vibrancy to the generous paintings. The star of this room is Rathlin (2022) whose palette of bright pinks and negative shapes in a luminous deep blue vibrates with energy.

Encountered first in the next space is Oscar Delta Bravo (2019), containing a humorous fidget-spinner of blue, white and black pill forms. In the diptych, Charlie Charlie (2020), the painting process is evidenced in the buildup of layers at the edges. The duo, Hum (2019) and Victor X-Ray (2020), contain purple/black central motifs with brightly coloured shapes, suggestive of overlapping coloured filters which appear to twirl around the larger central form in a clockwise direction.

The works on paper in the final gallery space have more muted colours and a calm sensibility. The dimmed lighting lends the installation a meditative atmosphere. The title, 12 dye on handmade echizen kozo washi paper (2023) signifies the importance of physical materiality and process. For the last 20 years, Gorman has had an ongoing collaboration and productive partnership with a Washi making factory in rural Japan. The technique involves dyeing paper pulp by pressing it into molds containing areas of coloured ink.

It is hard to counteract the urge to read meaning into Gorman’s paintings and their titles, which he insists are ‘found’, apparently at random. In the introductory wall text, Gorman is quoted as saying: “A painting is a conflict with disorder … it may not tell a story, it may not even represent an idea.” He resists any imposition of meaning on his work, preferring to say that a painting “means only that it signifies what I spend my time doing.”2 Elsewhere, he quotes Susan Sontag’s comment that “interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.”3 The title of the exhibition, ‘Living through paint(ing)’, is a clue to his immersive artistic approach, having lived and worked in his Milan studio since the 1980s. Gorman mentions that he is “playing a game that has been going on for a long time.”4

Gorman refers to the Renaissance paintings of Giovanni Bellini, which also finds parallels in the Japanese concept of Ma, in which the spaces between objects

take on greater significance than the forms themselves. Gorman notices that in Bellini’s paintings, the negative shapes between forms draw his attention, containing heavier layers of paint than the forms themselves. Gorman’s contemplative practice therefore seems comfortable within both the Japanese and European traditions, while his legacy is a sense of complete absorption in the exuberant process of painting.

Beatrice O’Connell is a multidisciplinary artist from Dublin.

2 Ibid.

3 Jennifer Goff, ‘Casa: Invitation to a Journey’, in Casa: Richard Gorman (Dublin: OPW, 2016), published to coincide with an exhibition at Castletown House, Kildare, in 2016, p. 10.

4 Judith Du Pasquier, KIN, 2013.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
1 Judith Du Pasquier (director), KIN, 2013, film interview with Richard Gorman at his studio in Milan for his exhibition at The MAC, Belfast, in 2014. ‘Richard Gorman: Living Through Paint(ing)’, installation view, Hugh Lane Gallery; photograph by Denis Mortell, courtesy of the artist and Hugh Lane Gallery. Richard Gorman, Derravaragh 2022, oil on linen, 170 x 170 cm; photograph courtesy of the artist and Kerlin Gallery. Richard Gorman, Rathlin, 2022, oil on linen, 170 x 170 cm; photograph courtesy of the artist and Kerlin Gallery.

Philip Moss, ‘Haiku Paintings and Other Works’ Molesworth Gallery, Dublin 9 March – 6 April

AN IMPRESSION GRADUALLY forms while moving through Philip Moss’s first solo show at the Molesworth Gallery; one that involves both presence and absence. On the presence side is a strong materiality, a lively use of colour and, as the full complement of 19 exhibits reveals, a technical aptitude that spans semi-abstract imagery and finely worked realism. This points to an artist invigorated by the possibilities of making, one who draws, often explicitly, from artists he admires. On the absence side is loss, which permeates the exhibition through a palpable nostalgia for people and times gone by.

‘Haiku Paintings and Other Works’ is an abridged version of ‘Unseen’, held in the artist’s home county at The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, last year. At its core are 14 square (64 x 64 cm) canvases whose titles riff off a shortform type of Japanese poem, structured in 17 syllables arranged across three lines. Hung triple deck in Donegal, these works are displayed individually in the Molesworth’s foyer and two downstairs rooms.

The haiku paintings feature cast-plaster elements painted in oils and mounted on box canvas. Each is contained within a Perspex case, which protects the plaster and withholds their tactility while dispersing delicate shadows onto the wall. The images are direct, sometimes even naïve – eminently readable it would seem. However, as the original exhibition title intimates, while memories are alluded to, privacy is largely retained.

Moss plays fast and loose with the number of syllables the artwork titles contain. Many are jocular, but some have deep undercuts. For instance, tragedy is revealed in the initially witty Phyllis Moss married Aaron Stein and she became a philistine. The rest of the family burned in Auschwitz. The painting resembles a simple road sign, its trio of white plaster verticals standing proud from a simple grey ground. As you read past the pun, they clarify as a section of fencing, which at once becomes oppressive and stark.

A similar push-and-pull dynamic animates The home. A large field in front of the farm house, hard won and fought over, a charming evocation of a patch of land with good road frontage. But the title conflates a home with the field it stands in, bringing to mind newspaper stories about lives lost over contested ground. The side-on, ‘crow’s feet’ tufts of grass, pressed fondly into an aerial view, speak unequivocally of childhood – is Moss suggesting his was overshadowed by conflict? Was there a cloud hovering in the unseen sky?

An overcast vista arises, too, in Self-consciously I cut the grass as my father did before me. His grass was cut in 2011. Sayonara Dad, so it must be. While at first the two-toned lawn, mown back and forth, seems benign, upon reading the title, the spectre of inevitable death emerges from within its wavering stripes. Sweet comfort radiates from the candy pink The Mikado, more a duvet than a biscuit, while sources of guilty pleasure converge in the Philip Guston-esque piece (an appropriation confirmed in the title) Plagiarised city of the red night, full of sin: pastries, porn and paintings.

Upstairs, the larger-scale and compositionally similar Oestrogen (2019) and Just a wee shower bear titles written in a Magritte-style script, reminiscent of The Treachery of Images (1929), a work that famously exposes word-image-meaning dissonance. Opposite, is Cremnitz White, a mash-up of the spatial staging and painterly techniques of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, both of whom Moss has met.1 Within a composition that appears to be closing in, a limp-looking Freud with lurid flesh tones languishes beneath a recreation of a typically unyielding portrait of his elderly mother. Echoing the ‘sayonara’ (goodbye) of Moss’s haiku painting, it presages the artist’s inevitable demise.

The final work is a detailed rendering of the veiled stage at the Paris Opera House, complete with sensuous red and gold swags and a tantalising glimpse at what lies behind. Moss has positioned a circular ‘spotlight’ low down within the folds, a disc inscribed with the outline of a female crotch. It at once recalls Gus-

tave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (1866) – which was secreted behind a curtain by its original owner2 – and, as the title Étant donnés (2019) acknowledges, references Marcel Duchamp’s controversial last work. A diorama which similarly foregrounds the body of an unidentifiable woman, intimate parts visible through peepholes in a wooden door and a gap in a brick wall, Duchamp’s enigmatic work continues to court interpretation. This is consistent with an exhibition that has much going on, one that withholds and reveals, using a language forged from an unfolding art history and a playful approach to materials.

Susan Campbell is a visual arts writer, art historian and artist.

1 See: Nick Miller, ‘Unseen’, The Visual Artists’ News Sheet, November/December 2022, pp 26-27. (

2 See: Tim Smith-Laing, ‘Who Commissioned the 19th Century’s Most Notorious Painting? The origins of Gustave Courbet’s ‘Origin of the World’’, Frieze, Issue 8, September 2019 (

Critique Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
Philip Moss, Bog butter 2022, oil on canvas, 193 x 193cm; photograph courtesy of the artist and Molesworth Gallery. Philip Moss, Oestrogen, 2019, oil and mixed media on canvas, 170 x 200 cm; photograph courtesy of the artist and Molesworth Gallery.


Bernadette Kiely, ‘A NEW LANDSCAPE – Cork or Venice, Who Cares, Who Can Tell’ Lavit Gallery, Cork 23 March – 15 April

VIEWERS OF BERNADETTE Kiely’s paintings often presume they are acrylic on canvas. In fact, she paints in oil. Kiely is an oil painter who floods her surfaces with liquid, pouring white spirit so it pools on canvases laid on the floor. But she uses water too, spraying it directly onto oil compositions to which she has sometimes added charcoal, pastel, and chalk. If the surfaces of her paintings look watery it is because they go through a process of wetting, soaking, and drying; a series of actions that allow pigment to separate, suspend, move, and travel in ways that are frequently unpredictable –just like the water-sodden landscapes she paints. Gravity and evaporation play a part too, which means the manner of their making is neatly attuned to her subject matter. Her recent show at the Lavit Gallery in Cork featured paintings of rivers and floods.

Kiely grew up next to the River Suir. Swimming, fishing, flooding, and the ever-changing, ever-present nature of water are integral to her sense of memory and place. In her studio next to her home in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, she paints the length of the River Nore that can be seen from her front door. But she also finds watery subject matter in her travels, and in images sourced online and elsewhere. Passing through the flooded midlands on a train, she took photographs of the Shannon-soaked fields through the windows. This series of images led to the canvases that opened this show: Crossing Over (Shannon River in Flood) i, ii, iii (2016). These paintings hang together as an effective triptych but can be bought separately. Kiely did not envisage them as a single work at the time. Hung like this, they present a reminder of their origin story, mimicking the series of train windows through which the flooded land was seen. Shimmering patches of green grass emerge from these pale, near-monochrome vistas which have a sepia feel. The land resembles swamp as much as floodplain, with intimations of human habitation in the rooftops and spire that share a horizon line with silhouettes of trees. The question Kiely is asking here, and everywhere in this exhibition, is a kind of what next? What about a time when the water does not recede after the flood? What then?

The titles of her paintings sometimes reflect that overwhelming despair for which we have new words like eco-anxiety, global-dread, or solastalgia – a term coined by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht in the early 2000s with a combination of solace, des-

olation and nostalgia at its root. Initially intended to describe a type of homesickness, felt while still at home because the changing environment no longer offers comfort or solace, it has been co-opted more broadly to indicate existential distress caused by climate change. Albrecht also coined the term terrafurie, to describe anger felt towards those whose actions contribute to environmental destruction. There is no terrafurie in Kiely’s work, but there is a form of solastalgia and with that comes a perhaps counter-intuitive feeling of love.

Paintings entitled The colour of anxiety (flooded fields) (2016-17), A Hopeless Struggle with the Elements (2020), A Savage Flood – what use (is) geography now (2021), or the canvas that gives the show its title, might variously indicate despair, but this body of work is more about observation and feeling. It’s about noticing change and capturing it.

Kiely’s 2023 video work, The writing is on the wall, demonstrates the relentless power of a body of water in motion. She paints water where it shouldn’t be, as in No Parking (2022), in which the river has flung open and entered through a pedestrian gate. The metal uprights of the fence are an ineffectual grid through which water moves at will. The No Parking sign is absurdly redundant. In River Lee – (Cork) (2022-3) café chairs are stacked on a flooded street. A man stands, visible only from the neck down, up to his shins in water, hands in pockets, as shadowy figures move in hi-vis vests behind through the worryingly frequent but still for-now temporary inconvenience.

Two monotype pastel drawings made in 2013 and based on old maps, Liable to flooding – The Kings River i, ii, point to the ways in which water has always shaped our relationship with land and how we navigate. Inspired by images from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Kiely painted Save what you need (2017), in which a woman carries a goat as she wades through waist-high water. It’s a reminder that this is a whole-world problem, not just one visible from her own front door. The forms in her small canvas Sandbags (2023) look at first glance to resemble a figure, huddled in a doorway and wrapped in a sleeping bag. It’s another jolt to the consciousness; a reminder that these paintings are a slow seeping cry to open our eyes and to pay attention now.

Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
Cristín Leach is an art critic, writer and broadcaster based in Cork. Bernadette Kiely, ‘A NEW LANDSCAPE – Cork or Venice, Who Cares, Who Can Tell’, installation view; photograph courtesy the artist and Lavit Gallery. Bernadette Kiely, Rebuilding, 2022, oil on canvas, 50 x 70 cm; image courtesy of the artist. Bernadette Kiely, No Parking, 2022, oil on canvas, 100 x 70 cm; image courtesy of the artist.

‘Fix Your Pony!’

Naughton Gallery, Queens University Belfast

9 February – 6 April 2023

‘FIX YOUR PONY!’ is the fifth iteration of the Naughton Gallery’s ongoing sports exhibition series, featuring works that, according to the gallery literature, tackle “race, gender, politics, sexuality and beyond.” While arguably a broad claim, there is no denying the breadth of sports, nationalities and ethnicities represented, from Frankie Quinn’s black and white photographs of football fans in 80s and 90s Ireland – one memorable shot from the stands showing silhouetted children suspended from the chain-link fences, installed around the pitches – to Bram Paulussen’s extraordinary action shot of what appears to be a modern-day chariot/bull race in West Bali, all rippling flags, dust clouds and raw sinew. Furthermore, reading the backstories of some of the personalities that feature in the show adds weight to that claim of tackling multiple issues. For example, WNBA All-Star, Brittney Griner – depicted in Rachelle Baker’s digital painting – was used as a political pawn and sentenced to nine years in Russia for a minor drug offence. Likewise, the iconic track-andfield sprinter and “proud member of the LGBTQ+ community”, Sha’Carri Richardson – the subject of a specially-commissioned portrait by Irish illustrator Laura Callaghan – was barred from the 2020 Summer Olympics for a similar transgression. Finally, tennis star Naomi Osaka – here portrayed in a photograph by Justin French in a traditional Japanese setting, wearing an upcycled Nike sportswear belt and gown – is wellknown for her Black Lives Matter activism.

Most of the disciplines referenced in the exhibition are individual sports. Exceptions include the tag-teams, lovingly-illustrated by Jaime Hernandez as sturdy, female, comic-book wrestlers. From weightlifting and skateboarding to surfing and tennis, the exhibition invites reflection on the uncompromising levels of commitment required, alongside the intense scrutiny of professional sportsmen and women and their interior lives, often from a very young age.

Although inhabiting very different contexts, two video works, in particular, highlight moments of being observed, yet necessarily oblivious to the gaze of others. The first is Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi’s Suspension […] from 2020 (the full title of which names all 28 gymnasts depicted). The video montage comprises footage from all over the world, showing black female gymnasts preparing for their respective routines on the vault, bars, beam or floor. Each clip hones in on that moment of complete concentration before the action begins. Deep breaths and nervous facial movements alternate with fleeting smiles of confidence, whispered prayers perhaps, or words of self-encouragement. As with any portrait, we’re compelled to read internal thoughts from visible signs flickering on the surface; it’s also a moment of empathy and humanity.

The second is Niall Cullen’s Three hours for three seconds (2023) in which a skateboarder and filmmaker try to capture a complicated manoeuvre on the busy streets of Dublin’s Temple Bar. Through countless attempts, the skater strives to remain focused as passers-by intervene – from hecklers and curious kids to one very vocal man’s overbearing encouragement. While the feat being recorded seems inconsequential at first, one is gradually won over on a human level by the skater’s dogged determination in a very public arena, and the (literally) bruising attempts to achieve his goal, which seem as genuine as that of any other athlete. M.S. Harkness’s black and white comic-strip weightlifter, on the other hand, feels less observed – in training, perhaps. As she works through her reps, her thoughts are voiced through a series of captions that reveal a world not of psyched-up self-talk, as one might assume, but one of meditative contemplation.

Striking a similarly contemplative note are two oil paintings by Dougal McKenzie, on what appears to be repurposed sailcloth; strategically placed cringles and larger apertures reveal painted stretcher bars beneath.

Their verbose titles refer to actors, Burt Lancaster and Richard Harris, within arenas of competition – swimming and racquetball respectively.

Although skateboarding is an official Olympic sport since 2020, looking at A Klass’s Untitled skateboarding photographs (2022) feels like peering into a subculture of a subculture. The unnamed figures from L.A.’s women, non-binary and queer skate scene – depicted wearing skirts, fishnets, face paint, wigs and butterfly wings, many captured mid-flight among chain-link fences, back alleys and parking lots – are like vigilante superheroes in an alternative Beastie Boys video.

As a sports ignoramus, I was far too pleased about simply recognising two of the figures depicted in the show as Shaq O’Neal and Magic Johnson (albeit as collectible pot-bellied figurines with transparent, Mickey-Mouse ears). I was also reminded of professional sport’s inextricable entanglement with big brand sponsorship. Adidas and Emirates feature in the presented works, as does the ubiquitous Nike; Osaka’s portrait and Sonny Ross’s illustrated montage of tennis legend Serena Williams rack up 14 ‘swooshes’ between them.

Nonetheless, with over 40 individual pieces by 15 international artists across multiple disciplines, ‘Fix Your Pony!’ attests to sport’s enduring ability to inspire not only intense human emotions but also thought-provoking, beautiful and entertaining works of art.

Jonathan Brennan is a multidisciplinary artist based in Belfast.

Critique Visual Artists' News Sheet | May – June 2023
Sara Perovic, My Father’s Legs 2020, ‘Fix Your Pony!’, installation view; photograph by Simon Mills, courtesy of the artist and Naughton Gallery. [L-R]: Frankie Quinn, Scooped at Windsor Park c.1990 (top), Garda at GAA match, 1996 (bottom); Rachelle Baker, Portrait of Brittney Griner, 2023, ‘Fix Your Pony!’, installation view; photograph by Simon Mills, courtesy of the artists and Naughton Gallery.

The Bogs Are Breathing

I FIRST ENCOUNTERED Siobhán McDonald’s work in her solo exhibition, ‘Eye of the Storm’, at The Dock in 2012. That body of work explored the experience of time via glacial and environmental phenomena, most notably through the volcanic landscapes of Iceland. It considered the idea of measuring a journey to the centre of the earth via seismograms, created by Irish Jesuits in the early twentieth century. In an essay for the exhibition catalogue, Tim Robinson wrote: “As the world turns … The artist observes, records, relates. Since the Cosmos and all that’s in it were born of a singularity, all things are related. The task of the artist is to trace the lines of this universal cousinage.”1

The following conversation took place on the occasion of McDonald’s latest exhibition, ‘The Bogs are Breathing’, currently showing at The Model in Sligo. Working alongside climate scientists and cultural institutions – such as the British Antarctic Survey, the European Commission, and Trinity College Dublin, McDonald utilises a range of materials (plants, bog water, bog dust, quartz, ancient ice water, volcanic ash) along with songs and stories associated with the intangible cultural heritage of Irish boglands. She examines our relationship to the earth, how it has formed us, and how we, in the age of the Anthropocene, are negatively delimiting its lifeforce and future.

Nessa Cronin: Can you tell us a little about your own background and how you got started in this kind of practice?

Siobhán McDonald: As a child I spent a lot of time in nature. We lived near a forest in County Monaghan and a lot of my time was spent exploring, drawing, recording, and collecting. Now I find myself collecting and recording in wild landscapes, art studios, physics labs, museums, and archives. So, a lot of the time, my pro-

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 26 Ecologies
Siobhán McDonald, PURIFY 2023, digital photograph © and courtesy of the artist. NESSA CRONIN INTERVIEWS SIOBHÁN MCDONALD ABOUT HER CURRENT EXHIBITION AT THE MODEL.

cess is about finding something, leaving it, and coming back to it at a later date. My drawings and paintings have a similar flow; it’s like a stratum of activity – layers are laid down one upon another. This allows a process to develop over time.

NC: I’d like to explore more about your working routine. Where do your ideas initially come from and how do you develop your projects?

SMD: Making art, to me, is an evolving story – it is an everchanging, organic process that drives me to keep searching, drawing, and painting. Usually, my practice functions like a tremor rippling out quietly. In this way, the artworks usually emerge in a slow distillation over time. When I’m painting, I tend to work on several canvases or boards at the same time. This period is exciting and experimental where I use a range of materials to explore processes and reactions. After a time, I start to see connections and signs that drive the work forward. For instance, making the sound score for A world without ice (2022) evolved over two years to imagine new scenarios for landscape and, in particular, how our world will sound after the ice disappears. Lately, I’m searching for new ways of listening to nature and developing works and ideas using the senses, as well as mycorrhizae and other underground networks in the skin and soil of the earth.

NC: Can you outline some new works that are in your exhibition?

SMD: ‘The Bogs are Breathing’ at The Model brings together a selection of works spanning locations from the Arctic tundra to Irish boglands with new productions that aim to transform the gallery spaces into a sensory experience. I began by spending two years at international cultural institutions, including the Palais de Bozar in Brussels, and the EU Commission in Ispra in Northern Italy, to research the power of bogs to transform our air. In tandem back at home, I explored numerous bogs such as Bragan Mountain, where my grandfather and great grandfather cut turf to keep the cold out. I explored its ecosystem, history and mythologies to consider ideas around time and the preservation of collective memory in that thin layer between peat and plants, where some of the most important changes are taking place.

The exhibition consists of sculptures, paintings, sound works, a library of lost smells, and several films inspired by the ‘doctrine of signatures’ – an immemorial text on medicinal plants which sees in their silhouettes the shape of human body parts that they can heal. The presented work invites us to consider the air we are breathing in, the beauty and vulnerability of our lungs, and the fate of our future generations. One such series, entitled Cosmic Gas (2022), fuses materials derived from poisonous invisible methane gas and poses the question: What manages to live in the ruins we have made? Consisting of drawings, paintings, and lithographic prints, these works bear the direct imprint of plant fragments I collected from boglands – matter from previously living organisms which over time have become gaseous. The drawings appear delicate and complex, conveying the light and dark histories from which they emerge; they recount stories of life and decay, from remedy or medicine to the poisoning of an ecosystem. The work is rooted in the medieval mythology of boglands as a cultural preserver, offering insights into ancient pagan times.

NC: Using materials from these landscapes seems integral to your making processes. Why is this materiality significant for you?

SMD: I think it’s important to use the material and matter that has evolved through time. One of the main works in the exhibition is inspired by a collaboration with The Centre for Natural Products Research, Trinity College Dublin, entitled Distillation of the ephemera (2023). Consisting of plant species that I’ve gathered from numerous bog sites across Ireland, the work seeks to create connections to the ancient pharmacy that lies beneath our feet. These ancient, rich and fertile land-

scapes are the sole custodians of a varied and unique biodiversity that has accumulated over many millions of years. A number of these plants have documented use in ancient medicine for a variety of cures. I have sutured them together into a delicate shroud.

NC: I’m reminded how perceptions of the bog have changed so much in Ireland in recent years. Once considered ‘empty’ places with little value, we now understand their importance in terms of ecosystems (carbon sinks) and also their preservative aspects in terms of the archaeologies that they hold.

SMD: Joseph Beuys describes them as “the liveliest elements in the European landscape, not just [for] flora, birds and animals, but as storing places of life, mystery and chemical change, preservers of ancient history.” ‘The Bogs Are Breathing’ responds directly to Beuys’s thinking in this area to encourage awareness of

the cultural, historical, biological, and climatic significance of bogs.

Nessa Cronin is a Lecturer in Irish Studies and Associate Director of the Moore Institute at the University of Galway.

Siobhán McDonald is an artist based in Dublin whose practice emphasises fieldwork, collaboration and working with natural materials.

‘The Bogs are Breathing’, continues at The Model, Sligo, until 9 July.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 27 Ecologies
1 Tim Robinson, ‘Seism’, in Siobhán McDonald, Eye of The Storm (Dublin City Council, 2012) p 9. Siobhán McDonald, SEISM, 2011, smoke on paper; photograph © and courtesy of the artist. Siobhán McDonald, METHANE LAKE, 2022, methane ink and 20,000-year-old frozen glacier ice; photograph © and courtesy of the artist.

Abstract Intra-Actions

MEL FRENCH AND Celine Sheridan’s two-person exhibition ‘Mammalia and the Psyche’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art (25 Feb – 16 April 2023) emerged from a process of the artists thinking with each other through research. Curated by Catherine Marshall, the 27 mixed-media works were individually produced yet jointly situated, challenging the audience to decode the artists’ intellectual affective activity of using ‘thingness’ to provoke intra-actions.

According to American philosopher, Karen Barad, intra-action understands agency not as an “...inherent property of an individual or human to be exercised, but as a dynamism of forces in which all designated ‘things’ are constantly exchanging and diffracting, influencing and working inseparably.”1 This inseparability challenges the binary thinking which separates the subject from the object, the human from non-human, and is a recurrent theme across the exhibited works, which suggest that any sculptural claim towards ‘thingness’ is tactical.2

French’s Hitchcockesque sculpture, Hinder (2022), provides an ominous welcome in the lobby gallery. Four black crows and lifelike human tongues emerge from a three-metre-tall dead tree. The acute attention to detail and finish of Hinder is reflective of French’s overall approach to all her sculptural assemblages, whether made by her own hand – evidenced in the sculpture Mother (2022), a life-size plaster Gorilla, breastfeeding an appropriated human baby doll – or her use of found objects, including an antique rusted steel cot in the dark installation, Curtail (2022).

The erotic and animalistic nature of the surreal, oversized, kinetic tongue in French’s If Truth Be Told (2022), is discomfortable amongst the softer materiality of Sheridan’s fabric and foam works. The timed thudding of the mechanical tongue licking a line of charcoal resonates periodically through the gallery, at once

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 28 Exhibition Profile
GIANNA TASHA TOMASSO REVIEWS TWO RECENT EXHIBITIONS AT LIMERICK CITY GALLERY OF ART. Celine Sheridan, Latch Labour Love 2019, and Co-sleeping 2019, ‘Mammalia and the Psyche’, installation view; photograph by Roland Paschhoff, courtesy of the artists and Limerick City Gallery of Art.

human, animal, and machine. When the tongue is not activated, it is missed. When activated, the noise diffracts on Sheridan’s blue, foam, foetal shapes, From the Mould (2021). Audio of the poem, A Charm to Call a Cow into Your Dreams, written and read by Annemarie Ní Churreáin, emerges from inside Sheridan’s multi-udder, Rebond foam sculpture, Cow (2021).3 The intermittent thudding of French’s tongue is again dulled and absorbed by Sheridan’s exquisite, large-scale tapestry rug, While on Her Knees (2022), which hangs from the gallery wall. Sheridan’s compact two-part bronze sculpture, Woman and the Worm (2022), resembles both a worm and the intestinal tract. The tongue is an organ strategically situated at the beginning of the gastrointestinal system, and again the collective works intraact in a mutual constitution of entangled agencies.

In the corner of the South Gallery, fabric wadding and pillows form Sheridan’s human-like floor installation, titled Co-sleeping (2019), a reminiscence on the psychological challenges of mothering. Sheridan’s acrylic painted triptych, Latch Labour Love (2019), is particularly strong, displaying three and four breasted embryolike beings nursing other embryo-like beings. French’s larger than life charcoal drawing Lament (2020) features a naked faceless figure with blood pouring from both nipples. Collectively informed by evolutionary theory, psychoanalysis, zoology, anthropology and a shared post-feminist perspective on mothering, the individual artists become partially dissolved within the interactions of the collective works.

Casey Walshe’s concurrent exhibition of paintings, titled ‘Come on Baby’, spans three areas of LCGA and is not entirely isolated from ‘Mammalia and the Psyche’. Walshe’s works share similar socio-material, temporal, and spatial concerns, presenting

floral and abstract multi-scale portraits that play with the binaries of soft and hard, light and dark, human and non-human. The Last Embrace (2020) is almost unbearably delicate in its simplicity of form and colour. For Susan (2022) is a large-scale composition of maternal love and comforting embrace. Two abstract white roses on a muted palette are contrasted with a dark blue flash of colour extending from one form to another.

Perched on impossibly thin stems, a duo of moon-lit white roses in Night Walk (2022) act as symbols of sensuality. Confidently facing the viewer the large blooms bask in the night glow. A third rose is indicated only by its stem which leans out of the composition. The absent rose adds a layer of tangible complexity to the sensual narrative of forms. Walshe’s large and smallscale oil paintings speak of love and love lost, of life and of death – concerns which span the entirety of these two powerful and challenging exhibitions at LCGA.

Walshe will be showing in the RHA Ashford Gallery in November. French and Sheridan will present their exhibition, ‘Anthropomorphia’, at The Complex, Dublin (9 – 23 June) and the Zoological Museum in Trinity College Dublin (5 June – 1 September).

1 Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007) p 141.

2 Colin Gardner and Patricia MacCormack, Deleuze and the Animal (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) p 1.

3 Annemarie Ní Churreáin, The Poison Glen (The Gallery Press, 2021) p 62.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 29 Exhibition Profile
Gianna Tasha Tomasso is an artist, writer, and Assistant Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies in Limerick School of Art and Design. Top Left: Casey Walshe, ‘Come on Baby’, installation view; Top Right: Casey Walshe, Libertine, 2021, oil on board; Bottom Right: Mel French, Hinder, 2022, Timber, steel, jesomite; all photographs by Roland Paschhoff, courtesy of the artists and Limerick City Gallery of Art.

At The Gates of Silent Memory

WHILE CLARE LANGAN is best known for her film work, her photography constitutes a distinctive strand of her practice, highlighted in a solo exhibition at Luan Gallery in Athlone. ‘At The Gates of Silent Memory’ (18 February – 20 April 2023) presents an excellent selection of the artist’s work since 2007, drawing on a wide range of subject matter, and bound together by the consistency of Langan’s aesthetic.

Langan’s photography is characterised by a dream or vision-like quality, also apparent in her film work, in which an often foreclosed and disorientating perspective works within a monochrome that tends to sepia. The effect is of a timelessness, not quite nostalgic, not quite of the present, and of work that seeks generalities and universalities rather than specificity and referentiality. Add to this Langan’s interests in myth and metamorphosis – the place of the human in relation to landscape and ecology, and a concentration on the aftermath of (actual or perhaps impending) catastrophes – and there is intense drama to much of her work, made more intense by the purity of her image-making.

‘At The Gates of Silent Memory’ includes three images from the series ‘Orphèe’ (2014), in which Langan alludes, it would seem, to the most well-known and Ovidian story of Orpheus as the traveller to the underworld. Langan allows the myth to visually intermingle with ideas of birth and re-birth (Orpheus as charmer of the animate and inanimate), as a foot and hands (almost foetal, almost dead), and a head are seen behind glass or some transparent, liquid barrier. The title, but not the images, implies transformation and a return to life, and the tension between the two gives the work its undecidability as a re-writing of the Orpheus/Orphée myth. That ‘Orphèe’ may, at least in part, be a contemplation of the power of the maternal, is emphasised by the inclusion in the same space of Cocoon (2015), an

image of a mother and daughter, embraced and almost submerged in water, as if about to be born together having been nurtured as one.

Another aspect of Langan’s work is landscape photography, though the shift from the semi-mythical subject matter to the landscape is not a jump from one genre to another. Particularly striking in this exhibition is the image The Heart of a Tree (1) (2020). The image is of a mountainous, though largely featureless landscape, with a path, worn in places and deliberately stepped in others, passing along the ridges of the hills and up out of the frame. Along that path, tiny in the image, is an enigmatic human figure in white, wearing what is more like protective clothing than a druid’s cloak, and with a bulbous white package on their back, as if it were a parachute or scientific instrument. This image, which was made in Iceland, has a deeply unnerving effect – sci-fi, in some sense – in an unreal landscape with unknowable action taking place, but suggestive of a deadened natural world which has been changed by, and is now hostile to, the human.

A similar human figure, also in white, this time with the package on their back, flowing above them in the wind like a mushroom cloud, appears in Songlines 2 (2018), which was made in Lanzarote. The black volcanic mountains of the island create a blurred foreground to the image, with a rock mirroring the shape of the human form. This approach to landscape, in which the human is disjunctive and yet yearning to be part of the natural environment, is seen differently in Elizium (2014), a cross between Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) and a still from a black and white adventure movie, in which a human figure, standing on a rocky outcrop above a valley, is blown melodramatically and despairingly by the wind.

The existential blast from the landscape in these

images – and a recurring interest in islands as condensed metaphors for the general state of ecology – is carried over into more documentary form in Langan’s work from Monserrat, that very real post-catastrophe place, in which half the island is now deserted. Across the galleries of the Luan exhibition there are images from Monserrat – interiors of dereliction, dust and desertion, made to look unreal with that characteristic looming and claustrophobic perspective which Langan achieves. The only moment of colour in the exhibition is an eery green which, algae-like, infects the largescale image of a Monserrat street, with collapsed powerlines tending to the image’s centre, and signifiers of the mutability of our petrochemical-dependent society.

Langan’s work is powerful, distinct, and driven to render in deeply felt visual terms the estrangement of the human from the natural – contemplating routes of return to nature, but never naïve enough to be convinced of them. ‘At The Gates of Silent Memory’ is a beautifully-curated entry point to her vision.

Colin Graham is Professor of English at Maynooth University.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 30 Exhibition Profile
COLIN GRAHAM REVIEWS CLARE LANGAN’S EXHIBITION AT LUAN GALLERY. Clare Langan, ‘At The Gates of Silent Memory’, installation view, Luan Gallery; photograph by Louis Haugh, courtesy of the artist and Luan Gallery.

The War between Friends


THE GREAT FREDERIC Bartlett, the father of cognitive psychology, wrote in his influential book, Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology (Cambridge University Press, 1932), that memory is a process of reconstruction and that this reconstruction is, in important ways, a social act. Eoin Mac Lochlainn’s artistic output has been just that for many decades, producing powerful paintings that reflect the Irish experience of war, emigration, homelessness, climate change and the recent pandemic. His realistic paintings are sensitive to the human condition and the experience of individuals enduring such events, not only in Ireland but beyond its shores. They are powerful statements that act as witness to the here and now.

For example, Mac Lochlainn’s series ‘Caoineadh/Elegies’ (2003) depicts 52 damaged faces, based on US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s list of ‘the most wanted men in Iraq’. Irish experience of the historical recurrence of emigration, on the other hand, is poignantly recorded in a series called ‘Didean/Home’ (2013-14), depicting empty fireplaces, divided families, loneliness and loss. More recently, Mac Lochlainn turned his attention to the devastating effects of manmade climate change on humanity in ‘The End of Autumn/ Deireadh Fomhair’ series (2018), while the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic was represented by the prevailing phenomenon of the partial view we had of each other in ‘Covid Eyes’, a solo show at Olivier Cornet Gallery in October 2020.

Mac Lochlainn’s latest series, ‘Cogadh na gCarad/The War between Friends’ (2023) was recently presented at Olivier Cornet Gallery (7 March – 2 April). This body of work powerfully and movingly depicts in black and white charcoal washes, the faces of the 1400 people who lost their lives in the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Inspired by his reading of historian Diarmaid Ferriter’s book on the Civil War, Between Two Hells: The Irish Civil War (Profile Books, 2021), Mac Lochlainn decided to make the series – as he had previously done for the 52 men in Iraq – imagining the faces of the 1400 people killed on both sides of, arguably, the worst kind of war. He subsequently invited Ferriter to open the exhibition on 7 March.

Entering the gallery, we are confronted with a selection of ghostly faces, placed in a grid formation on the gallery wall. They are young and old, mostly male, with some women and three children; they emerge from the darkness, eyes closed. Some have clear evidence of injury. Deliberately, there is no indication of which side the person was on; they are all human beings caught up in the horror of brother against brother, friend against friend. They are not portraits of those who died; rather, the artist evokes the presence of people who had dreams and ambitions, like us all, but whose lives were cut short. Struck by the idea that the Civil War was perceived as a small-scale

affair, with only 1400 people killed, Mac Lochlainn’s gives each presence the dignity of not just being a number, but a mother’s son, a brother or sister.

The faces were made with ground charcoal and water. When dried, the artist worked to discover each face on the page. Their presentation in a grid allows no hierarchy of one over the other – each is equal in death. The logic of the grid also implies that each individual square could be extended laterally and horizontally. So, although this exhibition commemorates the Irish Civil War, its rationale could be applied to any war. As Mac Lochlainn remarks: “War is a failure of empathy, a failure of humanity.”

The exhibition also continued beyond the gallery in the Garden of Remembrance, a short distance away. There, a video projection of the work, best viewed from the entrance to the Hugh Lane Gallery opposite, brought the exhibition into public view in a place that has commemorated since 1966 “all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom.” The projection was on view between 7pm and 8pm on the opening night and was shown again on 14 and 21 March. The video, made by Mac Lochlainn and filmmaker Don Rorke, projected some of the 1400 faces on the back wall of the garden. One ghostlike face merged into another, slowly in a sequence, interspersed by quicker, sharper turnovers. Back in the gallery, an 18-minute video of faces was accompanied by lamentation, found in the sean-nós singing of Fearghas Mac Lochlainn and keening by Sarah Ghriallais. One of these videos (an edition of three) recently entered the collection of the OPW.

As war continues to rage in Ukraine and elsewhere, this important exhibition deserves wide public attention for what it says about war and humanity. As Bartlett observed, the past is continually being re-made. In the hands of accomplished artists like Mac Lochlainn, the past is remembered in the interests of the present, in all its complexity and pathos.

Brenda Moore-McCann is an author, art historian, medical doctor, and critic, based between Dublin and Tuscany.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 31 Exhibition Profile
Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Cogadh na gCarad no.11 2023, charcoal and wash on Fabriano paper, 35 x 27 cm; photograph by Eoin Mac Lochlainn, courtesy of the artist and Olivier Cornet Gallery. Eoin Mac Lochlainn, ‘Cogadh na gCarad / the War between Friends’, video projection in the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin, March 2023; photograph by Eoin Mac Lochlainn, courtesy of the artist and Olivier Cornet Gallery.

Vox Hybrida


ONE OF OUR earliest social interactions, as new-borns, comes from that initial squeeze of an adult finger. This early stage towards understanding our place in an unfamiliar world is met with an emotional response from the owner of that finger; our individual entrances into the complexities of history originate in love.

Such is human evolution over the past couple of million years. Our sense of touch and the dexterity that came with the opposable thumb drove us toward language and societal formations. The ever-changing empathetic relationships that derive from, and impact on, our historical social existence continue to struggle against the injustices that come from the same collective source.

The overall haptic qualities of ‘Vox Hybrida’ at Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery (25 February – 8 April), along with its confluence of alienation and solidarity, evoke this conflict. The exhibition presents sculpture, prints and video by Alice Maher, with a number of responses to this work by early-career artists, Emma Brennan and Chloe Austin.

Vox Materia (2018), Maher’s installation of 23 bronze casts of clay, squeezed through her fingers, making negative casts and positive oozings, were initially rejected objects from the action of making other works, but were retrieved from the bin. Indeed, these waste products are somewhat scatological, but beautified by their retrieval.

Both of Austin’s pieces were made in response to these sculptures. Bones and Dust (2023) imagines and replicates the movements of Maher’s fingers as she

made them. This three-channel video shows Austin’s hands moving through compost, pushing through the soil, suggesting both the life-giving properties of the earth and the anxiety we feel at the thought of burial. For the second piece, An Attended Screaming (2023), she has cut and chiselled mirror-written text out of a dark MDF wall, phrases arrived at through interacting with Maher’s bronzes … I too will curve warping kinks this pressing of my tissue with force as strong as snub and shout … It reads as automatic writing, but this is belied by the laborious act of making. She has used this negative to print a positive by pressing fabric against the still-wet, pink-painted wall.

Brennan’s sculpture, The Body as Paradox (Part Three: The Body) (2023), hanging by chains from the ceiling, invites the audience to indulge its gentle masochism: “Please feel free to touch the sculpture. Take time, be gentle.” The hanging bags that make up the work have osmotically released flour from within, to form a powdery surface. Those who have touched the work have drawn lines and patterns in the flour and one has appropriately left the print of their hand.

This piece echoes the works in Brennan’s overlapping show at PS2, ‘Girlín: The Conception of Air’ (16 February – 11 March), which included a video of her moving, naked, with and against a mass of bread dough. She says of this work that it “reflects [her] lived experience as a queer, Irish, female-identifying, living/ breathing being” and is “formed upon the four pillars of gestation, birth, life and death”. The latter state is seen in a related piece in that show, consisting of dried-up

dough, reduced to skeletal forms.

Similarly, in Maher’s dual-screen video, Cassandra’s Necklace (2012), a young woman explores the undulations of her silver-painted cave environment, as well as squeezing and pushing blackberries into her mouth. The necklace in the title is revealed at the end of the piece – made from tongues, cut out and unable to communicate, echoing Cassandra’s dilemma.

In a series of eight large wood block prints, Vox Hybrida (2018), Maher catches, in silhouette, figures dancing, falling, jumping. The woodgrain flattens out the forms and conceals their individual characteristics.

Brennan takes this work as the basis for The Mirror, a two-channel video (with back-to-back screens) which shows the artist slowly dancing before a bare gallery wall, using green-screen to fill her silhouetted body with an image of a silently talking mouth, thus inserting a silent ‘Vox’ into the ‘Hybrida’.

Along the length of one gallery wall runs a fully collaborative text piece. Made by rotating turns at dictating and writing by hand – Austin and Brennan in English and Maher in Irish – the single line summarises the show in its entirety, beginning and ending:

To rest and lay on the caves of your voice/words with hardened edges are spoken from a stone carved tongue [...] shifting lifting flesh water growing longing fattening stretching of tears salted fiery limbs opening.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 32 Exhibition Profile
Colin Darke is an artist based in Belfast. Emma Brennan, The Body as Paradox (Part Three: The body), 2023, polymide elastane and flour; photograph Simon Mills, courtesy of the artist and Golden Thread Gallery. Alice Maher, ‘Vox Hybrida’, 2018, hand tinted wood relief prints, installation view, Golden Thread Gallery; photograph by Simon Mills, courtesy of the artist and Golden Thread Gallery.

Principles of Space Detection


PRINCIPLES OF SPACE Detection was a newly commissioned artwork and eponymous project-based exhibition by Irina Gheorghe at NCAD Gallery in March, which continued the artist’s long-term interest in exploring themes of estrangement and disorientation.

The opening night performance created a mix of humour and unease among a busy audience in the gallery. Gheorghe commenced without announcement, moving a series of large-wheeled structures through the space, as conversation petered out to an expectant silence. Audience members were obliged to move out of her way when our bodies became benign obstacles in her path, forcing an element of self-consciousness in the viewing dynamic.

She continued to arrange multiple coloured panels, seemingly by design, against the gallery walls, blocking the photographs of hands cupping out-of-scale rectangular shapes and taped coloured lines that formed part of the site-specific installation. She looked around intently, her silent actions and direct eyes projecting a sense of purpose without words, expressing the anticipation of something, an event, a thing, that was about to happen. We stepped back or glided sideways when our time came, experiencing the performance in the activated, but not quite participatory, present moment.

Gheorghe spoke initially of trust, and how she would share some ways to help us deal with the thing that was about to happen. She then spoke of the limitations of what we knew to be happening now: in the gallery, among the audience members, and beyond our field of vision, through the large window facing onto the street. If I looked behind me, what would I miss in front of me? Her words prompted uneasy reflection on meaning and consciousness, highlighting a precarious-

ness in viewing performance when you don’t quite trust yourself to handle what might happen next.

When does something become what it already is?

This has been a long-standing exploration in Gheorghe’s work, where she uses the dynamic of the performer and the audience within a site-specific installation to create a tension between the now and the known. The artist heightened this instability midway through the performance when she started spinning a coloured panel through the middle of the gallery floor, coursing a trajectory toward the window while speaking convincingly about how the blue panels were actually getting bigger. I looked and I knew that they weren’t, or at least, that they couldn’t. I rationalised that these were inanimate plywood structures and that colours don’t expand; but another part of me imagined that I could see subtle changes and that maybe I should believe her.

The green panels, apparently, were getting smaller, while the red ones had disappeared altogether because we weren’t paying attention to the small details. Keep looking or it will happen without you seeing it. The ‘it’ seemed to be already happening or at least was very close to manifestation. She moved the panels again, this time to form a temporary enclosure. Her knocking from the inside confirmed her presence but we couldn’t see inside. She spoke about things hidden behind other things. At what point does knowledge rely on verification? We see, we hear, we know.

In the final moments, she constructed a makeshift barricade of panels through the centre of the gallery, segregating the audience into those who moved away and those who stayed behind. She spoke the same words to each group, telling them that the people on the other side of the panels didn’t know we were there;

or it could be, she posited, that they were pretending not to know. Things behind other things. Time past, time present. The reality of seeing those people cut off minutes previously was now overlain with Gheorghe’s proposal of a false truth: we know they know, but how do we really know?

After the performance ended, the coloured panels, lined against each other in the gallery, formed an abstract landscape of Dublin city, with hues of grey, green and blue, drawn from shopfronts and painted wooden doors. I think of all those who are trying to sustain their communities in the face of obstruction and deception. Gheorghe draws attention to some of our inherent assumptions about truth and knowledge, bringing us on a journey without ever claiming to be an omniscient performer. She advances a tension between the artist, the audience, and the installation space, creating a dynamic that is sometimes humorous and at times uneasy, but always effective and thought provoking.

Jennifer Fitzgibbon is an arts writer and researcher based in Dublin.

‘Principles of Space Detection’ (1 to 31 March) was commissioned and curated for NCAD Gallery by Anne Kelly (SpaceX-Rise researcher) for NCAD Gallery in conjunction with the SpaceXRISE (Spatial Practices in Art and Architecture for Empathetic Exchange) Dublin conference.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 33 Performance Art
Both images: Irina Gheorghe, Principles of Space Detection, 2023, performance; images courtesy of the artist and NCAD Gallery.

Through Light and Shade

‘HOMELAND’, AN EXHIBITION of video art, was on show at The Source Arts Centre in Thurles from 10 March to 22 April. This annual showcase is screened each autumn in Damer House Gallery in Roscrea and at the Alalimòn Galeria as part of the Barcelona Loop Festival each November.

‘Homeland’ is dedicated exclusively to video art and aims to bring together professionals in all fields across the sector – filmmakers, performance artists, writers, directors, and producers –within a space of international association.

Curators/artists, Therry Rudin and Patricia Hurl, outlined the exhibition selection process. Rudin said: “We usually get about 60 to 70 works sent to us each year. A sub-committee chooses a shortlist and then we work with our partners in Barcelona who have a shortlist of their own. For the latest edition, our combined list of about 35 works was reduced to the 11 we eventually featured in the show. ‘Homeland’ offers the only open-submission exhibition opportunity dedicated to contemporary video art in Ireland, and as such, we often have younger artists and those new to video sending us their work.”

The theme for this edition of ‘Homeland’ was ‘Through Light and Shade’. Author Lindsay J. Sedgwick notes in her introduction to the accompanying exhibition catalogue that the presented works explore “the nature of home and community, what it means to have or not to have a home ‘land’, but also what it means to be human.”

Rudin continues: “The works are selected in line with each year’s theme, their aesthetic qualities, and overall impact. Strong production values are important too, especially in cinematography, sound and editing.”

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 34 Project Profi le
Included in the selection from Ireland is An Balún Bán (202023) by Sarah Edmonson and Kieran Sheridan, a Dublin-centred, BRENDAN MAHER INTERVIEWS THERRY RUDIN AND PATRICIA HURL. Patricia Hurl, Irish Gothic (Living Room) 1985, oil on paper, 123 x 90 cm; photograph by Denis Mortell Photography, courtesy of the artist and IMMA. Top: Thaís Muniz, Darling, Don’t Turn Your Back On Me, 2021, video; image courtesy of the artist. Bottom: Ramon Villegas, Una dona jove, 2022, video; image courtesy of the artist.

Super-8-style take on Albert Lamorisse’s short film, The Red Balloon (1956); Grey Area (2018-22) by Eduard Fulop, an animated slide puzzle collage of rear and front windowed buildings and their inhabitants; and Thaís Muniz’s video, Darling, Don’t Turn Your Back On Me (2021), a piece concerned with migration and identity which culminates in the artist creating a shrine-like installation of disparate elements which support that sense of self.

The Barcelona selection includes Elisabet Mabres’s nine-minute work, See & to be seen (2017) which reveals the public’s push and pull reactions to a mask-wearing woman as she walks through the streets of Hong Kong. Also featured is Una Dona Jove (A Young Woman) (2022) by Ramon Villegas in which a dancer loses their parent – an autobiographical fact that feeds directly into a performance.

Rudin’s collaboration with Hurl in ‘Homeland’ (chosen by the sub-committee) is a film, titled The Moon is Set in Motion and the Golden Plated Stars Appear (2022). Played perhaps as a scene from a big-house melodrama, the protagonist (Hurl) deliberately breaks a set of blue glasses and bottles. She is left distressed while considering the evidence of her actions – the broken shards –and how they might be reassembled. The viewer watches an unconsoled mind unravelling, knowing that the vessels and what they might have contained are beyond reclamation.

Patricia Hurl is also currently enjoying a retrospective of her work, titled ‘Irish Gothic’, in the Irish Museum of Modern Art. While Hurl’s work crosses disciplines, the exhibition focuses somewhat on her paintings from the 1980s. Expressionist in style, these are strong political and social pieces dealing with the control and erasure of Irish women during that period. Indeed, Hurl’s own experience mixes the personal with the political and this is depicted most jarringly in a painting in the show, Jingle Bells (1986). She recounts: “I was pregnant and the child died, but I still had to carry it further along its term. Given the climate of the time, I was met with a blank indifference from the medical establishment to my situation. Eventually, in December, the child was stillborn in hospital. On that night, I remember I was left all alone in a room with

the dead baby and I could hear Christmas carols being sung down the hall.”

These memories rise quickly to the surface for Hurl. Her suite of paintings on show in ‘Irish Gothic’ question how such cruelties were thoughtlessly embedded by the State in both care and justice systems, working directly against those they were supposed to protect and serve.

In addition, Hurl and Rudin are currently exhibiting in The Dock in Leitrim, as part of Na Cailleacha – an artist collective of eight older women, exploring strategies for sustaining creativity as we age, through solidarity and friendship. The exhibition presents a body of new work referencing the ground-breaking feminist artist, Paula Rego, who died last year. Plans are also in train for the tenth iteration of ‘Homeland’ later this year. Artists John Gerrard and Barbara Freeman have been invited to produce work alongside a number of artists who have featured in previous ‘Homeland’ exhibitions. Rudin notes: “It will be exciting to have these two artists involved and also to present new work from previous collaborators, to celebrate what has been achieved over the past decade.”

Brendan Maher is Artistic Director at The Source Art Centre in Thurles, County Tipperary.

Patricia Hurl lives and works in Silverbarn Studios, Ballybritt, County Offaly. Originally from Switzerland, Therry Rudin is an artist living in Roscrea, County Tipperary. Their collaborative practice focuses on film-performance, documentary, and object-making around the subject of folk narrative.

‘Patricia Hurl: Irish Gothic’ continues at the Irish Museum of Modern Art until 21 May.

‘Na Cailleacha: With reference to Paula Rego….’ continues at The Dock until 1 July.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 35 Project Profi le
Patricia Hurl, Madonna (Irish Gothic 2) c.1984-85, oil on canvas, 155 x 94 cm, Collection Highlanes Gallery; photograph courtesy of the artist, Highlanes Gallery, and IMMA. Sarah Edmondson and Kieran Sheridan, An Balún Bán 2020-23, video; image courtesy of the artists.

Fictional Reconfigurations


AS CURATORIAL FELLOW at SIRIUS in Cork, I organised the online workshop series, ‘Fictional Reconfigurations (& Embodied Transformations)’, with artist-researcher Amanda Rice. The series ran from February to April and examined the linguistic prefix ‘re’ and its uses in forms of resistance to contemporary urgencies – geopolitical unrest, climate instability, financial struggles – by posing practical alternatives to violent and inefficacious structures. The workshops were delivered by artists Nina Davies, Jo Pester and Becky Lyon, using aspects of fiction and embodiment to rehearse dances, re-body earthly curriculums, and reconfigure interspecies communication, to speculate on ways of living otherwise.

The SIRIUS online events programme aims to contribute to current critical debate. The first series I organised in spring 2020 was a performative reading group with the artist Ofri Cnaani called the ‘Dizzying Feeling of Touch’, looking at the role of hapticity in an increasingly contactless world in the context of the global pandemic. For the second series in 2021, titled ‘Post-Pandemic, Post-Crisis… Under What Terms?’, we collectively read theoretical texts by Paul B. Preciado, Bruno Latour, and Achille Mbembe, which examine potential conditions for a reimagined future.

The latest workshop series, ‘Fictional Reconfigurations (& Embodied Transformations)’, culminates from my ongoing collaboration with Rice and our shared research interests in more-than-human intelligence and speculative fiction. It builds on the multiple exhibition and residency projects that we have worked on over the last four years. Rice’s forthcoming show at SIRIUS (27 May – 1 July) will present her new work, The Flesh of Language (2023).

Nina Davies hosted the first workshop, ‘Fictional Dance’, on 22 February. Davies discussed the four pillars of dance – spiritual, agricultural, war and fertility – which form the basis of her current research into how historic and contemporary traditional dances operate in society today. She shared a screening of her film, Stepping into Machine (2022), which reimagines a con-

temporary popular dance as a traditional spiritual dance of the future. Davies discussed her recent work (shown at Transmediale, Berlin, and Seventeen Gallery, London) as well as her bi-monthly talk show, ‘Future Artefacts’ with Niamh Schmidtke, featuring speculative fiction audio works by artists that take the form of fictional interviews and radio plays.

On 15 March, Jo Pester delivered the second event, ‘The Shape of Words/Worlds – Bodied Communication in Alien Landscapes’. In the workshop, Pester discussed the history of humans sending messages into outer space in the hope of reaching extra-terrestrial intelligence and pointed to fictionalised examples such as Ted Chiang’s novella, Story of Your Life (Tor, 1998). She finished the session by encouraging participants to imagine and describe their own ‘alien landscape’ and to construct a fictional species by imagining other forms of communication. This could be based on ‘real’ methods of exchange, such as visual and chemical signalling, or by producing an entirely new form of interaction.

Becky Lyon facilitated the final event, called ‘Breaking Spells, Spell-ing Worlds to Come’, on 26 April. She discussed how language casts spells and encodes modes of relation. In addition, she considered how ecology acts as an alternative curriculum. She gave examples of the relationship between wording and worlding by discussing a publication by by Nick Hayes, The Book of Trespass (Bloomsbury Circus, 2020), which looks at how terms like ‘private property’ can alter how we behave, inhabit and navigate a place. Lyon invited participants to respond to various word-play exercises in order to implement their own word-worlding power. The workshop series provided a rich discussion on how uses of fiction shape and choreograph worlds through imaginary and alternative gestures, spells, and other modes of sensorial and sonic communication.

Remaking the Crust of the Earth

“The material of which we speak is almost the stuff of magic. By an accident of nature molten silicon (the most common material in the earth’s crust), when cooled carefully, instead of becoming a crystalline and opaque material, remains molecularly amorphous and transparent to the visible spectrum of radiation that reaches us from the sun, to which our eyes are attuned… If we were to wish such a material into existence we might well give up at the apparent impossibility of it.” 1

THE ABOVE QUOTE, a fragment from a longer text, is one of many extracts that I stitched together with lines from other texts, written perhaps decades prior, in an act of assemblage – a physical, sculptural, concrete reassembling of words for a new purpose. This direct lifting was purposeful, while retaining anachronistic language styles was materially and temporally important.

The entire project was rooted in a chance encounter during a visit to one of the ‘stores’ on the NCAD campus, the place where those books not readily available on the library shelves go – some to be forgotten, possibly to be deaccessioned, gems hidden among old copies of Art in America and random DVDs. Turning around, I chanced upon a literal ‘stack’, dust laden, barely a borrower’s stamp on the inner page – a selection of lovely, overlooked books about glass.

Elsewhere, in the library’s main collection, was the encyclopedic 1960 edition of Glass in Architecture and Decoration by Raymond McGrath & A.C. Frost. This book was to become a key research tool, but also provided a central visual motif for the subsequent work, and a narrative thread by way of its primary author. Born in Australia of Irish descent, McGrath was among the pioneering architects in 1930s England, preeminent in the use of glass, light and colour. The Second World War saw him move to Dublin, where he became OPW Principal Architect, and designed a building familiar to us all in the Irish art world – the RHA Gallagher Gallery.

This project – which amounted to sev-

eral years of research into the history and cultural impact of glass – culminated recently in an exhibition comprising a film, installed and photographic works at the Irish Architectural Archive (IAA), which also houses McGrath’s documents, drawings, correspondence, and other materials. Over ten years after shooting part of my film, Something New Under the Sun (2012), in the IAA’s reading room, the archive gallery provided the perfect ‘coda’ (or loop) to a body of work concerning time, the built environment, and how we view the world. The involvement of the IAA added a whole new aspect to the project, both in terms of enthusiasm, support, and in allowing me to select from the McGrath Collection to curate a show within a show.

I was fortunate to work closely with exceptional collaborators including Karl Burke, Louis Haugh, Michael Kelly, Oran Day, Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll, and Chris Fite-Wassilak. NIVAL and NCAD Library were ever helpful, allowing repeated access to the ‘stack’, much of which appeared in the film. Support from IADT allowed me access to the National Film School’s incredible studio, with the invaluable help of staff and several students on the production. The project was made possible through initial funding from DLR Arts Office, and subsequently The Arts Council, to produce the film, exhibition, and a school workshop series, devised by artist Marian Balfe. An accompanying publication was published by Set Margins’, Eindhoven.

Gavin Murphy is an artist and curator based in Dublin.

‘Remaking the Crust of the Earth’ ran at the Irish Architectural Archive from 16 March to 28 April 2023.

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 36 Project Profile
GAVIN MURPHY DISCUSSES HIS RECENT PROJECT EXHIBITED AT THE IRISH ARCHITECTURAL ARCHIVE. 1 Michael Wigginton, ‘An instrument for distant vision’, in Louise Taylor and Andrew Lockhart (Eds.), Glass, Light & Space: New Proposals for the Use of Glass in Architecture (London: Crafts Council, 1997) Georgia Perkins is a researcher and curatorial fellow at SIRIUS. Nina Davies, Input Chamber, 2022; image courtesy of artist. Gavin Murphy, Remaking the Crust of the Earth 2023, installation view, Irish Architectural Archive; photograph by Louis Haugh, courtesy of the artist.

How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents)

AS I READ through How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) by Hettie Judah, I was awash with memories and mixed emotions. As the book relays the experiences of artist parents – in the form of interviews, case studies on artworks and institutional structures, and references to relevant literature on the topic – I recalled some of my own experiences of being an artist mother. Shame and gratitude, embarrassment and joy pulsated through my veins as I read over the many different ways that artist mothers and other parents attempt to navigate the challenging terrain of balancing creative work and childcare.

Individuals often endure inhospitable barriers, with relief usually coming from others who have gone through these same struggles. However, Judah makes clear that this does not have to be the case. The art world can change, and she provides valuable and practical suggestions as to how this can happen. Part of this process involves addressing prejudices around motherhood while also changing art world conventions that make it challenging, if not impossible, to care for children.

The book is organised around the different institutional structures that an artist may engage with throughout their career: art school, the studio, residencies, commercial galleries, and major public institutions. Judah emphasises how exclusions are two-fold: firstly, there are the practical challenges relating to “motherhood as a lived condition” (p 31); secondly, there is a need for greater acceptance of the maternal as subject matter, presented by those who live it. While there is a prolonged history of pregnancy and motherhood in religious painting, epitomised through images of the Virgin Mary, references to motherhood beyond these iconic tropes are generally lacking in the art historical canon.

Judah shifts her discussions from the practicalities of finding a private space where nursing mothers can use breast pumps, and cultivating studio environments that are supportive of artists with children, to extending the canon to include the maternal as subject matter, especially in art schools, where many artists are exposed to influential figures that will stick with them throughout their careers. While the latter is a broader issue that exceeds the scope of the book, Judah effectively directs readers to resources, including artists, artworks, and additional readings on the maternal in art.

An artist, more often than not, is self-employed and therefore lacks the protections available to those in corporate or civic employment. In addition, the art world is a precarious reputation-based economy that “operates overwhelmingly through public presence, word of mouth, informal networks and introductions” (p 20), which demand huge flexibility on behalf of the artist to be present and available. It is also generally a low-income profession, if the artist does not have supplemental income through teaching or other work, which

can further impede access to childcare. Art is not a typical 9 to 5 profession either; it tends to be unstructured, which can make it challenging to find the appropriate time to produce work effectively.

Judah resists a one-size-fits-all approach, emphasising instead how the needs and opinions of artist mothers and other parents vary. Becoming a parent is not the same for all artists, and even increased communication and adaptability regarding the needs and capacities of an individual can make significant transformations. In general, Judah recommends expanding and rethinking how we can structure and support the work of artists, which is not just restricted to artist mothers and parents but “also artists with other caregiving responsibilities, as well as those with mobility or health issues” (p 57).

Judah gives excellent credit to the significance of self-organising, where the creation of groups and networks can support individual alliances while developing the foundations for “new creative and political alliance” (p 25). However, this is not enough. Major art institutions have access to the resources, capacities, and influence to make pragmatic changes for inclusion and support. In contrast, artist mothers, who are generally involved in organising support systems for others, give their limited time and energy to lead the change in a career field that is antagonistic to their presence. This situation also exacerbates other forms of inequality and discrimination already present in the art world, since those with access to certain resources and privilege will be able to dedicate the time and energy required for such work, which is often unacknowledged labour.

I would recommend Judah’s book to those working in positions that could make change happen, including museum and gallery directors, administrators, art school management, funding bodies, those who runs residences, and managers of studio spaces. Many of the suggestions come down to improved communication, flexibility, and better access to affordable childcare. The onus should not always be on the artist mothers and other parents to make these changes but should take place in collaboration with the institutional structures encountered throughout an artist’s career.

EL Putnam is an artist-philosopher based in County Westmeath. She is author of the monograph, The Maternal, Digital Subjectivity, and the Aesthetics of Interruption (Bloomsbury, 2022).

Visual Artists’ News Sheet | May – June 2023 37 Book Review
Both images: Cover image and interior pages, Hettie Judah, How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) photographs courtesy of Lund Humphries.
Browse over 140 works of paint, print, encaustic, mixed media, drawing, photography, ceramics, jewellery & textiles online at Visit Luan Gallery’s fantastic showcase of works by 82 Midland artists LUAN GALLERY +353 (0)90 6442154 Tues – Sat 11.00 – 17.00 Sun 12.00 – 17.00 Gallery admission is free Elliott Road Athlone Co Westmeath Floating Upon the Shower to the Useless Air, Bassam Issa Al-Sabah and Jennifer Mehigan, 2023 29 April – 22 June 2023 Ann Maria Healy, Eleanor McCaughey, Daire O’ Shea J e n n i f e r M e h i g a n , L u c y S h e r i d a n a n d B a s s a m I s s a A l - S a b a h P O R A L S € 10 (STG£9) SPRING (MARCH - MAY 2023) THE JOURNAL OF FINE ART, DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE, PHOTOGRAPHY, SCULPTURE, HERITAGE DECORATIVE ARTS AND CRAFTS WWW.IRISHARTSREVIEW.COM SAVE 10% OFF SUBSCRIPTION RATES TO THE IRISH ARTS REVIEW! ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION FOR VAI MEMBERS NOW €44! BOOK A SUBSCRIPTION TODAY! Email: Tel: +353 1 676 6711 KATHERINE SANKEY 15 JUNE- 5 SEPTEMBER CURATED BY MARGARITA CAPPOCK THE LAB GALLERY Gallery opening times: Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm Admission Free The LAB Gallery Dublin City Arts Office, Foley Street, Dublin D01 N5H6 Tel: (01) 222 5455 AN ATOM-BOMB IN EACH MORSEL OF LIFE Katherine Sankey, Host 2023, details and installation, photograph by Paul McCarthy Na Cailleacha with reference to Paula Rego Helen Comerford Barbara Freeman Patricia Hurl Catherine Marshall Carole Nelson Rachel Parry Therry Rudin Gerda Teljeur 29 April - 1 July 2023

2024 marks the 1500th anniversary of the death of St. Brigid. SULT Artist-led Collective is organising a large-scale National and International Open Call Exhibition to reflect the traditions, customs and symbols associated with the many versions, Irish and International, Celtic and spiritual, of Brigid, her legacy, her influences, her life.

The exhibition will take the form of an Art Trail in the centre of Kildare town during the month of February 2024. The exhibition will be accompanied by a high-quality, limited edition catalogue of the selected artwork. Supported by Kildare Co Co Arts Service and Brigid 1500.

Open: 1 May 2023

Deadline: 15 September 2023

€100 to selected artists, no fee to apply

MA: ART & PROCESS is an intensive and stimulating taught Masters in Fine Art that is delivered over three semesters through the calendar year from end of January to December. Each semester focuses on a different function of the course:




MA:AP offers innovative approaches to learning, individual studio spaces, access to college workshops and facilities, professional experience through collaborative projects, peer-to-peer exchange and a bespoke visitor lecture series.

Online Applications Only



Now taking applications for start January 2024

MTU Crawford College of Art & Design Cork Ireland

Information and online application details: courses/art-and-process/  00 353 021 4335200






Live Art Performance Tour


Wexford Arts Centre

7 June 20:30

8 June 18:00

9 June 18:00

10 June 15:00

Crawford Art Gallery

In association with Cork Midsummer Festival

22 June 19:30

23 June 19:30

24 June 17:00


Temple Bar Gallery + Studios

In association with Dublin Theatre Festival

5 October 18:00

6 October 18:00

7 October 16:00

Supported by the Arts Council’s Touring of Work Scheme

Performed by Einat Tuchman and Orla Barry
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