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VAN Nov/Dec 2016

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VAN Nov/Dec 16

The November/December Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) is hot off the press! It will be sent by post to all VAI members and arts organisations in the coming days. Guest editor Joanne Laws looks back at a series of prominent projects and themes from 2016.

The topic of commemoration is explored in Helen Carey’s column ‘To Commemorate or Not to Commemorate’ and in the ‘Public Art’ profile of ‘Stormy Petrel’ by Brian Hand, Orla Ryan and Alanna O’Kelly. In his ‘How is it Made? article, Andrew Duggan outlines the multi-venue exhibition ‘Proclamation’, looking at the 1916 centenery in a range of ways.

This theme ties directly into another, which reoccurs throughout the issue: that of feminism and gender equality in contemporary Ireland. Columns by Joanne Laws and Aislinn O’Donnell look at recent visual arts projects that investigate these ideas, while Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones discuss their ongoing commission ‘In the Shadow of the State’. In her profile of the Dublin Live Art Festival 2016, EL Putnam also delves into some of these issues.

Moving further afield, James L. Hayes writes about his recent exhibition ‘A Near Visible Past…’, held in New Orleans, and Kathleen Bitetti profiles public art works by Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile and Michael Dowling in Boston. Other features include Michaële Cutaya’s interview with 2016 Tulca curator Daniel Jewesbury, a report on this year’s Get Together and a look at The Enquiry @IMMA, a research group examining exhibition-making strategies.

‘Organisation’ profiles for November/December focus on Askeaton Contemporary Arts in County Limerick and the MONTO Arts Group, a collective of arts organsations and galleries located in north inner city Dublin.

Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: Paul Murnaghan at Limerick City Gallery of Art; Robert Kelly at Draiocht, Blanchardstown; Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones’s performance event at the Rotunda, Dublin; the group show ‘Glow’ at Catherine Hammond Gallery, Cork; and Gary and John Coyle at The Dock, Leitrim.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles will be available on the new VAN blog from Friday at: visualartistsireland.com

VAN January – February 2017

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Van January / February 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists.

Writer and researcher Joanne Laws is the guest editor and her column features on page 5. Several interviews are included in this issue: Joanne Laws spoke to Alistair Hudson about the Arte Útil movement; Conor McFeely interviewed Andres Serrano during his recent exhibition ‘Torture’ at Void, Derry; while Rayne Booth spoke to Benjamin De Búrca and Bárbara Wagner at the 32nd São Paulo Biennial.

In the Irish context, Gianna Tasha Tomasso reviews TULCA Festival of Visual Art and Kevin Gaffney outlines the making of his new film work, supported by Sky Arts Academy, which is currently showing at Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. Internationally, Pádraic E. Moore discusses his event ‘Ectoplasm’ at 1646, The Hague, and Áine Phillips reviews the Guerrilla Girls exhibition at Whitechapel, London, which surveys levels of inequality across European art institutions.

On the subject of art writing , publishing and readerships, Marysia Wiezkiewicz-Carroll reports on the ‘Art & Writing’ programme organised by Paper Visual Art and Gorse journals. In a similar vein, Nathan O’Donnell offers insights into the panel discussion ‘Art, Writing, Narrative and its Territories’, which coincided with Katrina Palmer’s solo exhibition ‘The Three Stories are Flattened’ at Void, Derry.

A number of Irish residencies also feature: Suzanne Walsh reports on the ‘Resort Revelations’ residency programme in Portrane, Colin Martin provides an overview of the ongoing Tony O’Malley Residency for painters and Jessica Foley reflects on her participation in ‘The Centre for Dying on Stage #3’, an intensive six-week residency at Cow House Studios, County Wexford.
VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilken discusses the Belfast Open Studios event, while VAI Director Noel Kelly describes how the uncertainties of Brexit are already impacting on VAI and other cultural organisations across Ireland. The Regional Roundup for this issue comes from County Leitrim, outlining recent activities of The Dock, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Creative Frame, Leitrim Arts Office and artist Daniel Chester. Reviewed in the Critique section are: Mary Patterson at Ballina Arts Centre; Benedict Drew and Miguel Martin at CCA Derry-Londonderry; Fiona Lowe Brunell at ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast; Rayleen Clancy at Signal Arts Centre, Bray; and the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016 at the National Gallery of Ireland.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN Jan/Feb 2017

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Writer and researcher Joanne Laws is the guest editor of the Jan/Feb issue of the VAN, out now.

Several interviews are included in this issue: Joanne Laws spoke to Alistair Hudson about the Arte Útil movement; Conor McFeely interviewed Andres Serrano during his recent exhibition ‘Torture’ at Void, Derry; while Rayne Booth spoke to Benjamin De Búrca and Bárbara Wagner at the 32nd São Paulo Biennial.

In the Irish context, Gianna Tasha Tomasso reviews TULCA Festival of Visual Art and Kevin Gaffney outlines the making of his new film work, supported by Sky Arts Academy, which is currently showing at Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. Internationally, Pádraic E. Moore discusses his event ‘Ectoplasm’ at 1646, The Hague, and Áine Phillips reviews the Guerrilla Girls exhibition at Whitechapel,
London, which surveys levels of inequality across European art institutions.

On the subject of art writing , publishing and readerships, Marysia Wiezkiewicz-Carroll reports on the ‘Art and Writing’ programme organised by Paper Visual Art and Gorse journals. In a similar vein, Nathan O’Donnell offers insights into the panel discussion ‘Art, Writing, Narrative and its Territories’, which coincided with Katrina Palmer’s solo exhibition ‘The Three Stories are Flattened’ at Void, Derry.

A number of Irish residencies also feature: Suzanne Walsh reports on the ‘Resort Revelations’ residency programme in Portrane, Colin Martin provides an overview of the ongoing Tony O’Malley Residency for painters and Jessica Foley reflects on her participation in ‘The Centre for Dying on Stage #3’, an intensive six-week residency at Cow House Studios, County Wexford.

VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilken discusses the Belfast Open Studios event, while VAI Director Noel Kelly describes how the uncertainties of Brexit are already impacting on VAI and other cultural organisations across Ireland. The Regional Roundup for this issue comes from County Leitrim, outlining recent activities of The Dock, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Creative Frame, Leitrim Arts Office, StArt Studios and artist Daniel Chester. Reviewed in the Critique section are: Mary Patterson at Ballina Arts Centre; Benedict Drew and Miguel Martin at CCA Derry-Londonderry; Fiona Lowe Brunell at ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast; Rayleen Clancy at Signal Arts Centre, Bray; and the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016 at the National Gallery of Ireland.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

VAN March/April 2017

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VAN March April 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

In January 2017, we learned of the sad passing of the influential British writer and cultural theorist Mark Fisher, who was a columnist for VAN for many years. Declan Long’s poignant tribute features alongside a reprint of Mark’s column ‘The Game Has Changed’, which was first published in the January/February 2011 issue.

In other columns for this issue, Arno Kramer outlines the growing momentum of contemporary drawing in Paris and the Netherlands, while VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilton discusses prominent painting exhibitions across Northern Ireland. An Organisation Profile of MART, Dublin, by Bernard O’Rourke, offers insights into the evolution of the artist-led space 10 years after it was established. Declan Sheehan discusses Future Artist-Makers, a project showcasing the work of Derry’s FabLab, housed at the Nerve Centre.

This issue features reports from seminars that recently took place around the country: Lisa Fingleton covers ‘Sites of Tension – Sites of Collaboration’ in Portlaoise; Linda Shevlin reports on the Arts Council’s ‘Place Matters’ conference at Dublin Castle in January; while Joanne Laws outlines the ‘Radical Actions’ seminar that took place in December 2016 in county Roscommon. A number of artist residencies are profiled in this issue: Tinka Bechert looks back at her participation in Leitrim County Council’s SPARK residency; internationally, Sam Keogh reflects on his ongoing residency at Rijksakademie in Amsterdam; while Jim Ricks discusses his residency and exhibition at Casa Maauad, Mexico City.

In the Career Development section, Roger Hudson reflects on his artistic career and discusses his artist book Taking the Scissors to Society. Aideen Doran outlines the trajectories of her ongoing practice to coincide with the premiere of her new film at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham this spring. Trish Brennan interviews Ailbhe Ní Bhriain about recurring themes in her recent work, while Sami Giarratani discusses the Truth Booth’s tour of America in the run up to the presidential election.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from Antrim and Newtownabbey, outlining recent activities of the Arts Office’s Flax and Oriel galleries, as well as Jordanstown Art Club. Artists Andrea Spencer and Alan Milligan discuss the pros and cons of maintaining an arts practice in the region. Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Gut Instinct’ at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Locky Morris at Naughton Gallery, Belfast; ‘Guest 2’ at Arts and Disability Forum, Belfast; Mark Garry at Luan Gallery, Athlone; and Phillip
Allen at Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. The Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online offers our readers a platform to discuss a number of the articles and the topics contained in the print edition.
www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN May/June 2017

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VAN May/June 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

From late-February to mid-April, a series of public meetings were held across the country as part of the Creative Ireland programme, a five-year government initiative which seeks to place creativity at the centre of public policy. Joanne Laws’s VAI News column outlines what transpired at the Roscommon and Leitrim meetings. In other columns, Pádraic E. Moore describes a revived interest in 1970s industrial music, probing the crossovers with performance art. Our Northern Ireland column comes from artist and researcher Laura O’Connor, who discusses the WANDA Feminism and Moving Image event which took place in Belfast in February 2017. Martin Waldmeier’s column tackles ‘The Problem of Jargon’ within the art world and introduces Plain English Criticism, a concept explored by Art and Disability Ireland, who invited Michelle Browne to write a review for the Critique section using this pared-back approach to language.

Also in this issue, Joanne Laws interviews John Hutchinson about his 25-year directorship of the Douglas Hyde Gallery, while Manuela Pacella interviews Irish curator Kate Strain about her recent appointment as Artistic Director of the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria. Sue Rainsford, winner of VAI/DCC Arts Office Critical Writing Award, presents her review of Vanessa Donoso Lòpez’s exhibition ‘to swallow a ball’, which was presented at The LAB, Dublin from September to November 2016. Susan MacWilliam reflects on her survey exhibition ‘Modern Experiments’. This issue includes several organisation profiles: Daniel Bermingham outlines the evolution, methodologies and future trajectories of Basic Space, Dublin; Gavin Murphy reflects on last year’s 20-year anniversary programme of Pallas Projects/Studios; and Paul Tarpey offers insights into the working methods of Parallel Editions, an independent fine art printmakers based in Limerick.

In the How is it Made? section, we have project profiles from Matt Packer and Alissa Kleist, who discuss CCA Derry’s touring exhibition ‘Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone’, currently showing in Ormston House, Limerick. L isa M oran o utlines t he r ecent P alestine/Irish s tudent e xchange a t I MMA. Charlotte Bosanquet looks back at the various strands of her residency in New Lodge Arts, North Belfast. The Regional Profile for this issue comes from County Kerry, with updates from the Arts Office, Dingle’s Courthouse Studios, the Rural Artists Group and K-Fest, as well as artists Sue Leen and Nicole Tilley.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Futures: Series 3, Episode 1’ at RHA, Dublin; Jonathan Mayhew at Wexford Arts Centre; ‘Buzz and Hum’ at Limerick City Gallery of Art; ‘Frank O’Meara and Irish Artists Abroad’ at Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane; and ‘The Mistress of the Mantle’ at MART, Dublin.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. The Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online offers our readers a platform to discuss a number of the articles and the topics contained in the print edition.
www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN July/Aug 2017

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VAN July/Aug 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com.

In this Issue:

With biennale season upon us, major international art events are taking place around the world. This issue includes two reports from the 57th Venice Biennale, which runs until late November 2017: an editorial column from Joanne Laws highlighting the work of female artists in Venice, and a report by Anne Mullee on the participation of Irish artists in various national and collateral events. In addition, Johnathan Carroll offers insights into Skulptur Projekte Münster and documenta 14, while Michelle Boyle reports from the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which ran until March 2017 in Kerala, India. In his timely column, Martin Waldmeier highlights the rise of English as the ‘lingua franca’ of contemporary art.

In other columns, Alex Davis, Manager of IVARO, offers insights into artists’ estates. Áine Phillips outlines artists’ withdrawal from globalised systems, while Conor McGrady discusses a recent solo exhibition and ‘sleep concert’ by avant-garde musician and artist Steven Stapleton at Burren College of Art. Joanne Laws addresses the current issues faced by studio providers in Ireland, while VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilken outlines the studio situation in Northern Ireland.

Also in this issue, Pádraic E. Moore interviews Vivienne Dick about her new film, Augenblick (2017), and her long-running friendship with American photographer Nan Goldin, to coincide with their concurrent solo exhibitions at IMMA. Chris Clarke interviews Matt Packer, the newly-appointed director of EVA International and curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts (3 – 19 November 2017).

In the ‘Career Development’ section, recent graduates Aoife Dunne and Austin Hearne offer insights into their practices, while David Dunne discusses his residency at Pilotenkueche International artist residence, Leipzig, Germany. Jonathan Carroll interviews several people involved in ‘ROSC 50 – 1967/2017’, an ongoing collaborative research project undertaken by IMMA and NIVAL. Barry Kehoe offers fascinating insights into IMMA’s Azure Tours for people with dementia and their carers.

In the ‘How is it Made?’ section, John Dine interviews Tamsin Snow about her new film Showroom. In the new ‘Artists’ Publishing’ section, Ruth Le Gear discusses her recent project and book ‘Water Senses’. The Regional Profile for this issue comes from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously’ at Project Art Centre; ‘Snake’ at Belfast Exposed; ‘Forged Carved Cast’ at Hamilton Gallery, Sligo; ‘This is Not Architecture’ at Highlanes Gallery; and ‘Into the gravelly ground’ at Mermaid Arts Centre.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public
art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

VAN Sept/Oct 2017

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VAN September / October 2017

September – October 2017 is a themed issue that focuses on contemporary Irish painting, offering timely insights into recent exhibitions, seminars, residencies and current studio practices. With so many vibrant painters currently working in Ireland and a wealth of painting exhibitions taking place nationwide, this thematic inquiry cannot be comprehensive. The issue places emphasis on materiality and the making process, while touching on discourse specific to the medium of painting.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com.

In this Issue:

A series of extended essays has been commissioned to provide thematic surveys of contemporary Irish painting: Ramon Kassam examines representations of the landscape; Mark O’Kelly discusses recent developments in portraiture; and Alison Pilkington offers valuable insights into contemporary abstract painting.

In the columns for this issue, Colin Martin introduces ‘The Materiality of Painting’ – an upcoming lecture series at the RHA that seeks to explore material concerns specific to current painting practice. VAI NI Manager Rob Hilken discusses the trajectory of painting in Northern Ireland, while Marcus Cope outlines the evolution of the Marmite Prize for Painting. Also in this issue, Susan Connolly reports on her residency in Golden Paints, New York, while Marc Guinan discusses the seminar he organised at The LAB, Dublin, entitled ‘Painters Talking Paint’. In the organisation profiles, Ronan Lyons discusses the Molesworth Gallery, Dublin, while Valerie Ceregini interviews three painters – Colm MacAthlaoich, Natasha Conway and Dennis Kelly – who will present solo exhibitions at Pallas Projects and Studios in the autumn.

In the ‘How is it Made?’ section, James Merrigan discusses All or Nothing, his new documentary film about painting. Ailve McCormack interviews Mark Francis in his London studio, while Helen G. Blake talks about her painting practice. Interviews by Joanne Laws and Martin Herbert offer insights into the work of Elizabeth Magill and Ronnie Hughes, to coincide with their high-profile touring exhibitions. Joanne Laws also interviews three Irish painters at various stages of their careers – Jane Rainey, Ciarán Murphy and Robert Armstrong – about the realities of maintaining a painting practice in Ireland.

Reviewed in this issue’s extended Critique section are: ‘Painting NOW’ at Green on Red Gallery; ‘Memory Needs a Landscape’ at Taylor Galleries; ‘The Living and the Dead’ at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios; ‘International Ireland’ at the Ulster Museum; ‘Crooked Orbit’ at Kevin Kavanagh; ‘Faith After Saenredam and Other Paintings’ at Kerlin Gallery; ‘A Dream and an Argument’ at The MAC; and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ at Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

VAN Nov/Dec 2017

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VAN Nov/Dec 2017

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. In the columns for this issue, Nick Miller discusses his role as curator of the RDS Visual Arts Awards 2017, while CEO of Visual Artists Ireland, Noel Kelly, offers insights into artistic censorship in Ireland. The NI column comes from Ben Crothers, who outlines the evolution of the long-running monthly event, Late Night Art Belfast.

This issue includes several conference reports: Joanne Laws and Christopher Steenson report on VAI’s Get Together 2017 at IMMA; Sarah Kelleher discusses ‘FIRST EDITION’ – a print symposium at Millennium Hall, organised by Cork Printmakers; Ciaran Smyth reports from Toronto, Canada, on ‘The Creative Time Summit 2017’; and Sue Rainsford outlines the ‘Art & Trauma’ seminar at The LAB, Dublin.
Continuing the theme of art and trauma, EL Putnam explores the work of County Down-based glassmaker, Alison Lowry, in the ‘How is it Made?’ section. Louise Manifold discusses her upcoming project ‘AerialSparks!’ commissioned for the Galway 2020 European City of Culture. In the Career Development section, Melissa O’Flaherty discusses the themes that underpin her practice, while Sarah Hayden interviews Pádraig Spillane about his recent work and solo exhibition ‘What Passes Between Us’.

Seoidín O’Sullivan reports on her recent socially-engaged residency in Chicago; Rebecca Strain outlines ‘The Unfamiliar Familiar’ – a project by artist Sue Morris commissioned by the Dementia Services Development Trust; and Stephen Rennicks presents several case studies that explore the ‘afterlife’ of public artworks. From a material culture perspective, Lisa Godson examines the banners created by the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, situating them within the broader history of social protest movements. In the Artists’ Publishing section, Ciarán Walsh discusses his novellas, Vortices and The Sickness, Book One, while Stephen Brandes outlines The food, the bad and the ugly, a new publication by the Domestic Godless.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from Mid Ulster, outlining recent cultural activities of the Arts Office and the Seamus Heaney HomePlace. In addition, artists Brian Kielt and Trina Hobson discuss the realities of maintaining an art practice in the region.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: Kate Nolan at the Gallery of Photography; Pádraig Spillane at Sirius Arts Centre; Cliona Harmey, Seán Molloy and David Quinn at Solstice Arts Centre; Pat Collins and Paul Mosse at VISUAL; and ‘The Way Things Go: An Homage’ at the Butler Gallery.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com.

VAN January – February 2018

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VAN January / February 2018

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. In the Columns for this issue, Áine Phillips offers a topical overview of gender issues in the arts, while Fiona Woods discusses best practice in artist-focused commissioning in her column ‘Has the Artist Been Consulted?’. In the NI column, Joey O’Gorman outlines his experiences as former co-director of Catalyst Arts, Belfast.

In the Artists’ Publishing section, Andy Parsons and Glenn Holman discuss their recent artists’ publication, The Rebel(s), while Ben Weir outlines his recent book, published in response to urban redevelopment in Belfast City Centre. In the Public Art section, Christopher Steenson interviews Robin Price about his recent environmental public art project, Automated Bird Rave Generator, while Laurie Kilmurry interviews Jenny Haughton about the evolution of the Grangegorman public art programme.

In the Organisation Profiles for this issue, Alan Phelan interviews Mary Cremin about her new role and upcoming programme at Void, Derry, while Nuala Clarke reports on the Ballinglen Arts Foundation and fellowship programme in County Mayo, which has just celebrated 25 years.

This issue features several Festival and Conference reports: Don O’Mahony reports on Sonic Vigil 10; Jane Morrow reports on Belfast Open Studios and Joanne Laws reports from IVARO’s Artist’s Estate Management conference, hosted by the RHA in late November.

In the How is it Made? section, Matt Packer interviews John Rainey about the evolution of his sculptural practice. In the Career Development section, Manuela Pacella interviews Andreas Kindler Von Knobloch about his recent residency at Catalyst Arts, Belfast. In addition, Chris Hayes’s extended essay assesses the contributions of James Merrigan’s Billion blog to Irish art criticism.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon region (ACBC Borough), outlining recent cultural activities of: The Market Place Theatre, Armagh; F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge; Craigavon Arts Office; and Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. In addition, artist Joanne Proctor discusses the reality of maintaining an art practice in the region, while Paul King provides an update from the SHORE Collective.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: Yvonne McGuinness at Draíocht Arts Centre; Brígh Strawbridge-O’Hagan at Birr Theatre and Arts Centre; ‘The Otherworld Hall’ at Solstice Arts Centre; and Robert and Barbara Ellison at The Island Art Centre, Lisburn.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN July/August 2015

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JA15 cover Cliona Harmey, Dublin Ships,

Cliona Harmey, Dublin Ships, installed February 2015, North Wall Quay, Dublin, photo by Ros Kavanagh

1. Cover Image. Cliona Harmey, Dublin Ships, installed February 2015 North Wall Quay Dublin. Commissioned by Dublin City Council, photo by Ros Kavanagh
5. Column. Chris Clarke. Scratching the Surface.
6. Column. Joanne Laws. Articulating Value.
7. Column. Jonathan Carroll. Who’s Afraid of Performance Art?
8. Column. Tara Byrne. Ageism & Cognitive Dissonance.
10. Regional Profile. North Down: Resources & Activities. Arts Office, Jo Hatty, Seacourt Print Workshop, Sharon Regan, Lee Boyd.
13. Conference. Homes & Possibilities. Michaële Cutaya reports on ‘Nimble Spaces, Ways To Live Together’ at Visual, Carlow.
14. VAI Activity. 20:20 Vision. Responses to the question ‘What do you want from the Art World’ gathered by Glenn Holman and Andy Parsons at VAI’s Get Together 2015.
16. Career Development. Balance & Momentum. Suzanne Mooney discusses her art career.
17. Profile. Dialogues & Mediations. The Arts Council’s Curator in Residence scheme.
18. Art in Public. Insider Witness. Fiona Whelan outlines the motivations and thinking behind Ten: Territory, Encounter & Negotiation, A Critical Memoir.
19. Critique. Basic Space at 126, Galway; Gabhann Dunne, The LAB; ‘I will go there, take me home’ MAC, Belfast; Kathy Prendergast, Crawford; Daniel Chester, Paul Roy and Gary Robinson, Luan.
23. Career Development. It’s Never Too Late. George Robb outlines his recent shift to becoming a full-time artist.
24. VAI Activity. Responsive Synergies. Partner organisations and VAI’s Professional Development Programme.
25. Profile. Consciously Experimental. Declan Sheehan introduces the Social Studios and Gallery, Derry.
26. How Is It Made? Making Metal Sing. David Lilburn interviews Jane Murtagh.
27. How is it made? If You Shout, No One Listens. Karla Black talks to VAI about her IMMA exhibition.
28. Art in Public: Self Encounters. Helen O’Donoghue interviews artist Bernie Masterson about her work in prison education.
29. Art in Public. Circulation and Exchange. Cliona Harmey outlines the making of Dublin Ships, a public artwork for Dublin’s Docklands.
30. Profile. Local and National. Introducing An Táin arts centre, Dundalk.
31. Conference. Irish Invasion. Rob Hilken reports on the ‘Developing Creative Practice Across Borders’ symposium.
32. Art in Public. Collective Imagining. Denis Roche discusses ‘Panchaea: In Search of an Equal Utopia and a Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, made in collaboration with Brian Maguire, Emma Finucane and people using mental health services in Co. Carlow.
33. VAI Regional. Positioning & Location. Catherine Harty offers a Spring roundup of visual arts issues and activity in Cork.
33. VAI Northern Ireland Manager. Technology Enthusiasts. Rob Hilken considers digital art practices in Northern Ireland.
34. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and various other forms of art outside the gallery.
35. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.
36. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions.

VAN Critique July/August 2015: Kathy Prendergast at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

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OR_Kathy Prendergast_Crawford Art Gallery_Cork_Photography by Jed Niezgoda_www.venividiphoto.net

Kathy Prendergast, Eclipse, 2014 – 2015, Photography by Jed Niezgoda

Kathy Prendergast
‘OR’
Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
10 April – 13 June 2015
The elegant first floor landing and Gibson galleries at the Crawford have been emptied of their fine paintings and ‘objets d’art’ to accommodate Kathy Prendergast’s exhibition ‘OR’, which also extends into the adjoining modern gallery.

At the centre of the landing, Prendergast’s After All (2015) is an intervention in the Gibson Cabinet, made specially to hold collectables donated by the eponymous patron of the gallery. A single white antique plate is retained on a mirrored shelf at one end, with a crescent moon outlined in blue. At the other end, four exquisite watercolours by the artist, Planets (2015), are laid two-by-two, depicting varied circular shapes against a dark background.

The wide central shelves of the cabinet initially appear empty until random circular outlines of the removed objects come into focus, highlighted by layers of ash dust of varying thickness. The effect is of a sealed airless universe, and a positive / negative pattern of doubt is literally raised as to the relevance of the removed objects. Two atmospheric moonscape paintings from the permanent collection have also been hung on the landing.

In Gibson Gallery I, a high-ceilinged rectangular room, Eclipse (2014 – 15) dominates the space. 27 standard desk globes of varying sizes are arranged on a thick rectangular table on two trestles. The globes and table are painted in matt black. The title of the work infers a closing off of light and, by extension, of knowledge of the world. On the facing side wall, The World in 12 Pieces (2014 – 15) is a symmetrical arrangement of 12 silver metal frames for the Carte Generale du Monde, fueilles 1 – 12. The 12 world maps have been removed to reveal the painted wall behind; the frames retaining only the white mounts with titles of the continents and mapping references.

In these works, Prendergast has extended her usual cartographic manipulation to a complete erasure of reference, giving greater emphasis to form over content. There is an underlying doubt about the usefulness and notions of certainty around maps and mapping. The third work in this room, Linz / Wein (2014) features an Atlas of Europe laid face up in a wall-mounted glass case, its two opened pages depicting part of Austria inked in black with its many settlements picked out in white, like a shimmering constellation.

The spherical motif reappears in Gibson Gallery II, a high square space containing two works. In the centre a small plinth supports I (2014). Eight empty glass domes of the kind used to cover taxidermy specimens are placed neatly one inside the other, reducing in size each time. This simple piece conveys very effectively the impression of receding orbits in empty space.

A continuous low-level whirring sound draws us to look upwards – no title (2015), consists of a continuous line of 100 cream battery-powered clocks placed high around the four walls. The clock faces have been replaced by blank plastic discs painted to match the wall, the absent mechanisms reinforcing a sense of measureless time.

The final work, Questions, Questions (2014 – 2015), occupies the cavernous modern gallery. Salvaged strips of wood, stained black, are placed tightly together to form a narrow, irregularly edged walkway, which is raised slightly and laid at an angle across the centre of the space. Above the pathway for its full length, multiple sheets of tracing paper are suspended in pairs from tension wires, containing text outlined on black strips. The two angled side walls of the gallery are painted dark grey, anchoring this work very effectively in a space that could otherwise have overwhelmed it.

Multiple questions and statements are posed on the sheets of paper – researched by the artist or provided by friends at her request. Giving voice to the themes raised in the other rooms, they include: “What is creativity?”; “How did we arrive at this place? “; “Do we know more than we used to?”; “What is the future of history?” and “If humanity’s great moral strides were, not long before, impossible to believe, the trick question is: what’s next?”. One especially pertinent quandry reads “In a disenchanted, 21st century world, how can we re-find a sense of amazement, wonder and awe at the mystery of our own and the Universe’s existence?”. This question underlines one of the central concerns of the exhibition, namely the need to step back from our known certainties of the world and our acquired senses of knowledge and control in order to rediscover a sense of real-time and rootedness in place.

In this setting, the floating pathway leads to associations with ancient roadways uncovered from bogs, raising questions as to who travelled along it and what their worldly concerns were. The questions posed along Prendergast’s pathway take on a timeless resonance in this setting, providing a strong metaphor for the exhibition as a whole. With minimal intervention in simple materials and elegantly curated by Ingrid Swenson, this exhibition reminds us of the limitations of our universal knowledge to address the most basic human issues.

Colm Desmond is a Dublin-based artist who has also written reviews for Enclave Review and Recirca.com

VAN Critique July/August 2015: Adrian Ghenie, Pieter Hugo and Olaf Brzeski at The MAC, Belfast

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Work by Olaf Brezski on show at ‘ I will go there take me home’

Adrian Ghenie, Pieter Hugo, Olaf Brzeski
‘I will go there, take me home’
Curated by Gregory McCartney
8 May – 26 July 2015
The MAC, Belfast

‘I will go there, take me home’ marks the second installment of the MAC’s guest curator programme, which offers independent curators the opportunity to develop exhibitions in the MAC’s three impressive gallery spaces. This year’s recipient is Gregory McCartney, a Derry-based curator who has devised a rich and multi-faceted exhibition which forces audiences to consider violence, failure, destruction and – quite bleakly – “the end of things…[from the] end of personal and social empires…[to the] failure of philosophies; the failure of systems; [and] the failure of people”.

The exhibition includes major works by three artists of international acclaim – Adrian Ghenie (Romania), Pieter Hugo (South Africa) and Olaf Brzeski (Poland) – none of whom have exhibited before in Ireland. Despite their geographical separation, each artist is no stranger to violence and all of their works are sobering, visceral and thought provoking, albeit in varying ways. Whilst no works here are rooted in or directly reference Northern Ireland’s contentious political history, the presentation of these works in Belfast nonetheless enables the country’s own troubles to bubble under the surface of the exhibition.

I will go there take me home - Curated by Gregory McCartney. Artist Pieter Hugo (31)

Work by Pieter Hugo on show at ‘ I will go there take me home’

Beginning in the MAC’s most impressive and largest exhibition space, the work of Adrian Ghenie is meticulously presented, featuring a range of both large and intimately-scaled gestural paintings and collages which confidently dominate the walls of the gallery. The abstract works depict aerial warfare and scenes of destruction, while blurred portraits of featureless faces simultaneously provide and deny a human presence. Largely reflecting the traumatic history of dictatorship in his native Romania, the works are multi-layered both physically and conceptually, also referencing news media, state archives and cinema.

Similarly confident in its ability to fully command the MAC’s smaller Sunken Gallery, Olaf Brzeski’s single work in the exhibition, Dream – Spontaneous Combustion (2008), is a more quiet, contemplative piece. A black cloud of billowing smoke has been masterfully sculpted in soot and resin, marking the spot of spontaneous combustion, where only a pair of ashen feet remain. This is the site of a terrifying, tragic occurrence, but we are only witness to its aftermath, deathly silent and still, peaceful yet haunting.

Pieter Hugo’s large-scale photographs arguably pack the exhibition’s strongest punch, replacing the relative subtlety and quiet of the works by Ghenie and Brzeski with pieces a little more high-impact and unapologetic in their depiction of violence and destruction. Hugo’s work engages with both documentary and art traditions, focusing on African communities post-apartheid, depicting real people in terrifyingly hostile environments who meet and confront the viewer’s gaze. A room dedicated to a selection of works from Hugo’s The Hyena and Other Men series is particularly arresting. While these images are perhaps already familiar to audiences (they were even recently appropriated in a Beyoncé music video), their dominant scale and positioning in the triangular gallery space makes for a threatening, almost claustrophobic experience, as audiences are flanked on all sides by the hard stares of these men and their muzzled beasts.

A potential problem with the exhibition is that it perhaps reads more like three solo exhibitions under an umbrella theme, rather than a group exhibition in which the works are more obviously juxtaposed against one another. To a large extent, the curatorial decision to use a separate gallery for each of the three artists has been dictated by the layout of the MAC, but the lack of a seamless transition between the spaces is unfortunate and prevents cohesion. The works on display are highly provocative, almost brutal in their impact, but as one navigates through a bustling cafe and concrete stairwells between the galleries, the exhibition ultimately feels a little disjointed, its flow interrupted by the building’s architecture, which denies a fully immersive experience.

One of the beauties of curating group exhibitions is the opportunity to forge relationships between different artists, exhibiting their work in new contexts alongside works with which they have never been shown. ‘I will go there, take me home’ is a little static in this regard, as the three separate spaces do not allow for a visual interplay between works which could potentially have provided a more unique visitor experience.

Nonetheless, McCartney has undeniably delivered one of the highlights of the MAC’s recent exhibition programme, demonstrating sophisticated vision and originality. His choice to exhibit the work of these three artists in Northern Ireland for the first time is certainly very welcome, and this is a refreshing and culturally important exhibition for the city. Whilst presenting works made in various locations around the world, the exhibition is still highly relevant in a Northern Irish context, providing new perspectives on post-conflict and troubled societies, and possesses a provocative charge certain to prompt fruitful conversation and debate.

Ben Crothers is a Belfast-based curator and writer.
atticusandalgernon.com

VAN Critique July/August 2015: Gabhann Dunne at The LAB Gallery, Dublin 1

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Gabhann Dunne, Floraborus, installation view, The LAB, Dublin

Gabhann Dunne
Magenta Honey
The LAB Gallery, Dublin 1
1 May – 13 June 2015

Gabhann Dunne has been painting since the 1990s and is an artist for whom the alchemy involved in manifesting an entity from paint appears effortless. He also demonstrates an easy aptitude for drawing. The compression of these abilities into effective visual shorthand appears to have coincided with his MFA at NCAD, from which he graduated in 2011.

This latest exhibition includes work done in response to the milieu of Dublin’s North Bull Island. The only city-based UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve, it came into being as a consequence of a man-made intervention in the form of early-nineteenth-century engineering works.

The impact of our species on the planet is not always so fortuitous and, unsurprisingly, the environment emerges as a central theme. The exhibition’s cryptic title reflects the well-documented plight of the bee as a matter of major ecological concern, and emerged from Dunne’s research, which revealed bizarre incidences where artificial sugars from anti-freeze and confectionary casings are used in the making of honey. In a recent interview on RTE Radio 1’s Arena, he relayed how these dubious honey products are produced in vividly-coloured “greens and blues and violets”.

Having encountered some of the featured paintings online, their most surprising quality in situ proves to be their diminutive scale. The exception to this is Floraborus, which was conceived for The Cube, a seven-metre-tall glazed space on The LAB’s ground floor. A multi-part piece exploring the theme of water, which is vital prerequisite for a living planet, its main component is an oil painting in tondo form, suggesting water projected over a blue sky. This work references a project that aims to relocate supplies from the Shannon to reservoirs that will serve Dublin consumers. It is surrounded by a wreath of flowers – or, more accurately, endangered and invasive plant species – painted directly onto the wall and extending, in ripple-like flourishes, up its full height. This device suggests transience and was inspired by Italian murals seen on trips abroad. A small companion piece features a figure in the act of drinking a glass of water, painted in a pleasing mix of thin, streaky paint juxtaposed with juicier passages and traces of pencil.

The remaining works on unframed boards of in-the-main horizontal orientation are arranged individually or in groups along the three walls of the first-floor mezzanine gallery. This is a complex space with varying ceiling heights and other potential visual distractions, but the scale of the exhibits has the effect of inviting the viewer to partake of intimate scrutiny, which is in keeping with the artist’s belief that painting is primarily about looking. The best examples testify to the efficacy of Dunne’s annotated style and deliver strong imagery comprising simple forms on minimally textured but nonetheless sumptuous backgrounds. Their array of beautiful blues and greens – some with magenta under paint – camouflage the darker subject matter.

Morrigan’s Pearl spotlights the endangered freshwater pearl mussel, a bivalve mollusc with an incredibly long lifespan and important ecological role. But its central subject is marginally overworked in relation to the nuanced grey background, which alone conveys almost enough. The makers of the aforementioned honey also appear, struck in mid-air by arrows in Sebastian’s Bee, an art-historical reference to the oft-painted martyred saint, or as a treasured miniature in Golden, with its lapis-lazuli-effect background and gold-leafed circular mount.

One particular grouping suggests a narrative turn. Comprising four separate boards, The Bull’s Hares references the threat to Bull Island’s population of hares, and emphasises their essential role in its ecology. The first is suggestive of a primordial ancestor, a simple form encapsulating an innate propensity for movement, while the second features the fully evolved animal running at full pelt and the third a generic hare in freefall, its footing on the planet compromised by human activity. The final piece is the most unsettling due to its potential for prophecy, and depicts a startled animal with shredded ears and alarming, post-apocalyptic eyes.

Other works evoke the cosmos. In Alpha Beta Proxima, A Rodent’s Hope, purples, blacks, pinks and yellows swirl and shimmer, due to the careful manipulation of the medium to deliver surface variation. In contrast, Durragh features a close-up of the artist’s son’s face, perhaps indicating his concerns as a parent about the world his children will inherit. It is difficult to portray a young child’s features without courting sentimentality, but Dunne just about gets away with it. Any reservations are brushed aside by the humour of a tiny patterned bolster positioned to break the fall of the painted deer in Dee’s Pillow, and the hopeful golden glow of the abstract Hi Susan.

Bringing together a diverse mix of subjects and approaches, all loosely wedded to the Bull-Island-inspired environmental banner, Magenta Honey is a quietly thoughtful and essentially painterly showing that’s well deserving of close looking.

Susan Campbell is a PhD candidate in History of Art at Trinity College Dublin.

VAN Critique September/October 2015: Anna MacLeod at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim

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Anna MacLeod, ‘Water Conversations’, Alberta, 2015, Documentation of performative walk at Lake Miniwanka, image by Alex Bishop-Thorpe

Anna MacLeod
Water Conversations, A Survey of Works, 2007 – 2015
The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon
3 July to 12 September 2015

Water Conversations is an ongoing research project by artist Anna MacLeod. Over the past eight years MacLeod has travelled internationally to conduct research and engage in dialogue with artists and communities around the global and local issue of water as a precious and endangered resource. By focusing on material from four or five locations the artist has successfully negotiated the risky transition of her vast repository of works and projects into a visually effective and conceptually engaging representation of her practice at the Dock, Carrick-On Shannon.

In dealing with such an urgent and pressing issue, MacLeod opts for a narrative thread that is low key and prosaic – rather than catastrophic or overtly political. The show pivots around a range of hand-made apparatus and found objects purposed for various water-related functions. They are displayed alongside documentation of their use in performative and site-specific events from many of the locations. For a work made in the Canadian Rocky Mountains MacLeod fashioned an elaborate rubber and aluminium umbrella that resembles a miniature glassless Victorian botanic house.

In Colorado the artist assembled an umbrella from triangular planes of smooth plywood that rises and falls in peaks and valleys like a portable mountain range. From Almeria, Spain MacLeod has brought a series of poignant fan-like dew catchers made from folded wax paper. The pieces of apparatus are each wonderfully sculptural and esoteric, and bear direct and obtuse connections to a multitude of references that have impacted on water conservation globally. Mining, the commodification of resources, intensive agriculture and tourism are touched upon and counterpointed by the low-tech, sustainable, hand-crafted methods used by MacLeod.

Crit Anna McLeod

Anna MacLeod, Oh Alberta Bewildered in Banff, 2015, digital photograph, dimensions variable, photo by Anna MacLeod

As sculptural / functional hybrids it is not easy to decipher the ‘use’ of these objects. MacLeod leads the viewer to decode their cryptic purpose and operation while creating a psychological space in which to think laterally about water conservation while enjoying the fine elegance of her sculptural forms.

Also included is a striking film made in collaboration with filmmaker David Bickerstaff, which features MacLeod walking through a Canadian landscape with her rubber and aluminium umbrella. Projected onto the wall of a small annex off the largest gallery space, it sits alongside various props from the film. MacLeod awkwardly walks over terrain of Canadian lake ice and shoreline, mountainside and industrial roadside, while carrying the cumbersome and dysfunctional apparatus. The framing is deliberately sublime as MacLeod’s diminutive form traverses enormous backgrounds of jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain beauty. Somehow her peculiar and absurd activity (she also melts lake ice with a blow torch) is utterly sobered by powerful elements in the frame, the cold winter light over the transcendent landscape, the threat of melting lake-ice underfoot and the partially visible profile of an industrial complex puffing out smoke.

Underlining the gravitas, an uneasy soundtrack of outdoor silence is broken by raspy footsteps, passing cars and the hiss of the blowtorch. Hanging on the wall of the annex of the gallery space is a commemorative ceramic plate, which bizarrely celebrates past mining activity in the Rocky Mountains. Back in the larger space two museum / heritage-style still images from the film are reproduced in large format on opposing walls, with a battered 1970s canoe appearing as though it has run aground on the floor between them. There is a suggestion of re-writing history / archaeology from an alternative viewpoint in opposition to the sentiment of the commemorative plate.

In a second gallery space, MacLeod has brought research conducted in the desert regions of Almeria, Spain and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. There is a shift in mood from the permanence and relatively tolerable nature of the Canadian mountains to these vast sterile landscapes that persist in holding out against sustainable habitation. On one wall the fragile paper dew catchers are accompanied by a heartrending song / lament to water in Ireland and Almeria. On the opposing wall a solitary monochrome work in matching script simply spells the word ‘AGUA’ over a hail of painted raindrops. They have a haunting plaintive quality that echoes the dream-like optimism of the modest dew-catching paper works.

On two opposite walls hang a series of botanical drawings etched into glass and hung out from the wall on hinges. The plants that are depicted were used in solar stills constructed by MacLeod to yield water in the Gobi Desert. These are exquisite works made in the finest tradition of forensic botanical drawing made all the more alluring by the glinting glass. As outlandish as it might seem, these wax-paper works and etched glass overcome their diminutive status through sheer beauty and bridges the extreme disproportion between MacLeod’s hand-made efforts and the gargantuan global need to conserve water. It is as though through purity, integrity and intelligent thinking that change can be effected through art and ideas.

Outside the main gallery spaces there is a wealth of additional material displayed in summary form through photographs and text. It gives a taste of the scale of MacLeod’s research and indicates the need for a second chapter of the ‘Survey of Works’. Particularly exciting is the portable water shrine from India and the solar stills from Mongolia. Anna MacLeod’s Water Conservations is a big-hearted project executed by modest means, and all the more powerful for it.

Carissa Farrell is a curator based in Dublin

VAN Critique September/October 2015: Jan McCullough at Belfast Exposed

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Jan McCullough, ‘Home Instruction Manual’ installation view, Belfast Exposed Futures, 3 July – 22 Aug 2015

Jan McCullough
Home Instruction Manual
Belfast Exposed
3 July – 22 August 2015

Jan McCullough’s project ‘Home Instruction Manual’ developed from the artist’s interest in traditional instruction manuals. Typing “how to make a home” into Google, she soon found an online chat forum where the participants gave instructions on how to transform a ‘house’ into a ‘home’. McCullough subsequently rented an empty property in Belfast for two months, putting into practice the advice she had gathered online. The photographs and objects on show at the exhibition ‘Living Room’ – presented in the Belfast Exchange gallery space at Belfast Exposed – document various elements of this project. (1)

A large, white plastic rug lies diagonally across the exhibition space. Printed onto the rug is the text from a series of online conversations, including the quote “not too clean but not super cluttered – just ‘lived in’ I guess!” (Molly Bdenum, 12.53, 7 August 2014). The rug dominates the room, but other two-dimensional domestic elements – a light switch, a window, a sofa and a fireplace – form part of the work’s narrative. McCullough uses black plastic tape to render these as flat life-size pictures. The tape is applied intermittently, which creates a rhythmical pattern. These stark, monotonous, graphic configurations are analogous to the binary code of the digital realm.

Overall the installation evokes emptiness. The images are harshly lit with pop-up flash, which recalls the amateur aesthetics of the family album. Panel pins have been hammered in to secure photographs. Their dull silver metal seems somehow important in this world of near-monochrome images.

There are traces of colour in a series of small photographs assembled between the taped utilitarian images. A close-up shot features a window and provides some context. The lens has captured a white, plastic double-glazed frame and in the distance, there are two suburban houses. Their dull brick walls and garages are plain and universal in their architectural style.

One image shows scatter cushions, apparently precariously balancing on a metal chair. But the image is ambiguous. Perhaps it’s a metal ladder, not a chair. Either possibility does not quite suggest a ‘comfortable’ home.

In another photograph, an outstretched white female hand holds a plant with heart-shaped leaves in a simple terracotta pot. The hand belongs to the artist; her fingernails are clean and well groomed. Out of shot she may be sitting or possibly lying on the sofa, which is covered in a cream throw. Commenting on this self-reflexive device, McCullough stated: “I included my hand in a few images to remind the viewer that what they’re seeing is constructed. This also harked back to images in old instruction manuals where you can see someone demonstrating something.” (2)

A wooden bookcase is recorded. Nigella Lawson’s How to eat sits close to an anthology by William Golding. On the same shelf is The Tale of Tom the Kitten. There appears to be no logic to the selection of books, just an ad-hock or random collection. Another ephemeral object in the same shot is a photograph of two smiling children. They sit next to the book Our Life in 7 Days. The artist in fact sourced all the items through a house clearance company, adding a further layer of arbitrariness. Another print includes a framed photograph showing a young couple situated next to a television. Overall the image is eerily devoid of emotion.

A final image returns to McCullough’s hand; it is out of focus and she is again holding a plant. This time the leaves have crimson veins, which match the colour of the diagonal strips in the background textile of the picture. In the centre of this photograph is a masking-tape cross stuck to the fabric. Its reason for being is unclear. Perhaps it alludes to a sticking plaster, an attempt to make this illusionary home feel more real?

Internet chat rooms are places where strangers appear to become friends, their advice and suggestions accepted. These online forums have echoes of ‘over the garden fence’ conversations, but instead of neighbours chatting in real physical proximity, our day-to-day social sphere is one of text messages filling the void.

Forum contributor Molly Bdenum’s words, it seems, were not heeded in McCullough’s interventions into the vacant house or her subsequent documentation of the process. McCullough’s representation of a home doesn’t feel comfortable or lived in. But perhaps that isn’t the point of the exercise. Rather, ‘Home Instruction Manual’ prompts consideration of how reality has been replaced by illusion and truth by deception. The project has a number of philosophical layers, but peel them away and stark certainties emerge. McCullough’s photography plays with notions of societal distortion: amateurs and experts, strangers and friends, illusion and reality are becoming digitally identical. The World Wide Web entangles McCullough’s work in a realm of pretence and illusion.

Kathryn Nelson is a visual artist based in Co Tyrone.

Notes
1. Jan McCullough is the most recent artist to take part in the Belfast Exposed Futures Programme, which supports the development and presentation of new work by six artists a year in a series of solo shows and is generously supported by the Foyle Foundation, the Arts Council Northern Ireland and The Directory.
2. Gemma Padley, ‘Jan McCullough photographs the Internet’s most desirable home’ www.thespace.com, 16 July 2015

VAN Critique September/October 2015: El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State at IMMA

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El Lissitzky, Klinom krasnym bej belych, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. (1919 – 1920), reprint 1966, offset on paper 48.8 x 69.2cm, Collection Van Abbemuseum, photo by Peter Cox, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State, with Rosella Biscotti, Maud Gonne, Nuria Guell, Alice Milligan, Sarah Pierce and Hito Steyerl
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin Garden Galleries
30 July – 18 October 2015

Curatorial practices require imaginative conceits, while considerations of funding and timing require pragmatic ones to boot. All of these appear activated in an exhibition that finds unexpected but stimulating connections between the co-development of abstraction and political ideology in post revolutionary Russia, and a desire for national sovereignty enacted on Irish bohereen in the years before 1916. The show is co-curated by Director of IMMA, Sarah Glennie, and Annie Fletcher, Chief Curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, from where the El Lissitzky material comes. The work of four contemporary artists, reflecting on “the position of the artist within our society now” adds fresh fuel to these retrospective fires.

In Room 1 three computer monitors, vertical and side-by-side on the white wall, glow a uniform red. They sit in an alcove built into a false wall angled within the room’s normal dimensions. This wedge-like ingress alludes to another work in the show, but that’s not apparent at first; for now it’s just peculiar but nice. Red Alert (2007), by German artist Hito Steyerl, refers to Homeland Security Red, the red of imminent danger, the colour of fear. Deceptively serene, the softly glowing monitors also refer to Russian Constructivism and in particular to Aleksandr Rodchenko’s ‘end of painting’ icon Pure Yellow, Pure Red, Pure Blue (1921). Rodchenko’s triptych is boiled down to a single colour and slogan, a uniform ‘red or dead’.

Steyerl’s other work can be found upstairs. Surveillance: Disappearance (2013) ingeniously recalls the work in Room 1. Whether this is sleight of hand by the artist or curator is not clear. It insinuates itself simultaneously into both you the viewer and into a framed print of El Lissitzky’s famously partisan Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge (1919). (Clearly simulating the dynamic of the graphic image, the wedge-like alcove downstairs assumes its pictorial and architectural point). Fitted out with ‘camouflage software’, Steyerl’s work upstairs is a computer / monitor that simultaneously records and plays whatever is placed in front of it. It is hung on the opposing wall and as you stand between it and Lissetzky’s graphic image you become a digital apparition, a ghost in the machine of dialectical materialism!

Unlike Steyerl’s brilliant How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational. Mov File (2013) (available online) her two works here insinuate rather than instruct. Spanish artist Núria Guell leans more towards the latter. Stateless by Choice. On the prison of the Possible (2015) presents a laborious account – endless videos and documents – of her attempts to eschew her national identity (in favour of ‘Planet Núria’ perhaps – population one!). The Italian artist Rossella Biscotti offers a more oblique take on identity issues. Her tapestry 10×10 (Dead Minorities, 2014) extends for several metres across the gallery floor. Woven patterns of coloured squares are reminiscent of a pixilated image, and incidentally similar (though perhaps deliberately placed) to nearby charts illustrating the rate of collectivisation in Soviet Russia. At the bottom of the work a text key relays information about Belgian citizens in the dry accounting style of a census. Made using the Jacquard-weaving system, Biscotti’s tapestries – there’s another in the basement – make complex allusions to systems of representation and information gathering through their own complex technology.

“Arís! Arís!” the crowds roared as Alice Milligan and her collaborators – including the likes of Roger Casement, James Connolly and Maud Gonne – staged their roadside tableaux vivants. Illustrations and texts unfold across the walls of Room 5, presenting a historical display of Milligan’s nationalist zeal. In her exhibition notes Dr Catherine Morris writes: “It was through the ‘power of the mind’ – the collective imagination – that decolonization was first achieved”. Milligan’s scenarios of collective longing provoked a taste for more of the same while setting the scene for something entirely different.

Threaded through several rooms of the exhibition, a series of El Lissitzky’s geometric ‘prouns’ describe transitional points between painting and architecture. El Lissitzky fused artistic vision with social pragmatism, applying a suprematist idealism to forms of civil and social engineering – an exemplary ‘engineer of human souls’. Jointly commissioned by the Van Abbemuseum and IMMA, Sarah Pierce’s installation Gag (2015) takes cues from Alice Milligan’s DIY aesthetic and from the display mechanisms of Constructivism. A low stage is strewn with timber off-cuts, cardboard tubes and plastic sheeting, while in the background a similar mess is roughly fashioned into a slapstick collection of suprematist motifs. Framed and propped on spindly poles, archive images of the first Constructivist exhibition in 1921 fraternise with recent photographs of the El Lissitzky material ready for transport to Dublin (the recent photographs are not identified so I’m supposing the latter).Scheduled performances promise to unlock these frozen energies and provide an opportunity for Milligan, among other spectres, to haunt the here and now once again.

The dead hand of Socialist Realism would eventually smother the innovations pioneered by El Lissitzky and his contemporaries. They continued to evolve nonetheless, particularly through their influence on movements like De Stijl and the Bauhaus, and provide a timely example of how states, institutions and artists adapt in order to survive. Driven by imperatives often mutually antagonistic, evidence of these machinations, with their conflicts and accommodations (hidden or otherwise), make fascinating viewing.

John Graham is an artist based in Dublin.

VAN Critique September/October 2015: Laura Gannon Silver House Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre

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Laura Gannon, ‘Silver House’, nine-panel screen, oil on linen with cut-outs, aluminium and oak frame, 214 x 1017cm, photo by Johnny Savage

Laura Gannon
Silver House
Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre
18 July – 12 August 2015
Commissioned for Uillinn, Gannon’s exhibition comprises a new body of experimental large-scale architectural drawings and a new film work, Silver House. The film was shot locally in Goleen, West Cork, during the Spring of 2015. The work is a collaboration with the sound composer Susan Stenger and features Eilish Lavelle and her home as the subject and the site of the film.

Lavelle has spent the last 40 years designing her home and garden in line with the ideals of high modernism, transporting the early-twentieth century avant-garde to the coast of rural West Cork. The house was once a horse stable, transformed by Lavelle in the 1970s with floor-to-ceiling windows, glass and chrome furniture, and bathroom walls covered in mirrored silver paper. However, the passage of time has softened the clean modernist lines.
The audience are seated on a white fur bench – a reference to the fur bedroom created by Adolf Loos in 1903 – which provides a tactile but also comfortable vantage point. The fur suggests the intimacy of being invited into the comfort of someone’s home before the film even begins. Silver House opens with the specific – a deadpan close up of the intricate organic design of the rich red wallpaper – before cutting to the exterior of the property where the ancient trees sweep down to the Atlantic Sea.
This cutting continues throughout the film, shifting between interior and exterior, the inanimate and intimate portrait of Lavelle, the purely visual and Lavelle’s personal stories about her home. Like the house, the film borrows techniques from early avant-garde film, using montage to juxtapose fast and slow paced shots in a way that compresses and fractures space, time and information.

We are presented with pieces, never a whole narrative. In fact when Lavelle speaks it is so unexpected that it takes time before the ear can understand what she says. Gannon has described her work as an “ongoing process of exploring ways to convey fragility, the female body within architecture and non-dominant narratives which emerge in geographical margins”.

The film is supported by Susan Stenger’s soundtrack, which incorporates the sounds of the West Cork landscape and the house where the work was filmed to create a new audio composition. Stenger uses the associative meaning of the basic principles of music, melody, rhythm, metre, volume, etc. to heighten, suspend, slow down and interrupt. However, the score neither works simply in parallel with or as a counter-point to the visual image. It is not mere commentary. It responds to what is not always evident in the image as the aural and visual share the power to create meaning.

Accompanying the film is a series of large-scale experimental drawings. A nine-panelled screen sculpture demarcates the space between the film and the drawings. Responding to the gallery space and the floor to ceiling windows Gannon has created three large sculptural drawings which occupy the double height gallery wall. The basis of these drawings has been in conceptual development for the past three years. Prior to this Gannon has mainly exhibited film work and undertaken live art performance projects where she used drawing to develop and inform her film work.

Her intent now is to bring a focus to the drawings themselves by exhibiting them with a film in one coherent exhibition space. The screen sculpture is a double entendre, acting as both division and projection. Both film and drawing work as a trace and Lavelle’s home and the page are both a site. But Gannon has not used a pencil as her tool of inscription but, instead, in a similar manner to her film, she has cut through the surface. Random rectangular and triangular incisions litter the screen like a foreign landscape.
These large environmental drawings cascade down the two storey drop, unfurling onto the gallery floor. They are produced on high quality paper and canvas covered with inks and oil paints. You can see the grain of the paper and the mark of the brush echoing the striations of the trees projected onto the other side of the gallery. Here, imperfect circles are cut from a mass of paper flowing down the expanse of the gallery walls. The scale is monumental and their physical presence is imposing. Like unwound scrolls, the downward pull of gravity upon the paper suggests movement.

As a structure ‘Silver House’ has softened into the landscape over time, the clean modernist lines faded. Temporality is projected differently in the mediums of film and drawing but nevertheless they are both processes of duration, inscriptions of process on fragile surfaces, the lines of the incisions jagged. Both Gannon’s film and drawing are rooted in temporality and duration; by capturing the passing of time and its fragility they reveal the complexities that time and life produce.
Gemma Carroll is an art writer based in Cork.
Note
1. Laura Gannon in conversation with Katherine Waugh, 126 Gallery, Galway, 126.ie

VAN Critique September/October 2015: Ruth E. Lyons at the Mermaid Arts Centre, Co Wicklow

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Ruth E Lyons, ‘The Sea, The Sea’ 2015 exhibition view, image courtesy of Paul Tierney

Ruth E. Lyons
The Sea, The Sea
31 July – 5 September
Mermaid Arts Centre, Main Street, Bray, Co Wicklow

I first encountered the great chunks of rock salt that appear in this exhibition at the artist’s rural Co Offaly studio, a former hay loft located in a soft and yielding bog land landscape far from the ancient sea where these salty boulders originated. The rock salt is a remnant of the long lost Zechstein Sea, a landlocked body of water that once stretched from North West Europe to the East. Mined in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, it is now commonly used for de-icing roads.

Historian Mark Kurlansky has written extensively about the immense historical and social importance of salt (Salt A World History 2002), associated with everything from human sexuality to trade, wealth and power. The search for salt has had an impact on landscapes across the globe, from the development of salt mines to the otherworldly appearance of salt refineries. Salt has been a highly valuable commodity for thousands of years.

Landscape and the changes wrought upon it, both naturally and through the actions of mankind, is a recurring theme in Lyons’s work, which often explores how industry has altered and shaped our domestic landscape.

Here, though, the ocean is the focus, with the exhibition ‘The Sea, The Sea’ offering a mini survey of sorts, drawing together a collection of five recent works. The rock salt chunks I first encountered in Offaly have been worked and sculpted. They’ve been transformed into bowls and vessels to create Zechstein – Antrim (Ire) (2014), a collection of receptacles resembling alabaster or marble. The quartz-like translucence of the salt contrasts with veins of dark red clay marled through it. Smaller pieces retain their natural forms and have been allowed to crystalise into brilliantly white frothy forms.

Presented throughout the show on small wall-mounted shelves, these smaller parts of the work are proffered as items of value and status. The larger pieces, laid out on the floor, have neatly hollowed-out hemispheres – like fonts waiting to be filled. These objects are in a temporary state, where changes in atmospheric humidity will either cause them to dissolve or reconfigure into yet more crystals.

The interconnected issues of a disrupted landscape and its resources are joined in Learning to Swim with the ESB (2015), three spalted (moss / lichen encrusted) beechwood structures, each topped with a pool of water suspended in a sheet of tautly-stretched PVC. Standing beneath and looking up, the trapped water creates a crude lens that reflects the viewer and the wooden frame like a kaleidoscope, this interaction activating the piece to become an outsized scientific apparatus of indeterminate purpose.

The third new work included in the show is Stormglass (2015), a recreation of a type of early barometer that was developed by Admiral Robert Fitzroy, a contemporary of Darwin’s who joined him on the famous Beagle voyages. Composed of a glass case filled with water and a chemical solution, crystals form in response to the temperature. These were thought to forecast the weather according to their density and position. On the day of my visit the crystals formed a dense layer on the bottom of their small glass tank, indicating ‘frost’ according to the key – not exactly accurate, but perhaps a wry comment on the Irish summer.

Amphibious Sound (2012) is a carpet of neoprene fashioned from decommissioned wetsuits. It acts as a kind of link between the works in the way that the ‘sound’ of a body of water does. The final piece is a series of photographs, titled The Pinking on Sea (2014). These document an installation of bright pink buoys held by chains on the seabed. The work was commissioned as part of the Kinsale Arts Festival in 2014 and was a re-visioning of an earlier, gallery-bound piece, where the buoys were suspended from a ceiling.

In the 2014 iteration of The Pinking Lyons made a video work of the view from the middle of the buoys’ anchor up to the surface, where the light can be glimpsed meters above. This suggestion of a portal, or a gateway to another realm, is an idea she revisits often, infusing the examination of the industrial and the scientific with a sense of the otherworldly.

There is a sense with Lyons’s work that she is pursuing a greater truth or an answer, almost in the way that that scientists of the enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth century sought to find a balance between religious beliefs and the growing body of scientific experiments that indicated forces beyond the divine. Despite their explorations in ‘natural theology’, thinkers such as eighteenth-century scholar Reverend William Paley saw advances in scientific discovery as evidence of the existence of God, not the opposite.

In ‘The Sea, The Sea’ this same feeling of wonder at the natural world is coupled with bids to push its boundaries and see what else it might have to tell us, even through the interference of human endeavour. But in the secular context as offered by Lyons, this power does not need the caveat of being both natural and divine, when this duality is already present.

Anne Mullee is and independent curator, art writer, filmmaker and researcher.

VAN September/October 2015

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Cover redo5. Column. Kim Macaleese. Forward.
6. Column. Fifi Smith. The MExIndex.
8. VAI News. VAI projects, campaigns and events.
8. News. The latest developments in the visual arts sector.
10. Regional Focus. Wexford’s visual art resources and activity outlined by Wexford Arts Centre, Cow House Studios, Gerda Teljeur, Aileen Lambert, Rosie O’Gorman and Michael Fortune.
13. VAI Valerie Earley Residency. Freedom of Thought & Space. Aoife Flynn details her time on the VAI Valerie Earley Residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.
14. Career Development. A Balanced Life. Mary Catherine Nolan profiles Conor Walton and the development of his art career.
15. Profile. Self Directed Peers. Sue Reid profiles The Place Art Collective.
15. Profile. Rewarding & Showcasing. Dara O’Leary introduces the RDS Annual Student Art Awards.
16. Career Development. Don’t Rock the Boat! Peter Morgan reflects on multiple pasts and futures.
17. Profile. Against The Binary. Colin Martin profiles the Royal Hibernian Academy School.
18. Profile. Promoting Partnerships. Tania Carlisle introduces Arts & Business NI.
19. Critique. ‘El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State’ IMMA; Laura Gannon, WCAC; Anna McLeod, The Dock; Ruth E. Lyons, Mermaid; Jan McCullough, Belfast Exposed.
23. How is it Made? Obscuring & Revealing. Miguel Martin describes and discusses his drawing process.
24. Profile. Experimental Decade. James Merrigan looks at 10 years of The LAB, Dublin.
26. Confernece. A Mother World. ‘Motherhood & Creative Practice’, South Bank University, London.
27. Profile. Building on Potential. Tania Kiang details the aims and activities of the Gallery of Photography, Dublin.
28. Profile. Brilliant Trees. Jonathan Carroll talks to Vaari Claffey, Curator of ‘Magnetism’, (28 June – 27 September 2015) held at Hazelwood Estate, Sligo.
30. Profile. Room Upstairs. Jackie Barker profiles Void’s new gallery space.
31. VAI Regional. Visual Narration. Muireann Ni Dhroighneain details visual arts in the Gaeltacht.
31. VAI Northern Ireland. Northern Exposure. Rob Hilken, VAI’s Northern Ireland Manager, profiles the new VAI [NI] Office and the recent ‘Introducing Belfast Galleries’ event.
32. Profile. A Good Start. Carmel Daved profiles Start Studios, Mohill, County Leitrim.
32. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and other forms of art outside the gallery.
33. Profile. Doing & Not Doing. Elaine Grainger reflects on 10 years of directing and curating Talbot Gallery & Studios, Dublin.
34. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions.
35. Best Practice: Governance. The Benefits Of Accountability. Noel Kelly, CEO Visual Artists Ireland, and Tania Carlisle, Learning and Development Manager at Arts & Business NI, discuss the implications of new governance requirements for visual arts organisations.
36. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.

VAN November/December 2015

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Cover Dec15

Cover, Jason Oakley Tribute

5. Column. Sarah Pierce. Divisions of Pleasure.
6. Column. Jonathan Carroll. Charlotte Rampling’s Toes.
8. VAI News. VAI projects, campaigns and events.
8. News. The latest developments in the visual arts sector.
9. Regional Focus. Visual art resources and activity across the border region, North and South
are outlined by: Townhall Cavan, Fermanagh Arts Office, Aftermath project and Marilyn
Lennon.
12. Tribute. Jason Oakley. VAI staff and board members past and present pay tribute to Jason Oakley.
14. Public Art. Moody River. Joanne Laws profiles the ‘Tolka Nights’ public art weekend.
16. Career Development. Humour was the Key. Alan Phelan talks to Caroline McCarthy.
17. Residency Profile. Soundscape Ireland. Alberto Flores discusses sound art in Ireland and his
residency at Fire Station Artists’ Studios.
19. Critique. Chris Campbell-Palmer, Platform; Eoin Mac Lochlainn, Olivier Cornet; Gary Coyle,
RHA; Rhona Byrne, TBG+S; Mel French, Luan.
23. VAI Event. Belfast Open Studios. Belfast Open Studios 2015 is profiled by VAI and artist Brian Kielt.
25. Residency. Kaleidoscope of Colour. Catherine Davison reviews the Largo das Artes residency, Brazil.
26. Profile. On the Threshold. Marianne O’Kane Boal introduces ‘Liminal Spaces: Art, Architecture and
Place’, which ran at The Model, Sligo.
27. Public Art. The Lives We Live. Michael O’Hara interviews Ciaran Benson about the new public art
programme for DIT’s Grangegorman site.
28. Festival. Out in the Open. Household Collective, Belfast describe their most recent project ‘Out in
the Open’, which took place across Belfast in September.
30. Profile. The Wow Factor. Sheelagh Broderick covers the Cork Ignite project.
31. Residency Profile. Not so Baltic in the Baltic Sea. Mary-Ruth Walsh reports from a residency she
undertook at Aabenraa Artweek in Denmark.
32. VAI Northern Ireland. Around Corners. Rob Hilken, VAI’s Northern Ireland Manager, gives an update
from the region.
32. Profile. City as a Gallery. Eimear Henry of Belfast City Council discusses the City as
Gallery project.
33. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and
other forms of art outside the gallery.
35. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions.
37. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.

VAN Jan/Feb 2016

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. The first VAN of 2016 begins with columns from Irene Murphy, who discusses moving to a home studio, and Jonathan Carroll, who talks about his recent trip to London to visit a talk by P.J. Harvey and an exhibition by Ai Weiwei.

Our regional focus for this issue is South Dublin, with features from artists Dorota Borowa and Shevaun Doherty alongside updates from the South Dublin Arts Office and RUA RED.

Residency reports come from a wide variety of locations: Barry Kehoe introduces the Kooshk art writer’s residency in Tehran, Iran; Ruth le Gear details the CCA Laznia residency in Gdansk, Poland; Kiera O’Toole describes the time she spent at the Courthouse, Tinehaly, Wicklow; and Louis Haugh gives a detailed account of his residency at ARTfarm in County Galway. In our Northern Ireland coverage, Alice Clark details a new residency developed by Catalyst Arts aboard a ship.

In her ‘How is it Made?’ piece, Vanessa Donoso López writes about her exhibition at Limerick City Gallery of Art, in which she explores language and interpretation. Jennifer Trouton explains the processes behind her large-scale painting work The Ties That Bind.

The January/February issue also includes a wealth of features on new initiatives, projects and spaces. Founders Michael Hanna and Jacqueline Holt introduce Artists’ Moving Image Northern Ireland, an online platform and archive for moving image works. A4 Sounds, a studio and exhibition space in Dublin, is described by the collective members that run the space, and Mirjami Schuppert and Dave Loder introduce the Ulster Research Salon. Our ‘Career Development’ piece comes from Eamon O’Kane , while Michaele Cutaya provides a detailed report on Tulca 2015.

Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: Niamh McCann, VISUAL, Carlow; Lisa Fingleton, Siamsa Tire, Kerry; Paul McKinley, Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin; and Katherine Elkin and Seamus Harahan, CCA, Derry.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN Critique November/February 2015: ‘Softening the Stone’, Chris Campbell- Palmer at Platform Arts

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Installation view of ‘Softening the Stone,’ image courtesy of Platform Arts

Chris Campbell-Palmer
‘Softening the Stone’
Platform Arts, Belfast
4 September – 24 October

‘SOFTENING the Stone’, a solo exhibition of work by London-based Chris Campbell-Palmer (b. Belfast, 1990), marks an exciting time in the career of the artist and in the evolution of Platform Arts as an exhibition space.

Founded in 2009 as a studio group for contemporary practitioners, Platform’s ambitious approach to the development of their exhibition programme is highly impressive, as is this presentation of new work by Campbell-Palmer. The exhibition marks the launch of Platform’s reconfigured gallery layout, which has seen the venue transformed from an expansive 3000-square-foot gallery into two distinct, and arguably more manageable, exhibition spaces. Despite the reduction in size of Platform’s main exhibition space, it by no means feels like a compromise in terms of scale, and the gallery remains capacious and industrial – an ideal setting for Campbell-Palmer’s sculptural and relief works.

Upon entering the gallery through a new, dedicated reception area, Campbell-Palmer’s uncanny sculptural works immediately promote visual pleasure and intrigue with their sugary-sweet yet muted colour palette of pastel pinks, oranges, blues and purples. The artist has been successful in his masterful manipulation of recognisable forms – including flowers, a cupboard, and a hand-propelled wheel cart – as their scale and colour play with their familiarity and confuse our relationship with them. Other objects within the space are less recognisable, and we struggle to determine their manipulated forms, searching for something familiar. Not only are we often left wondering what specific objects are supposed to be, but the materials from which they have been created are also somewhat alien. Campbell-Palmer utilises a plethora of materials including Plastidip, Flintex and Herculite to produce these obtuse stylisations.

In the accompanying exhibition text, Campbell-Palmer references the “Disneyfication of archaeology”, through which small reminiscences develop into extravagant fictions in the generation of artificial sceneries. This reference to Disney is an important one, as the sculptural works on display have similarities with the props that furnish Disney’s theme parks – physical recreations of those originally found in animated worlds. Shape and form are familiar yet exaggerated, colours aren’t quite true to life, and the softening of hard edges gives everything a cartoon-like aesthetic. In fact, what immediately came to mind upon navigating the space was the opening marketplace scene from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) as if filtered through a highly imaginative contemporary-art practice.

Throughout the gallery, large stone-like bottles are placed on textured rubber mats, their cork tops ineffective at capping the liquid within, as fluorescent ooze leaks down their sides. To the rear of the space, oversized, seemingly-malleable nails have been hammered clumsily into the wall, some lying misshapen on the gallery floor. This evokes a strange fusion of Claes Oldenburg’s sculptures and Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s I Can’t Work Like This (2007), wherein the scale of domestic objects is exaggerated (Oldenburg) and common tools of installation are heightened to become the art object itself (Sadr Haghighian).

The exhibition’s single video work is also of note, projected floor-to-ceiling against an entire wall of the gallery. Aesthetically distinct from the other works presented, this subtle and captivating piece repeatedly attracts our attention, its presence continuously felt but not dominating the space. Without this video work, the exhibition would not feel lacking, but its inclusion demonstrates Campbell-Palmer’s acute understanding of the potential to display seemingly very different works alongside each other, building a multi-layered and immersive environment rather than one of discord.

At its core, Campbell-Palmer’s work is about experimentation – working with new materials and concepts in a way that is both playful and rewarding. He utilises liquid processes to produce set forms (often not knowing what the result will be), and the same could be said of Platform Arts as an organisation. Its fluid approach to its studios and gallery spaces since its inception has been a similarly successful experimentation: trying things out, pushing boundaries, seeing what works and what doesn’t. The maturation of Platform Arts has been a pleasure to witness over the past few years in particular, and its refreshing programme of exhibitions has set it apart from many galleries and artist-run venues in Belfast.

‘Softening the Stone’ is one of those rare moments when artist and venue achieve a moment of perfect balance, poised at equally exciting times in their development. The debut of this new exhibition space is a significant new chapter in the growth of Platform Arts (simultaneously looking forward with ambition and building on past successes), with Campbell-Palmer’s meticulous presentation of work setting a very high standard.

Ben Crothers is a curator and writer based in Belfast.
atticusandalgernon.com

VAN Critique November/February 2015: ‘Into The Woods’, Gary Coyle at the RHA, Dublin

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Gary Coyle, After Watteau, photo by Paul McCarthy

Gary Coyle
‘Into The Woods’
RHA, Dublin
4 September – 18 October 2015

THE overwhelming feeling upon entering into the RHA’s Ashford Gallery, given over to Gary Coyle’s compact solo exhibition, is of crossing into the realm of fantasy and fairy tales. This is thanks to the show’s eponymous work which covers all four walls, a floor-to-ceiling ‘wallpaper’ featuring digitally-reproduced drawings of a dense Northern European forest of dark blue birch trees.

Tucked among the trees, there is a little cabin picked out in a lighter blue, a refuge from the dense woods, or a possible haven for the lost traveller. But the cabin, it transpires, is a representation of the isolated shack built by the USA’s notorious domestic terrorist, Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. Coyle is fascinated by American boogeymen, including serial killers, and allusions to these sinister characters appear again and again in his work.

This enveloping image of threatening woods provides a claustrophobic backdrop for Coyle’s series of skillfully drafted charcoal drawings, some with intricately rendered ersatz elaborate frames. The frames reference the artist’s interest in the significance of this convention in display and the ways in which it was adopted by Modernist artists and their supporters. For Coyle the addition of a formal ‘box’ around a work seems to adhere to French philosopher Louis Marin’s adage of the frame “autonomising the work in visible space”. We also learn in the supporting information that influential twentieth-century art dealer Paul Guillaume presented his Modernist artist’s works in the ornate gilded frames that his customers found easier to digest than their minimalist, avant-garde counterparts.

The works collectively allude to fashions in contemporary art, from the appropriation of images from the Internet to the ‘archival impulse’ that pervades much of contemporary art production. Together, they are not singularly autonomised by their framing (or lack of it) so much as defined by it. This is territory Coyle has visited before, where his explorations of the Gothic and its nameless horrors pulse beneath diverse narratives.

In Curtain, the subject matter is apparently banal. Plain theatre drapes are closed across a stage, eclipsed by the charcoal drawing of an ornate molded frame surrounding it. Dreaming Different Dreams II, where a clutch of bright-eyed fluffy cats gaze inscrutably from within another fancy mount, presents a mawkish picture familiar to today’s millions of Internet users, where adorable felines are standard fare.

The latter image is redolent of another fashion in art, the Victorian love of cutesy animal paintings from the likes of Horatio Henry Couldery or the only slightly less sentimental Edwin Landseer. Coyle’s wry take on this very twenty-first-century bit of pop culture is revealed as nothing new at all.

There are more playful art historical references such as the portrait Gregory, framed by white space and executed in the shape of an oval, recalling seventeenth or eighteenth-miniatures and the Romanticism of Gainsborough. The boy, a callow looking youth with limpid eyes, is the picture of nobility and its genetic manifestations: the features are slightly exaggerated, the face a little too long, the chin a little too weak.

Coyle is not always quite so mischievous. There’s a Turner-like haziness to The Death of Disco, where the artist sketches softly billowing clouds of smoke framed by another depiction of a gilt frame, finely rendered in charcoal and appearing as trompe l’oeil. But the scene recalls a real event that took place in Chicago in 1979, when local radio DJ Steve Dahl canvassed baseball fans to bring disco records to a match at the city’s Comisky Park in order to destroy them. After using explosives to blow up a pile of these records, the stunt went awry when the fans flooded the pitch and a riot ensued, possibly incited by the racist and homophobic subtext of Dahl’s campaign against disco music.

More darkness is explored in After Watteau, a portrait of a parka-clad Clown modelled after Watteau’s Pierrot (aka Gilles). Unlike the benign Gilles, Coyle’s clown is more akin to the figure in the immensely creepy outsider paintings by the late US serial killer John Wayne Gacy. A killer of young men, Gacy painted his clowns while in prison, gaining infamy and seeing his work sought after by collectors including cult filmmaker John Waters. After Watteau’s clown menaces from beneath a fur-trimmed hood and also wears a collar and tie, evoking a kind of thug-like figure both absurd and terrifying.

The exhibition reverberates with layers of ideas, subtle (and less subtle) jokes, and occasional insinuations of unmentionable horrors. Immersive and compelling, Coyle traverses the boundaries between digital and analogue visual culture, reframing perceptions of mass produced images and reproductions. Gratifyingly, the list of works and prices provided to potential buyers offers the perfect ambiguous assurance that “Prices listed include framing”.

Anne Mullee is an independent curator, art writer, filmmaker and researcher.

VAN Critique November/December 2015: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ Mel French at Luan Gallery, Athlone

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Mel French, Fledgling, 2015, wax, tree, steel

Mel French
‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’
Luan Gallery, Athlone
5 September – 30 October

MEL French is well known as the recipient of public commissions, but ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ at the Luan Gallery is her first solo show. The two handsome rooms of the gallery, one dark and one bright, offer the artist a resonating setting for her sculptural exploration of affects.

Entering the building, we first face Interjection (2006), an aluminium bust on a plinth. The screaming figure with its distorted features and bulging neck muscles belies the classical format. It aptly sums up the impression left by the summer’s news with its escalating emotional appeal to our attention; only the outrageously loud will be heard. In the darkened gallery, four works are set up. Permeo (2005) is a near life-size group of two bodies simultaneously fighting each other off and entangled together – quite literally – as the arm of one goes right through the torso of the other and back. They seem unable either to embrace or get away from each other.

Resting on a shelf along the wall, Fleeting (2015) is a sleeping head made of wax, a back light shining through its translucent material. The title alludes to transitory experiences and forms in state of flux. The work brings to mind Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse (1910), but where the smooth curves of the modernist work were self-contained and timeless, Fleeting’s soft material slowly merges with its support as its expression passes. Wean (2015) is a cluster of 20 heads on the floor, tilted upwards, mouths at the ready, looking up impatiently at a suspended blanket as newly hatched birds await their feed. Somehow the intense expectation in those upturned faces suggests our own greediness towards earth’s dwindling resources.

Hatchling (2015) continues the human / bird analogy with three small casts of a baby bird’s body with a human head composed on two antique high chairs set back to back. The accompanying text elaborates on the vulnerability and defencelessness of the baby bird fallen from its nest, but all I could think of was the creepy dinner scene with the carving of the tiny chicken in David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977).

More successful for me in their association of bird and human affects were Dwell I and Dwell II, two small, carefully made up nests of human hair. These last two works sit alongside three others in the brightly lit gallery space in the renovated part of the building, a high-ceilinged room with tall windows. The striking Relative Distance (2003) comprises two life-size figures. Standing on a plinth is a plaster figure of a woman violently retching, while on the floor in front of her is a female form dissolving into a gelatinous mass. The well-defined body of the former contrasts with the shapelessness of the latter. Black Dog (2015) is a human-animal hybrid with a female body and a dog’s head, its black form made of painted plaster bent over its reflection in a dark basin. Tuning forks are hung by nylon threads from the ceiling over the figure. French is literally embodying the expression ‘black dog’, which represents depression. The tuning forks allude to a seventeenth-century experiment in which they were rung to alter mental states. Hung thus, they accentuate the downward pull of the work while activating the air around the inert mass of the body.

Mater Matris (2015) is a half-life-size cast of a woman’s body lying on its side with eight protuberant teats on her flanks, the slightly pink whiteness of the plaster reminiscent of sows. Set at the end of the glass corridor overlooking the river, Fledgling (2015) is composed of dried branches arranged into a tree, from which a wax baby is suspended as the unlikely fruit of the dead tree. Perhaps pursuing the human-animal associations to the vegetal world, it continues the nurturing theme that runs through the exhibition. The naturalism of French’s works and the human-animal hybrids invite comparison with Patricia Piccini’s show at the Galway International Arts Festival this summer. The effects produced were, however, very different. Piccini’s organic grotesques played on the fascination / repulsion response that her work produces. French’s emphasis is on emotional empathy; the animal hybrids function as metaphor for our emotional states. The three earlier works, from the early 2000s, display an intense expressivity that calls for our attention. In the later works, the metaphorical hybrids have displaced the expressivity; they work best when closely relating to their material, be it hair, wax or wood.

Michaele Cutaya is a writer on art living in County Galway.

VAN March – April 2016

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. For this and the May – June issue we have invited art critic James Merrigan as guest editor. For this issue he proposed the theme of sex, which threads its way through the contributions by Alan Butler, Jennifer Mehigan, Alan Phelan, Emma Haugh, Sarah Devereux and Merrigan in the thematic essay ‘Situational Erotics’.

Our regional focus for this issue is North Down and Ards, with features from artists Laura Butler and Sharon Adams, alongside updates from The Braid Arts Centre and Larne Museum and Arts Centre.

‘Residency’ reports come from Iranian artist Siamak Delzendeh, who recently undertook a critical writing exchange at IMMA, and Katherine Waugh, who programmed a series of films as part of her project residency at the Workhouse Union in Callan, Kilkenny.

In his ‘How is it Made?’ article, ‘Norway (Sex) Diaries’, Alan Phelan tells of filming a new work on Roger Casement’s sexuality on location in Norway. In her article, Sue Rainsford introduces her process-oriented writing and describes working with Bridget O’Gorman for her exhibition at The LAB, Dublin.

‘Career Development’ pieces in this issue cover a broad range of practices and feature artists at various stages of their careers. On the painting theme, Alison Pilkington talks to Donald Teskey about his influences and his choices, while Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty introduce their collaborative practice. Alan Butler talks to Jennifer Mehigan about her emerging practice.

Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: Sean Lynch at Limerick City Gallery; Bridget O’Gorman at The LAB, Dublin; David Lunney at Eight Gallery, Dublin; group show ‘She Devil’ at Golden Thread, Belfast; and Niamh O’Doherty, Victoria J. Dean and Laura Smith at Galway Arts Centre.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com.

VAN May – June 2016

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. For this issue, art critic James Merrigan continues as guest editor. In his column ‘Where’s Our Marty Baron?’, he discusses the role of the editor and of the art critic.

Our regional focus for this issue is County Meath, with features from artists Aileen Hamilton and Aidan Flanagan, alongside updates from the Meath County Council Arts Office and Solstice Arts Centre.

‘Seminar Report’ articles come from Chris Hayes on ‘Artist-Led Island’ held at Sample-Studios, Cork, Emma Dwan O’Reilly on ‘The Value of Criticism’ at the Glucksman Gallery, Gavin Murphy on ‘Proposition: An Art of Ethics’ at the Burren College of Art and Rebecca O’Dwyer, who attended Dan Fox’s talk at Spike Island, Bristol titled ‘Pretentiousness: Why it Matters’.

In ‘Career Development’ pieces, Vagabond Reviews describe their curatorial practice, while Teresa Gillespie and Jonathan Mayhew interview each other on their approaches to making art. Lily Cahill and Rob Murphy introduce their collaborative practice in a ‘How is it Made?’ piece about their recent works.

Other articles come from Lucy McKenna, who discusses her residency at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, and Tom Watt, who talks to Declan Clarke about his work in overlook spaces. In VAI news, Noel Kelly summaries findings from the recent survey The Social, Economic and Fiscal Status of the Artist.

Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: Martin Healy at Crawford Art Gallery, Patrick Hennessy at IMMA, Alex Pentak at Bailick Park, Midleton, a group exhibition on Kathleen Lynn across Mayo and David Quinn at Federesky Gallery.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

VAN July/Aug 2016

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The July/August Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) is available and has been sent to all members. Selected articles on art criticism, artist-led spaces, funding in Northern Ireland and online works are up on the new VAN blog at: http://visualartistsireland.com

The July/August issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet was guest edited by Linda Shevlin and features articles from Anna Macleod, Dominic Stevens, Aoibheann Greenan and many more.

VAN Online:
visualartistsireland.com

VAN September – October 2016

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. Artist and curator Linda Shevlin continues as guest editor in this issue, which takes ‘participation’ as its theme. In their columns, Shevlin, Annette Moloney and Katherine Atkinson discuss ideas around this theme relating to their repective practices and roles in the Irish art world.

Our regional focus for this issue is Lisburn and Castlereagh, with updates from R-Space as well as artists Patricia Lavery, Helen Sara McLarnon and Andrew Cooke.

The theme of participation is continued in Aideen Barry’s piece, in which she describes the making of Silent Moves, a collaboration with participants from Scannán Technologies and the Ridgepool Training Centre. Michael McLoughlin also discusses his approach to long-term collaborative projects and the role of the artist in this process. In her ‘Project Profile’ Clodagh Emoe details the devlopment of her audio project with participants living in Irish direct provision centres.

This issue features several international projects: Rory Prout and David O’Kane in Arba Minch prison, Ethiopia, Michelle Boyle on residency in Kerala and Anastasia Artemeva reporting from the Moscow Biennale for Young Art.

‘Seminar Reports’ come from Tara Kennedy, who attended Create’s ‘Extending Architecture’ series of public talks, and Lily Power, who discusses the broad ranging closing seminar for Eva 2016: ‘Still (the Barbarians’.

Reviewed in the ‘Critique’ section are: John Byrne at The LAB, Dublin; ‘Two Birds/One Stone’ at Farmleigh Gallery, Dublin; David Fagan at Tactic, Cork; Kevin Killen at Queen’s University, Belfast; and ‘Creative Peninsula’ at Ards Arts Centre.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

May – June 2018 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

This issue has a timely focus on several important exhibitions currently showing in galleries nationwide. On 13 April, the 38th edition of Ireland’s contemporary art biennial, EVA International, opened in various venues across Limerick city. EVA will run untill 8 July with several off-site projects also taking place in IMMA. Mary Conlon interviews EVA 2018 curator, Inti Guerrero, for this issue, offering insights into Guerrero’s curatorial research and exhibition-making strategies.

Meanwhile, a number of exhibitions and projects are currently taking place across Ireland to celebrate the diverse career of Irish conceptual artist and critic, Brian O’Doherty, who marks his ninetieth birthday this year. Brenda Moore-McCann’s extended essay outlines some of these events, while reflecting on O’Doherty’s vast artistic legacy.

Alice Maher’s solo exhibition, ‘Vox Materia’, is currently showing at The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, and will subsequently be presented at Crawford Art Gallery from 7 September to 24 November. Tina Kinsella interviews Maher about her new bronze sculptures and wood relief prints. In other features for this issue, Lily Cahill reflects on the sculptural practice of Hannah Fitz, an Irish visual artist currently based between Dublin and Frankfurt. Fitz’s solo exhibition, ‘Knock Knock’, is showing in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios until 30 June. In addition, Joanne Laws interviews Alison Pilkington about her touring exhibition, ‘How We Roam’, currently showing at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon until 2 June, before being presented at the RHA Ashford Gallery in autumn 2018.

Columns for this issue touch on some of the themes underpinning the upcoming VAI Get Together 2018 (which will take place in IMMA on Monday 21 May), particularly the panel discussion, ‘Curating Ireland – New Ways of Working’. VAI NI Manager Rob Hilken outlines ‘New Spaces’, an upcoming exhibition and curatorial mentoring programme taking place in non-traditional venues across the Derry City and Strabane region. Jeanie Scott – the outgoing Director of a-n The Artists Information Company – discusses some of the issues currently facing visual artists in the UK.

A number of conference reports feature in this issue: Logan Sisley reports on the ‘Networked Curator’ event at the Getty Center, Los Angeles; Anne Mullee discusses the Art and Heritage seminar that took place in Kildare in February; and Pádraig Spillane reports from Berlin’s Transmediale Festival 2018.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundup, critique section, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

July / August 2018 Issue

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

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

In the How is it Made? section, Aidan Kelly Murphy interviews emerging artist Áine McBride, while Sarah Ellen Lundy discusses her ecology-themed art practice. Daniel Bermingham interviews Eimear Walshe and Emma Haugh about their recent exhibition, ‘Miraculous Thirst’, which ran at Galway Arts Centre from 5 – 25 May. Brenda Moore-McCann outlines some of the new work commissioned by Sirius Arts Centre as part of the ongoing Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland project, ‘One, Here, Now’, including new work by Brendan Earley, showcased in his solo exhibition, ‘Present Perfect’. In other features for this issue, Jonathan Carroll discusses some of the main international contemporary art fairs attended by Irish commercial galleries, while Christopher Steenson provides an overview of Visual Artist Ireland’s Get Together 2018 and also reports on Sonorities, a sonic arts festival that took place across Belfast in April. In the new Art Education section, facilitators offer insights into ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ – an education programme for the 38th EVA International. Two conference reports also feature: Rebecca Kennedy reports on the Turbulence symposium at The Model, Sligo, while DIT students and inaugural Create fellows, Gemma Browne and Bianca Kennedy, report on the recent CAPP staging event in Madrid.

Organisation profiles for this issue come from Cork: John Thompson outlines the evolution of the artist-led intitiave, the Guesthouse Project, while Kirstie North interviews Mary McCarthy, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery, about her future plans for the gallery, including its renovation and extension.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from Omagh and Fermanagh. Insights on the realities of living and working in the region are offered by visual artists Helen Sharp and Susan Hughes and sculptor Simon Carman, while Noelle McAlinden discusses the evolution of Fermanagh Live Arts Festival.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: Martin Gale at Taylor Galleries; Elizabeth Magill at the Ulster Museum; Sarah Walker at Oliver Sears Gallery; Gerry Blake at Mermaid Arts Centre; and Leo Boyd at Atom Gallery, London.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundup, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

September / October 2018 Issue

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The latest issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet is a special issue focusing on the infrastructure and supports in place for emerging artists nationwide. A range of specially commissioned extended essays, profiles and case studies offer practical advice across a range of themed sections including: Galleries & Workspaces; Residencies; Graduate Awards & Opportunities; Postgraduate Education; Career Development and a Critique section focused on exhibition featuring emerging artists.

Hugh Mulholland talks about how artists might work with different types of galleries throughout their careers. Mark Garry discusses strategies for sustaining your practice after graduation. In addition, Christopher Steenson outlines some of the main considerations when renting an artist’s studio. Elsewhere, Jonathan Carroll outlines some of the main long-running opportunities for emerging artists north and south, including prominent graduate awards and annual open-calls, while Suzanne Walsh provides an extended overview of residency programmes nationwide. Joanne Laws offers advice on artist statements, CVs and public engagement, and also interviews emerging artists Cecilia Dannell, Marcel Vidal and Bassam Al-Sabah. Pádraic E. Moore also reflects on the realities of working as a freelance curator.

In the critique section, Colin Martin reviews Bren Smyth’s show, ‘Substance of Things’, at Pallas Projects/Studios; Áine Philips reviews ‘Outflow’ at 126 Artist-Run Gallery, featuring Ronnie Hughes and Evgeniya Martirosyan. John Thompson gives his take on Klaudia Olszyńska’s exhibition ‘51.791384, -8.291099’ at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group in Cork. Colin Darke also reports back with his thoughts on ‘A composition of she’, by Justine McDonnell, at Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

November / December 2018 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The final issue of 2018 is loosely themed around several prominent anniversaries being celebrated this year, offering a retrospective glance at the evolution of various Irish arts organisations.

Given the upcoming 40th anniversary of Visual Artists Ireland in 2020, we are currently working on the SSI/VAN archive (which extends back to 1980), with a view to mobilising some of this archival material during VAI’s anniversary year.
This issue inclues an edited version of an important panel discussion, organised as part of a year-long programme to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Douglas Hyde Gallery. In other organisation profiles, Declan Long reflects on 30 years of the Kerlin Gallery, while Pádraic E. Moore interviews Oonagh Young about the tenth year of her Dublin gallery. In the Belfast context, Siobhán Kelly outlines upcoming events to mark 25 years of Catalyst Arts, while Jane Morrow discusses the 25th anniversary of the University of Atypical. This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Derry’s Civil Rights Movement, so we asked Sara Greavu to interview artist Helen Cammock about her new film, The Long Note, commissioned by Void, Derry, which explores the involvement of women in the 1968 movement. Annette Maloney, Sinead O’Reilly and Sally O’Leary reflect on another key anniversary for the Irish visual arts – 40 years since the launch of the Per Cent for Art scheme.

We also have reports on several long-running projects: Nathan O’Donnell discusses various strands of the ongoing public art project, ‘In Context 4’, while Gráinne Coughlan reports on ‘Practice and Power’, the closing event of a four-year European project led by Create. International perspectives are offered by Kathy Tynan, who reports from her residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and Jonathan Carroll, who discusses the Dora García retrospective at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from County Clare, with organisational insights from Conor McGrady (Dean of Academic Affairs at Burren College of Art), Sinead Cahill (Gallery Manager at Glór, Ennis) and Anne Mullee (Curator of Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Ennistymon). Michaële Cutaya reports from ‘Out of Place’, a recent exhibition and seminar at Courthouse, while artists Amanda Dunsmore, Tanya Harris and Kaye Maahs discuss the realities of maintaining an arts practice in the region.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Lavish and Judicious’ at CCA Derry-Londonderry; Theresa Nanigian at Highlanes Gallery; Phil Collins at The MAC; ‘Museum of Mythological Water Beasts’ at Ormston House; and ‘My comfort and my joy’ at the Douglas Hyde Gallery. As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

January/February 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. This issue features a range of conferences, exhibitions, residencies and events that took place towards the end of 2018, while also profiling several ongoing artistic projects and collaborations. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

In columns for this issue, Miriam Logan outlines some philosophical perspectives on activating creativity and Róisín Kennedy reviews the recently published collection of Brian O’Doherty’s letters, edited by Brenda Moore-McCann. Maeve Mulrennan discusses the recent ‘Reframing the ‘90s’ conference in UCC and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, while Diana Bamimeke reports on ‘Winter Seminar: The Lives of Artists’ at TBG+S and the RHA. In this issue’s regional column, Manuela Pacella discusses recent exhibition highlights in Northern Ireland.

Career Development articles come from Pádraic E. Moore, who interviews Irish artist Doireann O’Malley about her recent solo exhibition at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and Róisín Power Hackett, who reflects on her recent performance event at The LAB Gallery, which included mentorship with Amanda Coogan.

Evgeniya Martirosyan reports on her recent residencies in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and Praksis, Oslo, while Christopher Steenson interviews Danny McCarthy and Mick O’Shea about their recent collaboration, which emerged out of their participation in the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida.

In the How is it Made? section, Veronica O’Neill reflects on Clea Van de Grin’s touring show, ‘Jump’, and Michele Horrigan describes the folklore underpinning her recent exhibition, ‘Where Does The Law Stand With Leprechauns?’ at The LAB Gallery, Dublin. Áine Phillips reviews TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2018, curated by Linda Shevlin, and Aidan Kelly Murphy interviews Eoin O’Dowd about Dublin’s former Eight Gallery. Coverage of recent VAI Events includes Chris Steenson’s report on the various happenings at this year’s Belfast Open Studios, and Kevin Burns’s review of the final iteration of the New Spaces project.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from County Mayo, with organisational insights from Orla Henihan (Linenhall Arts Centre), John McHugh (Custom House Gallery), Ronan Halpin (Achill Artists Group) and Edward King (Heinrich Böll Residency). In addition, artists Norah Brennan, Breda Burns and Saoirse Wall discuss the realities of maintaining an arts practice in the region.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Infrastructures of Now’ at NCAD Gallery; Maud Cotter at Limerick City Gallery of Art; ‘Manmade’ at Millennium Court Arts Centre; Tomas Penc at Triskel Christchurch; and Chris Doris at The Model.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

March / April 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. This issue features a range of conferences, exhibitions, residencies and events that took place towards the end of 2018, while also profiling several ongoing artistic projects and collaborations. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

In columns for this issue, Sarah Durcan outlines her ongoing research project, ‘The Memory-Image’, as well as a related screening event at the Irish Film Institute in January. Sara Greavu discusses the evolution of CCA Derry’s dedicated reading group, booksvscigarettes, which aims to bring concentration and care to a range of texts, through the attentive act of communal reading. The Skills Column for this issue comes from James L. Hayes, who discusses experimental casting processes, technologies and materials, as well as the most recent iteration of his ongoing ‘Iron-R’ project. Reflecting on the many uncertainties currently facing artists in Northern Ireland, VAI NI Manager Rob Hilken outlines the challenges of the new social security payment, Universal Credit.

This issue features several interviews with artists whose exhibitions are currently showing nationally or internationally. Joanne Laws interviews Nick Miller about the evolution of his painting practice and his exhibition, ‘Rootless’ – currently showing at Art Space Gallery in London – while Chris Hayes speaks to Grace Weir about her current exhibition, ‘Time Tries All Things’, at The Institute of Physics, London. Both exhibitions run until the 29 March, Brexit day, after which time the shipping of artworks to and from the UK is likely to become more complicated. In addition, Andrea Neill interviews Martina Coyle about her upcoming exhibition, ‘Paradise Is Too Far’, which will open on 30 March at Áras Inis Gluaire Gallery, Belmullet, County Mayo.

Recent Sligo IT graduate, Hazel McCrann, discusses her art practice and her recent show, ‘Peripheral Visions’, which ran at the Hyde Bridge Gallery, Sligo, as part of her Graduate Solo Exhibition Award. Melissa O’Faherty and Kiera O’Toole explain the evolution of the Irish contemporary drawing collective, Drawing de-Centred, while Tobi Maier discusses his recent curatorial residency at The Glucksman and his stay in Carraig-na-gcat, County Cork. In her extended essay, entitled ‘Seeing the Light’, Renata Pekowska reflects on several recent exhibitions across Ireland dedicated to the medium of light. In the Artist Publishing section, Annabel König discusses two of her recent publications, which use Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ as a point of departure.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from Cork city, with profiles from: The Glucksman; Crawford Art Gallery; Backwater Artists Group; National Sculpture Factory; and Cork Artists Collective and The Guesthouse. Recent CIT graduate, Ciara Rodgers, outlines her research, as part of the MA Art & Process (MA:AP), and Cork-based artists Ailbhe Ní Bhrian and Darn Thorn discuss their recent work.

As ever, we have reviews of recent exhibitions, details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

May / June 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. This issue features a range of conferences, exhibitions, residencies and events that took place towards the end of 2018, while also profiling several ongoing artistic projects and collaborations. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

This issue includes a brief focus on prominent national art collections. Discussing the 60-year evolution of the Niland Collection, Emer McGarry, Director of The Model, highlights collecting and ‘keeping’ as active investments in building ‘living repositories’ of thoughts and ideas. As the Arts Council of Northern Ireland launches its new Art Lending Scheme, Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, discusses their contemporary collection. Similarly, Eamon Maxwell offers insights into the evolution of the Arts Council of Ireland Collection, which was established in 1962. VAI NI Manager, Rob Hilken provides an overview of art collections in Northern Ireland.

Several feature articles focus on recent or ongoing archival projects. Val Connor and Dorothy Hunter offer insights into ‘The Long Goodbye’ – an exhibition focusing on the late 1990s as a pivotal stage in the 50-year history of Project Arts Centre. In a similar recollective vein, Christina Mullan profiles the Stephen McKenna retrospective, currently showing at VISUAL Carlow, while Pádraic E. Moore discusses the cultural nostalgia underpinning ‘The Last Great Album of the Decade’, a group exhibition at The LAB Gallery, Dublin. In addition, Vukašin Nedeljković discusses his ongoing project, Asylum Archive, which documents Ireland’s Direct Provision system.

We are delighted to publish a review by Lily Cahill, winner of the VAI/DCC Art Writing Award 2019, which offers vibrant reflections on Michelle Doyle’s exhibition, ‘Obedient City’ (13 – 23 September 2017), at A4 Sounds Gallery, Dublin. Also in this issue, Jonathan Carroll speaks to artist Eva Rothschild, who will represent Ireland at the 58th International Venice Biennale (11 May – 24 November 2019).

In other feature articles, artist Karen Hendy reflects on her recent residency at Siamsa Tíre, while Aidan Kelly Murphy speaks to a group of artists who have created a temporary studio space in north inner-city Dublin. Julia Moustacchi discusses the benefits of Visual Thinking Strategies for Irish galleries, while Denis Farrell describes the evolution of Lodestar School of Art, an alternative summer residency in Glenstal Abbey.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from County Westmeath, with profiles from Luan Gallery, Chimera Art Gallery, Shambles Art Studios. Westmeath-based artists Celine Sheridan and Liz Johnson discuss their recent work.

Reviewed in the Critique section are: Sam Reveles at Butler Gallery; Anita Groener at The Dock; Geraldine O’Sullivan at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre; Walker and Walker at IMMA; and ‘MAKing Art: The PAINTing Exhibition’ at Draíocht.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | July / August 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. This issue features a range of conferences, exhibitions, residencies and events that took place towards the end of 2018, while also profiling several ongoing artistic projects and collaborations. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

For VAN’s summer issue, Joanne Laws and Alan Phelan provide thematic appraisals of the 58th Venice Biennale, while Pamela Lee reports from Art Basel and VOLTA Basel art fairs.

This issue includes a number of timely interviews with artists and curators. Chris Clarke speaks to Richard Proffitt about his recent installation, May the Moon Rise and the Sun Set, for Cork Midsummer Festival, and Paul McAree interviews Niamh O’Malley, whose exhibition is currently showing in St Carthage Hall, as part of the Lismore Castle Arts programme.

Pádraic E. Moore speaks to Annie Fletcher, who has recently been appointed as the Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, while Philip Kavanagh interviews Rua Red Director Maolíosa Boyle about the organisation’s recent exhibitions and collaborations. Manuela Pacella also interviews Paul O’Neill about his curatorial practice and his artistic directorship at PUBLICS in Helsinki.

Also focusing on the Finnish art scene, Jonathan Mayhew reports from Helsinki, about his experiences taking part in the TBG+S and HIAP International Residency Exchange. Similarly, Lucy Andrews reports from her recent residency and exhibition at Leitrim Sculpture Centre, while Ian Wieczorek contextualises his latest exhibition, ‘Transgress’, at Ballina Arts Centre.

In columns for this issue, Sarah Lincoln discusses research recently undertaken by The Mothership Project. In two fascinating Skills columns, contemporary textile artist Laura Angell discusses the Bargello embroidery technique, while Cornelius Browne provides insights into the practicalities of painting outdoors.

Insights into arts engagement are also provided by Jan Powell, who explores the processes of artistic collaboration, and Ann Quinn, who profiles her ongoing masterclasses in painting and printmaking. We also hear from our VAI Northern Ireland Manager, Rob Hilken, who reports on the artist talks and panel discussions, held as part of the VAI Get Together 2019, which took place on 14 June at TU Dublin Grangegorman.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from Derry City, with profiles from Art Arcadia, Clarendon Studios, Nerve Gallery and CCA. Derry-based artists James King and Gail Mahon also discuss their practice and recent work.

Reviewed in the Critique supplement are: Hannah Fitz at Kerlin Gallery; Karen Daye-Hutchinson at ArtisAnn Art Gallery; ‘See you tomorrow’ at Sirius Arts Centre; ‘Social Commons’ at Liberty Hall; and ‘A Visibility Matrix’ at Void Gallery, Derry.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: www.visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | September / October 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. VAN’s 2019 themed issue focuses on contemporary Irish photography and moving image, probing the expanded parameters of each medium in the digital age. With an abundance of image-making technologies now readily at hand within our daily lives, this issue considers how static and moving images are created, disseminated, consumed and stored. In technical terms, it has never been easier to produce images; however, some argue that with the plenitude of media now available, it is becoming harder to create images that are culturally relevant or interesting.

As evidenced throughout this issue, such inquiries manifest in current artistic practice through rejections or subversions of digital technologies. This includes a resurgence of analogue production and presentation formats, leading to the creation of deliberately flawed images, which sit in opposition to the ‘non-reality’ fostered by digital post-production. In addition, many artists are engaged in a ‘reassertion of objecthood’, often involving the assemblage of pre-internet material, including printed matter, found photographs or archival footage. This, in turn, creates physical repositories of knowledge, with the space of the exhibition – characterised by non-linear, sculptural or immersive installations – being pivotal to encounters with lens-based work.

Central to this themed issue are interviews with artists at various career stages, who work with photography – namely Roseanne Lynch, Darn Thorn, Róisín White, Dragana Jurišić, Ciarán Óg Arnold, Locky Morris, Vera Ryklova and Fanfa Otal Simal – as well as artists working predominantly with moving image, such as Gerard Byrne, Clare Langan, Myrid Carten, Eoghan Ryan, Emily McFarland, Bassam Al-Sabah, Frances Hegarty & Andrew Stones, Kevin Atherton and Atoosa Pour Hosseini.

This issue features two specially-commissioned essays: Alice Butler provides a survey of contemporary Irish moving image practice; while Justin Carville outlines the significance of ‘place’ in Irish photography. This issue also profiles Irish organisations, such as the production facilities, The Darkroom and Digital Arts Studios, and the Gallery of Photography Ireland. Recent film screenings are profiled – namely ‘Snapshots’ at Dingle International Film Festival and aemi’s recent touring film programme, curated by Sarah Browne – as well as prominent photography and moving image exhibitions, including: ‘The Parted Veil’ at The Glucksman; ‘New Irish Works 2019’ at PhotoIreland Festival; and ‘Screentime’ at the Green on Red Gallery.

Offering archival perspectives, Fifi Smith outlines the evolution of the MExIndex, a database of Irish moving image works, while Seán Kissane discusses the David Kronn photographic collection, gifted to IMMA. Dialogue surrounding photographic and moving image practice is fostered through contributions from John Duncan, editor of Source Photographic Review, and University of Ulster lecturer, Clare Gallagher, who discusses her practice-based PhD.

As ever, we have details of the upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | November / December 2019 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN ) is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists. The final issue of 2019 profiles a range of significant projects including: Dorothy Cross’s recent performative event, Heartship; Sinead McCann’s socially-engaged project, film and touring exhibition, The Trial; and Eimear Walshe’s recent commemorative project, commissioned by Roscommon County Council. In addition, Ailve McCormack visits current Turner Prize 2019 nominee, Tai Shani, in her studio at Gasworks, London.

Shifting our focus to the island of Syros in Greece, Christopher Steenson, reports on the site-specific sound residency, Sounding Paths 2019, which he attended in July, while Andrew Duggan discusses his presentation of unravel_rios at Eye’s Walk Digital Festival. In other festival profiles for this issue, Chris Clarke discusses his highlights from Middleborough Art Weekender 2019, and Sandra Corrigan Breathnach reports on ‘Somatic Distortion’, a two-day performance art event that took place across the town of Manorhamilton.

This issue features a broad range of interesting columns, including reviews of two recently published books: Sarah Pierce looks at Reclaiming Artistic Research; while Astrid Newman offers an appraisal of Curating After the Global: Roadmaps for the Present. Skills Columns by Cornelius Browne and Fiona O’Dwyer outline the logistics of outdoor winter painting and bronze age casting techniques respectively. In addition, Matt Packer introduces a new series of columns, addressing the concept of internationalism within current curatorial discourse.

Following recent queries from VAI members about artist catalogues raisonnés and GDPR protocol, we invited contributions from Toby Treves (International Catalogue Raisonné Association), Carl Schmitz (Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association) and David Murphy (Data Protection Commission), who each offer a range of practical guidelines for artists on these subjects.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from County Wexford, with insights from Cow House Studios, Geordie Gallery, Wexford Arts Centre and Wexford Arts Office. Visual artists local to and originating from the Wexford region, such as Julia Dubsky, Aileen Murphy, Helen Gaynor and Nadia Corrdian also reflect on the evolution of their respective practices.

Reviewed in the Critique Supplement are Sarah Long at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group; Joanne Boyle at Mermaid Arts Centre; Claire Halpin at Olivier Cornet Gallery; David Bickley at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre; and ‘Open Minds’ at Rua Red.

As ever, we also have details of upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, recent exhibitions, public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | January / February 2020 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The January – February 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is out now. The first issue of 2020 introduces Visual Artists Irelands’s new discursive programme, ‘VAN Chats’, which aims to further emphasise our publishing activities through a series of public talks and events. Following a screening event at Project Arts Centre organised by VAI, Lívia Páldi interviews artist Kader Attia about his research and practice. Also in this issue, Joanne Laws interviews Kunstverein Braunschweig curator Raoul Klooker, ahead of group critique workshop and talk on queer artistic practices, which takes place on 7 February at Visual Artists Ireland’s Dublin office.

Continuing his column on plein air painting, Cornelius Browne reflects on what the New Year can bring, both in life and in painting. In his ongoing column, dealing with the subject of internationalism, Matt Packer considers the distributive powers of art world communication, while Emer Lynch reflects on ‘No Longer Peripheral’ – a screening event and symposium organised by aemi. On the subject of artist publishing, Bryan Hogan discusses the themes underpinning his recent photo book, From Where the Heart Is (2019), while Jo Melvin discusses ‘Publication Scaffold’ – a series of talks and events she organised (in collaboration with Irish artists Michelle Horrigan and Sean Lynch), as part of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios’ Dublin Art Book Fair 2019.

This issue features three festivals profiles. Offering a glimpse of the international scene, Logan Sisley reviews the Singapore Biennale 2019. In the Irish context, Hilary Morley reviews Galway’s TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2019 and we also hear from some of the artists developing new work for the 39th EVA International as part of the biennale’s Platform Commissions. In other feature articles, Susan Thomson profiles the work of the Belfast art collective Array at Jerwood Arts in London; Aidan Kelly Murphy interviews Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll about the evolution of Berlin Opticians Gallery; while artists Sarah Browne and Vanessa Daws each reflect on their recent public art projects.

The Regional Focus for this issue comes from County Offaly, with insights from Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and Offaly Arts Office, as well as visual artists Julie Spollen, Brendan Fox, Veronica Nicholson, Micheál O’Connell and Claire Guinan, who each reflect on the evolution of their respective practices.

Reviewed in the Critique Supplement are ‘Over Nature’ at Rathfarnham Castle; Eoin McHugh at Kerlin Gallery; ‘Scaffold’ at The Bomb Factory Art Foundation; Camille Souter at Custom House Studios Gallery; and Doireann Ní Ghrioghair at Pallas Projects/Studios.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, recent exhibitions, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | March / April 2020 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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We are thrilled to present VAN 100 – the 100th issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet – which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Visual Artists Ireland this year. For these reasons, we are celebrating the organisation’s origins in sculpture, with this special issue. Central to VAN 100 is a specially commissioned survey, Four Decades of Irish Sculpture, profiling significant sculptural works from the last 40 years.

In addition, we present a series of Artist Interviews between artists at different career stages, with the aim of generating expanded discussion on the nature of Irish sculpture. Offering insights into their working methods, research and materials are conversations between Katie Watchorn and Matt Calderwood; John Rainey and Janet Mullarney; Aoibheann Greenan and Andrew Kearney; Jane Fogarty and Isabel Nolan; Sam Keogh and Anne Tallentire; Avril Corroon and Kathy Prendergast.

This issue also features profiles of some of the country’s main Sculpture Centres and an extensive series of Columns. Paula Murphy outlines Ireland’s main sculpture collections, while Karen Downey introduces the upcoming Sculpture Dublin programme. We also have archival insights from NIVAL and the Barry Flanagan Estate, while current postgraduate research is discussed by Chloe Austin and Audrey Walshe.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, recent exhibitions, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres.

Selected articles featured in the print edition are available at the Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online here: visualartistsireland.com

 

VAN Critique Jan/Feb 2015: ‘Art & Activism’– Published by Fire Station Artists’ Studios, 2014

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Speakers at the Fire Station Artists' Studios seminar, 2014

Speakers at the Fire Station Artists’ Studios seminar, 2014

Book Review / Anne Mullee
Art & Activism
Editors: Liz Burns and Clodagh Kenny
Published November 2014

The latest publication from Fire Station Artists’ Studios is less of a manifesto or call to arms and more of a provocation asking, ‘what does activism really mean to artists?’ The book is a slim volume containing a collection of interviews and essays. In the introduction co-editor Liz Burns explains that she chose the title as an attempt to open up discourse around the idea of the artist as activist, primarily focusing on work that emerged from the ‘Troubling Ireland’ mobile think tanks, which began in 2010.

The book offers insight into the diverse collection of contributions from artists Anthony Haughey, Kennedy Browne, Anna McLeod, Susan Thompson and Augustine O’Donoghue, with further responses from cultural geographer Bryonie Reid, curator Galit Eilat and the now-director of Fire Station, Helen Carey.

It was launched in a week when activism – in the form of the country’s water charges protests – and the decade of commemoration were in the news, following the release of the government’s controversial promotional video for the 1916 commemoration. Despite marking a key anniversary of the birth of the State, this latter offering was criticised for failing to mention the actual players in the 1916 Easter Rising[1], indicating a sanitising of Ireland’s bloody past in a toothless rebranding exercise – the strapline for the commemorative year is ‘Ireland Inspires’.

While protests and activism may be firmly on the agenda today, in 2010, when Danish curatorial collective Kuratorisk Aktion were commissioned to devise and lead ‘Troubling Ireland’, the country was relatively new to recession and the cumulative effects of austerity were yet to bite. Perhaps because of this and the still-recent glow of the Good Friday Agreement, the objectives of the project were, as Kuratorisk Aktion put it, to “explore socially engaged art and (how?) curating can engage a problematic like ‘Ireland’”.[2]

Using a methodology of postcolonial discourse merged with transnational feminist critique, Frederikke Hansen and Tone Olaf Nielsen of Kuratorisk Aktion invited artists and thinkers to respond in different ways to the subject, with the resulting responses taking place over the ensuing three years in the form of think tank symposia. These comprised discussions, presentations, art works and essays.

Thus, when the pair began their interventions, activism was somewhat rhetorical in an Irish context. This is the position taken by Helen Carey, then Director of the Limerick Gallery of Art, who asserts in her short essay about the exhibitions she commissioned to commemorate the 1913 Lockout, that “Irish artists are witnesses, not provocateurs”.[3] This is an apt observation on the many projects included in her programme of Lockout exhibitions, including Jesse Jones’s The Struggle Against Ourselves, Anthony Haughey’s Dispute and Darek Fortas’s Coal Story. Haughey’s work is shown in part here, and explores the closure of the Lagan Brick Works, the Republic’s last red brick factory, which closed its doors overnight leaving workers unemployed.

The longer pieces in the book provide plenty of starting points for anatomising the idea of ‘Troubling Ireland’ and the many questions and enquiries prompted by the nature of art and activism. Liz Burns’s interview with Hansen and Nielsen offers a useful framework for exploration of activism in Ireland from an outsider perspective, an approach that immediately seems more objective and less volatile than those posed from within. The pair talk about how addressing post-colonial issues in Ireland such as ‘double-speak’ and self-silencing assisted their approach to their practice, while the longevity of the project gave them the opportunity to revisit the same group of artists through the duration of the think tank programme.

Curator and writer Galit Eilat, meanwhile, provides an edited version of the presentation she gave at Fire Station’s 2013 ‘Art and Responsibility’ symposium, where she discussed a selection of the actions she has participated in at home in her native Israel. Preferring the term ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘activism’, Eilat has taken part in works addressing her home country’s controversial ‘Green Line’, the 700km wall dividing Jewish settlers and Palestinians. While in other contexts these might be viewed as distinctly ‘activist’, she prefers to see this kind of work as artists engaging with politics, rather than being ‘political’.

In the short time since the events that inform the book took place, however, much has changed in the social, if not political, landscape. This raises the question of whether those who contributed to Act and Activism might well reframe their thoughts if they were writing today.

Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable collection the responses from the highly-engaged participants of Kuratorisk Aktion’s multi-faceted exploration of an Ireland ‘troubled’ by its many difficult legacies.

[1] E. O’Caolli, Don’t mention the war – 1916 video fails to mention Rising, Irishtimes.com, 13 November 2014

[2] F. Hansen, Kuratorisk Aktion in conversation with Liz Burns, Art & Activism, 2014, p14

[3] H. Carey, ‘Contemporary Art and Commemorative Activity’, Art & Activism, 2014, p.55

 

VAN Critique Jan/Feb 2015: Nom Nom Collective at White Lady Art

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Ropey Smurf

Ropey Smurf, paint and ink on repurposed album cover

Nom Nom Collective
‘Nomstalgia’

White Lady Art Wellington Quay, Dublin
29 Nov – 23 Dec 2014

The Nom Nom Collective comprises eight artists who have worked together for around a decade, five of whom are included in their current exhibition ‘Nomstalgia’, at White Lady Art on Wellington Quay. Lints (Denmark), Poncho (Ireland), Dr Lamps & Mr Splink (Ireland), Loki (Ireland) and Jine (Ireland / Canada) have taken part. The other three – Askim (Brazil), DS (France / Ireland) and Met10 aka The Assistinator (Denmark) – are not in the show for various reasons. The collective members describe themselves as street and graffiti artists, supplementing their respective practices with jobs in graphic design, illustration, advertising and publishing.

Nom Nom gave themselves a brief for this exhibition, taking the theme of nostalgia as a starting point. Given their age profile, their inspiration stems from the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. Overall, popular media dominates and there is often overlap between artists whose formative years ran in parallel. They pay homage to cartoons, television drama, toys, video games and other iconic phenomena including the old Irish Punt coinage and obsolete technologies.

The White Lady Art Gallery is far from a white cube space. The exhibition literature describes how the work is hung ‘salon style’, which is funny given that a bank of shampoo chairs remains in the gallery, left over from its previous life as a hair salon. Coming from the fine art world, I had to swallow my white cube inclinations and embrace this whole other art culture, sinks and all.

Loki’s oeuvre in watercolour and ink is dominated by super-feminine female characters – sexy, self-possessed, sashaying – as well as male comic heroes that she has converted into wonderfully costumed, super-sexed heroines, including female versions of CP30 and R2D2, the Ninja Turtles, the Ghostbusters and the T101 (in an image created with Sarah Connor). These are exaggerated genotypes – over-styled, big hair, tiny wastes, luscious lips and big saucer eyes that are sometimes blanked out – casting them as them indifferent rather than oblivious. The dynamic of Loki’s characters is tempered by their small scale and delicate hand-made execution. The elegant fine lines, confectionary colours and just a tiny hint of bony fragility successfully camouflages their other worldly potency. The drawing skill and handling of watercolour and ink reveals an accomplished and restrained finesse.

'Lints', Who Killed Robin

‘Lints’, Who Killed Robin

Nintendo, Super Mario, Dungeons and Dragons and other icons of the 1980s occupy the memories of Poncho and Dr Lamp & Mr Splink. Poncho’s heavily outlined ‘portraits’ of power up items from Super Mario Bros in his Mario Slots series, titled Flower, Star and Mushroom, depict strangely misplaced and slightly perplexed looking characters trapped in opaque backgrounds of solid red, blue and green. Like Grandpa Simpson they have become wrinkled and sagging and are surreally melting off the page. Dress Up Arnie is a startled Arnie from Terminator 2 separated from his pants (and his genitals), still waiting it seems, a full generation later, to be reunited with his clothes. Poncho’s work is solid and distinguished, though of an acquired taste.

Dr Lamp & Mr Splink is one artist who switches between street art (Dr Lamp) and graffiti (Mr Splink or Splink). Of all the work in this show his is the most nostalgic in the traditional sense. He has crafted a series of weapons: daggers, swords and knives, all beautifully sculpted in MDF, a most unlikely material. They are touching mementos to the childhood fantasy world of adventure and play, replicating actual weapons from cartoons and toys, rendered trompe l’oeil with paint to appear realistic. Though they are too fragile to play with, they have a warmth and density that is distinctly sculptural. Duck Hunt is a wall-based work that takes on the ‘flying ducks’ ornaments, popular in living rooms throughout the late twentieth century, and featuring in the eponymous 1980s Nintendo game. The ducks are made of composite square MDF units, evoking the primitive pixelated appearance of early video game technology. It is a work of devotion, earnestness, excitement and joy.

Danish artist Lints brings the audience into faraway and unfamiliar worlds. As in Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who and other science fiction creations, these are depictions of strange and outlandish creatures in their own environment, faithfully observed according to the ‘prime directive’. The motivation for this work seems less playful and more abstract than works by either Loki, Splink or Poncho. There is a sense of a struggle for invention and a desire to become totally of itself rather than of the influences that clearly run through it. Like Loki, Lints also uses watercolour and the medium lends itself well to his imaginative and colourful compositions.

It is most difficult to pin-point the nostalgic influences in Jine’s dreamy and ephemeral works on paper. Hanging loosely on clips like pages from a sketchbook, the images reveal the process of invention and re-invention filtered through years of exposure to the same sources that appear in the other artists’ works. There is an experimental and fresh approach to mark-making, rendering various tangible textures to the characters and a three dimensional depth. They are stong pieces but could have benefitted from more work.

Nostalgia is a tricky theme to approach for any artist, with far too many opportunities to appear overly-derivative or hackneyed. On the whole the Nom Nom Collective manage to strike a balance between homage and their own personal critique of the material they are working with. ‘Nomstalgia’ is a full and enjoyable show with a lot to see, remember and think about.

Carissa Farrell is a curator based in Dublin 

VAN March/April 2015

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Cover Image. Amanda Ralph, Paper Boats, River Brosna, Clara 2000. Public Art Commission for Offaly Co. Council. Re-installed at Lough Boora in 2014.

1. Cover Image. Amanda Ralph, Paper Boats, River Brosna, Clara 2000. Public Art Commission for Offaly Co. Council. Re-installed at Lough Boora in 2014.
5. Roundup. Recent exhibitions and projects of note.
5. Column. Treasa O’Brien. Roads of Least Resistance: Irish Attitudes to Protest and Civil Disobedience.
6. Column. Amy Kieran. Exploring Visual Arts Audiences in Northern Ireland.
7. Column. Matt Packer. Dimishing Agency.
8. VAI News. Research, projects and campaigns.
9. Regional Focus: Louth. Arts Office, Brian Hegarty, Creative Spark, Declan Kelly, Droichead, Highlanes.
12. Residency. A Beautiful, Evocative Place. Clea Van Der Grijn details her recent residency in Mexico.
14. VAI / DAS Residency. New Monuments. Dorothy Hunter describes her project for the VAI / DAS award.
15. Project Profile. The Food, the Bad and the Ugly. Stephen Brandes details the whys, whats and hows of the Domestic Godless, a group of artists who explore the potential of food as a vehicle for artistic endeavour.
16. Art in Education. Overlapping with Young Minds. Anne Bradley interviews Jennie Guy about Mobile Art School and other projects exploring the role of contemporary artists and curators in schools.
17. Gallery Profile. Capturing Creator Participants. Kenneth Redmond talks to VAI about DLR Arts Office’s new Municipal Gallery housed in the LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre.
18. Public Art Case Study Risk and Trust. Cliodhna Shaffrey interviews Marie Brett about her project ‘Amulet’ (2009 – 2015), which explores infant loss.
19. Critique. Teresa Gillespie, Wexford Arts Centre; Thomas Brezing Droichead; Sabina Mac Mahon, Belfast Exposed & QSS, Belfast; Hugh Frazer, Doorway Gallery, Dublin; ‘Cosmic Dust’, Visual, Carlow.
23. Public Art Case Study. The Future of Place. Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch profile ‘Forecast’, a project focused on Kilkenny towns Callan, Castlecomer, Graiguenamanagh, Mooncoin and Thomastown.
24. Conference. Psychoswimography: Santa Barbara. Vanessa Daws on her participation in ‘On The Beach: Precariousness, Risk, Forms Of Life, Affinity And Play At The Edge Of The World’, Santa Barbara, USA.
25. Festival. Retrieving the West. Michaële Cutaya profiles Wild-Screen / Scáil-Fhiáin, a contemporary artists’ film event organised by Una Quigley and Louise Manifold, which took place in Connemara (7 – 8 March).
26. Career Development. The Joy of Collision. Miranda Driscoll, Co-founder and Director of the Joinery, Dublin discusses its closure and her move to the Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh.
27. Career Development. Dialogue with Space. Ben Crothers discusses curating ‘Glumba Skzx’, an exhibition featuring artists from Northern Ireland held at Ex Elettrofonica, Rome.
29. Public Art Case Study. Submergence & Resurgence. Amanda Ralph discusses the re-installation of her public artwork Paper Boats.
30. Project Profile. Re-opening Experience. Alice Butler profiles the Experimental Film Club.
31. 2014 Valerie Earley Residency Award. Details of this year’s award and announcing Aoife Flynn as the 2014 Valerie Earley Residency Award recipient.
31. Institution Profile. Creative Peninsula. Lauren Dawson profiles Ards Arts Centre.
32. VAI West of Ireland Representative. More More More … Aideen Barry reports on the Claregalway Visual Artists’ Café (5 February).
32. VAI NI Manager. Big Impressions. Rob Hilken discusses printmaking facilities in Northern Ireland.
33. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and other forms of art outside the gallery.
34. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.
35. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions

VAN Critique March/April 2015: Teresa Gillespie at Wexford Arts Centre

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Teresa Gillespie, below explanation (clocks stop at 3pm and existence continues), mixed media with found objects and video, 2014/15

Teresa Gillespie
‘below explanation (clocks stop at 3pm and existence continues)’
Wexford Arts Centre
12 January – 7 February 2015

“Phenomenology fails to provide a guaranteed tether to the world and its things. The relationship between consciousness and content remains to be worked out.” (Arthur C. Danto) (1)

The annual Emerging Visual Artist Award (EVAA) is one of the most sought-after visual art opportunities in the country. The winning artist is awarded €5,000 and a solo show at Wexford Arts Centre (WAC). As the 99% majority of visual artists in Ireland could be categorised as ‘emerging’ the profile of artists who do apply is most likely very colourful.

The profiles of EVAA recipients suggest that the term emerging applies to new and relatively young artists. Since 2006, when Seamus Nolan was the inaugural winner, three male and six female artists have taken home the award. Yes, strange to see the gender imbalance swaying the other way for a change in an art context. The last five artists to win the award have been female. A turning of the tide perhaps?

Just over a year after receiving the award in 2013, Teresa Gillespie’s resulting solo exhibition at WAC is a sprawling shag pile of heavily textured and layered materialism. The theory behind the art is derived from Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophical novel Nausea (1939), a makeshift narrative delivered as a series of diary entries by a protagonist who one day pulls the scab off existence to find nothingness underneath. This old existential chestnut (a chestnut tree root being the main visual maker of nausea in Nausea) originates in Sartre’s proposition that “existence precedes essence”. In one particularly existential moment the protagonist, Roquentin, observes that “the diversity of things, their individuality, were only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous masses”.(2)

And this is what Gillespie gives you in both galleries at WAC. Downstairs in the main gallery, among visual impressions of sinuous intestines and monastically draped and bound bodies, floor-bound monstrous masses the size of a Pilates ball are hermetically sealed in an insert cast of folded material. Throughout, the artist’s stagecraft alternates between hard representational props and soft sculpture: Gillespie’s art is the love child of Claes Oldenburg and Eva Hesse. In another memorable instance, a chair peeks out from underneath a red velvet curtain attached to a confessional-like timber compartment. Standing on one leg, the chair bears the weight of a pregnancy bump made of hardened clay. Amongst these stillborn manifestations of swollen beginnings or endings (depending on your existential bent) a projected film work shows the camera lens drunkenly scanning and fondling up-close textures. If inanimate objects could make sex tapes then this is how they would look.

There is more of the same upstairs in gallery two, where the windowless and artificially-lit ambience lends itself better to Gillespie’s formalism. Further, the smaller and more intimate space seems to foster greater consideration with regard to display, where wall decoration comes in the form of a framed primordial ‘mud-scape’.

However, what held my attention for repeated viewings upstairs is the single film work. It comes closest to what, in many respects, is Gillespie’s visual re-description of Nausea, especially how Danto describes the book as “a series of almost philosophical still lifes, the nearest artistic predecessor being, perhaps, Chardin, where the humblest objects – a pitcher, an egg – are rendered eloquent in their ordinariness and metaphysical in their presence”.(3)

Gillespie’s art positions the body and consciousness, the terrestrial and the celestial, the real and the representational in close proximity. These intimate embraces of opposites collaborate to elicit a perceived density to her art objects. This may also explain why the language and the references that the artist uses to theoretically situate her work are equally dense. Frustratingly, this density creates a verbal impasse for the observer, like those experienced by Roquentin in Nausea: “things are divorced from their names”.(4)

Overall, there is nothing attractive or repulsive, spectacular or banal at WAC. The mind’s eye wanders over the manifold textures that both conceal and give shape to the mutable floor-bound furniture. However, the exhibition as a whole is insidiously latent, waiting in hiding for the observer to activate the landscape with their own psychological baggage. Gilles Deleuze’s notion of ‘the fold’ comes to mind: “the coils of matter, and the folds of the soul”.(5) There are also visual nods to that other philosophical chestnut ‘abjection’ at WAC. That said, Gillespie’s art is not the tomato and chocolate sauce abjection of Paul McCarthy. Rather, it is between beauty and the beast that Gillespie leads the observer, down the rabbit hole of existential angst and phenomenological blockage.

James Merrigan is an artist and art critic at billionjournal.com

Notes
1. Arthur C. Danto, Nausea and Noesis: Some Philosophical Problems for Sartre, October, Vol. 18 (Autumn 1981), p. 18
2. Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, (trans.) Lloyd Alexander, New Directions, New York, 1969
3. Danto, op. cit., p. 6
4. Sartre, op. cit.
5. Gilles Deleuze, The Fold, (trans.) Jonathan Strauss, Yale French Studies, No. 80, 1991, p. 227

VAN Critique March/April 2015: Sabina Mac Mahon at Belfast Exposed Photography and Queen Street Studios & Gallery

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Screenshot 2015-04-16 15.04.28

Maimie Campbell, The Death of Cuchulainn, 1929, tempera on board 67 x 55 cm

Sabina Mac Mahon
‘An Ulaid – South Down Society of Modern Art’
Belfast Exposed and Queen Street Studios, Belfast
16 January – 28 February

Sabina Mac Mahon’s research project, An Ulaid – South Down Society of Modern Art, is displayed in two different venues in Belfast: Belfast Exposed Photography and Queen Street Studios & Gallery.

Belfast Exposed’s downstairs gallery bears all the familiar hallmarks of a museum-based show, in which factual information and a collection of artefacts are utilised to construct characters and tell a story. The open layout – vitrines, free-standing and wall-mounted display cases, framed archival photographs and an abundance of wall panels – provides detailed information on a group of seven artists: Maimie Campbell, Pauline Doyle, Edward Hollywood, Sarah Leonard, Iris McAragh, Heber O’Neill and Thomas Pettit, who co-founded the South Down Society of Modern Art in rural Northern Ireland in 1927.

Mac Mahon has included an incredible amount of detail in the texts incorporated in the exhibition, which appear to be thoroughly researched and chart the formation of the group, their inspirations, travels, influences, styles, output and eventual decline in 1930. Hand-written postcards, aged and frayed, contain correspondence between the members whilst abroad. Black and white photographs show a group of smiling young artists and the spaces and places where they grew up and in which their meetings and art making took place. Even the biscuit tin in which Mac Mahon found the memorabilia that initiated her research project sits on a plinth under a protective case.

None of the actual artworks made by the Society are displayed at Belfast Exposed, but are presented separately at Queen Street Studios: paintings and drawings inspired by Fauvism, Cubism, Pointillism and other styles that the group’s members encountered when travelling and studying on the continent. In Mac Mahon’s own words, “[their work] generally speaking, approaches the standard of enthusiastic amateurs rather than that of professional artists”. The works produced in the three-year lifespan of the group are unexceptional and their story, though well-illustrated, is largely uneventful – no doubt mirroring the trajectory of so many other groups that didn’t quite make art history: wealthy middle class artists who, after a grand tour, became inspired to replicate the famous works and styles they so admired, but never quite managed to surpass them.

Mac Mahon has faithfully recounted their tale and the layout of the show at Belfast Exposed guides you clearly around the displays and objects as she they unfold from beginning to end. The gallery’s printed material, however, subtly hints at a different story. It does not present a standard archive show of a group of Northern Irish artists that nobody (remarkably, really) has ever heard of, but also states that the exhibition is “a speculative exercise, which playfully explores photography’s relationship to truth and its role in the illustration and imagining of history”. Alarm bells may be triggered by these words in the average viewer. In fact, none of it is real.

Screenshot 2015-04-16 15.07.30

Sabina Mac Mahon, ‘An Ulaid – South Down Society of Modern Art’ installation view, QSS Gallery, photo by Tony Corey

What happens after the ‘unveiling’, when fact turns into fiction, and when the curtain is drawn back and the wizard behind it is revealed? Some will view it and leave without discovering the truth. Others will feel deceived, or forced to ask the exasperating question: “So what now?” Some, like me, may have already realised in their initial experience of the show that something was amiss (before it had even opened, in fact, when those ‘warning bell’ words stood out in the press release and triggered a suspicious feeling of construct).

If you like being fooled, and enjoy the deftness of Mac Mahon’s writing and replication, you will have found the unveiling amusing and clever. If you are interested in how galleries and other arts institutions present history, fact and truth, then Mac Mahon’s thorough knowledge of museum and gallery displays (she is currently undertaking an MA in Museum Studies) evidenced in this show will impress.

For me, this exhibition really started to function as a result of the conversations I had with others about it. These included: questions surrounding belief systems present in the everyday, and how we are sometimes convinced by ‘evidence’ that supports them. The power of museums when presenting history as entertainment and the responsibility that galleries have when knowingly ‘misleading’ their viewers (something that Belfast Exposed have been careful about: all the clues are presented clearly, and the gallery invigilators have been advised to discuss the fictional elements of the show when engaging with visitors).

Mac Mahon is no doubt acutely aware of the specific context of Northern Ireland, and its plural histories. After all, this is a place where, in 2010, the then culture minister Nelson McCausland publicly urged the Ulster Museum to put on exhibits acknowledging that the world was made only several thousand years ago, in order to “reflect the views of all the people in Northern Ireland in all its richness and diversity”. ¹

Take from it what you will, but Sabina Mac Mahon’s research project ‘An Ulaid – South Down Society of Modern Art’, above demonstrating the careful fabrication of an imagined history of art, has also provided sufficient food for thought.

Alissa Kleist is a Belfast-based curator.

Note
1. Henry McDonald, ‘Northern Ireland minister calls on Ulster Museum to promote creationism’, The Guardian, Wednesday 26 May 2010

VAN May/June 2015

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Cover

Cover Image. Méadhbh O’Connor, Unknown Shores, 2014, O’Brien Centre for Science UCD

5. Roundup. Recent exhibitions and projects of note.
5. Column. Morgan Quaintance. The More Real You Become?
6. Column. Orla Whelan. Athomestudios.
7. Column. Georgina Jackson. The Conversation Continues.
8. VAI News. VAI projects and events.
8. News. The latest developments in the visual arts sector.
10. Regional Focus. Tipperary Arts Office, Jenny Fox, Lorraine Cleary, Source, STAC.
13. Residency. Sustained Engagement. The residency programme at the UCD School Of Physics.
14. Profile. Activating Art Writing. Nathan O’Donnell and Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll, editors of Paper Visual Art journal, reflect on a series of critical writing workshops they are conducting.
15. How is it Made? Watching Liquid Run. Maolíosa Boyle and Mark Wallinger discuss curating ‘Horse’ (Void, Derry 21 February –18 April 2015).
16. Profile. Let’s Get Verbal. Emer Lynch and Tracy Hanna discuss ‘Foaming At The Mouth’, a series of spoken word events presenting text-based artworks.
17. Profile. Dialogue Between Spheres. Sarah Pierce interviews the curators of Plastik film festival.
18. Residency. Co-Operative Enthusiasm. Pádraic E. Moore reports from the Van Eyck Academy.
19. Critique. ’Smoke And Mirrors’ Garter Lane; Stephen Skrynka, Rua Red; Sue Morris, Siamsa Tire; Mick O’Dea, Triskel; Frances Crowe and Maria Noonan-Mcdermott, Solas Art Gallery; ‘The Call of the Wild: Videonale 15’ Kunstmuseum, Bonn.
23. How is it Made Capturing Passing Moments. Kevin Killen discusses his show ‘Certain Moments’ at University Of Ulster Gallery, 5 March – 2 April).
24. ConferenceChange From Within? Jonathan Carroll discusses ‘Thinking Through Institutions’, a symposium held at the Huston School Of Film and Digital Media, Galway.
25. How is it Made? Shadow Carrier. Brendan Fox discusses his project ‘Less Greater Equal’.
26. ConferenceIs Legenderry Dead? Sara Greavu considers the legacy of Derry City Of Culture.
27. How Is It Made? Antidote to Oblivion. Áine Phillips, editor of Performance Art In Ireland: A History, discusses the making of the book.
28. Profile. Future Intent. Director Ann Davoren introduces ‘Uillinn’, WCAC’s new building.
29. Profile. DIT at Grangegorman. VAI talks to Kieran Corcoran, Head of the Dublin School of Creative Arts at DIT, about the new campus at Grangegorman.
30. Art in the Public RealmArtist as Go-between. Tonya Mcmullan, Project Officer for Down Community Arts, profiles Life Text, an intergenerational art project.
31. VAI Northern Ireland. Clunk and Boom. Rob Hilken reflects on some recent highlights of visual arts activities and initiatives in Northern Ireland.
32. Public Art Roundup. Public art commissions, site-specific works, socially engaged practice and other forms of art outside the gallery.
33. Opportunities. All the latest grants, awards, exhibition calls and commissions.
34. VAI Professional Development. Current and upcoming workshops, peer reviews and seminars.

Out Now | May / June 2020 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The May/June 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet has been dispatched to VAI members nationwide. Given that all our gallery distributors remain closed, many of the articles have been archived on the VAN website (links below).

This issue was assembled remotely, with the editorial remit responding to the rapidly shifting scenario, as contributors began to frame their observations through the lens of the global pandemic.

On the May/June front cover is Áine Phillips’s recent exhibition, ‘Buttered Up’, at MART Gallery. This iconic image conveys the prescient realities of domestic entrapment that we are now enduring. Ensconced in a sink as ‘absurd hostess’, Philips greeted audiences by extending a buttery hand, with writer Katherine Nolan commenting on the “intimacy of the handshake, now under scrutiny since the introduction of social distancing measures”.

In a similar vein, reflecting on the comparative freedom of global travel that we enjoyed only a few weeks ago, Lívia Páldi describes the week she spent at the Dhaka Art Summit 2020 in mid February, as feeling like both a “mirage” and a “rare privilege”, in light of subsequent global restrictions and the “rush towards digital space.”

Among columns for this issue, Matt Packer presents a rejoinder to his ‘Internationalism’ series, outlining the impacts of COVID-19 on artistic mobility and the dissemination of work. Declan McGonagle describes the socio-economic impacts of the ‘selfish state’, while Ceara Conway discusses how the current scenario is affecting the mental health of artists.

The May/June issue also features a range of exhibition and project profiles: Anne Mullee speaks to artist Tom Flanagan about his ‘Folk Radio’ project in County Clare; Padraig Spillane reviews ‘Many voices, all of them loved’ at the John Hansard Gallery in South Hampton; Anne Tallentire and Chris Fite-Wassilak describe the development of hmn – a quarterly sound-based test centre event, running in various venues across London since 2015; while Valerie Byrne and Dobz O’Brien outline the evolution of the National Sculpture Factory.

In the May/June Critique Section, Colin Darke reviews ‘Dissolving Histories: An Unreliable Presence’ at Golden Thread Gallery; Alison Pilkington reviews Mairead O’hEocha at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios; while Emer Lynch reviews Vivienne Dick’s ‘New York Our Time’ and Ciara Nic Chormaic’s ‘Skin+Soul’ at Dublin International Film Festival.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

Read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website here: visualartistsireland.com

Out Now | July / August Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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Over the last few months, the livelihoods of artists have been catastrophically affected by the unprecedented public health restrictions, undertaken to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The closure of all cultural venues has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of thousands of exhibitions and events across Ireland.

VAN’s July/August issue features profiles from numerous VAI members at different career stages, working across a diverse range of media, who discuss the realities of maintaining an art practice during a global pandemic. This section, titled ‘Notes From Lockdown’, highlights how many VAI members have been unable to access their studios, workspaces or materials during this period, whilst others have rejected the prevalent impulse of ‘hyper-productivity’, instead using this period of isolation to archive or revisit older works, and to critically reflect on their artistic methods and trajectories.
Another core thematic strand of our summer issue is ‘The Unseen Shows’, a series of profiles on selected exhibitions that have been cancelled, postponed, or sealed behind closed doors over the last few months. In early April, we launched a podcast series of the same name, which is being published every two weeks on SoundCloud until late July and available on the website. These podcasts feature interviews with several artists whose exhibitions have been affected by the lockdown. As an interim project, the podcast format seems to suit the confined conditions of lockdown, whilst fundamentally highlighting the pace and sensibility of the act of listening.

In a related project, VAN’s Production Editor, Christopher Steenson, has recently been working on VAI’s Get Together audio archive, which includes recordings of various talks, panel discussions and keynote presentations that have taken place at Get Together events between 2017 and 2019. Many of these recordings are now available to listen to on SoundCloud, as well as in the Members’ Area of the VAI website. We hope that having access to these recordings will help fill the void left by the cancellation of this year’s Get Together, which was due to take place on 12 June.

At the time of writing, many commercial galleries across the Republic of Ireland have begun the process of reopening to the public, having been closed since 12 March. All going to plan, most commercial galleries, public galleries, art centres and artist-led spaces nationwide will reopen in some capacity by the end of July. As VAN’s editorial team continue to work remotely, we wish to extend best wishes to our colleagues in the sector. We look forward to reviving physical encounters with art over the coming months, whatever form this may take.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

Read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website here: visualartistsireland.com

On the Cover:
Mieke Vanmechelen & Jennifer Redmond, Catastrophe, 2020, coloured black and white still; image © mink 2020, courtesy of the artists.

Out Now | September / October Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The September / October 2020 issue of the VAN has arrived and been dispatched to members and arts organisations. As countries around the world continue to grapple with the shifting realities of COVID-19, the impact on the cultural sector is resonating far and wide. Thousands of museum and heritage jobs have already been lost in the UK and in the US, in a bid to offset looming deficits caused by the extended organisational closures. Coupled with the recent activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter campaign – which brought about the dismantling of problematic public monuments and their contentious histories – such instability provides a backdrop for current critical debate surrounding the shifting role of institutions in times of crisis. At the time of writing, the International Council of Museums continues its efforts to revise their working definition of a museum, which has not changed in almost 50 years. Opinions remain divided on whether institutions should be places that research, conserve and exhibit artifacts, or ones that actively engage with wider society in working towards global change.

Irish institutions are also finding ways to redefine their roles in the COVID-19 landscape, particularly with regard to audience engagement. On 30 July, NCAD Gallery convened an online event, titled ‘The Air We Breathe: Multiple Publics in Future Practice’, which focused on “social engagement in the age of social distance”. This fascinating panel discussion highlighted an urgent need for innovation in the sector, calling for diverse strategies for working with artists, assembling communities around projects, and creating physical presentations in the public realm, beyond artworks simply being “displaced into the online sphere”, which “prohibits conjunction”. Reasserting Arundati Roy’s analogy of the “pandemic as a portal” – which asked us to consider what we might bring with us, and what we might leave behind – Ailbhe Murphy (Director of CREATE) suggested that we need to think ambitiously about “recasting an infrastructure” within the Irish arts ecology. This includes reassessing the distribution of resources and the publicness of gallery spaces, while also questioning the validity of metrics as a way of attributing value to institutions.

Following a similar line of inquiry, Matt Packer’s column for this issue outlines the collective concerns of Ireland’s Strategically Funded Organisations. In addition, several feature articles describe how festivals and biennales are having to adapt to ongoing public health restrictions surrounding mass gatherings. Miguel Amado interviews Marie Brett about Day of the Straws, a work which draws upon the cholera pandemic of the 1830s to explore the experience of COVID-19 through ancient and contemporary cultural lore. Matt Packer also interviews Merve Elveren, guest programme curator for the 39th Eva International, about the pragmatic and curatorial challenges for the biennale, which will now be delivered in three phases, with the first phase opening on 18 September and continuing until 15 November.

The September / October 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has been dispatched to VAI members nationwide. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. You can also read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

On The Cover: Marie Brett, Day of the Straws, photograph; courtesy the artist.

 

 

The post Out Now | September / October Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet first appeared on Visual Artists Ireland.

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Out Now | November / December Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

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The November / December 2020 issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has arrived and been dispatched to members and arts organisations. With the ongoing closure of all cultural venues nationwide (due to Level 5 public health restrictions, aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19) once again galleries are having to find ways to supplement, extend or archive their exhibition programmes across a range of digital platforms. VAN’s November – December issue considers the pragmatic, conceptual, aesthetic and institutional benefits and challenges of these virtual and screen-based presentations – displaced from physical encounters and no longer dependant on bodily proximity.

The competition brief for the DCC/VAI Art Writing Award 2020 drew on current critical debate surrounding online exhibitions, with writers invited to consider whether this curatorial model, without significant precedent, is an alienating or democratising force for the presentation of art. Applicants responded to the complexity of the brief in diverse and interesting ways. Meadhbh McNutt’s winning essay is published in this issue, outlining the scope of current discourse and potential innovations in artistic practice.

Also in this issue, Matt Packer considers the proliferation of screen-based art as an important opportunity to reimagine the functionality and form of exhibitions. For the first time, VAN’s Critique section includes remote coverage of two online exhibitions, namely ‘Not Alone’ – a travelling exhibition of small-scale works, initiated by Golden Thread Gallery and disseminated via social media – and ‘Drawn From Borders’, a 3D virtual gallery, developed by Artlink in Donegal. Also reviewed in the November/December Critique section are: Sinéad Mi Mhaonaigh at The Dock; ‘The Sea Around Us’ at The Model; and Bernadette Doolan at GOMA Waterford.

Several regional exhibitions are also profiled in this issue, including: Austin McQuinn at The Source Art Centre; the ‘Connection’ project at Droichead Arts Centre; Orla Whelan at Rathfarnham Castle (Dublin); and ‘6’ group exhibition in Kilfane Glebe House Studio, Thomastown, which also coincides with the Regional Focus on County Kilkenny.

This issue also features coverage of several recent or ongoing festivals: Joanne Laws interviews Sarah Browne, Curator of TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2020; Joanne also reports on key projects commissioned for Galway 2020 European City of Culture; while Theo Hynan-Radcliff reviews phase one of the 39th Eva International. In addition, curator Alissa Kleist outlines various artistic projects realised as part of the Freelands Artist Programme.

In the last issue of 2020, we are profiling several Irish organisations who have been celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, namely 25 years of Hillsboro Fine Art and 30 years of Backwater Artists Studio.

The November / December 2020 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet (VAN) has been dispatched to VAI members nationwide. Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The VAN is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres where possible. You can also read articles on Visual Artists’ News Sheet website.

As ever, we have also have details on upcoming VAI Lifelong Learning workshops, public art roundups, news from the sector and listings of current artist opportunities.

On The Cover: Eimear Walshe, The Land Question, 2020, courtesy the artist and EVA International.