Futures: Series 3, Episode 1

Richard Forrest, Kevin Gaffney, Ann Maria Healy, Elaine Hoey, Ali Kirby, Jane Locke, Jane Rainey, RHA, Dublin, 17 March – 23 April

‘FUTURES’ is a series of exhibitions at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) that shows the work of emerging artists. ‘Futures, Series 3, Episode 1’ is one of the most engaging exhibitions in recent years. The show takes us on a journey from the past to the present and far into the future.

Jane Rainey is a painter whose subjects are abstract, yet vaguely familiar. From afar, her paintings look like distorted digital landscapes. Up close, they are thick with paint. Colours are mixed together on the canvas, resembling a damaged digital image with streaks running through it. But unlike digital images, they are handmade. They show the physical process of painting. These are paintings that want to be touched.

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The Mistress of the Mantle

Katherine Nolan, MART, Dublin, 2 – 31 March 2017

KATHERINE Nolan is a performance artist whose work focuses on her body and her image as sites of investigation into the representation and construction of femininity. Her recent series of performances, The Mistress of the Mantle, held at MART, Rathmines, were based on the artist’s experience of returning to Ireland after 10 years in London. She found that the reality of moving ‘home’ was not quite the return to the fold that she had anticipated. Unexpectedly, this transition marked her symbolic arrival at the precipice of adulthood. Time away and dislocation from Ireland imposed a disruption of the rites of passage between childhood and maturity that are normally cushioned by the stability of family, community and place. Nolan had to grapple with expectations – both her own and other people’s – about how she should fulfil this new responsibility, triggering a re-evaluation of her identity, memory, nostalgia and complex attachment to Ireland.

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I Wanted to Write a Poem

Jonathan Mayhew, Wexford Arts Centre, 27 February – 25 March 2017

[Infinite Jest] can’t be read at a crowded cafe, or with a child on one’s lap.

Dave Eggers

WINNER of the 2015 Emerging Visual Artist Award, Jonathan Mayhew is one of those artists whose work requires a space where you can hear a pin drop. Wexford Art Centre (WAC) is not that space. Perhaps Mayhew’s exhibition of new work would have fared better in the attention stakes during the recession, when such regional art centres were empty saloons in ghostly Westworlds. During my visit, the endless stream of visitors to the cafe and the hoofing of piano peddles with woohooing children upstairs was a sign of the times. But, there is a big BUT to all of this, which I will get to later.

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Artistic Migration: Frank O’Meara & Irish Artists Abroad

Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, 13 February – 11 June 2017

SARI: Subject. Aspect. Restrictions. Instructions. This useful acronym, which I recommend students to use when analysing an essay title or exam question, came to mind when reflecting on the exhibition currently on display in the Hugh Lane, the title of which is ‘Artistic Migration: Frank O’Meara and Irish Artists Abroad’. [1]

Applying the first part of this analysis (S and A) to the title of the exhibition, we find that the subject – what it is about – is ‘Artistic Migration’, and the aspect – the narrower theme, the particulars of what it is about – is ‘Frank O’Meara and Irish Artists Abroad’. If this were the title of an essay, I would expect initially to be provided with a definition and discussion of artistic migration in which the following questions might be explored. What is meant by migration? Does it imply living abroad, or merely travelling overseas for extended periods? Does artistic migration mean the movement of artists in one direction only, or is there also a suggestion of exchange?

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Gut Instinct: Art, food & feeling

Marina Abramovic, Sonja Alhäuser, Domestic Godless, Elif Erkan, Fiona Hallinan, Siobhan McGibbon, Abigail O’Brien, Thomas Rentmeister, Neil Shawcross, Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 25 November 2016 – 19 March 2017

THIS exhibition, curated by Professor John Cryan, Chris Clarke and Fiona Kearney, draws on research by Cryan and colleagues at the Anatomy and Neuroscience department of UCC, in order to “explore how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states”.

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Stop Lookin’ at Photographs!

Locky Morris, Naughton Gallery, Belfast, 8 December 2016 – 29 January 2017

Clock speaker radio, printed mug, foam lining, laser crystal photo frame, photograph, hand cleanser dispenser, sunglasses, workshop broom, photograph, tilt display stand, C-print aluminium plate, mounted photographs, pigmy light, screw, rotating photo cube, painted MDF pedestal display case, photographs, city centre paving block, mounted photographs, cardboard box, office cabinet (adapted), adapted digital photo frame, JPEG, adapted shelf, five-litre Poundstretcher utility box, spool of thread, photograph, plate stand, plastic strips for wall plugs, wall plugs, cable ties, small plate stand, four-gang extension lead, night light, cotton buds, acrylic paint tube, decorating clips, mounted photograph.

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Guest 2

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

The work of six recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists (iDA) grant scheme comes together in ‘Guest 2’, a thought-provoking and challenging exhibition curated by artist Colin Darke at the Arts and Disability Forum Gallery. The exhibition space on Belfast’s Royal Avenue is modest but well-executed, benefitting from large windows and glass walls, which flood the space with natural daylight and create an attractive setting in which to consider the work of this diverse range of artists, whose practices encompass printmaking, photography, glasswork, video and performance.

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An Afterwards

Mark Garry, Luan Gallery, Athlone, 11 February – 22 April 2017

The Luan Gallery appears to float over the River Shannon like a perfectly formed geometric ice block. The site and architecture of the building allude to fusion between natural and environmental conditions – concerns that are further elaborated in Mark Garry’s ‘An Afterwards’, currently installed across the Luan’s gracious exhibition spaces.

A native of County Westmeath, Garry often spent time in Athlone as a child, and this exhibition presents new works that attempt to forge connections between kinship and place. The cool intensity of Garry’s diverse body of work – which includes lithographs, oil paintings, video and Giclée digital prints – is given nuance by the nostalgic inclusion of (admittedly excellent) amateur artworks by his parents. This intimate familial gesture also functions to support a Beuysian assertion that everyone is an artist.

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The Saw Tooth Wave/Put to the Sword

Benedict Drew/Miguel Martin, CCA Derry-Londonderry, 15 October – 11 December

I recently took a ‘How Millennial Are You?’ personality quiz while I should have been searching for a job, if you can digest the irony. “You are asleep. Where’s your phone?” was one memorable question. There could only be one answer: “On the pillow next to me”.

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Paper Trails

Mary Patterson, Ballina Arts Centre, 10 November – 31 December 2016

Arriving at Ballina Arts Centre on a wild November morning and seeing the River Moy in flood, the logic of Mary Patterson’s exhibition seems very clear: to try to find responses to nature through art. The appropriately named ‘Paper Trails’ features a series of works on paper created through a formidable range of drawing and printmaking processes. Patterson’s use of diverse techniques forms part of her quest to identify a medium and a language that can convey the beauty and complexity of nature. The artworks that feature in the exhibition are displayed in the open-plan landing space that curves out towards the adjacent River Moy. This light, airy space provides an ideal setting for the works in close proximity to nature.

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