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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Just Left of Copernicus (The Roof of the Story)

Niamh McCann, VISUAL, Carlow, 3 October 2015–3 January 2016

The core work in ‘Just Left of Copernicus’ is a large geodesic structure installed in VISUAL’s main gallery. This is a challenging space, but the work is big enough to successfully withstand compression by the room’s engulfing depth and volume. It is inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, a pioneering engineer/designer who patented geodesic building design in 1960 in an effort to achieve cheaper, faster and more efficient home building. McCann’s motivation for making this work seems ostensibly to come from nostalgia for the ‘modern’ period, when civil innovation was understood as a means to better the conditions of man. This ties into her collaboration with Limerick Fab Lab, one of many fabrication laboratories (see also WeCreate and Workbench) providing the public with an environment in which to design, make and construct pretty much whatever they choose.

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Kathryn Elkin/Trees Prosper & Len Graham

Kathryn Elkin and Seamus Harahan, CCA, Derry,
10 October–28 November 2015

CCA’s latest show explores the temporary nature of exhibition alongside residual cultural processes. It activates the build-up to an opening performance, or the post-processing of creative method, and the legacy left by those actions. The first collaboration is founded in Irish folk music. Artist Seamus Harahan formed the group ‘Trees Prosper’ with Patrick Morgan, Christina Anna Morgan and Sara J. Barry, who, in this venture, collaborated with established traditional singer Len Graham. The musicians worked toward the opening-night performance Along the Faughan Side, and their chairs remain in an arc in the space as a part of the recorded and exhibited rehearsal process.

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Hanuman

Paul McKinley, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, 20 November–19 December 2015

Hanuman is the Hindu monkey-god, a follower of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Shiva, and a warrior credited with the ability to slay thousands of demons. The exploits of Hanuman are told in the epic poem the Ramayana, a 24,000 verse composition regarded as a great work of Indian literature.

McKinley online small 2The warlike god also lends his name to the latest solo exhibition from British-born artist Paul McKinley. This new body of work draws on the events  that took place towards the end of the brutal Sri Lankan civil war, which lasted from 1983 until 2009, and on its folklore of gods and monsters.

Often free from inhabitants, McKinley’s work uses landscape and the natural world to explore the nature of mass killing and genocide, attempts to eradicate entire races or tribes of people. Even the works which don’t directly reference these themes still radiate an aura of discomfort, a suspicion that there is something dark and unwelcome concealed in the lush vegetation and bucolic landscapes scrutinised in his beautifully rendered drawings and paintings.

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Holding True Ground

Lisa Fingleton, Siamsa Tire, Kerry, 30 October–4 December 2015

The central work in ‘Holding True Ground’ is 30 Days of Eating Local Food. Located in the Round Gallery, the work takes the form of a diary, with each day unfolding through diagrams, notes, sketches and photographs. Day one includes a mind-map questioning the artist’s reasons for undertaking such a project. She quotes Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.

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And Time Begins Again

EAMON O’KANE WRITES ABOUT THE PROGRESSION OF HIS CAREER OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS.

In 2005, I wrote an article for the VAN titled ‘Constant Production and Exposure’, which outlined my career trajectory up to that point (eamonokane.com). At that time, I was living in Bristol and was a lecturer in Fine Art at the University of the West of England. Myself and four others had set up an artist-run gallery space called LOT, which ran for one year and involved an ambitious and dynamic programme.

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The Ties That Bind

JENNIFER TROUTON DISCUSSES THE PROCESS BEHIND HER WORK ‘THE TIES THAT BIND’, WHICH WAS SHOWN AT THE ROYAL ULSTER ACADEMY’S 134TH ANNUAL EXHIBITION (16 OCTOBER 2015 – 3 JANUARY 2016).

My painting The Ties That Bind has its roots in the 1700s and the patriarchal mindset of the founding president of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds. In a sweeping generalisation, Reynolds decreed: “Let men busy themselves with all that has to do with great art . . . let women occupy themselves with those kinds of art that they have always preferred, the painting of flowers”. This statement, and the attitude toward still-life painting that it evokes, put fire in my blood in 1999 and has continued to be a source of motivation to this day.

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Roots of the Matter

LOUIS HAUGH DESCRIBES HIS TIME AT ARTFARM (11–27 SEPTEMBER 2015), A RURAL ARTISTS’ RESIDENCY IN COUNTY GALWAY.

For the past year, I have been researching the history and practice of commercial forestry in Ireland. I’ve always been perplexed by the wealth of non-native coniferous trees across Ireland’s landscape and by the dwindling number of our native broad-leaf trees, such as oak, ash and beech. So I traced the roots of this matter (quite literally) back to the National Herbarium in Glasnevin. It is here that the Augustine Henry Collection is housed: an archive of thousands upon thousands of tree samples, including leaves, twigs, seeds, cones and roots, all meticulously boxed, labelled and archived.

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