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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Brexit & the Arts

VAI is an all Ireland body, which means that Brexit will have a clear impact on us and on all arts organisations across the island who operate either across the border or ROI collaborations with UK organisations, festivals and events.

The unfortunate truth is that the fallout from the vote has already happened. The fall in Sterling has had a direct impact on organisations such as ours that receive funding from Northern Ireland. Around 19% of our funding comes from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and through our membership in Northern Ireland. With the collapse of the Sterling against the Euro this has now been reduced to around 13%. Continue reading “Brexit & the Arts”

Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 26 November 2016 – 26 March 2017

There are 14 portraits in this exhibition of shortlisted works. Surrounding the viewer on all sides, in each one a lone figure is presented (why no couples or groups?) and this singular focus contributes to the sense we’re in the company of deities. There are also a lot of big heads, their presence dominating the small room at the top of the Millennium Wing’s forbidding stairs. Of course the figure of the artist is also present, directly in the self-portraits, or otherwise implicated. Open to artists in all disciplines, the shortlist consists mostly of paintings, nine in total, along with two photographs, a graphite drawing, a digital drawing and a video projection onto a terracotta bust.

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The Proximity of History

We work exceptionally hard in the arts. Whether working day in, day out in studios, travelling the length and breadth of the country, grant-chasing, freelancing or maintaining real jobs at the fringes of day jobs, we move mountains every day. While critical reflection is an inbuilt methodology of what we do, how often do we actually pause to reflect on our progress or marvel at our achievements? As the final Visual Artists’ News Sheet of the year, this issue is positioned to consider recent developments across our sector, while assessing some of the challenges that remain.

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Towards a Post -Patriarchal State

­­­­JOANNE LAWS INTERVIEWS SARAH BROWNE AND JESSE JONES ABOUT THEIR ONGOING PROJECT ‘IN THE SHADOW OF THE STATE’.

Joanne Laws: Perhaps you might explain how your collaboration came about and introduce some of your initial ideas in developing this major new project?

Sarah Browne/Jesse Jones: We’d known each other’s practices for many years and felt that at some stage we would find the right opportunity to work together. In 2014, we started discussing a potential collaboration with Patrick Fox (then Director of Create), and later Rachel Anderson (then producer/curator at Artangel, London). We attempted to identify the greatest urgencies for us as artists at that time and felt there was a renewed need to examine and refigure the position of women in relation to a patriarchal nation state. From the beginning of our work together, law and its instruments have been a critical focus. The Irish Sea also loomed large in our imagination.

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Do We Live in History?

JOANNE LAWS INTERVIEWS ANDREW DUGGAN ABOUT ‘PROCLAMATION’, A MULTI-VENUE EXHBITION FUNDED BY CULTURE IRELAND.

Two neon signs in a field

A public act

What’s said?

‘It Only Remains’ (into the night)

(out of the dawn) ‘Until Such Time’

Explicit or evocative, for discourse or meditation

A spell to conjure a desired state of affairs

A declaration that a state of affairs pertains

Sounds: between crying and sighing

What’s projected?

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Would You Die for Ireland?

John Byrne, The LAB, Dublin, 24 June – 10 August 2016

The official 1916 commemoration on Easter Sunday was a conservative if dignified solution that marked the de facto centenary of the foundation of our state. Designed to avoid controversy or soul searching, the event sidelined years of colossal social and economic upheaval in favour of a traditional military parade by the Irish Defence Forces. And they did it very well.  In contrast, but arguably hidden safely in the margins, John Byrne’s exhibition ‘Would You Die for Ireland?’ is part of the LAB Gallery’s series of exhibitions supported by Dublin City Council’s Commemoration Fund, which asked artists “to consider what contribution we might make to future readings of the Easter Rising”.

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Advocacy Leads to Results

DIRECTOR/CEO NOEL KELLY DISCUSSES VAI’S RECENT ADVOCACY WORK IN SEVERAL AREAS AND DETAILS HOW THE ORGANISATION WILL BE MOVING FORWARD IN RESPONSE TO RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT POLICY AND FUNDING FOR THE ARTS IN IRELAND.

The arts are back in the news. Every change in government and lead up to a new budget brings with it a renewed expression of the sector’s importance and need for support. It would appear that memories are short, as it seems necessary to repeat the same arguments each time and often to find new ways to express them, as the media become more and more hungry for what is new. In reality, our statements are reiterating the same thing.

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Re-Interrogating Criticism

EMMA DWAN O’REILLY REPORTS ON ‘THE VALUE OF CRITICISM’ SYMPOSIUM, WHICH TOOK PLACE AT THE LEWIS GLUCKMAN GALLERY, CORK, ON 26 FEBRUARY 2016[i]

 In Ireland, practices of art criticism have continued to develop in a changing landscape. Although things remain unsettled with regards to establishing publications and securing funding, there exists a vibrant energy around writing on art in Ireland in recent years. New publications, writers and editors have emerged with fresh initiatives and ideas, and there has been an increased interest in developing new spaces, publishing platforms and audiences, and in cultivating alternative approaches to writing about art.

 ‘The Value of Criticism’ symposium examined the role of art criticism and the critic in determining both the historical and economic value of art. The role of the critic in the changing landscape of art criticism and publishing was also explored, with particular focus on how writers, editors, curators and broadcasters approach and evaluate their subjects and influence public understanding and appreciation of art.

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Artist-Led Island

CHRIS HAYES, CO-DIRECTOR OF ORMSTON HOUSE, LIMERICK, DISCUSSES THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF ARTIST-LED PRACTICE AS AN INSIDER.

Sample-Studios is an artist-run space in Cork. To celebrate its fifth birthday Artistic Director, Aideen Quirke, organised a three-day festival of events. As part of the festivities a panel discussion titled ‘Artist-Led Island’ tackled the topic of artist-led spaces in Ireland. The panel included Moran Been-Noon from Platform Arts Belfast, Lisa Crowne from A4 Sounds in Dublin, David Dobz O’Brien from the National Sculpture Factory in Cork, Gavin Murphy from Pallas Projects in Dublin, Shelly McDonnell, Communications and Advocacy Assistant at VAI, and myself, representing Ormston House in Limerick.

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