Category: Critique

‘Open Minds’

Rua Red, Tallaght
6 September – 5 October 2019

‘Open Minds’ featured over 70 artworks made in Irish prison education programmes, with the installation at Rua Red furnishing a metaphor for imprisonment. We know nothing of these artists’ lives. They were necessarily anonymous, with artworks attributed not to the artists, but to the institutions that confined them. No context concerning them was available, save for the titles they had given their work. It was rarely clear quite what was on show. Prison Staircase, a spiralling, assiduous pencil drawing from Wheatfield Prison, was typically enigmatic. But a sense of the … Read the rest

Joanne Boyle

Mermaid Arts Centre, Wicklow
13 September – 26 October 2019

Joanne Boyle’s solo exhibition at Mermaid Arts Centre can be viewed as a testing ground for her ideas around material processes and display. The exhibition comprises oil paintings and glazed porcelain pieces, reflecting Boyle’s attempts to “articulate the non-everyday occurrence alongside the everyday”. The idea of an exhibition as an installation is also evident. As Boris Groys observed in his essay ‘Politics of Installation’: “Today, there is no longer any ‘ontological’ difference between making art and displaying art. In the context of contemporary art, to make art is to show … Read the rest

David Ian Bickley ‘Threads’

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen
20 September 2019 (Culture Night)

David Ian Bickley’s latest film, Threads, was presented on Culture Night in a darkened studio space at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre. In the small landing leading to this space, Three Candles was installed, comprising a prose piece and a video interview with local historian Gerald O’Brien, shown on a monitor with headphones. The story tells of a body lost in a river and located using folk-magic means. This tale was the inspiration for Threads, as well as the prose piece, a meandering stream of consciousness, presented … Read the rest

Claire Halpin ‘Raw War’

Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin
12 September – 6 October 2019

Claire Halpin’s exhibition, ‘Raw War’, is a mystical interpretation of the horror of war. Using miniature retablo-style compositions, Halpin captures the human instinct to contain tragedy within defined boundaries of understanding. In one series, small square panels feature sharply edged circular paintings of disaster on the Mediterranean, as refugees crowd vessels in search of safety. Halpin pins these events within a telescopic lens, referencing surveillance by the military, governments and news media. With startling clarity and expression, she skilfully renders the confusion of people clambering into sinking boats or attempting … Read the rest

Sarah Long ‘Kingdom’

Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group, Cork
12 September – 11 October 2019

Unsteadiness is a deliberate quality of Sarah Long’s work, recently exhibited at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group in Cork. For this exhibition, titled ‘Kingdom’, Long presented five mixed-media works on canvas and one wire-based sculpture. Behind blotches of paint, the canvases lie host to trembling pencil lines, indexing a shakiness of either the hand or ground. Tremors would exit through the utensil either way, traveling between floor and body and, in Long’s show, right to the tip of the art objects themselves; as a viewer nears the glass … Read the rest


Hang Tough Gallery, Dublin
20 July – 3 August 2019

An exhibition is the considered placement and grouping of things that talk to each other about, around or alongside certain philosophical and/or conceptual concerns; it is a gathering and expression of ideas or thematic inquiries underlying visual conceits. The exhibition press release can provide a summary of, or guide to, such activity. The conceptual framework for ‘FIX’ was to exhibit photographic work by five artists, that has strayed or become ‘un-fixed’ from the self-defined constraints usually found within their individual practices. The exhibition press release acknowledges the artists’ diverging creative … Read the rest

‘Fast Slow Fast’

CCA Derry~Londonderry
8 June – 10 August 2019

My day-job is punctuated by a variety of tasks, one of which is to create and circulate promotional images on displays. Source imagery arrives through inter-office email, mostly as custom-ratio JPEGs, PDFs, or on occasion – and most laborious of all – as PowerPoints. You might assume that this is mundane work; however, to someone with my interests, there is something profound about this cutting, pasting, alpha masking and exporting. The images become temporal objects, displaying evidence of their imperfections, rearrangements and cropping, but only remain for however long their promotions are … Read the rest

‘A Modern Eye: Helen Hooker O’Malley’s Ireland’

Gallery of Photography / National Photographic Archive, Dublin
21 June  – 1 September 2019  / 21 June – 2 November 2019

‘A Modern Eye: Helen Hooker O’Malley’s Ireland’ begins with a striking display of wanderlust, inquisitiveness and enviable means. An adventurous artist, born into a wealthy American family, Helen Hooker began her life-long habit of itinerant practice from a young age. Among the early shots, which document people in Mongolia, Japan, Korea and China, is the avant-garde painter Pavel Filonov, with whom she was training in Russia, taken in 1924, when she was in her early twenties. Amidst the artist’s … Read the rest

‘Do Governments Lie?’

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
6 June – 27 July 2019

As part of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival, the Golden Thread Gallery simultaneously held three very different exhibitions, at three very different qualitative levels: Philippe Chancel’s excellent and subtle observation of life within North Korean ideological strictures; a dispassionate survey of political discourse on social media by Marc Lee; and a terrible, ostensibly anti-Trump installation by Erik Kessels & Thomas Mailaender, which is so devoid of the potential for critical engagement that the president would, I’m sure, greet it with gleeful delight.

Philippe Chancel’s ‘Kim Happiness’ consists of a selection … Read the rest

Marianne Keating ‘The Ocean Between’

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
21 June – 22 September 2019

Awareness of Ireland’s involvement in the history of the British colonial project is generally one-sided, with national imagination focusing on the ‘epic’ Irish struggle against England, rather than acknowledging Irish social or cultural exchange within the wider world of empire. Marianne Keating’s exhibition, ‘The Ocean Between’, fulfils a vital role in redressing this imbalance, with rigorous research and nuanced, objective presentations. Her seven film installations are the result of years of archival research relating to the largely forgotten history of indentured Irish labourers in Barbados and Jamaica, and are linked … Read the rest