Spectacular Replica


Spectacular Replica: An NCAD MFA Fine Art 2020 Graduates Exhibition

ONLINE exhibition of work from graduates of the NCAD Master of Fine Art class of 2020.

Thursday, 21st January – Thursday, 28th January 2021

Valerie Bresnihan, Sarah Edmondson, Andrej Getman, Barry Gibbons, Niamh McGuinne, Ciarán O’Keeffe, Gary Reilly, Lena Willryd

 EVENT: 21 – 28 January, 5PM, NCAD Gallery INSTAGRAM
Live art performance, Dance Alone by exhibiting artist Ciarán O’Keeffe broadcast live on Instagram @ncad_gallery and @mfancad_.
 EVENT: THURSDAY 28th Jan, 2021, 1PM  – LINK
Matt Packer, Director of Ireland’s Biennial, EVA International in conversation with Spectacular Replica: NCAD MFA Fine Art 2020 Graduates Exhibition artists, on the NCAD Dublin Youtube Channel, and below.

She slid on slowly by

She slid on slowly by, (2020), screen print on paper, 38 x 46cm, 2020; detail in raking light.

I have an interest in snails, in particular their self-healing abilities and hermaphroditic character.. Their secreted mucus protects their passage over rough terrain, forms their shell and is their footprint, I like that the collective noun is a walk or rout of snails. I am interested in how something soft and slimy can be changed into a tough, protective shell. In medieval manuscripts, snails were often depicted fighting and defeating armoured knights. Some scholars point to an association with a treasonous family, while others suggest the snail may represent the poor, the pest, the social climber or be seen as a symbol of female sexuality. This interpreted fear of femininity fits perfectly within my natural interests in distorted thinking, metamorphosis and body armouring.

The Shell/ters

The embodiment of psychological experience and the nature of somatic response is the underlying theme in this work. It addresses issues concerning how the body absorbs, holds and disguises illness. 

Comprising three human-scale single occupancy shelters, this work aims to introduce a pro-active expectation of a cure for some complaint we may not even be aware of harbouring. 

They provide an opportunity in which to shed anxiety, detach from divisive discourse and reboot energy levels. That they can be interpreted as sanctuary or prison is a point of contention and within this ambiguity lies a tension between what is anticipated and what is experienced.

Hold Still is designed to facilitate an energy transfer, not to treat an illness but to act as a catalyst. Press Pause may be experienced as a Faraday cage, a form of protection from electro-magnetic signals while the adapted cow-brush in Shed Skin references the importance of physical contact for human and animal wellbeing.

Positioned as a triumvirate, The Shell/ters represent stations in a secular pilgrimage or ritual, the purpose of which is at the discretion of each individual participant’s narrative.

Creatures of Love

Creatures of Love 1
Creatures of Love 2

Creatures of Love 1 and 2 (2020)
Photo intaglio on paper
14.5 x 20.5cm

I have been thinking of protective shells as places to heal and develop. I initially chose the oyster because of its beauty but having done some research have found some very interesting aspects. Firstly, it can choose to be male or female depending on the need/availability.  It is apparently alive when it is shucked, exposing its still beating heart before being consumed, so also pretty tragic as well as being considered an aphrodisiac. The build up of calcium to produce the shell is linked in a way to the calcification of traumatized organs or embodied trauma in the human, including arteries, I’m sure you know that this secretion produces the pearl to protect itself from the invading body. I positioned them on graph paper to emphasize a medical dissection/scientific examination type aesthetic…also how something beautiful can be destroyed in the process. The external shell surface is particularly beautiful but I really was drawn to the emptiness of the consumed heart. 

Shed Skin

Shed Skin, steel, film, brush, stool, 210 x 85 x 85cm

Shed Skin references the importance of physical contact for human and animal wellbeing. The sides of the steel skeleton are enclosed with net-printed film. Inside a 30 x 85cm brush is positioned facing a high stool. Touch and massage are important factors in treating trauma held in the skin. The rejuvenating brush increases circulation and promotes a sense of calm.

Press Pause

Press pause, steel,  180 x 80 x 80cm

The steel enclosure with hinged door, viewing grille and stool is reminiscent of a cell or confessional. Alluding to mental fatigue, the purpose is to provide a space in which to unburden. Working as a Faraday cage, electromagnetic fields are blocked preventing mobile communication. Once inside the atmosphere is comforting, the sound is both muffled and amplified. We are encouraged to quieten the senses in the altered environment. From this vantage point we can observe the bustle of life outside knowing that we are obscured behind the metal grille and have paused in our participation. It is not a sensory deprivation space but a place to escape from sensory overload.