Peripheral + Surreal Estate in City at Highlanes Gallery

Exhibition Dates 14 August – 2 October, 2021

Helen Cammock, Sean Edwards, Joy Gerrard, Seamus Harahan, Anthony Kelly & David Stalling, L.S. Lowry, Christine Mackey, Niamh McGuinne, Hardeep Pandhal, Kathy Prendergast, Gary Reilly, Dorothy Smith, Andrea Luka Zimmerman.

Cities in Ireland, the UK and across the world have developed and diversified more rapidly over the last ten years than ever before in their long histories, and today over half of the world’s population live in an urban area.

With the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, there has been much reflection on what we now want from our urban environments. This exhibition aims to look at how city dwellers and society have engaged with their built-up surroundings and, will hopefully prompt conversations about towns and cities of the future. The many facets of city life – architecture, migration, commuting, crowds, noise, lights – have been a rich source of inspiration to artists and this exhibition brings together a diverse range of work and media, and considers some relevant topical issues. 

The film works are all from the UK’s Arts Council Collection, at the Southbank Centre, which is the largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art, with works from the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, as well as from artists living and working in Ireland and the UK.

Peripheral + Surreal Estate

Peripheral, 2019, 03:24, music by Lisa O’Neill and Christophe Capewell 

Surreal Estate, 2013, thermal transfer screen print on constructed aluminium boxes containing interiors with etchings/screen prints/monoprints.

The protagonist in Peripheral is the artist who is continually searching for a sense of place, physically and metaphorically, often on the fringes of society. Being of no perceived economic value or use to the majority, but instead considered surplus to requirement, the artist abides.  

Surreal estate grew out of my interest in shadows, reflections and windows. Working in a beautiful old studio surrounded by a variety of old and disused windows, obsolete vitrines and historic picture glass, I was particularly drawn to how the inherent distortions formed in glass during manufacture and the subsequent creep of ageing can influence how and what we see. Such idiosyncratic textures together with additional visual patterns of rain, dust and oil provide a unique impression; a distorted reality. This in turn led me to look closer at patterned and decorative glass, nets, curtains and blinds, all of which control or alter what we allow of our private life to be seen and how we view our surroundings.

The Shell/ters in Woman in the Machine at VISUAL, Carlow

In an industrial site at the edge of a regional town, the rhythm of machines and people stopped a long time ago. A giant landmark – an edifice, sat impatiently, waiting for someone to hit play and turn it on again. Vast spaces were idle and still, air vents flapped and rattled furiously. We are bringing sound to this place, turning up the bass, lighting the shadows… the rats have run from their quiet corners, the air has changed and something brand new is vibrating. A 72 hour lost weekend unfolds.

Woman in the Machine, co-created by VISUAL and Carlow Arts Festival, will unfold through film, exhibitions, sound works, light installations, digital native events, a 360 virtual exhibition space, performances, talks and community engagement projects created in response to Carlow’s landmark former Braun site, and inspired by the film about female pioneers in sound Sisters With Transistors by Lisa Rovner and women working at the intersections of art, science and digital media.

Woman in the Machine is part of Carlow Arts Festival 2021, VISUAL’s Summer Programme and presented as part of Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh, a nationwide, ten day season of arts experiences brought to you by the Arts Council. To see the full Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh programme, visit


Sound + Light — Invited + Commissioned
Jenn Kirby / Sarah Jane Sheils / Kate Butler / Jennifer Walshe / ensembÉal / Elizabeth Hilliard

Visual Arts — Invited + Commissioned Work
Chloe Brennan / Michelle Doyle and the Digital Druids / Barbara Knežević / Nadia Armstrong / Elaine Byrne / Caroline Campbell / Kate Fahey / Judy Foley / Fiona Harrington / Jeanette Lowe / Linda McCann / Colin Martin / Eleanor McCaughey / Fiona Mc Donald / Tara McGinn/ Niamh McGuinne/ Ida Mitrani / Meadbh O’Connor / Paul O ‘Neill / Liliane Puthod / Amanda Rice / Katherine Sankey

Arts Council Collection
Lucy Andrews / Rhona Byrne / Maria Farrington / Niamh McCann, Maria McKinney / Helen McMahon / Margaret O’Brien / Fiona Reilly / Lorraine Tuck

Film + Digital — Invited + Commissioned Work
George Bolster / Josephin Böttger / Ciara del Grosso / Umay Gunes Kurtulan / Jennifer Moore / Sharon Phelan / Susanne Radelhof / Lisa Rovner /

Performance — Invited + Commissioned Work
Mish Mash & Reckless Ross / Seve Feathers / Sibéal Davitt / Spraoí Waterford / Prymary Colours / Tumble Circus / Chancleta & Carla Rod

Engaging with Architecture
Emma Geoghegan and 4th year students from TU Dublin School of Architecture

The Shell/ters in Spectacular Replica, NCAD Gallery

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.

She- shell, (2021), screen print on paper, 60 x 81cm

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.