Surreal Estate

Surreal Estate installation
Graphic Studio Gallery: May 2013
Thermal transfer screen print on constructed aluminium boxes containing interiors with etchings/screen prints/monoprints.
11 Digital Archival pigment prints
3 minute animated film.

Surreal Estate
Surreal Estate has grown 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 installation comprises three elements Surrealight, 35 print and sculptural constructions, Surrealshadow, a set of digital prints and Shadowlight, a 3min animated film.

Surrealight represents an uninhabited urban area akin to the many historic, deserted Irish villages and current ghost estates albeit with an independent imaginary life of its own; one that we are not invited to share. Nevertheless, we are pulled in by our curiosity and by the desire to make sense of what we can see. A dirty window obscured by torn curtains suggests neglect or eccentricity but this is entirely presumed. We do not know what is behind the glass; whether or not there is an occupant. We live with so much around us that we consider important yet often an abandoned room will contain vestiges of their inhabitants who have since moved on. This becomes part of the history or life of the rooms. A new occupant may change it all but time will ensure that the cycle of dereliction and regeneration continues. These questions have morphed into a fascination with how perception can be distorted. How do we perceive these spaces – do they remind us of our past or do they make us think about where we are and of our own place in time?


The digital prints which make up Surrealshadow represent views of the fabricated interiors and exteriors of Surrealight. The patterns of curtains and glass, the interplay of light and shadow and the image of windows all are shown in stasis and as such appear stage-like and inanimate in comparison. It interests me how differently these spaces are perceived and how our emotional response is altered.


In Shadowlight themes of watching and being watched are presented to the spectator through a non-narrative sequence which hints at the private ethereal existence of spaces independent of us. How does the feeling or knowledge of being watched distort how we behave? Light and shadow play, pattern and effects on glass create an additional visual plane for the viewer sometimes at harmony with the images in the shots and at other times in conflict. The intent is to blur the lines between apparent reality and created fantasy, to look further into what appears straightforward at first glance.