The Future is Self-Organised at Limerick City Gallery

WP_20151106_004A print I made for Pallas Projects is included in the show The Future is Self-Organised — Artist-Run Spaces curated by Pallas Projects at Limerick City Gallery of Art.

The exhibition continues until the 15th of January so if you are in Limerick call in and have a look. It’s above the TV on the left.

The print (which is pictured below) is an edition of 50 and available to purchase from Pallas Projects for just €50 which will go towards funding future shows at the gallery.

More info about the exhibition can be found here.


Approaching the Landscape in The Irish Times

Niall de Buitléar’s small paintings, built from intricate concentric patterns, are geometric but also suggestive of organic processes. They equate to the world outside: complex and orderly but also contingent and unpredictable. Their handmade precision makes them visually fascinating. You could quite happily live with any one of them and never tire of it.

From Aidan Dunne’s review of Approaching the Landscape at Rua Red in the Irish Times


Other Visible Things

Other Visible things was a project in my studio at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios from the 24th-26th September, 2013 as a part of the artist led exhibition Re/Turn. For Re/Turn current members responded to Robert Armstrong’s suggestion that we invite back artists who previously held studios at TBG&S to show work in the studios as part of the organisation’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

I invited 9 artists to show something from their own studio which was not a finished work of art and also exhibited something myself. The objects exhibited are below with further info. At the end of this post is a brief text I wrote for a leaflet to accompany the exhibition.

Sofie Loscher

Sofie Loscher
This experiment is devised from a 1860s theatrical technique called ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ that created the illusion of a ghostly figure appearing and disappearing onstage. I used a sheet of glass to replicate light from one bulb to redirect the viewer’s attention away from the object and towards the process of perception. These tests developed into a large-scale light installation shown in Moxie this year. By using the existing lighting in the building, the glass was the only thing added to the space.

Maqutte for 'Perpetual Motion' by Rachel Joynt and Remco DeFauw

Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw
This is the original maquette for Perpetual Motion a roadside sculpture on the Naas Bypass made in 1994. The model was made using a ball cock as it was a convenient, robust plastic sphere and to the correct scale.

In the 90’s before Photoshop became widely used we regularly would make models  for presentation. In the absence of photoshop a proposal photograph was made using the low-tech method of placing some grass around the bottom of the ballcock and holding it up in front of the sculpture’s proposed location.

This was our first time working on a  commission together. We have always seen it as fairly separate from our own individual work but a collaboration that we both feel lucky to have been involved in and one that otherwise would not have come about.

Cora Cummins
These are images I photographed from 1980s YouTube footage of famous rose gardens. I have recently been working on a new body of work for an upcoming exhibition at Visual, Carlow. Two of these works are video and for the first time I had the opportunity and financial support to hire a professional cameraman. I took these photographs in order to show Dan (the camera man) what kind of vision I had for one of the videos.

Part of my research for the show involved an old rose garden that I had heard about when I was young but had never visited. The idea was to make a piece that was filmed in a real garden but had the atmosphere of a 1970s dream sequence. I was really happy with the way my camera captured the scenes dissolve.

Clodagh Emoe
This object was made to function as a small stage on the larger stage in the Project Arts Centre in the seminar Knowing Not to Know and later used as a podium for public recitals that took place in Gracelands, an art festival in Co. Leitrim curated by Vaari Claffey. I do not see it as a work of art but as a ‘prop’. Now this object remains in my studio, and having made the transition from the public to the private, it furnishes me with an adequate seat for  solitary reading or to sit with another.

Karl Burke
This is one of a series of works that are basically three dimensional, abstract drawings. They were initially conceived of and created as gifts for friends and family and were not intended to be exhibited. Referencing the tradition and act of framing, each piece is constructed with wood and glue and can be placed or pinned on a wall or stand on a shelf.

Niall de Buitlear
This was one of a number of failed sculptural experiments using wood and balsa wood which were done as tests for a larger work which was never made. At the time I was trying to develop a sculpture with two sides that had very different qualities as a way of emphasising the viewers movement in the gallery space. The perception of the piece would be determined by the position of the viewer and from a single viewpoint it would be impossible to extrapolate the form of the entire piece.

I had originally envisaged a large piece made of stacked lengths of timber with one side shaped by sanding to form a smooth surface with the same pieces left unsanded on the other side. I could never quite get this idea to work and so this object is kept in a box with various other false starts and failures that seemed a little too interesting to throw away.

Rhona Byrne
This incomplete handmade rug was found in a skip outside my studio along with lots of other old sewing stuff. It must have belonged to a woman who had died as there were lots of her belongings. At the time I found it I was making a series of carpet pieces as part of an installation for an upcoming show. It felt like a timely reminder to enjoy the process of making in the studio.

Damien Flood
These works were started in early 2009. They came out of a desire to make work but at the time not financially being able to afford the necessary materials. In my studio I had a large stack of old unused research photographs and on my pallet, paint sitting in wait. I have continued to make these hybrid painted photographs ever since but have struggled to incorporate them fully into my practice. Until now I have only ever shown them twice as part of a solo show.

Diana Copperwhite
Over the past few years I have been developing my practice through the process of collage and assemblage, my studio is full of bits and pieces that generally get rearranged and dismantled as my work develops. I think of them as maquettes for painting installations some of which could become site specific wall pieces but generally they are studio props.

Grace Weir
In 1992 I was taking photographs on Houston Street in New York. The sweep of the kerb, a metal scaffold. Suddenly a person appears “Hey you, take a picture of me!”. Click and move on. A flooding sense of failure that is also a clearing for a new set of questions. “Is that not what I have been trying to do all along, take a picture of you?”.

In 1996 I made an exhibition Man on Houston St at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. All I had was his image though I did not show it. An installation based on a Menger cube, a object of infinite surface area but zero volume, with the other photographs from around that time shown as negatives, the before of an image.

Time stops in a photograph. And sometimes it makes a circle.

Other  Visible Things

For Other Visible Things artists who previously worked in studios at TBG&S have been asked to contribute something from their own studio that is not an artwork. These contributions include research material, found objects, experiments, and the leftovers of other projects. This studio-based exhibition aims to provide an insight into studio practice and to provide an outlet for the materials that artists accumulate but which do not always have an outlet to be seen by others.

The concept for the project was originally developed for an unsuccessful application to a residency programme at a museum. It was intended as a way to extend the studio into the public areas of a museum by exhibiting objects in the glass fronted lockers in the museum’s self service cloakroom. These uncertain objects that were not quite ready for the galleries would find a place at the fringes of the institution. When the suggestion of a studio based exhibition at TBG&S was raised the idea re-emerged in a slightly different form as Other Visible Things.

The title Other Visible Things is derived from the Mel Bochner project Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art (1966) which is often referred to as the first piece of conceptual art. I was struggling to find an appropriate title that did not feel too generic and also did not overly impose my own viewpoint on other artists contributions as I do wish to be a curator nor do I feel that the project itself is an artwork. It is simply a project that I have invited others to participate in.

I had not thought of Bochner’s piece prior to developing the concept but it later came to mind as an obvious precursor and I decided I should reacquaint myself with it. Within Mel Bochner’s overly verbose, outdated sounding title I found the title I was looking for. As I came to the end of the process of assembling this collection of objects I discovered an undated interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist where Mel Bochner described his project in the following way:

I had in mind the notion of getting upstream from the work, trying to find the source…My original intention was to organize an exhibition that focused on the thought process, a kind of genealogy of the artwork. So I asked artists that I knew and some that I didn’t to borrow their working drawings, but I asked them to choose the works themselves. I didn’t want to enforce any specific aesthetic view on the work. Everyone was very co-operative and very agreeable.

This description resonates with my own approach to and experience of organising this project 47 years after Bochner’s and I would like to thank the participating artists for their openness and generosity.



Censorship Attempt at the New Luan Gallery, Athlone


A Fine Gael member of Athlone Town Council is trying to have a state-owned piece of art removed from a public art gallery.

The artwork in question Fragments sur les Institutions Républicaines IV  by Shane Cullen features transcripts of messages written on cigarette papers and smuggled in and out of the Long Kesh Prison by members of the IRA during the H-Block hunger strikes and dirty protests in the late 70s and early 80s. The work was made in the mid 90s and is part of the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and has been exhibited numerous times in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and overseas.

The story first came to light when former Fine Gael Minister for Justice Paddy Cooney voiced his objection to the piece after seeing it at the launch of the gallery. In an article in the Westmeath Independent the former minister is quoted as saying “First of all, I don’t think it is art and secondly, the theme is inappropriate. If it was removed I’d shed no tears.” The article (dated 6th December)  claims that he sought ought the gallery manager to request the removal of the piece.

Cllr Mark Cooney (FG), the  son of Paddy Cooney, tabled a motion calling for the removal of the work from the Luan Gallery in Athlone. This motion was discussed on Monday 7th January at a meeting of the council. During this meeting Cllr Cooney, compared the work to a piece glorifying Hitler “extolling the merits of exterminating the Jewish population”. Unlike his father Cllr Cooney acknowledged that the work may have artistic merit but said that censorship is sometimes necessary to protect children. Cllr Gabrielle McFadden also of Fine Gael supported Cllr Cooney saying that public galleries should not show politically contentious art.

Independent Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne suggested the matter be referred to the board of Athlone Art and Heritage of which she herself and at least one other councillor are members. The Councillors voted in favour of this proposal. The board have stated they had not been aware of the content of the exhibition as that is left to the gallery manager.

I am hopeful that the board will do the right thing and ignore this suggestion that they censor an exhibit. However, if the artwork is removed, I would suggest that artists should then announce their intention to boycott the gallery until the decision is reversed or if it is too late for that until the board issue an apology and provide assurances that no further acts of censorship will be carried out.

The Westmeath Independent’s live blog of the meeting is worth reading. The Irish Times coverage of the dispute, on the other hand, has been disappointing with no mention of the Nazi comments, the comments regarding the necessity of censorship, or the assertion that politically contentious art should not be shown in public galleries.

Update 09/01/13: The Westmeath Independent have published a list of board members of Athlone Art and Heritage. The chairman of the board is Labour councillor and Athlone Mayor Jim Henso. The board also includes Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran,  and Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne. The board will meet next Tuesday 15th January.

Update 15/01/13: The Board of Athlone Art & Heritage has decided not to seek the remove of Shane Cullen’s work from the Luan Gallery.

The Board has full confidence in the current management and curatorial arrangements in relation to the Luan Gallery. It would not be the intent of the Board to direct the removal of any artwork from a public space which would deny visitors to the Gallery the opportunity for respectful, critical and reasoned enquiry and debate.

Below is a video of the artist Shane Cullen being interviewed directly after attending the meeting of Athlone Town Council.

Below is a video of Mark Cooney arguing for the removal of the work

image: Fragments sur les Institutions Républicaines IV, Shane Cullen

Out of Order, Solo Exhibition at the Lab