art, Art musings, Curating

“Drawing attention to the lure of Stillness”

abstract painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

I’ve just been reading the curator’s statement by Aisling Prior for this year’s Tulca arts festival in Galway and I liked it. In it she writes that, in this digital age: 

There is a seeming obligation to be in constant communication, to have an endless appetite for the consumption of information, and to embrace every opportunity to engage in the two-way discourse that new social media and the internet affords… all of us, even those who choose to live in the most remote parts of a country, are known, traceable and expected to be readily reachable…

But she says that there is a backlash against this situation and that the antidote to the pressures imposed on us by this age is: Solitude. And so she is looking for artworks exploring the potential of retreat, drawing attention to the lure of stillness and of silence. That’s an interesting notion, don’t you think?

It’s too late for me to submit now anyway but I was wondering what I might’ve submitted if I was so inclined. (the thing about these ‘Calls for submissions’ is that they too are a distraction – you’re working away on one theme and then you’re invited to think about another) Anyway, silence, I was wondering…  the small painting above is one that I made in 2005. What do you think? Should I have submitted it? It was called: Oíche, which translate as: Night. I was doing work like that when I left the art college in 2000.

You can see Aisling’s full statement at http://www.tulcafestival.com

You can see more of my works from that period on my website at http://emacl.com/index_files/page0047.htm

I’d love to hear your comments,

Thanks, eoin

 

 

 

art, Curating, Exhibitions, Gaeltacht, Palimpsest/ Rianú

Have you been to the North West?

photograph of Errigal by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Yes, Errigal is still standing, rising majestically above the heathery hills. I was up there last weekend for the opening of The Palimpsest/Rianú Project in An Gailearaí in Gaoth Dobhair and well, it puts things in perspective, don’t you think. Long after we’re gone and our trials and tribulations are forgotton, Errigal will still be standing there, oblivious to wind and rain, looking on, listening and… living still.

But I want to tell you about the opening in An Gailearaí. It was the second outing for The Palimpsest/Rianú Project, the first version having been part of Artisterium in Tbilisi, Georgia last October. More about that at: https://emacl.wordpress.com/category/palimpsest-rianu/ What made Saturday’s event so special was the launch at the same time of The Other Tongues, a new anthology of writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Ulster Scots, published by Irish Pages. Our art project had been developed as a response to the Artisterium theme: “Am I You? – how we deal with the Other” so there was much overlapping and intertwining of themes at the opening/launch. (PS: have you noticed how often the forward slash or stroke is used when we are dealing with ‘the Other’, very useful, that forward slash)

Anyway, the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh, a major contributor to the anthology, spoke about the richness of these languages and of the importance of protecting them in times of globalisation. Noeleen Ní Cholla, a traditional singer from Donegal, sang a song in Scots Gaelic. When she sang, she completely filled the room, enveloping us with her beautiful singing. She spoke of the similarities between Scots Gaelic and old Irish, and the Irish of Cloch Cheann Fhaola in particular.

I spoke too (in my Dublin accent) – about how our project had brought together artists from the Gaeltacht (the Irish-speaking areas) and artists from outside of the Gaeltacht, how we had worked together on the same pieces of art and, how dealing with ‘the Other’ had been a rewarding experience for all concerned, each of us learning from encountering the working methods and creative processes of other artists.

An Gailearai, Gweedore

Úna Campbell has a wonderful gallery up there beside the Library (in the industrial estate) in Gaoth Dobhair, quite a large space as you can see above, and she has a very interesting programme of events throughout the year. The Palimpsest/Rianú Project started off a few years ago at Cló and the Living Archive. Claire Halpin and myself were the curators and we were delighted when Úna invited us to show it in her gallery. We showed the eight prints from the project as well as individual works by the artists. Here’s Claire Halpin’s individual piece below, and below that, my piece.

Claire Halpin
“Prism Panopticon” by Claire Halpin

fado

 

Visit Claire Halpin’s blog for more information at:

http://clairehalpin2011.wordpress.com/

Check out also: http://www.angailearai.com

www.irishpages.org

http://www.clo.ie/

 

art, Art musings, Curating, Exhibitions

Performance, Painting and Practicalities

Photograph by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

“You don’t deliver art to the gallery”, he said, “you don’t deliver art, rolled up under your arm, ready to hang on the wall. No, no”, he said, “art is up here” (he pointed to his right temple).  Then he went on to tell me all about his artists’ collective, a group of people who seemed to roam the world, making art out of… whatever they encountered.

Mmmm, so that’s where art was! I’d been wondering about this for a while. Especially since I had recently nearly broken my back, carrying a colossal roll of fine art prints through airport terminals, up and down escalators, onto packed buses, across crazy main streets with crazy, maniacal drivers, up rickety staircases… To tell the truth, I had just delivered art – all the way from Dublin to Tbilisi, Georgia.  Had I made a terrible mistake?

Performance Art – there was quite a lot of it at Artisterium this year, the Tbilisi International Contemporary Art Exhibition. I dunno. We met up with two Performance artists over there.  Jennifer Hicks told us that when she graduated from art college, she was a painter, then she ventured into Installation art and now she was doing Performance. She said she liked very little of what she saw in Painting these days and… I know what she means – there’s either the obsessively photo realistic work on the one hand and on the other, there’s the blob of pink paint on a blank canvas with a match stuck into it, sort of thing. But then there’s Ledoh. That’s the fellow in the photo above. He makes an instant impression, wouldn’t you say?  Performance is when you use your own body as your ‘canvas’ – and I don’t mean that you pour paint all over yourself (although some of them do, and not only paint but muck and food and such… ). The thing is though, you can use whatever’s around you. It’s practical, I suppose.

performance by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Performance in the National Gallery

And I did a performance piece once. D’you remember? Yes, that was me in the National Gallery of Ireland. You can read about it at: https://emacl.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/dont-talk-to-the-artwork/

Anyway I’m back in Dublin now and I was at an artist’s talk last night. Geraldine O’Neill (see below) What do you think of that? That’s not just photo realist, is it? And it was really interesting to hear her talk about it. Now I don’t mean to be too black and white here. I just wanted to put it out there, so many different forms of art – Which of these images would you prefer?

Oil Painting by Geraldine O'Neill

( here’s some links to the people I mentioned )

http://www.differencescreen.net/nine-dragon-heads/

http://www.jenniferhicks.org/

http://www.ledoh.org/

http://www.kevinkavanagh.ie/geraldine-o-neill/

http://www.artisterium.org/

Cló, Curating, Exhibitions, Palimpsest/ Rianú

Irish artists in Tbilisi, Georgia

view of Tbilisi, Georgia photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Claire Halpin and myself travelled over to Tbilisi recently on belhalf of Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc, to install an exhibition – The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project – the Irish representation at Artisterium, an international art event which takes place annually in the Georgian capital. I’ve written about this project before, see: https://emacl.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/what-artists-get-up-to/

So we brought all the work over with us on the plane to Tbilisi. That was an adventure in itself. Luckily we had met with Turkish Airlines beforehand and they’d agreed to let us take it on board the plane.  It’s difficult to think of everything in advance but it is a good idea to bring as much as possible with you on this sort of excursion – hammers, nails, pinchers, pins, screwdrivers, awls, blades, clips, velcro and tape, plenty of tape.  As the boy scouts would say: Bígí ullamh!- and we thought we were. But then, who would have thought that we’d need a sweeping brush? And where would you find a sweeping brush in the city centre? We were installing the work in the Tbilisi History Museum, the main location of Artisterium but… well, let’s just say that it could have done with a make-over. This is the way with much of the city of Tbilisi. It has many beautiful old buildings from the 18th and 19th century but they are mostly in need of repair and renovation. Take the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts (ie: the Georgian National College of Art). There it is pictured below – hoardings, broken windows – from the outside, it looks like a building site

Tbilisi State Academy of Arts Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

but then here below is a photo that I took in the hallway inside! Chandeliers and beautiful plasterwork. Of course, it  wasn’t all like that, several of the rooms were dusty and crumbling – but it must’ve been a beautiful building once upon a time.

Tbilisi Ceiling Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

However, our space in the Tbilisi State Museum was not so grand.  We arrived with our hammers and nails (and sweeping brush) and all around us, in the various rooms of the Museum, there were other artists working frenetically to complete their installations. The one electrician was going from room to room like a man, obsessed. We had 3 videos to install and only one socket that worked. But we got it all done in good time for the official opening on Friday night.

Now I won’t write a review of the whole arts festival. There was so much happening there but here’s a link to the full colour, 140 page catalogue. (We’re featured on pages 16-25)  http://artisterium.org/Artisterium2013/Catalog2013.pdf

There was a strong element of Film this year, with “Difference Screen”, a 3 day programme of short films and videos, running at the Georgian National Museum. The panel discussions with curators Bruce Allan and Ben Eastop, led by Gareth Evans, curator of film at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, were very interesting. There was about 30 films in all, which had been collected over several decades, reflecting on the changing political landscape in various countries. Dan Shipsides had an amazing piece which he had created by swinging his camera round and round above his head. Desert Rose by Cordelia Swann was a chilling account of atom bomb testing in the Nevada desert in the 1950s.

Finally, here’s a link to a short film (50 seconds long) of our space, made by Claire Halpin. Watch out for the artwork on the floor, a moving, collaborative piece that she made with Kate Murphy.  If you’re wondering about it, I’ll elaborate in my next post  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l1KsRiABpE&feature=em-share_video_user

also, a link to Claire’s blog: http://clairehalpin2011.wordpress.com/

Art musings, Cló, Curating, Exhibitions, Palimpsest/ Rianú

What artists get up to…

Palimpsest image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

The image you see above was begun by Kate Murphy.  She created it by scanning her own face and rotating her head slowly as the scanning arm moved from left to right.  Next, Nuala Ní Fhlathúin rephotographed the image using an experimental method on a rainy day (!) in Galway. Colin Martin then drew an image of a green screen over it. Claire Halpin placed an antique mirror on the image and rescanned it and passed it on to Brian Fay. Brian responded to the notion of mirroring and decided to copy the image and invert it so that it was now ‘a mirror to itself’. It looked somewhat like a Rorschach test at this stage.

I’ll pause here to explain that Claire Halpin and myself are curating an art project on behalf of Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc, to represent Ireland at Artisterium VI in Tbilisi, Georgia this year. Artisterium is a major international art event with a 10 day programme of exhibitions, presentations and workshops in the Georgian capitol. The theme this year is about exploring how we deal with ‘the Other’ and so we decided to make it a collaborative project and have 8 artists working on each other’s artworks – and see how that worked out!

So when the next artist, Aoife McGarrigle, received the image she immediately thought of butterfies and insects. So she cut out the image in the shape of a dragonfly, using the mirrors as upper wings. And she also added a few ‘mutations’ to it because she was reading about Cornelia Hesse Honegger at the time – an artist who makes beautiful studies of insects that have developed various mutations because they live near nuclear power stations. But that’s another story. When Mary A. Fitzgerald received the image she decided to add two little cameo portraits to the hand mirrors on the wings of the dragonfly and so finally, the image of the dragonfly with added portraits and various mutations arrived in my inbox…

It was then up to me to respond to it, add something to it, change it in some way or… I was the final artist to work on this piece. I felt that the image had developed quite sinister connotations, perhaps influenced by the continuous stories we’ve been hearing of pending war in the Middle East, so I decided to try and turn it around and present a message of reconcilliation.  As the theme of Artisterium VI is about dealing with ‘the Other’, I decided to copy and invert the dragonfly so that now we had two of them on opposite sides but they were face to face and speaking to each other. I also added the new background, perhaps a scene of the aftermath of war.

So that’s an example of what we’ve been up to.  Each of the artists started one piece and passed it on. Each of them will finish one piece. The process is well underway at this stage.  It’s called The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project and it’s really exciting to see all the developments. Later on there’ll be a publication about it. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime there’s more general information at: http://www.artisterium.org/  and here’s a couple more of the finished pieces…

Palimpsest Image by Brian Fay

Palimpsest image by Aoife McGarrigle

See a slide show of all the works passing through all the 8 stages.  It was put together by Claire Halpin. It’s brill !  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzv_IYKDSI

Art musings, Curating, Visual Artists Ireland

A support group for artists…

drawing by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

I was thinking today that artists should stick together. This doesn’t always happen in the art world. As in any area of life, there can be schisms and skulduggery, but there’s also a fair bit of solidarity here.

In Ireland, we have Visual Artists Ireland (the VAI) which acts as an advocate on behalf of artists and provides various services and resources like exhibition listings, job opportunities etc. Mostly I would say: it’s like a support group for artists. I would definitely recommend that you join, if you’re an artist living in Ireland. The more members we have, the stronger the organisation will be. See www.visualartists.ie

So we had our annual Get Together on Friday last, a great day. Presentations, meetings, networking etc. There was a panel discussion about Media coverage of the Arts in Ireland. Very interesting – Sarah Ryder from RTE talked about a survey that had concluded that a lot of people are interested in the arts and they go to the cinema, to concerts and to exhibitions etc but – they don’t consider themselves to be ‘part of the arts scene’.  (They are, of course, and they are hugely appreciated). The art critic Cristín Leach Hughes called on people who write about art to explain themselves in ordinary language.  Finola Meredith from the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast said that ‘Passion sells’. If you speak from the heart, if you are passionate about your work, it will shine through.

That was good to hear because the next item on the agenda was a little scary – Speed Curating.  A big room, 25 curators, and 10 minutes to explain yourself. There was such a buzz in that room! In the end I made a few good connections.

PS: I wonder would the image above explain my art?

A few more links below –

http://cristinleach.com  http://dublincityfm.ie/

http://goldenthreadgallery.co.uk  www.balticmill.com

www.greenonredgallery.com  www.kevinkavanaghgallery.ie