The Materialists

The Materialists

Daire O’Shea | Sophie Gough

24th August – 9th September 2018

126 Artist-Run Gallery is pleased to present “The Materialists” a duo exhibition by artists Daire O’Shea and Sophie Gough. “The Materialists” is part of 126’s ongoing project “Un-set In Stone”, conceived in light of recent activities surrounding the destruction of National Monuments overseas. In chorus with this, the theme contemplates an art object which can be considered a ‘monument of sorts’; a symbol of the time in which it was made; a representation of society or societal concerns. Materialism also comes into play here, as the longevity of an object in both meaning and physicality, can disintegrate change or produce new meaning. Through the piecing together of materials in new ways, artworks of this nature can create altered perceptions and new forms of material meaning. 

Gough’s practice is driven by an interest in the contemporary issue of the blurred distinction, between the organic and inorganic, particularly within landscapes and architecture, through the juxtaposition and representation of familiar materials. Gough focuses on this fusion and re-presentation of familiar materials and objects through disrupting the relationships that we have with them in the making of art objects and installations. 

O’Shea’s practice is driven by a research thread that is constantly oscillating between the digital and the physical. Driven by the two seemingly opposed schools of post-internet art and object-oriented ontology his practice is constantly flitting between the digital and physical representations in a state of flux. Recently the focus has been on the physical experience of a real object that is a manifestation of a digital construction. 

Gough and O’Shea, having studied in Limerick together for four years, growing as individual sculptors yet sharing their passion and enthusiasm for a very particular strand of philosophical interests, this duo-exhibition, has been a long time coming. Both artists wish to express their gratitude to 126 Gallery and staff for giving them this exciting opportunity to experiment and develop new works specifically for this show, The Materialists.

The Duo has also set up an Instagram page which documents objects of influence and inspiration for this project: @the_fox_and_the_hedgehog

Exhibition shot “the Materialists”

O’Shea/Gough Exhibition Statement:

The Materialists is the physical culmination of our long shared passion for the teachings of the Object Oriented Ontology School of philosophy and its relation to the sculptural field.  This exhibition is the point of convergence for both of our practices which have for some time run along parallel lines.  The point of departure for this show was a small collaborative project entitled ‘The Fox and the Hedgehog’ Instagram page.  T.F.A.T.H. is a visual call and response dialogue which consists of photographs of materials and forms we encounter in our daily life which speak to us at a fundamental level.

As Materialists, we do not hold that we, as cool, disembodied artist-minds go out into the world and dispassionately select forms from the infinity of potential inspiration that exists.  No, we see the forms and materials that grasp our attention as collaborators in the sculptural process.  For just as we are acting upon them by selecting and photographing them, they too act upon us by stepping out from the scenery and grasping our attention.  For the past number of months we have walked the streets of Dublin and New York attempting to open up lines of communication with things and some of them have spoken right back to us.

The second step in this process was for us to retreat to the studio and draw formal sculptural information from the archive of images present on the Instagram page in order to begin creating from there.  Here there is a more obvious physical collaboration at work where we, the artists try to bend materials to our will while the materials are determined to stay within the limits of their physical integrity.  Again, the result is not one perfect artistic vision but a compromise somewhere between the artist’s vision and the material’s reality.  The result of this creative process is a sculpture which is akin to an after-image inscribed on the retina. 

This intuitive attraction to, and collaboration with, an inanimate thing we define as a moment of strange communication between subject and object. We call this process reciprocal legein (legein from the Latin ‘to gather’ which has an even older definition of ‘to speak’).  Reciprocal legein is incredibly intimate, a secret two-way communication between object and observer.  We chase this moment of reciprocal communication so passionately because this is what we experience during an encounter with a powerful piece of sculpture.  As Materialists we are all too aware of the limits of language in communicating an idea or feeling, so as artists we try to explore this deeply subjective experience in a non-verbal manner.  Visually and physically exploring the experience of reciprocal legein.  

This communication happens not only between subject and object but also between objects themselves.  The moment we put sculptures we each created individually on opposite sides of the Atlantic into a room together they start making connections and building new meanings between themselves.  We as viewers get to bear witness to this communication first hand. An encounter with art can be described as when a viewer opens themselves up to two-way communication between themselves and an object.  We argue that this communication is a way of catching the tiniest glance into the essential essence of an irreducible material.  That is why we make art, to catch that glimpse of the unknowable.

Daire O’Shea,  Me and the Wine-Dark Sea, variable dimensions, chipboard, laser cut aluminium, concrete, 2018.

Biographies: Sophie Gough : Since graduating from Limerick School of Art and Design with a first class honours BA in Sculpture and Combined Media June 2016, Gough has exhibited in numerous group shows with the Dada Post, Berlin, Gallery Port, Iceland, Solstice Arts Centre, Co. Meath, The Lay of the Land Project: Tombolo, Co. Cork, TACTIC, Cork City, 126 Gallery, Galway and opened her first solo show in April 2017 with TACTIC. Gough has been awarded residencies with The National Sculpture Factory, Ireland, Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, The Lay of the Land Project: Tombolo, Mizen Head and Sample Studios, Cork City. Sofie lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Sophie Gough, Na gabhálais, variable dimensions, sheetrock, cardboard, paper maché, 2018.

Daire O’Shea: Received his BA in Sculpture and Combined Media from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2016. O’Shea went on to complete an MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Criticism and Theory in University College Cork in 2017. Aside from this Daire has a thriving practice as a freelance writer and critic having published reviews with the likes of Headstuff.org and academic papers with Murze journal among others. O’Shea also has kept up a sculptural practice with group shows in The Library Project, Dublin, The Belltable, Limerick, Ragaire in Cork and Limerick, and K-fest Kerry. O’Shea was awarded a bursary from Limerick City Gallery to exhibit his show Threshold Devices and a bursary from Limerick School of Art and Design to exhibit his solo show If u Can’t Handle me @… In the upcoming year, O’Shea is about to take up a part-time lecturing position with University College Cork. He lives and works in Cork.


Daire O’Shea, Destitute Formalism, variable dimensions, mild steel, galvanised steel, polycarbonate, Radox, 2018.

126 Artist-Run Gallery is proudly funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Galway City Council.