126 Artist-run Gallery is pleased to present Interplay which features the work of the recipients of the Burren College of Art, 5th Emerging Irish Artist Residency Award: Conor Coady (in collaboration with Grace McEvoy), Phoebe McDonogh, Matthew Mitchell, and Olivia Normile.
The Emerging Irish Artist Residency Award is an annual award offered by the Burren College of Art in conjunction with artist-led gallery G126 in Galway. Each year four emerging Irish artists are selected from an open submission and given the opportunity for a focused period of producing work during a one-month residency at BCA. This group of artists then work collaboratively with G126 to produce a large-scale show that takes place in both galleries at a later date. EIARA started in 2014 during the Burren College of Art’s 20-year celebrations and was conceived as a way of discovering and supporting emerging talent in Ireland’s contemporary art scene.
Interplay features a display of each artist’s explorations and pursuits of the multidimensional facets around their direct environment. Through the extraction of hidden qualities and processes in physical responses, these actions result in the creation of a collective visual dialogue and language.
The Burren landscape has often been described as lunar, and this is prescient. A glimpse skyward at twilight will reveal an aerial satellite making its steady journey across the night sky, or the light of a radio mast flickering in the distance. This is a reminder that the Burren sits in another less tangible landscape, one whose topology and cartography can be both literally and metaphorically hidden. This is the landscape of the global digital age, the Infosphere of unseen signals and grids and coordinates. The proliferation of the internet and globalisation has profoundly altered how we perceive and experience our natural environment. As our material environment constantly shifts and changes, so does our perception of it.
The work here is an attempt to find a visual language for this duality between our necessarily abstracted experience of place and being in the new digital landscape, and our perception of place and being in relation to the more tangible primeval geological past. It is an attempt to use the visual lexicon of the past to articulate and chronicle our experience of the transient, often invisible now. This interplay of past and present place and time exists in the intermingling organic and inorganic forms on the canvas, in the physical act of making the work and in the perceived embodied experience of what is made. The processes used in the studio echo the naturally occurring processes of concealment and revelation in the physical act of erosion in the natural environment. Limestone marls are collected from places within the Burren landscape and then applied in layers. The act of construction in the layering and the deconstruction of sanding and dissolving, and the transformational potential of the material enables the observed materiality of the landscape to be embodied in the tactile surface of the piece. At the same time, the use of the reflective qualities of enamel on textured coloured surfaces allows forms to appear and disappear, their visual reality in time-shifting and impermanent. The inorganic materiality of the enamel and its translucence allows it to be part of the whole, but with a different separate narrative.
In many ways, this describes our new, rapidly evolving natural environment and where we locate ourselves in relation to it