Des Kenny talks to Michael McLoughlin Artist in Residence at Draiocht

October 11, 2017

Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny chats to Michael McLoughlin, Artist in Residence 2017 ...
  

Michael McLoughlin is the current Artist In Residence in Draiocht and will work in the Artist Studio on projects for a show in 2018. I paid a visit to the studio on a fine September morning as the odd fallen leaf, Autumn’s calling card, rustled across Draiocht’s entrance.  

I have known Michael for many years. We were fellow members of Pallas Studios, sharing studio space in old factories with twenty artists. At that time he had the smallest studio among Pallas members and due to lack of storage he would hang his sculptures from the girders of the roof. He managed to squeeze into his cramped space a fully equipped recording studio. Outside our studio on Foley Street was a stone crushing machine, pulverising rubble from condemned buildings. Michael recorded the crushing sound of the bricks going through the machine. He expanded one second of the recording into one minute’s duration. He replayed this for me and I was astounded to hear what appeared to be music not dissimilar to whale song. I was reminded of a verse in the Bible, which declared 'even the stones began to sing as Christ passed on his journey'.  Music is rooted untapped in all things and a poetic line in the Bible suddenly had relevance in the scientific reality of contemporary life.



Today sound predominates his practice and is utilised to explore visceral links that bind people to a place and how a community evolves within its environs. Littered around the studio lie the tools of his vocation, loops of electric cable, microphones, and amplifiers, speakers of various sizes, synthesizers and recording equipment. All are used to record, magnify or soften the acoustic language captured by the echo chamber of the ear. Softly playing in the background as we talked is a piece he made for the atrium of the Sutherland School of Law, UCD. He suspended large speakers with steel cable from the cascading space of the foyer ceiling. Visitors were greeted with the murmuring song of swifts emanating from speakers above their heads. These birds fly through Syria, Greece, Africa and the artist infers a connection with the current migratory crises of people in these regions.
In a show at Limerick City Gallery the artist hung various speakers from the ceiling with specially manufactured electric cable. A company fabricated two miles of electrical wire to the artist specifications. The electric cable, while acting as a conduit for electricity and load bearing attachment for the floating speakers, also conjured an aerial line drawing in the vaulted air of the gallery. In his view, not using readily available cheaper electric cable but having it manufactured instead to his design, enhanced the installation. Attention to detail has a financial cost that an artist accepts to allow their works achieve complete visual impact. Perhaps it can be over emphasized, the significance of seeing his sculptures stored in the rafters of Pallas Studios, that the artist recognised the possibility to rehabilitate the vacant  gallery roof space to hang his art. The chance requirements of necessity can become an influential keystone in an artist’s development.



It was a question I did not put to the artist. He did refer to the Kimmage project which changed his approach to making art all those years ago while still a member of Pallas Studios. It was called 'Ideal Homes' and he worked with the community, recording their words as they described their ideal home. The problem back then, as it is today for the artist, is to find solutions that prevent a community’s voice becoming distilled or manipulated to create a work of art.

His present undertaking involves working with the diverse community living in Mulhuddart and creating a project which Draiocht will showcase in 2018. Examining the effects the media and local government policy construe to formulate an image which does not reflect their personal experience. Scattered on a wall are sundry accounts from newspapers and policy documents which contextualise a narrative at variance with the communal life of Mulhuddart. Old and new maps of Mulhuddart trace the growth from a number of great houses to an urban sprawl where the historical names of the great houses now refer to housing estates. This wall of information will act as aid to anchor his thoughts to help create a work of art which will become a portrait of Mulhuddart.




Read more about Michael's work in Draiocht HERE ... 



Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Michael McLoughlin,

Des Kenny Reviews Group Show, Curated by Aoife Dunne

July 26, 2017

28 July 2017 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews our First Floor Gallery Exhibition, Curated by Aoife Dunne, as part of Draíocht@Night ...

Aoife Dunne has drawn together a number of contemporary artists in the First Floor Gallery and curates a show which seeks to broaden the cultural narrative of concepts similar to her own practice. They are connected by a mutual interest in Manga comics, video games, fashion magazines and how our new virtual generation connects or disconnects with society.


Sadbh O’Brien
utilises collage as a creative tool to manipulate found imagery from fashion magazines and the internet, exploring topics on sexuality, feminism and the legacy of gender imbalance. Collage was used by Braque and Picasso to create visual puns in their engagement with cubism. It was further expanded to include political ideas and unlocking the dream worlds of the Dadaist and surrealists movements. Sadbh O’Brien follows in the footsteps of Hannah Hoch, Eileen Agar and Nancy Spero in employing collage as a medium to herald feminine politics and History. In Torn Colgate Smile With Apples,  a disjointed photographic lipstick smile rests between folded arms that touch coyly a pair of apples. Advertisers use the female body in all its guises to sell products like toothpaste that can guarantee a perfect smile, instil confidence and promoting the bewitching promise of romance. On another level the artist may be referencing Eve in the garden of paradise and gleefully celebrates her part in the fall of man. 

A laughing mouth with protruding tongue placed in the centre of a pleated skirt, greets the viewer daringly in Cunning Kowtow. Arms cocked in a sparring pose act as legs while on top of this strange body a leg protrudes ready to confront conformity. This sense of defiance is continued in Lollipop as a female figure lifts her skirt alluringly as a two fingered rebellious salute bulges starkly upon her shoulders. The sculpture Pseudo Science catches the viewer by surprise as they move away from the flat imagery of collage into the inanimate sculptural reality of three dimensions. The pieces of sheer plastic hang loosely like flayed skin on a silver clothes rail. The roughly sewn edges describe a human form and the head droops alarmingly like Munch’s famous painting of the scream. This work deliberates on the desperate craving to preserve youth and beauty through the illusion of plastic surgery.



Martina Menegon
’s video investigates the physical and psychological motivation that exists in trying to monitor and project a visual persona that is accepted by the self and society. The video screen reveals a young woman behind a veil staring anxiously at her limpid reflection. The face begins to distort beneath the veil while tremulous hands outside the guarded veil try to prevent the disfiguration. It becomes a redundant enterprise as other transformations take place away from the restraining hands, as her face shimmers beyond constraint into further contortions. The hopeless striving of the hands attempting to prevent the locomated distortion of the young woman’s veiled face declare an insurmountable expectation to create the perfect air brushed image that fashionable society will approve.



Ciaran Gallen
introduces the viewer to the iconic character filled world of Manga comics. Fantastical figures are caught in the maelstrom of an uncontrollable destiny. In a large painting called ‘Uzumaki Size’ a demon mask is surrounded by laughing and snarling creatures that appear to watch over oncoming doom with cartoonish relish and indifference. Blues, purples, green and orange swirl, clash and collide, increasing the tension across the painted surface as the mysterious melodrama unfolds.

In another work two large faces with enlarged blood shot eyes glare purposefully, trying to hypnotize the onlooker and introduce them into their horrifying pitiless underworld. Another painting reveals a decapitated figure surrounded by creatures who watch over the scene with unceremonious glee. The frantic mark-making across the paint surface mirrors the delirious situations contained in each painting. Using combinations of acrylics, ink, pastels, oil sticks and oil paint, the artist heightens the fervour across the painted ground and invokes the creative urgency of their production.



Kate O’Loughlin makes digital art for a virtual world. Data collected from the internet becomes the artist’s materials creating a visual context to explore and unearth subterranean pathways concealed from contemporary society. The prints contain a wide variety of recognisable symbols retaining alternative histories that the immediate visual experience fails to communicate. In both prints the brand logo Kappa appears denoting a certain branded lifestyle but Kappa, as a word, is also used on Twitch TV as a method of sarcasm and anti-globalisation rhetoric. A Greek urn and statue may hint at the Greek economic crises. The sandals in each print may refer to the incident in the Iraq war when President Bush had to dodge a sandal thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist at a press conference. Throwing sandals becomes a metaphor of defiance against the destructive acts of global super powers. The sandal may also pertain to the refugee crisis visited upon Greek shores. The artists titles of Slides do not advance any insights to the prints meaning, but leaves it open to the audience to disentangle the multitude of interpretations for themselves.





Evan Bech creates videos in rich psychedelic colours where purple Mohican figures distort and blend miraculously into a yellow background. These transformations appear logical as there are no limits or constraints imposed in this enchanted realm. Music reinforces the aimless unwinding storyline in the videos, capturing the viewer’s imagination with sight and sound. White bananas and exploding dynamite seem common place in a striped labyrinth that meanders purposively into an unending cartoon twilight zone. The videos have a hypnotic effect leaving the audience spellbound and when the video ends the retina feels momentarily caught on the iridescent wings of fantasy.


Group Show
FRI 7 JULY - SAT 26 AUGUST 2017 
First Floor Gallery, Draiocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts




Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Aoife Dunne, Desmond Kenny,

Des Kenny Reviews LIMITLESS by Aoife Dunne

July 21, 2017

21 July 2017 - Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews LIMITLESS by Aoife Dunne ...


In the breathless environment of computer graphics Aoife Dunne explores the suffocating restrictions unconsciously imposed by society on the youthful female psyche. The artist projects her own physicality with the aid of indistinguishable models upon the framework of a computer game to examine the blurred boundaries that exist between external and internal forces that promulgate gender imbalance.

Her short film is presented on a large screen surrounded by colourful objects in the gallery which correspond to the colouristic forms in the digital realm; virtual and actual reality echo one another. Sonic music and neon lights in the gallery help incorporate the viewers senses with the rhythmic pulse of the screens output. The artist employs various gaming technologies to create a virtual landscape allowing her characters space to perform and create a dialogue with the viewer.



In the introductory clip, a door opens revealing an urgent streamlined virtual platform where an inexhaustible voiceover demands the contestants to take their places, make this scene count while maintaining a great attitude. Only a positive mentality will achieve dazzling success to move on to the next level. A chorus line of blossoming girls all dressed alike with blue hair, clown like make up and pouting lips call out in fused unity for inclusion in the next measured phase of the contest. No doubt this scene reflects upon the thousands of young hopefuls queuing up outside stage doors waiting for selection on various television talent shows. Eventually two promising players are chosen to continue in the next pulsating instalment of the competition.





The intoxicating tone of the narrators become more demanding; imploring success is only attained with a good posture and be aware people are watching your every move while your mirror informs you what other people see. The performers reflect the needs of the unseen game show host; lose their individuality hoping to attain shimmering success. Warnings are flashed upon the screen that no exit is available once the contestant has entered; having signed up there is no escape from this virtual vortex.

The girls masquerade in uniformed garments, lifting pink barbells, perfecting postures with tight rope balancing poles and trying to pout alluringly. Against a flashing backdrop of swirling stripes and convulsing forms a male voice talks about the manufacturing of perfect dolls and how it is important that moving facial devices do not undermine the cuteness of the face. Stereotypical reinforcement of female performers within the theatrical game hints no doubt at societies need for a clichéd distinction between genders.

The video game ends with the contestant failing to meet the required standard and must try again. Beneath the surface of beautiful colours, oscillating forms and hypnotic music in this video, a narrative of subtle suppression that shapes the gender imbalance we accept in our daily lives.



On the opening night the artist added to the spectacle by engaging a troupe of young dancers to reel and weave through the pulsing crowd. Dressed in garments fashioned by the artist, wearing black masks and shrouded in silence they danced expressionless. Appearing like automatons controlled by an unseen choreographer, they restlessly weaved a whispered spell over the transported audience.





 

Limitless - Aoife Dunne
FRI 7 JULY - SAT 26 AUGUST 2017 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draiocht Blanchardstown

Read more about Aoife's show ... here ...
Watch LIMITLESS ... here ... 


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Visual Arts, Aoife Dunne, Desmond Kenny,

The inaugural Draíocht@Night took place in tandem with the opening of Aoife Dunne’s LIMITLESS

July 11, 2017

We are still BUZZING after AOIFE DUNNE’s ‘LIMITLESS’ Launch last Friday Night, 7 July, complete with DJ, Dancers and Fizzy Pop!

The inaugural Draíocht@Night took place in tandem with the opening of Aoife’s LIMITLESS in our Ground Floor Gallery (showing until 26 August).
Aoife also curated our First Floor Gallery exhibition of works by her contemporaries which resonate with her own practice. Exhibiting artists are Evan Bech, Ciaran Gallen, Martina Menegon, Sadbh O’Brien & Kate O’Loughlin (also showing until 26 August).

Draíocht@Night also included Meta Perceptual Helmets by Cleary Connolly: Anne Cleary, Denis Connolly and Niall McKenzie; and a site-specific performance by Dublin Youth Dance Company DYDC with director/choreographer Mariam Ribon and dancers Hannah Bergin, Roberta Ceginskaite, Cian Coady, Sarah Connolly, Mia DeChiaro, Aoife Kane, Louise Kennedy and Saoirse O’Kane.

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Draíocht@Night is co-curated by Aoife Dunne (Artist) and Sharon Murphy (Draíocht Curator in Residence 2017) with choreography curated by Mariam Ribón, Dublin Youth Dance Company (DYDC).


























MORE ... Read more about LIMITLESS by Aoife Dunne
MORE ... Watch LIMITLESS on Vimeo
Better still, call into Draiocht and experience LIMITLESS in our Ground Floor Gallery until 26 August 2017.
Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Curator in Residence, Visual Arts, Aoife Dunne, Sharon Murphy,

School Portraits from 1994-2017

May 23, 2017

Opening this week in Draíocht’s Galleries

School Portraits
An Exhibition featuring the work of 4 Artists, all of whom have immersed themselves, often for extended periods of time in schools, to create bodies of work that capture the rich and varied moods and lived experiences of Irish school life, including a new commission for 2017 with 6th class pupils of Scoil Bhríde N.S. and Tyrrelstown E.T.N.S. in Dublin 15.

Artists: John Ahearn, Mandy O’Neill, Blaise Smith & Kilian Waters 

GROUND & FIRST FLOOR GALLERIES, DRAIOCHT BLANCHARDSTOWN
Free Admission, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm
Launches Wed 24 May 2017 at 6pm
Runs until 24 June 2017

Join Helen O’Donoghue, Senior Curator, Irish Museum of Modern Art in conversation with the Artists and with Sharon Murphy, Draiocht’s Curator in Residence 2017 on 24 May at 6pm to Launch the Exhibition.


Kilian Waters, Helen O'Donoghue, Mandy O'Neill, Blaise Smith, Sharon Murphy
 

School Portraits invites us to see contemporary artists’ representations of young people, school buildings and the wide range of activities and experiences that occur during a school day.  The exhibition presents work by sculptor John Ahearn, photographer Mandy O’Neill, painter Blaise Smith and film-maker Kilian Waters. From classroom to playground, from close-up to group studies, from painting-from-life to filmed testimonials, the exhibition is an extended portrait of school and of those who go there everyday.

 

School Portraits is the second in a series of exhibitions curated by Sharon Murphy for Draíocht. The 2017 gallery programme is informed by the social and cultural profile of Dublin 15 - where more than a quarter of the population are school-going - and by a commitment to showing a range of contemporary art practices, as well as marking the intersections between youth culture and visual culture, especially in the realm of the perfomative.

 

The works in School Portraits share not only a common theme but also a dynamic exploration of the genre of portraiture. The finished portrait is the outcome of an encounter between artist and sitter but it also begins a similar encounter between subject and viewer. Most viewers have been to school and so the pictures function as a kind of looking-glass in which they see themselves then and now. Portraiture is compelling because of its inherent ambiguity arising from the tension between individual identity and common humanity. At first glance we recognise the uniformity of the school experience but, on closer viewing, we are invited to perceive the individual identity of everybody portrayed.



John Ahearn

St Francis Street Boys 1994 by New York-based artist John Ahearn is on loan from the Irish Museum of Modern Art. It was made during a collaborative project between the C.B.S.  Francis St, Dublin and the artist during a residency at IMMA. Making the busts involved the boys having their heads and shoulders encased in quick-drying rubber latex to make the moulds from which final plaster casts were made.

 

 
Blaise Smith


Blaise Smith

Selected paintings from Schoolwork by Blaise Smith RHA are on loan from Presentation College, Carlow. Schoolwork is the outcome of a Per Cent for Art commission 2011 in which the artist undertook a year-long residency at the school. The paintings in oils were all done from life and feature numerous portraits of the students and staff recording everyday life in the cycle of the school year. 



Mandy O'Neill

Selected photographs from Promise by Mandy O’Neill are chosen from her self-initiated long-term residency (2013-2016) at Gaelschoil Bharra, Cabra.  Initially conceived as a year-long photographic study, the project grew to represent the resilience of the children and the spirit of childhood during years when the adult narrative was dominated by the seemingly endless search for a proper built environment to replace the pre-fab structure in place since 1994.

 

Seen and Not Heard is a film triptych and sound work by Kilian Waters, specially commissioned by Draíocht for this exhibition. The work was made in recent months during a short residency with children from Room 13 Inquiry Fingal at Scoil Bhríde N.S. and Tyrrelstown E.T.N.S. in Dublin 15. It portrays the diversity of faces and voices of local 6th class children as they recall and anticipate, reflect and dream at a key moment of transition in their young lives.


Kilian Waters
 

Room 13 Inquiry Fingal is an initiative of Fingal Co. Co. Arts Office under the direction of Julie Clarke and led by resident artists Orla Kelly and Anne Cradden. The Fingal Room 13 studios are the first such student-run studios to open in the Republic of Ireland.

 
Draiocht's Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission is Free.

Further information from Sharon Murphy, Draiocht’s Curator in Residence 2017. e: sharon@draiocht.ie / 01-8098026

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Sharon Murphy,

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