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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