ITB’s Ashling Smith Wins Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018

June 15, 2018

We are delighted to announce Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award Winner, in association with the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB), is Ashling Smith with her piece VISION.

The Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018 was open to this year’s graduating students from the Creative Digital Media degree programme at ITB and was selected by Fiach MacConghail , CEO Digital Hub Development Agency, on behalf of Draíocht following a short-listing process.

In taking his decision Fiach MacConghail described the field as strong and competitive with rich and varied work and he found the decision a difficult one. He considered the quality of the work, the ideas and interests of the students and how Draíocht's resources could best support the graduate in the development of their emerging practice.
He said of the recipient: "I am selecting this graduate - Ashling Smith - because of the sculptural and painterly quality of the work, it’s immersive multi media form which integrates sound, image and text. It is ultimately a considered work blending creativity and art. The artistic intention of the piece  highlights the vulnerability and joy of making art." Fiach MacConghail

On announcing the award Emer McGowan, Draíocht’s Executive Director said:
"Draíocht is delighted to be working with the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown to provide this exciting opportunity for a Graduate Student. Our Strategy 2018 – 2022 ‘Inspiring A Passion for the Arts’ highlights our commitment to building partnerships and to supporting the work of emerging practitioners.This new award demonstrates Draíocht’s commitment to these priorities." Emer McGowan

Hugh McCabe, Course Coordinator, Creative Digital Media, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) said:
"Working with Draíocht on this award is a fantastic means of further developing the sorts of synergies between art, design and technology that are at the heart of the Creative Digital Media programme at ITB. We are delighted that the opportunity to collaborate with Draíocht is being offered to one of our students and look forward to seeing the results." Hugh McCabe


Draíocht’s Marketing Department caught up with Ashling to find out more about her and her work!


Artist: Ashling Smith
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY


Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you’re from and where you live?
I am originally from Dublin. I moved down to Wexford when I was 10 and come from a family of 5 siblings, 2 brothers and 3 sisters. I am the second oldest and the oldest girl. School was always difficult for me, but I did love art class. I could work on stuff for hours in art and felt comfortable in what I was doing. Irish Dancing was something that I did from the age of 4, I loved dancing and eventually put the shoes away when I was 15 or 16 as I wanted to concentrate on my Art Portfolio. I attended an art portfolio course in Killester College and eventually went on to Stillorgan College and that’s where I first learned digital media. I got a quick grasp on web and graphic design and decided that this is what I wanted to do. I ended up in Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB) studying Creative Digital Media, where I studied a wide range of things such as Film Making, Photography, Web Design and Graphic Design. While in college to get better at Web design and branding I worked with clients for free to build up a portfolio and recognition. After a while I decided to set myself up as a freelancer and eventually got a few jobs while studying in college. All these skills that have become an important asset in my personal and professional work. I have just recently graduated from ITB this May with a First-Class Honours.
 


Artist Ashling Smith & Emer McGowan, Director Draíocht
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY​


Q: When you were small, what did you want to be when you grew up? Were there any clues in your childhood that you would follow an artistic path later?
I loved to be creative from a young age and storytelling was always something I enjoyed. I think I tended to have an overactive imagination as a child, so to write that all down or draw pictures of characters was always a great kick for me. I remember my nanny buying myself and siblings rolls of paper to colour on, I could sit there for hours and colour away, I was always given paints, paper, crayons and colouring pencils for birthdays and Christmas, so I think that prompted me to colour. and be artistic.


Hugh McCabe, Course Coordinator, Creative Digital Media ITB,
​Artist Ashling Smith & Emer McGowan, Director Draíocht.
ANDRES POVEDA PHOTOGRAPHY


Q: How long have you been an artist and why choose an arty profession over a more conventional career, like being an accountant, or working in an office for instance?
I started off in a course in Killester, after I left school to create an art portfolio to go into animation. I also took life drawing classes to get a better at drawing the human form. I was 17 at the time and quite shy in expressing my art as I haven’t yet developed the confidence and hid most of my work prior. I did not get great encouragement from tutors in my Art Portfolio course and I began to give up. Following that I did not get into the animation course that year, but I decided to try again and ended up in Stillorgan College, I still had the idea to pursue animation and began my portfolio again. This time the course was digital based and a new world to me. I quickly got into the Web Design and Graphic Design, but still wanted animation. I had loads of professionals in the industry telling me that I had great design skills that were much stronger than my skills for animation. When presenting my animation portfolio for interviews I was told I had great experimental work and design skills and should pursue them more. After the second time not getting into an animation course, I decided that I should go about design and luckily that’s how I got into ITB studying Creative Digital Media. I now have a degree in Creative Digital Media. All these little life lessons through those years were able to set me up to work in a professional manner. My final year project set me up to use my skills of my artist background and digital media background and combine them to create something I didn’t think I would be ever able to do, and I’m so grateful for the lecturers in ITB and encouragement from them to make that possible. It's always great to be surrounded by positivity. I always thought I would end up doing something that involved being creative, it’s the only way I function.

Q: Perhaps you also have a conventional day job to supplement your income as an artist?
My day job is still creative, I design Websites for clients and design their brand, as well as look into their online presence such as social media accounts. It great when I have a client who trusts me to lead their brand and reach out to their audience. Other times there would be approval from the client before publishing, but everyone is different in how this process works. Its is nice to have a day job that is also creative.



Ashling Smith, VISON

Q: When did you create your first piece and what was your subject matter?
My first digital piece that I created was my first website from a Web Design course I took. Pretty sure its still out there online somewhere I used a free hosting and domain space. It was a portfolio website to show my work. I laugh looking back at it because I used an awful font that designers would shame me for (think it was comic sans if I remember), and too many colours. But I like to look back at work I did from years ago and see how far I have come today in my skills.
 

Q: Do you have a distinctive style? 
I don’t like to think of myself as having a distinctive style, as I see my personal work that I do as experimental. Comments made about my work is that its very colourful, which I never took note of until it was said to me. I do like to be colourful with my work as I love colours. I find them so expressive and they can tell so much in a story. In terms of my work with graphic design and web, my style would be more clean and simple, I don’t like overcrowding the space and like to keep focus on the main content that needs to be seen.

Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like photography, sculpting, making music for instance?
Photography is something that I love experimenting with, especially when it comes to long exposure shots. I would go out into the city and take long exposure shots of the city lights. I also find any type of lights around the house and move them around the camera to capture the lights, I find this so interesting to do.


Ashling Smith, Dancing Lights 2017 (Long exposure photography)

Q: What is the thing you most enjoy about your work?
The experimenting is something I enjoy, I don’t know what the end result is going to be when I start projects like this and it suits me so well to work that way.

Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
If I am having a bad day and getting frustrated, I would typically just walk away for an hour or two and take myself away from the space I am working in. I find that if you are outside the space you're working in, you can relax more and see what is causing the bad day. When I feel ready I will go back and continue my work. I try not to pressure myself, because if I’m not feeling the motivation I will not get anything done.
 

Q: How do you feel about the business side of being an artist, promoting yourself and getting exposure? 
This is something I am currently working on I have just finished college, so this side is all so new to me, but I am hoping over the next few months I will improve on this. I do however have an Instagram that I set up and recently a Facebook page.

Q: Could you tell us a little more about your residency in Draíocht’s Artist Studio? How valuable is this time for you and are you working towards anything in particular?
I am delighted to have been awarded with Draíocht’s Inaugral Creative Digital Media Graduate Award for my Final Year Project Vision. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Draíocht and have my exhibition displayed at PLATFORM 2019. I will be having a 6 weeks residency with Draíocht and my exhibition, with 2 other artists, will be on for 12 weeks. I am really excited for this opportunity and have a year to decide on what I like. Ideas that I have will be a similar theme to my installation piece Vision. I will use the 6 weeks in Draíocht to build the Installation and set it up and before that will prepare content I feel work best for me. Now I am scoping out ideas and can’t say for sure what I will have for next year, but I am excited to explore that.

Q: Do you have any advice you could give to other young artists just starting out? 
I am just starting out myself and still figuring it all out. But what I would say to any creative out there is to always be yourself in your work and never compare yourself - the whole point of being creative is expressing your own work.


WATCH ASHLING'S WINNING PIECE, VISION:
Vision is an audio-visual Installation representing artists and celebrating creativity, through visuals and sound-based media. The project is achieved through projection mapping and a five-piece structure. It is based on the voices of anonymous creatives with different backgrounds sharing their stories on what creativity means to them.

Live version:       https://vimeo.com/274941472
The Making of Vision:     https://vimeo.com/269284586



 

Draíocht’s Creative Digital Media Graduate Award offers the winning graduate:
- A six week residency in Draíocht Studio (Summer 2019) and a sum of €300 expenses
- The opportunity to exhibit new work as part of PLATFORM 2019 (Summer 2019)
- Mentored, supportive environment. 
Further information: marketing@draiocht.ie
 

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Curator in Residence, Visual Arts, Visual Arts Opportunities, Ashling Smith, Hugh McCabe, Sharon Murphy,

Des Kenny Reviews Heartscapes - Drawings by Sharon Kelly

May 18, 2018

10 May 2018

Drawing is a universal terminology used by all when language fails to register meaning. It is readily understandable when a foreign tongue gets lost in translation and barriers to dialogue need a recognised resolution. The first elemental scribbles a child makes connect the subjective primal imagination with objective reality and this first intimate connection with creativity is the foundation on which artists build their career.

Sharon Kelly’s artistic career is centred on drawing and her expressive graphic works are exhibited in the Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery. The works are less descriptive interpretations of reality but are driven by subliminal impassioned forces that can transform how the objective world is confronted. The loss of her father challenged the artist to examine his passing by drawing his working clothes and implements.  His pick and hammer are shrouded in the dominion of darkness slipping away from memories foothold in the present and fade into the forgetting realm of the past. His coat barely discernible in the gray shadow of a faceless landscape, possessed by his absence, is about to shrivel and disappear from the artists grieving gaze. A large drawing of her father’s failing fist plunges diagonally downward towards a welcoming earth where calloused hands are softened and redeemed by nature.



The jagged tear in the fabric of existence caused by the loss of a loved one is further examined in COT and the video LIFE DRAWING. The stark drawing of a Childs hospital cot stands out sharply against the white ground of the paper where illness stifles youthful promise as the looming metal bars imprison without release to full health. The cot is empty but abides patiently for the next patient to benignly harness in hopeless confinement. The animated video of the cot introduces the viewer to an infant whose presence shimmers briefly with life but ebbs and disappears, leaving a hollowed emptiness which even art cannot fill. Yet the artist has no recourse but to return to art, which heals the wound of loves loss and come to terms with the wrenching whims of merciless fate.



The artist becomes her own model in a series of self-portraits, unearthing glimpses of an internal realm generally held at bay from scrutiny in daily life. The surface layers of protection projected in public are stripped away and laid bare for all to see. In ‘Doubt’, a thinly fashioned line denoting a head is covered by a jaggedly torn piece of paper unveiling a darker persona hidden in the shadows, waiting to emerge. In another work the artist is locked in place by two clouds silently squeezing hazed eyes, searching for reprieve from untouchable depression. Flaring red lipstick is applied to smiling lips in another drawing and the vacuum of despair is filled with affirmative laughter.



Placed geometrically in a grid pattern on the largest wall in the Ground Floor Gallery are fifty six works, each offering gestural vignettes that collectively create a tapestry of revelatory insights into the human psyche. A head is filled with a forest of trees unable to escape the tangling branches. Dark forms in splatters of ink form a head waiting to devour a running figure. Each page absorbs marks and splatters of the artist hand onto the white surface like a sponge soaking up accidental spillage on a table top. Raw emotions and clinging memories spill and swirl across these drawings, searching for meaning and illumination that help endure the ordeals and woes of life through a cathartic art form.


 

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

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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, Sharon Kelly,

Des Kenny Reviews PLATFORM 18

March 16, 2018

The opening night for the exhibition PLATFORM 18 at Draíocht was a well attended event with artists and their supporters jostling for space amidst the cornered  artworks. It took a number of calls from Emer Mc Gowan, Director of Draíocht to gather the audience attention and announce that three performance works were about to commence.


Dancers: Cian Coady and Mia DiChiaro / Photographer: Misha Beglin

The first piece in the programme demanded the audience to free a rectangular space marked with tape on the gallery floor. Two young dancers, Cian Coady and Mia DiChiaro, occupied the taped area and guided by the slow pulsating beat of a metronome, their initial static bodies dissolved into blurring movement, conveying the emotion of youthful relationships through dance, in 'Distrupting the Flow'. The young boy placed his insistent hand on her shoulder but she dislodged his misguided approach disdainfully and swirls away out of reach. Undaunted and trying to make a connection once again, the male dancer mirrored the female dancer’s movements across the floor. Failing in his attempts at romantic courtship, he increases the frequency of the metronome and his angular gestures unbalance the passionate tension between the dancers. Stopping the metronome and resetting it to a slower pace, the female dancer weaves control and she gradually allows the young man to place his love melted hand on her shoulder while her sinuous neck caressed his hollowed breast.


Artist: Mark Buckeridge / Photographer: Misha Beglin

Mark Buckeridge uniquely combines the disciplines of painting and song to explore the transient nature of secular existence. On the opening night he created a musical performance with the aid of a small electronic piano and digitally recorded background rhythm. His voice complimented the urgent pulsing cords of the electronic piano and the unrelenting tempo of the digital base line. The lyrics colour the tonal phrases of the piano with prickling passion as the artists voice emphasises the tenor of the song. The phrase “All I want to do is cry” is repeated with various changes of anxious cord modulations creating a note of melancholy to the performance. A sense of resolve is discovered when romantic despair allows a song be born from the artists pen. His anxiety is tempered by the songwriter’s craft that permits him to sing triumphantly the words “Hand crafted with love and joy”. His two paintings in the show use a variety of materials that present an unrepressed desire to allow calligraphic marks find the surface of the canvas intuitively, unhindered by cogitative processes. In ‘Riff’, a swirling mark of silver spray is surrounded by a black paint that does not suffocate the image but allows it breath like an opening guitar riff of a song. ‘Autograph’ is an all-white canvas bestowed with gyrating black marks with a hastily pasted transparent plastic sheet superimposed on the canvas. The unbridled mark making are secured in the composition by the engaging trompe l'oeil intervention of the clear plastic material.

Robbie Blake, Elizabeth Hilliard and Julie Shanley, three members of Tonnta vocal ensemble, presented a performance of a work called ”A Signalling”. Each wore a blindfold and earplugs isolating themselves from each other and the audience. Disengaged from the senses they began to sing songs which had a personal relevance to their lives. The performance fragmented into a loose arrangement of songs and the arbitrary interchange dismisses a shared narrative. The emotional attachment the singers instilled in their song, remained inaccessible to the other performers. It was only when the singers began to vocalise accapella and words had no relevance to the recital, that they became a unified force. Language builds walls but music opens doors and the singers suddenly began to communicate with the audience and themselves. They were no longer three separate elements exploring individual concerns but an inclusive unit, emotionally connected by music. When the three minute performance ended there was a spellbound silence like the hushed quiet of fallen snow, before the attentive audience applauded. Music needs silence to give it structure and the audience participated to this end because the music ensnared their willing attention.

Emma Brennan installs three small video monitors on the floor depicting the artist attempts to move an amorphous mass of sticky dough across the gallery. The doughy substance corresponds to the artist’s body weight and no doubt relates to societies obsessive desire to ceaselessly record our weight daily. If we are above our correct body mass index, as denoted by weight, the unconscious impact of how we internally visualise the way we are perceived externally, can lead to personnel revulsion and psychological disorders. The physical demands in moving this loquacious mass leaves the artist breathless as she endeavours to propel it across the gallery space. The action moves slowly from screen to screen as meaningless progress of the uncrumpling task is inscrutably recorded. The artist receives no break unlike the mythical character Sisyphus who gained respite after he propelled the punishing stone to the summit of his mountain and watched it roll unaided to its origin. There are no receding slopes to help ease this absurd undertaking or a finish line to end the fruitless journey. The performer tragically becomes imprisoned in an unending labyrinth of absurdity while attempting to portray meaning in a meaningless world. The end product is a work of art which is inherently gripped by its own insular logic.


Artist: Eve O Callaghan / Photographer: Misha Beglin

Eve O Callaghan’s two large elegant paintings convey, through the formal language of minimal abstraction, a restrained emotional atmosphere that challenges the viewer to find understanding in art by paint alone. In ‘Word’, the woven paint surface both reflects and absorbs light, oscillating the vibrancy of the hues across the receptive fabric. A large section of the canvas is covered in scrumbled blue, painted sparingly over black under-painting, which bleeds out to the insistent edge of a yellow border. The muted magnetic blue soaks up the gallery light, forming a subterranean realm beneath the exterior skin of paint. A glistening green stripe, that tops the painting, pushes forward perceptively and acts as a counterweight in opposition to the receding gesture of the blue. The push pull retinal after-image caused by the paint gives an illusory sensation of movement.
In ‘Copy’, a large area of untreated canvas acts as a secondary colour to the painted sections of orange and black. The orange expanse of colour is warm and effervescent, while the black is cool and reductive. The orange and black do not touch but are separated by a thin line of unaffected raw canvas. The black’s natural dominance over other colours is undermined by the removal of thin strips and the abbreviated rectangle form lacks completion. Truncated and unbalanced, the black is held in check by the light affirming orange. The phlegmatic visual language deployed by the artist cannot contain the vibrancy of these paintings.

Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske collaborate to make art and their exhibit is based on a residency they had in Draíocht’s Artist Studio. They placed a large pile of A4 sheets of paper, filled with short informative sentences, on a plinth, encouraging members of the public to remove them as they wish. The paper stack is constantly replenished like a shelf in a supermarket that must never appear empty. The relentless demand to renew the stockpile introduces an element of consumerism to the artwork reflecting on societies all-consuming appetite for material things. The  title of the work ‘Back And Forth There And Back’, reveals short pieces of random data that are concerned with the science of cosmology, intermingled with aimless indiscriminate observations on daily life around the of area Dublin 15. Yet the work reads like a long poem that has an inherent logic and rhythm that even its apparent chaotic formulation cannot unwind.

The Gum Collective are an eclectic group of artists who specialise in printmaking, yet maintain a broad based practice dipping with ease  into various visual art disciplines.
Ciaran Gallen presents a digital video of a super hero character floating above a city in a riot of synthetic colour hypnotically mesmerizing the viewer. Head phones are supplied and vibrating sonic rhythms blend seamlessly with the imagery on the video screen. The punchy vibrancy of the screen theatrics are held in check by the haptic intervention of black plastic mesh, which hovers like a web between viewer and screen. This added sculptural presentation creates a visual dilemma for the audience, when looking at the screen action the mesh dissolves before the eye; while staring at the mesh the video monitor becomes obscured and out of focus. The foreground and background oscillate constantly creating a retinal aftershock for the viewer, which although disturbing has a striking effect.

Stephen Lau and Aaron Smyth offer a unique framework for their art pieces. Four large planks of wood are fastened from the gallery balcony and reach the floor of the main gallery. Stephan hangs a humorously shaped sculpture from a chain with glass baubles dangling above four super hero figurines. There is a playful characteristic to the installation, as strange bulging forms protrude from the sculpture that hangs like a mother-ship above the plastic figures. The return by artists to childhood themes offers a transgressive posture against the current trends in contemporary art. Reaching back to childhood where creativity began, allows the artist find forms, unclouded by art history which have a uniquely individual and formal presence.  The artist understands this and   makes juvenile artefacts that use humour and wit to undermine the solemnity of conventional art practice.

Aaron Smyth encloses his double sided drawings behind glass between wooden planks suspended from the upper balcony. A finally executed drawing in red chalk of a man and woman are explored in a fractured fashion giving an insight into a deteriorating relationship.  Shared recollections of their affair splinter across the surface of the drawing as a gentle hand lifting an arm dissolves into sharp edges and unfurling bed sheets. Relationships fall apart but knotted memories cling on inside to create a forlorn replica of the irretrievable. Another drawing is positioned on the reverse side of the hanging frame. A naked man tethered to emptiness floats in an indefinable space beneath another displaced figure which dissolves in throbbing flumes of mist. Unreconciled the two figures drift apart into the dismembered shadow land of drained desire.


Artists: Alex DeRoeck & Ciara O'Brien / Photographer: Misha Beglin

Alex DeRoeck’s sculpture stands emphatically on an aluminium base where ‘no dogs allowed’ signs are fixed triumphantly to the pedestal. A humorous dog like creature with a cigarette protruding from a muzzle hangs on a leash affixed to the sculpture waiting obediently for its master’s instructions. The sculptural structure is roughly covered in black acrylic filler where a female superhero figure emerges from the shadows. The sculpture recalls comic book imagery of tortured super heroes whose all too human flaws far outweigh their powers. This quixotic effigy recalls these fallen super heroes as they prepare to overcome trials in a random dystopian future.


Artist: Sofya Mikhaylova / Photographer: Misha Beglin

Sofya Mikhaylova’s sculptural work sits delicately on the gallery floor. Enclosed in meshed wire and bordered by red felt are fragile drawings in charcoal of female figures. The illustrations are drawn on cut out pieces of white felt with a red trim of enclosing thread. The feminine forms at times seem hemmed in by the red trimming, restricted in their space and are unable to move freely. The cut felt pieces shrink the figures environment and become a vehicle for imprisonment. It is a sober ephemeral work, exploring the lingering legacy of gender imbalance in contemporary life.

Ciara O’Brien displays large-format digital prints of clouds, placed like playing cards on top of each other and gives an illusion of depth, while paradoxically maintaining the hard-edged primacy of the printed surface. The pixelated clouds surge and float creating illusory movement while displaying stillness. The retinal focus shifts constantly across the prints surface, as the semblance of motion is embedded in the viewer’s imagination. The artist examines how we readily accept visual information that is false and misleading, implying that our brain is hard-wired to betray us.

Aimee Gallagher employs digitalised photos and screen prints to cover a section of the gallery wall with the depiction of a mountain range. The silhouette edge of anonymous mountain peaks stand out sharply defined against the stark white gallery walls. Floating architectural forms protrude from the sky above the mountains like UFO’s, creating a sense of unease as the relationship between mountains and the hovering architecture is ambiguous. The arrested definitions of the work permit multiple interpretations allowing the viewer freedom to decipher its enigma.

Sadbh O’Brian’s Lacuna is made of white plastic material whose bulbous appearance is slotted with holes. Some cavities are filled with collaged imagery from magazines, that glossily portray the female form utilised as a means of product promotion in advertising. Bare legs with a flower beside seductive lips incorporate a quote “We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate“, which is attributed to Terry Tempest Williams, an environmental and social campaigner. The artist is reacting against the prevailing trend in advertising to commodify the female body for commercial reasons and isolating it from the artistic desire to represent the female form as a transcendental exploration of beauty.  Beneath the white PVC sculpture is a moulded boxing glove tethered to cloth chains humorously implying there is a fight-back against the misrepresentation of women to sell merchandise. Art is always at the forefront of change in society.

Landing Collective is the name of a project devised by the Dancer Aliina Lindroos and visual artist Moran Been-noon. They investigate through the medium of dance and video, social themes of alienation, displacement and our deeply driven impulse to create a home.  The video called ‘Can You hear The Birds from the Water’, displayed on double screen monitors, captures the shifting ground between water and land, where the initial contact for a new beginning is initiated for fleeing migrants. This fluid hinterland on the edge of flight and freedom precariously lures the protagonist to believe that hope lies just beyond the watery border. The screen shows feet pushing forward through the guarded shallows, searching for dry land as loud sonic booms pommel the air with foreboding. The expansive water seems unending and dry land elusive. Another screen displays black and white imagery of a young woman suspended over coloured imagery, which slip and collide as the protagonist blindly aspires for a new life. The performer is marginalised on the interface of a traumatic past and an uncertain future, unable to move beyond the waters threshold by unseen forces.


Artist: Louis Haugh / Photographer: Misha Beglin

Louis Haugh is a photographer and his large multi-faceted photograph dominates the largest gallery wall in the Ground Floor Gallery. The bleak landscape of a denuded forest arches upwards to a choked grey skyline and the scarred scrubland is all that is left of a forest felled as a crop leaving the terrain ruined and abandoned. The shrouded image is formed, by the grouping in a rectangle, of seventy photographs, inscrutably pinned by nails to the gallery wall. Each photograph curling at the edges tries to remove itself from its restraints like a butterfly attempting to escape the stabbing pin of a lepidopterist. The photograph is ready to crumple and tear and uniquely resembles the blotted landscape it portrays. The photograph and landscape mutually share the same ravished fate.

 

PLATFORM 2018
Early Career Artists, Curators And Collectives
WED 21 FEB - SAT 31 MAR 2018
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown
http://www.draiocht.ie/visual_arts


Participating artists: Ella Bertilsson & Ulla Juske, Robbie Blake, Emma Brennan, Mark Buckeridge, Cian Coady & Jessica Kelly Hannon, Gum Collective (Aaron Smyth, Alex de Roeck, Aimee Gallagher, Ciara O’Brien, Ciaran Gallen, Sadbh O’Brien, Sofya Mikhaylova, Stephen Lau), Sarah Farrell, Lisa Freeman with members of Dublin Youth Dance Company, Louis Haugh, Landing Collective (Aliina Lindroos & Moran Been-noon), Eve O’Callaghan.

Curated by Sharon Murphy.

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

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,

Des Kenny Reviews – Yvonne McGuinness ‘Holding ground where the wood lands’

December 18, 2017

Yvonne McGuiness is the latest recipient of the Amharc Fine Gall award which is coordinated by Fingal Arts Office to promote artists who reside in Fingal. The artist utilises various disciplines in her broad based practice to explore the lives of teenage boys approaching the cusp of manhood. In a corner of Draíocht ground floor gallery a split video projection shimmers life on a blank wall. The two projections present the same integrated storyline but the corner of the gallery wall acts as a border separating the timeline and sequence of similar events while remaining within eye line of the viewer. The sequential shift of the two projections does not fragment or disrupt the thread of the plot but recompose additional layers of interpretation in a quiet unobtrusive manner.

The opening shot captures a hooded crow casting a glazed predatory eye over playing fields as seagulls scramble for worms in the sodden earth. The distinctive call of a peacock flares through the air from adjoining fields. The camera scans the scrubland for this exotic bird when the screen unexpectantly presents the face of a young man. He opens his mouth and emits the plaintiff cry of the peacock. This inexplicable occurrence creates a surreal atmosphere for the all the other actions which take place in the film. Catching the viewer off guard, momentarily disrupting a linear perception to the storyline, liberates the viewers imagination from a predetermined outlook towards the film. The actor appears to shift off script as if driven by an internal force outside his control, hooking the viewer’s attention to remain alert for the unexpected.

We see a group of youths wander aimlessly through a wooded land emitting suppressed screams, announcing their presence to an echoless forest. The primal scream frees the group from innate restraints that would inhibit the internal kindling of transforming spontaneity which may unearth new truths about themselves.  A sapling is dug up and carried with them on their journey while a provocative blue line is painted on a grass verge. Acts that appear irrational and incomprehensible early in the film have a reflective and restorative implication as the narrative unfolds towards the films conclusion. In the black night the youths discover by torchlight the blue line painted earlier in the day and replant the sapling. The elemental desire to belong to the natural world at times requires a ritualistic enactment of connectivity even if it is an unconscious transaction. It is uncertain if these young men are aware of the ceremonial nature of these activities and the primal impulse that influences their actions.

Away from the constraints of suburban life they set up a rudimentary camp, hanging long strips of cloth from branches and gather firewood. They add to graffiti on a wall with the proclamation “Begin Again” no doubt wishing to supplant old conceptions of society with a new understanding of the world they inhabit. Sitting around the campfire as the darkness surrounds them, they try to formulate a wording that explains their current existence and what the future might promise. As they search for words that explore and reposition their desire to find meaning in a life as yet unburdened by responsibility, they inexplicably howl at the darkness. Perhaps this animalistic incantation is a deep rooted need not to wholly surrender to a rational structure found within the confines of language. Nevertheless their use of language holds sway and has a poetic resonance that rises and ebbs with the flittering flames of the camp fire. Words and flames combine to keep the untouchable darkness at bay both within themselves and the outer forces of remorseless reality.

Putting on lifejackets and armed with torches they leave the security of the camp fire and are absorbed by the dark shadows of the night. In time they discover the blue line painted earlier on the grass and replant the sapling that was removed from the nourishing earth. In unison they cry out “Begin Again” and move off towards the twinkling lights of civilisation. This simple decree for the youthful group of men if cramped by life’s woes you can always start afresh.

Around the gallery floor are video screens embedded in logs depicting a boy half hidden behind a tree. The only discernible movement on the screen is the flickering motion of the boy’s eyelid. Gouged into the trees bark is an eye shaped form which substitutes and replaces the function of the eye hidden behind the tree trunk. The youth is part of nature and not beyond its influence. When we forget to recognise the need for initiation rites that bring nature closer to society we create a more impoverished culture. Thick black electric cables meander like pathways through the wooden stumps on the gallery floor. While acting as a conduit for electricity to the video monitors they also lead the eye to the wall caption where bold black letters describe the youthful activity of the young actors in the film.

This is a demanding show for the spectator since it takes time to absorb the unimposing subtleties found embedded in all the shows varied components but it is an opportunity justly rewarded as we get  a deeper understanding of the lives of young men  and their need to create rites of passage as manhood approaches.

 

Yvonne McGuinness – Amharc Fhine Gall 11th Edition 
Wed 22 Nov – Sat 03 Feb 2018 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht 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, Desmond Kenny, Yvonne McGuinness,

Des Kenny talks to Michael McLoughlin Artist in Residence at Draiocht

October 8, 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,

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