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

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

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.

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.

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:
The Making of Vision:


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:

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By Draíocht. Tags: Reviews & Interviews, 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.

Gallery Instagram

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: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Sharon Kelly,

Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018

May 10, 2018

We are delighted to announce Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018 in association with the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB).

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

The Award is offered as part of Draíocht’s INCUBATE project which is an on-going series of studio residencies based in Draíocht’s Artist’s Studio and includes the opportunity to exhibit work in Draíocht’s Ground Floor Gallery as part of the annual PLATFORM exhibition. PLATFORM & INCUBATE are open to emerging, early career artists and creatives who wish to have time and space to research and test new ideas in a dedicated studio environment and/or develop and present new work in a gallery context.

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.’

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.’

Draíocht’s Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018 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.

If you wish to be considered for Draíocht’s Inaugural Creative Digital Media Graduate Award 2018 please send the following information to Sharon Murphy (Visual Arts Advisor, Draíocht) by Tuesday May 15th 2018, by 1pm; by email:

A current CV (2 pages maximum); A covering letter detailing your interest in and intention to apply for the including:
- a creative practitioner statement including a description of your degree project (500 word max)
- a description of how this award and Draíocht’s context and resources would benefit your practice and development as a creative practitioner (500 words words max)
- Set of up to 10 images of your work.


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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Visual Arts Opportunities,

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.


Early Career Artists, Curators And Collectives
WED 21 FEB - SAT 31 MAR 2018
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown

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: Reviews & Interviews, Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny,

PLATFORM ‘18 Featuring 21 Young and Early Career Artists

February 21, 2018

PLATFORM ‘18 is both an exhibition and a series of performances showcasing the work of twenty-one young and early career artists who have been invited to explore the gallery as a playful, experimental, creative space as well as a place to show. Using a wide range of visual forms, film, music, dance, food and live art, the viewer is invited to engage with these art makers as they explore and interrogate their ideas and practices. What makes PLATFORM ‘18 distinctive, dynamic and eclectic is that it includes work by individual artists and collectives; works-in-progress and finished works; work across a range of media; and work exploring contemporary life and culture and experimenting formally within and between disciplines.

PLATFORM ‘18 is less a destination than a journey. It features the work of art as ‘process’ as well as ‘finished object’. In terms of subject matter and formal concerns it offers insights into the preoccupations of a new generation of artists.

PLATFORM ’18 Exhibiting Artists:
Ella Bertilsson & Ulla Juske, Emma Brennan, Mark Buckeridge, Gum Collective (Aaron Smyth, Alex de Roeck, Aimee Gallagher, Ciara O’Brien, Ciaran Gallen, Sadbh O’Brien, Sofya Mikhaylova, Stephen Lau); Lisa Freeman, Louis Haugh, Landing Collective (Aliina Lindroos & Moran Been-noon); Eve O’Callaghan.

PLATFORM ’18 Performing Artists:
Robbie Blake, Mark Buckeridge, Cian Coady & Mia DiChairo, Lisa Freeman.

PLATFORM ’18 Researching Artists:
Robbie Blake, Sarah Farrell.

Performance PLATFORM ‘18:
7pm Ground Floor Gallery
03.04.18 - SAVE THE DATE
Featuring new performance work by Robbie Blake, Cian Coady &
Jessica Kelly Hannon, Lisa Freeman, Dublin 15 Youth Theatre and

PLATFORM ’18 is one of Draíocht’s new artist development initiatives which supports emerging artists, curators and cultural creatives to explore their current practice through research, studio space, exhibition, residencies, performance and public engagement.

Exhibition runs 21 February - 31 March 2018.
Draiocht's Galleries are open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm. Admission Free.

Curated by Sharon Murphy

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Mark Buckeridge
Concert Series @ Draíocht (2018)

Concert Series is a series of pop concerts placed within the context of a contemporary art gallery which are produced & manufactured in Buckeridge’s studio at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. The materiality consists of an arrangement of pre-recorded digital MIDI files clashed with Buckeridge’s analogue ‘live’ vocals. Concert Series deals with ideas of temporality, affect and communal understanding. The process of developing Concert Series is fluid and adaptable and is presently being refined as part Buckeridge’s MFA studies.
Mark Buckeridge (b.1991, Dublin), lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Design with a BA in Fine Art in 2013 and is currently studying for an MFA at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. His work focuses on live performance, painting, drawing and is heavily influenced by his background in music.
Recent exhibitions and performances include: solo show Touring Rock Landscapes at Pallas Projects, Dublin, 2016 and group shows at De Punt, Amsterdam, 2017, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin, 2017, Catalyst Arts, Belfast, 2016 and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, 2016.

Robbie Blake
a signaling (2017)

This performance piece explores ideas of connectivity, intimacy and vulnerability through the voice. Created for Tonnta vocal ensemble, the score asks each performer to choose a song that is personally significant to them. Wearing eyemasks and ear-plugs, they then enter a state of semi-isolation that distances them from their singing colleagues. The piece presents an untraditional performance mode for music. With it, Robbie is also examining the material with which to make musical performance; in this instance, it is the autobiographical. Woven around these personally-chosen songs, the performers sing newly-composed melodic fragments. They echo from performer to performer, in a wash of vibrant sound. Robbie Blake b. 1989 is an artist and composer working across many contexts of performance. Their work is fuelled by curiosity and carried out with sensitivity. Robbie is the artistic director of Tonnta, a music company and new-music vocal ensemble that champions new Irish music. With Tonnta, Robbie leads experimental collaborative projects with dance artists, visual artists and composers to create exceptional new music. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin where they studied music and philosophy, Robbie also holds a diploma from the Royal Irish Academy of Music and an MA from the University of York. Recent and upcoming presentations include Town Choir in collaboration with Canadian company Theatre Replacement (Vancouver, 2017), a durational performance in Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane (2017), and new music theatre work as part of Home Theatre (Ireland) at Draíocht (2018).

Cian Coady & Mia DiChairo
Disrupting the Flow (2018)

DISRUPTING THE FLOW is a new dance work made especially for Draíocht’s Gallery. Performed within a matrix of floor line drawings it explores ideas of time, temporality and presentness. Dealing also with the ephemerality of performance the visual markings act as a record and a memory of a once animated space. This piece explores a linear, yet warped, flow of time and the yearning to escape time’s influence. Cian Coady, born in Dublin, began dancing at the (later) age of 18. Since then, he has performed with Dublin City University / national intervarsity competition and has taken on several collaborative dance projects incorporating singing, filmography and photography. Cian is a member of Dublin Youth Dance Company and has performed in the Irish Youth Dance Festival, Dublin, Unanimous in Belfast, and Noise Moves. He has performed in Berlin, Rimini, and Scotland. He also works as a choreographer. Mia DiChiaro is Dublin-based dancer and arts administrator interested in inclusive dance practices. She is a graduate of New York University where she developed a concentration in “Performance and Arts Activism”. She is currently serving as the Mischief Coordinator for General Mischief Dance Theatre (New York, USA) and dances with Dublin Youth Dance Company.

Ella Bertilsson & Ulla Juske

This work was made in the context of our Incubate Studio Residency at Draíocht (2017). During the residency we audio-recorded stories and memories of people who live and work in the local area. The project evolved around the idea of cultural identity where collective memory and oral history was in focus. BACK AND FORTH THERE AND BACK is inspired by the material gathered and from the every-day experience of being in Blanchardstown. Ella Bertilsson & Ulla Juske are a multidisciplinary artist collective based in Dublin since 2000s. They are interested in the beauty of the every-day experience of time passing. Interviews and conversations with people in relation to specific communities or places are the foundation of their methodology. They are currently investigating the concept of home exploring historical, political, social, cultural contexts where collective memory and oral history stands in focus. Together they construct non-linear narratives that drift between fact and fiction, past, present and future. These narratives become the catalyst for developing installations that are exploring the relationship between time and memory, place and identity. The artists started to collaborate during their postgraduate studies on the MFA; Art in the Digital World Programme at NCAD, Dublin (2015). Currently they are artists in residence at NKD; Nordic Artist’s Centre in Dale, Norway. The artists wish to thank Corduff Community Centre, Hartstown Community School, the Institution of Technology Blanchardstown, Phoenix FM’s podcast ‘Africans in Ireland’, Draíocht’s Dublin 15 Youth Theatre.

Eve O’Callaghan
Copy, 190x240cm, oil on linen, 2018 (POA)
Word, 190x120cm, oil on linen, 2018 (POA)

These paintings act as colour cards or samples in oil paint. They function on the basis of an interaction between black and other, brighter, colours, so that what we see is light and dark based on the amount of light each colour reflects. Where the Indian Yellow and Ultramarine Blue pigments seen evoke something of sunlight, beauty and nature, black is the colour of technology, printed material, information and censorship. The large format, pure colour and exposed canvas speak of the basic materials of a long history of painting but the flat surfaces of the works appear as if they could have been printed rather than painted. Instead of the pages of a book or a sheet of paper, these large-scale, abstracted forms become a vehicle for visual – rather than readable – information. Eve O’Callaghan is a Dublin-based painter. Her practice is concerned largely with the history of painting, colour and abstraction. O’Callaghan graduated from NCAD in 2017 with a degree in Fine Art Painting and Visual Culture. She was shortlisted for the RDS Visual Art Awards in October 2017 and has been resident in the RHA School Peer studio since September 2017.

Landing Collective
Can You Hear The Birds From The Water (2017)
In collaboration with Dolex Laxer
Topography (2017)

Made from our lived past, current environment, and future aspirations, our identity is influenced by how we understand ‘home’. The project is led by the belief that it is important to examine ‘home’, a vastly misused term, as a conflicted concept for migrants, and this approach to the subject matter is part of what puts Landing in the political art scope. The visuals and motion aim to convey this complex cultural relationship between humans, homeland, migration, and water. The struggle between water’s necessity and the fear of it, the view of the new entities water delivers onto the land, its locals, and its culture, and a reference to water as a source of life and evolution. Finnish mythology and its water dwelling creatures have given the work its aesthetic and symbolic nuances.
Aliina Lindroos and Moran Been-noon are collaborators on an on-going project entitled Landing. Lindroos, whose practice is rooted in dance and performance, is originally from Finland and now lives between Dublin and Berlin. Been-noon is an Israeli Dublin- based new-media artist and curator. Both are migrants out of choice, and interested in exploring the meaning of a home, and the relationship between this term and one’s physicality and identity by drawing on choreography, video, installation and multimedia performance. They are particularly interested in exploring the psychological processes of ‘acculturation’ experienced by migrants. The project’s solo debut was in Eight Gallery in Dublin in 2016, and since their creative outcomes have been included in group exhibitions in Belfast, Berlin, and Austin TX.

Louis Haugh
Remnants, Looking North. 53°13'32"N, 6°18'47"W. (2017) POA

This work is a silver-gelatin photographic installation from my ongoing research, Alien Architecture. In 1907 celebrated botanist Augustine Henry gave expert advice to an Irish governmental committee. His advice was to replant Ireland’s previously deforested landscape with alien (non-native) coniferous trees. This advice was contrary to the proposed plan to replant using native broad-leaf species. More than 100 years later this legacy is made visible through the forestry industry dominating Ireland’s landscape. The original alien samples sent from Alaska are housed in the Augustine Henry Collection in The National Herbarium, Glasnevin and in themselves can be seen as a blueprint for Ireland’s landscape today. Alien Architecture is an ongoing response to both Henry’s advice and to the alien specimens found in the collection. The work presented as part of PLATFORM 2018 made at an area of recently logged land in Wicklow overlooking Dublin asks how we form relationships to our national landscape when it is dominated by industry.
Louis Haugh is a visual artist based in Dublin. A graduate of IADT, Haugh specialises in analog and historic photographic processes and currently works form his studio at The Darkroom, Stoneybatter. Haugh’s practice is founded on his strong photographic foundation and incorporates audio, video and text. Other recent work includes a public art commission by the Grangegorman Development Agency; One Hour Archive (OHA), a community based art project looking at the oral histories and lived experiences of older residents of the Stoneybatter/Grangegorman area.

Emma Brennan
Heed, to the mound (2017)
video triptych
running time: 35 mins

This video installation depicts a performance in which I move a mound of dough, equivalent to my own body weight, across the gallery space. Emma Brennan is a visual artist whose practice is focused on the use of performative methods to engage with the viewer. At the core of her practice is an interest in how we as a society perceive and assign value. In particular, she is interested in questioning the relationship between producer and consumer and more specifically on that relationship in terms of the artist and the viewer. Her recent work, made in the context of the Draiocht’s incubate studio residency, has been an exploration into these ideas, with specific investigations into the value of the intangible self.
Emma Brennan is a 2016 graduate of the National College of Art and Design Dublin, curating and exhibiting in numerous group and solo shows during her time there. She has also participated in a number of live art festivals including Livestock and the Dublin Live Art Festival, as well as curating the inaugural NCAD Live Graduate Performance Showcase in 2016. Brennan is currently working on expanding this piece and bringing it to a live audience with a proposal for the Dublin FRINGE festival 2018. The artist is happy to announce that as a result of her incubate residency she will work as assistant curator to Sharon Murphy at Draíocht for 2018.

GUM Collective
Within this site-specific installation we wanted to create a framework bringing together the disparate qualities in our work and to place them in contrast to one another allowing them to interact in a casual way. The wooden beams provide a central pivot from which the artworks can interact, mirroring a sense of community between the artists and the overlapping elements of their practice. GUM Collective is a group of Dublin based visual artists. Formed in 2013, the group began from a shared background in printmaking. Since then the group have developed multifaceted practices in a range of different mediums. Their practices are underpinned by the community ethos that their shared studio environment provides, unified through shared interests, studio and experiences. The connection between each artist is a subtle flow of corresponding themes, visuals and mediums that transcends individual ideologies.
Artists include: Aaron Smyth, Aimee Gallagher, Alex DeRoeck, Ciara O’Brien, Ciaran Gallen, Sadbh O’Brien, Sofya Mikhaylova, Stephen Lau.
GUM Collective select exhibitions include: More Than One Maker (IMMA), GUM (Royal Hibernian Academy), how to grow (blackmoon) (The Complex), Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area (Studio 6 Temple Bar Gallery + Studios), Distorted Perspectives (Letterkenny Regional Arts Centre), Leg Over Soil (MART Gallery), LIMBO (Argus House).
GUM has also been awarded residencies in The Royal Hibernian Academy, Black Church Print Studio and most recently The National Gallery of Ireland.

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