Independent Research, Studio

Leading to the Object

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As part of my research concerning Mid European Medieval Literature I was drawn to the painting, Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel. Also called The Topsy Turvy World, I saw a direct correlation with the topsy turvy world, where predator becomes prey, as portrayed in the Ysengrimus. Breugel was alive when the texts I am exploring were current and so his paintings animate a time in history which was incomprehensibly filled with pain, suffering and immeasurable cruelty.

The Netherlandish Proverbs, depicts life in 16th Century Flanders, it illustrates 112 identifiable proverbs and idioms in the scene.
I was aware that traditionally in Flanders at harvest festivals brooms were ‘stuck out of windows’ as a marker or symbol which obviously had a significance connected to fertility and found this portrayed as one of the scene in the famous painting.

I researched how brooms were made and put one together myself. Once hanging in the studio it gained a totemic significance and connected with different aspects of my practice.

Research Practices, Studio

Studio Investigations

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From my reading of various Medieval texts I realised that the suffering and pain experienced during these dark times is not at all removed from what is happening today, and as I looked at the pain and tortures suffered by people then, an event happened within days of my research.  For this reason I included text from an article written by Nina Burleigh, an investigative journalist and author who has reported frequently from the Middle East.

Last week, a 22-year-old Dutch journalist was gang-raped in Tahrir Square and had to undergo surgery for severe injuries.
One of the hallmarks of revolutionary victory in Tahrir Square has always been rape and sexual harassment. Mobs of men routinely set upon women, isolating, stripping and groping
Raping foreign journalists -- guaranteed to attract global attention -- is merely a more efficient way of getting that message across
Egyptian women are the primary victims of sexual violence, and ultimately they are the intended recipients of the message: Stay home, your input in government and politics is not wanted.
Independent Research, Studio

Studio Investigations

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I completed a series of pen and ink drawings over a period of days, relating to and coming from the literature I was reading. I combined these with selected passages from ‘The Legend of Ulenspiegel’ – the sentiment of the text is very powerful and still relevant today. I feel this  correlation with certain aspects contemporary society  lends lends itself to further artistic exploration.

Research Practices

Glasgow International 2014 – Research Trip

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Our study trip to Glasgow International was informative and useful on many fronts.  Looking at the exhibitions in a group situation was a new experience and it was good to get a different perspective on things.  My favourite show was at The Modern Institute, Life & The  Invitation & Vapour & Debri, the exploration of  different modes of showing and making work.  Other  works which stood out for me were Bedwyr Williams at Tramway and Sue Tompkins at GoMA.

Sue Tompkins pushes the boundaries of the relationship between the written word and visual art, I was interested  in her rhythmic word compositions and the way they were displayed alongside pieces of fine art.

Bedwyr Williams dystopian installation/video projection at Tramyard struck a chord, the enormity of the space and the menacing feeling on entry added to the overall affect.

The Modern Institute, Life &The  Invitation & Vapour & Debri


Wasps Artists’ Studios

Anne Collier, The Modern Institute

Glasgow Sculpture Studios

The Common Guild

CCA, Glasgow

McLellan Galleries

Independent Research

Articles of Interest, Concerning Ettinger & Kristeva

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The theories of these prominent  psychoanalysts fascinate me, but raise questions.  Both theories are centered around the womb.

I am interested Bracha Ettinger and her displacement of the Lacanian ‘Phallus’ from position as signifier.

I also wanted to clarify the position of Julia Kristeva in relation to her semiotic theory and her ideas surrounding abjection. I found these articles informative.



Independent Research, Placing Practice

Placing Practice

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I had the opportunity to shadow a 3rd year Architecture student at UCC Cork Centre for Architectural Education on Copley Street. I spent the day at a critical review and met students and tutors, some of whom are senior architects.

For Placing-Practice, which is part of an assignment for the MA,  I have chosen to concentrate on drawing and exploring it form a perspective which lies outside my field, hoping it will inform my practice and also give me a deeper insight. I am interested in the exploration of architectural drafting techniques. If possible I would be interested in incorporating aspects of this in my own work and perhaps working on a collaborative project.

Exhibitions, Independent Research

Charles Tyrrell at Taylor Galleries

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I visited Charlie Tyrrell’s exhibition of new work at the Taylor Galleries.
The work consisted of  small works (50x40cm) and and larger pieces (100x80cm) in oil on aluminum, closer inspection revealed scratch marks and incisions. The pieces had a certain meditative quality which I remember feeling when I saw Maria Simmonds Gooding’s  etched and inscribed works on aluminum at the RHA some years ago .
They evoke landscape which is somehow  at odds with the geometric grids which are Tyrrell’s  hallmark, and show how delicate the balance is between control and free expression.

The paintings made me think of the ‘freischwimmerosgut series’ of German artist Wolfgang Tillmans.

Independent Research

Dorothy Cross – Connemara at the RHA

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The work of Dorothy Cross has always resonated with me and I have followed her work where possible here in Ireland over the years.Her work involves the natural world and her relationship to it, she covers terrain with which I have an affinity. In her work she acts out aspects of this connection, dealing with the areas between consciousness, subconsciousness, memory and a sense of place.

Independent Research, Research Practices

Realisations concerning Matrixial Borderspace

Our talk with Dr. Tina Kinsella concerning ‘Affect’ and the works of Bracha Ettinger opened up areas of thought which have huge relevance for me.
I am still processing much of what was discussed and coming to new realisations, about my work, about my own life and how it has affected what I do and how I perceive and process information.

I will add to this as time progresses and I gain more insights. In the meantime, I am drawn to this quote by Braccha Ettinger,

The function of psychoanalytic theory for art may be to lend its conceptual tools to exposing the existence in art of a site of yet unformed knowledge about sexuality and subjectiyity, to clarify this site as a source for ideas that are awaiting signification in language, and to articulate them.” from Bracha Ettinger, ‘Trans-subjective Transferential Borderspace’

Independent Research, Research Practices

Affect: how do we communicate the ineffable?

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Affect is something which is not easy to express in language, because it is a unique type occurrence. It is primary, visceral and happens before our cognitive powers have the time to rationalise. Affect is a bodily experience and seems to involve a certain exchange of energies over which we have no control.The affect of an object or work of art on a viewer operates outside cognition and can cause a physical as well as mental reaction.

discussing 'affect' at the Glucksman Gallery
Discussing ‘affect’ at the Glucksman Gallery, Cork

I have had two of these intense experiences with paintings to date, the most profound of which happened in 2006 when I visited the ‘Holbein in England’ exhibition at the Tate Britain. There was a long que, and when I finally got inside the exhibition space it was very full and bustling. I was fascinated by Holbein and was very glad to be there, despite the large numbers of other people, I was completely in awe of the huge accomplishment and skill of this artist.
It was when I found myself standing in front of the famous painting, ‘Christina of Denmark’ that I experienced absolute ‘affect’. It was an experience of an ‘in between state’ and I transported in time, as though I was face to face with a breathing soul, I physically felt a strong energy which made a connection with me on a very deep level, and its memory has remained with me ever since. I can only describe it as a sort of ‘knowing’, perhaps close to the experience of enlightenment.

Hans Holbein the Younger, Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan, 1538, oil on oak, 179.1 x 82.6 cm (The National Gallery, London)
Christina of Denmark, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538

In contrast, I was attracted to the Rothko exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2011.A large amount of media promotion surrounded the show and the ‘affect’ of Rothko’s work was almost advertised.  but  I wasn’t fully aware of the affect these paintings had on me until long after. I  went on the paint a huge Rothko inspired painting, which I called “don’t try to stop me”. 

Innern space, Mark Rothko
Inner space … the Mark Rothko room at London’s Tate Modern. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
Studio, workshops

Workshop with Clodagh Emoe

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Our workshop with artist Clodagh Emoe was extremely informative, as well as enjoyable.  Clodagh Emoe shared some insights into her work process with us and gave us a professional perspective on what it takes to realise projects.  A main aspect of her practice is based around the  a gathering of people and the use of art as ‘encounter’. Many of her projects are audience orientated and based on an exploration of how thoughts are ‘felt’  as a result of specific ‘gatherings’. This raised interesting questions around art in general, such as,

What constitutes a work?

When is a work complete?

Who completes the work?

What is the role of the viewer?

Is it correct to refer to the person experiencing or participating in the work as ‘the viewer’?

I was one of a group of four to experiment with these concepts and together we produced a site specific piece centred around a loaf of white sliced bread. It made us think about collaboration, ownership of art, conclusion of a piece, the involvement of an audience and the unpredictability of working in this way.  The piece  involved a choreographed interaction with  an audience,  and chance element (seagulls) and each other,  realising a project like this was extremely challenging and insightful.

Independent Research

Modern Thinkers

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The article by Shirley Kaneda “Painting and Its Others, The Feminine in Abstract Painting” in the Whitechapel series, opened up a whole set of questions for me, and lead me on to further enquiry.

I started looking for a way to explain this ‘feminine’ aspect of expression. Following my reading of an article by Kathleen Lennon called Feminist Perspectives on the Body” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) I became am interested in the link between psychoanalysis and the root of artistic expression and the semiotic theory of Julia Kristeva.  For her, “Language as symbolic function constitutes itself at the cost of repressing instinctual drives and continuous relation to the mother.  On the contrary….. poetic language… reactivates this represses, instinctual, maternal element” (Kristeva 1980 136) The semiotic for Kristeva is inherently linked to the feminine and represents a stage before boundaries are experienced by the infant.

I would like to revisit some of the works of the following philosophers and psychoanalysts:

Jacques Lacan
Melanie Klein
Wilfred Bion
Jean Laplanche

And expand my research into the works of:

Julia Kristeva
Bracha Ettinger
Luce Irigaray
Jaques Derrida