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New Era Exhibition Guide

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Solstice Arts Centre is delighted to present New Era, an exhibition featuring four Irish artists Rachel Doolin, Siobhán McDonald, Martina O’Brien and Méadhbh O’Connor whose practices explore different aspects of climate change in the natural world. New Era features new and recent works, many of which were produced over the past few months and are being exhibited for the first time at Solstice. The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, cyanotype prints, photography, drawings, prose poetry, film and video works, and includes new spoken word works online.

The world as we know it has changed since March 2020. We are now living in a new era with the reality and trauma of a global Pandemic and a heightened awareness of the challenges of the climate change crisis worldwide. The exhibiting artists are all involved in explorations of climate related issues including biodiversity, ecology, marine geology, solar activity, climate modelling, governance of natural disasters, seed sovereignty and the Anthropocene (recent consequences of our treatment of nature and the environment). Doolin, McDonald, O’Brien and O’Connor have undertaken varied research expeditions to Iceland, Italy, Norway and Switzerland in collaborations with scientists and experts which have informed and expanded their art practices. Future expeditions, research trips and ongoing collaborations of art and science are planned for 2021.

Gallery One

GALLERY ONE features new and recent works by Martina O’Brien. O’Brien’s interdisciplinary practice stems from her intrinsic interest in perceptions of time, the earth sciences, futurology and divination. Over the last number of years her work has frequently examined measurement technologies and data-driven practices of quantification such as climate modelling and, as an extension of this, considered how ways of describing the world through computational structures affect the possibilities for our being, acting and thinking in the world.

B-scope, 2019 is a two-channel HD + low res video that examines processes of gathering scientific data on the effects of climate change from coral reels in the North East Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. The artwork features a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) dive which took place on the 15th May, 2019. The underwater vehicle, physically linked to the host ship by an umbilical cable, descends and ascents to/ from the ocean floor and the camera acts as a sensor, giving humans the opportunity to spectate the hostile ocean floor, and providing detailed on-the-ground information to corroborate distantly gathered data.

neither fully self nor other, 2020 is a series of cyanotype prints depicting newly discovered coral colonies in the Porcupine Bank Canyon, 320km off the coast of Ireland. The images are based on three dimensional models generated by the Marine Geology Research Group UCC, integrating video footage with acoustic and mapping data from this biodiverse cold-water reef ecosystem. O’Brien is a recipient of a Science Gallery Dublin Rapid Residency 2020 and a recent member of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, 2019/20. In 2019, she was commissioned by the European Commission to collaborate with Earth scientists at the Joint Research Centre, Italy in 2019.

This commission also involved collaboration with the Director of Forecasts in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, UK. The outcome of this commission was exhibited at Datami Resonance III Festival, Ispra, Italy and at BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 2019/2020. O’Brien was invited Artist in Residence aboard the RV Celtic Explorer on the Monitoring Change in Submarine Coral Habitats Marine Expedition, North East Atlantic Ocean, 2019, by Parity Studios, UCD & The Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, Dublin.

Recent solo exhibitions include Quotidian, Illuminations Gallery, NUI Maynooth, 2019, and At Some Distance in the Direction Indicated, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, 2018. Other recent group shows include Tactical Magic, TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2019. Recent awards include an Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary Award 2019 (round 2); Arts Council of Ireland Travel & Training Award 2019 and 2017; Creative Ireland Bursary Award 2018; Kildare County Council Arts Act Awards 2020, 2019, 2017 and 2016; and an Arts Council of Ireland Project Award 2017. Further residency awards include Artist in Residence at Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), Dublin, 2016; EUCIDA Digital Artist in Residence, Espace Multimédia Gantner, France, 2017; and Rising from the Hill: Local Systems in Global Contexts Residency, Cow House Studios, Wexford, curated by Francis Halsall & Kelley O’Brien concluding in an exhibition at NCAD Gallery, Dublin, 2017.

GALLERY TWO

GALLERY TWO features new and recent art works by Siobhán McDonald and Méadhbh O’Connor. McDonald exhibits a series of Arctic inspired paintings - Andrée's Arctic balloon, The ice silenced them, Snow bones, and Laid exposed to the Arctic Sky, 2018; photogenic drawings and a film. A History of time, 2018 is a series of four photogenic drawings that narrate the changing state of the Earth’s atmosphere. To make this work the light has travelled through atmospheres with varying levels of carbon dioxide, recreating the conditions of the Triassic, Cretaceous, and Devonian Periods and the Anthropocene Epoch respectively. The light has been blocked by fossil leaves foraged of our earliest plants on earth.

McDonald’s film, At the Edge of Visibility, 2016, was shot in the Arctic Circle in 2015. The work comprises sound recordings of dying glaciers by Professor Chris Bean, and sounds recorded in space by ESA. Sound composition by Irene Buckley, featuring sound samples from the Arctic recorded by the artist. Edited by Christopher Ash.

Siobhán McDonald’s practice draws attention to contemporary topics dealing with air, breath, and atmospheric phenomena, weaving scientific knowledge into her art in a poetic and thoughtful manner. She is an artist in residence at Studiotopia (at BOZAR and Gluon in Brussels,) and the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin (2020-2023.) Working with world-leading research facilities such as The European Space Agency (ESA) and The JRC European Commission, her art practice calls on notions of what is still unknown to science, exploring the Anthropocene and the recent consequences of our treatment of nature. McDonald’s work with glaciers and other natural phenomena deploys a unique artistic language that gives form to intangible and richly varied processes including painting, drawing, film and sound.

McDonald holds a Masters in Visual Arts Practices from IADT. Recent awards include: Visual Arts Bursary 2020, Creative Ireland Award 2020 and Climate Whirl Arts Programme at INAR/ Helsinki 2020. Recent shows include: Bozar, Brussels, 2020; Deutsches Hygiene-Museum DHMD, 2020; Volta, Basel 2019; Limerick City Art Gallery, 2019; Deutsches Hygiene-Museum DHMD, 2019; The National Trust-Fox Talbot Museum, UK, 2018; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, 2018, among others. Her work is represented in many collections, both public and private such as The Arts Council of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, The Ulster Museum and Trinity College Dublin. Her projects are supported by The European Commission, The Institute of Physics, Culture Ireland, The Arts Council and The European Research Council. Her projects are supported by The European Commission, The Institute of Physics, Culture Ireland, The Arts Council and The European Research Council.

For a number of years Méadhbh O’Connor’s work has been driven by a deep interest in science and the environment. O’Connor sees all of nature, the universe, as one mystical, overarching structure which connects all its constituent parts. In her work she collides the poetic and the analytic, the spiritual and the technological, the expressive and the restrained, the natural and the engineered; in an effort to find harmony amongst these different registers. O’Connor exhibits a new rendering of Biosystems VI, 2020, comprising air plants, preserved mosses and other plants; Rendered Landscape (The Other’s Mountain), 2020, a new computer generated environment; and new written and spoken word vignettes of prose poetry fragments exhibited in the gallery and online.

Vignette No. 26: The Downdraught, 2020
Prose poem, written and spoken by Méadhbh O’Connor, audio recording, duration 1 min 19 sec.

Vignette No. 8: The Grassy Dam, 2020
Prose poem, written and spoken by Méadhbh O’Connor, audio recording duration 1 min 43 sec.

Played together at this link

O’Connor’s work is undoubtedly a product of the long tradition of connectedness to the landscape that persists in Irish culture, which she places in the context of 21st century scientific and environmental understanding. Her recent work has taken a new turn in which she is exploring and revealing the experiences that ferment this deep connection to the land. She has begun to experiment with prose poetry, using the written and spoken word as form, in addition to sculptural and multimedia installation, photography and drawing. In these new written-word vignettes, psychological and spiritual encounters with the landscape are re-enacted. All are situated in mountain settings, often in the company of companions, loved ones or ‘Others.’ Here she tries to reconcile the bodily rootedness at the heart of any connection to the land with the increasing presence of new technologies–and the potential birth of A.I. consciousness in the coming years–that are emerging as a significant medium through which we experience. Nature, the artificial and the psychological are viewed in the work as not necessarily irreconcilable, but potentially part of the same spiritual existence. Most of O’Connor’s work in this exhibition was produced during the COVID-19 lockdown under conditions that enhanced the need to create an experience of landscape in new forms, such as virtual environments, audio soundscapes (presented online) and written-word vignettes.

Méadhbh O'Connor, born Dublin 1984, is an artist whose work is driven by a deep interest in the natural world. This is widely recognised by her consistent contributions to Ireland's growing art, science and environmental movement. She has shown in many exhibitions in Ireland and internationally such as Climate Simulator, Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Ireland, 2018 (solo); Eco-connectivity, Berlin Science Week, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 2018; and the Antarctic Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale of Art, Italy, 2017. She was twice awarded the Artist in Residence Award (in 2013 and by invitation in 2017) at the College of Science, University College Dublin where she subsequently taught interdisciplinary modules of her own design to undergraduate science students. Her work has been supported by The Arts Council of Ireland. She holds a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Oxford and has most recently commenced a new, long-term project with researchers at Oxford in Advanced Technologies.

Rendered landscape The Others Mountain computer generated environment multimedia projection 2020 film still.

GALLERY THREE

GALLERY THREE features a film and sculpture installation and photographs by Rachel Doolin. The works which were produced following a research residency in 2017 to Galleri Svalbard, an Arctic Art Institution located in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, situated north of mainland Europe, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole (funded by an Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Award). Temporal Landscapes, 2018 is an audio-visual work created from original footage gathered from several glacier locations in Spitsbergen, Svalbard and embedded hydrophone recordings by Polish scientist Oskar Glowacki. Evolutions of Uncertainty, 2018-2020 is a series of eight sculptural works which comprise her own biodegradable and plant-based plastics and experimentations with crystallization processes. Her sculptural and installation-based works are simultaneously delicate and complex aggregations that pertain to the fragility and tenacity of biological life in the Anthropocene. Three intriguing limited edition photographic landscapes of Svalbard are also included in the exhibition - Ablation Zone (I and II), 2018, a glacial landscape; The Weight of Mountains, 2019 depicting the Svalbard Global Seed Vault; and The Life of Mines, 2019, an altered landscape of an abandoned coal mining site in Svalbard.

Rachel Doolin is a visual artist and arts educator (early years) based in Cork. Doolin’s multidisciplinary practice merges art, experimentation and ecology to create work that is inextricably linked to material research, driven by a desire to test the parameters of materiality, media and the criticality of issue-based practice. Doolin graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the Crawford College of Art & Design in 2015, receiving several graduate awards including the Taylor Art Prize for her degree show installation Promethean Illusions. Doolin’s multifaceted oeuvre includes exhibition based works, public artworks and socially engaged projects. She often collaborates with artists, NGO’s as well as community and professional organisations to actuate thought-provoking and eco-poetic manifestations.

Doolin is currently working on a community project with children living in Direct Provision, and has recently been shortlisted for a public artwork commission which includes a community tree planting initiative in partnership with Crann - Trees for Ireland. Doolin is currently an artist in residence with Irish Seed Savers Association and is working on a new body of work Heirloom/Seed Cloud to be exhibited in the Municipal Gallery, dlr Lexicon Gallery, DunLaoghaire, Co. Dublin in Sept, 2020. The artist will collaborate with Irish Seed Savers to explore the concept of seeds as ‘archives of cultural memory’, and bring to light significant histories associated with various seeds in their collection.

Doolin’s recent awards include Municipal Gallery, dlr Lexicon Visual Art Commission 2021, Cork City Council Project Award 2020, LHQ Gallery Exhibition Award 2020, 2019 Creative Ireland & the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Art Project Bursary, 2018 Gilead Sciences Percent for Art Commission, 2017 Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Bursary Award, 2016 Valery Gleeson Development Bursary, 2015 Taylor Art Award, 2015 The Undergraduate Awards, 2015 National Sculpture Factory Graduate Residency Award, 2015 Honourable Mention, the London Creative Awards.

Recent & Upcoming exhibitions include: Heirloom, Municipal Gallery, dlr Lexicon Gallery (2021), CONNECTED, Kilkenny Sculpture Trail (2020), Spareroom Project- Art, Architecture, Activism (2019); The Fragility of Things, Installation, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre (2019) Voice of the Sea, Port of Cork (2019), Silvered, Solo Show, Doswell Gallery (2018), Terra Incognita, group show, Skibbereen Arts Festival, (2018), Locales, Doswell Gallery (2017).

Solstice advocates for Doolin, McDonald, O’Brien and O’Connor (all at varying, critical points in their artistic careers), in their quest for researching, collaborating and reflecting on climate change and environmental issues through the lens of visual arts practice in the contemporary world. Solstice is most grateful to the artists who have worked relentlessly in their studios to provide new works for our exhibition.

Brenda McParland, Curator

LIST OF WORKS

GALLERY FOYER

Siobhán McDonald

Laid exposed to the Arctic Sky 2018
Oil paint on paper
43 x 35cm

Andrée's Arctic balloon 2018
Oil paint on paper
43 x 35cm

The ice silenced them 2018
Oil paint on paper
43 x 35cm (framed)

Snow bones 2018
Oil paint on paper
43 x 35cm (framed)

Silent Witnessing 2018
Melanin traces from nymphaline butterflies, dust particles, light, antique paper 92 x 92 cm

Meadhbh O’Connor

Biosystem VI 2020
Air plants, preserved and living moss, other plants, wire, biodegradable packing, other.
Dimensions variable, each orb ranging from 30 – 55cm diameter

Vignette No. 23 (the unknown woman) 2020
Prose poetry fragments, vinyl wall text

GALLERY ONE

Siobhán McDonald

A History of time 2018
Photogenic drawings: silver nitrate, light
and our earliest plants on antique paper.

Rachel Doolin

The Weight of Mountains 2019
Photographic Diptych Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Plateau Mountain, Longyearbyen, Svalbard (image taken 2017)
Archival Print on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308g (matte finish), Pine frame with wood slip, Finish Wood veneer in Walnut.
Dimensions: W430 xH300x D15mm, W430 xH300x D15mm

Martina O’Brien

B-scope 2019
Two-channel HD + low res video, audio 12 minutes 31 seconds. Monitors, props

neither fully self nor other 2020
Series of thirteen Cyanotype prints, lightboxes, Dimensions variable

GALLERY TWO

Siobhán McDonald

At the Edge of Visibility 2016
Film, shot in the Arctic Circle in 2015. 4 minutes.

Meadhbh O’Connor

Rendered Landscape (The Other’s Mountain) 2020
Computer-generated environment, 3 minute loop

Vignette No. 9 (the capricorn) 2020
Prose poetry fragments, vinyl wall text

Vignette No. 13 (on the cliff-edge) 2020
Prose poetry fragments, vinyl wall text

Rachel Doolin

Evolutions of Uncertainty - Phantasms I, II 2020
Ongoing Series of Sculptural Works Polyurethane packaging foam, grown crystals, acrylic resin. 
14 x 19.5 x 4.5cm
19 x 14 x 7.5cm

Life of Mine 2019
Location: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 78° North (image taken 2017). Certified limited-edition archival print, (No. of Editions: 5) Dibond, Oak Box frame, Rosewood Stain & Wax. Glass, Artcare Backing.
Size: W910 x H610 x D35mm

GALLERY THREE

Rachel Doolin

Temporal Landscapes 2018
Audio/Visual Artwork, 7 mins.

Evolutions of Uncertainty 2018
Series of sculptural works Polyurethane packing, foam, cement, mortar plasticiser, grown crystals, stainless steel, limestone.
Dimensions variable

Ablation Zone (I & II) 2018
Photographic Diptych Glacial Landscape