Review of Peripheries 2014: Between the I and the Hand

1st of August – 8th August
Curated by Richard Carr
Reviewed by Susan Edwards

Peripheries –
plural, noun. the outer limits or edge of an area or object. Also a secondary position or aspect of a group, for example; a shift in power from the centre to the periphery.

An idea was created from a lecture of “Gatherings” in Cork City, Rep. of Ireland in 2005 when it was the European City of Culture. During this lecture the concept of a production of culture on the periphery was explored, occurring when fringe events resulted in centres of excellences formed outside the main cultural events. A small Irish art college attended and brought back to its academic setting an idea that has expanded and blossomed into an annual event that has now produced a fourth exhibition which begs to be examined for its fresh creative efforts of the purity of art for art’s sake.

In 2011, the first Peripheries event was staged by Gorey School of Art located in Co. Wexford, Ireland. Consisting of three days of discussions with artists, community and students, it ended with a small exhibition in a then rented building in an industrial estate. There was no formal curator or academic agenda, merely a small rural community with a history rich with the love of art and a smattering of local artists with weighty artistic success behind their belts such as Michael Warren, Paul Funge, and Eamonn Carter to contribute. This review will attempt to enlighten and encourage those on the fringe that indeed, great art can and does happen when artists do what they do best…creating something, from nothing other than an idea and a willingness to take risks and experiment with the art process.

Enter 2014, take a group of young emerging Irish artists, throw in one well established international artist, mix with some highly acclaimed art writers, embrace each artists specific concerns, motivation and practices, stir with one highly creative and skilled curator and the result is an exhibition that celebrated what artists enjoy most, making works of art. For Richard Carr, curating the event was interesting and challenging he states, to bring varying art practices into one exhibition, but also to use the event as an opportunity to celebrate the educational success of the fine art program with the college and its course expansion of a new creative media and film qualification. Working on the premise of each artist and their individual process of making and that which is produced “between the I and the Hand”, the exhibition explored the changing concepts of what is the Handmade in the contemporary art practice. The gallery space was filled with a diversity of mediums as eclectic as the artists. The ground floor had at centre stage a mixed media sculpture piece by Catriona Mcloughlin of tangled, bound textiles on a bed frame dripping memories of places and stories, paintings by Andrew Simpson of beige, grey and monotone brushstrokes of vague afterthoughts which invited closer inspection, a sound installation piece with headphones to hear the touches to a amplified wooden box, another painter’s contribution by Amanda Doran that showed fleshy, pulpy, portraiture images of a Francis Bacon type of grotesqueness. And when the viewer wished to sit and contemplate, a collection of essays of contemporary thought and philosophy were available.

This newly constructed building which housed the exhibition had ceiling to floor windows to accommodate the changing nuances of natural light and a second level with a walkway to studio and lecture rooms. The upper level had a sleek, installation piece by Conor McDonald that included aged, weathered wooden blocks reclaimed from a disused mushroom factory to dissect notions of place and time. Three rooms separated from the main space for media presentation, a film by Michael Gilbert entitled, “Unfold, a video by Patrick Redmond which looked at lighting techniques in various clips from his art practice and a room dedicated to a screening day of “The Passing”, a black and white video of sound and images from renowned artist Bill Viola. This combination of the digital world with the traditional fine art categories highlighted the link and relationships of the maker with their work. Even that which consists of technological materials still shows the maker’s hand, from the construction of the work, to the very physical installation of that work in the gallery space. This exhibition skilfully allowed the viewers to encounter a variety of art works as well as a glimpse of the similarities and differences of individual artist practices.

Gorey School of Art is located in Co.Wexford and is a progressive, dynamic and innovative organisation that is recognised throughout Ireland by key art institutions and organisations as a centre of excellence. The Peripheries event is an annual exhibition that occurs on the first weekend in August.

Richard Carr is a 2013 M.F.A graduate of The National College of Art and Design

Susan Edwards is a 2014 ACW graduate of The National College of Art and Design

Issue on sale here