Helen O’Shea – Balancing Relations
James Barry Exhibition Centre November 2020,
Virtually at https://www.helenoshea.ie/balancing-relations
Helen O’Shea’s MA exhibition Balancing Relations presented in the James Barry Exhibition Centre is a personal response to encounters with waste plastic.
Balancing Relations looks at the speculative prospect of what is beyond our vision in the depths of the oceans and uses the transformation of waste plastics to raise themes of environmental, material, and ecological concern.
Researching the journey of waste plastics in the ocean brought home the complexity of what is happening in this environment: physical breakdown, absorption of toxins, ingestion, leeching chemicals, bacterial and microbial growth, and transportation of invasive species.
‘Inspired by the volume of plastics in the oceans my imagination has been fueled by the revelation of colonies of microorganisms growing on the gyres of plastic floating there. The idea of inorganic plastics supporting organic life has offered the framework to explore fictional speculations using waste material’
These intimate creations foreground the mark of the hand using textile sensibilities, while exploring the potential to reuse waste plastics in a contemporary art setting. Driven to disrupt perceptions of waste and expose this material’s potential through subversive aesthetics, O’Shea questions possibilities on end of life issues.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) from waste plastic milk bottles is used to create the Scaled pieces; plastics found at the beach are the materials used to create the Hybrid works; and used plastic shopping bags with stitch were used to create Mantle for this exhibition.
O’Shea is completing a Master’s by Research in CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, where she also graduated with a first-class BA degree in Contemporary Applied Art, in 2017. Her work has been exhibited internationally as part of Discovery in Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair, Basel, Switzerland, also in China as part of Irish Wave 3 & 4. She has undertaken residencies in Cill Riallaigh also with a mentoring role in CCAD and received support from Arts Council in 2015 to undertake a residency in Iceland. Her work has been highlighted in Crafts Magazine (UK) and featured in Irish Arts Review.