Preview: 5–8pm Thursday 20th May 2021
I write this opening text and a subsequent exhibition essay to accompany Object Im/permanence, a solo exhibition by visual artist John Conway: an exhibition that I have not yet seen, at a time when gallery spaces have been closed for months.
Originally proposed as a different project and billed for a pre-COVID 2020, this new body of work has been conceptualised and fabricated during snatches of eased-lockdown across multiple sites including the Artist’s home (see; office/studio) Ormond Quay Studios, Fire Station Artists’ Studios Sculpture Workshop, and Rua Red South Dublin Arts Centre. The work is a series of custom built lighting units installed in a blacked-out gallery space. These units are sequenced to blink on at random, dispelling darkness and momentarily revealing text before leaving the space in darkness again.
John’s verbal description of the exhibition space evokes a Church-like quality; I imagine a quiet, reverent space that has been designed to make you take a moment, to think. In my mind, the gallery is large and filled with darkness that your eyes adjust to as you walk in. The luminous icons which intermittently fill with light are dazzling, appearing as if by magic and sizzling words into your eyes.
Object Im/permanence is John’s first solo gallery exhibition as the father of a 22 month old girl. The format and themes of the show are informed by this outlook and life experience. The work ultimately invites us to consider legacy: What we have inherited as a culture and as individuals, what we mean to pass on, what we hope not to, and the culture and society into which this is bequeathed.
You come, and you will occupy this space for a moment. You will occupy this space, for a moment.
– Claire Brophy
John Conway is a visual artist with a background in Fine Art Sculpture. His work is characterised by the production and coproduction of art projects which often respond to sensitive and challenging themes, resulting in diverse and sophisticated solo and collaborative outputs.
He has produced numerous innovative projects in a wide variety of community contexts. This includes the upcoming The Ballad of a Care Centre; a form-flipping live performed and virtual reality theatre work based on older people’s oral histories, presented by Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh, and Moments That matter; a recent commission by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Arts Service to develop an art project with the parents of children who attend The LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.
Recent awards include Brightening Air | Coiscéim Coiligh, Professional Development Award, The Arts Participation Bursary (all Arts Council) and Kildare County Council Arts Service Creative Ireland Funding. John is the Founder and Director of Other People’s Practices, the Artistic Director of Kildare Young Filmmakers, and is a resident studio artist in Rua Red, South Dublin Arts Centre.
Selected recent exhibitions include Our Stories (2021) Temple St., Tallaght and Crumlin Children’s Hospitals, Periodical Review #9 (2019) Pallas Projects Studios, the NCAD MFA Graduate Exhibition (2019) NCAD Annex Studios, and All Other Places (2018) The Point Village.
Claire Brophy is an activist and academic. She was a founding member and former co-convener of the Abortion Rights Campaign, a core organiser of the Strike for Repeal, and worked on Mobilisation as part of Together for Yes. She holds an MA in Twentieth Century Irish Writing and Critical Theory and a PhD in Literature, and her research work is focused on the intersections of sexuality, reproduction and motherhood in contemporary cultural production, and the impact of historic treatment of women in Ireland across social, cultural and political contexts.
Artist-Initiated Projects at Pallas Projects/Studios is an open-submission, annual gallery programme of exhibitions taking place in the context of a gallery space with a dedicated tradition towards the professional development of artists in a peer-led, supportive environment. This unique programme of funded, artist-initiated projects selected via open call is highly accessible to artists, with a focus on early career, emerging artists and recent graduates. Projects are supplemented with artists’ talks, texts, workshops or performances, online events and gallery visits by colleges and local schools.
Image: John Conway, installation view of Days Since Call For National Shame / Outrage (2021). Details: Timber, birch ply, sequenced LED lights, multi-wall polycarbonate, vinyl text (220 x 170cm)