Shared: Bethany Garvey Williams
For eighteen months we have had to adapt our daily lives in ways we might previously never have imagined. Perhaps the most difficult adaptation was the enforced separation, the prohibition of some of the most important shared situations we all took for granted. Gathering together as families, as a community or as an audience. Artlink has always been a community based organisation and the restriction on indoor events, of people gathering in groups presented a significant challenge in maintaining our relationship with our members and the wider public. Through a series of initiatives, we have brought exhibitions to our audience in a virtual replica of the Saldanha Gallery at Fort Dunree, in the windows of the former ESB Showroom, in the grounds of fort Dunree and now, in our most recent installation, along the old factory wall at the shorefront.
During this time of great emotional and social upheaval, artist Bethany Garvey Williams was inspired to research media sources to create a series of art works which reflect on the powerful emotional connection we all share in times of grief, political unrest and cultural celebration. These works, reproduced from original paintings, highlight the most human of responses at times of intense emotions – to gather and share our experiences.
The work celebrates the energy of community that occurs through these gatherings and specifically this community, not an abstract idea, but the real people who make up this place. Collective gatherings, whether joyful or mournful, are a part of what weaves us together.
Bethany uses photographs, ‘factual’ representations of events, to base her compositions on, then applies her personal perspective by adapting the imagery. Her art practice is rooted in traditional painterly techniques while incorporating elements of contemporary news and commercial and social media as source material.
Bethany says “My current practice investigates the sharing of emotion through mass gatherings of people. The pandemic has inhibited us, social beings as we are, from meeting and sharing emotions. When gatherings occurred, they drew huge media coverage eliciting a range of emotion and backlash. Considering the pandemic’s contagious nature, the idea of emotional contagion (how engagement with others informs each individual’s emotions and response to others’ emotions) seems relevant”.
About the artist
Bethany Garvey Williams, based in Dublin, has familial connections to Buncrana. Her work exhibited in the ‘This is…’, Graduate exhibition, TU Dublin (2018) was purchased by the Irish state collection. She exhibited in a group ‘Retrospective’ at The Complex Gallery in Dublin (2016) and has been artist in residence in Abbey Church, Parnell Square, Dublin since 2018. This resulted in her first solo exhibition ‘Parabola’ (2020). Bethany has created installations, site-specific work and regularly contributes to community arts festivals in Donegal including The Amazing Grace Festival and Feel Good Fortnight.