Silent Signals is a survey exhibition by Mayo based artist Conor O’Grady which features recent paintings, photographic works and sculptures that were created during various research projects undertaken by O’Grady in rural areas of Ireland and Scotland between 2019- 2022.
The work examines some of the issues that affect specific marginalised communities. Reflecting in particular Gaelic, migrant and othered lived experiences in both countries. In this exhibition O’Grady combines traditional processes and contemporary media, introducing materials such as invasive plant species, or water gathered from natural sources to create a mapping system for these experiences and developing a visual record of geographical areas that hold significance for these communities.
Examining themes such as folklore, history, tradition and cultural memory in particular rural areas, but also depicting urban encroachment upon rural life, the legacies of bad planning, the death of small towns and other issues which affect already marginalised communities. Expressing a shared precariousness using O’Grady’s multidisciplinary, artist centered approach to making art.
On the exhibition, O’Grady has stated that.
“The restriction of only using the materials I had gathered from a particular site, became an important aspect of these particular works. Using water gathered from areas that have negative or difficult histories became a method of physically othering the works.
That restriction in material and reinforcement of place is directly related to the sense of geographical isolation and social dissidence voiced by almost all of the groups examined within this work.
The exhibition was formulated over the past two years and many of the works were completed during COVID-19 lockdowns while I was artist in residence at Sabhal Mór Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, this creative isolation directly influenced the work and it allowed me to observe, collaborate with and document similarities in the shared histories and cultural connections between rural Scotland and Ireland.”
Conor O Grady is a multidisciplinary, visual artist who frequently uses socially engaged and dialogical practices in his work.
His work has been exhibited widely including the solo exhibitions such as Damnatio Memoriae (2019), Contested Territories (2019) and Green Carnations (2015).
Awards and residencies include the RHA and Carlow County Council Wedge micro-funds award (2020/21), the John Schueler Scholarship at the National Centre for Gaelic Language, Culture and the Arts, Isle of Skye, Scotland (2020) which was a 3-month residency in connection with the Royal Scottish Academy, a Fellowship with Ballinglen Arts Foundation (2019), the Artist-in-Residence at the National Folk Theatre, Siamsa Tíre, Tralee (2018), the Kunsthalle Krems Artist residency award (2017), and the Tyrone Guthrie Bursary Award in (2016) awarded by Mayo County Council.
This exhibition is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Mayo Arts Council, the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Jon Scheuler Charitable Trust.
All works created throughout a number of research projects and during residencies at Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Co. Mayo and Sabhal Mór Ostaig on the Isle of Skye.
Image: The Night before Muirburn (Skye Waters), Watercolour, Water from Loch Sligachan and Loch Bracadale. 2021
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