Silent Signals is a survey exhibition that features recent watercolour and acrylic paintings, as well as 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 centred 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.
As a result this body of work is on the one hand the most objective of all the works I have exhibited however, its themes, content and the amount of time spent with the works and the experiences uncovered within them has produced the most personal of my recent exhibitions. Revealing my subjectivity to particular communities or experiences and their/my/our roles within wider society. With this exhibition I wanted to create works that responded to the issues of rural communities and that articulate the lived experiences of modern rurality within the context of contemporary visual art and my own signature audiences.”
The exhibition opens Thursday 9th June 2022 and runs until 9th July 2022.