These Past Three Months. has been created in response to the sped-up timetable of re-opening after COVID 19 and this period of isolation. The Courthouse Gallery & Studios believes it is important for us to mark the reopening of our gallery and the re-ignition of the sector with an exhibition which is indicative of the time we are in and which can reflect on our experiences over the past three months. The exhibition also forms a path for the gallery to support a range of artists as we emerge from lockdown and isolation.
These Past Three Months. the exhibition will bring together artworks which exemplify the lived experiences of people and artists during these extremely difficult times. 111 days from the 12th of March to 29th June -the official reopening of galleries and museums in the Republic of Ireland, this exhibition will take a moment to reflect and provide a meaningful experience for visitors back into the gallery after so long away. The work explores themes of isolation, frustration, race and the activities we undertook to stave off boredom and loneliness. From exploring our local areas through physical activities and that scruffy head of hair with home haircuts to work created in the lead up to and during this time.
There will be a digital opening event to mark the first day of the exhibition with images and a live walk around on the 3rd of July at 6 pm. These past three months will run until the 1st of August. There will be some digital events and resources for those who can not make it to the gallery yet and will be open to the public at our regular opening times of 12 noon to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday.
Please be considerate of others when visiting the gallery, use sanitiser provided at the entrance and follow all social distancing and handwashing guidelines to help prevent any further spread of the virus.
“Stories from people in or out of work. Created using voicemails solicited from social media, and performed in real-time using custom software & hardware”. (12m 47 sec)
David O’Reilly is an Irish artist, filmmaker and game designer based in LA whose distinctive style has made him one of the most respected and influential creative voices with new virtual technologies. Creator of the groundbreaking animated films Please Say Something and The External World, his work has won numerous awards and been the subject of several retrospectives internationally. He served as a writer for the television shows Adventure Time & South Park and created the fictional video games in Spike Jonze’s Academy Award-winning film Her. His recent interactive works Mountain (2014) and Everything (2017) blur the boundaries between art, games and philosophy and have received widespread acclaim. Everything became the first video game to be eligible for an Academy Award. David's works have also exhibited and screened at Berlin Art Week, Centre Pompidou, SFMOMA and Shenzhen Animation Biennale.
For These Past Three Months. exhibition, OReilly was invited to contribute Sudden Black Hole (2020), part of a series of three videos made in response to COVID 19, CORONA VOICEMAILS including Staying at Home (2020) and Quarantine Dreams (2020). These 3 films were made using voicemails solicited from people on Twitter and Instagram. They were performed in realtime using EYE - a visual synthesizer OReilly is developing.
In order to create the film, OReilly provided a phone number for anyone who wanted to contribute to the project to call and leave an anonymous voicemail describing there day to day experiences anonymously. The resulting film is a hypnotic and somewhat unsettling view into the lives of participants individual lives, fears and experiences. Set against the growing scale of the crisis in the USA the video brings home the shared, interconnected lives of everyone during this global pandemic. The curator invited OReilly to exhibit this work as part of this exhibition as it gives this real sense of connection to the people as they speak. The anonymous nature allows the participants allows them to speak openly and candidly about their lived experience at the moment and really evokes a strong sense of empathy and an emotional response. This is complemented by changing hypnotic visuals which entice the viewer to sit and listen.
On March 12th Ireland and the world as we knew it changed with the announcement by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadker. All Crowe’s workshops ceased, her plans and exhibitions cancelled or postponed, and we were in lockdown.
During the first few weeks, Crowe struggled with the creative process. She was too distracted to resolve her new concept. Crowe challenged herself to investigate and study Navajo weaving. She decided to design and hand weave a Navajo tapestry in traditional style. Traditionally Navajo blankets and rugs were woven as offerings or gifts containing prayers. Often for Chiefs or for ceremonies for the tribe/ community. They are sacred. The weather was so fine and warm she wove outside in the open air during April. The Intentions and prayers woven into Navajo rugs were for safe travel, good health, wisdom, prosperity, and a long life, all needed in the global pandemic. Navajo weaver’s individualism and flair for experimentation is vividly expressed in textiles from the last quarter of the 19th century. The textiles are rooted in ideas and events the weavers experienced during the hard years of their imprisonment, and their subsequent return to the reservation. Crowe taught herself to weave these complicated designs and shapes. The title of this piece is Phase 0. It carried her through the early days of cocooning. It is symbolic of all the worries, stresses, anxieties, love and loss endured by so many of our global citizens.
By Mid-May Crowe was ready to combine her own free self-taught style of weaving with the more traditional hard edge shapes of Navajo. The new concept was to interpret contemporary symbols of front-line workers in health care. This tapestry is a tribute to nurses working In Ireland and around the world. The symbols I am using are hands clapping, hands washing, rubber gloves, PPE, Face Masks, Global pandemic map of the world and the sad overworked eyes of a nurse. In the final section (still being woven) I am using the symbols of currency. My concept is: stop clapping and reward the nurses, with a pay rise.
*More than 170 years ago the Choctaw Nation sent 170 dollars to starving Irish families during the potato famine. Now hundreds of Irish people are repaying that kindness, giving to a charity for two Native American tribes suffering in the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundraiser has raised more than 1.8 million dollars to supply clean water, food and health supplies to people in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation, with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from Irish donors.
From Dublin, Ireland, Niamh Smith is a visual artist who completed her MFA in Photography from the University of Ulster, Belfast, 2019. Smith’s work is concerned with the storytelling of the everyday life while conceptualising photography as an act of prayer. Smith’s photography simulates a spiritual experience awakening moment of reflection and emotions.
This work was created in response to an unprecedented time, feeling temporarily stuck within homes and being isolated from family and friends. These are fleeting moments of joy and hope in times of worry and dread. Transforming environments such as the food drop to the artists 95-year grandad into a remarkable scene. This spirit in the normality, becomes a procession of contemplation, moving towards an interpretation of the new normal we continue to live through.
“I find people fascinating. I love people. I love their emotions and behaviours. Collaborating and sharing experiences with people has a really profound effect on me and others…There is something really cathartic in it”
Smith’s work has been exhibited Nationally and Internationally including National Gallery of Ireland, Crawford Gallery, Belfast Exposed, Royal Ulster Academy and the China International Photography Festival.
Singh’s paintings and installations, as well as photography, video and performance work, explore ideas around the vulnerable body and its pain, interrogating the economies of power that deny it space and shape. I work primarily with the body and through movement. I have two videos in this exhibition both of which are based on dance. One is titled 'Knot' and the other 'Fold'.
The video 'Knot' explores an aspect of a new dance I am working on called Danst fabric, the dance is about rituals. It prioritises repetitive and ritualistic movements even as it becomes illegible and indeterminable. The dance usually works with and against the tension in a piece of fabric anchored by two or more dancers. Here Dmitry is working solo.
Danst Fabric was kindled by my research into the gestures, movements, and rhythms of worship. Dmitry in 'Knot' is working with a version of the ubiquitous and often sacred practice of turban tying in South Asia. The movement combined with the fabric is considered a way of communing with the gods. The dance itself is magical.
Much of his work with dance and movement explores ways the human body folds and unfolds around borders, topographic, symbolic, or otherwise. For the video 'Fold' I juxtaposed a kaleidoscopic reading of four-floor plans of an ancient mosque, a kuil and a gurudwara as well as the Christ Church Cathedral with a video of Alina dancing to a song that calls out “In my home, O foreigner! You are welcome”. I was interested in how Alina’s body folded into the hushed tones and sculpted spaces of the cathedral. She moved along its seams, into its folds, delicately stepping into its rarefied air in an almost-whisper. I felt her body adjust as she quietly moved through its cavernous halls and its small enclosures. We filmed almost everywhere in the cathedral, take after take, while I watched a dancer settle into the cathedral’s quiet, into its myriad tones and its ornate vestibules, into its sacred charms and its delicate beauty. I have recently become interested in this idea of the fold as a bodily or a somatic practice. What is the somatic function of folding? What if your body is continually folding and enfolding and unfolding; folding around and into space, adjusting externally and internally in fractal-like origami moves? In this video, I combine the architectural and the bodily thrust of pattern making through the creative reciprocities of folding.
Joshua Armitage (b. Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, 1986) lives and works in London.
Joshua Armitage is an artist and educator. His work primarily revolves around drawing and painting. After receiving a Masters in Animation from the Royal College of Art he developed a successful painting practice concerned with the intersections of observation, memory and feeling. His teaching practice uses discoveries made in his art practice as the foundation of his classes aimed at increasing confidence in self-expression, particularly through methods of drawing.
All my work finds its routes in drawing from observation. I believe that the shapes, forms, and gestures collected in these drawings are far more interesting than those I could invent but I am then free to use these as I wish. This process for me also leads to more aesthetic surprises. I want to preserve a sense of drawing within the paintings I make and also open the images up to yet more variables that can lead to an image that feels right.
My own history informs my work and even though most of my work begins as observations of things I encounter now the images become tainted by my own memory. I want to catch within the paintings some very specific, potent feelings that I find hard to describe but that occur at certain times throughout my life. I want to use light and space and the process of making paintings to recreate an idea of these feelings.
O’Connell is a fine art painter and art educator based in Waterford City, having returned from travelling around India and Asia at the beginning of the lockdown and emergence of this global pandemic, she began to paint in this time of uncertainty. O’Connell’s work is inspired by consciousness and intimacy. The work included in These Past Three months exhibition, Lauren, NHS is a portrait is of a healthcare worker who is directly involved with COVID-19 patients.
During the lockdown, portraits of health care workers became a new trend yet almost always showed the sitting dressed in PPE or in a frantic work situation. During this time, O’Connell often felt overwhelmed at the uncertainty of COVID-19, and these images became part of a newsfeed taken over by statistics and fear. Instead of painting Lauren in a demanding work situation or in PPE, O’Connell instead wanted to show her immersed in a tender moment of quietness.
Now more than ever it is important to take a step back from the chaos and endless information we are bombarded with daily and focus on what brings us calm and joy. We are so accustomed to being busy, to having a full schedule and to being distracted, stressed, and overwhelmed. With the sudden loss of everything, we took for granted came a need to slow down, realign our focus and to just be. O’Connell use’s muted tones within her paintings to emphasise a feeling of peace and quiet and she uses soft, unobtrusive facial expressions to bring the viewer into the inner world of the sitter.
Dunne’s paintings describe the geography of his lockdown. Living in Dublin 8, Dunne felt there was a real and depressing lack of green space available to him and his family. Dunne would go out with his children to explore his local area on regular walks as many of us did over lockdown and find the weeds that were doing so well. They had begun to grow up through the concrete all around his home 2k, then 5k then 20k. Each painting panel is named after the street where the weeds painted were discovered, flourishing through. In the tightness of that time, it was a joy to watch something uninvited grow, indifferent to our pandemic and owning our streets for those months.
Dunne’s work often explores the natural world all around us painting organic landscapes that critique the marginalisation of animal spaces and in this case the reclamation of nature over our concrete cities, if only for a short time. The artist uses soft colour palettes to give his work a visionary, almost poetic quality, and texture.
Burke is an artist based in the west of Ireland, shooting predominately with 35mm film photography. Burke’s work explores themes of family, monotony, catholic iconography whilst allowing humour and color to shine through the mundane.
"When our lockdown measures were introduced in March, I decided to take portraits of my parents during the lockdown in mundane housebound situations. I wanted to utilize nostalgia, humour, and colour as a form of escapism from the stresses of lockdown"
Burke’s work brings something very special to These Past Three Months. exhibition, it sets up situations which we can all relate to from these past three months of lockdown and isolation. From the home haircuts to rediscovering those old board games and puzzles stuffed in a cupboard to help pass the time and keep our minds engaged.
Like much of the work in this exhibition, Burke’s series of photographs represents a period of great difficulty and carry a lot of tension in the motivations behind why these scenes are so familiar. Through the skilled set-up and unique style of Burke’s 35 mm photography, we as viewers are allowed to enter an almost dreamlike and romanticised scene supported by a strong undercurrent of humour and temporal dissonance.
Lunney’s artistic practice involves the undertaking of a protracted art process. Typically, these processes start with the construction of site-specific or portable sculptural works in The Dublin and Wicklow Mountains. These sculptures are generally created less for their inherent value but rather to provide photographic source material for documentary artworks.
The resulting documentary artworks can take the form of prints, drawings or photographs. These images are rendered, framed and presented in a fashion which intentionally obscures and embellishes the original object and moment that they represent.
In these artworks, it is often the relationship between representational imagery and it’s surrounding abstract visual information which infers the process and concept behind the work. The works have a self- contained narrative; the concept and the material process are intrinsically linked in the artworks discussion of its provenance.
Jaxwindó at Curtlestown Wood is part of a continuing project called Things made for drawing. Every iteration of this project comprises a set of processes. Initially a sculpture is made using reflective and see-through materials which has a mount for a camera-phone on it. The camera points at the sculpture from a fixed position. The sculpture becomes a portable photographic device to reflect and refract its surroundings.
In this instance, the sculpture titled Jaxwindó was brought to Curtlestown Woods in Wicklow and photographs were taken. One of these photos was then interpreted through colouring pencil and mounted and framed in an overwrought Celtic-inspired frame which was in turn placed into a woven panel. Lunney’s main goal in making an artwork such as this is to reinterpret the landscape around us in a hyper-abundance of detail.
Concerned with connectivity and the human condition, McGowan explores the overlapping materiality of the natural and the manmade world; drawn to the meeting point of polarities, such as; mind and matter, life and death, the spiritual and physical, inside and outside. McGowan’s artworks question prevailing boundaries through her use of re-creation and reincarnation. Disregarding linear time; she forges a liminal gap, as her materials appear alongside younger forms of themselves, she creates an ancestry between the works and an eternal link to her relationship with the material.
Though the visual narrative is carefully orchestrated throughout McGowan’s installations, there is a sense of play present in the joining of certain materials. Tensions arise from disconnecting, manipulating and reassembling everyday materials; by re-contextualising the familiar a level of uncertainty is provoked in the viewer. While some things gain function, others lose it amidst the interference, constantly in motion; her installations transform the familiar to the unknown. McGowan creates outsider objects, both recognisable and outlandish. Utilising her sculptures placement she makes the viewer become conscious of their step, and brings their awareness into the physical present, as she encourages slow- looking.
Embodying a continuous flow of life and energy, Love Me? 2020, reminds us, that we are constantly in flux from one time to another. Finding peace in the mundane every day, as the world stopped; McGowan visions a space without time.
Margaret Corcoran is a visual artist who works predominantly in painting. Corcoran pushes the boundaries between past, present, personal and historical narratives. Corcoran’s current series of work re-addresses The Enquiry Series – painted in 2002 when subjects such as identity, national identity, colonialism and post-colonialism were explored in an art-historical and social context. Taking its title from Edmund Burke’s theories of the sublime The Enquiry Series followed the gaze of a young female (the artist’s elder daughter) viewing and finding her way through the historically and politically loaded paintings of the Milltown Rooms of The National Gallery of Ireland.
Corcoran was invited to exhibit, Covid Bhutan, unfortunately, the work was otherwise spoken for, however, Corcoran kindly agreed to create a second watercolour especially for this exhibition, COVID Bhutan II. This watercolour was made during lockdown from an image taken in Bhutan by Bhutan Street Fashion (Instagram handle) who provided Corcoran with permission to work from their image. It offers a unique view of this global pandemic, starting as a fashion illustration’s image on Instagram from Bhutan, South Asia, ending up re-imagined on the walls of a gallery in the west of Ireland. The image depicts a man with a shopping bag in hand, wearing a face mask and what appear to be pyjama bottoms underneath his clothes, this work spoke to the curator when he came across it on Corcoran’s Instagram account, it somehow contained a beautiful quality layered with humour, and yet was also a poignant summation of these past three months.
Margaret Corcoran has exhibited consistently in both group and solo exhibitions at home and abroad since 1999. In 2003, she won the Golden Fleece Award for her painting ‘An Enquiry II: A Moment of Youth’. Corcoran holds a master’s in fine art Painting from the National College of Art and Design and her work is in the collections of the Office of Public Works, Trinity College Dublin and the Arts Council of Ireland. Corcoran is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin.
Rosie Nugent, Glasgow
Nugent started the painting for this exhibition during lockdown having been inspired by images of doctors and nurses appearing online across the world. Nugent wanted the painting to humanise the doctors and nurses, who had otherwise been obscured and defaced under their personal protective equipment, by painting the emotion of the doctors while embracing each other.
The painting reflects the support we have been provided with over these past few months. Not just from health care staff and essential workers but from each other; our family, neighbours, friends, and those who love and care for us.
Nugent hopes this painting stands as a reminder to all, not lose touch with those we have found again, to ask for help when needed and to provide support for others when they are struggling.
Kennedy is a full-time artist and has been working from home for the past 20 years. When the lockdown was announced she was in the middle of a solo show of paintings which had to finish early when the gallery closed. As for a lot of artists that are lucky enough to have studios at home, painting life continued relatively normally. However, the careers of others were completely halted and lots of people were putting their health in danger just by turning up to work.
Kennedy follows the artist, Tom Croft, on Instagram and saw that he was starting a movement to get artists involved in honouring front-line NHS health workers with free portraits. An Irish artist Kennedy knows called Bernadette Doolan took over the reins of the movement honouring the HSE workers and that is when she got involved. Kennedy put out the call for HSE health workers to get in touch and painted the first portrait. As it turned out, his partner is also a front-line worker in another hospital so she offered to paint a portrait of her too. Kennedy also painted her own niece who works as an Occupational Therapist in Loughlinstown Hospital.
Kennedy felt that being so lucky with the work she does as an artist, and not having been interrupted to a great degree during the pandemic, made her more than willing to give something back to the people whose working lives have been so difficult during the past few months.
Kennedy graduated from Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design in 1993 after being greatly inspired to become a professional artist by her grandmother, who was a painter. Kennedy paints a variety of different subjects but is predominately a portrait and figurative painter. Her work has been exhibited in the National Gallery of Ireland and the Ulster Museum in Belfast.