Wednesday, February 01, 2023

A Mayo-born artist, whose work was viewed by nearly one million people at the world’s biggest art event last year, is bringing her exhibition home to the west this week.

‘The Irish Tour of Ireland at Venice’ takes place in three venues throughout Ireland this spring.

The exhibitions and events programme presents an expanded view of Niamh O’Malley’s Gather exhibition from La Biennale di Venezia 2022, where she represented Ireland in one of the biggest art events in the world.

Niamh O’Malley in her studio at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in 2020. Niamh represented Ireland at La Biennale di Venezia 2022. Picture: Dragana Jurišić

It includes existing works, new commissioned sculptures and moving images, and special guest speakers.

Ms O’Malley’s Gather will open in The Model in Sligo on Friday and run until Sunday, April 9.

It unfolds in a new form over five rooms. Works from ‘Ireland at Venice’ are brought into an expanded dialogue with a larger selection of Niamh’s recent artworks.

This substantial exhibition also reveals and considers the influence of the west of Ireland on her work.

She uses many materials including steel, limestone, wood, and glass. She shapes and assembles objects to create a purposeful landscape of forms.

Sculptures tall and free-standing, ground-bearing, and cantilevered sit alongside rhythmic and looped moving images. This exhibition is a call to gather. It invites movement and communality.

Her exhibition will also visit Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin, from March 2 to April 30.

She will also be hosting an event in the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar on Saturday, March 11.

Gather, Mayo brings together parallel creative voices, in language and film, who produced work alongside Niamh’s exhibition Gather which represented Ireland at the 59th La Biennale Arte di Venezia, 2022.

The event will feature readings by acclaimed writers Eimear McBride and Brian Dillon who contributed texts to the exhibition book as well as conversations with Niamh and the curatorial team of Cliodhna Shaffrey and Michael Hill. Conversations will be mediated by Kate Strain of Kunstverein Aughrim (a curatorial office and production agency).

Accompanying film screenings include those by artist Jenny Brady whose film Gather follows Niamh through the making of her Venice exhibition and Ross Kavanagh’s film, which documents Gather at Venice.

This is an occasion to meet the artist in her home county and consider an artist’s expanded practice as an opportunity for collaborative creativity across disciplines of literature and film.

Ms O’Malley was born in Kilmurry, Crossmolina, and lives and works in Dublin. She studied in Belfast where she was a director at Catalyst Arts.

Her recent solo exhibitions include John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2021), Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2019), Lismore Castle Arts (2019), Grazer Kunstverein (2018), Bluecoat, Liverpool (2015), and The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2017 and 2015).

Selected group exhibitions include Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival; CAG, Vancouver; Eva International, Limerick; Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, Michigan; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Niamh was very proud to be chosen to represent her country in Venice last year.

“The Venice Biennale is the biggest art exhibition in the world and it takes place every two years. Ireland sends one artist, so it’s a huge deal to be chosen to represent your country,” Niamh told the Western People.

The average number of people who visit the Biennale is just over 500,000, but in 2022, 800,000 people attended, which is put down to the pent-up aspect that Covid-19 lockdowns created.

“Over 100 countries took part and we were beside Chile, Oman, and Serbia,” said Niamh.

“It’s all mixed up together and you just wander from one room into another, it’s a surreal experience. It’s like the Olympics for visual artists.”

The Biennale took place from April to November but Niamh realised that not everyone from Ireland is able to travel to Venice to see her exhibition, so she brought it home.

She is now looking forward to Friday when Gather opens in The Model in Sligo.

“It’s a beautiful space, The Model, it has loads of natural light. It’s an old building kind of built with a contemporary extension built onto it. It’s really nice, so really looking forward to it, it’s going to be lovely.”

  • Visit The Model in Sligo to see Niamh O’Malley’s Gather during February. Admission is free of charge.

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