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Megga Bubble Space Burbs by Vicky Smith and SuperNature by Linda Shevlin

The predominant concern in Linda’s work is the relationship between the built and natural environment and the duality of interests this entails. It combines video, installation, drawing, painting and collaboration to unpack the complexities of modernity’s and industrialisation’s effects on land and socio-cultural practices.

The work presented in Galway Arts Centre is the result of a six month residency at the Organic Centre in Rossinver. Linda worked with the staff and students of the centre to research and recreate a series of experiments exploring the many and often astounding ways in which nature manifests itself and adapts to its environment.

Supernature is inspired by Lyall Watson’s 1973 bestselling book of the same name. Shevlin became interested in a number of botany related experiments that were carried out over the latter half of the last century. Watson describes these experiments as being “an exploration of the space between those things that we understand as normal occurrences and those that are completely paranormal and defy explanation.” The exhibition will explore this concept through the objects and representations of the experiment as well as a film installation that documents a fictional society that works with nature rather than against it.

Supernature. 2013. Still image. multi screen HD film installation.

Past projects have been concerned with the impact of industrialisation on the natural environment and how we historicise, monumentalise and engage with the spaces we inhabit. Most recently her work explores the potential of narrating these concerns through employing filmic processes. The construction of narrative as a device for (mis)interpretation has been of interest to Linda in all her moving image works. The art of film making is built on a foundation of sequential actions being filmed in a nonconsecutive order.  Constructing multi-screen installations and editing non-linear films allows her to expand the cinematic archetype of storytelling. She’s interested in the blurring of the lines between fiction and reality, remembered and imagined. Often borrowing from the visual language of cinematic genres, her work deploys devices of installation to push the boundaries or replicate the cinematic experience.

Shevlin has participated in exhibitions and projects both nationally and internationally. In 2012 she was awarded one of two inaugural residencies under the Spark Project funded through Leitrim Arts Office & Enterprise Board in partnership with the Arts Council of Ireland. In 2011 Falling Awake, a collaborative film made with Padraig Cunningham, was selected for Tulca Festival, Galway. The piece has also been shown in Bodh Gaya, India; Philadelphia,  USA (Centre for Emerging Artists) and Nottingham, UK (Surface Gallery). Other recent exhibitions include Circadian, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Social Capital, The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Relics and Ruins, Hammond Gallery, Cork and Crave, Cross Gallery, Dublin.

In 2009 Shevlin completed an MA in Visual Arts Practices through IADT and in 2010, was appointed to the Board of Directors of Visual Artists Ireland.

“because wherever I sat- on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok- I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air... I sank back in the grey, plush seat and closed my eyes. The air of the bell jar wadded round me and I couldn’t stir”

Galway Arts Centre presents ‘Megga Bubble Space Burbs’ an exhibition featuring new research-based work by Vicky Smith (IRL) in Galway Arts Centre this month. The opening reception takes place at 6pm on Friday 2nd August 2013.

Selected for the Artist in Resident Award at Galway Arts Centre in 2012 ‘Megga Bubble Space Burbs’ is a reflection of Vicky Smith’s six-month residency. Smith’s practice centers on the production of art objects that are key components in the production of this physical bell jar city art installation. The two centre pieces of this exhibition are ‘Squawk Box’ and ‘Space Burbs’ both mimetic redundant bell jar machines that engage the audience in the analysis of the Bell jar syndrome. In this body of work, she uses the art object as a lever to open a dialogue about her research, collections, and analysis of this as well her curiosity with the Bell Laboratories.

The Bell jar syndrome stems from Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar.  It is the very pressure and vacuum of choice between binaries and the impossibility of reconciliation that is centre to Plath’s novel The Bell Jar It can be said that this is a continuing social constraint that exists like a thin skin on the surface. Smith concentrated on developing interplay of mediums within these bell jars. They are built-in sculptures on the mimetic machines containing videos, images of the modern and post-modern woman with emanating analogue sound waves and found objects.  It is the very pressure and vacuum of choice between binaries and the impossibility of reconciliation that is centre to Plath’s novel The Bell Jar. This is a continuing social constraint that exists like a thin skin on the surface. Smith believes it has manifested itself as silence. This is rooted in her interest in the ‘bubble enclosure’. These enclosures can be imaginary bubbles, real bubbles, and phenomologically framed as a place/shape/form that people create during times of social and personal crisis that results in a lack of voice, protest, or disparity.

Initially she was transfixed by the bell jar as a sculptural form, as a concept with philosophical undertones, as sci-fi invention and by its  original function as a piece of laboratory equipment used to contain vacuums while also seen as purely decorative common in the Victorian period.  Smith concentrated on developing interplay of mediums within these bell jars. They are built-in sculptures on the mimetic machines containing videos and images of the modern and post-modern woman with emanating analogue sound waves and found objects. The employment of these found objects provides familiarity and access to artwork by bringing a whole array of different contradictory elements into a productive vacuum and cohesive dialogue with each other. This is not straight forward and plays with conceptual art ideas, video, text and humour to bring these thoughts into fruition while turning it completely on its head in a bell jar city installation space she has nicknamed Togethersville for this exhibition. This concept has formed the basis of this reflective exhibition of her visual art residency in Galway Arts Centre.

Quote from commissioned Untitled Text by Claire-louise Bennett 2013
'She was standing, it seemed to me, wearing a long string of beads, freshwater pearls I should think -green or black, it altered, then grey ones-once -when she reached for them, I don't remember when exactly'

Found Getty Image printed on backlit paper 2013

Vicky Smith’s recent group exhibitions include  Too Many Dinner Parties, The Shed, Middle Pier, Galway City, 2013, #008000, The Shed,  Galway City , 2013, Latency, Linenhall Arts Centre, Mayo, 2013, Spectrum of Activity, The Black Mariah, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork 2012  Perambulatory Rhetoric’s, The Niland Gallery, Merchant’s Road, Galway, 2011 and Influx artist led Fair Occupy Space, Limerick 2011. She is currently a member of Engage Art Studios, independent curator/writer and arts educator.

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