Event Details


16/07/2023 – 20/08/2023


10:00 -17:00 Mondays to Saturdays
(Closed on Saturdays 1:00- 2:00 for lunch)


Galway Arts Centre | 47 Dominick Street





Event Type


Additional Info

Opening on Sunday 16 July @ 19:00
Artists Talk on Thursday 20 July @ 13:00

Ruby Wallis – Whistling in the Dark

Galway Arts Centre is delighted to present a major new exhibition of photography, collage, film, print and sound work by artist Ruby Wallis curated by Megs Morley as part of the 2023 Galway International Arts Festival.

For Whistling in the Dark the artist forms a site-specific response to aspects of the botanical world she finds within the walls of the Georgian architecture of the Galway Arts Centre – the former residence of  Arabella Waithman, the sister of Irish dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of  the Abbey Theatre,  Lady Augusta Gregory – and the plants ornately embedded in its ceilings, such as acanthus leaves, palm leaves, thistles, and classical Greek symbols.

In a play between order and disorder, taxonomy and the organic, she finds more immediate signs of life and organisms in fungi, as well as the mould in the peeling paint of the gallery walls. This process draws on the eco-feminist thinking, that humans, animals, plants and other living entities can transform in their entwined relationships to one another, agitate and decolonise systems of order and power.

Brigid…it was she who first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night                      — Isabella Augusta Gregory, 1904

Whistling in the Dark draws on collective and collaborative processes, an ongoing project which launched the publication A Woman Walks Alone at Night, with a Camera in 2022, with writer Phillina Sun. This work links image, video and text through the figure of the flâneuse, framed as a subversive, imaginative explorer. The sound installation Whistling in Space was created in collaboration with musician and composer Michael Smalle. Through the layering of collective female voices, the intention is to break the taboo that for women whistling has been deemed unlucky, unfeminine, ungodly, even coarse and beastly. “A whistling woman and a crowing hen fetches the devil out of his den”.

The collage Swarming is freeing plants and insects from the rigid structures of taxonomy and imperialism, as they swarm up in viral chaotic patterns. The images are sourced from an encyclopedia of insects, photographs from walks in the botanical garden in Paris, and of the acanthus and palm found in the stucco work of the gallery. It was devised by Wallis and co-fabricated by a group of artists/cutters.

Ruby Wallis often works with gendered experiences in photography, installation and the moving image. She engages in a haptic way, using the close-up to simulate touch and direct experience through the lens. Her work focuses on the  immediacy of an embodied approach. She twists and turns, working with fragmentation, shadows and materiality.  Her practice is becoming increasingly collaborative, operating through conversations, sound, images and texts. She is interested in an investigation of intersectional viewpoints to disrupt a singular dominant voice and gaze. She holds a Phd from The National College of Art and Design and lectures at The Burren College of Art. In 2022 Wallis published the photobook, A Woman Walks Alone at Night, With a Camera in collaboration with writer Phillina Sun. Selected exhibitions include This Rural, Lismore Castle Arts; The Lab, Photomuseum Ireland; The Hugh Lane Gallery; PhotoIreland Festival, BX Gallery; The Dock; Vondelbunker: Amsterdam; TULCA; Perlman Teaching Museum; and Solas Nua, USA. Selected publications include The Journal of Artistic Research, The New Yorker magazine, British Journal of Photography, and Winter Papers vol.6 and 7. Her work is held by collections at Rochester Art Centre, USA, and by the National University of Ireland. She is the chair of the board of directors at Engage Art Studios, Galway.

Ruby Wallis is supported by Arts Council Ireland and Galway City Council Arts Office. 

Exhibition Events

Sunday 16th July

7pm – Opening reception at Galway Arts Centre | 47 Dominick Street
8.30pm – Afterparty in Áras na nGael with DJ Sasha Von Thulen (aka Sarah O’Toole). All are welcome!

Thursday 20th July
1pm – Artist’s talk with Ruby Wallis at Galway Arts Centre | 47 Dominick Street
9pm – Night Walk with Ruby Wallis. Booking required. More information is HERE

Saturday 12th August
8.30pm – Night Walk with Ruby Wallis. Booking required. More information is HERE