Interface from Ireland, by The Nomad Creative Projects

“Asking new questions, new possibilities, looking at old questions from a new angle requires creative imagination and real progress.” Albert Einstein


Art seeks beauty and speaks to emotion; science seeks truth and speaks to reason. This dichotomy is not correct: artists and scientists really participate in observation and experimentation. Among the benefits of integrating art into science, the main one is creativity. A scientist must use the creativity of developing the question that his research will attempt to solve. The scientist must also be creative in designing the process to answer this question. At the same time, science irrigates the field of art. Sculptures, videos, photographs or drawings, the spectator is immersed in an infinite number of sensations.

In 2016, visual artist and Irish musician Alannah Robins opened the doors of a new artistic-scientific laboratory. Interface. The link of these two spaces / territories, the artistic and the other scientific constitute the interface.

In a natural landscape born from the science of dreams, the Connemara National Park, the Interface space allows national and international artists to channel their energy and explore art in contact with scientists.

This new platform in the Inagh Valley, has led a series of unique projects. The premises were built for a salmon hatchery in the late 1980s. Today, it is an incubation of artists that adds to the incubation of scientists. Each artist can use a shared space of 135 m².

In 2008, an Inagh Valley Trust was created, as “Ideas Creation”, comprising a group of interconnected companies whose goal is to provide alternative and responsible solutions to society. For 2 to 6 weeks each artist will be in contact with the scientists. This relationship can inspire them in their artistic practice and make them leave their comfort zone. Science and art come together to improve society through research and creative thinking.

The Interface team is not afraid of challenges. They decided to be part of the adventure Galway, European Capital of Culture 2020. Inspired by a game for children based on rapid oral transmission, artists from 19 European countries will be invited to draw their experience. At each stage, the artist will modify the initial drawing. Changes in history and drawing should reflect and reveal cultural differences and similarities. This large-scale project aims to build bridges between communities and serve to highlight areas that host minority languages ​​and communities at risk.

This project includes a reformulation and reappropriation of certain founding principles: literality, self-referentiality or the importance and relevance of language.

26 April 2018 / 1 Comment / by / in
The Matter of the Moment

At the fore of artistic practice in Dublin, the gallery of Project Arts Centre engages a trans-cultural narrative, working with sparkling intelligence across local and global dialogues. No easy task, its programme is broadly informed, responding with sophistication to the personal, the social, and the political. Its activities include the commissioning of new work, presentation of solo and group exhibitions, offsite touring shows and context-responsive temporary projects. The programme’s vision seamlessly syncs the geographically local with the globally urgent, working with national and international artists as well as guest curators to produce critical, ambitious and exciting contemporary visual art. To experience an exhibition at Project Arts Centre is to witness the highly experimental tumbling comfortably over the historic, and the theoretical jiving with the pragmatic.

As such, the Visual Arts archive glitters with a stream of critically acclaimed artists, platformed in the gallery at key stages in their careers. From this rich pool of history, we have elected to speak about three artists; Jesse Jones (IE), Barbara Knezevic (AU/IE), and Ruth E Lyons (IE). Beyond our fascination with their practices, their works demonstrate the diversity of artistic approaches at play from within the Irish art scene, which have the capacity to resonate far beyond the island. Seen together, these works illustrate the malleability of perceived local/global identities, each a testament to the potential of supporting a borderless creative consciousness. 


Jesse Jones

Jesse Jones occupies a rare territory that can position contemporary local economic and political tensions across social and cultural divides. Working primarily with film, she explores historical moments of collective resistance, whose relevance continues to operate today. In her work, Jones’ isolation of forms and subjects – often via the codes of Epic Theatre – become tools for re-imagining and altering social discourse.

Commissioned by Project Arts Centre in 2008, The Spectre and the Sphere reflects Jones’ interest in potential points of convergence between cultural history and revolutionary politics, activated through performance and theatrical staging. The filmic work depicts a haunting rendition of ‘the Internationale’ performed by Lydia Kavina on the Theremin. Shot on 16mm against the historically charged backdrop of the Theatre Hall in Vooruit (Ghent), the work also hosts a revisiting, through eerie whispered unison, of Karl Marx's iconic text, The Communist Manifesto. For its installation, the gallery was transformed into a cinematic space, complete with fade-in strip-lighting and seating areas. A live extension of Jones’s thrilling The Whisper Choir was performed as part of a series of artist’s events, presented in Project Arts Centre’s Cube theatre, which further contextualised and expanded on Jones’ conjuring of ideologies.


Jesse Jones, The Spectre and the Sphere (installation image), 2008; 16mm transferred to digital, 12’30”. Image courtesy Project Arts Centre.


Jesse Jones, Mahogany (still), 2009; 16mm film transferred to video, 33’42”. Image courtesy the artist.


Collaboration has become increasingly integral to the artist’s practice. Engaging with diverse communities of interest, she uses long-form active research groups as a methodology for excavating meaning within the popular collective consciousness. With these embedded research projects, Jones displays her adept ability to embrace community in a very real sense, avoiding both sentimentalism and purely theoretical notions. This integrity can be seen in her work The Other North (2012), shown at Artsonje Seoul, Korea, and at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Developed from research in South Korea and the DMZ, and enquiries into archival footage in Northern Ireland, the work references a 1974 film, documenting a conflict resolution therapy session held by an American psychologist in Northern Ireland. Working from the transcripts of these therapy sessions, Jones re-staged the film with eleven Korean actors. This meeting of material was geographically disparate but resonant in content – enacting an opportunity to consider the effects of North South divisions, culturally, politically and psychologically.


Jesse Jones, The Other North, (still), 2012, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Image courtesy the artist.


Barbara Knezevic

Barbara Knezevic’s practice is concerned with how objects function materially, ontologically and economically in the world. She works primarily through sculptural form, probing the peculiar human relationship to material matter, through assembling selected materials, manipulating their role, and presenting them in an art context.

Her work often refers to systems of usage, as with from them but not of them, shown as part of the group exhibition Whitewashing the Moon, at Project Arts Centre in 2012. This sculpture is made from a layering of materials – a slab of beeswax sits atop folded felt blankets, within which is placed an electric heating blanket. These layers lie on further layers of corrugated cardboard. Combining a complex organic material (beeswax) with domestic and industrial materials produces a curiosity of form. Knezevic’s ability to set objects up in conversation, and then let them take their own course, seems to demonstrate a desire to guide the audience – with a distanced touch – into dialogue with the art-object.


Barbara Knezevic, from them but not of them, 2012; Beeswax, corrugated cardboard, electric blanket, felt, dimensions variable; Whitewashing the Moon, Project Arts Centre, 2012. Image courtesy the artist. Photography Davey Moor.


A second work, an exercise in self-destruction, also featured in Whitewashing the Moon, is composed of a microcrystalline wax hollowed form, which takes the shape of the rock from which it was cast. This is positioned directly underneath a heat lamp that slowly melts the wax while simultaneously illuminating it for display. Here the trace of the artist’s agency remains visible through the playful conceit of producing a work that is self-consuming; it exists in contingent states of being and, when on display, is suspended in a state of transformation.


Barbara Knezevic, an exercise in self-destruction, 2009; Microcrystalline wax, heat lamp, dimensions variable; Whitewashing the Moon, Project Arts Centre, 2012. Image courtesy the artist. Photography Davey Moor.


Ideas around how artworks exist are central to Knezevic’s practice. Object Registry is an artwork/publication whose role is to act as a receptacle for other artworks, the publication itself being a surrogate for an artwork, which met an unhappy fate – through accidental destruction. The book is concerned with matters of language and absence, and ideas around classification and contextualization in terms of how artworks are apprehended, and how they exist in the world.


Barbara Knezevic, Object Registry, publication, 2013; 128pg offset-litho printed 4 colour process one side only onto 130grs munken lynx, japanese fold, glued linen spine, eight-page cover printed one colour (black) onto 350grs kraftboard and die-cut with unique pencil illustration. Image courtesy the artist.


Ruth E Lyons

The large-scale sculptural works of artist Ruth E Lyons, are concerned primarily with landscape and our collective experience of it.

The Forgotten Works was a temporary installation commissioned by Project Arts Centre in 2012, which appeared as a cascading form across the building’s upper facade. The process of both its construction and deconstruction was considered as performative and public, viewed by an incidental audience from the street below.

The material of the work – five hundred bitumen-coated timber struts – are viewed by the artist as cultural signatures of the contemporary built environment. Bitumen, the lowest residue of oil, is a material that binds together the surfaces of the city – it is used as a primary substance in the construction of roads. At the heart of most modern cities, the fuel depot and the docklands house huge vats of this viscous material, which in some ways acts, invisibly, as the lifeblood of the urban infrastructures of our civilization. The artist describes the substance as an ancient body, essentially comprised of layers and layers of time, condensed over millennia. In this way, she sees the material as speaking of the transformative potential in all matter, to be consumed or condensed and eventually, to be reborn once again as luminous energy.


Ruth E Lyons, The Forgotten Works, 2012; 500 lengths timber 16’, 2” x 2”, coated in Bitumen; Project Arts Centre, 2012. Image courtesy Project Arts Centre.


A second work by Lyons, Amphibious Sound, was exhibited within the gallery of Project Arts Centre, also in 2012, as part of the major group show Conjuring for Beginners. Another large-scale sculptural piece, Amphibious Sound had been first fabricated in 2009 on location at Lough Key Forest Park, a far-flung rural area in the northwest of Ireland. As an area, Lough Key Forest Park is known to the UFO society of Ireland as a hotspot for unexplained activity. The artwork itself forms a sprawling black mass of neoprene wetsuits (another material derived from petroleum), unpicked and re-sewn together to create a skin which when floating atop the lake, defined the separation between what the artist perceives as this realm and another. The work’s appearance in Conjuring for Beginners, saw it re-imagined as a vast black carpet in a landscape of artworks, giving space to what Lyons describes as a ‘matter reality’; making reference to the constant and infinite potential of matter and world. 


Ruth E Lyons, Amphibious Sound, 2012; neoprene wetsuit material, 10 x 8 metres approx.; Conjuring for Beginners, Project Arts Centre, 2012. Image courtesy Project Arts Centre.


Ruth E Lyons, Amphibious Sound, 2009; neoprene wetsuit material, 10 x 8 metres approx.; Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon, Ireland. Image courtesy the artist.




Based between Amsterdam and Dublin, RGKSKSRG is the paired curatorial practice of Rachael Gilbourne and Kate Strain. Core initiatives include commissioning, presenting and contextualizing contemporary art; each viewed variously as sites for channelling visceral aesthetic experience and systematic disjuncture. RGKSKSRG, as a joint practice, acts as a means through which to embrace conflicting ideologies, heighten agency and cultivate a combined identity.

Currently at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, RGKSKSRG inhabit the Grotto, a peripheral space in the main foyer of the building. The site is used to present an insta-archive of the wider gallery programme, curated by Tessa Giblin, and acts as a window for reflection on the rolling nature of exhibitions, and their immediate passing legacies.


30 June 2017 / by / in
Mad Max, Fairy Bushes and Hellfire

A great deal of my work as a curator has been in the context of Askeaton Contemporary Arts, an organisation I founded in 2006. Based in County Limerick, Ireland, a residency and exhibition programme has helped develop over fifty projects by Irish and international artists. With no ‘white-cube’ gallery spaces in Askeaton, artists work in public spaces throughout this small town. This form of engagement focuses on the existing dynamics of the locale, intending to bring forward the diverse layers of daily life and aiming to create a rich framework for subjective encounters. A local audience is often actively implicated into the development of projects through their assistance or participation. In many ways, this has been my training ground as a curator, where over and over again I have seen artists arrive and radically change the existing dynamic of a small town, opening up new ways of how public space might be understood, often within an undercurrent of improvisation, frugality, and haphazard formality. 


Aaron Lawless’ work involves recycling leftover materials often found in the vicinity of his studio in Limerick into startling arrangements, exhibited as installations or sculptural entities. In turn, these forms are used as discursive touchstones for participation through active conversation, organised public events and, in the artists’ words, “a form of interpersonal play that challenges the notion of a stagnant relationship between individual and artwork”. Often guided by YouTube tutorials and DIY instruction manuals, his constructions rarely hold an allusion to high art, rather he sees them as makeshift solutions, based on pragmatic decisions made on the resources at hand.


Aaron Lawless, 'What's a Little Fallout?'


Working as part of the Re-Possession Project, initiated through Annie Fletcher’s 2012 Eva International, Lawless presented mislaid passports from Shannon Airport and objects from lost and found storage of Garda, bus and train stations in the Mid-West region. This material was used to initiate a series of both organised and informal public events over a three-month period. In 2013, he took on the task of merging the rarified nature of contemporary art practice into the busiest day of the year on Irish streets, partaking in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Askeaton. His entry, an assemblage of bicycle parts, scrap timber and a gas-powered flame apparatus deliberately resembled a vehicle from the dystopian action film Mad Max, in which the Earth’s oil supplies are almost exhausted and law and order has begun to break down.


Aaron Lawless, 'What's a Little Fallout?'


In his artworks, Sean Lynch develops representations of idiosyncratic moments from the past, sometimes almost forgotten, which have left a trail of objects, events or narratives. Much of this activity is based around Lynch’s role as an investigator of sorts, often convincing individuals to share covert forms of knowledge that point to the diverse attitudes and belief systems that underlie and inform the construction of history itself. As Kevin Barry writes in a 2009 essay, “Lynch is learning the art of the stakeout. He must appear nondescript and innocent; he must will himself to recede into the shadows.” 


Sean Lynch, 'Latoon'


In 1999, folklorist and storyteller Eddie Lenihan campaigned to save a whitethorn bush from being destroyed by the construction of a €90 million road scheme in Latoon, County Clare. Lenihan claimed that the Latoon bush is an important meeting place for supernatural forces of the region, namely fairies of Munster who would meet and prepare for battle there. He warned that its destruction would result in death and great misfortune for motorists travelling on the proposed new road. The campaign was picked up and covered by CNN and The New York Times. Clare County Council, acting on his advice and mounting pressure from media outlets, eventually decided to shift the direction of the road away from the bush.


Sean Lynch, 'Latoon'


In 2007, Lenihan agreed to further explain the significance of the bush to Lynch, as part of the making of a new artwork. Initial visits to the site were thwarted by the continued construction of another road nearby, with no access possible due to building works in and around the vicinity of the bush itself. The construction company refused right of entry, and Lenihan made genuine concerns around the bush’s safety in this environment. Eventually, on a Saturday evening after the last man working overtime left the site, Lenihan and Lynch broke in. Accompanied by a local television production crew, the resulting video sees Lenihan describe his research, efforts and frustrations at the scene with the bush once more in danger…


Sean Lynch 'Latoon'


Well-known for his interplay of words and visual language as a means of revealing far-flung stories packed with layers of detail and incident, Stephen Brandes’ often evokes streaks of absurdism and satire in his work. In 2012, he reacted to the presence of a Hellfire Club, a covert secret society of the seventeenth century in County Limerick. Brandes’ artwork resembled a heritage plaque, similar to the didactic presence of signage throughout many parts of Askeaton’s medieval town. Rather than describing past events, Brandes’ instead speculated a future in the 23rd century, involving unregulated planning and a revivalist architectural makeover at the site, the Swiss Government, imports from the Ukraine, and giant slugs. When reading this ramshackle vision of the future, the Hellfire building itself remains in view as a site of unexplained mystery and foreboding curiosity.


Stephen Brandes, 'The Hellfire Club'


In the perverse nature of progress and its adoption with an Irish idiom of boom and bust, it’s very likely that some of his predictions and subplots actually might come true. In this way Brandes restores an awareness of drama and history that are effectively hidden beneath the apparently calm uniformity of social space.


The ruins of the Hellfire Club in Askeaton



Michele Horrigan 

Michele Horrigan is an artist and curator. She studied fine art at HfBK Stadelschule, Frankfurt am Main. Since 2006, she is founder and curatorial director of Askeaton Contemporary Arts. Through residencies, events and exhibitions, the organisation has commissioned over fifty artists projects in direct relationship to the town of Askeaton, County Limerick. In addition, she has curated events and exhibitions throughout Ireland and in New York and Amsterdam. As an artist she has exhibited in Dublin, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Frankfurt, and Copenhagen.

30 June 2017 / by / in