Temple Bar Gallery + Studios launched its gallery programme in July, following a brief period of closure and reassessment, with an installation by Irish artist Sonia Shiel. ‘Bran New Brains’ is confidently proclaimed by the Scarecrow, in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Having become empowered by the placebo of his awarded intelligence, he explains the recent metalwork to his head, revealing the will of his self-deception. The first phase will build over a four week period, when Shiel will work on the installation in the gallery space, producing an evolving series of works, addressing subjects as diverse as the audience and the romance. Implicit to this strategy is the positioning of the artist somewhere between the idea and its consumption. Construing certain studio conditions within the gallery space, this work will appear to expose its own make-up, while gradually disguising itself, until even the rough edges are pretend.
Sonia Shiel’s work exerts a comical agency over the earnest notions it describes, combining sculptural and painted objects, paintings and videos - in small scale vignettes and larger, unashamedly faux installations. She regularly uses the idea of the artist and his pursuit beyond make-believe, as her central muse. Positioning him in apparently lawless environments: - the wild west, outer space, cartoon territories and anarchic streets. Facades form structural points, mechanisms and the make-up of stand-alone sculptures, as well as underpinning the themes and narratives of her paintings and their protagonists.
From 16th July the gallery space will re open and the public are welcome to enter and observe the daily changes as Shiel applies new permutations to her installation. On 19th August the gallery will host an event to include the launch of a book, published by the Royal Hibernian Academy, on Sonia Shiel’s practice, with texts by Mark Hutchinson and Chris Fite-Wassilik. There will also be a public conversation between the two writers at 4pm on Thursday 19th August.
Sonia Shiel has had solo exhibitions at The Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallery I and II, Dublin, the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, FOUR, Dublin, Roscommon Arts Centre, and the Cable Factory, Helsinki. She has completed a number of international residencies, facilitated by the Helsinki International Artists Program Award, TBG&S, The Arts Council Travel and Mobility Award, Culture Ireland, the Tony O’Malley Award and the Ard Bia Residency among others. She has taken part in other international curatorial projects, particularly, as co-ordinator of House Projects. Her work has been included in group shows at Pallas Contemporary Projects, Green on Red Gallery, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Kerlin Gallery, Ard Bia Berlin and PREVIEW Berlin. Other projects have included “Rumble Rumble, Whats the Big Idea?” a series of installational works in Dublin city locations, following on from ‘More Rules than Road,’ her most recent solo show at the RHA. Shiel’s work is held in many private and public collections, including the offices of Dublin Contemporary, a selection recently curated by Aoife Tunney. Other upcoming projects include a solo show at Triskel’s ESB Sub Station, Cork, in October 2010