Martin Herbert in conversation with Mairead O’hEocha
- 19 March 2020
Mairead O’hEocha is exhibiting new paintings and ink on paper drawings that concentrate on the subject of animals and their presentation within museum dioramas. Taking inspiration from Dublin’s Natural History Museum (or Dead Zoo), O’hEocha uses this ‘trophy cabinet’ from Ireland’s colonial past to register historic and contemporary attitudes of display. O’hEocha’s selective compositional approach to painting reflects the meticulous arrangements of taxidermied animals in constructed artificial environments, and her ongoing engagement with representation and image-making draws to light important concerns about these accepted forms of presentation.
O’hEocha’s works reflect on how we continue to conceptualise and claim nature through museological hierarchies of display, and their inventories of indigenous and colonial conquering, naming and ordering. Promising embodiments of freedom, animals expose our own social codes of order and constraint.
O’hEocha goes beyond the urgency of current environmental concerns to present artworks that chart human anxieties, like fear, desire and control. They ask how we can better acknowledge the limitations while also celebrating the complexities of representing the ‘natural world’ today.
Mairead O’hEocha’s work has been represented in several acclaimed solo exhibitions including The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, (2015 and 2011); Butler Gallery, Kilkenny (2011), and mother’s tankstation, Dublin | London (2018, 2016, 2012, 2008). O’hEocha’s paintings have been represented in a number of important group exhibitions and publications that have explored contemporary painting practices, including Slow Painting (curated by Gilly Fox and Martin Herbert), Hayward Gallery Touring Programme (2019-2020), A Painter’s Doubt, Salzberger Kunstverein (2017), and Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting (published by Phaidon, 2016).