Trio of artists unite for insightful Roscommon Arts Centre exhibition

As Naomi Draper enters the third year of her curatorial residency at Roscommon Arts Centre she is interested in extending her research to look directly at the extraction of material from our natural landscape, exploring the site, use, relationship and impact these interventions may have, looking at the potential of the natural landscape as archive and repository, holding and preserving information, as well as our human desire to draw from it.

Extract, the first exhibition of the 2023 visual art programme, looks at deep spaces and resources we draw from. It will explore the physical space of underground systems, materials found and extracted there, as well as the human relationship with these particular sites that tend to be a realm of other matter rather than a human space. The works presented by the artists in this exhibition; Padraig Cunningham, Caoimhe Kilfeather, and Nollaig Molloy allow us to consider the varying potentials for these spaces as sites for both labour and leisure, the value we place on the materials found, gathered, mined and extracted from them, and how we negotiate a relationship with this matter.

Padraig Cunningham is an artist and designer living in Boyle, County Roscommon. His work examines physical displacement in the environment. Within this dislocation, themes of loss and absence become apparent often centring on everyday places, reinventing and questioning their status, usage, and how they have been altered to accommodate human engagement.

For this exhibition Padraig will share his sculpture works Fold 1, 2 & 3. Based on his experience and research of going under-land and the physicality of caving which makes one aware of their body, a clumsy flesh against cold stone, the squeeze, push, shove, and squirm in the dirt. In these narrow passages, there is the paradox of being cocooned and safe while aware of the great mass and weight on top of you. Made from sheet metal that has been crushed with a large crane grabber, the works have a contrast of weight and lightness. They have an ephemeral quality as if they are in motion, a fluid presence, a mobile cut-out from the land.

Dublin based artist Caoimhe Kilfeather’s work is predominantly sculptural. Her installations have a reflective presence that often are sparsely appointed with crafted objects that are charged with thoughts, memories and other associations.

This exhibition will present an ongoing series of objects carved from coal which reveals the artist’s interest in the formal potential of an unlikely sculptural material. The works draw our attention to the possibility of transforming a ‘dirty’ substance into something polished and marble-like, locating it in an entirely new context. This unexpected aesthetic shift also points to Kilfeather’s interest in creating a heightened experience of matter – in this case pointing to something that is a physical manifestation of a period of time that is no more – a material made largely from plants which are now extinct. The sculptures appear variously as fragments of architectural details, or scaled down models of other, larger edifices. The polished surfaces give way in areas to reveal the brittle material beneath.

Nollaig Molloy is a visual artist from Roscommon. Her arts practice explores materials from specific sites and their relevance in historical, social and industrial situations. She works with video, animation, sculptural installation and event-based outcomes.

As part of this exhibition Nollaig will show her film titled Worth Your Salt. To describe someone as being “worth their salt”, is stating they are a good worker. This phrase can be traced back to the origin of the word ‘salary’ as Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt instead of money. Salt’s geological time surpasses the relatively short time of its value to the human economy while its monetary value can fluctuate depending on political and economic relations. ‘Worth Your Salt’ stems from a range of research methods and resources exploring industry, craft, gestural movements and the societal and linguistic impact of this material. This film fuses together digital and analogue moving image, collaborations, site visits and salt deposits collected from a working salt mine. It draws attention to the material values of labour, mass produced objects, landscape and natural resources.


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