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Elemental

ELEMENTAL
Caoimhe Kilfeather and Karl Burke
An exhibition of contemporary sculpture, especially for children
12 January to 2 March 2019
Opening Saturday 12 January at 2.00 pm
Curated by Superprojects
Aimed especially at children aged 4-12, Elemental is an exhibition that invites children and people of all ages to encounter contemporary art through touch and movement, as well as sight. Leading artists Caoimhe Kilfeather and Karl Burke are transforming the galleries with their interactive, tactile sculptures and 

installations that explore scale, texture, space and light. 


Elemental contains a major commission from Caoimhe Kilfeather, with artworks that suggest an imagined forest of both indoor and outdoor elements. One element, created from hundreds of metres of green Indian silk, hanging 3 metres high, will offer pockets of space for children to inhabit. A tree house will perch 5 metres high overlooking the exhibition space, and the floor will be covered with cushions and 'leaves' fashioned from organdie, with brooms and sweeping brushes to tidy up. In the upstairs gallery, children will be able to walk around and through a steel sculpture by artist Karl Burke (entitled ‘Taking a Line’), which stands 2.5 metres high, and creates a very subtle optical illusion that implies density in empty space. Both Caoimhe and Karl have also each made interactive works that speak to children’s oft held desire to creatively arrange objects found in nature.  

Practising primary school teacher and trained artist Anne Bradley is creating ‘The Make Space’ – a calm, tent-like room where children can take time to creatively respond to the themes and materials of the works on exhibition; using materials such as sand, small objects, pieces of wood and fabric to explore pattern, visual order, touch and more.

Forts, periscopes and stop-motion animations are just some of the elements that children from Scoil Naisiúnta an Droma Mhóir, Bantry have created for visitors to enjoy as part of their experience of Elemental. 

The Elemental Schools Project has seen pupils from the school’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd class working with Uillinn Artist in Residence Siobhán McGibbon and their teacher Nessa Cotter, researching and creating their own artworks, responding to exhibition.

The Project began with a visit to Elemental – for some students, their first experience of an art exhibition. Siobhán guided the students through each gallery space, where they had time to explore and interact with the artworks, before talking about what they’d all seen and experienced.

Over the following weeks, the students began to design and create works to be housed in a designated site within the gallery - the mezzanine. Through conversations, ideas around surveillance, spying and illusion emerged – perhaps inspired by Caoimhe Kilfeather’s “treehouse” which overlooks the exhibition space. In the first sessions, the students designed forts without any limitations. Imagination ran wild; the students discussed desert forts, castles, slides, eye recognition gates, trap doors, flags, moats and fingerprint scanners.

Besides a “fort” for hiding in and spying onto the courtyard, the children’s finished artworks also include periscopes that act as tools for smaller children to see over the balcony - and for spying on the gallery below. The children also created a stop-motion animation (each student creating 2 seconds of animation) – as well as performances in response to Karl Burke’s sculpture “Taking a Line.”

To turn their ideas into reality, the students had to work with Uilinn’s tech team, and think carefully about the space they were working with. So the fort had to be designed to leave enough space for wheelchair access, to adhere to all health and safety regulations, and to be robust enough for audience interaction!  

The launch of the exhibition by the Elemental Schools Project took place on Saturday 16th February, at a public event to which people of all ages were most welcome, and from now until the exhibition’s close on Saturday 2nd March, the schoolchildren’s work can be enjoyed alongside the creations of Caoimhe Kilfeather and Karl Burke in the gallery and The Make space by Anne Bradley.

Cleo Fagan of Superprojects says, "For some time now in my work as an engagement curator working on projects with children and contemporary art practice, I have wondered what art would be like if it was made specifically for an audience of children. Childhood is a very different time to adulthood and children so often encounter the world with much more of their senses than adults - they touch things they are curious about, they move their bodies in such a variety of positions and speeds. There is a lot of richness and energy to this way of being in the world and I wanted to curate an exhibition of work that encouraged, rather than discouraged, this type of encounter." 

Ann Davoren, Director of Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, says, "This is a wonderful opportunity for children and people of all ages to explore contemporary artworks through the senses and to respond to the ideas and materials of the exhibition. We are delighted to be working with Superprojects and the three artists and designer involved who will draw us into the work and through the exhibition in different and exciting ways." 

Superprojects, curated by Cleo Fagan, is an initiative for young audiences that generates possibilities for creative encounters with contemporary art and artists. Superprojects' work includes school-based workshop and artist-residency programmes, Per Cent for Art commissions, festival events and child-centred exhibition programmes that open up the richness of national and international contemporary art practice to child participants; whilst actively fostering their development as meaning-makers and artists. www.superprojects.org

Caoimhe Kilfeather studied at the National College of Art Design, Dublin and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Her work is predominantly sculptural and is influenced by an interest in the built environment and of our relationships to the spatial, formal and psychological qualities of architecture. The work demonstrates sensitivity to the intrinsic qualities of raw matter and Kilfeather’s manipulation of materials, scale and weight results in works where the physical properties of objects and structures are obscured and hard to define. Recent solo exhibitions include season and evening and weather and history at the Douglas Hyde Gallery and This Attentive Place at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios. Her work is included in many national collections such as IMMA, the OPW and the Arts Council. She lectures in Sculpture and Combined Media at the Limerick School of Art and Design.

Karl Burke is an Irish artist and musician based in Dublin. He has exhibited widely in Europe and North America including Sirius Art Centre, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Hugh Lane Gallery, Project Arts Centre, The Mac, Maria Stenfors Gallery, The Serpentine and The Mattress factory.

Siobhán McGibbon is an Irish visual artist and researcher interested in transdisciplinary practice, particularly the intersections between art and medical science.  As well as exhibiting her own work widely in places such as The LAB, Triskel Arts Centre and for the TULCA festival; she regularly works on engagement projects with children, and recently did a project with Superprojects involving making and exhibiting artwork with a group of school children speculating on potential futures for human body. 'Human Being and Human Becoming' was the exhibition that resulted from this project and was at the Galway Arts Centre, as part of Baboro International Children's Festival, October 2018.
 

Anne Bradley is a primary school teacher and has worked in Rathfarnham Educate Together National School for twelve years. She studied fine art sculpture at NCAD from 1997-2001 and completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Education at Marino Institute of Education in 2003. Her thesis, The Classroom as Studio, written for her M.A. in Visual Arts Education NCAD in 2012, explores the many relationships between art practice and education. The Reggio Emilia approach to preschool education with its focus on the artist as a key educator influences her work.

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Elemental is funded by the Arts Council.

 

Images:
Element 1 (green canopy, from the interior), Caoimhe Kilfeather. Photo by Jed Niezgoda
Mobile Element - Organdy leaves, brushes and brooms for sweeping, Caoimhe Kilfeather. Photo by Jed Niezgoda
Elemental schools project, Photo by Kevin O'Farrell 
Elemental schools project, Photo by Kevin O'Farrell
The Make Space, Response room by Anne Bradley. Photo by Jed Niezgoda
Taking a Line, Mild steel, Karl Burke. Photo by Jed Niezgoda
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