Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan
1 March to 1 April 2023
Studio 3

Saturday 1 April  at 12 noon
As she concludes her residency at Uillinn, Mary Sullivan will discuss her residency and her current work leading to her solo exhibition at Uillinn later this year.

Mary Sullivan is an  artist and Bere islander whose work turns a critical lens on the complex history of women's labour, and island life and identity. During her residency at Uillinn, Mary will continue to work towards her upcoming exhibition at Uillinn in November 2023. From the Inside Out and the Outside In is a solo exhibition comprising videography, sculpture, drawing and performance. It explores people’s perceptions of island living, woman in the domestic sphere, and our mental health.

The first thread of the From the Inside Out and the Outside In, supported by Cork County Council, was exhibited as part of a group exhibition, Fragments in Constellation  in the O’Driscoll Building during the Skibbereen Arts Festival in 2022.

Mary also completed a project with 24 women on Bere Island titled The Hold, generously supported by the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme, managed by Create – the national development agency for collaborative arts. This work was exhibited on Bere Island in 2022. She went on to make a book from this work which will be officially launched at the first ever Bere Island Arts Festival in September 2023.

Mary is currently working with local people on Bere Island to gather stories of women of past generations. She hopes to do a series of works around this in the future.

Image: From the Inside Out and the Outside In Skibbereen Festival 2022


Mary Sullivan
7 September to 31 December 2020

Mary Sullivan is an emerging performance artist and islander whose impressive body of work turns a critical lens on the complex history of women's labour and island life. The energy and ambition of her work are played out in large-scale artistic performances located at key sites around Bere Island, West Cork, the island on which the artist lives. Like many of Ireland’s offshore islands, Bere is peppered with military installations from the ‘age of empire,’ which indicate convergent narratives of colonisation, suppression and insurrection. Absent from these historical narratives are the many ways women have contributed to island life and, in particular, how women's labour has been suspiciously misrecognised.' Dr. Glenn Loughran, Irish Arts Review, Winter 2019

Mary's most recent project Breathe, interrogated contemporary anxieties through a series of works installed in the underground rooms of a military shelter on Bere Island, an iteration of which was exhibited at the Futures exhibition in the RHA Dublin until 26 January 2020.

For her residency at Uillinn, Mary will develop her current project Hold, which explores women in their domestic setting and unpicks the confinements and restrictions that are placed on island women due to their gender. Island living has its own identity and traits and the island also has a huge ‘hold’ over the people living here.

Taking domestic tools as objects, Mary will be exploring the relationship between the tool and the body. The ordinary domestic tool can be seen as an extension of the female body but the body itself is a domestic tool. Tools imply labour and in the domestic context, this is invisible labour. Her concept is to outline certain domestic tools to conceal and reveal the tenuous, subtle but compelling links between the role of women, domestic tools and unseen demands on the female body.


Mary Sullivan graduated from the BA (hons) Visual Art Degree Programme, Sherkin Island in 2018. She was the first recipient of the RDS Taylor Art Award as a graduating student from DIT for her work At Home, At War. Mary has exhibited in institutions in Ireland and the United Kingdom, most notably in the RHA (Royal Hibernian Academy) Gallery, Dublin and in the The Leydon Gallery, London. In 2019, she produced and exhibited her debut solo exhibition Breathe in the underground rooms of a disused military shelter on Bere Island which received critical acclaim. She is currently working with Create, Ireland’s national development agency for collaborative arts from whom she was awarded the Graduate Research and Development Award with mentoring from artist Jesse Jones.

Image: Mary Sullivan, Breathe, photograph by Jed Niezgoda


Mary Sullivan
10 January to 30 March 2019.
Studio open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays.

Mary Sullivan is interested in Maintenance Art and its critique of domestic regimes in the home. Inspired by the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles and the Maintenance Art Manifesto, she has discovered that the emphasis on gendered labour has a particular resonance with the military sites surrounding her on Bere Island, where she lives. Drawing on the subtle connections between chores in the home and military life, she has developed minimal performances that intervene the political environment.

For her residency at Uillinn, Mary will continue with these artistic explorations of the island, her association of the domestic and the military and the performance of gender, identity and in/equality through different contexts and media. Her interest in the physiological and psychological tensions between the bodies we inherit and the headspaces we inhabit will continue to inform the development of her work.

In particular, she is developing a series of works drawing on Morse Code (a method of sending text messages using a series of electronic pulses and which also can be transmitted using a series of light pulses or sound taps), the consequence of repetitiveness and the invisibility of mundane and domestic work.

Friday 8 March │ 2.00pm to 4.00pm │ International Women's Day
A Pound Stick workshop with a difference, Mary invites participants to collectively develop a Morse Code sound piece using voice and pound stick drumming.

Tea and Talk
Thursday 25 April, 11.30 am
Mary invites her peers and the public to her studio for tea and a discussion on the development of her work over the residency.

Both events are FREE but booking essential at 028 22090 and

Mary Sullivan has recently graduated from the BA (hons) Visual Art Degree Programme, Sherkin Island. Her installation for her Degree Show, At Home, At War, featured in the RDS Visual Arts Award Exhibition 2018, curated by Amanda Coogan. She is the winner of the prestigious Taylor Art Prize 2018. The Taylor Art Award is given annually to a graduate of an Irish art college or an Irish art student graduating from an art college abroad, to assist them with the development of their career as a visual artist. Selected from over 120 long listed candidates, this is the first time that a student from the BA Visual Art Degree Programme, Sherkin Island has been shortlisted, and the first time that a DIT student has won the award.


West Cork Arts Centre is proud to be supported by the Arts Council and Cork County Council.

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