Last week I recommended Eternal Light as the exhibition of the week and the artist behind it, Katie O’ Neill, kindly wrote a little about the process of getting the show, working with curator Noelle Collins and a little about her future projects.
In 2013 myself and Noelle collaborated to transform Eternal Light from its original form as small handmade book to a solo exhibition which included screen-prints, text and photography. Both of us had applied for the Amharic Fhine Gall graduate award, Noelle on the curating end and me on the artist end. Noelle was picked as the curator and in turn picked me as the artist she wanted to work with. Noelle, with an impressive academic background and wealth of experience in curating did a wonderful job of helping me take this somewhat personal and layered work from the privacy of my social circle out to a wider public sphere.
When I made this work I had just finished college and was sick of the guided projects and conventions I had been taught to work with during my four years studying. I wanted to do something completely different, so I began digging through my archive. I had hundreds of photographs, because I tend to photograph things constantly. By the end of that I had the bare bones of a book that consisted of barren landscapes, eerie still lives and a few strange Polaroids I’d taken in America a year previous. I paired these with some drawings I’d done around that time. I wrote some stuff that was on my mind at the time and tried to bring it all together. I’m not sure I knew entirely what I was doing, but I was enjoying it.
I sold that book to some friends and it drummed up some interest amongst a few creative types. A year passed and I applied for the solo show and got it. Noelle had a particular interest in this book and encouraged me to think about it more seriously. She helped me get out of my own head and to look at the work through a different lens. The experience was brilliant and was my first serious exhibition outside of college.
A year later we applied for an open call in a cool tax office turned gallery/studios/art college in Cork, a.k.a, TACTIC Gallery and Sample Studios and we got it. I was really nervous about showing the work again because it’s such a personal and kind of dark project, but once it was up there I felt happy to see it in a new place. Emily O’Flynn, the space’s main co-ordinater, helped us get the work up and gathered a pretty brilliant crowd for the opening night. The space is comprised of about 80 artist’s studios which fosters a rich artistic community. Everyone comes down to see whatever show is on week to week, which is pretty cool.
At the moment I’m trying to put together something new. It’s very much a work in progress – I’ve been working a lot with black and white film and have some new screen-prints which I think will fit into the idea. I’m shooting on medium format with my Mamiya. It’s tough to step outside of point and shoot 35mm work as anything larger requires more expensive and hard to find facilities such as scanners, but I’ll work it out. The loose themes are horror, terror and the uncanny. Again, I’ve found myself seeking out stark landscapes with a feeling of uncertainty and unease, but that’s all I really know for now, also I don’t want to give away too much. I also just finished an embroidery class at SEW Dublin, which was really fun and something I hope to bring to this next project.
-Katie O’Neill 2015
Eternal Light continues until 5 Feb and you can check out more of Katie’s work on her site: