Jul 28, 2009

'Parklife' A Visual Art Exhibition, St. Anne's Park // July-Aug '09

Participating Atists:
Aideen Barry, Carl Giffney, Niamh Jackman,
John Jones, Maria Mckinney & Beth O'Halloran.
Curated by Claire Power.

'PARKLIFE borrows its title from the 1994 popular song by Blur, chosen to evoke associations with the mid 1990's when Ireland enjoyed a more optimistic economic outlook. When I was researching for this exhibition in the early 2009, there was no escaping the prevailing national mood of despair. My thoughts began to form around the idea of the park, as a place of recreation and leisure where people spend time freely. While PARKLIFE does not offer clever solutions to the nation's problems, the intention is to create a playful, summer exhibition that celebrates 'park-life' and intrinsically, St. Anne's Park, as a free civic space. PARKLIFE conjours up ideas of carnival, humour, new ways of looking at things and a value of the past. The exhibition presents a spectrum of responses from artists working in different media, subject matter and scale. The six artists embraced the concept for the exhibition and the huge scale of the park with tremendous vigour and freshness.' CLAIRE POWER, CURATOR.

The idea of the past and the present and the line where they meet greatly influences my practice. I am particularly interested in how that line can become highlighted or obscured. STUDY ROOM is an attempt to bring back a once vital element of St. Anne's past to the pressent day. An architectural space, once occupied by the old Guinness estate house, becomes that of a relic or a reminder of a time past. STUDY ROOM questions the ownership of land and asks what is seen as private and what is seen as public? The work, while evoking elements of the park's history, becomes a kind of obstruction to the present environment, which is almost entirely devoid of man-made structures.

Study Room (Wood, 2009)

Exhibiting in a public space such as St.Anne’s Park, is in many ways far more challenging than in that of the gallery space. The artist has to allow for a far greater physical interaction with the work from the viewing public, and unlike the relatively safe confine of the gallery space, there is very much an unknown quality to how the work will be recieved by the general public. While the original inentions of Study Room were successful, the continuous damage it recieved on an almost daily basis, only served to heighthen the idea of what we see as public and what we see as private. The piece while creating a positive interest and a curiosity within the parks daytime visitors, provoked a more physical reaction from its night time visitors. Study Room became that of an intrusion, and underwent numerous damages. It became a kind of strange interaction between myself as the artist and the anonymous ‘vandals’, as in the mornings I would fix the damages as best I could, only for it to be damaged again. In the end Study Room was damaged beyond repair and had to be taken down before the end of the exhibition. But I find it quite poignant that as the piece itself was meant to evoke an architectural space in the parks history, we can see the mark left behind, however temporary, where Study Room itself once stood. And rather than that of a physical space that can be touched and explored, what remains has a more emphemeral quality, a gesture of the past.

John Jones

For more information;


___ http://www.architecturefoundation.ie/2009/07/21/parklife/

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