Our future present…| Helen O’Shea

Studio 12 exhibition/projects space, First Floor Backwater Artists Group, Wandesford Quay, Cork T12 E26D.

Art Shorts presents:

5-8 May (10am-5pm):  Our future present…New works by Helen O’Shea:

Tuesday 5 May (6pm-8pm). Natureculture reading session. Booking essential. Further details below.

“Our future reality is building deep in the oceans, amongst the discarded plastics of our generation. My imagination has been fuelled by the revelation of colonies of microorganisms growing on the plastic floating in the sea gyres. Bacteria cling to the discarded plastics in this inhospitable setting, as inorganic plastics support organic life. What is brewing in this changing environment?  What narratives will spring from our contaminated sea? What will this extreme situation produce? These questions offer me the framework to explore ideas of transformation and the complexity of creation with entities born of plastic matter and incubated by the sea.” Helen O’Shea 2019

Currently undertaking a Masters by Research in CCAD, Helen’s research focus explores the transformation of used plastic in the making process; to look at the agency of art to effect change, and to open dialogue for already existing plastics. Plastic is a valuable material to society; waste plastic has unexplored potential and this potential will be viewed in the context of contemporary art practice. The prevailing discourse around used plastic is negative, restricting progress towards positive usage. Creating artwork with used plastics will open eyes and start discussion to offer new narratives for this material.


Natureculture reading session: Natureculture reading is a semi-nomadic group dedicated to cross-disciplinary research between art and ecology. The group attracts practitioners in visual art, film, art history, anthropology, theatre, sociology, religion, Spanish studies, poetry, psychology, ecology and more, overlapping between artistic and academic practices. The group was founded in September 2018 to read Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble (Making Kin in the Chthulucene) and screened the film ‘Storytelling for Earthly Survival’ by Fabrizio Teranova. We are currently reading Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World (The Possibility of Life Amidst Capitalist Ruins). Anna Tsing is an anthropologist who often works collaboratively with artists and scientists, her current project ‘Feral Atlas Collective’ at Aarhus University is a significant reference. Our groups main meeting point is The Guesthouse Project in Shandon, alternative reading spaces have included lecture rooms in UCC and the UCC community garden. In 2020 the group will migrate to several related artist’s exhibitions and art spaces including Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre and Backwater Artists Studios. A series of walks/reading events in forest spaces are also planned.

The current core members of the group are founder Aoife Desmond (artist/educator), cofounder Yairen Jerez Columbie (researcher MaRei UCC/poet/writer), Carlos Garrido Castellano (art history/Spanish studies UCC), Laurence Counihane (art history UCC), Molly Garv (theatre/ecology) Orla O’Donovan (sociology UCC), Sue Alywin (former psychology UCC/ peasant farmer).

For more details or to join the group please email natureculturereading@gmail.com

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