Helen O’Shea & ‘Natureculture reading’

Helen O’Shea artist talk: Tuesday 9 March, 6pm. For Zoom invitation email projects@backwaterartists.ie.

Artist Helen O’Shea presents an artist talk about her MA work that led to her exhibition ‘Balancing Relations’ in the James Barry Exhibition Centre MTU, Cork in November, 2020. This body of work is a personal response to encounters with waste plastic. Presented online for this Art Short, these artworks will form the backdrop for the artist talk.

Further details below.

Natureculture reading group Zoom event: Wednesday, 10 March, 6pm. Text to read in advance: it dazzles me slowly by Rosie O’Reilly. For Zoom invitation email projects@backwaterartists.ie.

Inspired by Helen O’Shea’s subject matter and in response to the curatorial premise of The Human Animal programme, the cross-disciplinary reading group ‘Natureculture reading’ take a break from their annual reading schedule to discuss the text it dazzles me slowly by Rosie O’Reilly. This text was written as the introduction to the exhibition catalogue for ‘The Sea Around Us’ at The Model Sligo in 2020. It examines humanity’s complex relationship with the sea. We recommend that you read the text in advance of joining the reading group event. View text and catalogue here.

Further details below.

Helen O’Shea completed a Master’s by Research in MTU Crawford College of Art and Design (CCAD) in 2020, where she also graduated with a first-class BA degree in Contemporary Applied Art, in 2017. Her work has been exhibited internationally as part of Discovery in Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair, Basel, Switzerland, also in China as part of Irish Wave 3 & 4. She has undertaken residencies in Cill Riallaigh also with a mentoring role in CCAD and received support from Arts Council in 2015 to undertake a residency in Iceland. Her work has been highlighted in Crafts Magazine (UK) and featured in Irish Arts Review.

Her body of work ‘Balancing Relations’ looks at the speculative prospect of what is beyond our vision in the depths of the oceans and uses the transformation of waste plastics to raise themes of environmental, material, and ecological concern. Researching the journey of waste plastics in the ocean brought home the complexity of what is happening in this environment: physical breakdown, absorption of toxins, ingestion, leeching chemicals, bacterial and microbial growth, and transportation of invasive species. The resulting intimate creations foreground the mark of the hand using textile sensibilities, while exploring the potential to reuse waste plastics in a contemporary art setting. Driven to disrupt perceptions of waste and expose this material’s potential through subversive aesthetics, O’Shea questions possibilities on end of life issues. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) from waste plastic milk bottles is used to create the Scaled pieces; plastics found at the beach are the materials used to create the Hybrid works; and used plastic shopping bags with stitch were used to create Mantle for this exhibition.

‘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. In 2019/20 the group read Anna Tsing’s ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World: The Possibility of Life Amidst Capitalist Ruins’. Anna Tsing is an anthropologist who works collaboratively with artists and scientists such as with ‘Feral Atlas Collective’ at Aarhus University. The group is currently reading ‘How Forest’s Think (An Anthropology Beyond the Human)’ by Eduardo Kohn, which explores human and non-human communication amongst the Runa tribe in the Upper Amazon. ‘Natureculture reading’ now meet online and include readers in France, America and across Ireland. The group’s main meeting point was The Guesthouse Project in Shandon, Cork and alternative reading/research spaces have included lecture rooms in UCC, the UCC community garden and a semi-public forest on the outskirts of Cork City.

The current core members of the group are founder Aoife Desmond (artist), Laurence Counihane (art criticism/ sound artist/ art history UCC), Elinor Rivers (artist/activist), Frani O’Toole (writer/researcher), Catherine Duverger (artist/photographer), Fionn Rogan (ERI UCC researcher), Roisin Foley (artist/curator), Cilla Woodhouse (artist/activist) and Nick Roth (composer/saxophonist). Previous core members include co-founder Yairen Jerez Columbie (researcher MaRei UCC/poet/writer), Carlos Garrido Castellano (art history/Spanish studies UCC), Molly Garv (theatre/ecology), Orla O’Donovan (sociology UCC), Sue Alywin (former psychology UCC), Hector Sanchez (anthropology/religion UCC), Irene Murphy (artist/The Guesthouse Project co-founder/director).

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

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