Monday, 9 September 2019

Damnatio Memoriae: Solo Exhibition 2019

Damnatio Memoriae is the third solo exhibition by visual artist Conor O Grady in County Mayo since 2015. The exhibition features a series of gallery installations which have been created by him over the past ten-years. Tracing aspects of his career to date which have interesting curatorial and social connections to specific issues or events in contemporary society. The title of the exhibition refers to the Latin term in which a person, organisation and even ideology can be systematically excluded from historical documentation. The term has recently become synonymous with the removal of controversial monuments and can be described as a form of Censorship. Especially in relation to contemporary political structures and the removal of particular marginalised or minority voices from public representation. This act of sanctioned, passive aggression is the main reference point for this exhibition. Which references themes such as consensual exploitation, marginality as well as institutional and actual violence in modern Irish society.  Damnatio Memoriae features a collection of sculptures, moving imagery, drawings and other works. Many of which have never been exhibited and have not been shown in Ireland before. Works which examine the contemporary culture and visual languages of particular violent, criminal, marginal or sectional sub-groups within Irish society. 

·         They will Never be Tamed, Until the Leaves are off Their Trees and If I knew you were coming, I’d have rushes for you are sculptural installation which feature collections of native and invasive plant species. Collected in rural areas along the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Cast in white clay using water taken from Lough Foyle and Lough Neagh.

If I knew you were coming, I’d have rushes for you  is ornamented by various examples of European Union Postage Stamps which have been gathered from letters sent to the Child Benefit Section of the Irish Department of Social Protection from other European countries.
This work follows from research related to specific issues affecting Irish biodiversity and rurality.

·         The Choreography of Street Violence combines re-appropriated and found footage with original content to depict acts of sporadic violence which have occurred on Irish Streets. Then edited to reveal the lack of intervention other than the camera lens. These types of video clips are among the highest viewed imagery on online platforms such as YouTube. This work was created in 2012 and was shown in another context during DIT graduation exhibition in 2013

·         Where Open Borders Close is a work which was originally created for the group exhibition The State We Are In, MART Gallery in 2016. It has been exhibited in a number of contexts throughout Europe including the Culture Prize Presentation at the Centre for Documentation, St. Polten, Austria in 2017. This showing of the work reflects various events in Irish political and cultural history with original footage of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With most of this footage capturing images from the exact moment where one crosses the border. This work is an excerpt from a larger body of work shown at Custom House Studios and Gallery earlier this year.

·         Photographic installation (Various Titles). Photography which documents sites where violent acts, murders or other acts of criminality have taken place. Photographed in the immediate aftermath of such activity or taken months or years after the incidents have taken place. The work here is a direct evolution from the work created around The Choreography of Street Violence. Exploring the spaces used for criminal or anti-social behaviour and documenting the fleeting moments where this underground activity connected with the everyday in interesting ways.

·         Turf Wars (An Inventory of Dead Men). Large diagrammatical and info-graphic drawings Which portray the links and interconnected nature of all the men murdered as a result of their relationship to serious criminality in Dublin City. This series of drawings began in 2009 and because of the ongoing nature of these criminal groups has continued to grow until the present day. This version of the work is an excerpt from research methods utilised to collate the information. Highlighting the influence of dissident groups, the introduction of heroin to Ireland and names of men murdered as a result of their involvement in criminal networks in Dublin city.

Essay Accompanying The Exhibition: 

Monday, 24 June 2019

Contested Territories. Solo Exhibition 2019

Contested Territories consists of a body of work which was initiated during a group residency at the former psychiatric hospital that now houses the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Castlebar in 2015.

This work was further developed in studios and residencies at:

Custom House Studios, Westport.
Kunsthalle, Krems, Lower Austria.
Siamsa Tíre, the National Folk Theatre, Tralee
The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan.

Within this body of work there is an emphasis on the representation of specific sites related to Statutory or Clerical abuses:

The works relate to Ireland’s well-documented history of maltreatment towards its vulnerable people. Exploring in minute detail. The institutions which were used to contain these groups.

Industrial schools
Magdalene Laundries
Psychiatric institutions
Direct Provision centres
Care Homes
Prisons and more contemporary examples are represented.

Using interviews, dialogue and first-hand visual & material research to describe and document the frequently hidden or freshly exposed realities of these institutions. Examining each of these spaces in relation to the following formula.


An equation for describing the reality that; In Ireland once, an institution is deinstitutionalised it always becomes re-institutionalised as another institution. Usually a centre of Education. With very little attempt, if any, to reconcile the negative histories of that particular institution.

Contested Territories features Sound, Moving Imagery & Sculpture. Accompanied by Architectural Drawings and Water Colour studies.

A selection of works from Contested Territoires has been exhibited in the group exhibition Words of Mayo at the National Museum of Country Life, Turlough this summer.

You can read more about Contested Territories by following the link Here and to find out more about Conor O Grady's work follow this Link

Graphite Drawing Parochial House, County Clare

Graphite Drawing. Direct Provision and Acrylic Painting of Brothel at Citywest

Graphite Drawing, Direct Provision Caravan, Athlone

Acrylic Painting. Brothel at Citywest

Sacred Heart Hospital, Jessbrook Equestrian Centre & Sean Mc Dermot Street

Water Colour Sean Mc Dermott Street Laundry

 Three Crosses consisting of Cast and Moulds of old Irish Money

 Three Crosses consisting of Cast and Moulds of old Irish Money

 Water Colour. Clerical Collars with Donegal Bay
Watercolour. View from Killybegs Boy's Industrial School. Donegal Bay

Monday, 15 October 2018

Siamsa Tíre Artist in Residence 2018

During the three month residency at The National Folk Theatre, Tralee County Kerry.

The main focus of my time and research centred around the following:

Creating new works and developing works for two solo exhibitions.

Gaining a wider understanding of the role of folk and traditional Irish Culture in Contemporary Irish visual art.

As well as focusing on the history of The National Folk Theatre (Including the inter-generational aspects of the performing company) and creating work related to this.

During a series of visual and material investigations into the areas surrounding the building I quickly focused my research into the more anti-social activities which were evident in the Town Park which surrounds the theatre. 

The majority of the residency was spent, documenting the complex social demographics who utilise the Park on a daily basis, for drug taking, public drinking or sexual activity. 

I began to notice the amount of material left behind after these activities had taken place and the almost "total blanket" coverage of the areas being used for anti-social behaviour. This involved examining, categorising and re-coding the objects left behind by these groups.

During this visual investigation and documentation I began to create dialogues with the people using the park for such behaviour, local people using the park for other reasons. As well as individuals and institutions such as Kerry Museum, An Garda Siochána, local artists, craft people and groups as well as wider connections within traditional and contemporary visual practices to gain a wider knowledge of the specific issues affecting Tralee.

The culmination of these dialogues was an exhibition in the main exhibition space of Siamsa Tíre. The exhibition was entitled An Archive of Provocative Acts and featured a series of materials found in the ares surrounding the theatre. Each object was treated like a museum object and given the same visual language of museum display.

The body of work evolved from material investigation into the areas surrounding Siamsa Tíre. 

Each object was found in an area of the park which is used for anti-social behaviour.

The objects collected were re-coded and categorised using the methods utilised by Kerry County Museum and most museum displays.  (To create a barrier between viewer and object and to preserve it, removing it from its original context)

Each fragment is found, categorised and then placed within the confines of a display case. 

Elevating the everyday objects alongside the hierarchy of other museum or gallery objects.  Creating a living documentation of issues affecting society.

Works created during residency:

Contested Territories:

The installation consists of individual interventions which feature various groupings of European Union stamps. 

Each stamp has been collected from correspondences between: Department of Social Protection Child benefit offices and other European child benefit offices.

Each branch used has been collected from areas around Siamsa and are chosen for their cultural, traditional or mythical properties.


Lost Boy Says is a series of street art stencils which have been created in conjunction with the visual research for An Archive of Provocative Acts.

It reflects the anomie and levels of anti-social behaviour examined in that work. 

Using the visual language of graffiti and street art to re-code the experiences of specific socio-economic and ethnic groups alongside famous pop-culture and/or philosophical quotes.

The installation utilises an alternative method of display, to raise these experiences and the art form outside of their original context, providing a method for describing and documenting both.

The works are created on Fine Art Papers and then left in the ares close to Siamsa Tíre, on the last day of the residency on the 21st of September 2018 Culture Night. 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

AIR Artist in Residence Kunsthalle Krems Austria - Germany - Netherlands - Belgium

During the residency at Kunsthalle Krems, In Austria I devised a method of collaborating, engaging with and developing knowledge  of the contemporary art practices within Austrian galleries, artist run spaces and academic platforms. Examining the contrasts and similarities between Austrian and Irish contemporary art practices. 

Throughout the residency I focused on investigating the role of art as dialogue and its use in public spaces. In particular the use of graffiti and guerrilla marketing by dissident and marginalised groups, a phenomenom I recognised very quickly while walking through Vienna. Using dialogue as a method for creating connections between myself and individuals from these groups. Discovering very quickly that they used these methods for spreading ideas, or challenging social or political issues. 


Drawing from an already established practice I documented, through moving imagery, sound and photography the types of graffiti and guerrilla marketing that I found in  cities in each of the following countries - Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium

In each city I also met with and discussed the issues affecting specific groups or Syrian and Afghanistan refugees. Namely those young men who had migrated across Europe between 2014 - 2016. 

Documenting their lives and the issues which affect the men in each city. To create a living document of these migrations through Europe. The dialogues were based on each groups use of public spaces as well as focusing on the journey and types of transport use as they migrate across Europe.