Illuminating Art & Ideas

Niamh O’Malley


Curated by Aoife Tunney

Niamh O’Malley uses video, drawing, painting and sculpture, to examine ways in which we try to access the world through images. Her works often act as filters and invite us to enter the spaces between objects and places and our ideas of them. This exhibition includes a selection of works by O’Malley which function as previews or documents of films that are more typically installed in large exhibition formats. In this situation they are screened within the existing display vitrines to provide an insight into her practice over recent years.

Video Works exhibited:

Nephin 2014 HD Video, 21min 31sec loop, silent, 16:9

Nephin presents the circumnavigation of a mountain whose image is constantly eluded; the path of the road sometimes twists the eye/camera away from the landscape, bumps in the road unsettle the image, the hedges occlude & reveal and the mountain itself shape-shifts as you travel. The black mark on the glass is fixed in relation to the lens and becomes an extension of the eye or even the pointed finger. A marker of attention, it is trying to settle on its object.


Garden 2013 Dual channel HD video, synched, 7mins 7sec loop, silent, 16:9

Hands hold mirrors that pan and tilt, reversing the normal flow of light and camera movement. The garden is reflected in chaotic fragments; yet there are moments where the figure gripping the mirror attempts to settle and hold an image of the space. Attention is orchestrated and contained with the reflected image.


Bridge 2009 HD Video, 7min 39sec loop, silent, 16:9

‘Bridge’ was filmed at the Humber Bridge near Hull in northeast England; one of the longest single-span suspension bridges in the world. It presents a weighty and steady structure of steel and concrete which spans and frames both air and water. Each stationary shot is opened, closed and animated through an external structure/filter. The manual shutter action and tentative re-marking of the images belies the apparent passivity and stillness within each frame.


Flag 2008 HD Video, 6min 15secs loop, silent 16:9

A camera slowly and steadily circles a flagpole, which stands still, solid and central in the frame. On its axis a bare flag moves chaotically. It flickers and furls in a constant disruption and fulfillment of its form. The flag’s volatile visual plane fluctuates between translucent and solid, present and absent. Instead of flag as signal or sign it becomes flag as chronometer, marking time and responding to the wind with a frantic, kinetic impulse, in an eternal return, or a vicious circle.


Quarry 2011 HD Video, 9min 56sec loop, silent, 4:3

A filmic structure is used to examine an Irish limestone quarry, a place built of displaced matter. It is an earth and stone factory with a negative solidity that appeals, holes that never end, that always hit rock. Glass filters are manually moved across the fixed shots touching and marking the images of the rocks.


Island 2010 HD Video, 8min 13sec loop, silent, 16:9

‘Island’ was shot on Lough Derg, a pilgrimage destination for centuries. The video corresponds to the natural momentum of the island; an intuitive choreography of rhythm and repetition. The unpeopled video evidences a solid and substantial construction of place. Shots are periodically obscured by black screens which were positioned in front of the camera to provide interruptions or intervals. These gaps serve as markers to structure the discontinuity; the effort to capture a symbolic space in fragments.


Model 2011 HD Video, 9min 15sec loop, 4:3

Moving image is used to document stillness as a model repeatedly settles into, and holds a pose. Functioning as a dispassionate ‘reaction shot’ to the other elements in an exhibition, and to the viewer, the model’s regular shift into ‘freeze frame’ offers a kind of protected vision or distance which periodically collapses as the suspended moments are broken.

The remainder of the vitrines are being used to display sculptural elements and a drawing from O’Malley’s exhibition practice.

Shelf                         2014 Beech, amber glass, acrylic and foil on clear, glass, foil on grey glass

Foiled glass, floor,2014 Foiled and soldered glass, beech

Untitled                    2014 Pencil and monoprint on paper

Shelf (Curve)           2015 Beech, coloured and clear glass, acrylic

Model for monumental 2016 Card, filler, graphite, foiled and soldered glass


For more information on Niamh O’Malley’s work-

Illuminations NUIM

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