Spectrum II 2013   Spectrum VI 2013

Spectrum III & VII (2012)

Dunamaise Arts Centre is delighted to unveil the winners of its Open Art Exhibition 2013.

Having received almost 100 impressive submissions from both established and emerging artists; 21 pieces by 15 artists, including an overall winner were selected by Noel Kelly, President of AICA Ireland and CEO/Director of Visual Artists Ireland . The 21 pieces exhibited are in various media by artists from across the four Midlands Counties of Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath.

The selected artists are Carol Booth, Carol Breen, Aisling Conroy, Rebecca Deegan, David Fox, Sean Guinan, Bernadette Keating, Tim Mann, Maria O’Brien, Ciara O’Hara, Lawrence O’Neill, Catherine Rock, Mary Slevin, Anne Van Dorpe and Ann Wingfield.

Previously, annual Open Shows have varied to include national or local, professional or amateur artists, with varying levels of participation, engagement and success. For this year’s Open Submission Group Show, new Director of Dunamaise, Michelle de Forge, hopes that the exhibition will further promote and strengthen the connectivity and collaboration of the visual arts community in the Midlands.

Gaining support from Arts Officers in neighbouring counties has resulted in the presentation of this year Open Show in conjunction with the Local Authority Arts Offices of Counties Laois, Longford,  Offaly and Westmeath.

Noel Kelly, (President of AICA Ireland and CEO/Director of Visual Artists Ireland) was invited to select work by artists originally from, or living in, these four counties. Dunamaise Gallery now presents his selection, which represents a great breadth and depth of artistic expression by emerging and established midlands based artists.

A fantastic prize of a month long residency at The Arthouse, Stradbally, Co. Laois was offered to the overall winner of the competition which will provide a rare opportunity to focus on creating new work in state of the art studio facilities and a supportive environment.

“It was intended that through collaboration with Arts Officers, a wide net would be cast and ongoing networking across county borders will be encouraged. This format of exhibition project devised by Dunamaise offers scope for expansion in future years, with potential for rotating the exhibition across counties or forming a touring show”, said Michelle de Forge, Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre.

Dunamaise Gallery offers a warm, inviting, designated exhibition space with wonderful natural light. Artists and curators can show work exclusively in this space, or also present their work along the curved staircase, throughout the welcoming foyer and café space.

Dunamaise Arts Centre wishes to acknowledge the support and encouragement received from Local Authority Arts Officers and their staff; Muireann Ní Chonaill, Bridie Keenan, Fergus Kennedy, Sinead O’Reilly and Muireann Mulrennan for this project.

Dunamaise Open Exhibition will continue until 20 December 2013.


Foundation13 is an exciting and eclectic exhibition curated by Brendan Fox taking place in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Being from Portlaoise originally and Tullamore only a stones throw away from my home town; I was delighted to be invited to take part. The opening night is this Thursday and there are some amazing artists with really strong works on show. Looking forward to being there for the launch and seeing the exhibition in it’s entirety. All are welcome on the night and throughout the months of September/October while the exhibition continues.

For more info, visit:



Aisling Conroy’s Paintings In Ocular Reverberations @ Draíocht Until Saturday 31st August, 2013

July 20, 2013

Aisling Conroy Paintings Called Notations One Aisling Conroy Paintings Called Notations Two Aisling Conroy Paintings Called Notations Aisling Conroy Paintings Called Albers Ritual 2013 Aisling Conroy Paintings Called Albers Ritual Aisling Conroy Paintings Called  Polyrhythms Three Aisling Conroy Paintings Called  Polyrhythms Two Aisling Conroy Paintings Called  Polyrhythms

Aisling Conroy’s current exhibition, ‘Ocular Reverberations’ at Draíocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin is a sensory installation of paintings and sculpture that bring colour, form and sound into focus through the prism of past masters. Conroy has been artist in resident at Draíocht since January 2013 and this show is her parting gift, an abstract study in which she travels though modernism, architecture, monuments, sacred art and iconism in ritualistic manifestations.

In ‘Ocular Reverberations’ Conroy has built a sculpture made from discarded empty frames, once filled with pictures but now redundant, useless, forgotten, their loss made all the more poignant by the sound emanating from the base of the sculpture, a chanting, a humming, a mystical reverberation from the past, a haunting perhaps.

On one of the walls are four large circular digital prints, abstract in form, each print a colour; red, yellow, blue and green with the lighter colour receding into the dark centre from which a sound emanates, a recording you can listen to on headphones. The yellow print gives us the sound of children, the green evokes emerald forests, blue brings up images of mountains and open skies while red gives us a passion, a desire, a yearning, life. These are beautiful evocations of a sensual life and give us space to daydream, to wander through our mind.

On the remaining walls of this exhibition are a series of mixed media paintings made from discarded corrugated boxes cut into various sizes and painted in similar colours to the digital prints. Stuck on top of each other, the cardboard pieces take on the aspect of an architectural model, a 3D version of a Joseph Albers painting. Infact Conroy makes this association explicit by titling three of the compositions, Albers Ritual I, II, III. It is Albers work – he made paintings of coloured squares to explore the effects colours had on their neighbouring colours – who Conroy chooses to re-examine, to push the boundaries of, his two dimensional explorations giving way to her boundless forms that escape the picture plane, are free to express themselves.

You might say that this show is a conversation with both the past and the present and if you’re in Dublin check it out. It’s ongoing until Saturday 31st August, 2013 at Draíocht Arts Centre, The Blanchardstown Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin



At the beginning of April 2013 I had the amazing opportunity of staying at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan. This was a one week Artist bursary awarded to me by Laois County Council Arts Office.  The bursary provided me with a room, board and a separate studio to work in, as well as having access to the beautiful house and surroundings of Annaghmakerrig.  During my stay there, I received nothing but the warmest welcome and hospitality from all the staff. I met a fantastic and inspirational bunch of people.  My stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre was hugely beneficial to my practise, and while I was there I worked on the solo exhibition, ‘Ocular Reverberations’ which is currently showing in Dublin. This place is magical, and I hope to visit it again in the future.



Draíocht Blog

Des Kenny Reviews Aisling Conroy – Ocular Reverberations

June 19, 2013

opening night3opening night 6

Aisling Conroy has almost finished as Artist in Residence at Draíocht for the last six months (January-June 2013). Aisling took advantage of Draíocht’s Artist Studio to produce the body of work situated on the Ground Floor Gallery space.

Placed in the centre of the gallery is a sculpture called Foundation, constructed from discarded frames. These frames may have held family photos, prints or paintings but now are empty. This void is filled by a chanting or humming sound emanating from two speakers placed at the base of the sculpture. The sound appears to resonate with memories of lost images that are still retained in the vacant frames like ghosts. The frames are haunted by their past. The sculpture tilts at an awkward angle and just about defies gravity and might topple over at any time. The artist is playing with the notion of discovering a tilted frame on a wall – we have an innate desire to rectify this imbalance and straighten the frame. When the frames are removed from their recognised formal function and operate in a different capacity, this eagerness to correct slanting frames, dissipates and our inaction is filled by the chanting humming music of the sculpture. Desire patiently emerges dressed in emptiness.

Four large circular lambda prints are found on one gallery wall. They are abstract in form and each print is dominated by one colour i.e. red, yellow, blue and green. The lighter colour found at the periphery recedes towards a dark centre. Each print has a unique musical recording which is heard through ear phones. The colour of the prints and musical chants entwine and release images from the recesses of our mind and imagination. The yellow print with the sound of children heard in the accompanied musical piece produces a feeling of joy and inescapable calm. The green print and chant evokes emerald forests, the scent of rain on green leaves and fern covered caves, gateways to mysteries not discovered. The blue print associates with images of distant Blue Mountains, cloud free skies and a yearning for something just beyond understanding. The red print bubbles with passionate desires that surface uncontrollably from depths of wildness we assumed were buried and forgotten. These works help transport the viewer into a daydream reverie where the unconscious thought stream encounters daily concerns. At times this is unnerving, since there is no control over the sensations and feelings that are unleashed. The artist allows such outpouring of imagery overcome our natural guarded exterior self and opens pathways to our interior life.

-Des Kenny.



opening night 4

What a lovely night. The sun was shining and we had a brilliant turn-out for the opening on June 6th. The exhibtion was opened on by Edward Murphy, NCAD. Pictured below: Aisling Conroy, Emer McGowan, Director of Draíocht and Edward Murphy.

opening night1 opening night 2 opening night 5opening night 8 opening night 6 opening night 7opening night 9


opening night 10 opening night 11opening night6opening night11




Tabernacle 2 2013

‘Tabernacle’ 2013 – corrugated cardboard,wood, enamel paint and digital media.

Tabernacle 1 2013



Spectrum I-VII 2013

‘Spectrum I-VII’  2013- acrylic and nylon thread on board.

Spectrum I 2013 Spectrum II 2013 Spectrum III 2013 Spectrum IV 2013 Spectrum V 2013 Spectrum VI 2013 Spectrum VII 2013


Icons I-IV 2013

Icons I-IV  2013- acrylic and nylon thread on ply-wood.


Black Mandala 2013

Black Mandala 2013- corrugated cardboard and enamel paint.

Black Mandala side view 2 2013  Black Mandala side view 1 2013


Chromatic I 2013

Chromatic I 2013– acrylic and nylon thread on ply-wood.

Chromatic II 2013

Chromatic II 2013– acrylic and nylon thread on ply-wood.

Chromatic III 2013

Chromatic III 2013– acrylic and nylon thread on ply-wood.

Chromatic IV 2013

Chromatic IV 2013– acrylic and nylon thread on ply-wood.


Rituals I 2013

Rituals I 2013- corrugated cardboard and acrylic paint.

Rituals II 2013  acrylic and corrugated cardboard

Rituals II 2013- corrugated cardboard and acrylic paint.

Mandala 4 2012 cardboard and acrylic; 20cm x 24cm

Rituals III 2013- corrugated cardboard and acrylic paint.






An Essay On Irish Artist Aisling Conroy’s Latest Show @ The Talbot Gallery, Dublin

March 30, 2013

This essay by Marie Soffe on Irish artist Aisling Conroy was sent into me by the artist after her recent exhibition, ‘Prism’, at The Talbot Gallery in Dublin. I’ve posted it up as it makes for good reading and if you like what you see and read here Conroy will be exhibiting new mixed media paintings and sculptures at her next show, ‘Ocular Reverberations’ from Friday 7th June – Saturday 31st August, 2013 at the Draíocht, The Blanchardstown Centre, Dublin 15, Ireland.


Aisling Conroy mixed media paintings Chromatic II Aisling Conroy mixed media paintings Chromatic III Aisling Conroy mixed media paintings Chromatic IV aisling conroy paintings Icon I aisling conroy paintings Spectrum I



As a fellow student of fine art in NCAD, I was always amazed at the single-minded focus of Aisling Conroy’s practice. She was, and still is, a prodigious worker with a prolific output, her vivid imagination finding expression in an abundance of mediums which she mastered easily – drawing, screen-printing, etching, animation, sound, and sculpture – many combined in fascinating dioramas constructed with skill and attention to detail. Her impressive portfolio of practical and artistic skills has ensured that every piece is crafted with her unique combination of quality and conceptual depth, something that has not been lost on her many discerning collectors.

The exact and intricate drawing that was a feature of Conroy’s student prints, together with the psychologically intense three-dimensional scenarios, all point to her previous training in Animation Production. Whilst not immediately apparent in her more recent work, this training actually underpins it in a vital way, as evidenced by the well-considered and meticulous combination of sound, sculpture, image and process that comes together in this visually and conceptually rigorous exhibition, Prism.

Colour has always been present in Conroy’s work, subtly in her etchings and screenprints, more dramatically in her dioramas, animations and digital prints. However, two expeditions in recent years have had a profound influence on how she now gives form to her artistic concerns: firstly a trip to South America and then an extended exploration of India. These periods of travel exposed her to the vibrant and vivid use of colour in both cultures and awakened a sensitivity to the powerful potential of colour, light and sound to affect the human psyche in unexpected ways. This has led to a dramatic paring down of expression. From the terrifying birds and other imaginary creatures that populated her earlier prints, Conroy has moved to a distillation of her artistic vocabulary into a simple, well-defined set of parameters: pure colour, pure light, and layers of gentle, mesmerizing sound.

In this exhibition, these elements have emerged in a unified series of small, icon-like paintings on wood, some cardboard assemblages of rectangles and circles, their vivid primary colours immediately evoking the works of Mondrian, and a rainbow of light refracted through a triangular prism, coupled with one of Conroy’s signature void sculptures incorporating a layered sound installation.

The word ‘icon’ is important as it encapsulates the full breadth of what Conroy is attempting to achieve in this work. Derived from the Greek eikon, meaning ‘image’, the icon is traditionally a religious work of art, usually a small flat panel painting used in Eastern Christian traditions, which uses strict symbolic codes to show complex ideas in a very simple way and to draw the viewer into contemplation of the divine. The icon is a signifier of someone or something sacred – a saint or the cross, for example – and thus it alludes to the signified rather than being a representation of them. This concept of signification is inherent in Conroy’s use of colour and the icon’s physical format to allude to a particular psychological state rather than illustrate it. She attempts to draw the viewer into a calm and meditative condition such as is induced by exposure to the sublime, her idea of the sublime being that unexpected experience of surrender brought on by the diffusion of light through a stained glass window, the deep silence of an ancient temple, or the repetitive sound of chanted prayer.

Conroy’s cumulative process in producing these works echoes her intention for them. A slow, deliberate pouring of paint results in amorphous concentrations of colour on either white or black grounds. Careful ‘drawings’ with thread, inspired by John Cage’s scores, form tangible motifs such as triangles, squares, circles, or spirals, recalling the ‘Renaissance triangle’ and other mathematical forms utilised by the Renaissance masters in their religious paintings. The triangle was also used to sublime effect in Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Trinity in the 15th century, probably the world’s most famous icon and a work which is rich in the symbolism of colour and form.

As artists who seek to evoke the sublime, Conroy is inspired also by Anish Kapoor, who has used the rich pigments of his native India in many of his seductive and monumental works, and by Olafur Eliasson, a creator of fully immersive light and atmospheric installations. In contrast, Conroy’s work is quiet, requiring a generosity of attention from the viewer, both visually and aurally. It yields its rewards, like the icon, after contemplation of its symbolic language and a subtle reading of its vocabulary of shapes. Through the prism of their personal experience, each viewer will arrive at their own translation.

-Marie Soffe