Sonia Shiel's installations are composed of paintings, objects, animated sculptures and videos that share overarching narratives and the central materiality of paint. Set in rogue landscapes, her protagonists in their various pursuits are confronted by nature and the laws of their own creation. Their aspirations to survive against the odds are mocked by pataphysical histrionics, obtuse props, and parodies of method. Often the narrative cues in her work are prompted by performative elements; mostly invoked with mechanical or gravitational tricks, sculptures that pose or whistle, paintings cast as life-size characters, elevators or cliffs; and low-tech special effects that cause the work to breathe, fall or climb - as if 'inhabiting' the space. Scripted and visual cues coerce notional sequences of events; painted-on footprints scaled to diminish actual space into near and fictional distance; altered weights speeding-up and slowing down time; and instructive and choreographic texts in legal or poetic form.
never waking 2015, oil on canvas, various parts in wood and clay, dimensions variable. (nature table). From Here, while the bees are sleeping, 2015.
Sonia Shiel received the Arts Council's Project Award, 2013, with which she completed the Art & Law Fellowship Program, 2014 at Fordham Law School while participating on the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York. In 2015, she was an artist-in-residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and has since been awarded the Arts Council's Visual Artist Bursary, for 2015. She has had recent exhibitions at the ISCP, New York, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, The Crawford Gallery, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. From June 2015, she will be working on upcoming projects in Ireland and the U.S, at the Fire Station Studios' Engine Room, Dublin.
Recent projects in 2014/15 include Breakfast Dialogue, a series of improvisation cues for 2 or more people to enact, requiring minimal material means, composed on the side of milk products in a guerrilla dairy. While Consent Volenti pitches the legal notion of inherent risk with jocular physics through a series of painted landscapes cum' habitats. Here, hard is soft and risk as well as (in)credibility is waived. In one work, a legal document stands out from a spongy cliff edge, obtusely drawn attention to by a cookoo. The Waiver, developed during the Art and Law fellowship program at Fordham Law School, New York in 2014, is an absurd linkage between the physics of cartoons and the far-fetched intentions of art. The inherent risks it lists are compared numerically with rules of jocular physics and the viewer is reminded that these physical and mental advantages might not apply to them in real life. Parse, developed and exhibited this year in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, is the animated story of a young girl determined to bring about the return of her mother from a trip to outer space, in accordance with the laws of jocular physics under which her world is ruled. Set in a cartoon-habitat, where things fall consciously; space and distance are compressed; death is recoverable from and stars are souvenirs. In Shiel's Here, while the bees are sleeping, an installation of moot nocturnal works compresses itself into a short poem on eternity, that choreographs the optimum chronology in which to view the work.
Recent exhibitions include The Kevin Kavanagh Gallery; The Crawford Gallery, Cork; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Rua Red, Dublin; ISCP, New York; and The Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin. Other exhibitions include The Model, Sligo; Temple Bar Gallery and Studios; Kulturbunker Kulturamt, Frankfurt; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny; FOUR, Dublin and The RHA Gallery I and II, Dublin, The Glue Factory, Glasgow; The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; Atelier Frankfurt and TBG+S, Dublin. Shiel has been the recipient of many competitive awards including the Hennessy Craig Award; The Tony O'Malley Award; HIAP; Centre Culturel Irlandais, the TBG+S Frankfurt exchange program and Banff Centre for the Arts, Leighton Residency Award, Canada. Her works are in public and private collections including the Arts Council of Ireland and the Office of Public Works. She is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin.