Sonia Shiel is an Irish visual artist, based in Dublin. She has had recent exhibitions and performances at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; The Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Artbox, Dublin; The NCAD Gallery, Dublin, The Treeline Pavillion, Dublin, The Observatory, UCD, Dublin and The Crawford Gallery, Cork. Her current exhibition “I Am What You’ve Come To See,” curated by Mary Cremin continues at Void, Derry, until November 1st 2019.


Other selected exhibitions include Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; Rua Red, Dublin; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Project Spaces, Dublin; the ISCP, Studios, New York; The Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin; The Cable Factory, Helsinki; Pallas Contemporary Projects, Dublin; The Model, Sligo; Atelier Frankfurter; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; the RHA Galleries I and II, Ormston House, Limerick; and the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, among others.

She has been the recipient of the Tony O'Malley Award from the Butler Gallery and the Hennessy Craig Award from the RHA. She has received a number of Bursary and Project Awards from The Arts Council; Culture Ireland; DLRCC; and the DCC. Her work features in several international, public and private collections, including the DLR Municipal Collection; the Arts Council of Ireland, the City of Frankfurt, the Glucksman Gallery and the Office of Public Works.

She was Artist in Residence for Arts and Humanities, at the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD, Dublin from 2016-18. Other residencies and fellowships include the Art and Law Program, New York; the ISCP, New York; HIAP, Helsinki; The Kulturbunker, Frankfurt; Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; and the Leighton Artists Studios Residency at The Banff Centre, Alberta.


Current Work

Sonia Shiel’s interdisciplinary practice combines key methodologies from art, law and theatre to imbue characteristics, autonomy and personal and fictional narratives in the works she creates. Usurping the normal conditions of an artwork with a kind of self-conscious agency usually reserved for living things, her works are often free-standing; traversable; presented with their own volition, backstory or environment; and sometimes consolidated within installations, audio works, performance or video. At their most extensive, her installations synthesise object, image and sound to make immersive landscapes or, more particularly, territories. Taken to mean a field or sphere of action or thought whilst being physically identifiable as a domain or province of something, her near-sentient works inhabit the space under their own theoretical jurisdiction, in which sound and language slip between registers, moving the listener through the installation.



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Place Your Finger (2019) is a series of animations in which the image/idea communicates directly with the viewer-cum-artist as if it were alive. The 'image/idea' invites the viewer-cum-artist to collude with it in various actions until it is 'successfully’ rendered. Please use your FINGER and FOLLOW the video's instructions. Written and voiced by Sonia Shiel. Animation, Colour and Sound. See more at I Am What You’ve Come To See, on at VOID Gallery, Derry until November 1st 2019.


DURATION: 00:03:30

RECENT exhibition


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How The Oyster Makes The Pearl (2019) is a collection of paintings for walls and tables that present the world translucently, in a careful matrix of tone, opacity and colour. While framed, stuffed or folded like things we intend to keep safe and admire forever, her flat vanishing spaces are already evanescing. They reveal the shape-shifting dimensions of a sentient landscape, in which reflections abandon their hosts, horizons untether themselves from their axis, gestural marks pose wilfully and light plays tricks before disappearing.

Not only fragmenting or animating the scenery but lending it autonomous agency. This moves up a gear in these new works. It’s as if the artist is a ringmaster in a suddenly anarchic circus, with the performers running amok. The fact that the constituent parts of each painting are drifting from their ostensible functions – with indications of light itself fragmenting and dispersing – lends the work a visual dynamism. Not by chance, of course, but by virtue of Shiel’s skill. Her sense of colour, tone and form is distinctive and utterly reliable.
— Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, Excerpt from Apr 23, 2019

RESEARCH and Collaboration

  • The Ensemble (2016-18)

  • UCD Observatory (2017)

  • The Vera List Centre, New York (2014)

  • The Tree Line Pavillion (2016) Reading Event, Dublin.

  • Avocado (2016) Acting Ensemble Group.

  • The Incomplete Platypus (2016), Audio

  • Crawford Art Gallery, Audio (2017)

  • NCAD Gallery Incubation Residency (2017)

  • Round Table and Vase (Upcoming)

  • Dance Ireland (Upcoming)

  • School of English, Drama and Film, UCD, Dublin

  • PATA ZINE Pataphysical Society, Portland (2014)

  • Dead Her (2018) Solo Performances

  • Rectangle, Squared (2017) Performances

  • Pet Boy and The Bird’s Dream (2016) Performances

  • TBG+S Reading and Book Event, Dublin (2017)

  • UCD School of English, Theatre and Drama (2016-18)

  • The Art and Law Program, New York (2014)

Sonia Shiel’s ‘Rectangle Squared’ at Cork’s Crawford Gallery successfully blended her skill as a painter and her fascination with performance. It was also an intriguing foray into ideas of constructed realities, be they within an artwork and gallery, or those we invent to make life more exciting, manageable, bearable (take your pick).
— Gemma Tipton, Frieze, 24 Nov 2017.

Fellowships and Residencies


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AWARDS / Bursaries

(20) Sonia Shiel, Blinds Fall and Mise en Abyme, and Fiona Kelly, Dust Breeding copy.jpg

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  • The Tony O'Malley Award /

    The Butler Gallery

  • The Hennessy Craig Award / The RHA Gallery

  • The Arts Council Visual Artist’s Bursary

  • DLRCC Visual Artist’s Bursary

  • DCC Visual Artist’s Bursary

  • The Arts Council Project Award

  • Culture Ireland Award

Gallery / Collections

Sonia Shiel 'Blinds Fall'.jpg

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Represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin and featured in a number of international public and private collections, including the :

  • DLR Municipal Collection

  • The Arts Council of Ireland

  • The City of Frankfurt

  • The Glucksman Gallery

  • The Office of Public Works.



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Solo exhibitions at the RHA, Dublin, The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, FOUR, Dublin and HIAP, Helsinki were accompanied by publications with texts by Chris Fite-Wassilak, Patrick Murphy, Charlotte Bonham-Carter, Mark Hutchenson and Anna O'Sullivan, among several others produced for group exhibitions. The stories and scripts written during her time as Artist In Residence at UCD, (2016-2018) were adapted into a book, produced by UCD's Parity Press Publications and found form in numerous exhibitions and performances. From the same project, 'Golden Poem' is included in Henrietta hyvä.. a book, curated by Nadjia Quante, and produced in Helsinki in 2017.

Each work is conceived and created from the point of view of a protagonist who is trying to negotiate her way through a world that inextricably combines natural laws with arbitrary rules and inventions. The written thing in question here is a script, which tells the story of an artist who, in being mistaken for a tree, learns what it is to be expressive.
— Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, 'Rectangle' Excerpt from May 11, 2017



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Sonia Shiel has been a visiting lecturer at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin. She has participated on the Art’s Council’s Artist-in-Prison Program at both Mountjoy Prison and Cloverhill prison, Dublin. With qualifications in Dance (RAD/Vaganova) and Drama (Gaiety School of Acting), she has project experience with both amateur and professional theatre and performance training.

  • The Art and Law Fellowship Program, Fordham University, New York.

  • MA Visual Art Practice / Art-Making, IADT, Dublin.

  • BA Fine Art NCAD, Dublin.

Recent Talks


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Reading events and recent Artist’s Talks including:

  • The Justice-in-Fiction Panel, UCD

  • The Luan Gallery, Athlone (2018)

  • The UCD Linguistics Forum, Dublin (2017)

  • The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (2017)

  • Parity Studios, School of Physics, UCD, Dublin (2016)

  • IMMA Project Spaces, Dublin (2014)

  • Fordham University, New York (2014)

  • The Glucksman Gallery, (2014)