How The Oyster Makes The Pearl (2019)
‘How The Oyster Makes The Pearl’ is composed of 8 paintings for tables and walls. It presents 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, Shiel's flat vanishing spaces are already evanescing. They reveal the shape-shifting dimensions of a sentient landscape, in which reflections abandon their hosts, horizons up-sticks from their axis, gestural marks pose wilfully and light plays tricks before disappearing.
Installation Shots: Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin. Supported by The Arts Council and DCC Visual Artist Bursary Awards, 2018.
‘Sideways’ (2018) is a dramatised animation, performed/screened at The Observatory, UCD, 2018. Written, animated and narrated by Sonia Shiel, with video featuring an ensemble cast and appropriated footage, it tells a story of compromise. Short on room, a couple negotiate the space they share together with geometric precision until a secret moves in and turns everything over.
Dead Her (2018)
‘Dead Her’ is written, directed and performed by the artist in a narrated sequence of synchronised and interwoven, audio-cum-visual punchlines, using animation, performance, appropriated footage and a desktop cursor. In it the central protagonist is a woman half-way through her life, who undergoes treatment to attain a fuller, more meaningful smile. She is confronted at each appointment by reality, and then by a younger man - who lives outside of it. Dead Her is a ghost story, a romance, a mystery and a thriller in which a series of everyday misunderstandings with authorities implicates the protagonist in a crime of passion, that her authenticity as an artist might or might not absolve her from.
First read at Void, Derry as part of The Winter Series, Curated by Mary Cremin. Recorded performance and appropriated footage. Also performed at the Observatory, Dublin. Live performance - narration; synchronised animated video; and audio; microphone, speakers, projector and props.
Rectangle, Squared (2017)
‘Rectangle, Squared’, features large-scale paintings; punctuated by smaller props-cum-sculptures; cut-out characters; and the surreal story of their fabrication. It explores the illusory world in which an artist is presented with an opportunity to make something important. The artist's monologue is articulated in many voices, that conjure the materiality of an imaginary space, in which sound and language slip between registers, moving the listener through the installation. In it, theatrical, cultural and art historical tropes are obscured in the roots of trees, friendship and fireworks. The artist's journey is shaped by absurd procedural impositions and her surreal attempts to escape them - whilst confronting in equal measure, the adversities and hopes of everyday survival, humour, loss, humility and her longing to be understood.
Supported by The UCD Artist in Residence Program, The NCAD's Incubation Residency, the Arts Council and DLRCoCo.
Voices by Laura Cummins; Sara French; Daniel McNamara; Tzarini Meyler and Shelly Harder. Written and narrated by Sonia Shiel.
Installation shots: The Crawford Gallery, Cork, 2017. All works: dimensions variable, oil on canvas, wood and sponge; parabolic speaker, mp3. Curated by Dawn Williams.
Pet Boy And The Bird's Dream (2016)
‘Pet Boy And The Bird’s Dream’ features handmade props-cum-sculptures; costumes, and make-up; cut-out facade structures and characters; and set-pieces, around which the action is performed, gestured, hung and narrated. The work also exists in an alternative video/animation form.
Written and directed by Sonia Shiel .
Narration: Sonia Shiel.
Cast: Katie O'Byrne, Giri Kurichiyath, Kim Dongjin, Tzarini Meyler, Jack McWalters and Conor Moran.
Crew: Waki Kamino, Emiline Notari and Verna Kokkonen.
Pet Boy and The Bird's Dream - with thanks to the UCD Artist in Residence Program. Performances and readings include: Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; Artbox, Dublin; and Treeline Pavillion, Dublin.
The Incomplete Platypus (2016)
Based on the classic hit t.v. series 'To Tell The Truth', (1956,) The Incomplete Platypus, (2016,) invites its audience to establish the authenticity of one artist among three, all claiming to be the real Artist of the Year. With the same conceit as the original game-show that hosted such guests as civil rights activist Rosa Parks among other celebrities, the panel grills the artists on an autobiographical affidavit that recounts courageous trials, in this case, of an untethered imagination and the quest for creative autonomy. Along the way the artist meets various anthropomorphic characters that she must slay her ties with. Composed of computer generated voices and appropriated sound, Shiel's synthetic narrative comes from a hole bored into the centre of a three-dimensional facade, that is perforated to function as a speaker. The game begins with the oration of a sworn account, detailing a series of perilous challenges and pata-physical events that barely stray from the studio, which from the beginning is shared with a rock that knows no bounds. The work presents as a standing wooden structure but represents time and distance by enlisting the freedoms of Alfred Jarry’s pataphysics - an imaginary realm imposed on metaphysics.
Performed by synthetic voices and appropriated sound. Written by Sonia Shiel. The Incomplete Platypus, 2016 Wood, Paint, Speakers and Sound//Dimensions Variable c.17ft x 7ft x 4ft. Duration 00:19:49.//(mp3), looped.© Installation Shots: Rua Red, Dublin. Carnage Visor, Curated by Paul McAree.
CASIO CASINO (2015)
‘Casio Casino’ (2015) is a collection of machines and contraptions in which the viewer ‘appears’ to activate a series of physical consequences involving song, gunpowder and weight, among other devices. Installation Shots: Man With A Fabelous Tale, Galway Arts Centre, curated by Maeve Mulrennan; Motivational Deficit, Crawford Art Gallery, curated by Dawn Williams ; and Cartoons For Grown Ups, The Model, Sligo, curated by Seamus Kealy.
Using hand painted footage, model making, animated sculpture, stop-motion animation and appropriated footage, ‘Parse’ is the 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 do fall consciously; space and distance are compressed; death is recoverable from and stars are souvenirs, what at first seems to be a child's efforts to comprehend a tragic lie becomes a believable rationale of her mother's absence, and even promises a plausible return. However, a happy ending and the suspension of our belief are threatened by the very syntax that constructs them.
Written and narrated by Sonia Shiel. Supported by the Arts Council Project Award for ISCP & the Art and Law Fellowship Program, New York, 2014 and exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Project Spaces. Installation shots: 'Parse' in 'Unseen Presence, 2014, IMMA, Dublin, curated by Janice Haugh.
Consent Volenti (2014)
‘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 the cliff a legal document standing-out from its spongy edge, has attention drawn to it by an-ever appearing cookoo. The cookoo’s clock is emphatically over-weighted and causes its time to spin unnaturally fast. ‘The Waiver’ 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 such as; 1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of the situation or 11. Any violent rearrangement of matter is impermanent, and the viewer is reminded that these physical and mental advantages might not apply to them in real life.
‘The Cliff' oil on canvas, painted floor, sponge, upholstery sponge, wood, wooden horse, cookoo clock, paper, frame, weights, and a waiver. Dimensions Variable (c.18ft x 18ft),'Parse' a projected animation, w/colour and sound, duration 00:07:17 (00:14:34), projection and screen dimensions: variable, wood, painted canvas and sponge. Installation shots; RUA RED, Dublin, curated by Cliodhna Shaffrey & International Studios and Curatorial Program, New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, Curated by Dawn Williams; supported by the Arts Council Project Award for ISCP & the Art and Law Fellowship Program, in association with The Vera List Centre, New York.
Misadventure seeks rainy afternoon (2014)
Installation Shots: Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin (2014), curated by Mary Cremin and The Glucksman Gallery, Cork, (2014) and (2018), curated by Chris Clarke.
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