PLACE YOUR FINGER (2019)
‘Place Your Finger (2019)’ is a series of animations in which the artist-cum-viewer communicates directly with the image/idea as if it were alive. The 'image/idea' invites the artist-cum-viewer to collude with it in various actions until it is 'successful'.
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.
‘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.
Sideways is a place called home, but I've never been. It's known as Sideways on account of that being the word said most inside it.
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 and appropriated footage. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 with song, gunpowder, weights and levers, among other passive interactions and forced physics.
Using hand painted footage, projection panning, model making, animated sculpture, stop motion animation and found 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 rationalisation 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.
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.
MISADVENTURE SEEKS RAINY AFTERNOON (2014)
‘Misadventure Seeks Rainy Afternoon’ recasts various disaster scenarios from Pompei, to the mistreatment of women, staging these epic scenarios as materialised structures for galleries. The viewer is invited to walk about, look, sit and picnic in a pantomime of costume, drama, stormy weather and celestial doom - but as if on a holiday landscape, with trees and birds and breadcrumbs - the main ingredients. With titles such as ‘Mise en Abyme’ (a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence) and ‘Autopsy’ (to see for oneself), the works, painted and sculptural imply a sense of self-reflection and mirroring within an unsettling, smothered landscape.