Sonia Shiel’s work assembles references from art history and from contemporary cultural production, in an attempt to represent contemporary scenarios we have with traditional notions of the sublime. Through fey and menacing romantic imagery it attempts to represent internalised collective fantasies and their associated anxieties. These are inspired by Romantic Culture, as found in certain genres of painting throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, music, literature, epic novels, global tragedy, fairytale, myth and film. Much of it associates traditional notions of the sublime specifically with everyday life, anti-climax, containment, convenience, ideology and sometimes, characteristics of their prescribed host environments: the space in which they will ultimately reside. Currently her work explores contemporary notions of the sublime through projects that augment great epic tales and mythologies from popular history and culture.
Supported by Culture Ireland, The Arts Council of Ireland, TBG&S, and Temple Bar Cultural Trust, HIAP, FRAME and The Finnish Institute, London.
The residency at HIAP facilitates an investigation into particular public and private collections of paintings in Helsinki. Her project here extends the process of appropriating specific genre references, increasingly part of her practice. To date she has worked in collaboration with the Central Art Archives at the Atenum Museum in Helsinki, and on return to Dublin with the National Gallery of Ireland. Shiel has recently been awarded the opportunity to spend a short time in Amsterdam with its many collections in 2007 enabling a re-location of these current models of research and institutional engagement. Over the course of her project at HIAP, she will extract from certain contrived and happenstance events: articles from everyday life that would not otherwise exist in the temporary and nomadic setting of an international residency. From these donations, relating to performances or stories recorded with her in her studio, or to collected snapshots, souvenirs or found objects, shopping lists, old paintings, furniture, books or loaned treasures, she will assemble a ‘pseudo-native’ manifestation of life in Helsinki. From this, she will create new work and for her new or borrowed belongings: a temporary archival home or living environment. Shiel’s work will be on view in April with an accompanying catalogue, written by Patrick Murphy, Director RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin.