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June 02, 2011

When an Artist Met a Dancer...This was meant to be...


A projection and drawing installation of new works by Astrid Walsh


Opening Reception SATURDAY JUNE 11 AT 3PM

McKenna Gallery, Riverbank Arts Centre, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

On Saturday June 11th, ES HAT SO SOLLEN SEIN, (THIS WAS MEANT TO BE), a projection and drawing exhibition of new works by Astrid Walsh opens at Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge Co. Kildare.

In 2008, Astrid Walsh received the Laois Patronage Award and the Arts Council Travel and Training Award which gave her an opportunity to travel to Canada to work with a dancer, Shelly Nafshi, and create a body of work around this experience.  The aim of this time was to have a real-time physical experience, which would be recorded and would supply footage as raw material for a body of work. 

A series of paintings related to the video footage was shown under the title ‘Beloved, all is well’ in County Laois in 2009.  This latest exhibition is a continuation of the ‘Beloved’ series but will see Astrid return to her practice of layering projections with drawings/paintings.  As well as the projection work, there will be a number of ‘boxes’, like miniature stage sets, which show different scenes.  All of the pieces feature the dancer Shelly, the artist’s twin sister Kerstin Walsh and occasionally the artist herself.  The dancer in particular functions as a ‘character’ in a disconnected fictitious narrative of sorts.  A deliberate tension is created between the different media which lends itself to the consideration of themes of presence, reality, memory, loss and relationships.

The work is made with everyday materials including cardboard and found items.  Each different form that the elements of the individual works take are seen by the artist as another form of reality, or even a different time.  A photograph of a girl, a dead butterfly and a tree inhabit the same place.  The viewer must accept these diverse objects in order to read the ‘story’ of the works.

The work that Astrid makes always acts as a guide for her to understand some dynamic in life.   Here it reflects the constant attempt to live in a finite world in which the residue of memory and the potential of the future can often obscure the present moment.  It is evidence of the artist’s struggle to live in this present moment. In the video works painted and drawn images overlap with video footage of  dancers projected on to canvas.  The painted or drawn image shows us the future of where the dancers’ bodies will arrive. When the video footage meets the drawn image, the dancer is allowed to linger in these moments, evidence of a desire to stop time and hold on to these ephemeral seconds.  These moments are short but strangely satisfying. Gradually, as they must, these moments become memories ankered in the past.  To quote the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.’

The spectral figures co-existing on the canvas, or the figures frozen in dreamlike landscapes draw the viewer into a situation where they must decide what is now and what is then, what is real and what is imagined. 

Astrid Walsh was born in Germany in 1976 but grew up in Ireland.  She holds oa BA (Hons) in Sociology from Trinity College, Dublin (1998) and a BA in Fine Art from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dublin (2005).  Her work is held in private and public collections including Kildare County Council.

ES HAT SO SOLLEN SEIN, THIS WAS MEANT TO BE, opens at Riverbank Arts Centre, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Saturday June 11th with a reception at 3pm- All welcome. The exhibition will continue until July 1st. For further information visit or call 045 448327.