Mia, Kate Byrne: I am here; you are there
Room: Upper Gallery
Sponsor: Drogheda Borough Council/ Arts Council
I am here, you are there is a new exhibition of photographic work by artist Kate Byrne. The large-scale portraits of eight women, linked by a lifetime living in the peninsula of Howth, Co. Dublin, explore ideas of ageing and beauty in contemporary western society.
The exhibition expands on a theme that Byrne explored for an exhibition commissioned by curator Aoife Ruane in 2009 for West Cork Arts Centre titled Nobody Photographs Me Anymore, where a number of the portraits where first shown.
Kathleen or K. Woodward said "Our disregard of age is all the more curious because age - in the sense of older age is the one difference we are all likely to live into." Byrne's exhibition reflects and develops on this idea and considers how older women are represented in a visual culture that is dominated by images of youth in television, film, and the media.
Kate Byrne says of the work "The subjects photographed all feel their identity marginalised and compromised by their elderly years. The photographs are an attempt to further develop this notion where self and identity is rendered visible. Their large scale, 122cm X 122cm, ensures that the viewer is directed to every blemish, wrinkle, stray hair, and raised vein, yet the overriding objective is to suggest a strong coherent subjectivity that emphasises strength, independence and endurance."
She continues "The singular focus of the camera and the restricted conditions eliminate the possibility of social coding and focus instead on the subtlest of psychological and physical innuendos. Their gaze is fixed, reciprocated, unsentimental, and one the viewer will always be, to a certain degree, excluded from. It is fundamentally concerned with the relationship and expectations of the viewer to the subject. The resulting images reveal not the conscious projection of an identity but a space between the subject's private and thoughtful world and her public presentation."
Highlanes Gallery is presenting the full body of portraits in a special exhibition programmed to coincide with Bealtaine, the festival for older people and the arts, celebrating creativity and ageing, which takes place annually in May across the Island.
From 4 -29 May the gallery will exhibit Byrne's accompanying 18 minute, dual projection video work Painting a Mask (2009). Featuring two women, aged 15 and 81, the work attempts to subvert preconceptions of both the aged and the youthful, exploring and analysing feelings of resistance and anxiety when dealing with an uncomforting juxtaposition of life's biological order.
Biographical Note: Kate Byrne studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design graduating in1999, and went on to complete a Masters in Fine Art at the University of Ulster in 2002. She has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibition, most recently at West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen (2009) and the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast (2006). Her work was selected for the 2012 Eigse Arts Festival in VISUAL in Carlow, and in Drawing Eire (2009) and Is Mise Éireann in Shanghai and Beijing, China, and at Open EVA in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005. She is an invited artist in the 2013 Annual RHA exhibition, at the Gallagher Gallery in Dublin 2 opening in May.
Catherine McGuinness retired Supreme Court Judge and activist will officially open the exhibition on Tuesday 7 May at 1.00pm. All are welcome.
Highlanes Gallery invites individuals and groups to view and access tours and talks and other programmed events for this exhibition.
Admission is free to the gallery with a suggested donation of €2. Guided tours are charged at €1.
Relish Café and Foodhall is onsite and can cater for groups in the gallery, or take bookings in the café.
Relish's Bealtaine Festival offers for Older Peoples Groups are as follows: Tea/Coffee and a selection of scones for €4.00 per person, a selection of Sandwiches and a Mug of Soup for €6.00 per person or a Main Course and Tea/Coffee for €8.00 per person.
Older people coming as individuals to the cafe will instead receive a 10% off their total bill.
Bealtaine Tours for groups and individuals:
Beginning Tuesday 7 May and ending on Saturday 29 May, older people are invited to book a special session with gallery staff to view and discuss the exhibition. All are invited to bring images or photographs of themselves for a short discussion session following the tour, around ideas of ageing and identity.
International Museum's Day Session for Older People: Thursday 16 May at 11.30am
Meet the artist Kate Byrne in the gallery where she discusses her ideas around the exhibition and the making of the work, and the collaboration with her subjects.
Refreshments will be served.
To book for any of the above, please contact Hilary Kelly and Siobhan Murphy on + 353 (0) 41- 9803311 or email Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlanes Gallery, Laurence Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland, W: www.highlanes.ie
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 Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations K. Woodward 1999