BERNADETTE KIELY | A NEW LANDSCAPE – Cork or Venice, Who Cares, Who Can Tell

23 March  – 15 April, 2023

Opening reception 23 March, 5.30-7.30pm

24 March, 12pm: Bernadette Kiely in conversation with Crístin Leach (broadcaster, art critic and writer) and Lisa Fingleton (artist and environmentalist).

The exhibition ‘A NEW LANDSCAPE – Cork or Venice, Who Cares, Who Can Tell’ presents new work by Bernadette Kiely that is concerned with the effects of flooding and decay on both the landscape and human lives. This has been an enduring theme in the artist’s practice over the past 25 years, and now with increased significance in times of more extreme environmental changes.

Featuring moving image and new large scale and smaller paintings her images of urban areas and streets, including Cork, suggest an ‘anywhere, any town’ feeling and draw us in with their visual proximity to what is happening at ground level. Her title* is a nod to the oft quoted saying that Cork is the ‘Venice of Ireland’ but more particularly to the fact that flooding and decay collapse our definition of geography, rendering towns, cities and landscapes unrecognisable, and borders obsolete, thereby focusing our attention on the bigger picture. The exhibition will be accompanied by an essay by broadcaster, art critic and bestselling author Cristín Leach.

While inspiration often comes from the ground beneath her feet, Kiley’s imagery also comes from sources including her own photography, TV broadcasts, newspapers and online documentary images. Her work draws attention to a sense of unease and awareness of atmospheric conditions – and suggests a resigned ennui and melancholy towards the instability of a constantly changing world.

Bernadette’s work on flooded landscapes has most recently been shown in ‘IMAGINE LIFE WITHOUT ART’ at the Custom House Gallery and Studios, Westport, County Mayo (September/October 2022) and was included in the Contemporary British Painting Prize 2022 at the Huddersfield Art Gallery, UK and Thames Side Gallery and Studios, London, UK. Her portrait  An artist becomes their work – portrait of Paul Mosse in his studio is currently on show at The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and will tour to the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny in June 2023.

*Lines taken from Lisdoonvarna by Christy Moore, 1978: “This is heaven, this is hell, who cares, who can tell”

Bernadette Kiely grew upon the quayside of the River Suir in Carrick on Suir, County Tipperary. She graduated with first class honours in Graphic Design Communications from the College of Art and Design, Waterford (SETU) and worked in advertising, architecture and graphic design in London and New York before attending the Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK. She lives on the quay in Thomastown, County Kilkenny. Bernadette began painting full time in the early 1990s, her immediate location on the river Nore being the driving force behind her work. Kiely has an enduring belief in the importance of weather as something that controls life on a daily basis. There is a sense in the artist’s work that the story of her own local ‘theatre of the everyday’ and the ‘now’ represents the history and geography of the wider world. Throughout her life she has experienced heavy flooding on a regular basis, growing up on the River Suir and later living on the River Nore as an adult.  She credits proximity to these rivers with the frequent threat of floodwaters causing upheaval and possible disaster to her keen awareness of environmental shifts and the effects of weather on land, rivers and on human lives. Bernadette was a founder member of the Thomastown Environmental Association in 1990. Bernadette Kiely is a member of Aosdána and is represented by Taylor Galleries, Dublin.

Recent Exhibitions include; ‘Imagine Life without art’, Custom House Gallery and Studios, Westport, County Mayo (2022); The Contemporary British Painting Prize 2022, Huddersfield Art Gallery, Huddersfield and Thames Side Gallery, London, UK; The Zurich Portrait Prize 2022, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, (2023);  ‘one touch of nature [makes the whole world kin]’, Taylor Galleries, (2020); ‘How Much Land [does a man need]’, The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, County Tipperary (2019); ‘..tell me about your mother (feat. The Two Travellers)’, KAMERA 8, Wexford, curated by Anya Von Gosseln and touring to South Tipperary Arts Centre (Sept 2019); ‘A problem with no solution’, Kilkenny Arts Festival (2018); ‘So Much Water (so) Close to Home’, Luan Gallery, Athlone (2018); ‘A Second World – any given day’, Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, County Meath, Curated by Director Belinda Quirke and Artist/Researcher Sabina Mac Mahon (2016/7); ‘Encountering the Land’, VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow, curated by Artist/Farmer Orla Barry and Sean Kissane, Curator at IMMA (2016).


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