Áine Mac Giolla Bhríde

son of | Void, Derry

18 November 2023 - 27 January 2024

In the gallery spaces here at Void Art Centre, we are presenting the first UK institutional solo show by Áine Mac Giolla Bhríde

The exhibition takes place across the two galleries at Void Art Centre. Conventionally, of course, galleries are rooms dedicated to the viewing of art, but as spatial environments, they are often repurposed venues whose original function was not the presentation of artworks. The galleries of Void Art Centre are located on the ground floor of the building, in a large, glass-fronted space, once a commercial unit host to a variety of businesses throughout the building’s lifetime. In 2021 two rooms of the ground floor were restructured to approximate ‘white cubes’, and sit within the larger edifice or shell. Galleries can be seen as somewhat emblematic of the adaptive and resourceful use of existing architecture today.

Mac Giolla Bhríde’s work responds to this concrete architectural reality. Their sculptural practice performs an investigation of space and self, working through a personal body of research that looks at the theoretical and historical development of the figure of the architect. The artist is interested in how a pronounced masculinity was fused with the canonical image of the archetypal male architect, as a reaction to the entry of women into the field of architecture. The artist’s research reveals that women working as architects were sometimes perceived as belonging to a ‘third sex’, and that during the Modernist period women were encouraged to enter the field of decor or interior design as an alternative to pursuing architecture.

With son of, Mac Giolla Bhríde attempts to dismantle the complexity of these gendered hierarchies by consciously inhabiting the role of the builder, architect and interior designer simultaneously. This serves as a way of positioning themselves, and manifesting sculptural artwork responsive to site. Construction materials, such as salvaged glass panels and personal artifacts, are selected, gathered, deposited and arranged on site, finding resolution in a sculptural staging that reconciles inherited architectural histories with the immediate physical environment, via subjective reinterpretations from a feminist/queer perspective.

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