by Mary Ruth Walsh
Wexford Arts Centre working collaboratively with The Model, Highlanes Gallery and Limerick City Gallery will tour the work of Mary Ruth Walsh between June 2020 and November 2021. Through collage, film and sculpture/installation, Walsh extends her interest in architecture and explores skin as substance and metaphor.
Mary-Ruth Walsh is a Wexford based artist working in drawing, painting, film-making, sculpture-installation, critical writing and occasionally performance. Taking inspiration from the language of architecture, she constructs imagined proposals/spaces exploring ideas relating to the built environment and contemporary culture. She endeavours to create a new dialogue drawing from utopian ideals of 20th and 21st century planning and design, and juxtaposes these with vernacular architecture. The theatrical aspect of how the work is displayed both juxtapositions and parallels contemporary building facades using seductive surfaces that lead the viewer in.
Skin Deep will push Walsh’s conceptual and aesthetic concerns further as she reflects upon an imaginary island as a Medical-Tourism destination for the pursuit of the perfect skin, using Arnold Bocklin’s The Isle of the Dead, 1883, as a reference. The work will explore the invisible effects of medical and pharmaceutical skin products and involve an experimental way for the public to engage with skin as the work will adopt the tropes of seductive advertising through film, collage and installation. Underpinned by the historical and philosophical views on skin as a porous, non-closed surface, Walsh will examine how it is viewed today as a bodily boundary, a wall or legible screen and bearer of ethnic information, colour and gender.
The relationship between architecture and skin is far from tenuous for Walsh as she examines the sheer and impenetrable façade of contemporary corporate buildings. The artist attests that these large structures cannot be read through established architectural codes as they appear seamless, often made from sheer veneer, self-cleaning and self-repair materials. Impassive and ageless, the buildings share similarities with faces that are unlined and inexpressive through medical intervention. Skin Deep aims to uncover the psychology of societal investment in skin as it becomes a contested surface and a carrier of social standing in our semiotics-infused times.
Born in Dublin, Walsh originally trained as a nurse and midwife. She graduated from Goldsmiths College London (MA) and the National College of Art and Design (BA), Dublin. Walsh has participated in national and international exhibitions and the Artist’s Residency Programme in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; RHA’s experimental drawing studio, Dublin; Aabenraa Artweek, Denmark and Basekamp in Philadelphia. Walsh’s work is in the collection of Trinity College Dublin and private collections.
Walsh’s solo and group exhibitions include IMMA (Dublin); Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (Dublin); RHA (Dublin); CUBEOpen (Manchester); Oonagh Young Gallery (Dublin); Highlanes Gallery (Drogheda); Parlour (New York and Italy); Arts Centres (Wexford and Galway); Cross Gallery (Dublin); Goethe Institute (Dublin) and SCOPE (Miami). Awards include Create Ireland research bursary, Arts Council of Ireland’s Project, Travel Awards, Visual Arts Bursary Award and most recently Arts Council of Ireland Touring Award.
Her public work extends beyond the gallery space and is both permanent and temporary.
Skin Deep is supported by an Arts Council Touring and Dissemination of Work Award.
For further information on Skin Deep contact Catherine Bowe, Curator, Wexford Arts Centre, Cornmarket, Wexford on +353 (0)53 91 23764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.