A Sisyphean Task - New Work by 4 PhD Students from Burren College of Art:

Qi Chen | Tanya de Paor | Kelly Klaasmeyer | Robbie E. Lawrence

Curated by Conor McGrady, BCA Dean of Academic Affairs

After 18 months in situ at NUI Galway art gallery, this exhibit was reactivated to run Mon, November 15 -  Fri, November 26, 2021.

Initial proposed exhibit run: March 12 – April 9, 2020 
| 11am – 4pm, Mon – Sat was cancelled and paused due to Covid-19.

A Sisyphean Task showcases the work of practice-based PhD students at Burren College of Art, Qi Chen, Tanya de Paor, Kelly Klaasmeyer and Robbie E. Lawrence.  The exhibition follows New Artistic Research, which took part in the BCA Gallery, and features work that investigates a range of chosen research topics.  Artistic Research is a core part of the academic programme at Burren College of art.  In BCA’s PhD programme, which is accredited by NUI Galway, students focus on a research topic, which they explore through artistic practice in order to generate new knowledge. Research at BCA represents a plurality of approaches to the artistic process, is interdisciplinary and often informed by collaboration across multiple fields.  


'Art as Research': Work from Faculty of the Burren College of Art at the Staff Club, Quadrangle building, NUI Galway


 October 7, 2019 - March 26, 2020 | Monday-Friday, 9am-4.00pm 

'Art as Research' showcases recent artistic research produced by studio faculty of the Burren College of Art.  @burrencollege  As practicing professional artists, faculty who lecture in the studio-based programmes at the College are active in research across a number of platforms, utilising multiple forms of artistic practice as modes of engagement with a diverse range of research projects.

 Image: Conor McGrady, Silent Forest, Giclee Print 2018.




The ‘Tuam Babies Commemorative Memorial & related paintings’ by Olga Magliocco at Áras Moyola:

“The aim in creating this memorial is to bring the solemnity and reverence of a commemorative site to wherever it is shown”.

My work on the Tuam Babies Commemorative Memorial:

I contacted Catherine Corless, Historian, who unearthed this dark history of how 796 babies were discarded in what appears to be a septic tank on the grounds of the Tuam Mother and Baby home in Galway and requested from her the names and date of death of each infant. She very graciously obliged. I printed all 796 baby’s names and date of death onto ‘Draw Sheets’, the Provenance of which add considerably to the importance of this work. The ‘Draw Sheets’ were once used in children’s homes and state institutions as mattress protectors.

Details on the Commemorative Memorial:

Title: The Tuam Babies Commemorative Memorial.  Material: Draw Sheet material is a natural jute hessian fabric – Burlap.

Description: Six Draw Sheets sewn together with the 796 baby’s names printed onto them along with their date of death. Each listed under the year they died.  Dimensions:  6’ X 22’.

Artist's Statement:      Olga Magliocco B.A. Art & Design, B.A. (Hons) Fine Art.

My work is in response to social and political issues that are both current and historical.  In my practice I document my research through photography, sketching and painting studies.  As an artist my goal is to give a voice to the voiceless and make the invisible visible to society by adding my work to the discourse of the day and keeping it front and centre in our minds – lest we forget.


Title: Crypt | Material: Primed and stretched canvas. Acrylic, Acrylic mediums, a synthetic shroud printed with the 796 Tuam babies’ names and torn into strips and buried in the painting. Netting and sections of canvas cut into pieces are also embedded.

Title: Unearthed | Material: Primed and stretched canvas. Acrylic, acrylic mediums, netting (is rolled back unearthing all that lies below), coral (represent baby bones), baby robes made from cotton and dyed, plaster moulds (represent the chambers and septic tank), ash and human hair.   

Title: Interred 2 – based on the Geophysical Survey carried out on the Tuam Site it highlights where the human remains lie beneath the earth.

Material: Cotton stretched canvas. I have used a discarded canvas and painted over it. This represents the way the children were discarded by society and the church and were painted out of history until brought to light in 2014 due to the research by local historian Catherine Corless.  Acrylic on canvas.

A selection of 4 study paintings which were created prior to the two large paintings.

Title: Study 1 - Material: Stretched and primed canvas. Acrylic, seeds and netting.

Title: Study 2 - Material: Stretched and primed canvas. Acrylic.

Title: Study 3 - Material: Stretched and primed canvas. Acrylic, newspaper and coral.

Title: Study 4 - Material: Stretched and primed canvas. Acrylic. Plaster mould, netting and coral.


Juanjo Sierra - Nature | Light Dreams | January 20 to March 6, 2020


Fine Art Photographic Prints in limited edition - a personal selection by the Artist for GALWAY 2020.

Venue:  NUI Galway art gallery, Quadrangle Building.  Exhibit run: 20 January to 6 March 2020 inclusive.

Nature / Light Dreams by Juanjo Sierra, attempts to transmit the beauty and fragility of a natural world that is in danger.  The connecting thread that unifies this selection of photographs is their natural light and its essence.  Juanjo Sierra offers us his personal view of the natural world, the central theme of his work. His artistry includes composition, textures, natural shapes, creative techniques and above all the unique use of light. The images are offered in small limited editions, printed on diabond using highest quality inks and include certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

 Juanjo Sierra is eternally curious. Combining twin loves of mountaineering and photography, he began by capturing the diverse landscapes of his native Spain, with his lens, and then the rest of the world beckoned. He has won innumerable awards in European & International Nature Photography Competitions. Now he adventures to the farthest corners of the earth, camera on his back, often alone, to uncover the beauty and mystery of natural flora, geography and phenomena. In between artistic journeys, he works in his studio in Madrid. Sierra has exhibited in solo and group shows in Europe and was artist in residence at the Múscailt festival at NUI Galway in 2011 and gave an illustrated lecture at Múscailt festival in 2016. Now a fine art photographer, his prints are commanding attention in Spain and Germany and his images feature in publications including El Pais magazine. For further information see www.juanjosierra.com


Galway Cartoon Festival 2019 at the Arts Millennium Building.

Cartoon 2019

Galway Cartoon Festival is now showing at the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway - click here and scroll down to TwistedDoodles and then down to SCIENCE. 

Continues until Sunday, November 24 inclusive.  Come for a giggle, stay for a smile!


TACTICAL MAGIC: TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2019 at NUI Galway Art Gallery, Quadrangle.

Tulca 2019

Artist, Helen MacMahon.  Times: 12 - 6pm. DAILY until November 17 inclusive.

Full festival listing: TULCA  & venues

Curated by Kerry Guinan



 'A Life of their own' - paintings by Joseph Quilty (1914 -1995) at the Art Gallery, Quadrangle, NUI Galway.  Friday, September 13 - Saturday, October 5 inclusive.  11am - 4pm, Monday - Saturday.  


'Kelly Klassmeyer: Stories from Friends' | until Friday, October 4, 2019.

K Klassmeyer Staff club exhibitKelly Klaasmeyer is a practice based PhD student at the Burren College of Art.  Stories from Friends began at the 2014 Texas Contemporary Art Fair in Houston and has since evolved into an investigation of expanded ideas of portraiture.  Traditionally portraits are 'mute' but there is a normal process of interpretation –  “reading” the face to determine the inner person from the outward appearance.  Psychologist  Alexander Todorov has suggested that “faces don’t provide us a map to the personalities of others.  Rather, the impressions we draw from faces reveal a map of our own biases and stereotypes.”


GALWAY FRINGE FESTIVAL presents new works by the Cúl an Tí group of artists at NUI Galway Art Gallery, Quadrangle | July 15- 28, 2019 

girl diving into seaDeasghnatha Chladaigh/Rituals of the Shore. Image credit: Deirdre Lydon

The group presents new work, sculptures, paintings, mixed media, responding to the theme Deasghnátha Chladaigh/Rituals of the Shore.  This exhibition draws both on a rich seam of maritime folklore and tradition and the contemporary experiences of life on the coast, charting a complex and changing relationship with the shore.  The work was made in response to a series of community lectures examining and celebrating the coastal heritage and marine biology of the Connemara Gaeltacht.

Tim Kelly: Tim’s work is dedicated to the people of Galway and Connemara who ploughed the strong Atlantic seas to make a living for themselves and their families.  The boats were referred to as the workhorses of the west and were especially important to the people of Gorumna Islands before bridges were built, and also to the Aran Islands and Clare.  Materials: Limestone

Andrea Rossi: these works entitled "Immersed" reflects the total satisfaction of being in water.  Depicting the intimacy and vulnerability of  the human experience in sculptural form and that strong connection with the sea.  Materials: Resin, concrete and clay.

Lelia Ni Chathmhaoil: these works are hand-woven using the unravelled ropes washed up on the shores of Cois Fharraige.  Walking and working these shores is known as Cladóireacht which is a strong tradition in Connemara, gathering seaweed and periwinkles and anything else that may be of use or interest.  There once was a forest there, traces of which have been laid bare by storms; strange shapes still deeply rooted in the bog in which they are anchored.

Aoife Casby: work entitled "From Sea to Field" is a multi-layered language/object based engagement with tradition and word, our natural and cultural heritage, in the  places where fields, the sea and people interact.  It is about remembering, researching and rediscovering aspects of our history and their (in)visibility in the landscape.  It is about having fun.  Materials: mixed media casts, sound-text, video.


Miriam de Búrca: Getting Used to the Dark at the staff club | In association with the Burren College of Art | October 24 - January 10, 2019  

M de Burca

Image: Peripheral Vision I, 2018, acrylic ink on paper

Miriam de Búrca looks at the phenomenon of 'children's burial grounds', or cillíní, in Ireland. Struck by their ubiquitous obscurity, she travels the country, seeking to tap into the psychological and metaphorical landscapes that those 'considered unsuitable' occupy. Her images are intuitive responses to her experience of searching for, finding and being at these sites. https://www.burrencollege.ie/


Nell O'Leary and Robbie Lawrence: 'Reviving Form' at the staff club, Quadrangle Building until April 19, 2019

An exhibition by two young American painters exploring the possibilities of figurative form, Nell O'Leary studied and taught at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia, USA; Robbie Lawrence studied at the Angel Academy in Italy and the Paris Academy in France.   Their work with the genres of the portrait or the still life is not a simple or naive return to traditional painterly representation (as if that were possible) but a new exploration in the context of contemporary art practice.  Nell O'Leary and Robbie Lawrence are completing their Masters of Fine Art degrees at the Burren College of Art.


TULCA 2018 at the university art gallery, Quadrangle:

 Find out more: Visual Artist Bassam-al-Sabah until November 18. 

More on TULCA: TULCA 2018 Venues and Trail

_____________________________________________________Belmont house exhibit

'Belmont House' by Aideen Monaghan at the university art gallery | Oct 12 - 26th 

This exhibition of drawings & sketchbooks marks the culmination of Aideen's residency at the former Anatomy building, Belmont House, from May 2016 - August 2017.  With special thanks to Prof. Peter Dockery and all at Anatomy and to Judy Murphy, Arts Editor, The Connacht Tribune, guest speaker at the launch on October 12th.  

Artist's statement: "I began my residency in the Anatomy Department on the 30th of May 2016.  I started by documenting various artifacts in the building through drawing.  These included beeswax models of the embryo and papier-mâché models of internal organs, which originated from the Auzouz factory in France.  I was also interested in the tension between the functional and historical elements of the building.  The lecture room predates the founding of the university.  It once formed part of a residence, Belmont house, which was owned by the Whalley family.  The front section of the house was demolished during the 1930s and was replaced by a flat roof building.  Renovations and adjustments have transformed the interior of the building since then.  However, cut stone passageways, which are now blocked up and redundant fireplaces are reminders of the past activities of the space.

I received generous assistance from Professor Peter Dockery and the staff of the Anatomy department.  I was also allowed access to the dissection room, histology slides and the process of their production.  The concept of making something invisible, visible, resonated with me, as the Anatomy department is a place that many generations have passed through and left their mark upon.  My work attempts to dissect the history of Belmont house and reveal the layers of human activity witnessed there". 

 Áine Phillips: Performaphilia at the Staff Club - Summer - Autumn 2018

Áine Phillips uses performance art as a way of working out ideas and response to the world, usually from a politicised, activist and feminist perspective. The watercolour paintings in this Staff Club exhibition developed out of themes and images she has created in live performance over recent years.

She notes that “The images in these paintings occurred to me as a result of the experience of performing. During performances I often see my actions translated into still images and make a mental note to describe them later in drawing and watercolour. […] It is an inter-disciplinary approach using one medium to describe and elaborate another, presenting the idea in a new and unexpected way - which often delights me. The style of these paintings is cartoon-like in the contemporary sense - humorous, absurd or both. Sometimes I only fully understand the humour or deeper meaning in the work after I have made the watercolour.”

 Áine Phillips studied sculpture and performance art at the National College of Art and Design and has been making performance art and experimental theatre since the late 80’s when she joined Macnas in Galway. She has exhibited and presented her work internationally and her practice has engaged with community arts, feminism and activist performance in public spaces. In 2015 she edited Performance Art in Ireland: A History, and is Head of Sculpture at Burren College of Art, also teaching on the MA in Drama, Theatre and Performance in NUI Galway.

#LookBeyond exhibition in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. (Ground Floor) Sept 20 - Oct 1 incl. 8am - 10pm daily@SeeChangeIRL @maria_quinlan.  The Look Beyond exhibit is a partipatory-photographic project conducted by Dr. Maria Quinlan and Dr. Etáin Quigley of UCD on behalf of See Change.   

Background on Look Beyond, a photovoice research exhibition:

 Look Beyond is a photovoice research exhibition of photographs taken by a group of sixteen people who have experienced what it is like to live with mental health difficulties.  The objective of Look Beyond is to let people with mental health difficulties speak for themselves, in order to give insight into the often unseen reality of what it means to live with a mental health difficulty.   Look Beyond explores many themes related to mental health including how relief, recovery and resilience can be found and nurtured.  Photovoice is a research and advocacy methodology which uses photography as a way of giving voice to people who often feel unheard and unseen in society.  It has been used internationally to both explore and raise awareness of the stigma associated with experiencing mental health problems.  The exhibition is an output of a research project commissioned by See Change and conducted by Dr. Maria Quinlan and Dr. Etain Quigley from University College Dublin and Maynooth University.

 Online PDF of the catalogue: https://seechange.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/LookBeyond.pdf

 Background on See Change:

 See Change, established in 2010, is a national partnership working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland.  The partnership is made up of over 100 organisations and 60 ambassadors who work to create a community driven social movement to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.

 See Change's vision is an Ireland where every person can be open and positive about their own and others mental health.  People with mental health conditions are challenged in dealing with the symptoms that result from the condition but are also challenged by the prejudice and stereotypes that result from misconception and misunderstanding about mental health.  For more visit www.seechange.ie


 AN EXHIBITION OF NEW WORK at the university art gallery

 Thirteen limited edition photographic prints (1/10)

 A study of the Connemara landscape exploring the haunting resonances that endure from the horrific famine that ravaged the land in the 19th Century.


 Artist’s statement:

 'Having grown up along the wild and dramatic west coast of Ireland I have held a lifelong love and fascination with the landscape of this exposed and rugged part of the world.  Exploring the transcendent terrain, sculpted as it is by the dynamic North Atlantic, I study its tones and textures in a bid to glean a sense of its fundamental essence; the primordial energy that emanates from its crags and fissures.  Creating semi-abstract impressions of this harsh yet beautiful land I endeavour to understand, by referencing our mythological and historical past, how it can act as an archive of lost human memory.  I strive to comprehend how it has moulded the psyche of those who once inhabited this haunting landscape and how it can still influence those who continue to do so.  

Also, by ascribing a cinematic narrative, that is utilising a montage approach to each project in order to draw inferences to the overall theme, I want to invite the viewer to engage on a subjective level, to let the material speak to them.  I want to evoke a personal response in order for the viewer to explore their own intimate memories; a source of inestimable perspicacity.’  

BOSOM PALS exhibition in association with CÚIRT 

Venue: NUI Galway Art Gallery, Quadrangle

April 23 - 29 inclusive | 12-5pm daily.  

Bosom Pals is an exhibition of the poems and artwork from the book of the same title that was published by Doire Press in 2017. Edited by writer and poet Marie Cadden, who sadly passed away in December 2017, the collection features eight women poets’ experiences of breast cancer and is beautifully complemented by powerful drawings of the female form post-surgery by artist Ruth Cadden, Marie’s daughter.

The exhibition unites the content of the book in a visual way.  While a book is in sequence and provides an intimate and private encounter, an exhibition puts the experience of reading and looking on a larger scale, in a physical space, and offers a parallel way of exploring the pages.

Marie Cadden’s hope was that the book would raise awareness among academics and researchers and put a human face on living with breast cancer.  This exhibition, a project initiated by her and which she was closely involved in until her death, is in honour of her life and work.  Note: The art gallery now has a chair lift for those who may need it.


Breast Cancer Research is a national charity that funds a comprehensive research programme at NUI, Galway.  Research has improved the diagnosis, treatment options, and outcomes for those who develop the disease.  By funding this research, Breast Cancer Research aims to impact future positively outcomes for breast cancer patients.

In collaboration with universities and hospitals across the globe, the breast cancer research team at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research at NUI Galway focuses on areas including personalised medicine, breast regeneration, and innovative diagnostics and therapeutics.

The charity raises funds for research from charity events, community-based fundraising, campaigns, and support from individuals and companies, relying entirely on voluntary contributions and it does not receive government funding.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.breastcancerresearch.ie.


Optimised Levi image

The 11-16th December 2017 exhibition at the newly refurbished Art Gallery, in the Quadrangle, NUI Galway presented recent artworks by Levi Hanes.  The artworks were developed over the course of an Irish Research Council funded, practice-based PhD at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media as a part of the Digital Arts & Humanities programme considering the role of slapstick and critical aesthetic theory in contemporary art.  The Research Exhibition consisted of artworks featured in the thesis including large and small-scale prints, painted objects, freestanding sculptures, a floor installation and video.   Supported by the NUI Galway Arts Office.



At the Staff Club:

In association with the Burren College of Art:

Conor McGrady: Decline & Fall | Mon – Fri, 9am – 4pm, until April 30

The works in this exhibition examine architecture as an ideological signifier. They include paintings of monuments, shrines, and mausoleums, and drawings of prisons.  In both cases, architecture operates as a form of enclosure and effects a sense of hegemonic order, representing individual power in the form of the funerary monument and state power in the form of the prison.

Conor McGrady is an artist and Dean of Academic Affairs at Burren College of Art.  He has exhibited internationally, with one-person exhibitions in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Zagreb.  Group exhibitions include the 2002 Whitney Biennial in New York, The Jerusalem Show VII: Fractures (Qalandiya International Biennial), D-0 Ark Underground Biennale of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo-Konjic, and IK-00 Spaces of Confinement in Venice.  Editor of Radical History Review’s Curated Spaces, his writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Ruminations on Violence (Waveland Press, 2007) State of Emergence (Plottner Verlag, 2011), State in Time (Drustvo NSK Informativni Center, Ljubljana, 2012) and The Design of Frontier Spaces (Ashgate, 2015). 


Eileen Hutton: Biodiverse Ireland

October 4 - December 30, 2017

The Staff Club exhibition touches on the immense biodiversity of Ireland. The installation consists of items gathered throughout Ireland over the past nine years and includes bones, insects, shells and rocks, eggs, teeth and fossils. Rather than a typical scientific categorization, the collection has been divided into that which lives primarily in the sea, that which lives on land, and that which lives in the air.  The majority of objects are placed in transparent boxes, evoking a sense of museological display.

Eileen Hutton is an artist who teaches at the Burren College of Art, running a MFA in Art and Ecology. Her practice aims to generate a reciprocal relationship with the natural environment; it focuses on the critical role that honeybees and birds play within ecosystems and the various artificial habitats they have built in order to support themselves and the surrounding biodiversity. Within the nesting boxes and beehives, she has created sculptures in collaboration with these priority species. She sees her work “crossing the boundaries between ecological and artistic intervention as it creates new ways of understanding landscape representation and also highlights the importance of an informed and engaged relationship between humans and the natural environment.”

At the heart of her practice is the notion of reciprocity, of fair and mutually beneficial exchange between the natural environment and humans. The processes of her art practice are easily replicable – anyone can build a nesting box, anyone can keep bees, they are models for positive environmental actions... 



Timothy Emlyn Jones: Without Impatience 

May 31 - September 29, 2017  

 Timothy Emlyn Jones is a Welsh-Irish artist who has been associated with NUI Galway since 2003 when he became Dean of Academic Affairs—and subsequently Dean of Possibilities—at Burren College of Art, when he developed the Creative Difference modules that are widely available to postgraduate students at the university.  He has exhibited in the university art gallery and is represented in the university art collection, notably with The Idea of The Rain, on the glass bridge at the IT building, which was  commissioned for the university’s annual arts festival, Múscailt, in 2008.  His drawing Maesta is on long-term loan to the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway.

The drawings in the Staff Club explore equanimity, and how direct experience informing action can transform consciousness.  These reflective drawings are based on the Burren coast, notably at the Flaggy Shore and Murrooghtoohy. 

In association with the Burren College of Art:


Ruby Wallis: Contact II until May 27, 2017

Ruby Wallis investigates photography’s potential to convey sensory experience to the viewer. Drawing on Lauren Elkin’s (2016) re-evaluation of women as wanderers, Wallis collaborated with her mother in this series, spending a period of time walking in the West of Ireland.  These images focus on the figure in contact with the environment.  Instead of adopting the traditional distant view, Wallis uses the photographic close up to highlight tactile surfaces and substances, natural or synthetic, organic or structured.

The works can be viewed Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm at the Staff Club which is located in the Quadrangle Building until May 27, 2017.