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Laura Ní Fhlaibhín

in the marl-walled court of the fairy queen

15 August - 5 September 2021
Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, County Wicklow, Ireland

Wexford-born artist Laura Ní Fhlaibhín presented a new body of work at Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre in 2021.

Drawing on research undertaken during two residencies at the community studio housed in Tinahely’s Market House, in the marl-walled court of the fairy queen exists both as a text and as suite of votive objects, from clay ‘spirit creatures’ to wall drawings, tiny bronzes, commemorative plate and an embroidered flag bearing the emblem of a hare.

All images © Louis Haugh 2021

Ní Fhlaibhín’s discovery of the use of locally sourced marl clay as a primary material for building rudimentary houses prior to the Famine provides a starting point for her explorations into aspects of the colonial judiciary, the fate of Famine-era ‘criminals’, and the historic exploitation of the area’s natural assets.

Archival research into court records points to the transportation of convicts to the New World during the nineteenth century, in addition to the harvesting and transportation of timber from Wicklow’s ancient oak forest to England’s shipyards, and, reputedly, to build the Old Palace of Westminster.

These histories form a reimagined narrative of a justice dispensed not by colonial powers, but by the herbal wisdom of barrister-witch Biddy Early, in a tribunal informed by poet Brian Merriman’s comic masterpiece, The Midnight Court.

Through transformative process including casting metal, firing and glazing, marl clay, bronze and steel become carriers of social history, architectural oddness and impenetrability. Invading small spaces, ledges, nooks and crannies around Tinahely’s Market Square and the Courthouse Arts Centre, Ní Fhlaibhín’s almost insignificant works subtly repopulate the town while the Gallery plays host to the eponymous text.

The project was accompanied by a pamphlet containing Ní Fhlaibhín’s titular text, designed by Pure Designs and printed by Stroma Ltd.  With thanks to Ceramics Studio Co-op.

Laura Ní Fhlaibhín completed her MFA at Goldsmiths in 2019 and her BA at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2013. Recent exhibitions have included, ‘Society of Nature’,OnCurating, Zurich 2021, ‘Meet; Gorey School of Art 2021, ‘Gargle’, RAW labs, London, 2020, ’Róisín, silver, rockie’ solo show at Palfrey Space, London 2020, ‘Caol Áit1/2’, 126 Galway 2020, Burren College of Art, Ireland, 2019; Deptford X, London, 2018; Tulca, Galway, 2018; ‘Water jets were used on the four corners of the building’, Newington Art Space, London, 2018; ‘a speech that showed the chair in the middle’, Enclave, London, 2018; ‘Dodecagon’, Space Union, Seoul, 2017; ‘Lamellae’, The Lab, Dublin, 2016. She was the recipient of the Goldsmiths MFA Graduate Almacantar Studio Bursary Award 2019, and Next Generation Bursary, Irish Arts Council 2020. Laura was awarded Arts Council England award, Developing Your Creative Practice, 2021, Visual Arts Bursary Award Irish Arts Council 2021, and Agility Award 2021.

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