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NINE Exhibition Booklet

NINE Exhibition Booklet

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The booklet accompanying the group exhibition NINE at The LAB gallery Dublin (27th July - 9th November 2013) was designed by Oonagh Young. The artists exhibited are Alan Butler, Aideen Barry, Maeve Clancy and Sam Keogh.
The booklet accompanying the group exhibition NINE at The LAB gallery Dublin (27th July - 9th November 2013) was designed by Oonagh Young. The artists exhibited are Alan Butler, Aideen Barry, Maeve Clancy and Sam Keogh.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: ArtsOffice Dublincitycouncil on Jul 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 The LAB is located in Foley Street, Dublin 1 (near Connolly station). It is abuilding dedicated to artists and it is a lot like a science lab in that it is aplace or artists to eperiment, use dierent skills together, test new ideasand play. The LAB Gallery is a space or visual artists to show new work that asks questions and is sometimes unresolved, moving towards a much bigger conversation. This is the rst time The LAB has invited artists to make work or a young audience. Along the way, curators and artists discussed a widerange o issues on childhood, how visual artists make work, how makingwork or children aligns with the artists’ proessional practice, and how tobalance the emphasis on artist as maker with the responsibility o valuing the young viewer’s voice in responding to the work presented.
What is NINE at The LAB Gallery?
Age is important to all o us and is something that we all think about (a lot!).So why choose nine as a specic age to ocus on? It’s not because nine ismore important than any other age. It’s simply a way o using a lens wecan look through to help us to think, eel, and appreciate, more deeply the feeting, and very precious lie stage, called childhood.At nine, children are seeking out independence, epanding their ideasabout the world and becoming autonomous human beings who still needlots o security and reassurance rom their amily group. It is a unique point in a human being’s lie: moving rom being one number to two, making the transition rom child to young person. It is raught with conusion and aniety,but also lled with ecitement and epiphanies.At the brainstorming stage or this ehibition we looked at what might be the best way to approach the dierent developmental stages in childhood….early childhood, 6-8 years, 9-12 years. Should we consider childhood as aseries o stages or should we look at it as a continuum? Most o the adultswho work with children constantly place them into age categories and assigngeneral characteristics to these groups or a range o purposes: marketingcan be counted among these, but so can museum and gallery education. Asa point o departure and discussion, we looked at Growing up in Ireland, astudy o 8,500 nine year olds living in contemporary Ireland, unded by TheDepartment o Children and Youth Aairs and carried out by a consortium o researchers led by the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) and TrinityCollege Dublin. Although we wished to look closely at this developmentalstage we also wanted to acknowledge that each child and grown-up moveson at their own pace and these broad categories can sometimes limit potential scope and reedom or enquiry. The brie or NINE oered the artists the opportunity to eplore a newapproach to making work or a very particular audience and this carrieda weighty sense o responsibility or all involved. It presented challengesas well as raising questions and providing new insights. Luckily, we wereable to meet ace to ace on a regular basis to discuss the work as it wasdeveloping and to talk through ideas and tensions. As this was uncharteredwater or all o us, the collaborative nature o this process supported eachproessional artist and curator at the table and the skills they had to bring to the ehibition making eperience. Throughout this collaborative making process we all have been mindul that nine-year-old children, do not, in general, attend ehibitions on their own, so the vast majority will be accompanied by an adult. It is our hope that the ehibition will create a dialogue between people o all ages about issues which are relevant to all members o society. We especially hope that  this dialogue will be led by our viewers, by their insight, wisdom, emotional,and intellectual responses to the work that has been made or them. The best outcome we can hope or the ehibition is that by pressing thepause button and ocusing on this specic age we can collectively eplore,as artists and audience, the unique and individual eperience o being nine.
Where do the artists come in?
 There are lots o great visual artists working in eciting ways in Ireland. Thecurators (Sheena, Liz and Lynn), made a very long list o people who madedierent types o work in dierent media. Inviting visual artists to make anew work or children as an audience in its own right is not something that happens very oten and we were prepared or trepidations and anietieson everyone’s part. The artists came back to us with openness and a senseo curiosity that we welcomed and began to build upon. Perhaps morework isn’t made in this way because many visual artists work with childrenand young people within the acilitative part o their artistic practice but donot transer this echange into their broader ‘making’ o artwork? Oten visual art ehibitions or children will show work by children, through which their creativity has been epertly supported by a visual artist. This is a validapproach, and can be a revealing insight into the lives o the children and their rich art making approaches, or adult and young audience alike.It is important to say that visual artists do not necessarily make new workwhile thinking about their audience during the making process. Usually, visual artists select a set o themes that they want to eplore and then use arange o media to convey their ideas or responses to a theme. So it is the jobo commissioners, such as galleries and arts centres, to invite visual artists to respond to making work or children as an audience and then to mediate this work when children visit and see the work or the rst time. There aregood eamples o this happening in various ways both in Ireland and abroadand an increase in capital development o schools is leading to more calls toartists or Per Cent or Art projects in schools, which oers a very particular contet and opportunity or contemporary artists in which to make work.
What do the artists say about NINE?
 Aideen BArry 
This project has set a unique construct in my brain where I have had to timetravel back to when I was my nine year old sel. Play was a serious thing or me,somewhere I could work out, understand and deconstruct my worries throughthe creation o worlds made o coloured paper, cardboard and sellotape.Tracing back how I went about creating pop up books and inanimate lie ormsout o cardboard that represented me, my riends, my amily, the bullies, theoutts I wanted, the maid I had looking ater my imaginary children, the mansionI lived in. I used these pop-up orms as a way o working out dicult emotionalissues. Not being very well o in real lie my parents struggled to eed and clothethe ve o us, but with my magic markers I could make my cardboard dolly have50 dierent coloured dresses and matching accessories, drive a purple Porsche,and live in a chocolate mansion where bacon and cabbage where never on themenu and my protagonists never ever wore hand-me-downs. What I couldn’tverbalise through language I constructed through imaginary worlds and I think itis rom this very seed o play that I developed my language as an artist today.Having read the report Growing up in Ireland, I was struck by the level o bullying which is still very high, the act that children are aware o huge nancialpressures their amilies ace and that healthy eating and liestyle are bigconcerns or nine year olds and their parents. The added stress o how their playhas moved rom the kitchen table or play room to germination o “on-line selves”brings added anxieties.What is extraordinary is how yet again these virtual “monsters” play out thesame anxieties, constructing worlds that I would have orchestrated at nine. Asa nod to this I have created ‘Ludo’, little cardboard pop-up worlds that my littleanimated monsters interact with. My creatures employ mischie and curiosity asa way o approaching some o the existential questions on subjects that manynine year olds propagate: healthy eating, ame, peer pressure, bullying; I am nottrying to put orward a solution to these anxieties but rather use them as catalystor humour and ludique

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