Sonia Shiel’s interdisciplinary practice frequently combines key methodologies from art and theatre to imbue characteristics, autonomy and fictional narratives in the works she creates.
Usurping the normal conditions of an artwork with a kind of self-conscious agency usually reserved for living things, my works are often free-standing; traversable; presented with their own volition, backstory or environment; and sometimes consolidated within installations that use audio-work, live performance or video. Transcending traditional dimensionality, her painted works reveal the shape-shifts of a sentient landscape, in which reflections abandon their hosts, horizons up-sticks from their axis, gestural marks pose wilfully and light plays tricks before disappearing.
In 2019 she presented a solo exhibition of interactive paintings and sculptures with navigational audio-works and a live performance at Void Gallery, Derry; as well as a solo at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, of paintings for floors, walls and tables. In 2018 she was selected to make commissioned works by IADT and the DLR Municipal collection at the Lexicon Gallery, Dublin and by The Glucksman Gallery, Cork, as well as a performance for the Winter Series, Void, Derry, among other events. In 2017 she had a solo exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork and directed a series of collaborative live and recorded performances based on the UCD publication of her stories, with various performance ensembles and collaborations at NCAD Gallery, UCD, TBGS, the Circe Tree-line Pavilion, and Art Box, Dublin. Previous to this she has exhibited at Rua Red, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin; The Model, Sligo; The RHA Gallery, Dublin; ISCP, New York, Ormston House, Limerick; Kulturbunker, Frankfurt; The Cable Factory, Helsinki and the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, among others.
She has been resident artist in UCD's School of English, Drama and Film and at IMMA, Dublin; a recipient of the NCAD Gallery Incubation Residency Award; a fellow on the Art and Law Program, Fordham University, New York; and a previous studio-member of TBG+S, Dublin. She has completed several international residencies including the ISCP, New York; CCI, Paris; City of Frankfurt; Banff Leighton Studios, Calgary and HIAP, Helsinki. She is currently the host of Round Table and Vase, an interdisciplinary performance ensemble of invited artists and groups whose work is focused on non-materiality, improvisation and story-telling. She attended NCAD and IADT where she received a BA in Fine Art Painting and an MA in Visual Art Practice respectively. She has received the Tony O'Malley Award from the Butler Gallery and the Hennessy Craig Award from the RHA, as well as international project and bursary funding awards from the Arts Council, DCC and Culture Ireland. She has taught periodically at NCAD and IADT, and has created a number of workshops in association with UCD; The Arts Council's Artist-in-Prison Award Scheme; St.Vincent de Paul's Community Services; and various Gallery Out-Reach and Engagement Programs.
Main Image: The Diagonal (2019) installation shot. Oil on canvas, on board, mixed media, dimensions variable, c.327 x 160 cm x 4 panels. From I Am What You’ve Come To See, Void, Derry