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Mhairi Sutherland, Artist in Residence 2018

Portfolio of previous work:


Artist Statement: Mhairi Sutherland’s work explores an axis of conceptual and actual tension, the slippage and contradictions between the visible and the less visible. Her concerns are with the instrumentality of vision as a weapon of war, the overlapping of militarism with everyday life, and the exploration of contested and archival spaces. This plays out as an interest in selected photographic practices, particularly historical photography, and its connectedness to the contemporary. The artist is drawn to the oblique and the tangential, the preparedness for conflict and the shaping of landscape by state and institutional interests to that end. Throughout, it is in the areas of contradiction, the revelation of the subjective in the coded and the classified, the ‘hiding in plain sight’ and the intersection between conflict, communication and lens-based image that are of interest. Mirroring and reflecting strategic and tactical methods as a means of inserting art/work into spaces of contestation, or re-configuring the parameters of the gallery space, the artist’s methods of formal approach and negotiation to the securing of permissions are integral elements of her critical framework and working practice.

Biography: Mhairi Sutherland is a visual artist and curator based in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, working in photography, video, drawing and site-specific installation. Originally from Scotland, Mhairi was awarded a PhD in 2012 from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) for her thesis on visibility, photography and conflict in landscapes shaped by political forces. She completed an MFA (Distinction) at the University of Ulster, Belfast (1994-96). Recent projects include a commission from the Hasselblad Foundation Sweden, for Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance and Protest, a tri-partite exhibition opening in Gothenberg, Lahore and Nicosia in May 2018 and The Dome, site-specific research project, August 2018, for which the artist received a SIAP Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. PRONTO (2016) was a site-specific performance and short film co-commissioned by 1418NOW and Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast as part of the ‘Radio Relay’ programme  and Why is it Always December? (2016) Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. Her work has been exhibited in one person exhibitions in the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny (Arc of Fire, 2011) OMAC, Belfast (Fig: YS, 2008) Context Gallery, Derry (Fathom, 2002) and Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow (Blackout, 1999). An interest in the overlap of civic life with militarism has led to projects directly engaging the military agency, including the CCF (Combined Cadet Forces) PRONTO 2016, Royal Air Force, Blackout 1999, Ministry of Defence Housing, Muster 1998 and the Royal Navy, Sub 1996. The artist has been involved with collaboration, social engagement and site-specific projects beginning with the Sitework Public Art team, Orchard Gallery, Derry (1988-89), was a founding member of artists’ group Not in Kansas, Glasgow (1998-2003) and is currently a member of LOCI (2014-) a group of women artists, researchers and writers. Formerly a Director with the Void Art Gallery Board, Derry (2006-14) and a member of the Curatorial Committee (2014-17), her artwork has been included in numerous group exhibitions and is represented in private and public collections in the UK and Europe.