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Exhibition Residency 2022

Opening on Friday 13th May 5-8pm
Gallery open times Tuesday – Saturday 11am-4pm
Continues until 2nd June 2022

Votives were gifts offered to the gods by their worshippers. They were often given for benefits already conferred or in anticipation of future divine favours. Or they could be offered to propitiate the gods for crimes involving blood-guilt, impiety, or the breach of religious customs. The Keshcarrigan drinking cup, a votive offering found near the edge of Loch Marrave, Co. Leitrim, was the inspiration for this exhibition. The cup was found in 1854 when the Ballinamore to Ballyconnell canal was being constructed (now the Shannon-Erne Waterway). This small vessel, only 14cm wide and made of bronze, dating from the Iron Age, would have been a precious item. It was deliberately placed as an offering. The finely executed bronze vessel was found near Lough Marrave, lake of the dead, before its waters were freed to flow into the sixteen locks that make up this waterway.

My training as an archaeologist and museum curator has inspired my artwork and I have been researching the historical human relationships with water. Artifacts that people placed as votives are offerings to pagan deities or later Christian rituals (such as present-day practices of coin throwing into wells and padlock love tokens attached to bridges). It has fascinated me how this veneration has been manifested by the objects that people place near or in watery contexts. My research for this exhibition took me on a journey from Lough Marrave in south Leitrim, to holy wells, along rivers and beside lakes, and finally to the sea in the north of the county. The found objects were incorporated into my exhibition, grit and sand from the shorelines were used for printmaking to give texture. Glass and stones are part of the enamel installation where I added sand to enamel powders.

This residency allowed me precious time to research objects in museums from Co. Leitrim, to look at objects in collections and to spark a conversation about our relationship with water and objects associated with this element. The knowledge I gained through this residency is reflected in the new body of work I have created in response to the research, using the facilities at the Sculpture Centre such as the metalworking and kiln areas. I created my own votives by hammering, folding and bending recycled copper. These shapes and forms were a new direction for my work, experimenting with how far I could manipulate the copper and still work the enamel onto its surface. The copper, once coated in enamel powder, was fired at 900 degrees in a kiln several times as the layers of enamel were built up.

Susan Mannion

Susan Mannion graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2001 where she studied Archaeology. Her interests, in particular the medieval architecture of Friaries of Connacht (PhD) and Plantation castles of Tyrone (MSSc), led to work as a curator in two museums. A career break to care for her parents led to Mannion reigniting her love of art and the establishment of her printmaking and enamel artwork practice.

Votives is Mannion’s eighth solo exhibition, and recent exhibitions include Beyond Darkness at Flowerfield Arts Centre; Fading into Another Dusk at Roscommon Arts Centre and Dormancy at Northlight Gallery, Orkney. Mannion has exhibited work in many group exhibitions, nationally and internationally, including Surface Matters by The Enamellist Society USA; Under Fire by The Enamel Guild North-West USA; Kanreki, International Mokuhanga Exhibition in Japan; British Society of Enamellers Exhibition 2021; Royal Cambrian Exhibition 2022 as well as the Royal Academy of Art London, Royal Academy of Scotland, Royal Ulster Academy and the Royal Hibernian Academy.

She has been awarded several residencies including the Valerie Earley Residency award at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre; The Dock Artist Residency Award and a six-week residency in Japan. She has been the recipient of awards and bursaries and her work is held in collections nationally and internationally. Mannion has completed several largescale enamel commissions including Under Dark Skies which is on the outside of the Visitor Centre at Wild Nephin National Park Ballycroy due to be launched June 2022 and smaller works such as the commissioned piece for the Bank of Ireland Staff Awards 2021.