Gillian Lawler—eminent domain II

Preview : Wednesday, 14th October, 6–8pm
Exhibition continues: until Saturday, 31st October
Gallery times: Thursday–Saturday, 12–6pm

Pallas Projects is pleased to announce eminent domain II a solo exhibition by Gillian Lawler. This is the second installment of her project inspired by a field trip to the abandoned town in Pennsylvania, America.

I first came across the town of Centralia in Pennsylvania upon reading Bill Brysons book 'A Walk in the Woods' where I immediately felt drawn to his vivid description of this abandoned place. In my minds eye I imagined an area devastated by environmental disaster but strangely preserved within the aftermath of its abandonment.

Centralia began burning deep under its foundations in the 1960s where a vein of coal was accidentally set on fire. This vein burned intensely, so much so that the town began to form sinkholes and poured out toxic gases. Centralia was declared unsafe in the 1980s and the residents were relocated to another area. Centralia is now a floor plan of empty overgrown streets and remnants of buildings long removed. Unexpected interruptions among its remains, making it seem like fragments of skeletal, emptied presence. Its emptiness only adds to its strangeness and among its streets hovers the memories of another time. In my work I create structures which hover motionless and insistently above the wastelands, anxiously scrutinizing the existing conditions for the possibilities of survival.

I traveled to Centralia in March 2014 and using this research opened my solo show at the Galway Arts Centre in June 2014 entitled 'eminent domain'. This work initiated a continuing interest in abandoned places where economic and environmental factors have forced inhabitants to relocate. My interest in science-fictional landscapes including computer generated cyber-scapes have led me to draw parallels with these abandoned places. Much sci-fi imagery within film and gaming imagine a future of devastation and desolation. I endeavor to position my work within these ideas, the reality and the hypothetical and create works which hint at environmental crisis but propose architectural solutions e.g., floating, suspended structures. These constructions and recurring checker board motifs play with notions of architectural unease accentuating a definite but skewed anti-perspective.

'eminent domain II' is my second exhibition based on my research trip to Centralia. This work references the reality of this mining landscape and employs fictional notions of escape and adaptation through the use of hypothesized architectural structures. These fabrications assume an autonomous vitality, investing the atmosphere with a cosmic fear. This desolate landscape once destroyed by mining now lies in silence, sunlight blocked by smoke filled fissures, roads vanish and crack under the pressure, trees stand deadly still, the ordered and composed verses the shapeless, unexpected and unstable.

Gillian Lawler, 2015


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A catalog entitled 'eminent domain II' will accompany the exhibition with essays by Dominic Stevens (architect), Daniel Lipstein (visual artist) and Linda Doyle (Professor of Engineering and the Arts, Trinity College Dublin).

Gillian Lawler was born in Kildare in 1977 and currently lives in Dublin. She received a BA in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, in 2000. She has won numerous awards including the Hennessy Craig Award, RHA Gallery Annual exhibition in 2007, the Whytes Award, RHA Gallagher Gallery in 2007 and the overall winner of the Open Selection Exhibition Award at the Eigse Arts Festival in 2009. Other awards include a Kildare Arts Services Award 2015/2013/2011/2009, an Arts Council Bursary Award 2009, and Culture Ireland Award 2011. She was shortlisted for the Beers Lambert Contemporary, Thames and Hudson publication, 100 Painters of Tomorrow in 2013, the Celeste International Art Prize in 2012 and a Merit prize from the Golden Fleece Award in 2013.

Image: Centre Street, oil on canvas,50 x 60 cm, Gillian Lawler, 2015.