Camilla Hanney—Lament

Opening reception: 6–8pm Thursday 30th June
Register here
Exhibition continues: Friday 1st– Saturday 16th July
Gallery open: 12–6pm, Thursday–Saturday


Pallas Projects/Studios are pleased to present Camilla Hanney—Lament  the third exhibition of our 2022 Artist-Initiated Projects programme.

Lament explores the tradition of Irish ‘keening’ and its deep-rooted relationship with catharsis, loss and care.

Keening was a mourning ritual performed at wakes by three or more women who would use a combination of chanting, rocking, clapping, singing and crying as a cathartic expression of grief. The keeners were said to have cared for the souls of the departed to ensure they were guided safely away from the bodies of the deceased.

We are at a moment in time where society is caught in a cycle of collective loss. Loss speaks most directly of lost lives but when looked at under a broader spectrum loss can extend itself further to acknowledge a loss of jobs, a loss of education, a loss of economy, and a loss of time. The effects of the pandemic have seen us arrive in a societal wake.  We have reached a stage where a healing process can begin. Care and repair present themselves as important themes in this body of work and recognize that keening was an act of care, encouraging the emotional process of repair.

The work aligns the practice of keening and art-making by understanding how both can be used to channel and penetrate emotion. Ceramics play a significant role in this body of work, paying close attention to the ritual of catharsis that exists in the language of clay. The process of ceramics grants the ability to record and imprint into the surface of wet clay, acting as an archive of our actions and movements. Working with clay is at times a visceral, ‘bodily’ ritual, often involving pounding, pressing and kneading; there is a physicality to working with clay that manifests itself in a rhythmic performance. Lament examines how this ritual could be interlaced with the practice of keening.

In tandem with this, Lament investigates the gendered notion of keening. Historically, it’s a ritual that’s been practised almost exclusively by women. Keeners could earn the respect typically reserved for wealthy, educated, male poets. They were free to express themselves - intellectually as well as emotionally. Sadly, this higher status of keeners was removed by the Catholic church who rendered them, inarticulate madwomen, utterly overpowered by their emotions.

During the wake, a pre-burial celebration for the deceased, keening women-led structured laments to protect the soul from staying in the Otherworld. They washed the corpses and their performance cared for the soul until it reached its final resting place. Keening women also cared for the community. By creating highly structured grieving processes, these women allowed and encouraged everyone to mourn. They grieved not only for the recently deceased but for any loss that they had ever felt. These women were essentially vessels of emotion, they grieved for those who could not.


Associated Event: Keening in Context: in conversation with Marian Caulfield

Time: 6-7pm Thursday 14th July

Please register for online or in-person Here. Zoom details will be shared ahead of the event. 

In conjunction with her exhibition Camilla will host a public conversation with tutor and researcher Marian Caulfield. Marian recently completed a Ph.D. project examining the 'revival' efforts of those who are re-imagining the practice of sounding grief through improvised cry/singing universally known as 'lament'. Marian's project is particularly focused on the recent efforts being made to re-imagine Irish lament (commonly known as 'caoine' or 'keening'), as a modern healing and well-being tool.

Marian has carried out fieldwork in both Ireland and Finland with groups who are attempting to re-imagine older lament traditions to fit modern purposes. Examining the reported therapeutic effects of this non-musical vocality, brought forth by the body from deep within, and how it is considered as a healing and freeing force for bodily and mental tensions and community cohesion.

Marian's current project examines the budding 'revival' efforts of those who are re-imagining the practice of sounding grief together, through improvised cry/singing otherwise known as 'lament', particularly focused on the recent efforts being made to re-imagine Irish lament 'keening' (or 'caoine' in the Irish language).. Marian is interested in the challenges these groups face when attempting to re-invent a lost or dying tradition to be repurposed in the modern world.


Camilla Hanney (b. 1992) is a visual artist and graduate of Goldsmiths University Masters of Fine Art programme (2017-2019) and also Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (Visual Arts Practice 2010-2015).She was the recipient of the Ormond Studios Recent Graduate Award in 2015 which culminated in a solo show. Her exhibition, Resurrecting Monuments to Moral Degradation, marked the end of her 2016/17 residency at A4 Sounds. Her work has been exhibited by a diverse range of galleries across Ireland and the UK including the South London Gallery in conjunction with Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Lismore Castle Arts, No. 20 Arts, Muse Gallery, Dora House, The Rosenfeld Gallery, and Cromwell Place Gallery. Camilla was the 2019/20 recipient of the Sarabande: Lee Alexander Mcqueen foundation studio bursary. She was the runner-up in the inaugural UK Young Artist of the Year Award, held at the Saatchi gallery. She received the ‘Committee's Choice’ prize at ‘Exceptional, an exhibition of recent graduate work at Collyer Bristow Gallery and was the recipient of the zealous: Sculpture stories prize. Camilla was selected for the Gilbert Bayes Sculpture Award 2021 and was granted a 2020 Arts Council Visual Arts Bursary Award. She is a recipient of the  2022 Newbury Trust Craft Excellence Award in conjunction with Cockpit Arts. Her work has been featured in articles by Crafts Magazine, Elephant Magazine, wallpapermag, Showstudio, Mission Mag,  Harpers Bazaar, and Ceramic Review.

Working through ceramics, sculpture and installation Camilla’s practice explores themes of time, sexuality, cultural identity and the corporeal, often referencing the body in both humorous and challenging ways. By subverting traditional, genteel crafts she attempts to transgress and contemplate conventional modes of femininity, deconstructing archaic identities and rebuilding new figures from detritus of the past. By materialising the familiar in an unfamiliar context her work stimulates our ability to rethink our relationship towards objects, threatening the natural order and toying with the tensions that lie between beauty and repulsion, curiosity and discomfort, desire and disgust.

camillahanney.com  @camilla.hanney          


Artist-Initiated Projects at Pallas Projects/Studios is an open-submission, annual gallery programme of 8 x 3-week exhibitions taking place from March-November 2022. This unique programme of funded, artist-initiated projects selected via open call is highly accessible to artists, with a focus on early career, emerging artists and recent graduates. Projects are supplemented with artists' talks, texts, workshops or performances, and gallery visits by colleges and local schools.

Full Artist-Initiated Projects programme

Pallas Projects/Studios is funded by The Arts Council

Images By: Viktorija Kacanauskaite