2014 Season IV


Artist Statement/ Biography

O’Donnell’s work is an ongoing investigation into the construction of personal and collective memory. Contemplating both the private and the political, the basis of the artist’s explorations is the Irish Diaspora, fuelled by her own experiences of an Irish national living and working outside of Ireland. This interplay between personal and wider collective memory is a critical aspect of her work, and the viewer is confronted with questions about what gets officialised into—and in turn ratified by—history. This work acts as a kind of recent history painting focusing on the period of the 1970’s to the 1990’s. This time period is of interest because of the repetitious nature of history and the similarities between now and then in relation to recession, mass emigration of young people, high unemployment and general dissatisfaction with the failing political systems. Initial research includes collecting stories from relatives, looking at archived news footage and newspaper archives.

The artist explores history in parallel to our process of storing memories. She looks at historical events as we look at our own recollections—or as they come to us, that is; through the idea that they are interrupted, blurred and blended pieces of information and feelings stored in our brains. Our minds combine different data to construct our memories, which eventually become substitutes for our experiences. What remains are ideas; intangible, abstract ideas of what we once lived. She explores through the process of transforming archived images into painting's the possibility that paintings mnemonic function is more effective than that of the documentary photograph. She also uses abstract elements and specific colour studies as a way to pull the figurative work apart, while at the same time bringing a connective element to groupings of work. Some of the colour line studies have developed as a physical and time based map of making the paintings, with each line made using a colour from the figurative work.


Lisa O'Donnell was born in Galway, Ireland in 1986. She studied for her BA Fine Art at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology 2006 – 2010 and for an MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, 2011 – 2013. Solo exhibitions include Cyclical Narrative at The Art Shed Gallery, London and Mnemonic Ensemble during The Clifden Arts Festival, Ireland both in 2013. She has participated in numerous group shows including A Terrestrial Cutting And Assemblage II at Netil House, London, Female Irish Artists at Five Years Gallery, London, 2012 and Art Now, KTcontemporary, Dublin, 2012. In 2014 she was long-listed for the John Moores painting prize and completed a residency at the Tyrone Gutherie Centre. Her practice revolves predominantly around painting, however she often makes work in other mediums including, video, animation and photography.