Supported by the Arts Council and Wicklow County Council


Sonia Shiel
Supernatural Bureau
Autumn 2023
Kunstverein Aughrim

This installation features a site-specific landscape painting, inside a hanging tray. It is both a screen, protecting an inner world, and a façade, projecting information. It is a topological enquiry and a pictorial representation of a multi-dimensional terrain. It sits aside a major new body of work by the artist Sonia Shiel, currently in production and commissioned by VISUAL Carlow, for exhibition there from 30 September 2023. What we see at Kunstverein Aughrim is a reflection of Shiel’s working processes and a portal into the sublime and slippery new world that she is conjuring.

Sitting within the bureau, a series of objects act like orientation cues in Shiel’s gameplan. These objects, retrieved, prepared and arranged performatively, as part of the Autumn Preview, are posed to activate the surface. They are the tangible physical result of a series of transformational image-making exercises, performed by actors at selected points on a map. They have been created using observational, alchemical and co-operative actions; burial and excavation, corraling, controlling, planting, picking, drawing, burning and sawing. Disruptive agents like the weather, crumbling walkways, tricks of the eye and ear, sleights of hand, and a gestural chants - all influenced their creation. Throughout her practice Shiel is interested in questions of agency and autonomy. She borrows from the fields of gaming, theatre-making, fiction and non-fiction writing, all narrative forms that show us how humans are both magical and powerless. Throughout this body of work, interactions between the artist and the landscape function as a method to solve artistic problems, in which the artist questions her own agency within the world, and how especially human it is to bet everything on hopeful acts.

Supernatural Bureau is on view throughout the Autumn, closing on 1 December 2023. The exhibition may be accessed during our opening hours 10am-5pm, Thursday-Sunday by appointment. Please email to schedule your visit.

Kunstverein Aughrim’s ongoing collaboration with Sonia Shiel is made possible with the support of the Arts Council.