Ardgillan Castle presents

Strange Signals

Natalie Pullen and Catherine Ward

The exhibition is open from Saturday 30th September to Saturday 4th November 2023.

“Maybe artists fussing over shapes are not the people we first think of when we think of political art. But they make lumpen form that registers protest, gestures of care and repair. They beam out an electrifyingly personal and strange signal that wakes up the receiver for a moment—one weird moment that could shift the sense of things, and thereby alter the world, even if only slightly. That sounds urgent to me.”

The exhibition title, Strange Signals, originates from the book Faux Pas., Selected Writings and Drawings, by Amy Sillman. In the text, Sillman identifies drawing and making as a political act. Pullen was drawn to the concept, developing a piece of work by the same name in response.

In Strange Signals, Pullen and Ward have created emotionally transitional work that occupies a liminal space. By challenging expected processes, the work engages in the political. The traditional processes of line, shape, colour, are recontextualised to become an act of defiance and will. The work sits within structures; fluctuating between transcendental and dominating. In this work, paint is layered, erased; marks are made as aide memoir, mirroring the effect we have on the space around us. In Strange Signals, physicality and movement emerge, Pullen and Ward’s work has a cumulative effect, it is both enlightening and reflective of the unconscious destruction of our habitat.

Using archival source images, and collected drawings from South America, Spain and the West of Ireland, Pullen’s paintings reference organic forms and landscape, informed by her body’s relationship to these environments. Her paintings reflect a moment of public sharing, rather than a resolution, in the ongoing negotiation of her practice.

Ward’s work that depicts the interaction of natural geography and human intervention. Vast, expansive landscapes are approached from an aerial perspective through the use of archival photographs, geographical textbooks and drone captured images. Her work depicts quarries at both Skerries and Loughshinny, highlighting the effects of industrialisation on the land. Modern technologies have transformed the way we experience nature. Her work appropriates the language of remote sensing.

Natalie Pullen

 Natalie Pullen is an artist who makes paintings which are almost drawings, and drawings that are almost paintings. She is based in Abbey Artist Studios in Dublin. Her second solo exhibition, ‘Both, and’ was shown at Platform Arts Belfast in April 2023, and upcoming exhibitions include the Ballina Arts Centre in April-May 2024. She’s received funding awards from the Arts Council (Visual Arts Bursary, 2020), Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown (2020 and 2023) and Fingal Arts Office (2020, 2021 and 2022). Natalie has been selected for several group exhibitions and national and international residencies, and her work is included in many private and public collections, including the Office of Public Works.

Catherine Ward

 Catherine Ward is an Irish artist working across painting, drawing and photography. She graduated from the National College of Art and Design with a BA in Fine Art Painting in 2023 and is currently based in Dublin, Ireland. In 2022, she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany. She has exhibited her work both in Ireland and internationally. She has received awards such as the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust Award and is currently supported by Fingal Arts Office. In August, she was the artist-in-residence at Draíocht Arts Centre.