09 May - 22 June 2024

sun, waiting for flawless/ an ghrian, ag feitheamh le foirfe 

Tickets: Free to attend
Show Time: Gallery Opening Times: 11am – 6pm, Monday to Saturday

sun, waiting for flawless / an ghrian, ag feitheamh le foirfe is an exhibition of new and existing work by artists Rob O’Shea and Ronan Smyth, with a commissioned text by Francis Whorrall-Campbell and visual identity design by Cóilín O’Connell. 

This exhibition includes a wide range of sculptural approaches, including metalwork, woodturning, drawing, collage, printed media and writing. It looks at the presentation of self and the subjective potential of materials, their expressive and affective power. The title ‘sun, waiting for flawless’ is inspired by the lyrics of a George Michael song and refers to the aspirational pursuit of flawlessness and perfection, while highlighting the impossibility of this. 

An interest in industrial and craft processes is a through-line in the exhibition. Here, however, these methods and materials have been co-opted to explore personal landscapes. Standardised storage units have been softened by private memories and intimate details; uncanny magnetic souvenirs decorate fabricated steel sheets. Surfaces have been polished, buffed, obscured, smeared, embellished and scratched, as a way to activate the states between detail and distance, transparency and opacity, knowing and unknowing.

Rob O’Shea’s work engages with their family’s history of farming in rural south-west Wexford, and explores our relationship with nature and labour. Recently O’Shea discovered a collection of their father’s academic drawings from the early 1970s made as part of his apprenticeship to become an agricultural mechanic. These appropriated images hang on imposing structures that act as ‘set pieces’, staging personal history on a dense background of pattern and repetition. 

Ronan Smyth investigates relationships between the amateur maker and the decorative surface, prioritising the histories of DIY, self-taught and hobbyist pursuits while blurring distinctions between fine art, craft and design-led disciplines. Smyth aims to disrupt our understanding of cultural authenticity, proposing a series of improvised material strategies that explore the decorative surface as a site of novelty, excess and anxiety.

Francis Whorrall-Campbell’s THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT HAVE BEEN DOWNLOADED is a zine consisting of the first three instalments of a serialised novella-in-progress. Reprinted with a new addition, the zine presents the story so far, introducing us to the two protagonists – a trans influencer living in the year 2034, and a fictionalised version of Kurt Cobain in 1994 – as the pair travel in opposite directions across the USA, looking for the source of the paranormal phenomena disrupting their lives. 

This exhibition is curated by Rachel Botha.


Exploring topics such as image politics, the moving body, and queer identity, Rob O’Shea (they/them) is an artist who makes multi-media performance work, and experimental artist film. Their work is often a response to the homogenisation of queer bodies and subjectivities that occurs through the structures of mass media, institutional practices and group consensus. Performative interrogations of objects, images and queer theory bring a critical curiosity to bear on our fluid digital relationship to one another. 

Rob O’Shea (b. 1980, Ireland) holds a BA Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design, Ireland (2016) and is a graduate of the New York Fine Arts Artist Mentorship Programme (2019). In 2019 they premiered their multi-media work To Separate Photography From Your Life at New York Live Arts. Exhibitions include: Now Light, Now Shadowed (2021) with Commonage Projects, London and The Subject & the Object (2019), a collaboration with Julia Brandao, Arte Passagem, Brazil.

Ronan Smyth (he/him) is an artist and researcher based in Belfast who is concluding a practice-based PhD with Belfast School of Art. Exploring themes of displacement and material consumption, his work combines clay, fibre, woodwork and drawing that investigate countercultural relationships between the amateur maker and the decorated surface. He is a studio holder with Flax Studios and is the recipient of funding awards and grants from Royal Dublin Society, A-N, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. He is one half of the collaborative duo SmythStasinaki.

Francis Whorrall-Campbell (they/he) is a writer and artist from the UK. Working across text, sculpture, and digital formats, their work advances a trans poetics, probing the link between making an artwork and making a (gendered) self – or, how art and writing can be tools for transition. This practice is guided by research into materialist histories of becoming, including DIY transition, mutual aid, internet communities, and other conditions which promote or inhibit trans survival. His work could be described as spinning gold from straw: trying (sometimes successfully) to fulfil the creative promise of transformation.

Francis has presented projects at Modern Art Oxford (2024); Nottingham Contemporary (2023); Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo de Castellón (2023); National Sculpture Factory, Cork (2023); Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien (2022); Auto Italia, London (2022); VISUAL Carlow (2022); Wysing Arts Centre (2021); and CCA Derry~Londonderry (2021, 2022). From September – November 2024, he will be a Laureate of the Principal Residency Programme at La Becque, Switzerland. 

Cóilín O’Connell (he/him) is an artist from Dublin working in drawing, video, publishing, and installation art. As Brass Neck Press he publishes, designs and distributes artists’ publications and zines.

No.1: Rob O’Shea, ‘To Separate Photography From Your Life’ (2019) – Rachel Botha

It is a photograph of three white people in a dance studio space, with their backs to the camera. There are two people, on the left and the right, pulling a green jacket off a person with black sleeveless t-shirt on. 

No. 2_ ‘knockoff, welthanschauung!’ (2021), a collaborative project between Smyth and artist Vasiliki Stasinaki.2_4 – Rachel Botha

A collection of rounded ceramic objects of different colours and shapes placed on a forest green platform. 

No.3_ Installation view of ‘Trap Piece 7 (BPA’) in Sneckdown at EACC, Castellon de la Plana, May – September 2023 © Francis Whorrall-Campbell. Photo_ Deneb Martos. Courtesy of Carlos Pascual and EACC – Rachel Botha

A black and white photograph of approximately 16 plastic bottles of Evian water placed on the floor, behind them are two radiators plugged in. There is a text-based poster on the wall to the left of the installation. 

No. 4_ ‘Counterfeit Coin’ (2023) by Cóilín O’Connell, installed at Rudkins Mill in Co. Carlow for Muine Bheag Arts – Rachel Botha

There is a big black banner with a yellow circle at the centre. In the circle are the words ‘total entropy’ and ‘absolute sovereignty’ in the middle, and ‘brick by brick’ circulate around its edge. The banner is hung on the front of an old building with no roof or windows, it is on the opposite side of a river. 

Public Programme

Saturday 11 May, 2.30pm, the Gallery at Project Arts Centre

Walk-through tour with artists Rob O’Shea and Ronan Smyth, and curator Rachel Botha.

Saturday 11 May, 3.00pm, the CUBE at Project Arts Centre

A screening event of existing and in-progress moving image work by artists Rob O’Shea, Saoirse Wall and Johnny O’Grady, followed by a discussion. This screening event is an opportunity to extend the invitation for dialogue to artists exploring similar themes in art practices. 

Tuesday 21 May, 6.00pm, the GALLERY at Project Arts Centre

Francis Whorrall-Campbell launches the zine THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT HAVE BEEN DOWNLOADED with a public reading in the gallery. Francis’ zine consisting of the first three instalments of a serialised novella-in-progress.


Project Arts Centre is proudly supported by The Arts Council and Dublin City Council. This exhibition is supported by Culture Moves Europe, funded by the European Union and the Goethe-Institut.

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