Saturday 19 November – Saturday 14 January 2023

Hold on Tight is a provocative exhibition of corporeal artworks by four artists working in performance and moving image: Sinéad O’Donnell; Katherine Nolan; Jayne Parker; and Hollie Millar. Each of these four female artists works in response to their bodies, questioning the vulnerability of human flesh through lived and sometimes violent experience.

Curated for the Golden Thread Gallery by Peter Richards and Mary Stevens, Hold On Tight presents the different ways in which these artists use materials and how they can be manipulated by the body. Uncomfortable tensions underpin the exhibition; abject guts and soft slime contrast to ice and hard porcelain. A visceral exploration of moist, slippery and sticky material gives way to a precariously tall pile of plates teetering on the edge of falling over. Both the artistic concept and the nature of the materials merge. Different aspects of control are important, e.g. what can be made to happen? What do we anticipate?  What can we let go?

Performative pieces which take place during the exhibition, leaving traces and ephemera – shattered plates for example – will then become part of the show. The artworks appear to be at sort of precipice, akin to our bodily experience of life. We are waiting for something to happen. 

About the Artists

Sinéad O’Donnell

Violent, Performance prepared with a stack of 220 white dinner plates.

Sinéad O’Donnell is an Irish performance artist, who works with installation, site, and time-based art. Based in Belfast, O’Donnell studied sculpture at the University of Ulster, textiles in Dublin and visual performance and time-based practices at Dartington College of Arts. She was lead artist and curator for an ‘Unlimited’ commission entitled CAUTION as part of the London 2012 Festival. She is currently a Flax Arts Studios artist, Belfast, Northern Ireland receiving the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Major award in 2017.

Her work explores identity, borders, and barriers through different encounters. She sets up actions or situations that demonstrate complexities, contradictions, or commonality between medium and discipline, timing and spontaneity, intuition and methodology, artist, and audience. O’Donnell often uses her body to investigate boundaries, particularly in relation to the restrictions placed on women.

Recent work has been presented at International Performance Art Archive, Black Kit – Die Schwarze Lade, Cologne/ Giessen/ Burgbrohl, Germany (2022). Millennium Court Art Centre, Portadown, Northern Ireland (2019), Subte Contemporary Art Space, Montevideo, Uruguay (2018), ‘Future Histories, Kilmainham Goal, Dublin, Ireland (2016), ’‘TIPA’ this is performance art, Peacock Visual Arts centre, Aberdeen, Scotland (2015), ‘Art of the Lived Experiment’, Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK, ‘Voices Travel’, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2014), ‘Asiatopia’, Bangkok Arts & Cultural Centre, Thailand (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, (2013), Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland, (2012), Southbank Centre, London (2012).

Katherine Nolan

Fluid Flesh, 2021

Dr. Katherine Nolan is an artist, lecturer and curator. Working primarily in live and lens-based performance, her art practice investigates gender, identity and desire, across live and digital spaces. She has exhibited internationally in Europe, America and Asia. Recent exhibitions include The Mistress of the Mantle solo show at MART Dublin (2017) and group shows at LACE Los Angeles (2018), Supermarket Art Fair Stockholm (2016) and Future Histories at Kilmainham Gaol (2016)

She regularly curates with MART, Livestock Performance Art Platform, and previously Dublin Live Art Festival. Recent projects include HOME made HOME at MART (2020); Care. Complicity. Critique at the Centre for Irish Contemporary Art Los Angeles (2019); and Livestock’s bi-monthly experimental performance platform.

Her research practice occurs at the interstices of lens-based media, performance and digital culture. Recent papers include Fear of Missing Out: Performance Art through the Lens of Participatory Digital Culture (College Art Association Annual Conference 2020, Chicago); and Reading Queer Irish Performance across Live and Digital Practices (Interfaces Journal, 2021). She is currently Lecturer in Creative Digital Media at the Technological University Dublin.

Jayne Parker

K., 1989. 13 mins b/w 16mm film

K. is a film in two parts. Part 1: A woman pulls her intestine out of her mouth and lets it fall in a soft pile at her feet. Then she knits the intestine using only her arms. Part 2: She stands on the edge of a pool and makes herself dive again and again. ‘K.’ is an abbreviation of ‘to knit’. The British Film Institute National Film Archive re-mastered the negative of K. (1989) from its original 16mm film to 35mm film in 2011.

‘I bring out into the open all the things I have taken in that are not mine and thereby make room for something new. I make an external order out of an internal tangle.’ – J.P.

Professor Jayne Parker is an artist and filmmaker whose work has been widely shown, both nationally and internationally, in major art institutions, in survey screenings of British artists’ film-making, on television and in film and music festivals. She studied at Canterbury College of Art (1977-80) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (1980-82) in what was then their Experimental Media area. Working with 16mm film, analogue photographic processes and object making, including stone carving, much of her recent work explores the form and expression of music. She has a long-standing relationship with the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen where her film Crystal Aquarium (1995) won the Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen in 1997, and Stationary Music (2005), featuring pianist Katharina Wolpe, was awarded the ARTE Prize for a European film in 2005.

In 2003 she was the recipient of the Henry Moore Foundation 1871 Fellowship, researching the relationship between music and film, hosted by the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford and the San Francisco Art Institute, in association with the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University. The British Film Institute released a DVD compilation of her film works in their British Artists’ Film series in 2008. In 2016 she participated in From Reel to Real: Women, Feminism and the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative, a series of screenings and discussions at Tate Modern London, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative. Her films are distributed by LUX and she teaches at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, where she is a Professor and Head of Graduate Fine Art Media.

Hollie Miller

TO MELT/ TO CRYSTALLIZE, 2019, Single Channel Video, 3 Minutes 13 Seconds, HD, Colour, Black & White

Hollie Miller is a performance artist with an interdisciplinary practice and background in contemporary dance. She has performed internationally in the UK, Europe, Finland, Switzerland, Argentina and Japan in contemporary art galleries, museums, land art and performance art festivals. She holds an MA from Royal College of Art (2016) and a BPA from Northern School of Contemporary Dance (2010).

‘I use my body as an activated and politicised site. Following my performances, sculptural objects, material traces and clothing are often left in the gallery as artefacts that haunt the space in the afterlife with late viewers. I view the photographic documentation of my performances as crystallisations of living images.’ H Millar

She has been artist in residence at: Hogchester Arts (UK), NAIRS Contemporary Art Centre (CH), Serlachius Museum (FI) and La Ira de Dios (AR). Her short films have been shown at feminist film festivals internationally and in 2019 she won The Next Thing Moving Image Award at Bury Art Museum (UK). Exhibitions include: San Mei Gallery, South Kiosk, UK Mexican Arts Society, Airspace Gallery, NewBridge Project and Baltic39 Gallery (UK). Select performances include: MEM Experimental Festival Bilbao (ES), Land Art Biennale Art Safiental (CH), Revolve Performance Art Days (SE), London’s Biennale of International Performance Art & Noise, Apulia Land Art Festival (IL) and 100 Years DADA (JP).

Golden Thread Gallery is supported by: