The Telepaths

The Telepaths
A solo exhibition of works by Susan MacWilliam

Susan MacWilliam presents The Telepaths, an installation of sculpture, video, and photographic work that explores ideas and imagery related to historical investigations of telepathy and extra-sensory perception. With a fascination in the experimental handmade objects and apparatus used within psychical research studies, MacWilliam draws parallels between the exploratory space of the researcher’s laboratory and that of the artist’s studio.

Susan MacWilliam’s installations and videos immerse the viewer in curious tales of vision and perception as they are lead through histories of psychical research and studies of extra-sensory phenomena. She uses diverse forms of reconstruction, portraiture and storytelling to explore personal and social histories. Subjects include psychic mediums, ectoplasm, X-ray vision, telepathy, table tilting, remote viewing and dermo optical perception.

In The Telepaths, MacWilliam has worked with a personal collection of photographs, and with archive materials gathered during her 2011 residency working with the Records of the Parapsychology Laboratory held at Duke University and the archives of the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina. During the 1930s Dr J B Rhine (1895–1980) began testing for telepathy and extra-sensory perception through card matching experiments conducted at the Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University. While working with Rhine’s archives Susan began to think of books as analogous to telepathic devices from which information is transferred from writer (sender) to reader (receiver). In The Telepaths she imagines the female subjects in her collection of old photographs and postcards as ‘telepaths’ transmitting ideas and knowledge beyond the frame of the image.

About the artist: 

Susan MacWilliam represented Northern Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009. In 2017 she was awarded the EIKON Award (45+) for European women photographers and media artists. Her work is included in the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and her video works are held in the British Library Sound Collection. Her mid-career survey exhibition MODERN EXPERIMENTS toured four venues in Ireland in 2016-17. MacWilliam has worked on residencies in Ireland, USA, Canada, Trinidad and Slovenia, and has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. She is based at Orchid Studios, Belfast and is a lecturer in Fine Art at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin.

Susan MacWilliam has worked with prominent parapsychologists and psychical research institutions including poltergeist investigator William G Roll and the Dermo Optical Perception Laboratory of Madame Yvonne Duplessis in Paris. Her sustained engagement with the Parapsychology Foundation, New York, and the family of its founder, the Irish medium Eileen J Garrett, has resulted in a substantial body of work. Susan MacWilliam has worked with historical archives including the Hamilton Family fonds (T G Hamilton spirit photograph collection), University of Manitoba; Parapsychology Laboratory Records, Duke University and those of the Rhine Research Center, Durham, NC.


Book launch: Modern Experiment by Susan McWilliam

To coincide with the opening of The Telepaths please join us for the launch of Susan MacWilliam’s book Modern Experiment

MODERN EXPERIMENTS features texts by Riann Coulter, Alice Correia, Valerie Connor, and the artist, and is designed by Peter Maybury. This 120 page publication documents the survey exhibition Susan MacWilliam: MODERN EXPERIMENTS (with works from 1998–2016) which toured Ireland in 2016–17 with exhibitions at F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge; Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda; Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen; and Butler Gallery, Kilkenny.

Curated by Dr Riann Coulter of the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio, MODERN EXPERIMENTS has been supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Arts Council of Ireland through the Touring and Dissemination of Work Scheme.

The book will be available at the launch for the special price of £20 (normally £25).

Published in 2019 by F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio
Edited by Riann Coulter and Susan MacWilliam
Designed by Peter Maybury
Printed by MM Artbook printing and repro
ISBN 978-1-908455-21-5

Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council

What’s On

Contact Us

Golden Thread Gallery
84- 94 Great Patrick Street,

Tel. +44 (0)28 90 330920

Opening Times:
Tuesday – Friday
11am – 5pm
11am – 4pm

Free Admission