Sinead McKeever, Reverie Series, 2023–ongoing. Plexiglas, waxed wood, Dibond, acrylic paint, spray paint, trimmer cable, nail varnish, ink, and marker, 500 x 620 x 200 cm. Photo: Simon Mills

Sinead McKeever


QSS Gallery

Sinead McKeever’s traveling exhibition “C O N C U R R E N T” consists of what she calls “a series of new site-specific interventions,” originally created in the Queen Street Studios (QSS) Gallery. Back in 2016, she exhibited Circuit at QSS, which was then in a much smaller space. That immersive, precision-tooled installation used unusual materials such as Dibond and Plexiglas mirrors to produce considerable perceptual complexity. Two years later, she employed similar materials in Antenna, which tackled the large exhibition space in Portadown’s Millennium Court Arts Centre, responding to its industrial architecture not only through the installation, but also through paintings and drawings.

It would seem that McKeever’s ambitions escalate according to the size of the space she is offered. At QSS’s new, large-scale gallery—roughly triangular with two protruding corridor sections and a small zig-zag area—she took on the entire, oddly shaped space. There were 21 works: two large-scale installations, accompanied by paintings on Plexiglas (Rauschenberg would have called them “Combines”), which have strong, three-dimensional elements protruding from their surfaces. Since areas of the Plexiglas were left unpainted, the possibilities for mirror-imaging and shadow effects were considerable. Depending on the lighting, and the way in which the work was hung—some pieces jutted out from the wall as opposed to remaining level with it—you may have found yourself becoming part of the work.

The industrial nature of the architecture at QSS, as with Millennium Court, was clearly part of the attraction for McKeever. She animated the high walls of the gallery, along with the corridor and zig-zag area, by creating a route map using “Combines” of different shapes and sizes. She also animated the space itself by means of the installations. Entering the gallery, the first thing you saw was Antenna V2 (2024), a recognizable extension of Circuit. A metallic structure of interlocking triangular sections, some clothed in fluorescent pink tape, hung from the ceiling. The construction was reflected in a large square of mirrored Plexiglas placed on the floor below (also edged in pink), and shadows were cast onto a partition wall. If you stood at a distance, you could read the complex geometry of the piece, but if you went to the edge of the Plexiglas—not recommended for those with vertigo—the perceptual manipulation was so strong that you felt as if you were about to tumble headlong into an abyss.

Whereas Antenna V2 was close-ended, by which I mean that it existed in its own specific universe, as if locked into its own dimensions, Reverie Series (2023–ongoing) was open-ended. Made up of a series of three-dimensional shapes (picture frame, cubes, cuboids), linked together by resting against one another or being loosely tied, this see-through installation, whose form changed as you walked around it, rose from floor to ceiling, new relationships and diagonals emerging from every vantage point.

Sculptors usually have very individual drawing styles, which relate to their three-dimensional sensitivities. Reverie Series resembled a three-dimensional drawing, or drawing in space, and its forms connected to the “Combines” on the walls. Data Lake (2023), with its intricate mesh of cabling protruding from the surface of the Plexiglas, suggested, as the title presumably intends, the worldwide swamp of computer data.

The exhibition press release emphasizes McKeever’s use of industrial and domestic materials, along with traditional pigments, as well as her interest in the relationship between sculpture, painting, and drawing. All of this is true. But the most interesting aspect of her work is its formal inventiveness, especially in response to large-scale spaces.

“C O N C U R R E N T” is on view at Roe Valley Arts & Cultural Centre, Limavady, Northern Ireland, through May 18, 2024.