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Oran O’Reilly | Hostile Environment
19/07/2019 @ 10:00 am - 30/08/2019 @ 5:00 pm
Migration has been ever present throughout history, with tales of epic journeys filled with optimism and nostalgia. Contemporary images and stories of migrants are extremely evocative, being greeted with a mix of empathy, fear and aggression. Hostile Environment brings together recent works by Oran O’Reilly that respond to the stark press images of migrants on boats, part way through a journey for a better life. The work explores ideas of loss, otherness and our inability to understand peoples experiences through the media imagery we consume.
The imagery that has been left to drift on the internet is re-worked through a number of processes including digital manipulation, drawing, projection, tracing and woodcut printing. The processes engage with time and act as an antithesis to the speed at which imagery is digested within contemporary media. The series of woodcuts They Drifted Slowly to Eternity appropriates contemporary and historical images, acknowledging the cyclical nature of migration throughout history. These prints reference the political history of woodcut and employ metal powders to instigate natural processes of oxidation allowing print to become ephemeral and time-based, rather than a static process.
Within the drawings Seascapes with Void human presence is removed, leaving the imagery incomplete and fragmented to evoke a sense of loss and to subvert the romantic and sublime references to the journey and seascape. In the animation Hostile Environment (a term used by Theresa May whilst Home Secretary) these drawings are turned into a graphic code that regurgitate key divisive words used within political rhetoric. The work acknowledges the difficulty in understanding the experience of the migrant journey and also references the complexity of government policy on immigration.
Oran O’Reilly graduated from the Royal College of Art Printmaking MA in 2001 and currently lives in London. He has taught at numerous institutions and is currently Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. Recent exhibitions include Haugesund International Print Festival, Haugesund Billedgalleri, Norway and The Dispersed Gallery, Middlesbrough Art Weekender. His work has also been exhibited in Oldenburg, Vienna, Krakow, London, New York and SanFranciso.