Tag Archives: Cow House Studios

Retreival Systems

I have a show opening on the 9th of June at the Wexford Arts Centre in Ireland. I will be showing alongside Gail Cunningham and it will be of work I made and developed whilst on the residency at Cow House Studios last year. The show runs to the 30th of July. It is a great excuse for me to go over to south east Ireland, which is absolutely beautiful, I will make a visit to the farm, catch up with everyone and see my favourite guy!

Here is the press release:

Retrieval Systems

Matthew Denniss & Gail Cunningham

Wexford Arts Centre in association with Cow House Studios

Friday 10th June – Saturday 23rd July 2011

 Official launch: Thursday 9th June at 6pm

Wexford Arts Centre, in collaboration with Cow House Studios are delighted to host a two-person exhibition of recent 2010 artists-in-residence, Matthew Denniss and Gail Cunningham. Situated within the rural tranquility of Rathnure, Co. Wexford, Cow House Studios offers a valuable support structure for emerging visual artists as well as introducing critically engaging contemporary work to the rural community.

Both Matthew Denniss and Gail Cunningham are international artists, responding to Cow House Studio’s philosophy for cross-cultural learning and creative exchange among peers. Denniss, based in Manchester, UK bases his current practice on an informal approach to the investigative systems of science and invention, as opposed to the more restricted methodical approach approved by scientific and mathematical institutions. Investigation into various intangible materials such as wind, electricity, perpetual motion and growth feature principally in his work, with an emphasis on its elusive and poetic elements. Gail Cunnigham, from Philadelphia, U.S.A uses hand-cut paper and various fibre materials in an effort to push her fascination with social organization and our structured environments. Using the format of the house and its structural layout, Cunningham explores how we pose ourselves in social situations.

Developing the work in the studios at Cow House and combining their efforts for this duel exhibition, Denniss and Cunningham together examine the various aspects in which energy resides. With Cunningham’s work, her highly controlled, precision–cut paper images reveal a hidden energy of powerful proportions, bordering on anxiety as spiders crawl and scramble frantically from deep within the confines of the domestic ritual. Denniss, on the other hand, is more concerned with the physical elements of energy and his association with the primitive means of harbouring and utilising it. In doing so, he is attempting to explore and reveal the true motives and philosophies of the original inventors, responsible for such machines like the phonautograph and the wind turbine.

Gail Cunningham studied at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia and graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the Oregon College of Art & Craft, Portland, Oregon in 2003. Her work has featured in numerous group shows including Side By Side, High Wire Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Pretty, Pretty, Bambi Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; and OFF DUTY, MGA Partners, Philadelphia, PA.  Gail lives and works in her native Philadelphia.

Matthew Denniss graduated from Goldsmiths College, London with a BA in Fine Art in 2006. Denniss was Artist in Residence at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009, and has exhibited in Newcastle, Glasgow, London, Norway and the Czech Republic.  He currently lives and works in Manchester.

The exhibition will run in the upper gallery of Wexford Arts Centre from Friday June 10th to Saturday 30th July, 2011 with an opening reception on Thursday 9th June at 6pm. For further information on the exhibition or artists please contact Catherine Bowe, Visual Art Manager of the Wexford Arts Centre on 053 9123764.

So long, Cow House studios

So the Cow House Residency is over now and I am profoundly sad to be leaving. I saw it a something of a risk bringing four strangers together to live and work so closely and intensely, but it worked and I have found friends in Laurie, Marisol and Gail. Frank and Rosie in their generosity and made it work. When I first got there, I was worried that I wasn’t making enough work or that I wasn’t doing the right things, but Frank told me it wasn’t a production residency. We weren’t there to just churn stuff out. Sometimes those moments of conversation can have a huge impact on ones thinking and this set me up for the rest of the residency. I used the time to analyse what I had been doing before, and how I should approach things after. My work and my studio practice have changed a lot in the past two and a half months and my mind is busy with new ideas and approaches. I found my experience there totally inspiring and I think that Cow House will find its way into my work for years to come.

These are a few photos from the last week or so of the residency. We were completely snowed in for a few days and getting back home was a bit of an adventure. Also, I intend to keep this blog running, I have a show with Gail at the Wexford Arts Centre in June, and maybe a few other things that relate to the residency, so I will try and make some regular posts.

Snow Screen

Laurie was able to respond to the snow very quickly and directly. She filmed various things around the farm such as the cows moving across a snow covered field and then created a projection screen by throwing and scraping snow onto the former chicken shed next to the studio. She worked the natural properties of the snow very sensitively and naturally, then held a screening of her videos. We stood outside, wrapped up warm with hot toddies, even the dogs got involved.


I can’t write a blog about my residency at Cow House studios without a special mention of the dogs at the farm. Chester, Lola and Elsa all were an important part of life there. They are noisy, dumb and very entertaining. A special mention though, has to go to a small Tibetan spaniel named Rupert. I absolutely fell in love with him, he liked to be chased around and I liked to chase him. He is very photogenic, especially in the snow, but he knows when you are trying to take a photo of him and will deliberately turn or run away. I will miss him a lot.

Tractor Rescue!

Rosies sister, Sinead and her boyfriend, Barry travelled down from Dublin today and got stranded in the deep snow on Ballybawn lane, just round the corner from the farm. Every negative has a positive; Michael went out in the tractor to rescue them and I got to go with him, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream to have a ride on a tractor! It was pretty exciting I can tell you!

Cristalline Water Ice Precipitation

We got a pretty heavy snow fall today in Ballybawn -about 7 inches. I have spent a lot of the day wandering around the farm. It looks pretty amazing and I took lots of photos. Another snowfall is expected tomorrow, and already it’s getting pretty treacherous to get about as the snow melts and freezes.

Kellys Trees

Kellys trees are a local landmark on the mountain behind the Cow House. They are on the site of a house that was owned by the Kelly family. The house is long gone and the stones of which it was made have been taken away and probably reused in parts of the O’Gorman farm. The trees are planted in a rectangle around where the house would have been and they form a canopy overhead, suggesting an uncanny, natural architectural space.