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Amy O’Riordan

By 8th April 2022July 8th, 2022Individuals, Artists

Amy O’Riordan

Born 1977, 21 July (Limerick, Ireland)

Amy O Riordan is an artist who established her reputation by exhibiting extensive series of photographic tableaux involving models drawn from her inner circle as well as self portraits exploring issues relating to gender identity. 

Working both behind and in front of the eye of the camera lens, she oversees every detail of costumes, make up, extensive setting up of props, settings and locations. Her photographic images offer a privileged glimpse into an intimate world by challenging by gaze. O’Riordan presented a series of works that specifically addressed subverting gender roles, explored female empowerment and investigated the female gaze. Her work makes references to both the historical tradition of painting and popular culture to examine female identity. In her more recent works she presents a series of intimate allegorical self portraits which she stages in her home in Clonsilla, Dublin which further examine complex questions regarding female gender as well as her own female identity. Her photographs again are staged, complete with photographic tableaux, make up with a strong element of performance and theatricality. By being both behind and in front of the eye of the camera, she maintains complete bodily autonomy of her own image and creates her very own visual language. Ten years ago, O’Riordan experienced a life changing accident which left her with a permanent spinal injury, requiring nine spinal surgeries needing a bionic spinal implant and she lives with chronic nerve pain. By focusing and creating art professionally has given her a tremendous sense of joy, purpose and catharsis despite her physical challenges. Her greatest influences on her photographic art include Hannah Wilke, Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo and our own Abigail O’Brien.

Bio & Career

Solo exhibitions of her work have taken place at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin (2005, 2003); and Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick (2004). She was selected to exhibition at eva International, Limerick (2003 and 2002) and Eurojet Futures, RHA, Dublin (2005, 2002). Other group shows have included Purdy Hicks Gallery, London (2009); Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick (2007); and 126 presents at Galway Arts Centre, Galway (2006).

Her work is in the collection of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.1

The artist established her reputation with, and is probably best known for, several series of photographs addressing general perceptions of young women but also, vitally, the agency of young women. These two things do not usually go hand in hand. In each case the photograph was the final piece in a jigsaw: leading up to it, the artist created elaborate tableaux involving models drawn from the artist’s immediate circle, including herself. And she oversaw every detail of costumes, make-up, extensive props and settings. While the images offered a privileged glimpse into a world, the young women were not there for our delectation. They challenge the viewer’s gaze, a cast of knowing actors rather than passive objects.

Now, the artist occupies the central and exclusive role and meets our gaze. In her self-portraits, she plays on the iconography of femininity, and on the representation and misrepresentation of women. The idea of putting on a face to play a role is evident in Masquerading like Minnie: Minnie being Minnie Mouse, created Eve-like as a supportive adjunct to the character of Mickey Mouse. Variations of feminine masquerade are further enacted in Ornament and Suburban Garland. Potions and Oíche Samhain subtly allude to the historic persecution of women as witches, and to an underlying suspicion of the feminine. Corona ambiguously evokes the idea of the chosen one, but chosen for good or ill? Two works nod to Frida Kahlo who, perhaps more than any other artist, pioneered and excelled at the allegorical self-portrait. As for O’Riordan, the format provided Kahlo with a powerful means of approaching issues of personal and gender identity, and of broaching existential questions. Struggling to cope with severe lupus, Christine Miserandino came up with the image of a diminishing supply of spoons as a way of communicating her daily predicament to others. O’Riordan takes the image and reworks it as an ode to wit and creativity under pressure. 3

Awards and honours

  • 2003, The Elizabeth Fitzpatrick Bursary Award, The RHA, Dublin.

Exhibitions

Solo exhibitions

  • 2021, March“Intimations of Immortality” solo online photographic exhibition at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery Dublin March 2021
  • 2009, Solo Photographic Exhibition at The Purdy Hicks Gallery London 2009
  • 2005, July-August “Eye Candy” solo photographic exhibition at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2004, July-August “Fantasia in NYC” solo photographic exhibition at the Limerick City Gallery of Art, Pery Square, Limerick, Ireland. 
  • 2003, November, Seeing Ourselves solo photographic exhibition at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland 
  • 2002, February “Uneasy Pleasures” M.A. Fine Art by Research, Limerick School of Art and Design, solo photographic exhibition at the Chris Doswell Gallery, Limerick

Group exhibitions

  • 2022,  Through the lens,  selections from the Limerick City Gallery of Art Permanent Collection. Limerick City Gallery of Art, Pery Square, Limerick.
  • 2022, The RHA 192ND Annual Exhibition, The RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
  • 2022, Opening the Gates, PhotoIreland Festival
  • 2021, The RHA 191 Annual Exhibition, The RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
  • 2020, “Limerick Connections” works from the permanent collection at the Limerick City Gallery of Art, Pery Square, Limerick.
  • 2011, Collecting from Ireland. Works from the Irish Art Council Collection. The Hunt Museum, Limerick. Ireland.
  • 2007, Arco Madrid, Kevin Kavanagh presents and participates in the 2007 Arco Projects  “The Future is Female” featuring the work of three female Irish artist’s Amy O’Riordan, Diana Copperwhite and Gemma Browne
  • 2006, RHA Annual Exhibition. RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
  • 2005, Burren College of Art second Annual Exhibition. Clare, Ireland.
  • 2005, “Futures Anthology” exhibition curated by Patrick T. Murphy director of the Royal Hibernian Academy, The RHA Gallery Dublin, Ely Place, Dublin 2 Ireland. 
  • 2005,  “Contemporary Art from Ireland”, The European Bank, Frankfurt, Germany
  • RHA Annual Exhibition 2004, The RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland
  • EVA 2004 Community Art Facilitator with The Limerick Travellers Development Group from January-March 2004 funded by The AIB Better
  • Eurojet Futures” curated By Patrick T. Murphy Director of the Royal Hibernian Academy, The RHA Gallery Dublin, Ely Place, Dublin 2 Ireland.
  • 2003, EVA International Exhibition 2003, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Pery Square, Limerick. Ireland
  • 2003, RHA Annual Exhibition 2003 The RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland (winner of The Elizabeth Fitzpatrick Bursary Award)
  • 2002, EVA International Exhibition 2002 Limerick City Gallery of Art , Pery Square, Limerick, Ireland.

External links & References

  1. “O Riordan, Amy” Arts Council of Ireland http://artscouncil.emuseum.com/view/people/asitem/14699/O%20Riordan,%20Amy?pos=0&searchKey=items@:14699&t:state:flow=f281198f-4cad-49a1-9d3a-a02b9da9eb8b
  2. “Amy, O Riordan” Kevin Kavanagh https://www.kevinkavanagh.ie/viewing-room/8-amy-o-riordan-intimations-of-immortality/[/note]

    Text by Aidan Dunne

    2 https://www.eva.ie/artist/amy-oriordan/