Sonia Shiel's work examines her protagonists' attempts to survive the odds of nature and the illusory world around them, through laws of their own making. Many of her works engage with each other symbiotically or con/sequentially within mixed-media installations, creating surreal narrative sequences. Often taking the form of scripted video, audio and live performances, Shiel's works synthesise object, image and sound in self-reflexive stories of construction, exploring how real things in the world can simultaneously declare themselves fabrications and yet compel a shared make-believe.

She is currently the Arts and Humanities' Artist-in-Residence at UCD for 2017 and a recipient of the DLRCoCo and the Arts Council Visual Artist Awards for 2017. In 2014/2015, she completed the Art & Law Fellowship Program at Fordham Law School, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, in New York, and an artist's residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, with Arts Council Project Award support. Recent readings and performances include Temple Bar Gallery and Studios and ArtBox. She has had recent exhibitions at Rua Red, The Crawford Gallery, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the ISCP, New York, among others. Shiel has been the recipient of the Tony O'Malley and Hennessy Craig Awards, having had solo exhibitions at the Butler Gallery and the RHA Gallery I and II, which included a major publication and a collection of essays. Her work features in many international public and private collections, including the Arts Council, The City of Frankfurt, and the OPW.


Projects since 2014 include Consent Volenti, (2014), in which a legal document stands out from a spongy, life-size, climbable, cliff-edge. It has attention drawn to it by an ever-appearing cookoo which emerges from a clock that has been emphatically over-weighted - causing its time to spin unnaturally fast. The Waiver, is an absurd linkage between the physics of cartoons and the far-fetched intentions of art. The inherent risks it lists are compared numerically with rules of jocular physics such as; 1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of the situation or 11. Any violent rearrangement of matter is impermanent - and the viewer is reminded that these physical and mental advantages might not apply to them in real life. Parse, (2014), an autonomous video work, tells the story of a young girl determined to bring about the return of her mother from a trip to outer space, in accordance with the laws of jocular physics under which her world is ruled. It uses hand-painted and stop-motion animation, model making, and found footage, distilling the disparate materials of my work into a single medium.

The deep shadows of moot nocturnal works for Here, While the Bees are Sleeping, (2015), convey surreal encounters with natural phenomena in a hyper-luminous and multi-dimensional interior world. The installation of paintings and furniture pieces compresses itself into a short list pertaining to eternity, that choreographs the optimum chronology in which to view the work. Besieged by a suite of visual horror tropes, the domestic forms, nature tables, and anthropomorphic domestic furnishings take on metaphysical dimensions, coercing landscape back into the room on poetic cue.

While, The Incomplete Platypus, (2016), a sculptural audio-work, invites its audience to establish the authenticity of one artist among three, all claiming to be the real Artist of the Year. With the same conceit as the original game-show 'To Tell The Truth,' which hosted such guests as civil rights activist Rosa Parks among other celebrities, the panel grills the artists on an autobiographical affidavit that recounts the courageous trials of an untethered imagination and its quest for creative autonomy. Along the way the artist meets various anthropomorphic characters that she must slay her ties with. Composed of computer generated voices and appropriated sound, the synthetic narrative comes from a hole bored into the centre of a three-dimensional building facade, that is perforated to function as a speaker. The game begins with the oration of a sworn account, detailing a series of perilous challenges and pata-physical events that barely stray from the studio, which from the beginning is shared with a rock that knows no bounds.

Other 2016 exhibitions include ArtBox, the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and HIAP, Helsinki, along with readings and performances in Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin and University College Dublin, among others.




'Sonia Shiel' published by the RHA, Dublin. 2010
ISBN 1-903875-53-6
Available from the Royal Hibernian Academy Bookshop, the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery Bookshop