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Photograph shows an installation in a brightly lit gallery with white walls and grey floor. There are large black pleated curtains hanging in the space, nearly to the ceiling. These are hung in broad sweeping diagonals across the large floorspace. On the wall to the right is a photograph framed.

Mary McIntyre

Places We Think We Know

21 August - 21 November 2021

This exhibition marked the first major solo presentation in Scotland by Irish artist Mary McIntyre, debuting a new body of work commissioned for DCA.

McIntyre has explored different types of ‘space’ in her work in myriad ways over the past two decades, and these investigations often focus on photographic depictions of places that have been forgotten or overlooked. The images she makes are frequently imbued with a psychological charge, hinting at traces of recent human presence and activity in evocative landscapes or interiors.

A photograph of the corner of gallery two. We can see two sets of small set of black steps leading to a black platform. At the top of the platform is a beige hanging curtain, as though a stage. A visitor stands looking at this installation, wearing black clothing and white trainers.

McIntyre is also interested in how a photograph occupies a gallery space as a physical object, and how the environment surrounding the image might inform how a work is experienced. She uses sculptural installation as a means of activating the rooms that her photographs inhabit, and in doing so makes a viewer more aware of the act of ‘looking’.

Notions of interior space (both physical and psychological) have long reverberated throughout McIntyre’s practice, and in her new body of work for DCA, she presented a viewer with images of quiet interiors; rooms which at first appear to be empty and unremarkable. Upon closer inspection, however, they slowly reveal a rich tapestry of traces and associations — frayed and discoloured carpet tiles, stained walls, makeshift partitions, and disturbed dust and detritus all speak of previous occupation by unknown inhabitants.

Accompanying these works, she constructed a series of large-scale installations that intersect the gallery space in different ways to create bespoke environments from which to consider each image. With every step taken through these installations, a viewer becomes aware of their own body moving towards the photograph in order to view it, and the experience of looking at the artwork is intensified in a multi-sensory way by the colours, textures, objects and sounds that McIntyre has chosen to surround the image with.

Recently, McIntyre has become increasingly engaged in collaborative and cross-disciplinary practice, in particular as the founder of the electronic record label TONN recordings, and this exhibition at DCA also debuted a new suite of modular synth compositions by Sean McBride of Martial Canterel made in response to the artist’s photographs. This musical element of the project was audible in the gallery at different times of the day, further enriching the experience of moving through the exhibition and engaging with McIntyre’s new work.

Artist Interview | Mary McIntyre on Places We Think We Know

Photograph shows an installation in a brightly lit gallery with white walls and grey floor. There are large black pleated curtains hanging in the space, nearly to the ceiling. These are hung in broad sweeping diagonals across the large floorspace. On the walls are small works on paper with typewritten text.

About the artist

Mary McIntyre was born in Northern Ireland where she lives and works. She graduated from the University of Ulster, Belfast (MFA), where she is now a Reader in Fine Art. Her work has been previously exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005, the Helsinki Photography Biennial; The Courtauld Institute, London; The MAC, Belfast; Visual, Carlow; Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. 

Her work is held in institutional and private collections including the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, the Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Ulster Museum.

She is founder of the electronic record label, TONN Recordings and its sister label New Sinister. 

DCA's 2021 Exhibitions Programme was supported by the William Syson Foundation. 

Exhibition Notes

 Listen to an audio version of the Exhibition Notes for Mary McIntyre: Places We Think We Know here.

Click here to download the Exhibition Notes for Mary McIntyre: Places We Think We Know
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Exhibition images

The is a photograph of the auxiliary gallery at the back of gallery two, showing a large black corner in the left hand corner, partially covering the window and the left hand wall. To the far left of the photograph we can see a small framed artwork on paper.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
This image shows the back of gallery two, looking along the left hand wall where at the left hand side of this image we can see a photograph is hung. Through a doorway towards the right hand side of the image, we can see a small work on the wall in the auxiliary gallery.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A photograph in a slim black frame is hung on a white wall. We can see in the photograph the bottom of a doorframe, with the door open and a small chink of light coming into the room.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Photograph shows an installation in a brightly lit gallery with white walls and grey floor. There are large black pleated curtains hanging in the space, nearly to the ceiling. These are hung in broad sweeping diagonals across the large floorspace. On the right of the photograph, at the back of gallery two can be seen a beige curtain and a low black platform with small steps leading to it from either side, as though a stage. In the far corner, to the left hand side, we can see a framed photograph on a white wall in the distance.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A photograph in a slim black frame is hung on a white wall. In the photograph we can see the corner of a black room with a spotlight in the corner, as though an empty stage.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.
A close up of a small set of black steps leading to a black platform. At the top of the platform is a beige hanging curtain, as though a stage.
Photograph by Ruth Clark.

Gallery Walkthrough | Mary McIntyre on Places We Think We Know