Sharon Leahy-Clark invites viewers to enter the unknown in her new exhibition, Not Afraid of the Dark, at PAPER gallery, Manchester. The artist-led gallery represents a range of artists whose practice is built around the medium of paper. Leahy-Clark’s highly intricate paintings are all composed on hand-made paper and this collection examines what it means to abandon our usual preoccupations and simply be.
Leahy-Clark has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, and has been the recipient of several awards. She works organically and instinctively, using a variety of materials. Inspired by surrealist practices, her pieces appear as animal or human only upon first glance. Familiarity soon collapses and her images become less recognisable, transforming into something more dark and otherworldly.
Reflecting on the notion of ‘the self,’ Leahy-Clark’s paintings represent individuals not as one whole but as a combination of billions of tiny, hard to define elements. Her work makes reference to the enormous collection of stories, songs, sounds, images, feelings, environments, and interactions that we each encounter over the course of our lifetime and which make us who we are.
Inspired by the religious iconography she was brought up around as a child, the artist’s work includes religious themes which are highly personal to her. Themes which recur in folklore and fairytales appear in her work as Leahy-Clark explores a primal relationship with the unconscious, the strange and the supernatural.
The artist invites her audience to step into this world, and into the dark beyond the usual bounds of traditional tales. This exhibition does not seek to solve the problem of ‘the self’ but instead communicates a belief beyond the self and free from rationality.
Not Afraid of the Dark is on show at PAPER from 8 April - 13 May.
Images: Sharon Leahy-Clark, Eternal Dreamer