“IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE”: Valand Art College Gothenberg (2001) MA art placement. Drawings exhibited Zoology Dept, TCD 2004; RCSI, 2004




While examining biological material in a medical research laboratory on a residency at St James’ hospital, I observed the beauty and strangeness of life at a cellular level.

By using different media, both simple charcoal drawings and a short video piece I tried to respond to and capture the wonder, fragility and power of living beings.

I also aimed to visualise and question more problematic ideas; that in our consumer culture we increasingly view and reduce embryonic and genetic material to a patentable commodity, a way of thinking which directly imitates corporate materialism but often fails to address ethical, spiritual or ecological values.

The work was further developed furing my NCAD MA 3-month placement in Valand College, Goteborg, Sweden.



The drawings and video was first exhibited at rotor2 gallery, Valand, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2001. The installation consisted of large charcoal wall drawings, biological photos and a looped 3 min. video projection set in adjoining room



‘it’s hard to imagine… (2001) 3 min. loop

Genetic material can now be patented as an invention, inventions are property, vulnerable to human desires…

This almost silent video was projected up large in a small, unlit room in Valand, Gothenburg Art college gallery, surrounding the viewer, the audio at times coming from various parts of the room.

spoken text 

”…’it’s hard to imagine…. 
i’m somewhere in here…
and you are too…
gene sequence, patent no. BR14Q…”

video visuals:

video footage of moving human cells magnified under microscope. Footage recorded at St James Hospital, Dublin during my MA at NCAD.



Untitled (after observing chick embryos forming) (2001)

The finished drawings were first exhibited in the rotor2 Gallery, Valand Art College, Goteburg, Sweden, 2001

Notes on the drawings:

Using charcoal,I responded to labelled diagrams of the early stages of chick embryo development.
The works resist easy definition but I tried to look at these embryos in a manner different to that of the objective, rational view offered by science.

The following quote may suggest the limitation of a singular rational view – ‘having labeled a thing, you no longer see that thing, you see its label instead.’

Untitled (after observing chick embryos forming) (2001)

Charcoal on paper 5x7ft
One of series of 2 large wall drawings: 
price €1200 each
Smaller embryo drawings: Now hung in the Zoology Department Genetic Laboratories, Trinity College Dublin.

The drawings, along with the Passion Survey project have since been exhibited in the Zoology dept, Trinity College in 2004, prior to my 3-month Arts Council art residency in the Zoology Dept in 2005.

Irish Times, 2005.  Drawings exhibited at Trinity College Dublin, Zoology Dept and at British Festival of Science, 2005, Dublin.

Embryo drawings in the Zoology Genetic Laboratories, TCD, 2004

The drawings with the Passion Survey were also exhibited at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (2004)



Exhibition at the Royal College of Surgeons. Invitation from Dr. Brenda Moore-McCann



background information in article, ‘life in the round‘ :


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