Thursday, 07 July 2011, 6 - 9pm

Opening hours

Wed- Fri 1-5pm, Sat 11am-3pm

This is this

Drawings and animation from a squirrel world

Yvonne Kennan

Ends 23 July 2011

Animals in art have a long tradition. They are the subject of early cave paintings; occur as signs in hieroglyphs and representations of gods; play their part in the Bible; were portrayed by Gainsborough and conserved by Hirst. From film to cartoon, from Walt Disney to Shrek, animals take on the role of human beings and personify familiar characters.
Yvonne Kennan’s squirrels seem to be unfussed about their symbolic legacy or red/ grey Darwinist survival.
In the 20 drawings on display, these long tailed creatures watch TV, sit around, stare at the wall; a bored bunch acting out poses from lifestyle magazines. Like La Fontaine’s fables, Yvonne Kennan places these animals in domestic surroundings, reflecting attitudes and rituals of everyday life in a humorous, but critical way. Similar drawings from the squirrel world will form the material of a short, five minute animation film, introducing new narratives and in the format of a film, new forms of distribution. If it will be watched by the squirrels as well, one can only guess.
The 20 drawings are mounted on boards from elm, oak and cedar, an unusual and unconventional ‘frame’, yet it ironically relocates the squirrels back into their natural habitat of trees.
This tableaux of imagined squirrel life can be viewed in a narrative order or in a random, subjective way. As the artist points out, it isn’t the storyboard for her animations. For these, Yvonne Kennan produced hundreds of small drawings for an animated version of her squirrel world. In all, she created six films with a total length of 5 minutes. Shown on a slightly outdated TV set, this translation of drawing into the media of film adds an interesting new narrative and broadens the aspect of drawing. Placed opposite the wall with drawings, the animations opens a dialogue within two media forms and engages the viewer to re-interpret and re-assemble the two parts.
'We employ systems and structures to furnish us with stability and purpose. I am interested in a collective desire for formulas that produce a sense of security. Natural selection has seen the grey squirrel usurp the red on these isles, through human manipulation.' Y.Kennan

Installation view

Animals in PS², as real living creatures, in taxidermy or represented in images have been the subject and actors in several projects over the years.

  • In  'For Those Who Care', 2006, Julie Brown installed a miniature landscape within an aquarium filled with fish.
  • For 'red in tooth and claw', 2008, PS² was a temporary home for parts of the educational collection of taxodermied animals from the Ulster Museum, which was at this time closed for renovation. Margarete Hahner and Garrett Carr built a fort like exhibition space and proposed a different take and display to the natural history collection, juxtaposing painted images of animals with the taxidermy collection and re-writing the educational text.
  • 'Minka', 2010, was a project with a cat, which lived in the space for three days. Her residency in PS² was filmed by Fiona  Larkin as part of the 'sounding out space' series.
  • In the same year, Catherine Roberts created a habitat for 45 budgies in her project 'Budgie Butlins'.
  • Early this year 2011, an edited documentary of 'Minka' was shown in 'Do You Love Me Now', highlighting the reactions of passers-by and observers to the cat in the space.