Introducing Coalesce Artists: Sinead McDonald

access_time 5 minutes
person by Aisling Leen
create 13 January 2021

Sinead McDonald is a Dublin based artist whose work incorporates new technologies; digital production, web based art and physical computing, alongside photography, video, and historical lens-based processes. 

She is one of eleven artists involved in Coalesce, First Fortnight’s 10th anniversary retrospective exhibition.


She started working as a professional artist in 2011. “I came to it kind of by accident - I loved technology and I loved photography, and it was really only when I put the two together in my Masters at NCAD that it clicked for me.” Her education up to that point had been in the industry side of things. “I was hooked though, and I've been here ever since. I now teach on a media degree and I'm fully down the rabbit hole of a practice-based fine art PhD.”


She recounts how she got involved with First Fortnight, through a friend. She was interested in doing something around the stigma attached to mental health issues here, and how social media could be harnessed to talk about that taboo. “I started making portraits of people who gave their time and personal experiences to the project, pairing the images with a tweet-sized piece of text about mental health from each of the sitters.That was way back in 2011 and it was part of the 2012 First Fortnight festival. I was really only facilitating others in that one. It grew into this huge and I think important piece, and I still think a lot about the conversations that started at the kitchen table during the shoot.”


When asked what it means to be part of a mental health arts festival right now, she responded, “Oh god, everything. This year has been so utterly dark for everyone, and we've been largely without the light of the arts throughout it. The pandemic has impacted people in ways that are difficult for us to express. Art gives space for that. It's priceless.”


Reflecting on the intersection of art and mental health, she says “sometimes art gives a space to express something that's too immediate or raw or complicated to express in daily life,  as mentioned above. Sometimes art is a platform to tell a story that gets lost otherwise, and sometimes it's a catharsis to work through emotions and experiences. They go hand in hand for a lot of people.”


More information on Coalesce can be found here.

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