Artist's statement by Sheila Gaffney

written with Chris Kenny (University of Leeds)
to accompany 'Hidden Riches' exhibition in 1993

My works celebrate, explore and exploit the residual, physical and intellectual act of mark making, i.e. primarily the moment where materials touch.

Touch is at the core of this activity.
'Touch' is both the impulse for the work and the means of making it visible. I aspire to give image to the sensual dynamics of touch: to make visible formal concerns which refer to the nature of the language used and to make tangible human feelings which are unseen but experienced.

It is deliberate that the work appears primitive, casual and easy. There is an enticement physically and spatially to touch, to partake in the work, and yet this very invitation is constantly offset by the conflicting gesture of exclusion. This confusion of imperatives engenders a resonance, a psychological space, a moment of emotional uncertainty, an intellectual distance which creates a space where shared associations and formal language unify to focus one moment, one mutual state of daydream.

"......and doesn't the finger that dreams as it strokes the intimate mother-of-pearl surface surpass our human, all too human, dreams...." The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard

Exhibition Essays