Exhibition: 20.09 – 24.09.2023
Opening: 20.09 20:00 – 23:00
Location: Hoge Bothofstraat 166, Enschede (NL)

In the series of drawings entitled ‘Trace,’ Conway explores the theme of impermanence and the transient nature of human existence. She explores concepts of self-importance and distraction from the fleeting nature of human life. Using the pencil as a research tool, she makes marks on fabriano, transparent paper and cotton voile. 

Mark-making has always been a means of leaving a trace of ourselves in the world. While conducting research in Den Haag, Conway noted the marks left by 13th-century prisoners at the Rijks Museum de Gevangenpoort, as she surveyed the etchings left behind on the wooden beds of images and letters akin to the old masters’ imprint at The Mauritshuis. In Enschede, her focus expanded to include observation of the city itself, including historical artefacts and modern branding, as she became a transient presence there.

Examining the city’s history, the significance of the textile industry and its eventual decline was uncovered and examined through drawing. With each research endeavour, her exploration of pencil techniques evolved from dark and heavy to faint and ghost-like, reflecting a time when Enschede flourished as an industrial hub, mirroring its rise and fall. The old textile factories there still bear traces, but its people have long departed, along with their hopes and dreams. In just a century, only spectral echoes of these ghosts remain—a fate shared by all. Reflecting on the Dutch philosopher Spinoza’s motto ‘Caute,’ Conway’s drawings encourage us to consider how we use our time and leave our marks with caution.

Karen Conway is an artist and teacher who lives and works in Galway, Ireland. She works predominantly through drawing and was shortlisted for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize in 2021. Her work is in the collections of the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Aerogen, Novartis and Microsoft Ireland. In 2023, she was awarded the Tyrone Guthrie Centre bursary by Galway City Council and is a featured artist in a book on contemporary drawing released this month by Thames and Hudson.

Pm @karenconway_ at Instagram or contact karenoflahertycwy@gmail.com to visit the exhibition after the opening.

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