‘Why Be An Artist?’ Exhibition

02/12/2022 - 15/02/2023
Shauna Kelly

The NCAD Gallery is delighted to announce the exhibition and newly commissioned film, 'Why be an artist?' (after Leigh Hobba and Noel Sheridan).

‘Why Be An Artist?’ Exhibition
Image credit: Oisín Byrne, still from Why Be An Artist? (after Leigh Hobba and Noel Sheridan), 2022, NCAD Gallery.

This film – directed by Oisín Byrne and produced by Vaari Claffey – takes as its starting point (artist and late director of the NCAD) Noel Sheridan’s performance work, Why be an artist?. In the work, filmed by Leigh Hobba in 1994, Sheridan talks through a series of reasons NOT to be an artist, most of which come down to commitment, integrity and an unwillingness to instrumentalise art.

Knowing that this has great resonance for artists, and bearing in mind that artists are very far from a homogenised or cohesive set of practitioners with shared goals or approaches, this project invites practising visual artists (with varying relationships to Sheridan and NCAD) to respond to Sheridan’s s provocation on film – using his rhetorical device as a means to explore their own concerns, be they political, social, aesthetic or ecological.

The invited artists; Kevin AthertonIsadora EpsteinGary FarrellySéamus Nolan and Grace Weir, respond to the work in a variety of registers, both paying homage to and challenging Sheridan’s narrative content and performative approach. Starting from this blend of humour and pedagogy, the responses are scripted and performed by the artists and interpreted and staged by the filmmakers to produce an intimate but expanded reflection on artmaking.

'Why be an artist?' Public Talks Programme


    • Tuesday 29th November, 2022, 5PM
      Introduction to the artist, Noel Sheridan 

      Brian Hand, artist, lecturer and Head of Sculpture and Expanded Practice Department, NCAD, discusses the late NCAD Director, Noel Sheridan’s artist practice.


    • Friday 2nd December, 2022, 1.15PM
      ‘Why be an artist?’ Artists Roundtable Conversation

      ‘Why be an artist?’ artists, Kevin Atherton, Isadora Epstein, Gary Farrelly, Séamus Nolan and Grace Weir discuss their processes in making commissioned work in response to the filmed performance ‘Why be an artist?’ by Noel Sheridan, with Oisín Byrne and Vaari Claffey – moderated by Alice Butler, Co-Director of AEMI (Artists’ and Experimental Moving Image) and introduced by Sarah Glennie, Director, NCAD.


    • Tuesday 31st January 2023, 1.15PM
      A Walk-Through the Archive

      Valerie Connor, visual arts curator and educator (lecturer in the School of Media at Technological University) invites us on a walk-through of the Noel Sheridan exhibition archive material from her time as Curator at Project Arts Centre, Dublin


    • Tuesday 7th February 2023, 1.15PM
      Why be a curator?

      Vaari Claffey, Why be a curator? response to the ‘Why be an artist? (after Leigh Hobba and Noel Sheridan)’ filmed performance.


  • Tuesday 14th February 2023, 1.15PM
    On Collecting for Archives

    Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections at IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) in conversation with Vaari Claffey, discusses some highlights from the Noel Sheridan Archive at IMMA.


Contact: Anne Kelly, Curator, NCAD Gallery, gallery@staff.ncad.ie