Butterflies in Rain : Artland Gallery Apr - May 2009

Cahill's Kosovo is evocatively captured at Artland

MANCHESTER'S Artland Gallery, though small and tucked away in the basement of the Friend's Meeting House, provides itself on showing work that matches aesthetic value to political and social content.

It has hosted some top quality exhibitions since opening in October, and Butterflies in Rain, a new exhibition by Manchester artist Margaret Cahill, will be no exception. 
Cahill's canvasses, which she describes as using "photographic elements collaged into paintings", evolved from photographs taken during a trip to Kosovo last year.
Her paintings are often many layered and based on newly created spaces, leading to a sense of uneasiness and displacement.

This proved perfect for paintings of Kosovo, which still bears the legacy of the atrocities of war and ethnic conflict.

Past, present and future

Cahill's work, although largely empty of people, suggests the relationship Kosovo has both with its neighbours, and its past, present and future. 
She says: "The work explores our increasingly fragile relationship with our environments and the way we view them in a constantly shifting and uncertain world. It questions the boundaries between form and space, the real and imagined, and touches on notions of vulnerability, transience and mortality."
Butterflies in Rain is the gallery's first exhibition of paintings, and Cahill's distinctive use of colour and evocative sense of place will provide an intense experience in the compact gallery.
Artland director James Walsmley says Cahill is a "serious artist working in serious times".

He adds: "I was immediately drawn to her epic, cinematic landscapes. I kept wanting to return to their stillness and mystery. Her work for me is that of the human condition - decay, abandonment, loss, memory, beauty, violence, recovery and ultimately - hope.

Natalie Bradbury, City Life April 2009.


A Place Apart

A Place Apart : The Lowry Hotel Apr - May 2006

This new set of works by Manchester-based artist Margaret Cahill conjures a vivid feeling of disorientation. Her technique is astonishing, mixing photographic images of remote buildings with layered, watery oil paints. As raging flood tides rise under swathes of noxious gas clouds, Cahill manages to subtly reference modern climate concerns and the recent spate of freak worldwide meteorological disasters.

In Cahill’s elemental mix of vibrant application and suffocating atmospherics, she has produced one of the first collections of truly 21st century landscapes.

Steve Pill. METRO. April 2006.


Cold Front : Atkinson Art Gallery Jul - Sep 2005

Paintings inspired by a reel of film discovered in an abandoned Soviet airbase, Margaret Cahill’s enigmatic visions shimmer with nostalgia for an earlier era.

Jessica Lack. THE GUARDIAN. August 2005

Margaret Cahill creates seemingly allegorical memory-scapes, brimming with open ended and alluded to narratives. Her paintings are subtle abstract-esque barren landscapes that usually contextualise a photographic image that are people from the past, abandoned cars and derelict buildings. For ‘Coldfront’ a reel of lost film was discovered (amongst rubble) from a long abandoned Soviet air base. Here Cahill playfully balances ‘truth with intervention’ to create unsettling yet compelling nostalgic visions.

Robert Cattelan. FRIEZE MAGAZINE. July/August 2005.

In A Room

In A Room
: Chorlton Mill Gallery Oct - Nov 2001

Ostensibly, these paintings depict desolate rooms/spaces. Cahill’s imaging, though, is atmospheric to the degree that, at times, the style verged on the painterly organic strand of abstraction, rather than representation. For here, sensuous use of colour and light construct the room. Furthermore, rather than a straight-laced representation of reality, Cahill utilises collage: that stalwart of 20th century art which announces a subversion of conventional representation. Included are photographic elements within the frame as if to highlight the unreality of these rooms. For example, a photograph of a toddler who seems out of place (and perhaps scale) in one painting, still promotes a sense that the image is a minefield of memory and moment. In another, an outline of a transparent dress hovers in mid-air like a phantasm. A thread hangs loose at its base, perhaps signifying that such recollections/representations are being unraveled in this work.

In short, these paintings provide a conceptual maze. Are these images intuitively assembled, or are they representing actual spaces? Either way, they transmit sensation via sensation rather than representation. In this, the work is close surrealism. Through these interiors, personal and unconscious urges are exteriorised via forms and colours. In fact, viewing this work prompts questions familiar to art history. Is there a meaning inherent in the image/object, or is it that meaning wished upon the aforementioned by the viewer? Certainly the voids can be filled by the viewer’s imagination rather that simply receiving a given perception of reality. So leave your preconceptions at the door.

Tim Birch. CITY LIFE MAGAZINE. October 2001