Palmer uses words as a sculptural form, exploring sensuous objects, absences and material uncertainties, through storytelling. Elaborated audio environments, found objects and publications are employed to create narrative situations in which the viewer can experience her work. Foregrounding words, Palmer often invites the audience to imagine items that are indicated, but not fully present.
This exhibition is Palmer’s first in Dublin and is developed from a story she published in Essays on Sculpture, Number 78 (Henry Moore Institute, 2017). The narrative is extended in a single copy of a dossierthat is currently installed on the ‘recently returned’ shelf of the Brotherton Library at Leeds University, to coincide with this exhibition. For the iteration of the work at Temple Bar Gallery, Palmer employs a vast architectural floor plan alongside audio tracks that feature a field recording of the ‘silent’ reading room, overlaid with colliding voices and circus tunes, plus music sampled from Karl Blake of The Shock Headed Peters and from Tom James Parmiter. The gallery becomes an immersive space, in which the viewer can experience the Time-Travelling Circusthat in a parallel reality has its ring in the circular reading room of the Brotherton Library.
Pablo Fanque (William Darby, 1810 - 1871) was a famed Victorian circus owner and equestrian performer. He and his wife Susannah Darby are buried in St George’s Fields, formerly Leeds General Cemetery which now forms part of the landscaped grounds of Leeds University. Susannah died in Leeds in 1848 when the building in which the circus was performing collapsed, injuring more than 600 people. Susannah was the only fatality. The Library which now stands near the site of the Darby graves, becomes the location for Palmer’s narrative. Susannah is resurrected as her tightrope walking alter-ego, the Electrolier. Electrolier is the name of a device for holding electric lamps and Susannah takes the shape of this fixture at the centre of the Library dome. As the story is told from the Electrolier’s perspective, revealing her repeated journeys across the big top, her spectacular costumes and her daring falls, the terrible tragedy is re-lived over and over again. Pablo attempts to resurrect his dead wife by joining the Time-Travelling Circus, while the audience sustains the precarious construction of the circus edifice.
Katrina Palmer’s recent exhibitions include The Necropolitan Line(solo: Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 2015); In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy (group: Hayward Touring, 2017); Stories In Your Mind (group: Villa Merkel, Germany, 2017); The three stories are flattened (solo: Void Gallery, Derry, Northern Ireland, 2016); and Reality Flickers (solo: MOT International, London, 2014). She was awarded an Artangel Open solo commission for End Matter (2015), which combines an audio installation on Portland, Dorset, with a book of the same name published by Book Works and a simultaneous broadcast of the adapted story, The Quarryman’s Daughters on BBC Radio 4. Authored publications include The Fabricator’s Tale (Book Works: London, 2014) and The Dark Object (Book Works: London, 2010). She received the Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists, 2014. This summer, a new work by Katrina Palmer will be unveiled at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and YSP, The Coffin Jump takes as a point of departure the role of an extraordinary group of women in the First World War.