Prima Materia

3 mins read

Kilkenny County Council Arts Office presents Prima Materia, a solo exhibition of work by Helen Mac Mahon, curated by Aoife Banks as part of their Emerging Curator in Residence Programme 2021.


17th Sept – 10th Oct


Prima Materia has been curated and designed to be viewed through the gallery windows and online. This exhibition sees work being exhibited in 76-77 John Street Lower, Online at and on Instagram @kilkennyartsoffice

The past 18 months have seen our world rocked to its core. Contrary to what our senses would have us believe, the world we inhabit is not solid or fixed but exists in a state of perpetual creation. Institutions, structures, and supports that once seemed unassailable have crumbled in the face of an invisible enemy.

Prima Materia, the name given by alchemists to the formless substance that is the essence of the beginnings of all things, is a primordial chaos existing in a state between energy and matter containing all possibilities. Carl Jung believed it to be the unconscious mind. Prima Materia, therefore, seems a fitting metaphor at a time we find ourselves poised at a point of infinite potential, ready to review, renew or rebuild our inner and outer worlds.

Mac Mahon’s art practice is concerned primarily with the phenomena of light, movement, perception, and space. The work strives to observe and reveal the ecosystem that exists between the viewer and these intangible elements that exist in a perpetual state of transformation. Changes occurring in each element have a perceptible impact on the others, revealing previously overlooked properties and characteristics.

Prima Materia is the second installment in a three-part curatorial project that explores the shifting of perspectives in three chapters: Past, Present, and Future. Positioning othered voices to the fore and providing new lenses with which to view our world, each exhibition will focus on an artist or artists whose work teases out alternative histories, hidden narratives, and speculative futures.

This exhibition is part of Kilkenny County Council Arts Office’s ‘Emerging Curator in Residence Programme’. This programme is enabling Aoife Banks to gain direct experience in the field of curating exhibitions for the Arts Office in Kilkenny. This opportunity provides Aoife with the platform to further develop her career, expand her artistic and creative networks, and avail of a mentoring programme with curator Eamonn Maxwell.



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