GapFill: More Beauty, More Happiness – Alan MaGee

GapFill: More Beauty, More Happiness was a solo exhibition by Alan Magee presented together with Highlanes Gallery. Opened on Culture Night, this show proposed a site-specific installation in The Old Schoolhouse along with some of Magee’s sculptural works.

GapFill: More Beauty, More Happiness developed as a reaction to the transient state of the architecture of the building, and the wider context of the building’s history. Currently labelled as The Old School House, it was originally a Methodist Church & Schoolhouse. The building was then converted into a shop for many years. Now, in a state of transition, it is a collage of architectural elements, all pointing to different eras, styles and functions.

Alan Magee’s GapFill: More Beauty, More Happiness reflects on the singular fate of this historical building. While the building’s historical shape-shifting carries definite links to a well-documented past, it also forms a present that is equally poignant. In Magee’s vision, the history of The Old School House acts a metaphor for a changing society faced with the possibility of Godlessness and searching for significance and meaning. While material goods took the place of religion, art – in this instance- is now poised to fill the void left in post-crisis Ireland.

Architectural changes and design clues are scattered throughout the building, hinting on its various incarnations. But the gaps that Magee’s work fills are not only physical. These enforced transformations reflect a deeper struggle with potential powerlessness, and with a longing for pleasure and happiness.

At the heart of Magee’s practice is the human condition; how we both, define ourselves, and leave our mark, with labour. He develops a kind of “existentialism of labour”, as he attempts to find a place in the world through his working process. Through the paradigm of Marx and Hannah Arendt’s ideas of labour and empowerment, along with Camus’ Sisyphean metaphor, Magee explores, with this work, the significance of, and a response to, the void.

Alan Magee was born in 1979 in Ireland and lives and works in London. He holds a BA from the Dublin Institute of Technology and an MA in from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Awards include Florence Trust Studio Residency, Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Mobility Awards. Recent exhibitions include ‘Open Cube’, White Cube Gallery, London (2013); ‘Endogenous’, Maria Stenfors Gallery, London (2012); ‘Agents of change’, Studio 1.1, London (2012) and ‘Our Lives as Things’, Occupy Space, Limerick, Ireland (2011).

The Old Methodist Church, 2013, Drogheda. Partnership with Highlanes Gallery. Culture Night Ireland.
Photos by Eugene Langan