Marielle MacLeman’s artistic practice is rooted in the application of care, calling attention to the ways it is enacted or undermined in the human drive to create, collect, and understand. Using research-led and process-based approaches to explore the material trace of these pursuits, she borrows the forms and practices of institutions and industry in making two-dimensional work, sculptural assemblage, and site-specific installation. Drawn to transitory aspects of site, she is interested in the interplay between what is built and natural, digital and handmade, and between progress and decline. This often manifests through themes of collective action, commemoration, or conservation.
The dialogue between materials and narrative is key. Combining found or context-specific media with innovative craft techniques and references to interrogate their potential to produce meaning, she frequently uses materials on the brink of transformation or associated with waste to translate precarity and fallout from land use and trade. She has dyed Irish fleece with Buddleia to produce an ‘Oriental’ rug addressing the legacy of legislation and colonial exploration, reconfigured beach glass gathered in the wake of a storm as terrazzo, made posters with the first cut of grass from a new public park, and spliced and rewoven discarded sale merchandising in a vacant shop. Other works fuse hand-worked and digital processes with a long-standing interest in pattern – from the hand-drawn elements of ornamental fly posting or period décor, to the Victorian craft of flower-pressing used in costume and installation.
Rigour and order characterise her approach to subjects in a state of flux.
Recent presentations of her work include commissions for Dublin Art Book Fair 2022 at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Meta Dublin, TULCA Festival of Visual Arts UnSelfing Programme for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, and the To Care co-commission for Workhouse Union and VISUAL. Solo exhibitions include The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, The LAB Gallery, Dublin, and Galway Arts Centre, with recent group shows at 126 Gallery, Roscommon Arts Centre, and Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny. Her work is in the collections of the Arts Council of Ireland and University of Galway and has been supported by awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, Galway City Council, Create, Scottish Arts Council, Glasgow City Council, and artsandhealth.ie. In 2023 she was selected for the Briefing on Soft Arts Residency at the Centre for Fashion and Clothing (CIMO), Zagreb, and a Landscape, Ecology & Environment Research Residency at Leitrim Sculpture Centre, from which she is developing new work for solo exhibitions. Alongside this, she has worked extensively in palliative, chronic, and acute healthcare settings, encompassing public art commissions, publishing, and participatory projects.