Austin Hearne

Slabs II and Whispers

Join us on Friday 24th March from 6pm for the preview of this solo exhibition by artist Austin Hearne.

Featuring an opening performance by Stéphane Béna Hanly, the exhibition is accompanied by a limited-edition DIY cut’n’paste zine hand made by Hearne, which features a newly commissioned text by writer Lily Cahill, a frequent observer of his work.

Slabs II is an ongoing, growing and open ended photographic archival project drawing on artist Austin Hearne’s extensive personal archive, collated over 20 years and including family photographs, newspaper clippings and advertisements. In its essence it consists of individual used painter and decorator wallpaper pasting tables. These damaged tables are utilised to hold photographic material on their surfaces.

From a vast array of ephemera, Herne makes choices as to what is brought forward, what is excluded - what does it all mean? And why these photographic works, now?

"I’ve long since grappled with the volume and value of my past and present photographic content," he explains. "Issues around storage, care, and quality of the material abound. The world of photographic practice has rapidly changed over these past two decades, from the analogue age of film and darkroom production to the swift infiltration of the digital, information and social media ages we find ourselves embedded in today. My relationship with the new methods of working and engaging with the medium have at times been fruitful, frenetic and maddening. Frustration with new technologies and the tech giants who now have a big hand in our ways of working and even bigger eyes on our archives. I don't trust this digital age of photographic storage and ownership.

I recently purchased a new computer and its lack of ports are not accepting of a large external hard drive or the many discs that house various portions of my archives. It seems we, the users of this technology, constantly have to keep a step ahead and fight to keep our property accessible. I value the printed photograph over the untrustworthy digital image, be these fine darkroom prints or mere desktop prints on office paper. I trust that these objects will outlive the latent digital files. Technology with all its inbuilt obsolescence and the tech giants ever changing, monetisation of systems for iCloud upgrades etc. is both tiresome and enraging. To top it all off we remember that Ireland is being infiltrated by scummy data centres, to hold and house selfies, dick pics and influencer bullshit."

A moving image accompaniment to Slabs II's static visual riot, Whispers is Hearne's award wining short film interlacing snippets of video, mobile phone footage and television, filmed in and around ecclesiastical sites over ten years. Describing himself as a 'flâneur' of these locations, as the Queer protagonist of the film, Hearne reveres, provokes and chastises their meaning and power.

Read his article for RTE Culture here.


Austin Hearne is an artist from Dublin, living in Co. Wexford. He holds a MFA from NCAD (2016). His recent solo show at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Requiem For Raymo, presented a fictional scenario of obsession transmuting from hate to love/lust, expressed through performance, painting and sculpture. In 2021 he collaborated on a music project Satin Shadow with film maker and music producer Glenn McQuaid with a live stream performance in The Complex, Dublin, as part of Tanad Aaron and Mark Swords' exhibition Portico. They have subsequently released 3 albums.

His film work Whispers recently won Best Irish Short at the 2022Gaze LGBT Film Festival. Austin has recently had solo shows in Gorey School of Art (2021) and group shows with WEARTFETISHISTS, PhotoIreland Festival (2022) and Speech Sounds at Visual Carlow (2022). Austin’s work is held in private collections in the USA, Europe and the OPW collection.