IN A DREAM IN A HAPPY HOUSE Shell/Ter Artist Collective (S/TAC) Diana Copperwhite, Allyson Keehan, Niamh McGuinne, Sharon Murphy, Geraldine O’Neill.

20 June to 26 August 2024
Limerick City Gallery of Art

cover image:  ‘Happy House’ 2024 Shell/Ter Artist Collective


‘In a Dream in a Happy House’ is S/TAC’s third show to date and their first show that focuses solely on the collective itself rather than through the lens of a historical collection or role as artistic shelter.  Once again, S/TAC zones in on the emotional and psychological theme of shelter but this time sets it in a more ominous expression; one of confinement, duty, expectation and the delusions of domestic bliss. 


Taking inspiration in the title from the 1980s Siouxsie and the Banshees track ‘Happy House’, which is both an ironic take and a protest against an ideal of domesticity. S/TAC questions the ambiguity of a safe, protective and detached shelter, by highlighting issues surrounding claustrophobia, containment and captivity. As ever, the expression of this concept is closely linked to the body, through identity, our many selves, the collective and the collective experience.


This exhibition highlights the role of an artist collective as a form of support, encouraging experimentation and the many hybrids that can develop alongside individual practices, which include painting, photography, print, installation and film. In this context, the ‘dream in a happy house’ is a space for the embodiment of ideas, creating the possibility for the body to function as the object, subject, material, and source of symbolic construction, and where the multiplicity of our many selves including that of the viewer, finds expression.


The Shell/Ter Artist Collective (S/TAC)

The Shell/Ter Artist Collective (S/TAC) evolved organically during the pandemic 2020 and was driven by a desire of the artists to talk about the effects, both personal and professional, of a shifting and unpredictable world. In this dynamic space the artists found ways to explore, enrich and diversify their independent practice while supporting one another. The Collective explores the concept of shelter from emotional, psychological, and philosophical perspectives and previous exhibitions include ‘Shelter’ at the National Gallery of Ireland 2023 and ‘The ladder is always there’ in Draiocht in 2023/2024. Shared identity, common purpose and egalitarian values underpin much of the desire to work as a group, and the nature of this engagement continues to shift and develop.



Diana Copperwhite (RHA) is a member of Aosdána and draws particular inspiration from early Irish modernism. Her paintings explore the relationship between colours, gestures, figuration, and representation. She gives structure to the unseen world of atoms and molecules to examine the psychological and spatial interpretation of self. Layering fragmented sources that range from personal memory to science, media and internet, Copperwhite!s canvases become worlds in which the real is unreal and this unreality is in a constant state of reforming.


Allyson Keehan is an Irish visual artist based between Ireland and Scotland. She was awarded PhD in Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art in 2021 titled "Painting and Materiality: Three Creative Strategies for Transformation!. Her research is in the expanded field of painting and the use of drapery in art. Looking closely at veiling and artifice, her practice incorporates drapery and framing to create complex structural experiences of real and imaginary spaces. Drapery has a wealth of history relating to painting and these propositions amplify the experience of viewing and understanding.


Niamh McGuinne‘s practice combines print, sculpture, textile, film and installation. The immersive nature of her background in paper conservation working with historical collections informs this art practice. Conceptually she is interested in the body as the protector, a shell in which to develop…and how time and growth are marked and interpreted. Her work has an element of the performative, either as a space or as costume in which to interact, which present an invitation to participate - physically or imaginatively.


Sharon Murphy is visual artist based between Dublin and Paris whose practice is lens-based incorporating photography, video, installation and drawing. Her work investigates the boundaries between the seen / unseen, fictive / real, conscious / (sub)liminal. Drawing on a background in theatre and informed by concepts in magic realism and psychoanalysis, recurring motifs in her work include: theatre curtains; carousels; circus tents, performative sites; embodied staged spaces. Her works address uncertainty, the uncanny, the 'there / not there', linked to an investigation, quintessential to both photography and performance of what it is the viewer is shown or is seeing.


Geraldine O’Neill (RHA) is a member of Aosdána and has a particular respect for and understanding of the techniques and visual language used in the history of art. She has long responded to the increasing confrontation with human engagement and relationship with the ecosystem, in particular the Anthropocene whose traces are now embedded within the geological layers of the Earth’s structure. Playing with incongruities of time and space, she juxtaposes traditional references with scientific reasoning and contemporary perspective in large-scale and small scale compositions. Her works address protection and shelter from a domestic and environmental viewpoint to emphasise the fragility of life.


LCGA will publish a booklet within the run of the exhibition with a commissioned text by Cristín Leach 


LCGA will host a talk with Cristín Leach and participating artists on Thursday 18th July at 2pm


Any queries please email




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