LCGA Exhibitions

LAST ACT, Marie Hanlon & Rhona Clarke

20 June - 25 August 2024
Limerick City Gallery of Art

cover image: Marie Hanlon & Rhona Clarke, LAST ACT| 2024, video still,   


Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA) is delighted to present LAST ACT, a new commission, by Marie Hanlon & Rhona Clarke.  

LAST ACT is a large scale synchronised video installation made in collaboration with composer Rhona Clarke. The work presents the climate crises as something both real and abstract, as such it mirrors the human response to a changing earth.


Weather events make up most of the visual material with real footage of drought, flooding, wildfires and melting ice slowly building towards a wide screen shot of dark engulfing waters towards the finish. The weather sequences are bookended by seemingly unrelated imagery of empty industrial type spaces; doors and shutters open to blank whiteness at the start then close to a final darkness at the end. The reference here is to our industrial past and present, an attempt to visually link industrial production with the climate crises. There is also a suggestion of theatrical space where we watch something being enacted in an unreal world that is not our immediate reality. Many would agree that climate denial has given way to a more general  acceptance that things are changing, but for many this is far into the future and life can go on much as before. I have chosen to focus on weather events since these are part of everyday experience and a means of alerting us to change happening right now.


Visual material is black and white devoid of humans and animals, a conscious attempt to present familiar imagery in a way that is different from daily news reporting. The pace and rhythm of the work is calibrated towards slowness. Imagery is not extreme or overly sensational. For some the work may hold the contradictory aspects of beauty and dread. In this sense it could be related to ‘the terrible beauty’ of W.B. Yeats poem The Second Coming.  


The vocal range within the fifty voices of State Choir LATVIJA, together with Rhona Clarke’s previous experience of working with this choir made for a special partnership. The text of choice was the latin poem Dies Irae which describes the final judgement, also known as the doomsday text. Its medieval plainchant setting is embedded within LAST ACT upholding a tradition among composers throughout the centuries of quoting the Dies Irae chant. A layer of other sounds expands the aural experience. From the initial arresting drum beat to the measured beats that follow and the final tolling bell there is a constant sense of marking time. A basso profondo; the deepest sound within the male vocal range was consciously and deliberately chosen for the final sound sequences.


While many may see this work as presenting a fait accompli with the gloomiest possible outcome, LAST ACT is essentially about the urgency of time rather than the dark finale. Human responses to climate catastrophe tend to fall into either of two categories: those who are hopeful and those who believe it’s already too late. For this latter group all action is pointless, for the first group mitigating actions are showing positive outcomes, but conversely this can lead to complacency. LAST ACT calls attention to the urgencies of time and action if the planet is to avoid apocalyptic disruption.


LAST ACT was made sustainably with travel kept to a minimum, footage was gathered locally where possible then supplemented with existing material from other sources.



LAST ACT installation view (South Gallery LCGA)


The Paris Agreement called for global warming to be kept at or below 1.5 degrees requiring a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and a target of net zero by 2050. To attain these objectives everything we do must now be considered in terms of its carbon footprint


Marie Hanlon was born in Kilkenny. She exhibited regularly at The Rubicon Gallery, Dublin from 1995 until its closure in 2009. She holds an MA in ‘Art in the Contemporary World from The School of Visual Culture, NCAD, Dublin, and a BA in English and Art History from University College, Dublin. In recent years her artmaking has moved away from painting in favour of sculptural installation. This change coincides with a growing awareness of environmental issues and the precariousness of life on the planet. She has collaborated with contemporary Irish composers, notably Rhona Clarke. Exhibitions include LAST ACT, Limerick City Gallery, 2024. Water – More or Less, The LAB Gallery, Dublin and Uillinn , West Cork Arts Centre, 2021 – 2022. As part of the Eco Showboat project her installation  Salt / Water was  shown at College Lane Gallery, Howth, 2023. Forthcoming: LAST ACT will be shown at The MAC, Belfast, 2025.

Marie Hanlon is a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s affiliation of creative artists.



Rhona Clarke was born in Dublin. She is a former Associate Professor in Music at Dublin City University.  Her output includes choral, chamber, orchestral and electronic works. She has received commissions from New Music Dublin, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, The Sydney Philharmonia Chorus, Chamber Choir Ireland, the Choir of the Chapels Royal, H M Tower of London, the Cork International Choral Festival, Concorde, Galway Music Residency, Music Network and the National Concert Hall, among others. Her work has been performed and broadcast throughout Ireland and worldwide. Most recently her choral piece O Vis Aeternatis is selected by the International Society for Contemporary Music for World Music Days 2024 in the Faroe Islands.

The many recordings of her works include two portrait albums on the Métier, Divine Art Recordings label: A Different Game (Fidelio Trio, 2017), Sempiternam, a  CD of Clarke’s choral music performed by the State Choir Latvija (2021).

Rhona Clarke is a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s affiliation of creative artists.



LCGA will publish a booklet within the run of the exhibition with a commissioned text by Brian Fay 


The Gallery Plan Your Visit Gallery Events Exhibitions The Collection Education Publications Media