Image shown: An + Aisthēsia by Karen Conway

An + Aisth?sia, an exhibition by Karen Conway for Galway International Festival of Art, is on display on the Arts Corridor at Galway University Hospital from 14 July to 23 August 2014. Anaesthesia originates from the Greek word anaisth?sia, from an- ‘without’ + aisth?sis ‘feeling’. While anaesthetised, there happens a temporary suspension of time which is highly controlled and monitored by both the expertise of the anaesthetist and the use of machines such as vaporizers, ventilators and pressure temporarily suspended. By drawing, quite literally on the tools of the anaesthetist as subject matter, the materials themselves became the instruments that allowed the dissection of vintage anaesthetic equipment, which was sourced from both textbooks and objects found in the UHG archive.

In the summer of 2013, Karen Conway visited the UHG anaesthetic department’s archive, which provided her with access to some vintage anaesthetic equipment. She spent four months working from an old disused surgery in Galway which she used as studio space developing this research work through painting and drawing. The dilapidated building itself merged, integrated and became a further integral part of the work. Slate that had fallen off the roof became a canvas for the trilene paintings, as did a mirrored door hacked off a timeworn wardrobe. The research traced the history of Chloroform and the use of trichloroethylene – Trilene, which influenced the recurrent blue/green colour. Traditional media such as pencil, biro, paint and ink were used to consider also the associated equipment of the time focusing on objects such as the plugs and switches required for the operating of the machines and the bottles of chemicals required. Reference was made to the ink bottle which traditionally had been used for making doctors notes and the essential fluids, with the dripping of the oil paint perhaps suggestive of the liquids oozing down before consciousness is lost.

Karen Conway is an artist and teacher based in Galway City. She studied at IADT, Dun Laoghaire and completed postgraduate study in the Cork Institute of Technology and Limerick School of Art and Design. A previous member of the Backwater Studios, Cork and Engage Studios, Galway, she has exhibited widely, most recently in Tulca 2013. Selected work in the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Microsoft, Ireland and many private and public collections.

For further information on the exhibition contact Margaret Flannery, Arts Director at Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust: or 091 544979


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