Glass House Gallery, Shankill Road Library, Belfast
Solo Show

17 September 2021 - 8 January 2022

‘AND THEN IT ALL GOT DARK’ is an exploration into escapism. Paisley’s practice explores the Anthropocene, the most recent period in Earth’s history, where human activity has begun to have a significant detrimental impact on the Earth’s systems. In the past, her work has explored the evidence behind the Anthropocene, introducing the viewer to the same sense of inevitability she feels surrounding the planetary situation. In this work, she began to think about the mentality of people simultaneously living in and creating the Anthropocene.

‘AND THEN IT ALL GOT DARK’, makes the comparison between the Anthropocene and youth, coming of age and the messy escapism that comes with it. Paisley is comparing the mentality of people living in the Anthropocene with that of Youth. Coming to terms with the reality or levity of a situation can often seem too much. A much simpler, yet more problematic reaction to facing a problem head on, is to spiral and seek out distractions. It’s easier to choose escapism over solutions.
In 2017 a psychological study researching Youth and escapism, ‘Coping Through Escapism: How Today's Youth Deals With Stress’ by Dr. Ilona Jerabek and Deborah Muoio, found that the top coping strategy adopted by Centennials (people born after 1995) was distraction, which only placed no. 5 for the previous generation of Millennials.

‘Consistently dealing with stressful situations by resorting to distraction can lead to escapism, where the individual completely loses touch with reality through social media, video games, books, movies and, on the more extreme side, drugs and alcohol. Temporary distraction is fine, but you can’t avoid your problems forever.’ - Dr. Ilona Jerabek and Deborah Muoio, ‘Coping Through Escapism: How Today's Youth Deals With Stress’, PsychTests AIM Inc, 2017.
She finds comparisons with her lines of thought and Plato’s allegory of the cave. Just like Plato’s prisoners, we turn back to the safety of the cave and its shadows. We choose an illusion of the truth, a fake but easier reality. The oil paintings, acrylic paintings and videos pieces within the exhibition depict places and scenes of escapism. Places she has gone to escape. The works have been created from her own pictures and videos of concerts and festivals. Within the exhibition she explores how painting can also exist beyond a 2D image.

Images courtesy of Ben Malcomson