Margaret O Brien

Margaret O’Brien explores concepts of failure through installation using a combination of sculpture, live sound, light, moving image and kinetics.

Her installations are the result of material experiments that often operate within a live state of malfunction or instability. Underpinning the precarious nature of these works is an exploration of the concept of failure, what its parameters are, and its psychological and emotional values. This often translates to an exploration of material possibility and impossibility through scale, engineering, process, and site. Because of this there must always be some element of discovery for her in the concept and creation of the works, and the possibility of using ‘failure’ as a positive and critical space of trial and endeavour that reflects a human drive to discover. She uses technology as an interface between a material and its environmental conditions, and as a means to evolve its material state. Using this approach, she builds a psychological charge into the experience of the artwork. Although her perspective is dystopian, it is not without humour.

Margaret O’Brien is an Irish visual artist based across Liverpool, Manchester, and Ennis, Co. Clare. She graduated with BA in Fine Art from Limerick School of Art (1995), and MFA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Art, London (2004). Between 2011 and 2019, she completed MPhil in Art and PhD at Trinity College Dublin.


Interference II, 2021
Installation using hand knitted copper thread, moss, grow bulbs, timers, cabling
Image credit Jonas Dellow

Interference III, 2021
Installation using gallium, heat bulbs, cabling, light dependent resistors, arduino, gold leaf on aluminum, perspex casing
Image credit Jonas Dellow

Interference IV, 2021
Installation with sound using microbial fuel cell, arduino, breadboard, piezo buzzer, LEDs, mono amplifier, amplifying horn, cabling