Catherine Ellis

Wishing Won't Make It So

Wishing Won't Make It So

artist residency: February - March 2020

exhibition: Culture Night 18 September

Catherine Ellis

Inspired by the fact that St Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse was originally a school, Catherine Ellis decided to create a fictitious ‘school room’. Harking back to a time when school for many was something to be endured, not enjoyed, a notion now long dead.

The title of the work, Wishing Won’t Make It So, alludes to a darker narrative which is inspired from an eclectic source of reference material. Initial intentions referenced from The Dead School, by Patrick McCabe still infuse the exhibition.


‘Excuse me sir – you’re in the way.  I can’t see the blackboard’.

He did’nt think his teacher could ignore him.  That was what he thought.  

But that was where he was wrong………….

His teacher could be just as smart as Stephen when he wanted. 

The Dead School – Patrick McCabe

Twice destroyed by fire and re-built in the 18th Century the Old Schoolhouse and St. Augustine’s Church are now listed buildings. A conversation with the current caretakers confirmed that in more recent years the room was still being used as a Sunday School for children.

Catherine is interested in materials and objects and how our reading of such ‘stuff’ can be informed by its construction. Originally due to open at the end of the residency in March, the full-stop of the lockdown has allowed for new sensibilities to creep into the final exhibition.

Catherine Ellis was born in Derry, where she now lives and works. Process and materials are at the centre of Catherine’s practice. She is a Visual Communications and Fine Art graduate from University of Ulster, and works across media: Installation, sculpture, photography, video and sound. Referenced from literature, film, political and social contexts, her work explores material and the transformational potential within. She has exhibited locally and nationally.

Recent solo exhibitions include Elephants in the Room at Saldanha Gallery, Fort Dunree, Inishowen and So It Goes at Social Gallery, Derry. Most recent collaborative project with artists Amanda Walker, Steve Lewis and Janet Hoy, The Stone Tapes a sound installation funded by Derry City and Strabane Council for The Walls 400 Years Project. Group exhibitions have included work selected for the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.

This project is in partnership with St Augustine’s Heritage Site and is kindly funded by Derry City & Strabane District Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and The Ireland Funds.



Instagram takeover

Privacy Preference Center