The Horror of Nothing to See  - Detail 3



20ft³  –   2002   –

Sheila de Rosa seeks to explore the contradiction between the outer shell and the inner experience; between societal presentation as ‘woman’ and the intimate, internal experience of being a woman.  She is curious about our inner identity; what is hidden and what is shared, what is known and simultaneously unknown.

 De Rosa’s enquiries examine ideas of ‘das Heimlich’[1], combining notions of the familiar with the unfamiliar, a more subtle explanation than the English translation of its opposite, ‘das Unheimlich’ (‘the uncanny’) which denies the uncertainty and undecidability of the original word.  She enjoys the discipline of process, describing it as her comfort zone, where she knows what is required and how to achieve it.  Through these mundane actions other, unexpected factors, come into play – events, ideas, imaginings, on the edge of consciousness and vision.  These moments become the inception of new lines of enquiry and possibility.

Her use of transparent glass, secreted into constructions alluding to furniture, mirrors the hidden secrets of individual experience within the everyday.  Revealing their presence requires persistence curiosity, a willingness to investigate a darkened space.  The work incorporates hard, transparent material, inviting the viewer to see beyond immediate appearances.  The world they find is fluid, soft, unexpected, a mixture of determined events and unplanned accidents – the stuff of human experience.

 De Rosa works in a variety of materials.  Currently she is working in glass, but she has also utilised printed and photographic imagery, three-dimensional presentation.  She cites Louise Bourgeoise, Emma Woffenden, Cornelia Parker and Anish Kapoor amongst her influences.  These artists seek to challenge preconceptions/misconceptions of material and form, regularly disturbing viewers’ perception.  De Rosa clearly intends to follow this legacy.


Arts Council England, 2003

[1] Eric W. Anders, 2000, PhD thesis ‘Disturbing Psychoanalytic Origins: a Derridean reading of Freudian theory’, The Lack of ‘The Uncanny 1: Primary Femininity


The Horror of nothing to See - Detail 2

cobalt wave2   frozen finger   red&blackwave 2copy

In Vitro 1 plus colour  In Vitro detail  In Vitro 2 plus colour

 Although an everyday material glass has the capacity to seduce and fascinate.  During a year long exploration into this material, whilst studying for a Masters Degree, Sheila de Rosa endeavoured to discover the creative potential of this material.

 Cast lead crystal forms were intended to capture the inherent tendency of glass to trap internal elements which occur in the firing programme and are produced by the flow of molten glass in the kiln.  The subtle evidence of glass’s previous molten state provides a metaphor for the outer reality of surface and the beauty of what might lie beyond.  These cast glass shapes were buried inside plinths and were illuminated from within.  The interior lights were activated by infra-red movement detectors that upon entering the exhibition space there appears to be nothing to see.  The real complexity of the glass is, like our everyday interaction with other people, only visible once another’s presence activates the internal light.

 Glass seems capable of appearing on the one hand soft, animated, fecund, and on the other muscular, calm, hard.  It seems to offer the potential to incorporate a plural, layering of meaning.  This paradox offers the chance to express the unique yet universal experience of always being outside the inner experience of other people.

Share Button



Just to let you know, the commission was a great success and both mum and dad loved the works. It turned out we had used one of dad's favourite pictures of mum, and wh...

Karyn & Jules

“In early 2008 I commissioned Sheila de Rosa to produce a limited edition of prints based on my art installation ‘Sandpaper Suit’. My requirements were unusual i...


Read More Testimonials »