Stephen Brandes

The Trotskys in Kilsheelan and Other Histories of Unreliable Origin


South Tipperary Arts Centre, Clonmel

9th September – 15th October 2022






 In the Winter of 1936, exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalya Sedova were taken from their house arrest at a farm outside Oslo in Norway and put on an oil tanker, destined for a new life in Mexico. In order to avoid the seasonally devastating storms attacking the Eastern Atlantic, the ship clandestinely docks in Cobh and the exiles are brought ashore.


There begins a road trip that takes them to Kilsheelan and along the way to a very uncharacteristic obsession. The work of Stephen Brandes is rooted in collage and is often imbued with a keen interest in modern history from the 1700’s Enlightenment to the present. Brandes interprets ‘collage’ loosely however, as an act of cutting and pasting together ideas as much as material, to produce paintings, video and drawings, as well as collage in the true sense of the artform. It could be said that even history is used as material for collage insofar that his research and observations are metaphorically cut up and reassembled to produce episodes of stories that wander sideways from established accuracy. At his exhibition at South Tipperary Arts Centre, Brandes presents  a newly commissioned video work, which collages Brandes’ own fabricated photographic images with vintage British Pathé news reels.


The Trotsky’s in Kilsheelan was commissioned by South Tipperary Arts Centre with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland and support from Tipperary County Council.

© Stephen Brandes 2024