Memory Needs a Landscape

Taylor Galleries, Dublin, 5 –  27 May 2017

The relationship between rural Irish communities and the land is both pragmatic and poetic, played out through intimacy with its anatomy: fields, hedgerows, rights of way and historical provenance. Bernadette Kiely’s approach to landscape painting mines these psychological and physiological relationships as a site of labour, ownership and heritage. Traditional landscape painting tends to depict scenic views at the beginning or the end of the day, when people are absent and it is transformed into a form of poetry. For Kiely, daily labour provides inspiration in paintings that chronicle the cycle of farming life. In her recent exhibition, ‘Memory Needs a Landscape’, her subject is challenged by the most uncompromising grey shroud of a damp winter, which has encouraged an expansion in her stylistic range, evident in the inclusion of more abstracted and conceptually-based monotypes and more folkish and mystical paintings. Continue reading “Memory Needs a Landscape”

The Mistress of the Mantle

Katherine Nolan, MART, Dublin, 2 – 31 March 2017

KATHERINE Nolan is a performance artist whose work focuses on her body and her image as sites of investigation into the representation and construction of femininity. Her recent series of performances, The Mistress of the Mantle, held at MART, Rathmines, were based on the artist’s experience of returning to Ireland after 10 years in London. She found that the reality of moving ‘home’ was not quite the return to the fold that she had anticipated. Unexpectedly, this transition marked her symbolic arrival at the precipice of adulthood. Time away and dislocation from Ireland imposed a disruption of the rites of passage between childhood and maturity that are normally cushioned by the stability of family, community and place. Nolan had to grapple with expectations – both her own and other people’s – about how she should fulfil this new responsibility, triggering a re-evaluation of her identity, memory, nostalgia and complex attachment to Ireland.

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Would You Die for Ireland?

John Byrne, The LAB, Dublin, 24 June – 10 August 2016

The official 1916 commemoration on Easter Sunday was a conservative if dignified solution that marked the de facto centenary of the foundation of our state. Designed to avoid controversy or soul searching, the event sidelined years of colossal social and economic upheaval in favour of a traditional military parade by the Irish Defence Forces. And they did it very well.  In contrast, but arguably hidden safely in the margins, John Byrne’s exhibition ‘Would You Die for Ireland?’ is part of the LAB Gallery’s series of exhibitions supported by Dublin City Council’s Commemoration Fund, which asked artists “to consider what contribution we might make to future readings of the Easter Rising”.

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Just Left of Copernicus (The Roof of the Story)

Niamh McCann, VISUAL, Carlow, 3 October 2015–3 January 2016

The core work in ‘Just Left of Copernicus’ is a large geodesic structure installed in VISUAL’s main gallery. This is a challenging space, but the work is big enough to successfully withstand compression by the room’s engulfing depth and volume. It is inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, a pioneering engineer/designer who patented geodesic building design in 1960 in an effort to achieve cheaper, faster and more efficient home building. McCann’s motivation for making this work seems ostensibly to come from nostalgia for the ‘modern’ period, when civil innovation was understood as a means to better the conditions of man. This ties into her collaboration with Limerick Fab Lab, one of many fabrication laboratories (see also WeCreate and Workbench) providing the public with an environment in which to design, make and construct pretty much whatever they choose.

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