Black & White

Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, 13 January – 25 February 2018

Does a ‘feminine aesthetic’ exist? It’s a divisive hypothesis (and a possibly unanswerable question) that came to mind upon viewing Jane O’Malley’s exhibition, ‘Black & White’, at the Butler Gallery. The fifty pieces shown included several etchings and aquatint prints, as well as sketches in an array of media, including chalk, Conté crayon, pastel, oil, pen and ink. As the title implies, this body of work is monochromatic, although a couple of pieces display slight intrusions of yellow. O’Malley’s ease with her wide range of media is immediately apparent. Lines are loose, fluid and used sparingly but effectively. There is a pleasing juxtaposition of sparse details – a simple outline suffices to suggest a jug, a straw, a bowl of cherries – with repetition used to add substance and pattern, as in the fields and flora of her Chinese brush drawings. O’Malley also has numerous techniques in her repertoire; these include uninterrupted fine line, scratching and removing marks. In At Michael Joe’s with Bob Quinn the Dog, 1984, she achieves an extraordinary luminosity in her rendering of the pots, bottles and jugs, through a combination of such techniques. Continue reading “Black & White”

Shadowgraph: Seeing the Invisible


My father dedicated his life to aerodynamics, turbulence research and the then emerging fields of bionics and biomimicry, so I have been around the sciences most of my life. When I was five, we visited the NASA facilities in Houston. Physics had a tangible aura of excitement and adventure for me, but it was only much later that I began to understand how challenging this highly creative discipline really is. My upbringing instilled a firm belief that human curiosity, wonder and a need for reason are shared driving forces across both the arts and the sciences.

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Gut Instinct: Art, food & feeling

Marina Abramovic, Sonja Alhäuser, Domestic Godless, Elif Erkan, Fiona Hallinan, Siobhan McGibbon, Abigail O’Brien, Thomas Rentmeister, Neil Shawcross, Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 25 November 2016 – 19 March 2017

THIS exhibition, curated by Professor John Cryan, Chris Clarke and Fiona Kearney, draws on research by Cryan and colleagues at the Anatomy and Neuroscience department of UCC, in order to “explore how digestion relates to our mental and emotional states”.

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All Mountains Are Moving

Paul Murnaghan, Limerick City Gallery of Art, 15 September – 30 October 2016

Paul Murnaghan’s exhibition ‘All Mountains Are Moving’ explores archaic belief systems by courting wonderment and superstition. This new body of work refers to outmoded ways of magical thinking, but also arouses a sense of mystery in the viewer through a clever use of materials and techniques that make us question what we are seeing.

‘All Mountains Are Moving’ is exhibited upstairs in Limerick City Gallery of Art across numerous rooms around the square first floor balcony space above the Atrium Gallery. The first room on the right omits a yellowy glow, created by an orange stain on the glass window. In the middle of the room is the sculptural work The stars don’t shine upon us, we’re in the way of their light. This is composed of an unlikely and precarious combination of materials, including an arching arm of plastic covered in fake leather, which is held up by part of a peeled tree branch. Nothing is fixed, but rather employs and seems to transcend the laws of gravity. At one end of the arm is an antique weight which roots the structure to the floor. At the elevated end is a hoover-like mouth with synthetic orange rope hanging from its end. Above this, and at the peak of the arch, is a levitating feather-covered ball that rotates slowly around in the air. This element of the sculpture is captivating and introduces the pervasive sense of mystery and magic that permeates the exhibition. The feather ball also adds an air of fragility to the piece as all the disjointed materials appear to be harmoniously balanced, yet could fall apart at any moment. Through its materiality, The Stars … recalls a lineage of conceptual sculpture by combining the drama of Richard Serra’s balancing steel works with the natural materials of ritualistic practices used in the sculptural installations of self-appointed shaman Joseph Beuys.

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