Review of Soft Ground by Eamonn Maxwell
Soft Ground | Sophie Behal, Maeve Lynch and Cliodhna O’Riordan | CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork
Where does authorship begin and end? In the world of architecture the likes of Gehry, Hadid and Liebskind are celebrated for buildings that they designed but did not construct. Yet when it comes to contemporary art, some people are angered that Damien Hirst or Ai WeiWei don’t make all of their work, somehow implying that their studio efforts are diminished through collaboration with others – not that I think either artist makes great work anymore, but I hope you get the point.
This exhibition, by three recent Crawford College of Art graduates, aims to shine a light on collaboration and authorship, by blurring the boundaries between each artists’ respective practice. Rather than a list of works or wall labels to delineate each piece and its maker, the viewer only has a single sheet of paper with a brief statement about the artists working together in partnership rather than in isolation. The works were specifically conceived and produced for this exhibition – but more importantly to reflect the history of this building, which was built in mid-19th century as a grain store and then subsequently used for storage of timber and then as a printers shop. That industrial heritage is evident, in a very subtle way, in the practice of the three artists.
On entering the gallery, the first thing one encounters are several, free standing wooden structures. They appear to be cut-out that reference the tops of archways, perhaps modelled on the entrance to the crypt like spaces in the building. Somehow they manage to convey a precariousness – as if they could topple any moment. Yet the suggestion of the built environment gives them an inherent strength. Running through the centre of the gallery are a number of metal pillars than hark back to previous iterations of the building. These have been rendered void as the artists have wrapped them in soft pink foam thus negating any sense of presence. It’s understated but very effective.
Throughout the space there are sculptures resting against the wall. Fabricated from wood these works allude to water depth markers that could be used to measure the River Lee, just metres from the gallery, or ranging rods that could be used for survey purposes on the nearby Brewery development. Again the artists are using symbols of industry and rendering them nonfunctional, yet beautiful.
Towards the rear of the gallery is a video/sculptural work that relates back to the wooden sculptures at the entrance, in terms of absence and presence. A piece of Perspex has been cut into the form of a mountain, with one element free standing, the other placed in the corner. Across these a simple image, perhaps another mountain has been projected. The sense of shifting surfaces is most effective. There are a number of other works in the show but somehow these seem less realised, especially the film of the hourglass which was hard to register on a sunny day.
In horse racing the term soft ground relates to the firmness, or otherwise, of the track. I sense Behal, Lynch and O’Riordan have established some very solid ground with this exhibition and its concept, and I look forward to future possibilities.
Posted on 11/04/2017on Soft Ground
Review The Irish Examiner by Marc O'Sullivan April 30th 2014
Maeve Lynch: Site Assembly
Alliance Francaise de Cork
Maeve Lynch is a young Cork artist, a graduate of the Crawford College of Art and Design, who has a background in costume and set design in the theatre.
Much of Lynch’s new work is black: by reducing her palette to its bare bones, Lynch has given herself the freedom to experiment in a variety of media, most of which relate to printmaking.
As the title of the exhibition suggests, some of the work relates to construction. ‘An experiment in building’ is sculptural, consisting of three small concrete blocks, two of which are covered in wool and feathers, while the other features a tiny etching of a house. The materials, as with the feathers in ‘Edifice’, suggest buildings are not solid or permanent, but fragile and ephemeral. Lynch depicts dwellings as tiny: in the photo intaglio ‘Dependence Variable’, she presents two images, one of a house, the other of a single nail. Other pieces are also sculptural, or relate to bookmaking. The artist varies their presentation: one untitled work, a book of cloth pages, hangs on the wall, while a similar piece rests on a podium and another rests against the wall. The viewer is challenged to engage with each in relation to its surroundings.
Most of Lynch’s pieces stand alone, but some work in tandem with others. ‘This one leads to the end’ and ‘Build walls of shadows’ are the same size, but the first is an oil pastel on paper and the other a monoprint. ‘This one leads to the end’ is an elegant black D-shape, albeit on its side, while ‘Build walls of shadows’ is a frenzied smudge of black, its density contrasting with the openness of its companion.
Lynch also explores how objects are affected by their treatment in artworks. Judging by its shape, the subject of the photo intaglio print ‘Black Tent’ is a circus marquee, but who would have thought a construction so associated with entertainment could be so brooding? Site Assembly is a thought-provoking and beautifully presented exhibition of work, one that confirms Lynch’s professionalism as an artist.
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Review of The Infinite Line [A Search for the Unknown] by Chris Clarke for Enclave Review's eleventh edition.
Text copyright Chris Clarke. First published in Enclave Review, Autumn 2014, pp.2-3
The Infinite Line (A Search for the Unknown)
In Tactic’s dimly lit interior, an array of angular horizontal planes hover in the air, casting variations of shadow and light across the adjacent walls. The objects and their reflections are barely distinguishable, forcing the spectator, should they wish to distinguish between material form and immaterial illusion, to get closer to these delicate works and watch their movements carefully.
In its emphasis on ephemerality and on the uncertainty of perception, Cassandra Eustace’s What Lies Between Repeated Differences encapsulates the concerns of The Infinite Line (A Search for the Unknown), a group exhibition that also featured the artists Richard Forrest and Roseanne Lynch, as well as an opening performance piece by Fergus Byrne. Eustace’s drawings of dense, knot-like tangles on transparent acetate paper, hung so that the sheets float away from the wall, produce shadows that similarly complicate the separation between the artwork and its reflection, with its illusionary transfer onto the backing wall integral to the overall composition.
Eustace’s work also shares a certain formal affinity with Roseanne Lynch’s series, Exposures 1-9. Subtly manipulating folded structures directly onto light-sensitive photographic paper, the resulting one-off images offer startling diversity with very limited means: a flicker of pure white light, gradations of shadow along creases, angles and apertures, all set against a field of pitch-black emptiness. Intriguingly, Lynch also points to another perceptual gap here, stating of the work that ‘the print is the link between the moment of making, and another moment of viewing.’
Richard Forrest’s Truncated Tetrahedron is a minimalist sculpture trimmed along one side, upsetting the anticipated geometrical unity of the form. Yet its placement alongside another work, Fractal Structure, infers a specific bodily relationship to mathematical order and symmetry. This photographic print, laid on the floor, portrays a view of the open brain of an anatomical dummy, and it is this disruption of perspective, whereby one looks down yet also sees the skull from the side, that Forrest seems to prioritise over any correlation between subject matter or content. The spectator is repositioned and disoriented in his or her relationship to the work.
If Forrest’s incorporation of figurative elements seems strangely at odds with his formal concerns here, it shares an affinity with a performance work by Fergus Byrne, held on the exhibition’s opening evening. In some ways, this piece captures the idea of the perceptual lacuna simply through its status within the group exhibition: it occurs in a different room of the gallery, and for one night only. However, the curatorial concept has also informed its conception, as a nude Byrne methodically and slowly organizes his movements in relation to the unwieldy, open wooden structure that he bears. The burden is shifted from his shoulders to his back, then held aloft by a single extended leg, then balanced on the back of his neck. Occasionally, the object collapses or settles into an angular prop, whereby the artist quickly traces out its formation onto a nearby sheet of paper. Each stage is transitory, temporary, a phase in a potentially never-ending succession of gestures that resists representation as a definitive moment or image.
In this way, The Infinite Line also challenged the tendency (or compulsion) for viewers to perceive an exhibition as a series of discrete, distinct objects. Brought into proximity through arrangement or thematic consistencies, one nevertheless compartmentalizes each artwork as a singular, if interrelated, entity, drawing an invisible frame that distinguishes one work or artist from another. Artworks are generally finite, determined by the dimensions or duration specific to the piece. Perhaps it is for this reason that The Infinite Line (A Search for the Unknown) hedged its bets slightly by acknowledging a certain inevitable allusiveness in its (bracketed) title. The works here may blur together, overlap, affect and interrupt each other, yet at the same time they point out that, as spectators, we arbitrarily insist upon a certain, respectful distance, both between the objects themselves and in our relationship to them.
Chris Clarke is Senior Curator at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork. The Infinite Line was curated by Sophie Behal and Maeve Lynch, and was on view 8 - 22 May 2014.
Text copyright Chris Clarke. First published in Enclave Review, Autumn 2014, pp.2-3
Review of hOurs at The Ground Floor of the Elysian Tower
(Part of the Avant Festival)
Review by Leslie Allen
hOurs is a response by the committe for the third year Crawford student show to the hours of planning, organization and construction that went into the production of an exhibition in the imposing unfinished space of the Elysian tower. The cavernous concrete space was elegantly transformed into a functional gallery space by the hard work of the third year students, yet still retaining the brutal industrial feel of an unused shell that is the white elephant of the Elysian.Eight artists came together to produce installations, drawings, prints and sculptures that reflected their interaction and stuggle with the gallery space. A few pieces were recognizable from the third year show, such as Elliot Rainey’sRetro Gression. A room constructed from unfinished wooden panels, the centre contains a stool for the viewer to sit on, facing in either direction are two long vertical mirrors, which are angled in such a way as to encompass only the reflection of the structure behind, and to completely eclipse any trace of your own image. A simple visual trick, it is a disconcerting play on our expectations of mirrors as instruments of doubling. Instead of an infinite multiplication of your reflection, a human presence can only be glimpsed when approaching the centre from the side, once seated in a direct line between the mirrors your bodily presence vanishes. Mirrors become a tool of vanishing- reawakening the delight and astonishment that clear reflections produced with the invention of reflective glass- but here inverted to produce and opposite effect.Fiona Creagh and Emily O’Flynn also chose to contain their work within discrete separate areas within the larger space. Each artist uses the gentle glow of a lamp to illuminate the dark corners of their individual spaces. Creagh’s layered monoprints of city scenes in evocative sunset hues make use of the low lighting and enclosed nature of the space to enhance the reception of her themes, of small square windows to the city. The plastic layers placed about a centimeter in front of the coloured prints, or surrounding the prints on four sides to create a three dimensional box, create the feeling of distance from the hazy views of city buildings and window lights, as if viewed from a distance, through double glazed glass at sunset. This intimacy of the enclosed space is also made use of by O’Flynn, who presents a series of black sketches in charcoal on cotton, the expressionist marks conjuring up half formed faces that bleed into the fabric texture of the cotton ground. The hazy light of the solitary lamp here creates a world of shadows that add dimension to the black and white images.Other artists chose to interact more directly with the internal structure of the building. Maeve Lynch’s piece New Growth is perhaps the most successful intervention into the concrete space. Continuing her theme of hair growth, small tufts of merino wool protrude from cracks and cavities on the walls surface, interjecting an organic element into the dead man-made forms of the room. It is as if the unfinished concrete had suddenly begun to sprout a layer of fur to cover its cold greyness. I would have liked to see Lynch continue this growth around more surfaces of the space, rather than confining it to her own area of display.The left-over plinths, number stickers and nails in walls that marked the remnants of the Ground Floor exhibition in June provided a unifying feature, connecting the disparate works which were for the most part confined to their own individual areas of the space. While this made evident the differences in approaches and concerns of the individual artists it also made the central theme a little difficult to grasp. Works as conceptually diverse as Rory Mullen’s Cart After Christy Brown and Fergus Dowd’s Untitled stacks of fruit, still in their supermarket packaging, placed on white plinths had little to unite them except perhaps a certain wry humour towards the hours of manual labour and consumption of food that must have gone in to the organization and production of a large collective show.In all, hOurs demonstrates the diversity of personal responses that emerges out of an interaction with a space. The Elysian provides a presence of its own that complements the work of the artists. The show’s greatest strength is the subtlety and variety of artistic reactions to both physical environment and conceptual premise.