Wednesday 30 September 2015

What We Call Love Part 2

The "What We Call Love" exhibition at IMMA in Dublin is so large, and there is much to remember about it. I particularly liked this delicate piece by Louise Bourgeois. As I said previously, I am more familiar with her large-scale works, but the small works are just as powerful in their expression of intimacy. The embracing figures are hand sewn soft sculptures and this looks to be a hand blown glass enclosure, reminding one of a bell jar.

 Again in another small piece by Bourgeois, the embracing figures are surrounded by another material. This soft gauze can be seen as a cocoon-like protective enclosure.

I personally don't think any discussion of love can take place without a mention of John & Yoko, so I was pleased to see a few photos of them in a political section of the exhibition -- from the Montreal bed-in, their wedding at Gibraltar and a picture from The Acorn Project.
 There were Irish artists also included in the show. I have long admired the work of sculptor Dorothy Walker, so was delighted to see some of her work that I hadn't seen before. The Passion Bed, 1993, is a delicate piece made of steel wire and sandblasted wine glasses.

Here is a detail of it:

Garrett Phelan is another Irish artist whose work I am familiar with. I first met Garrett when he was working in Temple Bar Gallery & Studios at the time of my first solo exhibition, and have bumped into him a few times over the past 20 or so years. It was delightful to meet him again at the IMMA launch. Below is one of his pieces that were included in the show, New Faith Love Song. Unfortunately the other other piece, a gorgeous gold reliquary specially commissioned for this show is too new to find its image on the web, and the launch was too crowded for me to get a good photo of it!

I can't remember when or where I saw a whole exhibition of Rebecca Horn's complex machine installations (The Tate Modern or IMMA?) but I enjoyed seeing her work again. The photo of course cannot show the sound and movement in the piece -- the steel "arrow" tapping against one of the glass funnels, the guns moving until they randomly face each other perfectly and shoot liquid at each other.

IMMA touts this as its "most ambitious exhibition to date" and it most definitely is. I am only skimming the top of the barrel with my blog. The exhibition includes nearly 200 works of national and international importance and interest. In addition to the artists that I have highlighted there is also work by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Nan Goldin, Marina Abramovich, Meret Oppenheim, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jean Genet -- the list goes on. The exhibition continues to Feb 7 2016, see it if you can! Further information at

Saturday 26 September 2015

What We Call Love Part 1

The exhibition "What We Call Love" opened recently at IMMA in Dublin. I braved monsoon-like weather and had to leave my house at 4.30 to catch a bus that took two hours to get into the city during rush hour. But it was worth it. The show was huge and encompassed all media with work by modern masters and contemporary international and Irish artists. Certainly love provides a wide topic for interpretation and exposition. In the first room of the exhibition it was love at first sight -- this tiny carving on lime wood, "Couple" is by Picasso.

Also in the first room, it was my pleasure to walk around this bronze construction by Alberto Giacometti. It's a complicated piece with clues to its original molding, but impossible to see welds (could it have been cast in one piece?). There is a lovely painting by Max Ernst on the wall behind the sculpture.

I was surprised by this Dali diptych, as I have never seen images of it before. Other Dali paintings that I've seen live have always surprised me by being a lot smaller than I expect; in this respect I was quite surprised at how comparatively large this piece is!

In one of the rooms there were quite a number of works by Marcel Duchamp with which I was unfamiliar. There were four small-scale bronze and mixed media sculptures in enclosed plinth cases, but there were also a series of etchings on Japanese vellum that were exquisite. The etchings were all "drawings" that referenced old master works. The picture here unfortunately does no justice to the work, but I didn't want to exclude Duchamp from the vicarious experience of the exhibition.

Brancusi's "Kiss" is iconic to me -- I am sure an image of this appears in every art history book I have ever seen, so it was great to see the real sculpture.

I am more familiar with Louise Bourgeois' large scale works so it was lovely to see the intimate pieces that were included in this exhibition. The embracing figures in the middle of this beaded mandala are soft sculptures. I will include more images of her work in another post about this exhibition.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Dublinia - Viking Museum

It seems like a long time ago -- I think because it was such a gorgeous warm day and the weather has been like to a monsoon of late -- but it was only a couple of weekends ago that I went to see Dublinia Viking Museum at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin. I had never visited this museum before and found the three floors of displays very enjoyable and educational. I had arrived shortly after the museum opened and I was sure glad of this as the place was jammed by time I was leaving at lunchtime!

I did the 96 step climb up St. Michael's Tower where there were great views of Dublin, including the outline of a Viking hut across the road from the museum.

Coming down from the tower I was delighted that one had to exit via the enclosed bridge over the road. It is such an elegant structure with stained glass windows letting lots of coloured light in that day.

Outside and in front of the cathedral is the chancery ruin. I imagine that the ground must have been considerably lower as that broken window structure was at my feet.

I have often walked by this series of pavement sculpture that gives an indication of the items found when the area was undergoing rebuilding. The building of the Dublin City civic offices was quite scandalous at the time as the archaeologists were in a beat-the-clock situation where they were only granted a very limited time to excavate the site.

The artist who created these works is Rachel Joynt, an Irish artist whose public work I have admired for some time.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

In addition to visiting the Dead Zoo last week, we also dropped in to the National Gallery to give my visiting sister a chance to see the Sean Scully show, and then to show off the beautiful National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology building. The rotunda entrance is impressive.

My husband, sculptor James Hayes, has been recreating bronze bells using ancient techniques on the annual Umha Aois: Experimental Bronze Casting Symposium. So we took a closer look at the hand bells in the museum while we were there.

The double loop handles are intriguing.

The didactic says this bell is associated with St. Patrick, purely on the grounds of the inscription.

This is one of my husband's bronze bells; he cast it in Skibbereen this summer, where Umha Aois was held this year.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Visit to the Dead Zoo

My sister Yvonne, who is also an artist and owner of Yumart Gallery in Toronto (link on the sidebar) is visiting from Toronto. The other night, after a fondue meal at my place, we got into a discussion about museums. There was some dismay expressed over the reliance on computers and inter-activity to make museums more appealing to contemporary audiences. The perfect antidote to this was to visit some museums in Dublin the following day, starting with the Dead Zoo -- i.e. the Museum of Natural History.  The visitor is immediately charmed by gamboling shrubbery at the entrance to this museum in the heart of the city.

And then the visitor can be impressed by the skeletons of the prehistoric Giant Irish Elk (Megaloceros giganteus).

The jumbly display of stuffed animals and skeletons in the main hall is gorgeous in its variety. The museum is small and the architecture old. There is most definitely a musty odour but it is totally agreeable to the experience of this perfect example of a Victorian "cabinet" museum.

The display of primate skeletons is a clear Darwinian reminder of human development.