Wednesday 27 April 2022

incognito 2022

Annually, for quite awhile now, I've participated in the annual fundraiser for The Jack and Jill Children's Foundation. I first got involved with the fundraisers for this charity in 2013 with The Big Egg Hunt Dublin. I blogged about the creation of my egg here, here, here, here, here, here and here. From the number of weeks it took to do that piece, it's understandable that artists could not make an annual committment, so it is with some relief that "incognito" took over. The premise is simple: the artist turn three cards into any type of art they choose and sign only on the back of the card, the artworks are all photographed and put on display for a uniform price, buyers are not aware of who made which piece until they've bought a piece and turned it over! All funds go directly to the charity and it continues to be able to do its good work. The artists are happy to donate their time and talent, the purchasers are happy to receive a piece of art for their monetary donation, and Jack and Jill is happy at the success of these fundraisers. It is a win-win situation for all involved!

Once again this year was a huge success! All works cost the uniform price of €65 and there were over 3000 works in total. Due to covid, the sale was online both this year and last year. This year the work was sold out in one day! Now that the sale has happened, my three collage cards are winging their ways to their new owners and I can show the work that I submitted. 

Last summer I was purging some shelves, including my magazine collection. However, before I recycled, I went through each magazine to save interesting pictures (colour, texture, etc) for use in future collages. During my residency at Signal Arts Centre last fall I made a number of collage cards for future use and created the small artworks, using the collage method, for my contribution to incognito 2022. I decided to use floral imagery and this is my collage representation of a section of my xmas cactus. I thought the background desert (from a magazine) was appropriate for this subject.

Again from a magazine, the background colour decided that I would make an image of an iris.

I liked the contrasting colours of the cave as a background for this wild rose.

I blogged about previous incognito fundraisers here and here (2021), here (2020), here (2019) and here (2017). I don't know why I didn't blog about 2018 but I did participate!

Wednesday 20 April 2022

A Growing Enquiry at the RHA Gallagher Gallery, part 2

In last week's post I did an overview of this exhibition and spoke specifically about a few of the artists. As it is a large exhibition I thought I would mention a couple more of the artists.

On entry to the gallery I could see Laura Fitzgerald's 2D works on the wall across the room and from that distance thought they were embroidered works - they seemed so fine and precise. But no these were not embroidery (though no less painstaking); they are certainly fine and precise, but these are witty drawings done with Sharpie pens! I looked at the accompanying didactics for this group and indeed the titles also are full of good humour: (clockwise from upper left) Restless Tractors, More Weather, but I do still care, Powerful People Promises and The Ark.

Here's a closeup of Restless Tractors.The back and forth drawing of the field with the Sharpie mimics plowing field and draws the viewer into both the making and the meaning of the work.

The panoramic landscape scroll A Mountain for Venice also has a witty didactic in which Fitzgerald details each item used in the work's creation - not just the material but where it was purchased and how (and in the case of the specific paper, how long it spent in customs before she finally received it!).

Jane Locke's Consumer Farmer (which could only be seen once one was fully in the gallery) is also a witty work with an eye to the future. I was especially looking forward to her contribution to the exhibition as I have experienced her work on several occasions in the past (and wrote about one in CIRCA Online here). Locke's installation comprises of a futuristic geodesic dome greenhouse where the plants are sparse but alive and well, a worksuit, which again seems futuristic as it has a farmer's patch on it very similar to what one might expect on a NASA spacesuit, and the product catalogue for the spring of 2123 full of Locke's beautiful drawings and surreal product descriptions.

The exhibition A Growing Enquiry - Art and Agriculture, Reconciling Values continues till April 24, 2022.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

A Growing Enquiry at the RHA Gallagher Gallery, part 1

I was delighted to see, in person, the large group exhibiton, A Growing Enquiry - Art & Agriculture, Reconciling Values at the RHA Gallagher Gallery in Dublin recently.

The exhibition consisted of new installations by seven women artists - Miriam O'Connor, Laura Fitzgerald, Orla Barry, Katie Watchorn, Jane Locke, Maria McKinney and Anna Rackard. Two of these women (Barry and O'Connor) are farmers as well as artists, and Rackard's large photographs, portraits of women farmers, are scattered throughout the exhibition, certainly reminding the viewers that agriculture is NOT an exclusively male environment.

The exhibition, curated by Patrick T Murphy, responds to questions about how does one create value systems around art and agriculture.

The exhibition is impressive with its wit, artistic response and sheer scale. The didactics were a pleasure to read, giving insight into each artist's personal response to the enquiry and allowing the audience to enter into the dialogue.

The gallery is huge, which allows one to wander the space and engage with each installation (except Rackard's which appear throughout the space) as a separate entity.

There was also some overlap as I could hear the song/chant, which was part of Orla Barry's installation that was not immediately visible until one turned a corner in the gallery.

Barry's installation also included raw sheep wool and a large printout of an Aran knit sweater. Barry's work spoke of commodity, hierarchy, production and language as both the printout and cane crooks were embedded with words. The song itself was evocative.

The song, which was a collaboration with composer Paul Bradley, could be heard throughout the gallery, and the lyrics were written on rough wood - a mirror split of a tree adjoined to resemble the shape of a Celtic cross.

I'll talk about a few more of the artists and their work in next week's blog. A Growing Enquiry - Art & Agriculture, Reconciling Values runs till April 24.

Wednesday 6 April 2022


 I was walking around a neighbourhood in Dublin one day last week and was delighted to see a number of magnolia trees in bloom. It's definitely springtime. I had never actually seen magnolia trees until I moved to Ireland, though I was familiar with their existence from Billie Holiday's amazing song "Strange Fruit" (and I also enjoyed the Siouxsie and the Banshees post-punk cover in my youth). Since my move to this side of the world I have often seen these trees at this time of year and just love them.

What really surprised me in that neighbourhood though, was a magnolia hedge - something I had never encountered before.

In front of another house I saw a hedge that I almost identified as magnolia but then dubbed it an imposter as I thought the open blossoms were definitely not correct. I was wrong! When I got home I did a google search and discovered that this is simply a different species of magnolia with which I was unfamiliar. You really do learn something new every day!

I fully admit that I love magnolias and find them inspirational. There is a fabulous magnolia tree in the middle of town, in Bray, just down the street from where I lived for a few years. I did sketches of the tree and in 1999 my acrylic painting Magnolia (3' x4'//91.5 cm x 122 cm) was included in my exhibition Blessings. The painting was bought by my husband's uncle in the USA and is beautifully framed and residing in Iowa City.