Wednesday 15 February 2023

Rooftop archive 7: solo exhibition in Dublin 1989

Last week I gave all the links to the various posts I made regarding the rooftop archive, so rather than do that again, I am simply providing a link to that post here.

In the fall of 1988 I was offered an exhibition from Temple Bar Gallery & Studios in Dublin. The exhibition, my first solo show, was to take place the following spring. Other than some of the work, which has since been framed, I have not seen much of this work since 1989 so it was with great pleasure that these drawings were sighted again when going through the rooftop portfolios. 

Shepherdess I was the very first drawing I did in this particular style, which I always think of as sculptural: the paper is covered with graphite and the drawing created through careful erasure. I distinctly recall the inspiration for this image coming from a formation of bricks on a wall I saw while looking out the train window on my way in to Dublin one day. It is 76 cm x 56 cm and is from 1988.

This drawing, Figure with Rose, provided the image used for the exhibition invitation. It is also 76 cm x 56 cm and drawn in 1988. The exhibition was launched by the Canadian Ambassador at the time, Dennis McDermott. As well as plain graphite, I also used some coloured graphite for accents.

Prayer, graphite on paper, 76 cm x 56 cm, 1988

The Cloak I, graphite on paper, 76 cm x 56 cm, 1988

Rose Kiss, graphite on paper, 64 cm x 52 cm, 1989

Rose Rain with Thorns, graphite on paper, 64 cm x 52 cm, 1989

The exhibition also included some oilstick drawings of cloaked figures with roses, and some symbolist but figurative paintings on paper in oil and alkyd. Most of these works have been sold and I do not actually have images of them available. In any case, those pictures are not part of the rooftop archive! The rooftop archive also included rolled up works and one of the rolls contained the four large drawings from this exhibition. 

I remember how this drawing came to me fully-formed in a vision one night while thinking of mortality (a dear Aunt was suffering with a cancer that would eventually be fatal). 

Dream of the Time, graphite on paper, 100 cm x 150 cm, 1989

Rose Rain and Time, graphite on paper, 100 cm x 150 cm, 1989

After seeing this finished drawing (which I had yet to title), a friend of mine loaned me his book of Seamus Heaney’s poem “Sweeney”. When I finished reading the beautiful poem I thought of an appropriate title for my drawing, as for me the poem and the drawing were a portrayal both of madness and freedom. At the same time as my Dublin exhibition there was a two-person show in another Dublin gallery where the two male artists visually imagined Sweeney in their works on display. I remember being annoyed (and still am) that my female portrayal of Sweeney was not mentioned in the review of the male artists’ exhibition. To me it was a completely missed opportunity for dialogue!

Sweeney Among the Roses, graphite on paper, 100 cm x 150 cm, 1989

This was the very last drawing I did for the exhibition while on a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. 

Whirlpool, graphite on paper, 100 cm x 150 cm, 1989

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