Drifters Escape

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Drifters Escape  2006

This was another work showing in the IMMA Collection: A Decade exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. I liked the colours and the way the paint has distorted and dripped from the bottom of the canvas almost like it’s trying to escape from the confines of the painting.

It’s by the British artist, Alexis Harding. His work

is made by exploiting the incompatibility between two different painting media to create dynamic and emotive compositions. His method involves pouring gloss paint through a perforated trough across a wet oil surface, to create a grid, which is then left to dry. The paint over a period of months is pushed, pulled, squeezed and peeled away, to reveal dramatic scarred and puckered surfaces that when hung on the wall continue to change, and take on their own form, as they slip from the support. (artist’s website)

I’ve seen his painting, Slump/Fear (orange/black), which won the 2005 John Moore’s Prize on display at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool

Maria Simonds-Gooding

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Earth Shelters II, 2007

While visiting the IMMA Collection: A Decade exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin last Sunday, I was taken by a number of works by an artist new to me – Maria Simonds-Gooding. They were relatively simple, made from materials including metal, plaster and lacquer.

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Vegetation and Dwelling Place, 2003 (Crushed clay, fresco pigment, plaster on board)

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Water Source III (2010) and Water Source I (2010) – both made from aluminium with rusting lacquer finish

The artist’s website tells us that she was

Born in India in 1939, Maria Simonds-Gooding studied at the National College of Art, Dublin, Le Centre de Peinture, Bruxelles, Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, UK from 1962 – 1968 and has lived and worked in Kerry since 1947. She was elected a member of Aosdána in 1981 and was elected full membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2012.

She tells us

My work is about land, and man’s relationship to it, whether it be in Ireland or other parts of the world. In remote places you will find that the farmer and the shepherd have a particulate intimate relationship with their environment. The challenge the excesses of the elements, using the land in many different ways for the protection of their crops and animals.

Some articles about the artist and her work

Irish Arts Review 2014

Irish Times 2014

Sunday Times

Irish Arts Review 2010

Othello at the Abbey

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When working away from home and staying in a hotel for five nights, like this week, it’s good to get out of my hotel room. So on Tuesday I booked a ticket to see the latest production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The Abbey, which opened on 27 December 1904, styles itself the National Theatre of Ireland. It’s located in the Centre of Dublin on the north bank of the Liffey in Lower Abbey Street. Traffic during the evening is always busy in Dublin, especially along the Quays. But roadworks due to the building of the new extension to the Luas tramline required a diversion in congested traffic to reach the Irish Life car park I intended to use. So the journey was more unpleasant than usual.

It’s 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, and in celebration the Abbey’s latest production is one of his well known plays, Othello. Although I knew the general gist of the plot, it wasn’t a play I was particularly familiar with, so it was going into it with a relatively open mind. However, being a Tragedy there was a good bet that the main characters were going to end up dead.

As during previous visits to the Abbey, I enjoyed the evening. It was a modern dress production with the characters speaking in a variety of Irish twangs. Except for Othello, that is, who spoke in a distinctive West African accent. There were some strong performances, particularly Marty Rea as a sly Iago. He spoke in a Northern Irish accent and looked rather like a young Gerry Adams.

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I also enjoyed the performances by Karen Ardiff as Armelia and Gavin Fullam as Roderigo. Peter Macon was a powerful Othello, if a little bombastic, and Rebecca O’Mara was an attractive Desdemona.

Othello is brought down by the “green eyed monster”, his jealousy, engineered by Iago who was motivated, no doubt, by racism. I wasn’t entirely convinced by how easily he was able to manipulate Othello and induce his jealousy. I guess that’s a weakness of the plot, partly due to the inevitable time limitations, but I’m not sure that the production got this completely right.

Despite this reservation it was an enjoyable evening, and a much easier drive back to the Naas.

The Passion According to Carol Rama at the IMMA

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One of the exhibitions showing at the IMMA in Dublin at the moment, taking up the whole of the East Wing Galleries, is devoted to the Italian artist, Carol Rama. Born on 17 April 1918 she died at he end of last year on 25 September 2015 at the grand age of 97. The exhibition includes work right from the 1930’s when she first started to show her work, right up to recent years.

The IMMA’s website tells us

Ignored for decades by official art history, Italian artist Carol Rama is now recognised as essential for understanding developments within contemporary art. Her influence can be seen in the work of a later generation of artists such as Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Sue Williams, Kiki Smith and Elly Strik. Rama was belatedly recognised in 2003, receiving the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions.

Her early works were controversial. Cartoonish surreal “erotic” watercolours of women’s bodies, many of them mutilated. These images were censored as “obscene” by the Italian government of 1945. I found them rather disturbing (the intended effect) and wasn’t so keen on them for both their subject matter and appearance. I didn’t like them, but recognise her right to have created and displayed them.

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During her long life her style changed as she experimented with different approaches. So although I didn’t like her early works, and some similar ones produced later in her career, I did like a good number of the works in the exhibition. I snapped a few photos of some of those I did like, although the quality of the pictures isn’t so great.

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I liked this political collage, entitled Resistance, from 1944

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I particularly liked the works she had created using rubber from bicycle tyres since the end of the ’70s. her inspiration for this was her childhood as her father had a bicycle factory in Turin.

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I also liked a number of her “bricolages” that she had created from he ’60s. Surreal collages incorporating objects such as taxidermy eyes, fingernails, mathematical symbols, syringes and electrical circuits. These were some examples.

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The exhibition has already been to the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAMVP), and EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, and after Dublin will be shown at GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino

Samuel Beckett Bridge

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This attractive, dramatic structure is one of the newest bridges over the River Liffey in Dublin. It’s located at the east end of the city, connecting the quays north and south of the river near the docks. I pass it every time I drive to and from Dublin port during my fairly regular trips to Ireland. During my visit this week I went into Dublin on Tuesday after work to watch a play at the Abbey Theatre. After braving some horrendous traffic along the quays I arrived with an hour to spare. It was a lovely evening and so having been stuck in the car for over an hour I decided to take a walk along the quays to stretch my legs. I snapped this photograph from another modern bridge, the Sean O’Casey footbridge.

Opened on December 10th 2009, the bridge was designed by the Italian architect, structural engineer and artist, Santiago Calatrava. It’s a cable stay structure, designed to rotate ninety degrees to free the river channel for water transport crossing the river.

The shape of the main span was inspired by the harp, the Irish national symbol. And with the 31 cable stays it supports, I can certainly see the resemblance when viewed from a distance,

Calatrava has designed bridges for cities all over the word, including one in Manchester. I’ll have to go and have a closer look at it sometime.

Return to the IMMA

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I’m back working in Ireland this week. I caught the fast ferry from Holyhead that arrived early afternoon, so I had a few hours to myself before heading to my hotel in Naas. I decided to head over to Kilmainham, about half an hour from Dublin Port and on my route to Naas, to visit the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in the old Kilmainham Royal Hospital. It’s somewhere I’ve visited quite a few times over the past few years – there’s usually something on that’s worth seeing and it’s always pleasant to take a walk in the formal garden which changes with the seasons.

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There were four exhibitions showing, and I was able to look around all of them. I wasn’t impressed by the Patrick Hennessey exhibition, his work didn’t appeal to me, but there were a number of works I liked in the exhibitions of the work by the Italian artist Carol Rama and in the IMMA Collection: A Decade, which

provides a snapshot of how the National Collection of modern and contemporary art has developed over the past 10 years. 

I also enjoyed the multimedia exhibition The Humanizer by the British/Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara, newly commissioned by the IMMA.

I also had time to take a stroll through  the formal gardens. Everything was fresh and green

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but being early in the season very few plants were in bloom. The garden will be at it’s best in a few weeks, I think.

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