Wednesday, 15 June 2016

IADT Grad Show

At the beginning of June I went (several times) to view the IADT Grad Show. I had had a chance to get to know the fourth year art students last November when I helped out with the "rollover" shows at Pallas Studios in Dublin. It was a double pleasure then to see the final works of these emerging artists and to see how their practices had developed in the intervening months.  

I had previously seen photos of Mary McClelland's mixed media photographic installations (or wall mounted photographic sculptures?) but didn't realise until I saw them in person that the delicate framing is layered waxed paper. This was the centre piece of an alter-like triptych.

The elongated rose form is again created from layers of waxed paper, not quite enclosing a piece of honeycomb, fresh and oozing. McClelland's work is elegant and evocative; at once spiritual and erotic. To see the other elements in this piece and more of McLelland's work click here.

Since I consider myself primarily a painter, I couldn't help but take an interest in the paintings on display. There were three large paintings by Mateusz Lubecki, two of which can be seen below.

I was intrigued that Lubecki's paintings are both naturalistic and abstract at the same time!

I was very attracted to the stylised and mysterious paintings of Jago Moulton. The loose brush work of the white and flesh tones played off and emphasised the flatness of the polka dot dress and the black hair and background.

To me this painting is like a photograph from a dream - holding a memory and meaning that you can't quite get at to understand fully. I love it!

The exhibition contained all art forms and I have only featured a few pieces here by three grads, but a more comprehensive look at works in the exhibition can be accessed here.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Postcard 1916

Postcard 1916 was an exhibition of postcards, curated by artist Eileen Ferguson, which took place in The Old Post Office, Clones. Individual blank postcards were provided to interested artists to create small works in response to a specific word in The Proclamation or The Proclamation itself. The exhibition was a response to the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising.

The wall of postcards, though at first daunting in its diversity and jumbled nature, became intriguing for this very nature. The cards were all so different showing an incredible individuality of response to the same theme. 

There was also a great variey in the media used for expression: photography, print, collage, encaustic, paint, cloth

and any mixture of these materials.

Artists responded using the language of The Proclamation, or in their own words.

 Cards used naturalism, abstraction and symbolism...

I cannot comment on or show an image of every card in the display -

but one certainly gets an idea of the diversity in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be packed up and brought to France for further exhibition in La
Vielle Poste, Larroque in August of this year.

My own response (in situ below right) was a response to the word "children". I created a collage using ripped paper, an image of children collecting wood from the rubble of Sackville St (now O'Connell St, Dublin)  on a background of excerpts from my paternal grandfather's Witness Statement of his "military" activities leading to the foundation of the state.

 The postcard my husband, James Hayes, submitted (in situ, above centre left) is a lino print of the anniversary dates collaged onto a background of writing excerpted from The Proclamation.

There were so many interesting responses, it is impossible to showcase them all. The curator of the exhibition, Eileen Ferguson, was delighted with the response -- receiving postcards not just from Ireland, she also received cards from Canada and Germany. Ferguson also spoke of the range of work received and interest from both amateur and established artists, as well as enthusiastic responses from children and young people who had participated in some workshops.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Skipping Project - Postcard 1916

I have mentioned before that I often use card making (for birthdays, special occasions) as sketches to help me work out ideas. Since one of my themes for The Skipping Project deals with the transformation of trauma into children's games I decided to submit a piece when I heard about Postcard 1916. This exhibition, curated by Eileen Ferguson, is of postcards created in response to any word in The Proclamation or The Proclamation itself. I chose the word "children".

The image I have been working with is from a photograph of children collecting wood in the rubble heaps that was Dublin after the Easter Uprising in 1916. The relevant writing in the background of the collage is excerpted from my paternal grandfather's Witness Statement, made for the government in 1950, describing his involvement in the Uprising and other activities leading to the foundation of the state.

I repeated the theme for some recent cards I made.

The Postcard 1916 exhibition will be displayed again in La Vielle Poste, Larroque, France in August and  The General Post Office (GPO), Dublin - which was the HQ of the rebels in 1916 -is interested in acquiring digital images of the works for their archives.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Easiest Delicious Chocolate Cake!

A few years ago my daughter wanted a chocolate cake for her birthday and I had never made one before. An internet search for recipes made me anxious as I found that chocolate cake was a lot more complicated to make than I expected. Even with the addition of "simple" to my search the results were still not very promising. I found one, however, that seemed do-able and it is this faultless recipe that I have been using annually to great joy! Apologies to whomever originally posted this recipe for not getting full credit here, but at the time I did not realise I would be sharing it in this manner nor did I realise what a keeper it would turn out to be.

Moist Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Ingredients:       2 cups flour 
                        2/3 cup cocoa
                        1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
                        1/4 teaspoon baking powder
                        3 eggs
                        1 2/3 cups sugar (I use a mix of regular white granulated & brown sugar)
                        1 teaspoon vanilla
                        1 cup mayonnaise (do not use a substitute)
                        1 1/3 cups water

I like to get everything together and then put items away after use. You need two mixing bowls.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and flour 2 - 9" round cake pans. 

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. 

Mix well and set aside.

Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl for 3 minutes, using the high speed of an electric mixer. Mixture should be smooth and creamy. 

Reduce speed to low and beat in mayonnaise until blended.

Add flour mixture in batches, alternating with water, in 4 equal additions (1/4 of the flour, then 1/4 of the water etc).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.

Pin a band of wet towelling around the cake tins to get a more evenly baked cake. I think I got this tip from one of my nieces and it really works well!

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake is clean when removed. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and allow to cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.

For birthday cake I make a simple butter icing with sugar, butter, a bit of vanilla and some boiling water. I have used a small amount of yellow food colouring for the initial icing in the cake sandwich and the base colour for the top.

I separated some of the icing into small bowls to add other colours, placed in small food bags and cut a corner in order to create a makeshift icing bag to squeeze out  loose designs and writing for cake decoration. This is a really moist and delicious chocolate cake!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Stable IMMAGES - Studios 9 & 10

It seems like ages, but it was only two weeks ago that I went to IMMA to see the exhibition of first year IADT art students. The exhibition was the culmination of research and work they had been creating in response to being based at the Irish Museum of Modern Art since January.  In my previous post I had a look at some of the work that required darkness for exhibition (in Studio 5) and some of the work that was sited outside. As I said in that post, I was very impressed with the cohesiveness of the exhibition and maturity of the work. 

On entering these exhibition spaces, via Studio 9 the variety and scope of the work was immediately apparent.

There were two short animated videos on one monitor. This one used the images of a red hand and a red face to interact with specific surfaces in the architecture of IMMA.

There was quite a lot of research into IMMA's architecture in this series of drawings & photographs, but because there were no labels for individual works, I could only wonder if this was the research behind the blue scale model of IMMA hung on the wall in Studio 5 (I posted a picture of it last week).

I spoke to the artist who took these photographs of colourful, temporary interventions she had made on various IMMA walls.

This photographic installation referred to the Greek myth of Narcissus.

The works are self-portraits of the artist, distorted by photographing through smoke, water and other materials.

Apparently this artist intensively examined architectural spaces around IMMA before creating detailed temporary chalk on black board drawings.

This series of photo documentation of mirror and light experiments was intriguing.

And I wondered if these experiments were the background for this installation of plastic sheeting and blue threads? However, this I will not know as I only met a couple of the students, and hadn't asked about this piece at the time.

So my gripe about the show is regarding non-labelling and attibution. Although the artists involved were named at the entrance to the studios, a floor plan should have been available to answer simple questions of authorship. Otherwise, I was greatly impressed by the exhibition and look forward to seeing more work by these developing artists.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Stable IMMAGES 1 - Studio 5 & Grounds

On the weekend I went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to check out the exhibition of work by the first year IADT Dún Laoghaire art students. These students had been based in IMMA studios since January and this final exhibition was a culmination of their research work in responding to that experience. The exhibition was spread over three studios and the grounds, so I will do another post to cover some more of the work. Studio 5 was darkened to accommodate all the works that needed to have a dark room for display. One of the first years, who was invigilating the studio, was very enthusiastic in discussing the work, the makers, and their inspirations so I got some great insight into the work. This first visible projection was created jointly by two women who were inspired by the statuary on the grounds of IMMA. It was a moving projection, so the image was constantly changing (so impossible to capture in a still image). 

I had met her previously, so I know this next moving projection was by Joanne Harold and she was inspired by the garden balustrades.

Another female art student created this sculptural video piece in response to the arches in the basement of IMMA.

 Unfortunately the pieces were not labelled, so the artists cannot be acknowledged by me, but this piece was in response to being aware of light reactions through the coloured acetate lettering in the main reception foyer of IMMA.

This piece is a carefully measured model of the IMMA building itself and treating the building as the artwork.

The artist here was creating a design for lighting in the extensive gardens at IMMA. 

I was struck by the maturity of the work and the coherency of the exhibition, though I was disappointed that there was no labelling of works or accompanying floor plan in order to acknowledge attribution (just a page of names and general location on the wall at the entrance).

 Though I did not see all the outdoor pieces, it was a gorgeous day and this woven branch work was unmissable!

Also, as I was leaving I saw this graffiti piece - painted plastic stretched between two trees.