Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer's End Melancholy

Autumn used to be my favourite season but now I resist the ending of summer, the shortening of the days, the dying back of plants removing colour from the fields around me.

The farmer pulls up ragwort in the verges and leaves it there to wilt and dry and die, almost like a warning to other ragworts that might be thinking of growing and flowering in the area.  The foxglove finished flowering a while ago and now its four-sided seed pods are open and spilling tiny seeds with every shake from the increasingly cold west winds.

The swallows fly low over the silaged and mucked fields and I calculate unconsciously how many days it will be before they are suddenly gone.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Vanessa Donoso Lopez at LCGA - Eye Before E Except After See

I have seen Vanessa Donoso Lopez's work previously in several Ormston House shows (Dogs, The Founding Phant and Thick, Turgid and Lacking in Soothing Oil) and for me, it has always stood out from anything else in the gallery.  To be included in such diverse exhibitions suggests that this is versatile work; to stand out in these shows suggests that Vanessa Donoso Lopez is a woman with her own voice.

The title of the show gives you a clue.  It is playful and seems to poke a non-native speaker's fun at the strange conventions of the English language.  The work too is playful and provides a visual language that is clearly personal but universally understandable due to it's tactility, exuberance and approachability - the use of simple, familiar and often nostalgic materials invite the viewer in through familiarity and recognition.  The exhibition fills four spaces in the upstairs gallery and every space is given to different works.  All feel connected either through the use of colour, materials or the sequence of repetition that is found throughout Donoso Lopez's work. There are accompanying texts to the work in each of these different spaces by Helen Carey, Ross Birrell and Beatriz Escudera Garcia and they are all heavily stuffed with ideas ranging from a contextual history of homesickness to the unheimlich.  You do not need to know any of this to enjoy this exhibition.  In some way in fact, the dry, academic tone of all three texts takes away the joy at seeing tiny ceramic nests, paper rainbows, feathers dancing on a breeze, white strings of beads like necklaces, or a snail with a speaker horn for a shell moving over an old 78 record.  It is better to go in unawares and enter the strange world of Donoso Lopez and let yourself be delighted with each new room and object.

Personally, I found ceramic works in The Carnegie Gallery and The Dark Room to be Lopez's most beguiling works of the show.  There is a purity and simplicity to the ceramic pieces; strings of hand-made beads, extruded coils of clay hung simply over nails, plaited clay coils, and simple nest forms.  The room is almost like a visual detox - the forms are simple and off-white on white walls.  They are soothing to look at but their evolution carries you around the gallery, nose almost against the wall as shapes and ideas develop.  It is like watching the artist play and the delight that often accompanies play seems fired into these pieces.

The Dark Room has been described by Garcia as ".. a dismal room ... a room of infantile terror" and certainly there is something childlike to it.  But The Dark Room, despite it's title, has light and movement as motion activated motors bring it to life when you enter.  One noisy, whirring motor drives a stick with a home-made feather fan on the end that rises and falls back against a table with a clack.  At first it is startling but then comes relief and laughter at this crazy object, rhythmically rising and falling.  At the back of the room are old-fashioned table lamps that have each circle fans revolving above them in the heat like circles of moths.  A pink feather tied to a piece of sewing thread dances in a breeze from a fan below it whilst another feather, revolves around and around a tea pot lid.  All these kinetic works and more are housed on nests of tables, as if in a junk shop or attic.  It is as if these objects, shut away together for years decided to build a mechanical world for themselves and so they did, delicately and playfully, and we are privileged to move through it and the whole show itself, slowly and shyly, giving it time and quiet awe.

The show runs until August 28, 2015.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rural Irish Aesthetic

There is a definite rural Irish aesthetic and I think it is captured in these photographs which were all taken on the same day as I cycled in a 14 mile radius around my house.

It exists in the way that farmers close the entrances to fields, the hand painted signs on gates, the way that someone's presence in the countryside is marked intentionally or unintentionally in things left behind.

Making Books for the Dublin Zine Fair

I am drinking tea and writing this post.  And after I have finished writing this post, I will go and put together some more books for the Dublin Zine Fair, where I have a half table next Sunday.