Tuesday 14 October 2008
A Five Minute Talk About Two Works
A Talk given to fellow artists on the Masters Course (MFA1) at NCAD, Dublin Ireland on the 13th of October 2008.....
I love making art... It is a passion that reflects my deepest desires and longings. I feel what I make has a relevance in a world gone mad.
As Edvard Munch once said .. "Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye. It also includes the inner pictures of the soul" This is the landscape I try to paint and fill with objects that I make.
Indian Sculptors today when making their bronzes of their gods and goddesses always leave the engraving of the eyes until last because it is then that they believe that the presence of the God fills the work. This is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. It is out of this desire that they make their work in difficult conditions and with little profit. I believe like them that God peeps out at us through the works we make despite the huge difference the last century has made to the shapes and forms of art.
I hope that I make art not for my Self. I feel what I make can serve people in some way, not because of who I am, but despite who I am. Because that seems to be the nature of making things, its as if we reach across a divide when we make something... it feels as if we pull back from there something that is normally beyond the material grasp. We can surprise ourselves and others in this way. And God Knows we can all do with a few surprises.
The Ready Boat Pillar made for Howth County Dublin in 1996 surprised me when it had something of a Baptism of Fire when it came into the world. It was Launched By Gay Byrne who lives in Howth, The veil around it was set on fire ... The evening Herald rang me to let me know the next morning and wanted to get my reaction. I said I was shocked of course, but Secretly I was delighted ... The headline that day in the paper had a picture of Gay Byrne and the pillar that read... "Vandals hit "pillar" of Howth"..... It also had a photo of me with a large brush acid-etching away the burn marks from the surface of the pillar.. I'm there wIth a large smile on my face... Would they have noticed I wondered to myself, that I had ever made a sculpture if it wasn't for those vandals? I might try burning a few sculptures for my MA.
But thats the nature of public art and I learned a valuable lesson then. No man or woman is an island. We need an audience to function, its just another piece of proof that goes to show that Art does not serve the artist alone.
My work has always had a relationship with the public. I love showing the work I make when I can. Although I have ideas about the meaning of what I make I never assume that am the only one who knows what it means.
The second, very recent piece is called "The Traveller" it contains objects that I sculpted and drawings that I made that are literally worked into the piece. Its a recent work quite large and detailed. It is set in an apple orchard around this time of year. The woman has taken objects out of a wooden box she carries and has laid them on a cloth . Each object can symbolise something for the viewer. The woman's presence is central to the meaning of the work. Her relationship is with the viewer and I leave it to you to decide who "The Traveller" maybe. But this work exploits the different levels of reality that can be explored through the piece. There is the viewer that regards the work . There is the woman who is a representation of someone real and she looks upon the objects that are representations of sculptures I made ... then these lie upon drawings which represent other things. And yet they all co-exist in this space , in an eternal Now that changes only if you care to look closer. The representation can hopefully emphasise the change in ourselves as we look upon the piece and travel through it. The Piece will be exhibited along with other works in The Nora Dunne Gallery named after Ben Dunne's Mother. (Ben Dunne is former director of the family firm chain of Dunnes Stores Shopping in Ireland)
On that note, I look forward to travelling with you all here on our journeys through our own unique landscapes... I wish you well. Thankyou.