Pluck-Alice Maher at the Crawford
PhD candidate Sarah Kelleher co-curates Vox Materia at the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
Vox Materia comprises a multi-part installation of sculpture and works on paper. Stemming from Maher’s consideration of a 12th Century mermaid carving at Kilcooley Abbey, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary, this show meditates on voice and silence. The mermaid is a hybrid creature that transgresses boundaries between human and animal, and is often associated with traumatic loss of voice. Maher deploys the mermaid not as a motif, but as an ambiguous and powerful conceptual tool to explore ideas of language, embodiment, agency, and autonomy. The artist begins by adopting and documenting contorted postures; creating strained silhouettes that gesture towards a language of the body in extremis. Vox Materia exploits the tactile, contingent qualities of wood relief print and watercolour to articulate amoebic, inter-elementary forms while a series of hand-held sculptural forms create new material and corporeal vocabularies. This new work is presented alongside Cassandra’s Necklace (2012), Maher’s first live-action film, in which the mythical protagonist wanders an arid, glittering landscape in search of her voice, literally a necklace of unspeaking tongues. Both bodies of work demonstrate Maher’s ongoing exploration of the burdens of silence and silencing in her recent practice.
Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s leading artists who has produced iconic work in film, drawing, sculpture, and installation. Since her first major solo exhibition in the Douglas Hyde Gallery in 1994 and her representation of Ireland at the Sao Paolo Bienniale in the same year, she has held major shows in IMMA, the RHA, The David Nolan Gallery, New York, the Brighton and Hove Museums and Purdy Hicks, London among many others. Her work is held in Irish and international collections including the Neuberger Museum, New York, the Hammond Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MoMA, New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, the British Museum, London and the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris. She is a member of Aosdána.
The exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery follows its installation in the Source Arts Centre in Thurles in March of this year. These locations are not only important cultural sites in themselves, but also are significant to the artist. Maher is a Tipperary native; she was born there in 1956 and grew up in a rural part of the county in Kilmoyler, near Bansha. In her 20s Maher enrolled in night classes in what was then the Crawford Municipal College of Art, studying drawing in the upstairs rooms which will host the exhibition of her work later this year. She enrolled full time in the undergraduate course from 1981 until 1985 marking the start of her career as an artist. Therefore, the resonances of this exhibition are not only thematic but also biographical and professional.
The work in this exhibition has been made possible through funding from Tipperary County Council and Creative Ireland Program and was commissioned by Brendan Maher at the Source Arts Centre, Thurles. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue which includes essays by the curators and by artist and writer Dr Austin McQuinn.
View information on the Crawford Gallery website HERE