Dog Gone


Goldilocks & The Two Bears

November 15th -20th, 2011 - Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre.

This themed exhibition is a group show of new work that has been created in response to the Goldilocks fairytale. The three artists featured are Dr. Helen McAllister (PhD, NCAD), Alex Scott (MA, RCA) and Nigel Cheney (MA, MMU).

The intention of all 3 artists was that this theme would be inspiration and context, for a diverse body of work, rather than a direct illustrative response.

'Who's been breaking my heart?'
The central premise of this work explores the idea of a personal journey where choices are made that lead from innocence to experience. It employs the visual metaphors of the 'forest' as a place of mystery and of 'packaging' as a means of concealment, both are aspects of the trail and error 'goldilocks approach' to discovery. In addition to the imagery of the bears, the hare is a nod to the 'white rabbit' who sets the sense of urgency for Carroll's Alice and the french heart shaped grave plaques act as a symbol of loss that anotate these musings.

Hand drawn graphic images are layered with photgraphic images and geometric pattern to suggest the nature of memory and the dynamic between threat and comfort. Digital printing, hand embroidery and quilting are the predominant techniques. The quilt is an object that comforts, envelops, shields and protects, but also as a cover for activities best left to the imagination. His work often explores ambiguous terrortories where childlike phrases are reinterprted and juxtaposed.



Gone to The Dogs

The 'hand-made' is an essential element in my work. The willingness to commit to spending several hundred hours laboriously hand stitching is testament to this unseen labour. The simplicity of this activity and the need for patience in seeing a decision come to realisation is a slow seduction for the maker. I find that cloth wants to speak to me of a surface, with colour applied through dye and stitch, to imagery and texture created through rhythms in thread. The placement of colour and surface qualities is often intuitive and resolved through a method of trial and error, all of which are easy to imagine but hard fought for in physicality. Hand stitch is a process of drawing detail to these images. Working with the matt qualities of a stranded cotton I rely on simple straight lines of stitch, the direction of stitch and the variation of single through to several strands for the weight and punctuation of the mark.

This piece is part of a larger body of work that reflected upon the associations of value and speculation. In our current economic climate we see currency as something 'not worth the paper it's printed on'. Our futures are gambled upon with seemingly no more care than a bet on a dog race. Whatever our position at least we can attempt to look upon our lives with colour and vitality! The work plays on the notions of the counterfeit, the ludicrous nature of finance, where vast sums of money become something virtual and seem so removed from the everyday cash we carry around on our persons. The intricate and complex nature of the decoration of a banknote deters forgery but how relevant is it in today's society where substantial money is often an invisible, abstract asset that can disappear or be lent in its billions?

I have always had a fascination with old banknotes. Family and friends would give me spare change form trips abroad and I have collected random notes from a defunct currency where a note that was once worth a life's wages is now a novelty souvenir item in a street market for a few cent. Each of the banknotes has a particular association with an individual, from the childhood neighbour from Trinidad, to the gift of a tattered old note from a friend returning from their travels. The illustrations of dogs are intended as a humorous interpretation of the conflicting worlds of the stiff posturing of pedigree dog-shows and the thrill of gambling on a dog race.

Contemporary Craft that exploits both hand operated and computer driven machinery places the work in current debates around the role of technology. Makers have always valued their tools, as such the transition from a dye bath, or screen-printing to the use of digital printing is a natural right of passage for craft. The computerized method that allows a complex image that is made up of layers of both scans of existing objects and hours of hand rendering is the first layer in building these pieces. The contrasts of stitch qualities, which are applied in hand or controlled through a computer are factors in the choice of methods to produce the work. The necessity is the multiprocessing of cloth through crafting to produce this artistic work. The skill in controlling a domestic sewing machine and using it as a drawing tool with the rhythms and surfaces of thread and fabric, takes time and craftsmanship to realise. The design process is integral in selecting and organizing these techniques in addition to the skill in the physical framing and threading of a compterised multineedle machine, all these factors speak to the tradition of craft.

View the invitation.



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