As part of Kildare Culture Night 2020, we have mounted a virtual exhibition entitled ‘Impenetrable’. This exhibition is a collection of work made since January 2020 and, while the theme was selected prior to the pandemic hitting us, it now seems a strangely appropriate title for work produced during this crazy year. The full exhibition is available to view on our website : https://www.element15.ie.
Whilst the images speak for themselves, we thought it might be an idea to share some of the artists thoughts and inspiration for one of the pieces they have in the exhibition …..
Caroline explored the adjective, Impenetrable, in relation to its different meanings, inaccessibility – impossibility to enter, intraversable. Using chicken wire as a metaphor for the physical meaning of the word, being caged in, fenced in. Respecting social distance, cocooning …. while also taking another meaning from the adjective : the impossibility to understand …. the science behind the virus, the image of Italian army lorries in convoy carrying coffins away from the city of Bergamo …. the reckless behaviour of many world leaders….
Catherine’s research for ‘impenetrable materials’ brought up a link to spider silk! It is a biopolymer and has a very high tensile strength. A thread of spider silk can resist more pull before breaking than most kinds of steel thread. Silk from the Darwin’s Bark Spider is the toughest and the US Army are researching making body armour from spider silk! Spider webs are light, lacy and look so insubstantial that it is hard to reconcile that spider silk can be used to create a material that could stop a bullet! Pretty impenetrable! Red Spider is an abstract representation of a web.
Fidelma used felt, painted tree bark and air roots to represent some soils that are not fit for cultivation because of impenetrable layers in the subsoil which prevent the roots taking hold and growing.
Our theme brought Hannaleena’s thoughts to a dense jungle or an overgrown secret garden full of plants and colourful flowers creating an impenetrable barrier.
Eimear’s work evolved from a personal challenge undertaken during lockdown and in response to the Colourwheel Palette by Bob Burridge, Artist. A play on the current word ‘mask’, with which we are becoming over familiar, and a commentary on the bigger picture – the global versus the micro.
Rusted metal and stained textile gathered during a single walk, these found objects spoke to Helen of fracture and repair; wound and salve; fragility and resilience. With minimal intervention she ‘repaired’ the work, binding the pieces together with cotton thread. Helen’s work is largely sculptural in nature, utilising found and low value materials.
Elaine: These three small canvases represent our frozen memories ; thawing out, yellow and white a metaphor for light entering the small spaces which were once impenetrable.
Dee’s work on the theme evoked thoughts of relationships, a solid bond between two people that cannot be broken; the words being gender neutral, having no gender boundaries.
On Pauline’s walks around her local area during lockdown, she noticed that plants had burrowed their way into the tiniest cracks in walls and pavements. How resilient plants are that they can penetrate even the hardest substance. If left to run wild the vegetation can become as close to impenetrable as you can get. I overlaid photos of trees and plants and printed onto fabric, stitched and machine embroidered to create a feeling of being trapped.
In this piece Barbara delves into the maze of meandering thoughts during sleepless nights; the search for the positives in an increasingly dark world.
Marie’s mixed media sculptures represent seven days of memories and thoughts during the lockdown in Ireland; each cube a day, each stitch a thought.
Trish explored the theme in relation to ‘home’. When we build our homes we want them to be impenetrable to the elements. As we live in our homes we wish both our home and ourselves could remain impenetrable to harm. Trish used slate to represent that shelter from the elements.
Kathrina’s screen print was inspired by impenetrable natural rock formations
Rina’s collages of Dublin and Italy are a record of the early days of the pandemic, using the weekend newspapers, inks and stitch to create a visual diary ; A homage to both cities in their empty streets and their loss.
Colleen: This piece began life as an exploration of the many and varied connections a person makes in life. How, as a life is lived, you become a product of of all these connections and influences, often in an unconscious way. When the work was coming to a conclusion it felt too ordered and controlled and the reverse side seemed to reflect much more the messy reality of lived life!