Landmarks and Lifeforms is an exhibition of new painting, sculpture, print and film by two West Cork-based artists, Frieda Meaney and Danny Osborne. It opens to the public at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen on Friday, March 10 at 7pm with guest speaker, writer and documentary maker Manchán Magan. The exhibition runs until April 20.
Danny Osborne and Frieda Meaney have a lot in common. Both have lived on the Beara Peninsula on the western seaboard, on and off for the past 35 years. Both have migrated to various other countries during that time and now are back living and working in Beara again. Both continue to travel, collecting material, and collaborating with other artists and practitioners. Both artists engage with the landscape in an elemental way, through trekking, sea swimming, boating, archaeological exploration and often working outdoors.
This interest and engagement takes them into the areas of geology, biology, marine science, zoology and biodiversity and is presented in this exhibition through painting, print, video installation and sculpture, combining scientific with artistic interpretations of the natural world.
The visual and artistic expression of biology as employed in the work of Frieda Meaney is inspired by the ecosystem as a natural system consisting of plants, animals and micro organisms functioning together within the environment. She depicts the ecosystem in an intuitive way that is inspired by scientific disciplines. She works with images of living and extinct marine, terrestrial and airborne creatures in a way that blurs the lines between their respective realms to create work that portrays an idealistic and imaginative environment.
Her video installation for this exhibition mixes footage of endangered species of fish taken in an aquarium on the island of Tenerife, with the soundtrack of a chorus of birds in a South American jungle. The printed skeletal images of dinosaurs, reptiles and birds, revolving across and layered on the video projection, suggest an evolving world, which is constantly changing and adapting to environmental circumstances.
The main idea for Osborne’s work in this exhibition was originally born in the Arctic, from paintings and drawings of the many long journeys he made over the sea ice around Baffin and Ellesmere Islands. He has always been struck by the similarities between Beara‘s post-glacial landscape, and the treeless Arctic landscape, and it was this that first drove him to go and paint in the far north some years ago.
He also collects bones and other archaeological artefacts and is fascinated by their story and their migratory journey. Recently, he spent six days drawing the coast while on a local crab boat working between the Bull Rock and the Mizen Peninsula in County Cork. Osborne is now engraving coastal landscapes onto some of the large bones of a beached fin whale he found close to his home some twenty-five years ago. The engraved drawings represent the reference points that this whale would have registered while navigating along the Irish coast before being stranded.
Also included in the exhibition are a number of sculptures made from lava. Osborne has developed a unique method of casting red-hot lava from the vent of an erupting volcano and has travelled to several different countries to make this work. Lava also features in a large collaborative print work where Osborne’s images of cooled lava forms are placed side by side with Meaney’s bird, gorilla and human heads.
A Panel Discussion with Frieda Meaney, Danny Osborne, zoologist Dr. John Quinn, and poet and navigator, Theo Dorgan will take place on Saturday, April 1 at 12 noon.
Initiated and developed by Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Landmarks and Lifeforms will be presented in different iterations at Limerick City Gallery of Art (September 7 to October 22, 2017) and Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda (February 3 to April 14, 2018).
The exhibitions at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Limerick City Gallery of Art and Highlanes Gallery have been made possible through the support of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Touring and Dissemination of Work Award and the generosity of all venues.
Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, 028 22090, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.westcorkartscentre.com.