3. Dorothy Cross exhibition “Connemara” at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Ely Place, Dublin 2.
"Following its debut at Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK, the RHA is delighted to present Connemara, an exhibition of new and existing work by Dorothy Cross…Connemara is home to Dorothy Cross and the source of inspiration for this new exhibition of her work. Cross’s sculpture, film and photography examine the relationship between living beings and the natural world around them, seeing both as sites of constant change, leaving residues of passing time, and strange and unexpected encounters".
The immediate thing that strikes you on entering the room where this exhibition is staged, is the huge space giving generous and ample room for each piece to breathe. Also noticeable is the beautifully designed lighting which pours down softly, lovingly on each work, highlighting and showcasing each piece individually, an inverted glowing cone of appreciation.
Cross uses her experience of a life lived in Connemara, often incorporating locally found objects into her work. She juxtaposes living things with the natural world, connecting them in a surprising and delightfully jumbled manner, for example, giving her shark a fin denoting Mount Everest, or her ‘father’ within the “Family” of crabs, a penis which is displayed exo-skeletally.
An upended currach entitled “Tabernacle” has become a strange upside down maritime-themed miniature cinema. Fishing floats and other found items adorn the “ceiling” (floor) and there are three simple seats resembling traditional sawbenches. Roller blinds give a sense of enclosure. To the front and forward of “Tabernacle”, a video work is projected onto the wall. It is a film shot from the interior of a cave near where Cross lives, which is only accessible three days a year. Shot from within the cave looking out towards the sea and the light beyond the cave, this becomes our point of view, our perspective. The low waves roll towards us across the cave’s floor. We are absolutely lost and somehow found, within the cave, sharing the secret of the three days when the cave allows us in. It is a strangely moving experience and I found myself drawn back to this video work again and again, looking wistfully over my shoulders as I left the exhibition space later, not wanting to depart from the sense of beautiful isolation one can only feel when lost in such surrounds.
Cross has included a completely beautiful photograph of Inis Turk, it’s spine coated in snow. A huge expanse of the space above Inis Turk is given over to a gloomy and commanding Connemara sky. It is a brave and wise statement by the artist, for what is Connemara if not it’s skies? This single moment captured, frozen by the lens of the camera, is exquisitely judged.
I find the work of Dorothy Cross packed full of imagination and playfulness. Her work shows a mind that is strong, intuitive, pushing her creativity to wonderful and powerful effect.
Frances Elizabeth van Velzen