Midsummer’s gravity makes our heads spin
each hour a gilt thread spool, winding through
the second hand, gossamer fin de semaine,
fin de siècle,
A fragment from Cynthia Zarin’s poem Summer.
“Second Summer“ celebrates the reopening of The Dock’s three galleries. It’s an exhibition that gently asks questions of us. As it marks both the end and the start of a time - when we as a community are resurfacing from a period of remoteness. The exhibition is full of pattern, colour, and whimsical moments that point to the domesticity of our recent lives.
Listen to curator Sarah Searson speaking to Kay Sheehy about 'Second Summer' on RTÉ Arena
Many of the works explore our relationship with nature through the art object and the subject of art itself as a marker of time. It reconnects the viewer with the physical qualities and phenomena of art and art making. Materially it includes simple references to the everyday; paint, pencil, plaster, paper, and the screen. The ubiquitous symbol which reflects our flat lives over the past year. Works include drawing, painting, sculpture, and film by six artists; Brian Fay, David Smith, Ellen Duffy, Eve O’Callaghan, Fiona Finlay, and Jamie Cross. The intentions of the exhibition are to be playful and visually engaging, and to offer moments, challenges, and pleasure in the language of the visual, and in the energy of the artists and their work. It looks at art as an act of human control in times of uncertainty. It is also focused on art as an expression of the sensual, in its touch and play, and in art pointing to notions of time from both the artist's and viewer's perspectives. There are many interconnections between the artists in “Second Summer” their lives and in their artistic concerns, approaches and interests. The exhibition also expresses interest in the phenomena of the building itself an imposing and beautifully crafted Courthouse built in 1828.
There are overlaps and crossovers which knit the exhibition together in unexpected ways. For example in Gallery Two, the largest of The Dock’s galleries Brian Fay, a senior lecturer in art at TUD, is showing new and existing works with recent graduate Ellen Duffy. This is a Gallery of magnificent proportions, and we play with scale here as we are also showing the small intimate, and delicately soft colored gesso paintings by Eve O’Callaghan, who mixes pigments of light lavender, butter buff and eggshell greens overlaid with graphite mark making with images of leaves and flowers. To host these three diverse but related practices, the gallery space is fractured by two gigantic angular walls. These create a vestibule of colour and pattern; a device designed to bring the viewer into close view with the detailed and considered works of Brian Fay and Eve O’Callaghan.
The Lobby Area Artist Jamie Cross recently graduated from IADT. Cross’s installations are in the imposing lobby area of the building. These works act almost as a spacial biography of his life in Cavan and Dublin over the last year. During early lockdown, he was living in a small expensive apartment in Dublin. Works like the image of the whale carcass at the top of the stairs are made from images taken on walks last summer on the beaches in Mullaghmore. He has reproduced one as a large format print, which draws attention to the structure and nature of the building. The whale bones forming the armature as the flesh decomposes drawing parallels between the building and the body. Cross introduces random household items which when juxtaposed with the imposing lobby nod to the domesticity from which we are emerging and the humdrum of our everyday lives. On the elegant Wyatt Windows on either side of the front door, he has installed a double layer of filament drawing attention to the design idiosyncrasies of the building, and another work on screen makes reference to our dependency on technologies such as zoom and facetime over the last year.
Gallery One David Smith is a painter, filmmaker, and musician. He is currently resident artist at The Dock. Here he has chosen a seminal painting from his recent body of work to hang in the dominant archway, it’s from this anchor point in the room he has built the form of his exhibition. David’s work is heavily influenced by an extended period of time he spent living in China and the principles of Chinese painting the first of which is "Spirit Resonance" (qiyun气韵) or vitality (shengdong生动) which references the intentions, presence and energy of the artist and how this is the primary element of painting. He is interested in communicating ideas of balance and that the elements within the work are living and dying at the same time. Within the pictorial frame the elements seem unfixed, communicating this idea of spirit; for example, the flame is balanced with the dark, and the forest light could be night or dawn. David works initially with colour washes and removes them bringing the paint into what might seem initially as a monochrome plane, but there are also hints at earlier barely visible highly coloured layers. The perspectives within works are clearly different from Western traditions.
Gallery Two In Gallery Two you are greeted by a vestibule designed to bring you into close contact with the details of Brian Fays works on paper. The walls run at 12ft to 8 ft on opposing angles. One is painted a sapphire cerulean and the other a sky blue. Two colours reminiscent of the pallet used in Mainie Jellets work “Abstract Composition”, one of four works in the collection of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council donated by The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland. Which are influences for Fay’s two portrait works and the very large drawing on the far wall within the main gallery. To the left on the darker wall we have hung Fay’s 2018 work “Cimabue Crucifixion before and after Baldini’s
restoration left arm” This outstretch arm is linking the exhibition back in time to 13th century and to ideas of the art historical. It considers how works of such important art historical legacy are re-worked and restored over time. It also considers ideas of source material, what is original material and how it is adapted and changed through the hand of the conservator. Ahead of the viewer on the light blue wall is a portrait of Jellet in her studio, at her home in Fitzwilliam Square. The drawings includes geometric cut-aways which make references to the Cubist influences in Jellets work and her formational studies in Paris with Andre Lhote and Albert Gleizes. Influences which brought Jellett to the foreground as one of the leading proponents of abstract art and modernism in Ireland. As you enter the space she is the first image to greet the viewer and last as they leave the gallery. As you move through the angled wall, your eye is drawn to a three meter high drawing by Fay made, especially for this exhibition. The drawing incorporates a geometrical framing devise that mimics modernist designs and guides the viewer’s eye down to the constellation of marks, made in reference to Jellett’s uncle the 19th century physicist Francis Fitzgerald. These works layer ideas of time, history and the contemporary.
As you move into the space as you see works of Ellen Duffy titled “The Theatre in Which Stuff Happens” is a series of playfully and sculptural assemblage and large work on paper. Duffy is seeking to create a network of relations, in which each component within the body of work serves a functional purpose, whether it be structurally or through colour and form. Balancing them in the space she draws on the relationship between the materials and their environment. Duffys works include a small plaster cast suspended on the wall by two lengths of green rubber coated wire and the brightly coloured cable ties that hold the large stacked grid structure together. They highlight the work's connections with the room and within itself and leave no mystery to the works assembly. She plays with shadows and the translucency of her works components as another tool to ground the work in the space of the gallery. Using the natural light of the gallery’s large windows to cast over the floor based works and drawing themselves through the space as the day goes by.
The second wall structure brings you close to the clear true light of the Shannon and into the sight line of Eve O'Callaghan's works. Her works are gesso, pigment and graphite on wood panels. O’Callaghan is directly concerned with the simple relationships between pigment, light, viewer and object. She is deeply interested in the materials of painting and she considerers each stage of making with weight; choosing scale, preparing surface, mixing and applying colour, and thinking about how the viewer will move around the finished work. Her works connect with Brian Fay's interests and are inspired by art-historical material techniques, such as lime-plaster fresco, traditional chalk gesso, natural linen canvas and frequently with raw pigment and unmixed paint. In these recent works, she has combined colour and pigment studies with sketch-like pencil drawings inspired by botanic motifs. She is interested in the relationship between motif and abstraction, and how these natural images have been appropriated throughout art history.
Gallery Three This gallery is the smallest public space in The Dock and is beautifully proportioned holding Fiona Finalys flower study paintings. Her inspiration comes from the close surroundings of her home and studio. The room is filled with the graceful charm of her flower studies. Cut flowers speak of the beauty of the everyday. Our desire for the consolation of beauty and reflect our own small timeless exertions in domestic cultivation and tastes. Her use of colour oscillates from muted to weirdly vibrant, which pushes the imagery beyond anything that might be read as sweetly romantic. She is interested in the formal qualities of the paint itself and in colour, light, patterns, shapes, forms, and luminosity. She paints with immediacy and urgency, and as she does so small details are overlooked to the point of near abstraction from the subject so the formalities of painting itself starts to make its own sense.
The exhibition is curated by Sarah Searson.
Brian Fay lives and works in Dublin. Working mainly through drawing he uses the materiality of pre-existing artworks and objects to examine their complex relationship to time. Solo shows include A mobile living thing (forthcoming 2021) DLR Lexicon, Dublin, To Something that went before (C.S.deK), Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, X (IR),(2016) nag Gallery, Dublin, Of the Survival of Images (and Objects) (2014) also nag Gallery and Broken Images or When does Posterity Begin? (2011), Ashford Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. Group shows include Facture (forthcoming 2021) Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, After an Act (2018) Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Inspiration and Rivalry: After Vermeer (2017) National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin and Akroma (2016) Arsenals Museum of Contemporary Art of Riga, Latvia. His work is in the National Drawing Collection Ireland, and the collections of The Crawford Art Gallery, TU Dublin, Office of Public Works and numerous private collections. He is the winner of the 2014 Derwent International Drawing Prize, the 2016 AXA Drawing Prize and is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at TU Dublin. He has recently been invited on to the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Residency Programme.
David Smith is an Irish artist who relocated home in 2016 after 11 years in Hong Kong. He works primarily in painting and also in music, film and photographic projects. Recent work includes a short film, Eó Mughna’s Lament, which was commissioned by The Dock. He has participated in the RHA Open, Cairde Visual, The RUA Annual and RUA RED Winter Open. He has recently held solo shows in Hong Kong, The U.S. and Ireland. He has participated in the Hong Kong art prize and also in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. His works have been featured in 7 out of 8 International Painting Annuals (INPA) published in my Manifest press. Originally from Mayo, he is now based in Sligo and is currently artist in residence at The Dock.
Ellen Duffy lives and works in Dublin. She received her BFA from the Technological University of Dublin, 2019. Her work was shortlisted and shown at the RDS Visual Artist Awards, curated by, the late, Janet Mullarney and David Quinn. From this exhibition she was awarded the RHA Studio Graduate Award - a year long studio residency at the prestigious Dublin Gallery. She was commissioned by The Dock, Leitrim, in their Summer Commissions 2020 to create a body of work over lockdown and entered into an ongoing collaborative project with Artist/Curator Kate Murphy. Previous shows include; Sympoetic: A Shared Together, Farmleigh Cowshed, Dublin (2018); TUD Graduate Exhibition, Dublin (2019); RDS Visual Artist Awards, Dublin (2019); Works on Paper, Sarah Walker Gallery, Cork (2020). Upcoming shows include; Platform, Belfast (2021); The Platform, Draíocht, Dublin (2021).
Eve O’Callaghan is a painter based in Dublin. Her work is concerned with the materials of painting and the history of image-making and abstraction. O’Callaghan graduated from the National College of Art and Design in 2017. She has been shortlisted for the Hennessy Craig Scholarship (2019), the RDS Visual Art Awards (2017), and won the Adams award at the 2018 RHA Annual. Her work has been exhibited at RHA Gallery, Pallas Projects, Dublin and Draoicht, Blanchardstown. She was the 2019/20 recipient of the Temple Bar Gallery and Studios Recent Graduate Residency.
Fiona Finlay lives and works in Kildare Ireland. She holds a BA First Class Honours Degree in Fine art (painting) from NCAD. She has exhibited widely, including the annual RHA summer exhibitions, Rua Red, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dunamaise Arts centre among others. Her work has been purchased by the OPW for the national State Art Collection and her work has also been acquired and is on display as part of Maynooth University Permanent Art Collection. She has also been an RDS art awards exhibition finalist.
Jamie Cross graduated from IADT Dun Laoghaire with a BA in Art in 2019. Upon graduating, he received the IADT Graduate Student Art Award for an emerging artist of note, sponsored by The Dock. In October 2019 Jamie was selected for the RDS Visual Arts Awards Exhibition and was awarded joint winner of the R.C. Lewis Crosby Award. Jamie was also shortlisted for the Ormond Art Studio Graduate Award 2019 and contributed to a programme of public events at the studios. During the period March-June 2020, Jamie took part in The Dock Summer 2020 Commissions, which focussed on a series of online works. Most recently, he completed an MA in Art + Research Collaboration from IADT Dun Laoghaire in January 2021, which involved the online exhibition and publication, cohost.