CV and related essays by Carissa Farrell

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CV of Selected Exhibitions  and Edcuation

1979-84 National College of Art and Design, Dublin Honours in sculpture
1984-1985 Hdip in education NCAD
1985-88 lectured in sculpture, College of Marketing & Design, Dublin.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1989, 1993 Kenny Gallery, Galway
1999, 2002 Solomon Gallery, Dublin
2008 Cross Gallery,

2016  The City House Assembly Rooms Dublin

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITION

1986 Bursary Award, Independent Artists, Marley Park Dublin

1987, ’88, ’04, Sculpture in Context Fern Hill Gardens.Sandyford, Dublin and Botanic Gardens Dublin
1988 Outdoor Millennium Exhibition,Dublin Airport
1990 Pyms Gallery London
1981-86 Aer Rianta Gateway to Art
1991 Espace Royal Hibernian Academy Dublin,
1992, ’94, ’95 Taylor Gallery Dublin
1993, ’94, ’01 Iontas Sligo
1996 Woman sculptors Solomon Gallery
1999 Invited Artist Eigse Carlow
2003-2007 Kunsthandel Gallery, Maastricht,Holland
2014, 2012, 2011, 2007, 2006, 2005, 1995-1999, 1989-1992 Royal Hibernian Academy
2001, 03, 05, 2010 Boyle Arts Festival.
2010 Invited artist Eigse Carlow
2013,2012, 2011, 2010, ’09, ’08, ’04 1997, 1988 Sculpture in Context Botanic Gardens Dublin.
2012 Great Western Way, Co.Mayo

2016,2014,2013 Vanishing Art Carton House/gardens

2017  Hamilton Gallery Sligo. 4 sculptors

2015,2017  Invited Artist in the Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition

SELECTED COMMISSIONS/LARGER WORKS

2000 Mount Anville School Dublin
2001 Angels Quest, St John of Gods Glenageary, Dublin
2002 Memorial to Dermot Morgan, Merrion Sq.Dublin
2004 Memorial to General Thomas Francis Meagher, Waterford City
2006 Allied Irish Bank. Angels Court, London
2007 5metre figure of Christ on a 7 metre cross for the new Bascilica in Fatima Portugal.
2009 Two 2 metre figures for prosperous, Co. Kildare.

2009 Two 1.5 metre figures for Ardscoile Na Trionoide School, Athy.

2014 Sutherland School of law, University College Dublin

COLLECTIONS

Bank of Ireland
Boyle Civic Art Collection
Duchas/The Heritage Service
Farmleigh House OPW
Blackrock Clinic, Dublin
Aer Rianta Dublin/Moscow
Kildare Co Council
Greenepeace Ireland
AIB, London Angels Court
National Portrait Collection, University College Limerick

 

This essay was written by Carissa Farrell for the catalogue that was made for the Solo Exhibition In The Assembly Rooms Dunlin 2016

The Octagonal Room presents an apt location for Catherine Greene’s most recent collection of life-size human/hybrid figures. Bearing a classical deportment, their form is in keeping with the Octagon’s timeless architectural elegance and their roughened mottled surfaces matches its worn charm. All of the figures are naked, solid and strong, with gender assignations that are barely discernable. Their facial characteristics still forming, creating a sense that these are representative rather than actual people. But despite their similarities they have each challenged their cloning origin so as to differentiate themselves from each other.

The nine figures are grouped into three works, Ecce Homo with five figures and Wolf and Boy and Recognition, each with two. The group of five, Ecce Homo are standing in single file looking forward as though in a queue. The arrangement is visually striking and rhythmical but it brings up unsettling references to iconic historical and contemporary images that are imprinted on collective social memory. From the dehumanising bureaucracy of failed twentieth century economics to the never ending displacement of peoples as a result of war and conflict. Although poised and graceful they carry the burden of having to stand obediently in line while measuring their possibilities in stolen glances and backward looks. Theirs is a predicament that is controlled by an absent authority, reminding us of enduring human struggles and continuing contemporary horrors. Within this group of five is a hybrid creature with the head of a Wolf, stretching upwards as though howling internally. This Wolf- Man hints at the human instinct for creating myth and stories of the supernatural that offer magical ways to triumph over adversity. Ultimately it is the inherent humanity of this group that wins out and points to the prospect of resolution.

In contrast, the other two works witness moments of private intimacy and trust between human and hybrid. Wolf and Boy proposes the diversity of love in a relationship of difference, and a first moment of touch that awakens vulnerability. In finding each other they have found refuge and solidarity. Recognition, which pairs a female/girl figure with the Wolf echoes Angela Carter’s reworking of Little Red Riding Hood in The Company of Wolves. It suggests that risk and deviance can create a physical and sexual dynamic that is transformative, as it was for Rosaleen in Carter’s story.

Catherine Greene’s practice springs from her ability to follow her intuition for form as it moulds from her thoughts and reflections on the world. Her freedom is to process her observations into a new and deeply personal mythology that continues to evolve with each new body of work. The logistical and technical aspects of working to this scale are formidable and require a substantial grasp of engineering and design. The key is to balance between structure and intuition and the avoidance of either artless naiveté or showy technical prowess. In addressing this Greene has furrowed her own technical path in creating a method that allows her to make works that are robust and durable but do not hermetically seal the life and soul of their artistic selves as bronze can often do. This is an exciting and significant progression in her development that will consolidate her position as one of Irelands most interesting figurative sculptors.

IRISH ARTS REVIEW PUBLICATION AUTUMN EDITION 2015

ESSAY ON CATHERINE GREENE

Catherine Greene

There is a vigour in the sculptural practice of Catherine Greene that contradicts common assumptions about figurative sculpture. It is a hardy resistance to monumentalism. For Greene this resistance functions like a compass, guiding her through her intuition towards strategic modesty that foregrounds the integrity of the art object and audience against the artists’ ego. As Greene says herself, ‘it becomes egotistical to say that I will make an iconic work…’. But an artist can only sustain such a measured approach by having a core vision that anchors it. Vision is the Holy Grail for an artist, it is felt and very much part of an artist’s personality – it is the kernel of an idea and a sense that an outcome is possible, it is about making and unmaking, it is about failure as much as it is about success. I spent a short time with Greene in her studio where she described her ideas as though they exist around her like an aura – they are hers and deeply felt but she must search for them as though they are intimate possessions that have been temporarily mislaid. But as with all artists the moment arrives where she can pull them into herself, transform them and make that leap to innovation, the final emergence, the forming, shaping and imagining which is very much under her conscious domain.

Greene’s back catalogue is allegorically figurative rather than representative. Borrowing from straightforward realism and an impish instinct for surrealism she creates three dimensional forms that draw on a mix of the ordinariness of everyday life embellished with dreamlike diversions from her psyche. She maintains a balance of these real and imagined worlds in both her public & private commissions and gallery work. It is perhaps best illustrated in her memorial to Thomas Francis Meagher in Waterford City. It is the kind of commission that demands a traditional and monumental approach – a military figure on a horse wielding a sword – such was the specivity of the brief. Yet Greene produced an aspirational rather than triumphalist work, infused with stillness, dignity and humility – as though Meagher is still caught in a dream that has yet to materialise. Compared to the heroic and theatrical monument by Charles J. Mulligan at the Montana State Capitol Building where M! eagher was Acting Governor, Greene’s work offers insight into the man rather than the legend.

Even though a large proportion of Greene’s oeuvre has been produced in the most permanent of materials that is bronze, there is a perceptible threat of instability running through them. They are flighty and capricious. Greene brings buoyancy to almost everything she makes, whether strategic or not, as though the work could break free and abscond from her in spite of its weight and rigidity. It introduces a vulnerability that ultimately, as she states quite democratically herself, ‘will be judged by people’. In a business where stylistic trends are taken up by artists gifted with a technical adroitness that drains the life and soul out of their work and the audience, it is a privilege to see the living evidence of the uncertainty that complicates an artwork’s production. Perhaps the best examples of this are Greene’s very fine smaller bronze works, such as Terra Incognito, Icarus’s First Trail, Planetary Map and Tobias and Sarah. A particular favourite of mine is The Cartographers in which two renaissance men stand on the armature of a globe, one whispers into the ear of the other who

leans forward, head down with concentration. The speaker’s coat flaps in a breeze as they casually teeter on top of God’s earth. These men are dreamers and innovators whose vision literally shrinks the vastness of the world under their feet.

Allegory is an important ingredient in Greene’s conceptual process. Some works appear representative of certain individuals but are really metaphors for other meanings that nod respectfully to the conventions of historical and allegorical art. In 2003 Greene was commissioned to make a work in memory of Dermot Morgan. Choosing to make a non-figurative work was a fitting memorial to a man whose guise was inextricably entwined with his television alter egos Father Ted and Father Trendy. Morgan would have been pleased, after his untimely death at forty six his collaborators spoke of his career long wish to be recognised as a writer and artist rather than the larger than life characters that he was associated with. The work takes the form of a bronze throne and if we could imagine a seat in an ancient celtic royal household this could be it. Titled Jester’s/ Joker’s Throne it references Morgan’s role as a satirist, or as Greene describes, ‘the very clever fool who is pitted against convention and brave enough to see a truth’. The frame below the seat is inset with an all seeing eye bringing to mind the strength of Morgan’s work and how the Irish political establishment couldn’t stomach the fearlessness of his biting satire. On a lighter note the overall scale is slightly larger than life, creating infinite photo-opportunities for visitors to Merrion Square. There is a sense that if you sit in it, the joke might still be on you, as though Morgan’s spirit is somewhere nearby chuckling quietly. In keeping with Greene’s instincts it is set into a modest cobbled bay and is utterly lacking in spectacle.

When Greene was tasked with an extremely demanding commission to make a large scale crucifixion work for the new Basílica da Santíssima Trindade at Fatima, Portugal, she felt compelled to avoid the

melodrama and tragedy that heretofore dominated the genre. The Basilica is a marvel of contemporary architecture, designed to a grand scale with a colossal interior that seats nine thousand congregants. Greene preferred to depict Christ as the redeemer no longer suffering, a choice that is more fitting within the optimistic grandeur of the location. Rather than hanging painfully on broken arms, Christ appears upright with arms and hands outstretched wide in anticipation of resurrection. Greene’s stylistic approach is close to the manuscript depictions of Christ from the early middle ages when symbolism had not yet been superseded by sublime mimesis. The crucifix lacks the menace of solid form, being made of two bars that simply approximate the shape of the cross. Christ’s body is tensed with vigour and strength and lifted upwards with the possibility of flight. It is a redemptive work that sits well in its very impressive surroundings.

Greene’s most recent commission for the Sutherland School of Law at UCD, Portal comprises the figure of a young man walking out of a mould which has been broken in two halves and placed a short distance apart. It is hard to respond to this work without imagining it as being in motion. The figure has a self-conscious aura of classical sculpture updated by a casual independence that fits with experience of third level education. Greene had described how Rodin could animate the space around

a work by creating a ‘tension in the void as much as the material’. In negotiating its path into the lectures at the Law School each morning it is easy to imagine saying ‘excuse me’ as you pass around or through it. In this way Portal is designed as an intervention in to the busy territory of student life, acting as a daily reminder that the experience of University is a journey elsewhere rather than an end in itself.

Greene is currently working towards a solo project at the Irish Georgian Society’s Assembly Rooms in October 2016 for which she is returning to her roots in otherworldliness. Comprising a series of more melancholic works, she describes them as an exploration of ‘…the line between the human and the animal soul’. One work Blue Moon, is part of this series of centaur/satyr like human/wolf figures that stand perfectly still, hands clasped at their sides with heads sorrowfully stretched upwards to the sky. Still very much at incubation stage, Greene is excited with this new departure and indeed the opportunity to concentrate on her own personal brief rather than the restrictive confines of commission work. Having consolidated her practice in recent years with well equipped spacious studio and time to work in it, and with a lead in time that is just generous enough to allow for development without losing freshness, this show promises to be an interesting one.

Carissa Farrell
Quotes from conversations with the artist, October 2015.

Links below to other;

https://www.irishartsreview.com/body-and-soul/

Interview on Culture file Lyric fm