Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eilis O'Connell at the RHA

The RHA is always worth a visit. It’s quiet, it’s bright, it’s free and now it has a coffee shop and a bookshop. And it frequently has interesting shows.

The current show by Eilis O'Connell is the most impressive body of work I've seen by her - it seems that move to Inniscara has done her good.

There are 38 pieces, all done since 2007. And what variety. There are beautiful found objects preserved in clear resin: red coral, birds nests, a child’s shoe, a vulture feather, a sheep's skull and a strange silvery object found on Inch Strand. Then there’s a series of small bronze rectangles (entitled Unlikely Monuments) etched with delicate patterns, each a minimalist masterpiece. These are apparently ideas for larger works. Upstairs the scale increases dramatically. We see 12 foot triffids, a superb Henry Moore like shape (but warmer and shapelier), and metal strips that suggest Brancusi's Le Signal. There are also some small exquisitely delicate gourd like bronzes.

This is a beautiful, classy and accessible exhibition. Get in there and relish it.

Downstairs is an exhibition of late work by Paddy Collins. There is a suggestion of Celtic iconography but the cut out format and attendant jagged shapes vie with the colour and pattern of the work. These were a critical failure in his life time – and I can see why.