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"Double Void"   Review from Modern Painters Nov. 2005 by Luke Clancy

Eilis O' Connell has long since grasped the business of zooming up and down in scale deploying smaller, humane objects in the gallery space, while pumping up the volumes for outdoor commissions.

Her work is consequently as likely to stand up to the blast outdoors at the harbour in Cardiff or riverside in Bristol as in the more focused terrain of her Dublin gallery.

All the same, it is hard not to conceive of the business of creating large-scale monumental commissions as somehow quietening the more experimental aspects of any artists work.

There is variety in O Connells work , but at the same time an obvious tendency to hold on to certain forms. Indeed it would seem that in the course of a journey towards somewhat familiar forms that shifts in the artists practice are most likely to occur. Formerly O' Connell was interested in raw, native water vessels and even if her interest is no longer so explicit, some of the familiar oozing, spouted shapes are still here, though in the micro version. Most interesting by far is O Connells continuation of the incorporation of found pieces of the countryside.

Previously she has worked with moss to create an impossibly intricate surface, traced with the finest lines of the plant, to build an image of dense interconnection and dependence, analogous to something we might find in her large scale works.

For this show more networks of fine lines appear in the form of a found birds nest, complete with a tiny egg nestled in the deep in the centre of it's dark whorls.

But this time the nest part of Long Strand West is cast in layers of clear resin, to form an upright brick encasing the now de-commissioned dwelling.

The form is echoed in some resin pieces, extruded whorls of precise clear plastic, which aim at exposing the undulating patterns of natural maths (the suggestion of a Fibonacci series in the birds nests recalled here in the tense gesture of the more explicit Golden Section, 2005 ) while also making sport with the lens of effects of the material, sucking and twisting the forms visible through the gallery's window into the works own tiny supernatural spaces.

The centerpieces of the show are two large forms suspended across from each other, high on the gallery wall, which resound with the rhetoric of grand scale. The origins of Double Void ( 2005 ) lie apparently, in the artist's experience of quarries in which a technique is sometimes used that involves the insertion of gross steel bags into a fissure in the rock. When a bag is inflated by being filled with water at high pressure, the rock will hopefully further fissure and crack, releasing large sections of the material. The piece is also inspired, the artist relates, by a photographic image of a car struck by a meteorite.

The interest here however, does not lie directly in the freed rubble, in the agency of the steel bags, and a certain sensation of force trapped in them. These pillows, in turn, have been sliced cased in galvanised steel and painted silver to evoke rather unexpectedly, an image of delicate drapery surrounding a gaping void. It is as though following the application of an adequately cosmic degree of force, a switch of perspective typical of O' Connell's work has occurred, and steel is transformed into a fine cloth ripping in the after draught of something immense.









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