Artistic License: Alva Gallagher

ALVA GALLAGHER’s innovative sculpture “Rise” was commissioned by the McGarrell Reilly Group and takes pride of place in The Sharp Building, Hogan Place, Dublin 2 …

Alva Gallagher

The brief was to create an innovative sculptural installation in response to the unique environment, architecture, historic and cultural references of Hogan Place. Gallagher tells us about this process and her particular love of glass as a medium for her sculpture.

How did your interest in sculpture begin? 

While I was studying at NCAD I first fell for glass as a medium for sculpture. I am always drawn to the furnace for the fact that I can change and manipulate my chosen mediums in their molten states. My love for that particular medium solidified when I was awarded a scholarship to study at the prestigious Pilchuck School of Glass in Seattle, USA. Here I had the early opportunity to have the freedom and encouragement to experiment with techniques to merge primitive with new skills and materials. As my work has developed and expanded over the years I now incorporate bronze and steel into my practice along with these techniques in glass sculpture.


Tell us about the inspiration for Rise?

“Rise” is conceived to accentuate the light, materials and elegance of The Sharp Building. I formed a modern sculptural piece that visually moves through the building’s structure.  This piece emulates the physical presence of life and light that ascends through the space – bringing the outdoors in with the light and the air – to a corporate urban scenario.

How and where do you work?

I work from my own studio on the shores of Carlingford Lough and have had the pleasure of working in studios around the world. My work often takes in the elements and can have me sited on a cliff edge one week, to the foundry in Dublin for larger works and back to base the next.


How has your style developed? 

My style develops the more that I experiment with and combine different materials. Being presented with new and exciting spaces, such as with The Sharp Building commission, can often lead to a whole new material direction and body of work.

Have you had any muses or mentors in your artistic journey? 

I haven’t had a mentor or muse per say but I am greatly inspired by the work of artists such as Karen La Monte, Gerhard Richter, Doris Salcedo, Dorothy Cross and Alison Lowry to name a few. A lot of my work has required me to study and experiment primarily by myself in my studio mixing mediums to find and develop new techniques.

Cultured Oysters

Where can we see your work, other than the new Sharp building?

My work is available through the Kildare Gallery at Carton House and I have pieces on public display at the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, the iconic Gherkin Building in London, the OPW on St Stephen’s Green and in the national collection of the National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks, Dublin on permanent display. My work is currently showing by invitation in CAST at the Wayne Art Centre, Philadelphia, USA and featured in the accompanying book CAST Art & Objects by Schiffer Publishing NY, USA, now available at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Need to Know: Alva Gallagher’s new work “Rise” can be seen at The Sharp Building, developed by the McGarrell Reilly Group, at 10-12 Hogan Place, Dublin 2;

Read previous instalments of Artistic License … 

Penny McCormick

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