2 months ago

Artistic License: Dorothy Cross

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“I dreamt I dwelt” an exhibition of new sculptures by Dorothy Cross at Kerlin Gallery takes its name from a 19th-century aria …

A shark rises up from a floor of Carrara marble as if emerging from the ocean. Elsewhere, two ears listen out from pillows. Seemingly pliable, the cushions are also carved from Carrara marble, the kinks of their fabric tapped into stone. In another work, pieces of granite, quartz, sandstone and marble are stacked into a mound. 26 stones are carved with the letters of the Roman alphabet. These new works are further distillations of Dorothy Cross’s long-term concern: the complex relationship between the natural world and humankind. She tells us more about her working process and inspirations.

The natural world and humankind are ideas developed in your new exhibition. What ideas are you most concerned with in this relationship?

Our presence on this planet is inextricable from the natural world for the period of time we occupy our bodies, how can anything be more beautiful than a dragonfly or a Beluga whale?

You have a fascination, among other subjects, with sharks. Can you tell us about your interest in them and the new sculpture?

Yes, I have always respected and been fascinated by sharks. They are one of the oldest animals on the planet and hold a very important position in our ecosystem. The new sculpture “Room” involves a floor of Carrara marble from which a shark emerges. Marble is formed through the layering of sediment and the rising of the sea bed over millennia. The shark is much maligned and tends to be the object upon which we project fears of our mortality. Today the shark is threatened by over fishing and the “sport” of shark hunting. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed every year generally by the Chinese for shark fin soup. “Room” occupies the possibility of space.

Two other sculptures comprise the centrepiece of the exhibition – what were their inspiration?

“Listen Listen” is a pair of pillows carved in marble, one with a perfect right ear lying within the hollow that would hold the sleeping head and in the other the left ear – the intuitive and intellectual sides of our brain. The title is an appeal, especially in the present time, of disconnect and disrespect for the earth. The third piece titled “Alphabet” is a pile of white quartz stones I gathered on the shore. 26 of them are carved with the letters of the alphabet which are strewn amongst the pile, this is simply about the possibility and limitations of language.

Can you tell us about your working process?

It is difficult to describe a working process. In ways there is no separation from regular life and work. I do have a beautiful studio, in Connemara, where I gather things … whether that be a bone, music or a meteorite. Sometimes they present themselves in new combinations that “surprise” and that is what one hopes for, an encounter that is rare but wonderful when things combine to create new possibilities.

Need to Know: “I dreamt I dwelt” is on at Kerlin Gallery, Anne’s Lane, Dublin 2 until October 19; www.kerlingallery.com. Other forthcoming exhibitions/projects include “Desire: A Revision From the 20th Century to the Digital Age”, at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, from September 20 and “Heartship”, a collaborative performance with singer Lisa Hannigan, Sounds From A Safe Harbour Festival, Cork.

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