Denis O'Connor

Festival: 2016

Defining a Line and other Stories, is made up of a series of sculptures [made between 2012-2016], which initially makes reference to the journey I have been undertaking as an Irish emigrant from England to Ireland over the last twenty-five years. In 2011 I was making observations of the ferry journey between Holyhead and Dublin Port and realised I was positioned in the Irish Sea at the halfway point looking at the Welsh Mountains in one direction and the Dublin Mountains in the other direction. I found the notion of a ‘halfway’ point between two places both intriguing and unsettling at the same time, an in-between place, which has led me to investigate the ’crossings’ I have been making. Specifically researching ideas about ‘Home and Displacement’, I have asked myself the question ‘Where is my home’ a question that is possibly asked by the thousands of Irish travellers who take this journey year after year. I know from my own experiences, trying to answer these questions is emotionally very difficult, from being brought up in one country for one half of one’s life to living in another for the other half of one’s life. The visual language of my sculpture begins to part answer this question, but also demonstrates an uncomfortable notion of being displaced, this forms the basis of how I have begun to explore these ideas.
Defining a Line also formally references the linear materials I work with in the form of different types of solid square and round steel bar, this is the start, it defines the variety of forms I can make and what may be possible to make. Referring to a range of source elements such as domestic furniture, tools, maps, architectural sites, selected writings, I work from images, which can be made from the material of steel. They begin to have their own identity, [a ladder, a chair, a house, a journey line, a boulder, a shovel] the material now has a form. Working with different constructional processes I begin to juxtapose some of these elements to create a type of ‘tension’ between different forms. This sets up a dialogue towards communicating scenarios of opposites, such as stable and unstable, comfortable, and uncomfortable, real and unreal, seen and unseen, each of these scenarios tries to address notions of belonging, identity and home.

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