An exhibition of works from the Irish Museum of Modern Art Collection opens to the public on Monday 1 September 2003 at Tallaght Community Arts Centre, as part of a collaborative exhibition between Tallaght Community Arts Centre and IMMA’s National Programme. ‘Scraping the Surface…’ includes drawings and sculpture by the Belfast-born artist John Kindness.
The title of the exhibition is taken from one of the works included in the exhibition, ‘Scraping the surface…’. This work was part of a series which Kindness worked on while he was based in New York using ‘treasures’ which he found in the city. Kindness is interested in the detritus of human life and in this work he has etched a familiar New York Taxi Cab door, which he found lying abandoned in the street. The familiar yellow paint of the door is scraped away and the scratched metal is then darkened with a metal oxide resulting in a black image on a yellow background – deliberately reminiscent of classical Greek attic vases.
Kindness is interested in exploring what it is we are leaving behind us, and this work with its archaeology reference suggests that the debris in the gutter will be the artefacts of the future. The subject of the work is a classical figure who crouches down to the gutter to clean up after his pair of aristocratic looking dogs but he ignores the other discarded items such as a hypodermic needle, a used condom, a disposable coffee cup and plastic fork.
Also shown in this exhibition are the works ‘Dog with Altarpiece’ and ‘A Monkey Parade’, both of which make humourous references to the culture of both communities in Northern Ireland. ‘A Monkey Parade’ shows a monkey riding a white horse, symbolic of the white horse historically associated with King William of Orange. The monkey, however, is seated back to front on the horse and is blindfolded. Dog with Altarpiece portrays a bulldog with a leather studded collar imitating the attire of a Catholic priest while another dog is shown crucified on a cross in the background. The image of the dog is used again in the sculpture ‘Big School Dog’. The dog strikes a menacing pose with penetrating red glass eyes while the surface of the dog takes on the role of a school blackboard with school lessons written onto its surface in chalk, harking back to Kindness’ school days in Belfast.
Throughout his career, Kindness has used traditional methods of working such as mosaic and fresco painting and enjoys the idea of exploring contemporary themes in traditional media. He has always wanted to engage rather than alienate his viewer and consciously creates art which has both an appealing aesthetic to draw the viewer in and a strong narrative to engage the viewer further. Another tool he uses to engage the viewer is the wit and ironic humour ever present in his work, even when dealing with such emotive issues as the political situation in Northern Ireland.
The National Programme is designed to create access opportunities to the visual arts in a variety of situations and locations in Ireland. Using the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and exhibitions generated by the Museum, the National Programme facilitates the creation of exhibitions and other projects for display in a range of locations around the country. The National Programme establishes the Museum as inclusive, accessible and national, de-centralising the Collection, and making it available to communities in their own localities, on their own terms, in venues with which the audience is comfortable and familiar.
A series of workshops and gallery talks will be held alongside the exhibition as part of the Branching Out project. Branching Out is a programme designed by the Irish Museum of Modern Art and National Irish Bank to bring the visual arts to the community and provide opportunities for the community to get involved.
Scraping the Surface… continues until 10 October 2003 at the Tallaght Community Arts Centre, Unit 1, Village Square, Tallaght, Co Dublin.
For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane at Tel: +353 1 612 9900, Fax: +353 1 612 9999,
19 August 2003
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