Galleries - May 2015

taking photographs for the visual books he had been producing in a remote part of Scotland for the previous 30 years and, moving to coastal Suffolk, started to make sculpture out of marine and industrial scrap. “My material is now something more physically tangible –the need to transform the base material into something cohesive/whole –remains the same . . . I associate myself with an activity that brings material together: material with a history that has caught my eye because it has the potential to be transformed.” There has been a dramatic transformation even within this 10 to12 year period too, as he moved his practice entirely towards wall-mounted pieces –initially because of gallery space –and this really seems to suit a way of working which he does not see as coming from within any sculptural tradition. 3-D collage might be almost nearer the mark –the cutting and fitting of the quite disparate materials that come to hand, the colours and shapes they bring with them, the 'surprise' element which these ready-made objects invariably bring to the mix and, above all, the poignancy of these abandoned objects being given new and exhilarating life. which draws on the huge (3000 plus items) holdings of the AIB Bank, and opens at the Mall Galleries this month (13 to 31 May). The first major loan show of Irish modern art in this country since the early 1980s, it tells a fascinating story, showing clearly how vital Irish art has been in the forging of the country’s image of itself before, during and after independence in 1922. “Images”, in poet Seamus Heaney’s words, “that have entered us so thoroughly that they can seem at times to be almost pre-natal possessions”. As a co-curator of the show I have to declare an interest; this is a show which I hope will lay to rest the old canard about the Irish not being an essentially visual nation. With Jack Yeats, William Scott, Sean Scully, Hughie O’Donoghue and Tony O’Malley just for starters, there are also some wonderful surprises along the way –Patrick Collins, Kathy Prendergast and Alice Maher among them. This will prove, I feel, a revelatory exhibition. Quietly Drawing With a major retrospective exhibition at the Yale Centre of Fine Art in 2011 and a string of shows and prestigious residencies in the USA over the last few years, it can sometimes seem as though Rebecca Salter's quiet, richly contemplative work is almost more widely appreciated over there than over here, where a noisy YBA style so often appears the way to gain critical attention. Good then to learn that the Royal Academy elected her a member last December –just the kind of thoughtful, ever-evolving artist that should be there. To celebrate her election, her long- standing and always hugely supportive London gallery, Beardsmore , is mounting a survey of her works on paper. With their subtle marks and traces, delicate textures and hints of the human and the natural, there is a wonderfully Zen quality to Salter's work, the impact of some four years also spent in Japan in the early 80s. A busy spring for Rebecca too with another show parallel to this one in New York. Base Materials Looking at Telfer Stokes' witty, intensely evocative scrap metal wall reliefs, ( Austin/Desmond ) the old alchemical phrase 'the transformation of base materials' kept echoing through my head. It was a phrase that, by curious coincidence, the artist himself used in trying to convey the continuity he had felt when, just over a decade ago, he stopped MAY 2015 GALLERIES 11 from top left: D avid Robilliard ‘Work is The Curse of the Drinking Classes’ at Dadiani Gallery Lívia Gorka ‘60s vase’ at King’s Lynn Arts Centre. Susan Sluglett ‘On the Lam’ at The Cello Factory Sean Scully ‘Wall of Light Summer’ 2001 at Mall Galleries. Telfer Stokes ‘Walse’ at Austin Desmond Rebecca Salter ‘Untitled 2009-07’ at Beardsmore