Abigail Oâ€™Brien Airfix Days
Abigail O’Brien Airfix Days Peppercanister Gallery Dublin 19 October – 10 November 2012
“Buried for the past forty years, two Men uncover the wonderment of their youth. Never before seen as treasure, in the moment of discovery they are transported back to a different world. A world without boundaries and a time when plastic fuselages bristled with the sound of guns and where Dogfights come out of the blue. Rat a tat tat and dinner was ready at five.”
This book was published by the Peppercanister Gallery on the occasion of the exhibition Abigail O’Brien Airfix Days 19 October – 10 November 2012 Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin, Ireland Copyright © the artists, the authors and the Peppercanister Gallery. Peppercanister Gallery 3 Herbert Street, Dublin 2, Ireland T: +353 (0) 1 6611279 E: email@example.com www.peppercanister.com All rights reserved. No part of this publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise, without first seeking the written permission of the copyright owners and of the publisher.
Editor Kathryn Murphy Co-Editor Bryan Murphy
From Esa Honkimaki to Abigail Oâ€™Brien
Airfix Days 19 October – 10 November 2012
Airfix Days by Abigail O’Brien showcases the work of one of Ireland’s pre-eminent artists. Abigail first exhibited at Peppercanister in September 2011 as part of STILL, a group exhibition of lensbased artists during Dublin Contemporary 11. She has exhibited in a number of international and Irish shows this year, and this will be her first solo show at Peppercanister Gallery. Exploring themes of childhood and nostalgia, Airfix Days captures the joy and excitement of rediscovering long forgotten memories. The passage of time alchemises simple childhood toys into symbols of happiness, freedom and imagination, reminding us of the wonder of youth and the pleasure of simpler times. She has won many awards and her work is represented in both private and public collections including IMMA, Dublin, The European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Goldman Sachs, London, The Caldic Collection, Rotterdam and the Volpinum Collection, Vienna. She has exhibited extensively, including at Haus Der Kunst, Munich, The Gemeentemuseum, Holland, and Centro National des Arts, Mexico. Born in 1957, she received a first class honours BA Fine Art Painting in 1995 and an MA Fine Art Painting in 1998, from The National College of Art and Design, Dublin. The exhibition will be opened by Noel Kelly, Director, Visual Artists Ireland.
Bryan Murphy Director, Peppercanister Gallery
from Esa Honkimaki to Abigail O’Brien
“When Thomas and I began to play with my old Airfix models at my mother´s house that day, I had a very strange feeling inside me. I found it astounding that a Finn and a German - the descendants of an ally and enemy - were playing together with these aircraft models bearing enemy markings. At that moment I felt warmness and a good feeling went through my whole body - although we personally have had nothing to do with our countries past troubles, somehow it was like atonement. Ireland will hold next presidency of the EU in 2013 and it occurs to me that “Airfix Days” is the perfect way to show the big boys that we need to learn to play together in Europe - in spite of our history, our various identities, and the economic difficulties of our countries. There is a little boy living inside every grown up man and I bet they all remember the Airfix models of their childhood. I believe this exhibition has the power to move something inside their souls and bring them to play together again. I have said many times here in Lapua that we need women´s touch to bring things in right order. I think that the whole of Europe needs that touch right now.”
Interview with Abigail Oâ€™Brien October 2012
Can you tell us something about the background to Airfix Days, how the work came about? I was invited to take part on a residency in Lapua, Finland with three other artists, Mary Kelly, Sean Cotter and Thomas Brezing (a German national). We were to have a show in the Museum in Lapua and the plan was that the work would be relevant to Lapua. There was much talk about the impact of war and the threat of Germany. There had also been a dreadful explosion in the town. In fact, the site of the Museum had originally been a munitions factory that blew up one morning after the war, killing more than forty women and men. The time was 7:42 am. One day I was talking to Esa Honkimaki, Director of the Museum, about what I might do for the show. I was in a bit of a hole and the other artists appeared to be ploughing away with ideas. He told me about all the Airfix models he and his brother Erkki had made as young boys. I asked him if we could go and see them. They were in the cellar of his motherâ€™s house. A couple of hours later he unearthed these treasures and he and Thomas Brezing started playing with them, just as if they were young lads again. The sound piece in the show is the two of them simulating bomber noises. Esa has kindly lent me the planes to photograph and install in the show. The resulting show was called 7:42 and subsequently travelled to the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda and the Cable Factory in Helsinki.
As a symbol of play, the childishly painted Airfix planes in this exhibition speak of innocence and creativity, however the instinct to ‘play war’ has a darker side. Is the contradictory nature of the human condition something that interests you? We are all a bundle of contradictions, that’s what makes people interesting. When my children were young they went to a Quaker school in Rathmines, Dublin. They weren’t allowed to play with toys that might represent violence. But just as a child can make a caravan out of a cardboard box, they found ways around the arms embargo restriction using sticks, balloons and even their own voices.
Airfix Days explores themes of memory, nostalgia and childhood. Does being a mother influence your work? Absolutely. As a parent I can only admire the parents of Esa and his brother Erkki - giving them the models to assemble on a frequent basis. This kept the boys active and engaged, while they learnt the hugely important tools of dexterity, concentration and imagination. My own children were just as active (though not aeronautically!). I tried making an Airfix plane myself recently and I reckon you would need the hands of a surgeon to be able to put one together well. Anything that self motivates children has to be a positive. Making things slows down the world around them.
In the past you have explored themes of female domesticity, ritual, religion and mortality. How does this exhibition relate to your previous bodies of work? Much of my work seems to have a connection with domestic ritual and rites of passage. Airfix Days is about rituals of play and the rites of passage of young fellows. Toys of war in a world of innocence. I made a body of work in 2005 called ‘Fortitude’ which followed a very similar theme - boys and their toys. A father and son and their fascination with Army tanks. A lovely aspect to this project has been the numbers of men who have shared with me memories of their own Airfix Days.
Having raised children, you came relatively late in your life to pursuing your creative path. Was there a turning point at which you realised that you had all this work inside that needed to be made? I have been making things since I was a child. I began my formal studies while my children were very young, juggling the household duties with my practice. When the children went to bed I went to work.
Do you see yourself primarily as a ‘female artist’, an ‘Irish artist’, an ‘international artist’ or simply ‘an artist’? Does it matter? Artist. It took me a long time to feel comfortable calling myself ‘Artist’. I felt I had to earn my stripes. Any addition to the title is padding and used only where the context is appropriate.
Which artists (either contemporary or from history) do you draw inspiration from? Many, but the first that comes to mind is Louise Bourgeois. She was a ground breaker who was led by her work and not by public demand. She was extremely versatile in the materials she used and was never afraid to explore difficult or personal themes in her work.
What inspires you as an artist? Getting up in the morning inspires me. I enjoy the process of mental mooching. My notebooks are full of gremlins trying to jump out into a piece of work.
right Abigail O’Brien Hidden Treasure I acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien Red Devil acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Golden Bird acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien St. Patrick acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Tiger acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 49.5 × 75 cm
right Abigail O’Brien Airfix Days acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien Snail acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Butterfly acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien Zero Tolerance acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 49.5 × 75 cm Abigail O’Brien Blazing Star acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
right Abigail Oâ€™Brien Falcon acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 Ă— 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien He Man acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Fever acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien Forty Shades acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Red Baron acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
right Abigail O’Brien Battle Games III acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 49.5 × 75 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien Picasso acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Dalmatian acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 × 66 cm
left to right Abigail O’Brien K-Tail acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm Abigail O’Brien Fury acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 30 × 45 cm
right Abigail Oâ€™Brien Albatross acrylic mounted lambdachrome print edition of 3 100 Ă— 66 cm
Abigail Oâ€™Brien RHA, born 1957 Abigail Oâ€™Brien has won many awards and her work is represented in both private and public collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Caldic Collection, Rotterdam and The Volpinum Collection, Vienna. She has exhibited extensively in Europe and Ireland, most notably at Haus Der Kunst, Munich, The Irish Museum of Modern Art and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris. She received a first class honours B.A. Fine Art Painting in 1995 and an M.A. Fine Art in 1998, (N.C.A.D.) Exploring culture and everyday rituals, her work is complex and diverse employing Photography, Embroidery, Sculpture, Video Sound and Installation.
2012: Airfix Days, The Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin. 2011: Temperance, 2009, 2011, Royal Hibernian Academy Foyer, Dublin. 2009: Temperance, 2009, Letterkenny Municipal Arts Centre, Donegal. 2008: Bella, 2007, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf. 2007: Bella, 2007, Rubicon Gallery, Dublin. 2006: Confirmation- Martha’s Cloth, 2004, Gallerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf.
The Rag Tree Series, Rubicon Gallery, Dublin.
2005: Fortitude, 2005, The John David Mooney Foundation, Chicago.
Garden Heaven - Holy Orders, 2001 - 2003, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.
The Seven Sacraments, 1995 - 2004, Royal Hibernian Academy Gallagher Gallery, Dublin.
2004: Vita Activa, The Rubicon Gallery, Dublin. 2004: The Seven Sacraments, 1995 - 2004, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany.
The Seven Sacraments, 1995 - 2004, The Kunstverein, Lingen, Germany.
2003: The Rag Tree Series, Rubicon Gallery, Dublin. 2001: How to Butterfly a leg of Lamb, a collaboration with Mary A. Kelly,
Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf.
2000: from The Ophelia Room - Extreme Unction, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, D端sseldorf.
from Baptism, The Sculpture Court, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh.
How to Butterfly a leg of Lamb, a collaboration with Mary A. Kelly, Edinburgh Arts Festival.
1999: Kitchen Pieces - Confession and Communion, Galerie Stadtpark, Krems, Austria.
How to Butterfly a Leg of Lamb, a collaboration with Mary A. Kelly, The Concourse, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Dublin.
1998: Kitchen Pieces - Confession and Communion, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, D端sseldorf. 1996: Baptism, Old Museum, Belfast.
Man Eating Cream Bun, installation, Habitat, Dublin.
Baptism, H辰agen Dazs/Temple Bar Gallery Solo Award, Dublin.
Kitchen Pieces - Confession and Communion, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, D端sseldorf.
Selected Mixed Group Exhibitions
2012: 7:42 The High Lanes Gallery, Drogheda.
Ateliers und Kitchen, Laboratories of the Senses Martha Herford, Germany.
Kinsale Arts Festival, Ireland.
7:42 The Cable Factory, Kaapelitehtaan Valssaamossa Helsinki.
2011: Apertures and Anxieties - artists celebrate 300 years of Trinity College School of Medicine, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
7:42 Irish Contemporary Art, Lapua Museum of Art, Finland.
Still, Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin.
Cast 25, James Wray Gallery, Belfast.
Cast 25, Solomon Gallery, Dublin.
Altered Images, Letterkenny Regional Cultural Centre, Donegal.
181st Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition, Dublin.
Three Colours / Red, 2001. A collaboration with Mary A. Kelly, SOMA Contemporary, Waterford. Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.
Children get choosy with IMMA, Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford.
2010 : Altered Images, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Sacred, Dock Off-site, Enniskillen, Curator Linda Shevlin.
Let them Luvâ€™ Cake, March 2010, Cake Contemporary Arts, The Curragh.
Army Camp, Kildare.
2009: Another Island, Contemporary Irish Art, The American Historical Society, New York. 2008: Royal Hibernian Academy 178th Annual Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
Obra Nabarmenenak /Obras Fundamentals, Sala Kubo- Kutxa, San Sebastian.
2007: Gestures of Infinity, Kultutzentrum bei den Minoriten, Graz. 2006: Einfach So, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf.
Royal Hibernian Academy 176th Annual Exhibition, (invited Artist) Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
Ten Years in the Making, an Exhibition of Art from the State Buildings, 1995 - 2005, Farmleigh, Dublin.
National Self-Portrait Collection, University of Limerick, Ireland.
Pulse Contemporary Art Fair, New York.
2005: Bread Matters, West Cork Arts Centre, West Cork.
The Eye of The Storm, The IMMA Collection, Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin.
2004 : Tir na nOg, new works from the IMMA Collection, Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin.
Banquet Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy Gallagher Gallery, Dublin.
In The Time of Shaking, Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin.
Child in Time, The Gemeentemuseum, Helmond, Holland.
2002: Lerse Kunst uit de Collectie van het Museum Modern Art Te Dublin, Stedelijk Museum, Belgium.
Stories, Haus der Kunst, Munich.
2001: From the Poetic to the Political, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. 2000: Series, Elke Dröscher Galerie, Hamburg.
Der Monokulare Blick, Kunstverein Lingen, Germany.
Zwischen - Raum, Galerie Seitz und Partner, Wielandstr, Berlin.
Unschärferelation, Kunstverein Freiburg im Marienbad, Germany. Travelling tour to Kunstmuseum Heidenheim and Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken.
1999: Irish Art Now: From the Poetic to the Political, 1999 - 2001, travelling U.S. exhibition (organised by I.C.I. New York and Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin).
Silent Presence: Contemporary Still- Life Photography, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden- Baden and Bielefelder Kunstverein , 2000.
The Challenge of Power, Limerick City Gallery, Limerick.
Perspective 99 Open, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast.
EV+A 99, Limerick City Gallery, Limerick.
Les Fleur du Mal, Galerie Seitz von Werder, Berlin.
1998: EV+A 98, Limerick City Gallery, Limerick.
Novisimos, Cortometrajes Mexicanos, Recientes en Cine y Video, Sala Luis Bu単uel CCC/ Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico, (a collaboration with Javier de la Garza).
Passport Exchange; (Ex) Change, National Polish Museum of Contemporary Art, Zacheta, Warsaw, Poland.
National College Of Art ANd Design Postgraduate Show, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin.
1997: Passport Exchange, (Ex) Change, Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin.
Banquet Exhibition, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.
Figuration, Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin.
1996: Waiting Spaces, Sheriff Street Post Office, site-specific work, Dublin.
Oriel Mostyn Open, Llandudno, Wales.
Iontas, Sligo, travelling to Dublin, Limerick and Derry.
7:42, Irish Contemporary Art, published by Lapua Art Museum, 2011, editors Kirsi-Maria Tuomisto and Esa Honkimaki essay by Katherine Waugh. Creative Ireland - The Visual Arts, Contemporary Irish Visual Arts, 2000 - 2011. Editors, Noel Kelly and Seán Kissane, published by Visual Artists Ireland. Temperance, essays by David Galloway and John Cunningham, published by Letterkenny Cultural centre, Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Altered Images, essay by Cliodhna Shaffrey, The Organisation of Hope, published by The Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin 2009. The IMMA Collection, editor Marguerite O’Molloy, published by The Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin, 2005 Abigail O’Brien, The Seven Sacraments and The Ritualised Daily Life, essays by Stephanie Rosenthal, Ciaran Benson and Pater Friedhelm Mennekes, published by Haus Der Kunst and Steidl, 2004. Some Trees, published by Paul Andriesse for the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin 2004. Currents, published by The Office Of Public Works, 2004. Stories, Text by Stephanie Rosenthal and essays by Söke Dinkla, Christoph Hochhäusler, Thomas Jäger and Matias Martinez, published by Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2002. Unshärferelation, Fotografie als Dimension der Malerie, pulished by Hatje Cantz, text by Peter FitzGerald,Das Weltliche ins Sakrale, (p.21), 2000. The Challenge of Power, essay by Siun Hanrahan, published by Adapt, Limerick 1999. Lautlose Gegenwart, Das Stilleben in der Zeitgenossischen Fotografie, Staatliche Kunsthalle BadenBaden, catalogue essay by Dr Jessica Mueller 1999. Irish Art Now - From the Poetic to the Political, essays by Declan McGonagle, Fintan O’Toole and Kim Levin, published by Independent Curators International, New York, in association with the Irish Museum Of Modern Art, 1999.
Museum Of Modern Art, text by Catherine Marshall, Curator of the Collection, 1997. Representing Women: An Interview with Kiki Smith, by Abigail O’Brien, in Thought Lines, edited by Sue McNab, published by National College of Art and Design, 1996. Baptism, Häagen Dazs/Temple Bar Gallery Solo Award catalogue, essay by Medb Ruane, 1996 EV+A 96, EV+A 98 and EV+A 99, catalogues.
Arts Bursary Louth County Council, 2010. Elected Full Member Royal Hibernian Academy, Ireland 2010. Culture Ireland Exhibition Bursary, 2005 /2008. The Solomon Sculpture Prize, RHA Annual, 2008. Public Art Award, Donegal County Council, 2007/2008. Associate member of the Royal Hibernian Academy, Ireland, 2006. Culture Ireland Exhibition Bursary, 2005. Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland Award, 2003. Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary, 2003. Project Studio, Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, 2001/2002. Arts Council of Ireland/ Aer Lingus Art Flight Award 2000 and 2001. Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary, 2000. Residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, EV+A Prize 1999. Random Access Video Training Symposium, Sculptorsâ€™ Society Ireland, 1998. Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary, 1997/1998. MA Fine Art National College Of Art And Design, 1998. Arts Council of Ireland Materials Award, 1996. Artists Work Programme (residency), Irish Museum Of Modern Art, Dublin, 1996. BA Fine Art 1st class, National College Of Art And Design, 1995. National College Of Art And Design National Student of the Year Award, N.C.A.D, 1995. Temple Bar Galleries and HĂ¤agen Dazs Solo Award, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, 1995.
National Self-Portrait Collection, University of Limerick, Ireland. Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland. Office of Public Works, Ireland. University College Limerick, Ireland. The Caldic Collection, Rotterdam, Denmark. Volpinum Collection, Vienna, Austria. European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Germany. Goldman Sachs, London, UK. Private Collections, Europe and North America.
Council member of the Royal Hibernian Academy Arts Council appointed Member for the Exhibitions Committee at RHA. Board Member of Ivaro Irish Visual Artists Rights Organization.
Peppercanister Gallery 3 Herbert Street, Dublin 2, Ireland T: E:
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