Alice Maher is one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary artists. She has produced some of the most iconic images in Irish art working in sculpture, photography installation and drawing.The NIght Garden at the RHA is an exhibition of new charcoal and pencil drawings inspired by Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.
Bosch’s famous triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin – its central panel abounds with scenes of enchanted carnal pleasure. The profiles of Maher’s ‘bestiary’ (defined as a medieval book of moral fables based on real and imaginary animals) figures have been taken from amalgamated sets of animal, bird, fruit and human groupings seen in that mysterious painting of life before (or after!) the Fall of Mankind.
Maher then uses decorative motifs taken from sources as diverse as Pompeian panels, eighteenth century wallpaper and contemporary headscarves, to fill in the negative spaces created by her ‘beasts’. Charcoal dust pours down the surfaces of the drawings reminding us of their fragility as well as their method of production.
Alice Maher has been working as a full time artist since the early 1990’s. Familiar to many will be her series of sculptures using natural materials including the Bee Dress and Berry Dress, her drawings and installations using human hair and photographic portraits of the artist using her own body and elements taken from the wild (animal parts, vegetation, and feathers). Her work is embedded in cultural history, folklore and fairy tales as well as medieval history.
Maher’s most recent exhibitions include a major retrospective Natural Artifice at the Brighton and Hove Museums, England, (2007); Orsola at the Oratorio de San Ludovico; Galleria di Nuova Icona, Venice (2006); Garden at the Purdy Hicks Gallery, London (2006) and Portraits at Mestni Muzej, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The artist studied at the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork (1981- 85), the University of Ulster, Belfast (1985-86) and was a Fulbright Scholar at the San Francisco Art Institute (1987). Maher represented Ireland at the 22nd Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil in 1994.
This exhibition is kindly supported by the Irish Times