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Denis O'Connor | an Nua-Shéalainn








Rathcoola Dreaming [3] (2005), photo/installation with Dara McGrath

Equator (2005), frosted Waterford crystal
























The photographic tryptich ‘Rathcoola Dreaming’ re-imagines emigration narratives from both sides of the world.  It features the disappearance of a man ploughing a field in southwest Ireland from a Paul Muldoon poem and has him resurfacing in the deep South Pacific, in a country called Nua Shealainn.  He turns up in an orchard on the banks of the Whanganui River, a landscape resonant of Maori occupation, then abandons his newly adopted homeland, haunted by a deep yearning for his native landscape which he’d convinced himself had no relevance, rhyme or reason anymore.
Dualities, ambiguities and fabulous absurdities abound in the detail of these very theatrical tableaux, which is formally indebted to traditions in cinema – more Dennis Potter than the clichéd myths that emigration usually conjures up.  Recycled Georgian armchairs, roofslates, newspapers and other detritus from another era weigh in as stage props for a quartet of actors (which includes the artist) restaging and subverting the stories we tell ourselves about language, displacement, homeland, what might be transmitted across generations and what role an artist has amidst these ideas.
The tryptich ‘Rathcoola Dreaming was made in Cork in 2005 while Denis O’Connor was the inaugural recipient of the Rathcoola Residency for artists and writers from New Zealand and Australia in collaboration with the Irish Photo-Artist Dara McGrath.
Denis O’Connor is represented in all the major Art Museum Collections in New Zealand and has received many prestigious Public Commissions.  He is represented in Europe at the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller in The Netherlands and the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh.

Denis O’Connor's participation in this exhibition and travel to Dublin was supported courtesy of The Ireland Fund of New Zealand.



Denis O'Connor's sculpture ranges from public monuments to the most private and intimate narratives. Since 1985 he has re-imagined the potential of stone as a material relevant to contemporary art. Collaborations with painters, architects and poets have been a crucial component of his practice.

His latest body of work What the Roof Dreamt, exhibited at Two rooms April 2007, explores the importance of memory and its relevance in the present using both intimate personal narratives and broad social histories. He layers journeys across the world pursuing the development of his art, with migration stories from the Old World to the South Pacific. Voices from 20th century literature and encounters with the familiar in the depths of a foreign location have been coded meticulously into engraved roof slates and slabs of exotic onyx.

His work is well represented in all our major public collections, and he has received many prestigious public commissions in New Zealand. The most recent bring 'Raupo Rap' on the Viaduct Basin, for the City of Auckland in 2005. What the Roof Dreamt will be exhibited at the City Gallery, Wellington September 2007.

Click here to view full biography.


More information on Denis' work can be found at: http://www.tworooms.org.nz/artists/denisoconnor/








Ábhar agus Meon, An Séú Comhdháil Dhomhanda Seandálaíochta, Scoil na Seandálaíochta, An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath, BÁC 4, Éire

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Deartha ag iArchitectures (2008).