I’ve just dug up some images of my 2002 Diploma show… it was called THE ROSE PROJECT and was a commentary on the multi-billion dollar rose-growing industry in Kenya – a country that cannot feed itself, but where dozens of entrepreneurs, exploit and pollute the soil and ignore human rights, to grow and export Kenya-grown roses to an over-fed Europe…
The project consisted of:
– a 5-minute film
– 7 billboards (of which the pictures are below…)
– 100 handmade rose wallpapers
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This 2002 art project was in response to life in Dublin which during the Celtic Tiger years was swept up by the mighty waves of an all-pervading materialism. People became consumed by a designer craze and some talked of certain must-have objects as if these were part of their entire being. Or felt as if these objects described or represented their person in ways that words could not.
I began asking people for a loan of these precious possessions and photographed the objects against a white background. But when the owners were presented with their portrait they thought of them as rather shallow.
To complete the portraits I added an additional dimension in the form of a text taken from a conversation when its owners.
Diamond ring – 43.800 euros. Mother was given this ring by a man not her husband. She never wore the ring.
Armani sunglasses – 235 euros. He wears the kind of clothes his mother would have chosen for him. The way he dresses has nothing to do with his brain.
Lladro Angel – 62 euros. Order and discipline rate highly on his list of priorities. He is a proud man. Once he took a mistress. This made his father very proud of him.
Prada – silver pocket corkscrew in leather case – 254 euros. It fits comfortably in his pocket. The sheath which doubles as handle protects his pocket from the worm’s sharp point.
Il Tartufato – 17 euros. Once she went to an expensive restaurant in Lucca. There she saw actor Alain Delon at a nearby table. She asked the waiter for the same dish and a glass of the same wine as Delon had ordered.
Flashdrive – worthless. For years he had called to my door, always holding his old radio to his ear to deflect unwanted conversations. Without speaking he would eat his sandwich and drink his tea on the doorstep, then leave behind the empty plate and cup. One day he spoke. He handed back the sandwich and said “it has no butter on it”.
Mother and Child statue – value unknown. He is meticulous in keeping notes. In a small diary he records the names of those he meets, the place of their meeting and their chosen professions, as well as brief reminders of their conversations. People praise him on his astounding memory.
Apostle spoons – 185 euros each. Before her annual holiday she mixes her own suntan lotion – half olive oil and half lavender water. Afterwards she brings her new, sexually provocative bodymarkings home.
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Cornelis de Heem, 1661
This project was again in response to the “Celtic Tiger years” in Ireland. For it I looked back to the rich Golden Ages of Holland…
For the rich merchants, 17th Century Holland was a virtual consumer paradise… To flaunt their wealth, their status in society and their knowledge, the affluent commissioned sumptuous portraits and still lives. And yet, this was not without inner conflict. In reality, the pious Dutch lived uneasily with their new-found wealth…
Self-portrait with Vanitas symbols…
By including in these still lives objects that referred to the brevity of life and the inevitability of death, the observer was made to contemplate the frailty of man and life’s fleeting pleasures – thus, in some way ‘steadying the vertigo’ that may otherwise have resulted from too much fame, affluence, pride and political power.
The re-contextualised objects in my work tell a similar story of a society based on leisure, consumption and expectations.
Excessive Pride I
Excessive Pride II
Excessive Pride III
Excessive Pride IV
Excessive Pride V
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