2008
Carbon fibre, Epoxy resin
320 x 330 x 290 cm
Edition of 3

Stem is an example of O’Connell’s respect for untamed nature. For O’Connell, a society’s relationship to nature is synonymous with its cultural values. A society that clips its gardens is one that values repression and control, whereas a society that permits unrestrained growth is one that values freedom and liberty. Stem’s production grew out of O’Connell’s appreciation of the latter.

When O’Connell moved to her cottage in Cork from London, she became an obsessive gardener. One day, she noticed an onion sprouting in her kitchen bowl and decided to plant it in the ground to see what would happen and was fascinated by the magnificent allium plant the budding onion produced a few months later. For O’Connell, the resulting plant was symbolic of the possibilities that can develop when natural growths, morphs and ruptures are allowed to run their course. In order to preserve the vitality and dynamism of this onion shoot, O’Connell poured plaster down the blooming plant’s stem and cast it, in an effort not only to record its fleeting nature, but also as a method of inspecting it intimately in order to eventually produce it on a magnified scale. Stem represents the importance of organic evolution in O’Connell’s work. It is the result of curiosity and experimentation, representing the values of freedom and liberty that untamed natural beauty symbolises for O’Connell.

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About The Artist

O’Connell explores a plethora of materials and processes in her work. She hoards found objects such as discarded agricultural tools and dairy vessels, which may eventually find their way into her sculpture or become an inspiration for a form or texture. She teases the most extraordinary forms out of various materials, from stone and rubber to steel cord, sheet metals, glass and plaster for casting in bronze. O’Connell looks to archaeology, architecture and geometry, in addition to smaller objects and materials, for beginnings to both her large and small works. Recently she has begun to use fibreglass, usually reserved for building yachts and boats, in order to create graceful organic shapes, reminiscent of natural forms and familiar objects. O'Connell has long held an interest in forms that confound the natural and artificial. The refined, yet, organic shapes of imatra stones and concretions— geologic structures often confused with fossils—are often used as the departure point for her sculptures. Imatra stones often develop over centuries when minerals precipitate within rock cavities or build up around a nucleus such as a pebble or shell and evolve into a tacked disc shape. O’Connell is fascinated by such complex natural processes, which exist on a minute scale, and which she magnifies to provide a new perspective on their usually negligible existence. .

Eilís O'Connell

Born: 1953

Other Artworks by Eilís O'Connell at CASS

2008

Conetwirl

Conetwirl is part of O'Connell's series Biomorphia. This was the most complex of all of the works produced for this seri…

2008

Curve to Point

Curve to Point is a work that plays with historical and contemporary notions of formalism. The notions of opposition and…

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