The Human Animal
David Barrett, Lorraine Cooke, Stephen Doyle, Megan Eustace, Eileen Healy. Curated by Brian Mac Domhnaill
Studio 12 exhibition / project space, 1st Floor Backwater Artists Group, Wandesford Quay, Cork
13 May – 16 July, 2021
Available online now. See it ‘in the flesh’ from 25 May, by appointment only 10am-5pm Tue–Fri. To arrange a visit please email email@example.com in advance. Walk-up requests by email or phone (021 4961002) cannot be guaranteed.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic Backwater’s 2021 artistic programme examines humanity’s relationship with the natural world and takes a closer look at ‘the human animal’ in this context. The Human Animal: A Personal View of the Human Species is a 1994 television documentary series written and presented by zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter Desmond Morris. This curatorial framework provides an opportunity to take stock of our individual and collective impact on the natural world and to scrutinise ourselves as animals with agency. The exhibition of the same name specifically considers the materiality, vulnerability and strength of the human form at this distinct moment of reflection for our species.
Drawing and painting have formed the core of the diverse range of artistic practices supported by Backwater over the last three decades. This exhibition also celebrates the strong tradition of portraiture and life drawing at the studios, from traditional process-based approaches to more contemporary modes of working.
David Barrett is a painter working directly from human subjects on an on-going basis, his art practice having three overlapping areas: the clothed figure, nudes and ‘religious paintings’. His work is driven by the challenge of representing the human form in paint and this puts the nude at the centre of his practice. Lorraine Cooke, who is primarily a printmaker, uses drawing as the foundation for all her work which also extends into painting with an emphasis on portraiture. Stephen Doyle’s work references queer identity and queer culture through painting and installation. In his paintings the artist seeks to represent members of this community in a medium that historically excludes or obscures their sexual identity. Through her drawing practice Megan Eustace expresses the materiality of the human experience and believes that drawing’s ontological nature allows us to perpetually encounter the unknown of that experience. Eileen Healy is predominantly a figurative artist who works mainly in pastel and oil. The paintings she creates are very direct, honest and strong portraits of people who sit for her in her studio.
Further insights into the artists and the work will be published through Backwater’s social media channels throughout the course of the exhibition.
The Human Animal, Backwater’s 2021 artistic programme is supported by an Arts Council of Ireland Project Award and through the Cork City Council Project Scheme.