County Waterford in south eastern Ireland is an unlikely place to find a gathering of top contemporary artists. Yet at Lismore Castle, Irish seat of the art loving Duke of Devonshire, you will find just that.
A not-for-profit initiative founded in 2005, Lismore Castle Arts aims to promote contemporary art in southern Ireland and has real pulling power, as its two current exhibitions demonstrate.
Earlier this month, Tate director Nicholas Serota swapped London’s Bankside for the neo-gothic Lismore to open the group show, 'A Weed Is A Plant Out Of Place' (on view until 30 September).
This quiet, contemplative show starts with Michael Landy’s series of 12 meticulously executed ‘portrait’ etchings of weeds, titled Nourishment. From here, curator Allegra Pesenti draws in depictions of weeds in different media by other contemporary artists including Mat Collishaw and Dorothy Cross, alongside vintage photographs by Anna Atkins and Harry Callahan.
Together they form an ode to the wiry resilience of these rebellious cousins of the cultivated flower, an antidote to the saccharine floral study, while also considering the broader theme of migration.
Set within Lismore’s gardens, the show befits its surroundings, as does sculptor Enrico David’s recently unveiled site-specific work, Autoparent, in Lismore’s second exhibition space, St Carthage Hall.
A dominant presence suspended across the former Victorian church hall, this fibreglass and jesmonite figure is typical of David’s surreal, anthropomorphic work.
'We have been interested in Enrico’s work for some time and felt he would be an exciting artist for us to work with,' says Eamonn Maxwell, director at Lismore Castle Arts.
David undertook a site visit to St Carthage Hall in April 2015, and the project, his only major solo exhibition this year and supported by London's Michael Werner Gallery, grew from there.
'Like many artists, Enrico was inspired by the architecture and history of St Carthage Hall. He wanted to make a response that was both sympathetic but also disruptive to the atmosphere of the former church,' continues Maxwell. 'Autoparent is a single intervention in the gallery, yet it conveys a multitude of meanings.'