Frances O’Dwyer

National College of Art & Design

By Michael Hill

Twine-tied bundles of painted wood offcuts, half-started and half-finished paintings, a windchime-like talisman made from plastic bottle-tops and a broken paintbrush, and typewritten poems on torn-open envelopes account for some of the fascinating artefacts in Frances O’Dwyer’s installation. Each assemblage seems to have an elusive inner logic where the elements serve a practical as well as visual function in relation to one another. Of course a small rock should anchor the string that stops a fold of black paper from falling to the floor. And a stack of colourful childhood plasticine is ideal for holding that cane upright!

The combination of textural details and playful interventions of the objects encourages closer looking and curiosity from the viewer. Why were some of the floor tiles left unpainted, and some excavated? What was the significance of the places and people in those familiar looking photographs? High up from a ceiling pipe trailed a shred of clear plastic that reflected a pattern of diffused light and shadow on the wall behind. Was this another example of O’Dwyer’s considered ordering of fragments or pure chance?

We are treated to a glimpse of an artist’s ongoing thought process and her task of making sense of these unassuming things that she has accumulated and made over time; and we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the environment in which they come alive.