Margaret Fitzgibbon: You Begin

Saturday 20 May – Saturday 1 July 2023
Margaret Fitzgibbon: You Begin | Saturday 20 May – Saturday 1 July 2023 | Mermaid Arts Centre | Image (photo): drawn or painted onto a piece of chequered blue/white fabric roughly shaped to her shape, we see a horizontal mermaid's pink body; her head is pale green and smiling; it's sown on separately, in the correct position; there is a layering of patterned fabrics

Borrowing its title from a poem by Margaret Atwood, this solo exhibition of new sculpture and mixed media works by the Wicklow based artist encompasses the broad variety of materials Fitzgibbon employs, from ceramics to collage, textiles, painting, sculpture and object making. Her subject matter lends form to the fantastic, taking in the human, plant and animal world, memory, mythological and feminist themes and forgotten female historical figures.

You Begin will include the publication of the first in a recurring series of free micro books conceived and designed for Mermaid by Pure Designs, featuring a newly commissioned text by writer and researcher Ingrid Lyons.

You Begin

You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.
Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.

The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.

© Margaret Atwood, 2008

Margaret Fitzgibbon is a visual artist who employs a number of techniques and materials including large-scale installations; sculpture; collage and textiles. While technically exact, work can appear deliberately unskilled and awkward, suggesting a sense of spontaneity. Drawing underpins her practice and in the last few years she’s turned to early Surrealism, drawn to its recurring principle of ‘the strange beauty in the unexpected’.

“I love making and the affects achieved with different materials, this is how I process memories, experiences and observations. I seem to need this acting out and the final physical, tactile, objective results often surprise me,” she explains. By fusing narrative modes including poetry, text, image and collage she recalibrates the tensions between reality and fantasy unsettling designations of gender and identity, art and craft.

Through a layering of emotional responses she explores a complicated relationship with the natural world, autobiography, memory, hidden histories and feminism. She often works in series and returns to the same themes through exploring and deploying different media.

She recently received an Irish Arts Council grant to create a new hand-drawn animation piece, while Culture Ireland funding supports her forthcoming solo exhibition opening on 22 June in Godsbanen Cultural Centre, Aarhus, Denmark.

Saturday 20 May – Saturday 1 July 2023
Mermaid Arts Centre
Main Street, Bray
Co. Wicklow
Telephone: +353 1 2724030
Opening hours / start times:
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Admission / price: Free

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