Vivienne Roche: A Light Interlude From The Pulpit
By Vivienne Roche with Katarina Eismann
What happens when a church ceases to be “a church”? What happens when clergy no longer speak to congregation and responses to the clergy fall silent? The fact is that the church, particularly a beautiful one like Christchurch, might still find its voice in such circumstances. This voice, though, will be a kind of undertone.
It is elements of this undertone that have preoccupied me as I tried to bring formerly marginal aspects of this space to the attention of those who newly congregate there. Borges once observed how closely the aesthetic matched the spiritual. I have chosen to follow the light, and reflections of light, within Christchurch. This show of 16 new works is a secular homage to the continuing voice of this church.
Of the infinite number of reflections that move across the interior of Christchurch, I have picked just one (as I did in CIT Cork School of Music) freezing a moment of time in colours supplied by the stained glass windows. I have also taken the theme of the cross and have made a sculpture in glass where the glass is the vehicle for the ways in which colour changes over time in this church. This sculpture adds movement to the static paintings fixed in momentary time.
Churches are fundamentally concerned with issues of death, new life and transcendence. My other works in this show – sculptures, watercolours, drawings and photographs – are my ways of dealing with some of these intrinsic parts of being human. One group is a set of quiet monuments to the passing of five loved people, whom I knew or knew about.
I have invited my friend, the Swedish artist Katarina Eismann to participate in this show with me. I have known Katarina since we exchanged studios in the 1980’s. We last showed work together during Kinsale Arts Festival in 1988. Someone older, with life experience, not unlike this church, will be presented by Katarina in a projection. This will anchor Katarina Eismann’s piece. But what follows from this?
Those who choose to can elect to be themselves projected onto a screen in Christchurch to mark their becoming an early part of this new human space in Cork. Echoing my fascination with light and reflections, Katarina uses the same light to reflect visitors onto the screen. Those who opt for this experience become early players in this new communal “theatre of life”. You don’t have to be dead to be commemorated. Why should a church just be a site for commemorating the dead? In its new incarnation this space can also celebrate the living.
Vivienne Roche RHA studied art in Cork and Boston. Her work is included in major public art collections in Ireland. Among her public commissions are a memorial sculpture to President Cearbhall O’Dalaigh in Co.Kerry (1983); Liberty Bell, Dublin (1988); Plumblines, Dublin Castle (1995); Flow, Fingal County Hall (2002); NC Iris and Whitelight Garden, both completed in Dublin in 2006; and Light Ensemble, CIT Cork School of Music (2008). She made Light House, a poem sculpture, with Derek Mahon for the new Dept. of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs HQ in Killarney in 2009.
Tidal Erotics at Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane (1999), with composer John Buckley and The Geometry of Water at Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2010) are just two of the many exhibitions she has created.
Honours include membership of Aosdána (1996), the award of an honorary Doctorate in Laws by U.C.C in 2006 and C.I.T Alumni Award in 2010.
In addition to her work as an artist she has been active in the creation and implementation of cultural policy. Among other things, she was a founder member of the National Sculpture Factory in Cork and a member of the Arts Council (1993-98). She lives in Garrettstown, Co. Cork
Katarina Eismann graduated from Royal University College of Fine Arts, Stockholm (1993). In recent years, Katarina Eismann has participated in several major art projects where the objective has been to use documentation and narrative as tools within the artistic process.
Eismann has also produced pieces that build on the concept of creating a space where several artists can contribute and, with their different forms of expression, allow a piece of work to take shape.
Her newest work is “FOLDOUT” (2010), a work in progress and is a survey of different approaches to documentary.