Bernadette Cotter Neartú – Strengthening 2006

Opening night performance
Installation - Bernadette Cotter
Prints - Bernadette Cotter
Sculpture - Bernadette Cotter
Sculpture - Bernadette Cotter
A new exhibition entitled 'Neartú' which means 'strengthening' will open in An Gailearaí, Falcarragh on Saturday 23rd September 2006 at 8.00pm. Artist Bernadette Cotter from Cork was awarded the Maggie Hughie Eoghan Scholarship which is administered by Cló Ceardlann na gCróc, Gweedore. Directors Ian Joyce and Oona Hyland established this award as part of their artists in residence facility in Gortahork - Teach an tSléibhe. Bernadette Cotter has been visiting the Gortahork area over the past two years as part of her award and will present the outcome of this work on Saturday night.

The artist works both intuitively and atavistically. The role of many an artist has been described as that of a conduit - a channel through which information flows and the artist then presents. This is not so simply with this artist. At the fore front of Cotter's practice is the sense of the ephemeral. This unanchored viewing affords the audience the opportunity to look again at what may now be mundane. The strong presence of symbol in her work is intellectually informed crossing eons of time and straddling a host of philosophies.

Fundamental to Cotter's practice is a repetitive and meditative rhythm; collecting, gathering, disassembling, reassembling and constructed rhythmic routines. Firstly, this provides a firm framework for her to work within but more importantly it propagates and nurtures the spiritual dimension that is crucial to this artist. Unlike many institutional religions, the female in Cotter's spiritual perspective is strong, active and has a meaningful role.

Having completed their ritualistic journey, her exhibitions are presented as harmonious offerings or 'communions'. Cotter has completed commissions in a number of countries, each time expanding her unifying universal perspective. This ultimately is what is at the core of this artists work - the sense of community, diversity, collaboration and harmony.

In addition to the wonderful installation that will be presented, Cotter will also present a 'performance' on Saturday night both inside and outside the gallery. Ian Joyce will formally open the exhibition which is free and all are welcome. The exhibition will run until 21st October and gallery opening hours are Tue-Fri 10.00am-5.00pm & Sat 2.00pm-5.00pm.

Artists Statement

I went to Donegal in September 2004 to take up residence in teach a’tSleibhe in Min na Lea. I had been invited by Ian Joyce of Clo Ceardlann na gCnoc and was awarded the Maggie Hughie Eoghan Scholarship. That September was a particularly beautiful month, so I spent most of my days out of doors, walking. The mountains looked on as I made humble offerings on the roadside. I made little drawings on the ground using whatever I could find—blackberries, haws, wild flowers, sheep’s droppings, cigarette boxes etc. Like Hansel and Gretal’s crumbs of bread my offerings were left as frail indications of my having passed that way.

On one of my car trips I discovered the Kilcarra wool factory. Instantly I fell in love with the yarn and its colours. I chose yellow, purple and yellow yarn as these were the most regal colours I could find. Donegal was to my mind a most regal county. What to do with the yarn? I decided to draw a yellow line from my door at Min na Lea to Maggie Hughie Eoghan's door. I had already counted the steps to her house. I wasn’t gone far with my line when the wind intervened, lifting it and carrying it into the air. I gathered white quarts stones to keep my line in place. Eventually the confusion of yellow yarn and stones wound their way into a ball. I had to knit little pouches for the stones to keep them from falling out of the ball. Eventually, I decided to add myself to the end of the ball by knitting a pouch to stand in. This was the first garment made. Two others were to follow, one red and one purple.

Then came the houses. There are so many gable ends in the Donegal landscape, both ruined and new. I knitted many little houses, yellow, red and purple. Finally came the eleven 7ft. ash staffs covered with knitted "sleeves".