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Solo Exhibition

Oonagh Young Gallery


May 2016

Oonagh Young Gallery is pleased to present, in her first solo exhibition in Dublin, new work by Ursula Burke. Commissioned in response to the commemorations of the 1916 Rising, 'Vestige' takes an oblique look at idealisation and romanticisation through representational tropes that are central to Baroque portrait sculpture.


Each imperial dynasty, particularly in Roman history, sought to emphasise certain aspects of representation in an effort to legitimise their authority through this form of portraiture. With her work made using Parian porcelain, famed for emulating Parian marble which was the substance used for carving many of the Greek and Roman sculptures from antiquity, Burke makes direct reference to the classical which enables her to make a conceptual bridge between idealised versions of society and the reality of continually suspended versions of the ideal within a post-colonial society.


Burke captures the physiognomic particularities of her subjects and imbues her portrait sculptures with a potent discomfort. The vividness of these nameless faces of bruised and injured men and women challenge ascribed notions of this genre and historical authenticity. Rather than enshrine the heroic or powerful, Burke captures the darker side of revolution and conflict and formalises the violence with the figures caught at a moment in time, forever injured and never to be healed.


‘National identity always involves narratives’[1] and at this time of commemoration, the national fixation on recollection, witness, collective memory and reflection depend on authenticity. 'Vestige' seeks to contest these fluid notions and serves as a reminder of forgotten moments and of constant rewriting of history.


Based in Northern Ireland, a region consistently working towards peace, Burke explores the ever-changing schism between idealised forms of civil society and reality in a post-conflict society, continuing a theme at the heart of much of her work.


[1] ‘Invention, Memory and Place’, Edward W. Said, Landscape and Power, ed. W.J.T. Mitchell, The University od Chicago Press, 2001, p.243


© 2021 Ursula Burke

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