Art appreciation used to be bit of a mystery to me. I studied the subject up to the Inter-cert (junior cert) and managed to get a C. While I loved to sketch (and not terribly well), I know that this grade had more to do with my concepts rather than my actual talent.
Since then many artists have explained to me that the value of a piece, a collection or a body of work in art was more to do with the emotional response it evokes. Art is a matter of taste and how that taste relates to the inside of your wallet helps the artist.
So I made my way to the Molesworth Gallery in Dublin for Clodagh Murphy’s
Nil By Mouth
exhibition, her name rang a bell but I could not place it.
I was the first to arrive and entered the seemingly spartan two room exhibition. At first glance it seemed to be surprisingly empty apart from few splashes of colour on the cream walls.
On closer inspection these were the first items that caught my eye.
The massive pharmaceutical pills looked to me like flat white cushions. When you got closer to them you realised they ‘whispered’ insidious messages which were raised in white on each ‘pill’. Medicate me, Sedate me and Nil By Mouth… the ‘philosophical messages’ of modern medicine.
I was left unmoved either way by these two pieces
Swollow Hole and Side Effects
I was intriguingly attracted to these items, massive packets of pills she had arranged in a style that looked to me like a puzzle, perhaps the puzzling effect that medication has on our lives.
Murphy’s Pop Stars and Hard Candy served as a contrast to the sterility of the pharmaceutical theme and added a playfulness to the exhibition. The hard candy, in particular, reminded me I needed to visit the dentist.
But the items that provoked my strongest emotion were the three
Mothers Milk pieces and only because of the three tiny red dots on the extremities.
I found them a disturbing but was also drawn to them, I was trying to figure out why they were so disturbing. While I did not come to any conclusion they had already served their purpose in provoking any emotion.
It turns out that I used to work with Clodagh many years ago and she explained that there pieces represented to her how Pharmaceuticals and not Art now fills the void of modern life.
I feel that a brave Doctor could put these up in a waiting room, or even a chemist but I could as easily see some of her pieces in a cool Bar or Pub.
This exhibition runs to the 14th of October.