Dress Drawings is an installation of drawings and projected images by Clare based artist Judy O’Sullivan. The artist responded to the Courthouse space by making work which varies in scale from tiny drawings on canvas and paper to a large scale wall drawing which will be made in situ and which the artist will develop for the duration of the exhibition.
‘Clothes’, according to Virginia Woolf, ‘have more important offices than merely to keep us warm; they change our view of the world and the world’s view of us’.
These are drawings about what wraps, shields, protects and transforms the self. The dress is a skin of fiction, a fiction of appearance. When the fiction is played out the dress is left empty. It is the abandoned ‘skin’ – dress, sea urchin, mermaid’s purse which fascinates by its beauty and strangeness, empty of the life it once held, evidence of something that was.
The work began with drawings of an old black dress, made of crepe with a sequinned detail on the upper bodice given to the artist by her grandmother, a small farmer in West Cork, who was fond of the occasional ‘a bit of style’. At the time the artist was also drawing a mermaid’s purse, the empty egg case of a skate, shark or ray in which the young fish gestate, which she found on a beach. Working on both sets of drawings she made a connection between the dress and mermaid’s purse, which she began to explore through drawing, painting and photography. Other elements of ‘wrapping’ like a lace veil and embroidered apron also found their way into her work.
The drawings are made with the simplest of materials on translucent paper originally made for wrapping butter. The paper itself is like a skin, wrinkling under the watery drawing and absorbing the drawing into itself. The paper, water, pigment and mark all merge into something new and surprising. Some are layered onto canvas. A video piece reflects this process and reveals another layer to this delicate, tactile exhibition.
This is a unique opportunity to observe the process of drawing over time as the artist will do a large scale drawing on the wall of the gallery and document its growth.