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Artists: Des Cullen

Title of Exhibition: Mountains Move While Oceans Do Not

Date: Friday 27th January - Tuesday 14th February.

About the Exhibition:

Mountains Move While Oceans Do Not: is an exhibition of recent work by Des Cullen made at Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Manorhamilton. Working primarily with discarded or found limestone Cullen distils a series of large-scale structures that emerge directly from his involvement with the properties of the material. Through a process Cullen describes as 'evolutionary' the artist works consistently over long periods of time to 'unearth' these forces using a variety of grinding, carving and cut-stone techniques.

Inspired by the work of ancient cultures, as well as the structures and patterns suggested by fractal geometry, the resulting works extend forms that appear across different scales and origins in the natural world and which are repeated with varying degrees of intensity and gesture throughout the exhibition.The artist takes inspiration from texts that exist across the philosophical spectrum including Tibetan cosmology and the work of Deleuze's especially his writings on the 'rhizome' and 'the fold'.

Whilst these inform a certain approach or orientation to making it is the everyday observations of the artist that often trigger the onset of a new work. It is to these observations and inspiration that the artist has referenced on the gallery walls. However they provide only a starting point and the artist believes that the works may suggest quite different things to different people.




Artist's images and Statements

Exhibition statement:

Whilst not wanting to impose these interpretations onto the viewer the artists has below mapped out some of the main inspirations that initiated the making of the work.

1. New Growth (limestone)

This work was inspired by an experience I had whilst building walls in a Tibetan Monastery in Cavan. One day, whilst walking through the woods, I came across a pool of water that was disturbed by droplets of water from a overhanging tree. The movement of the patterns and flow in the water set up the challenge of how such complex forces of nature might by 'captured' in art and how paradoxical it might be to even try this especially in stone.



2. The Surveyor's Sticks (limestone)

Whilst the above work addresses the impossibility of human consciousness to fully comprehend the complexity of nature The Surveyors Sticks provides a counterpoint gesture that references human belief in the capacity of measurement and number to account for, and control, the forces of nature.



3. Ladder Labyrinth (limestone)

Ladder Labyrinth sets out in stone a parallel action to Theseus, who, in the Greek myth, rescues himself out of the labyrinth of Minotaur by following a red thread given to him by Ariadne. Similarly, the stone ladder was carved by following the inclination of one continuous line as it loops continually around itself. In following the line and repeatedly clarifying its contours and direction I was able to create empty spaces within the work through which I was myself able to escape the tyranny of the line. The work is also a meditation on the rhyzomatic ‘two-fold’ thought of Deleuze and Guattari: am I sculpting the lines or the space between them?



4. Hats Off  (limestone)

This work is inspired by the rhythm of dance – either the ‘dancing’ of sub-atomic particles folding back on themselves or the repetitive staccato of flamenco dancing which I witnessed long ago in Spain.


5. Wall Flower (Portland Stone)

‘The first flower that bloomed was an invitation to a song’

The above line, penned by the Indian born Nobel Prize Winner for Poetry, Kallindrath Tagore, inspired this floral motif. The line is an extract from his expansive work entitled, ‘Search for Individual Relevance in the Universal Whole’. The above line can be found inscribed opposite the Railway Station in Sligo Town.



6. Garuda (limestone)

In Tibetan Cosmology the Garuda symbol means both watchfulness and fecundity.



7. Crainn Dubh  (Black Tree)

This work is inspired by the Buddhist symbol for detachment, or aloofness, which is a tree without roots. The work is in part also connected to the movement of swans as they turn away on the approach of humans to the waters edge.



8. Diamond Fold (limestone)

A fragmented almost cubist approach is counter balanced to the flowing line that moves around the work. This contrast is extended in the dynamic relationship I attempt to make between the inside and outside spaces created by the sculpture.



9. Sentinal  - After the Pillar Cross, Glencolmcille (limestone)

In Gleann Cholm Cille, S. Donegal, the Slí Cholmcille follows the route of the Turas Cholmcille. The turas - translated as the journey - is part of a strong Christian pilgrimage tradition in Ireland. The Pillar Cross is the second stage on the 15 stage Turas journey and stands almost 2 metres tall and is decorated with carved designs on both sides. My slightly smaller version is inspired by the original and is placed on a North East – South West access and faces the Methodist Church over the road from the gallery.



10. Ox-Fold  (Black marble)

Ox-Fold works with a confluence of forces that here suggest the female figure.



11. Songlines (marble)

Songlines’ pays homage to the early cubist still-lifes of George Braque that often depict musical instrument in domestic settings. In this case the Mandolin has become a square structure and the curves of the polished base represent an intimate fragment of furniture.



12. Annalasis (limestone)

The work is inspired by the metaphysical struggle between good and evil as expressed in the novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville and embodied in Captain Ahab’s obsessive quest to kill the white whale Moby Dick. The struggle involves the searcher and what is being searched for, the futility of the enterprise yet the hearts obduracy in the face of manifest destiny and impending doom.

Biography: Cullen is an artist currently living and working in Manorhamilton North Leitrim. Cullen studied sculpture at GMIT where he graduated with honours in 1996. He completed a First Class Honours Degree in painting in Sligo IT and an MFA at Ulster University in 2014. Cullen has work in major collections across Ireland and more recent projects include a solo exhibition at LSC 2010; Group Show at the platform Arts Belfast, 2012; First Prize Winner at 'Sculpture in Context', the Botanic Gardens in Dublin, 2014 and a solo show at the Cistercian Abby Boyle County Roscommon in 2014.