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WORK OF THE WEEK | 14 October 2019

CAG.1415 Rita Duffy, Segregation, 1989, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 121.8 cm. Purchased, the Artist, 1991. © the artist.

Segregation (1989) by Rita Duffy reflects the structures and experiences of social division. A curious element in this deliberately grotesque painting, however, is the children at its base who look and wave at each other.

This detail appears to suggest that difference can be a social construct – rather than an innate trait – within an adult world, whether it is one of faith, politics, race, gender, sexuality, or something else. Painted thirty years ago within a specific context, this work now speaks to a deeper universal relevance.

Born in 1959, Rita Duffy grew up in Stranmillis, Belfast during The Troubles (1968-98). Responding to her own time and place, the artist has said that she makes work ‘that is so unique and authentic to a particular place and moment, that has the opportunity to bounce off out into the universe and have some connection with someone else in a very particular time and place and moment.’

Often employing irony or humour to comment on history and politics, examples of Duffy’s work can be found in our collection, as well as the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and the Imperial War Museums. The artist works at Ballyconnell, County Cavan close to the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Segregation (1989) by Rita Duffy is featured in SEEN, NOT HEARD until 28 October 2019.

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