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Work of the Week | 28 September 2020

CAG.1758 Alice Maher, Familiar III, 1994, acrylic on canvas, flax sculpture, 244 x 152 cm (canvas). Purchased, 1995. © the artist.

Familiar III (1994) by Alice Maher is composed of two distinct, yet related parts: an acrylic painting and a sculpture made of flax. The painted element shows a miniscule naked female by a campfire atop a white mountain, centred on a large dark minimal canvas.

In this work, the artist places different languages and materials in overlapping and interwoven relationships to each other. In the sculptural element, for instance, flax exists between states: it is neither plant, nor the thread required to make the canvas support for the painting.

Discussing the complex connection between image and object, in an interview with Cécile Bourne, Maher ponders whether the figure on the mountain “might have come out of that great black hole in the flax, might have lived there for years, a tiny mite waiting to escape onto a great big expanse”, or conversely perhaps the "sculpture could be the product of the woman's imagination…"

Alice Maher, Familiar III, 1994, acrylic on canvas, flax sculpture, 244 x 152 cm (canvas). Purchased, 1995. © the artist_(Detail)

More recently, Alice Maher exhibited Vox Materia (2018) in our Modern Galleries. At the time of the exhibition she reflected it was in these “beautiful attic ‘drawing’ rooms of Crawford, I first attended formal classes in 1980, and began the journey to a personal visual language.”

Familiar III (1994) by Alice Maher is featured in lucid abnormalities (Floor 1) until March 2021. Free entry and open daily.

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


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