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Work of the Week | 7 February 2022

CAG.3109 Michael Quane, Strange Beasts, 2020, Kilkenny limestone, 44 x 46 x 26 cm. Purchased, 2021. © the artist.


Strange Beasts (2020) by Michael Quane is an intriguing form with remarkable presence. Carved in Kilkenny limestone, it represents a humanoid figure with exaggerated features sitting atop a large, yet unidentifiable quadruped creature. What is their relationship and do they both represent the beasts of the title?

Using a technique called Direct Carving, the artist allowed this sculpture, as he says himself, “to take me to its eventual conclusion, by my surrendering myself faithfully to the possibilities that unfolded from the fabric of its 360 million year old material: the Limestone. Until I did so, the nature of the block in front of me appeared to have little potential.”

Investigating its flaws, Quane traced them with his chisel and followed the seams within the block of stone until he “formed the basic shapes from which the subjects would emerge (in this case Strange Beasts) and ensured that by removing these seams I wouldn’t run into trouble with them later in the process.”

Michael Quane (b.1962) is a sculptor and member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and Aosdána. His commissioned works may be found in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and across Ireland, including Figure talking to a Quadruped (1994) at University College Cork, Horses and Riders (1995) in Mallow, and Lapidophytum stagnalis (1997) at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin. He lives and works in County Cork, with his dog Coco by his side.

Strange Beasts (2020) by Michael Quane is featured in MENAGERIE: Animals by Artists (Floor 1) until 6 March.

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