The Molesworth Gallery is delighted to present In the Presence of Birds, our second solo exhibition of the work of Gabhann Dunne.
In this new body of work, Dunne deals with the gap perceived to exist between animals and people, in particular, those who find themselves uncomfortable with being human and who wish to be subsumed into a larger non-human world.
The principal inspiration for these works is the medieval Irish poem Buile Suibhne or Mad Sweeney in which an Irish king is cursed by a priest to wander the wild as a bird-like creature for the remainder of his life. The text is remarkable for the way it evokes a sense of place through the vivid descriptions of trees, animals, plants, rivers and mountains. And while it celebrates Sweeney’s attachment to the wild, it doesn’t shirk from depicting the hardships it presents to him.
Buile Suibhne has inspired writers such as Seamus Heaney, Robert Graves and T.S. Eliot and continues to permeate culture, most recently in Neil Gaiman’s TV series American Gods. For Dunne, the poem is a vehicle for exploring a narrative between history, place and environment while establishing a sense of emotional investment in the natural world as well as critiquing our treatment of it.
Dunne is a former winner of the RDS Taylor Art Award and the Hennessy Craig Scholarship at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He was described by Cristín Leach - writing in The Sunday Times in May, 2015 - as ‘one of the best Irish painters of his generation’.