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Solo show: Abigail O達rien: With Bread - Making Water Stand Up (over)

13 September 2013 until 16 November 2013
  Abigail O達rien: With Bread - Making Water Stand Up
  Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery

Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery
Laurence Street
Drogheda, County Louth
Ireland (Republic) (city map)

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tel + 353 (0)41 - 980 33 11

McCloskey's Traditional and Artisan Bakery have been announced as the sponsor of a major forthcoming solo exhibition by artist Abigail O'Brien organised by Highlanes Gallery. With Bread, an exhibition of photographs, sculpture and video, will be officially opened by journalist and writer, Susan McKay next Friday 13 September at 7.30pm.

While bread and the craft of making it are nearly as old as civilisation itself, Pain au levain was the first leavened bread, probably discovered in Egypt six thousand years ago. Artist Abigail O'Brien's interest in bread, its elemental properties, the magical process that takes place in its making, its centrality in human daily life across race and culture and religion, its familial, social and cultural importance, and its rich symbolism, spans some twenty years.

With Bread has three key elements. The first is a series of large framed photographs taken in four bakeries in Ireland: McCloskey's Bakery, Drogheda; Barron's Bakery, Waterford; the Bretzel Bakery, and Il Valentino Bakery, both in Dublin. To the viewer, the images cannot be obviously linked with any particular bakery. Each is named after a female artist, because, O'Brien says, "the image suggests something to me about their work".

The second element is the bread sculptures - ethnic breads that have been put through a process of firing and silvering, their nourishing and life-giving properties now suspended forever. Their titles refer to monetary currency - Peso, Euro, and Pound - and, as objects of beauty, O'Brien believes, "they still have 'currency' and may even have 'value' in their metal substance".

The third and final element is a video projection, titled Grande Dame, a three minute piece capturing in slow motion a levain or sourdough starter at the moment of rising. For O'Brien, this represents fecundity and fertility.

As well as ongoing funding from Drogheda Borough Council and the Arts Council, the project was awarded an Arts Council Touring Grant in early 2013. The exhibition also attracted significant sponsorship from McCloskey's Traditional and Artisan Bakery through baker and Managing Director Patrick McCloskey, who says, "McCloskey's Bakery, Drogheda's local bakers for over 70 years, are delighted to sponsor Abigail O'Brien's exhibition With Bread as bread is a subject that we are very passionate about."

Highlanes Gallery Curator and Director Aoife Ruane said, "In a highly competitive market, we are grateful for McCloskey's Bakery's belief in the project. Their sponsorship has enabled the large format exhibition concept, national tour, catalogue, and accompanying public programme, which will see hundreds of children engage with the exhibition through our annual autumn Primary School Programme."

Highlanes Gallery will tour the exhibition to partner venues The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon in early 2014, and Limerick City Gallery of Art in 2015. A full colour catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with essays by writer and psychoanalytic practitioner, Dr Medb Ruane, and poet, novelist and prose writer, Theo Dorgan, printed by Nicholson & Bass.

Biographical Note:
Abigail O'Brien was born in Dublin in 1957. She studied fine art as a mature student, graduating in 1998 from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Dublin. Since then her work has earned numerous awards and accolades, and she has exhibited consistently both in and outside Ireland over the last two decades.

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