Polar Bear

2008
Carbon fibre, Epoxy resin
310 x 320 x 320 cm
Edition of 3

The sculpture Polar Bear forms the closest links to traditional definitions of biomorphism. It slips back and forth from subjectivity to objectivity, and from abstraction to figuration. Its abstract form is rooted in primordial nature, whilst its title refers to an animal form, grounding this work in the figurative. O’Connell has long held an interest in forms that confound the natural and artificial. The refined, yet, organic shapes of imatra stones and concretions— geologic structures often confused with fossils—were used as the departure point for Polar Bear, an example of this phenomenon. Polar Bear was initially a pet name for the unwieldy object that resulted from O’Connell’s manipulation of these imatra stones and concretions. Over time, this incidental nickname became apt, especially as the notion of this creature, which lives alone in an all white world, became more meaningful to O’Connell following her partner’s death. She moved from London to Cork and built a white studio at the back of her cottage, which allowed her to see all of her works anew. Polar Bear was constructed within the blank slate of this new white studio and the similarities between O’Connell’s and the Polar Bear’s environments lend an autobiographical nature to this piece. Despite these readings, Polar Bear is ultimately unclassifiable. This work continually shift from abstract to literal, warm to cool and intentional to accidental that results in the dynamic and enigmatic form that is Polar Bear.

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About The Artist

O’Connell explores a plethora of materials and processes in her work. She hoards found objects such as discarded agricultural tools and dairy vessels, which may eventually find their way into her sculpture or become an inspiration for a form or texture. She teases the most extraordinary forms out of various materials, from stone and rubber to steel cord, sheet metals, glass and plaster for casting in bronze. O’Connell looks to archaeology, architecture and geometry, in addition to smaller objects and materials, for beginnings to both her large and small works. Recently she has begun to use fibreglass, usually reserved for building yachts and boats, in order to create graceful organic shapes, reminiscent of natural forms and familiar objects. O'Connell has long held an interest in forms that confound the natural and artificial. The refined, yet, organic shapes of imatra stones and concretions— geologic structures often confused with fossils—are often used as the departure point for her sculptures. Imatra stones often develop over centuries when minerals precipitate within rock cavities or build up around a nucleus such as a pebble or shell and evolve into a tacked disc shape. O’Connell is fascinated by such complex natural processes, which exist on a minute scale, and which she magnifies to provide a new perspective on their usually negligible existence. .

Eilís O'Connell

Born: 1953

Other Artworks by Eilís O'Connell at CASS

2008

Conetwirl

Conetwirl is part of O'Connell's series Biomorphia. This was the most complex of all of the works produced for this seri…

2008

Curve to Point

Curve to Point is a work that plays with historical and contemporary notions of formalism. The notions of opposition and…

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