Friday 22 June 2018

What Lies Beneath: SNF at Townley Hall

SNF at Townley Hall by David Lunney Mixed media, 2017 Courtesy of the artist

SNF at Townley Hall
SNF at Townley Hall

Niall MacMonagle

David Lunney likes nothing more in his Christmas stocking than twine, threads, cord, ribbon, crayons and coloured pencils which, along with wood and glass, make for the mixed media used to create his distinctive art works.

Lunney, 29, is interested in Ireland's history, its colonial past and Ireland today.

Even in Transition Year, his unique take on things was evident when Lunney, as part of an Irish Studies course, chose, as his project, to sculpt an ogham stone on which he inscribed, in ogham alphabet, the words "Bling, bling": ancient Ireland filtered through a thoroughly modern sensibility.

By the time Lunney's NCAD graduate show came round he had found his voice.

He's a hands-on man and brings together, in his art work, a range of materials: wool and wood, glass and metal.

In rural County Wicklow in an area called Coronation Plantation there was a Lunney work called Coronation Installation, made of wood and steel. Was is the operative word. But that doesn't worry him. An abstract sculptural piece, it intrigued walkers, was respected by loggers but was later vandalised, bent, broken.

"It would have taken at least two to destroy it", says Lunney, but what really fascinates him is process.

Even the broken pieces on his studio floor interest him.

He'll build a structure, place it in an out-of-the-way place and photograph it.

With Coronation Plantation, for example, there's a companion sculpture, made for indoors.

Lunney's images of the outdoor piece are etched into glass using photo-sandblasting, behind which are tape and crayon collages.

For Lunney, colonisation is an imposition, the sculpture is a physical and human imposition on the natural landscape. "It is the relation between physical and the represented presences which inspire my work."

SNF at Townley Hall, a recent piece, again began as a portable sculpture, this time with an iPhone strapped on. A found disco ball in an attic and some Christmas baubles became "a matrix of various mirrors and reflective surfaces".

The sculpture was positioned, the photographs taken and this, in turn, back in his studio, becomes the drawing: coloured pencils on primed MDF board within an elaborate, painstakingly-made frame.

Landscape Contortion, Lunney's solo show at Droichead Arts Centre, used drawing, sculpture and photography and focused on The Boyne Valley.

In choosing this place, what happened on July 1, 1690 and the 2,250 dead cannot be forgotten but in Lunney's work, the land, the river, the trees are also seen afresh.

Townley Hall, in Louth, built for the Townley Balfour landlords in the 1790s, is very close to the famous battle site and the Orange Order was founded that same decade.

Not much lording over the land in this Lunney work, more a piecing it together. And the frame, "with different materials woven into the documentation, its Celtic motif, is as important as the image itself".

And SNF? Saturday Night Fever, of course. "Listen to the ground, There is movement all around..."

New work by David Lunney is at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon. On Saturday, October 14 David Lunney, with musician Stephen Rennicks and artist Mark Garry, will talk about place, location and influence in their work.

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