Untitled By Kathy Prendergast (b.1958)

Date: 1985
Medium: Watercolour
Collection: Niland Collection
Provenance: Donated by Vincent Ferguson in 2006


This artwork is part of a group of paintings, dating to an early part of Prendergast’s career, which reveal her interest in two major themes – the body and the landscape. This delicate watercolour combines paint with gold-leaf and shows distorted female forms emerging from the land. The rich bronze colour evokes the boggy landscape of much of Ireland out of which preserved human remains have often been recovered. The rich symbolism of the land as a receptacle for the human body has been most famously commemorated in the poetry of Seamus Heaney. The gold leaf, reminiscent of ancient gold of the bronze and the Celtic iron age, when the bog was considered sacred, enriches the archaeological associations of Prendergast’s work. In her subsequent treatment of the theme she was to develop an analytical approach using mapping and cartography as metaphors for plotting the complex relationship between humanity and the landscape.

The painting was presented to Sligo by Vincent Ferguson, an important collector of contemporary Irish art. An early admirer of Prendergast’s work, he acquired this at her MA degree show at the National College of Art and Design in the mid 1980s.

Written by Roisin Kennedy


About the Artist

Kathy Prendergast (b.1958)

Born 1958, Dublin, Ireland. Born in Dublin in 1958, she studied at the National College of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art, London. She participated in the 1985 Paris Biennale, and she represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1995, where she won the Best Young Artist Award. Her sculpture frequently uses everyday objects, and even human hair. She began her epic City Drawings project in 1992, which is comprised of pencil-drawn maps of the capital cities of the world; the entire work is now in the permanent collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. She has held major solo shows at the Unit 7 Gallery, London (1987); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; Camden Arts Centre, London; Memento Metropolis, Copenhagen (1996); Tate Gallery, London (as part nine of the Art Now series, 1997); Robert Miller Gallery, New York (1998); Irish Museum of Modern Art (1999). She has lived in London since 1983.

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