THE CABINET OF WONDERS #1
Linenhall Arts Centre
Linenhall Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland
21 June – 25 September 2016
Devised, curated, installed and managed by visual artist Ian Wieczorek
Cabinets of Curiosities (also known as Kunstkabinette or Wunderkammern), were collections of unusual objects which offered insights into the rich and often curious diversity of the natural world and beyond, spanning everything from antiquities and religious relics to natural ‘freaks’, medical curiosities and other uncategorisable items.
Inspired by the empirical approach of Classical thinkers such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, Cabinets of Curiosities found their beginnings in the time of the Renaissance. Initially seen as both edifying and as markers of status for their collector-curators, they offered a cocktail of learning and entertainment. The Cabinets remained a mostly exclusive preserve of the rich and influential, until in the 19th century the likes of showman PT Barnum’s American Museum introduced a more public and often sensationalist sensibility.
While the fashion for Cabinets of Curiosities no longer holds currency, they paved the way for the more formal and rigorous museum model that we are familiar with today.
Taking its inspiration from the Cabinet of Curiosities, this Cabinet of Wonders presents a series of objects mined from the creative imagination of a selection of contemporary visual artists. Inspired by the eclectic approach of the original collector-curators, it offers a range of works that will hopefully intrigue and engage the passing viewer.
The Cabinet of Wonders is an ongoing project devised and curated by Ian Wieczorek.
Fiona Coffey presents a wry contemporary take on a religious relic;
Sandra Corrigan Breathnach invites us into a world beyond the purely physical, where materials take on new associative significance;
Medbh Gillard presents a true domestic curiosity – or is it?…
Sarah Lundy offers an arcane reconfiguring of the familiar into an esoteric echo of pagan ritual;
Bennie Reilly’s works explore the phenomenon of ‘manufactured’ curiosities, a fashion that was prevalent in the Cabinet of Curosities’ heyday;
Mary Ryan offers an object of intrigue, with a clear yet elusive back story that we can only guess at;
John Waid entertains us with the impossible, somewhere at the crossroads of perfection and complete impracticality;
Ian Wieczorek asks us to consider the implications of Science today, where everything seems possible.
1. Bennie Reilly – Siamese Crab (crab, rock)
2. Sandra Corrigan Breathnach – Perception (willow, beetles); Three (wishbones); Untitled (fired spheres with copper)
3. Fiona Coffey – St Abbain visits West Cork Arts Centre (bronze, steel, cotton)
4. Bennie Reilly – Seashell Sheepstooth (large and small shell)
5. John Waid – False Teeth For The Perfect Man (dental plastic, dental plaster)
6. Bennie Reilly – Untitled (sheep jaw with gold tooth, black box)
7. Ian Wieczorek – Specimen Tree (twig, moss, acrylic paint, glass jar)
8. Sarah Lundy – -Seacht- (seven crows claws and prosthetic eye on board)
9. Medbh Gillard – Dirty Little Fecker (oak box frame with glass; fleece; glass eye and cat gut; found rusted padlock)
10. Bennie Reilly – Blue Moon (disco ball with seashells)
11. Sandra Corrigan Breathnach – Untitled (bone, hair)
12. Mary Ryan – Bad Feng Shui Bottle (broken turquoise botttle, glass display dome)
An online catalogue for The Cabinet of Wonders #1 may be viewed at: https://issuu.com/linenhallartscentre/docs/cabinetofwonders_1