Isabel Nolan

The weakened eye of day

7 June – 21 September 2014

Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

Image courtesy Isabel Nolan and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
© Isabel Nolan

The exhibition takes its title from Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush (1899), in which the sun, described as ‘the weakening eye of day', is a dismal star drained of its force by a gloomy pre-centennial winter afternoon.  As the sun’s gaze weakens, so flags the spirit of the poet who, until interrupted by birdsong, sees only the inevitability of death in the cold world around him. This show is a material account of the strangeness of the world from the formation of the planet’s crust to the death of the sun and the enduring preoccupation with light as a metaphor for truth.


Nolan’s works both seduce and disarm us. Her work is underpinned by a desire to examine and capture in material form the moments of intensity that can define our encounters with the objects around us; inexplicable and unsettling moments that leave us with a heightened awareness of what is means to be alive. For Nolan this exploration happens through making things – whether monumental or intimate in scale, they are presented to us as tentative and precarious markers of the experience of our place beneath the sun.


Isabel Nolan’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Unmade’, the Return Gallery, Goethe Institut, Dublin (2012) and ‘A hole into the future’, The Model, Sligo (2011–12), which travelled to the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne, France (2012). Nolan was one of seven artists who represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition, 'Ireland at Venice 2005'. Recent group shows include ‘Nouvelle Vague’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); ‘Sculptrices’, Villa Datris, Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporain, France (2013); ‘Modern Families’, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2013).


Thanks to the Donkey Sanctuary irl. Liscarroll, Mallow. Co. Cork. for their assistance.

The exhibition is kindly supported by the Dylan Hotel, THE IRISH TIMES and MRCB Paints & Papers.


Talks and Events:

As part of the exhibition there is a series of talks by guests, invited by Nolan, on subjects ranging from cosmology, philosophy and aesthetics.


Lecture | Stuart Clark presents The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth
Saturday 7 June, 1.00pm, Lecture Room
Award winning author and astronomer, Dr Stuart Clark tells the story of how single observations by astronomers have transformed our view of the universe and our place within it.


IMMA+ MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD
Seminar | Art in the Contemporary Universe
Saturday 20 September, 12noon, 2014, Lecture Room
This seminar explores realms of science, aesthetics and philosophy, and what Italo Calvino calls the ‘overambitious projects’ in contemporary culture, narratives in science and the cosmological turn in recent philosophy. Chaired by Paul Ennis and Declan Long (Lecturers, MA Art in the Contemporary World, NCAD, Dublin).

More info