Isabel Nolan has an expansive practice incorporating sculpture, painting, textile work, photography, writing and works on paper, driven by a restless inquisitiveness and a burning intelligence. For this episode Dónal Dineen takes a deep dive into her recently published book of artwork and essays Curling Up With Reality, before focusing on the inspiration and methodology behind her latest show.
The openness to possibilities which underpins everything that Isabel makes has imbued her work with an intriguing kind of unpredictability. The rich tapestry of form and materiality are held together by deeply researched investigative threads. Her subject matter is similarly comprehensive, taking in cosmological phenomena, religious reliquaries, Greco-Roman sculptures and literary/historical figures, examining behaviours of humans and animals alike. Her deeply personal search for ways in which the world is made meaningful finds true expression in this exhibition, which ranges across a vast span of time - beginning with woven images of the 40,000-year-old sculpture “Löwenmensch” and concluding with an ambitious, specially commissioned tapestry depicting the disintegration of the sun. The exhibition includes new textile work, sculpture, drawing, painting and text, much of which was undertaken during Covid restrictions. Drawings of looping spirals and leaf-like lozenges chime with the megalithic art of the ancient landscape that surrounds Solstice Arts Centre where the show resided throughout July and August of 2021.
Isabel’s work is included in public collections such as Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Tate, London, UK; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Ireland and Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Abu Dhabi. Isabel has shown her work all over the world and she represented Ireland at the 51st Venice Biennale as part of a group exhibition in 2005. In late 2020 Launchpad and Kerlin Gallery published a survey of the last 10 years of Nolan’s work which includes over 20 of the artist’s writings.
We Are The Makers is written and presented by Irish broadcaster Dónal Dineen and produced by Ian Cudmore. Original music by Ultan O’Brien. Commissioned by Solas Nua in Washington, D.C., bringing contemporary Irish art to U.S. audiences.