In Orla de Brí’s third solo exhibition with Solomon Fine Art, Dublin 2, the artist explores what as humans we are bound to and bound by as we navigate our lives.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for your latest collection of sculptures?
It was inspired by a piece I made called “Bound” which is in the show. It’s a curious word; to be fastened tightly together or a movement towards or over something, or something inevitable that’s bound to happen. This word and piece inspired me to delve deeper into the theme.
In this show I explored what we are bound to and by, as we navigate our lives. We are bound to live, to change, to communicate, to protect, to explore, to be, to love, we are bound by time, rules, gender and to be part of nature.
Some of the pieces focus on our heads and how are human minds are continually occupied with repetitive thoughts that unwittingly interrupt our enjoyment of the present moment. We seem to be in a constant state of planning or dreading. I think it’s our challenge to untangle our minds both individually and collectively. Other sculptures depict several figures together. Through our lives we gravitate towards like-minded people, groups where we can learn, contribute and feel stronger together.
Of particular significance is “Bound” and “Flock” – would you be able to explain the inspiration behind these further?
“Bound” is the largest sculpture in the show, three-metres high; it is a female figure suspended by branches tied tightly around her waist. She is precariously balanced with her skirt of branches and her legs merge into a point. She is totally dependent on nature to keep her upright. It emphasises our connection to, and our dependency on, the natural world.
“Flock” is a close knit group of bird-like female figures with heads bowed searching for courage and freedom but are bound by laws. I made this piece during the abortion referendum.
How long does it take to work on a figurine – you have 18 in the new exhibition?
Yes, there is a total of 18 figurative sculptures in the show all relating to different aspects of the theme. I have been working on the exhibition for two years now. It started with concepts and drawings, then I began to make each piece. I tend to work on a few pieces at the same time, moving from one to the other. I am very much a hands-on sculptor and with bronze it is a long process of modelling in wax, casting, and then metal-work through to the finish.
Do you imagine an ideal setting for your work – ideally is it indoors or outdoors?
I work both in small and large scale. I have made many site-specific public pieces which I loved working on but a piece doesn’t have to be big to be powerful – sometimes a smaller work can really draw you in.
Tell us about some of your recent installations.
In the last five years I was commissioned to make a sculpture for the roof of Belvelly Castle near Cobh in Cork. It is a three-metre human figure contemplating a five-metre 24ct gold-leafed bronze tree called “Quiet Listening.” Before that I made an eight-metre bronze and corten steel sculpture for The University of Limerick called “Niche”.
I was also commissioned to make a piece in Istanbul – it is a seven-metre sculpture made from bronze and steel called “Flow”. I worked on it here in Ireland and then shipped over to Istanbul.
How do you work in your studio in Meath?
The idea for a piece begins with a thought or a feeling or sometimes a reaction to something that is happening, in my life or in the world. Then it’s turned into a visual language with a drawing and after that I work on it as a three-dimensional piece.
Need to Know: “Bound” by Orla de Bri opens at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2 on March 6 – 28; www.solomonfineart.ie