The title of this exhibition ‘Of birds and beasts’ makes reference to the fantastical work of Lewis Carroll. The work for this exhibition evokes the mystery and mythology of dreams. The images are drawn from both imagination and from history. There are references to archaeology and to religion. The work reflects a personal struggle, an attempt to reconcile a personal mythology and a religiosity which was bred in the bone.
As part of this mythology of dreams, there are animals in the form of winged horses, warrior birds and crowned bulls. These animal shapes are both abstract and representational, they merge and blend to create a more mystical reality. The ‘Assyrian Bull’ (Shedu) or ‘Pegasus’ are creatures from another world, ‘After Brunel’ is half carcass half machine, a memory from times past. The Bird while scything through the air in full, free flight is still firmly rooted to the ground by the delicate tip of a wing.
Eoghan Nolan recently wrote in The Irish Arts Review, ‘The work itself combines character and power, balancing the mythological and the vernacular in a series of arresting counterpoints. A look at the artist’s work over the last three decades shows a consistent throughline of sensibilities; recurring motifs of wondrous boats and real or imagined beasts, kings, folk lore, water and perilous flight of bird or plane. Often a piece will shine from a distance, burnished as though gold or silver, to reveal on closer inspection more prosaic materials made cherishable – pointing out to the viewer the treasure buried in the everyday.’
In 2012 Ronan showed a body of work in an outdoor space in Westport, Co Mayo which became the Carraholly Project.
This exhibition was subsequently shown in the Solomon Gallery in Dublin. The work for that show ranged in scale and theme from the representational to the purely abstract. The sculpture used Corten steel primarily and was allowed to rust and take on the the patina of the surrounding nature. These works were designed to inhabit the landscape and were shaped by it. The forms and ideas in the Carraholly show have developed and migrated to this current body of work but rather than being dictated to by the environment the artist has taken control. In this body of work colour is very much to the fore, the work uses painted steel, brass, bronze and copper.
“Although the images come from me they are informed by the landscape which surrounds me. They are not depictions of the landscape but rather evocations of a life among the rocks and hills and oceans off the west coast of Ireland”.