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Alice Maher: Rood

Rood re-appraises Maher’s ten year exhibition history with the gallery and re-examines the gallery space itself.  The result is a formidable large-scale installation incorporating such disparate elements as an upside down forest, four tiny globes, thousands of snail trails and a two-headed ‘garden’ sculpture.

The title of the exhibition refers to medieval rood screens, employed in early churches to separate the altar area from the congregation and often made of elaborately carved wood with foliage and animal motifs.  The screen device is employed in a number of ways in this exhibition.  Rood attempts to address the unnoticed and under utilised areas of the gallery - such as the roof space, the windows and the four openings at each corner of the main space.  

Maher revisits specific practices and art works from the past ten years.  A favourite sculpture from 1997 called The Hedge of Experience‚ (a tiny clipped formal hedge) has for this show metamorphosed into a monumental screen of trees which divides the space, forcing the audience apart and obscuring their usual perspective of the space and of each other. In each corner four snail covered globes invite our close engagement with the miniature, making tiny worlds out of the tiny universe of the snail and drawing us into dialogue about the interrelationships between the beautiful and the abject.  Maher also references the placement of classical statuary in gardens by siting a double-headed Venus in the midst of Rood.  The unearthly figure in this case however, appears more like a hydra, looking and wrenching in opposite directions.  This Venus has its nascent roots in Maher’s ongoing interest in and interrogation of mythological themes. Finally, the artist subverts her more traditional drawing practice by employing the assistance of thousands of snails to create a complex tracery across the gallery windows, altering the light and changing the relationship of interior to exterior.  The metamorphosis of the space, in part and as a whole, continues.