On a Precarious Margin

I’ve had two widely diverging encounters with Isabel Nolan’s new collection of work at the Kerlin Gallery. Firstly, when everything seemed to be running quite smoothly in my life, and secondly when everything had literally turned upside down. As a result the second visit was quite unrecognisable from the first. Initially I could appreciate the skillful, almost obsessive element to the work and could leave with a smile on my face. A real lightness of hand and keen sense of tact were happily apparent, especially in the sewn pieces and the small sculptural forms which form the main body of the exhibition. The second visit was a different matter entirely. I found the work quite claustrophobic, not that the space was crowded, but that the web-like structure which filled the space seemed to close in, to wrap itself around the viewer. The work couldn’t be appreciated individually, but rather experientially within the space. As I negotiated my way around the disparate work, what struck me also was a feeling of hopelessness. The works do not really talk to one another but rather attempt at some form of muffled communication, doomed from the offset. They appear as separate planets, pitifully content in their own separate isolations. They all seem, in a sense, somewhat uninterested in each other. There is, I think, a real melancholy and a real humanity to the work. Maybe I was  just bringing too much baggage to the party….


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