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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Nuala O'Donovan

Artist Statement

My work combines regular pattern with the characteristics of irregular patterns and forms from nature. Each element of the pattern is individually made, the form is constructed slowly over a period of weeks or months. The finished forms are a result of an intuitive response to the direction that the pattern takes as well as the irregularity in the handmade elements of the pattern.

I have used the characteristics of irregular/fractal patterns in nature as a system of constraints or guidelines when making decisions about the forms: The patterns are regularly irregular. The patterns and form are self-similar. The pattern records a response to random events during the making process. The result of using the characteristics of fractal geometry in making decisions regarding the form of the sculptural pieces, is that the form is resolved but retains a sense of potential change. The viewer engages with the piece by allowing their own visual experiences to influence their view of the outcome of the form and its future possibilities. I hope that this aspect of my work also evokes the transitory quality of living organisms, combining traces of history, the present and the future, in the patterns that make up their surfaces and forms.

My decision to research patterns and forms from nature stemmed from my interest in the narrative quality of irregularities in patterns. The history behind a scarred or broken surface is what fascinates me. The evidence of a response to random events visible in patterns in nature, is testament to the ability of living organisms to recover, to respond, and to continue growing and changing. It is the imperfections in the patterns caused by a unique experience that are evidence of the life force in living organisms.

Biography, Collections, Awards

Nuala O'Donovan was born in Cork City in Ireland. She spent a number of years living and working in the U.K., Australia and the U.S.A. before returning to Cork in 1997. She completed a BA(Hons) in Three-Dimensional Design at Middlesex University in the U.K. in 1994 and studied ceramics at the Crawford College of Art and Design graduating with an MA in 2008.

Since graduating Nuala O'Donovan has won a number of National awards and her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been purchased for private and public collections in Ireland, the U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and Russia. She currently lives and works in Cork City, Ireland.


Culture Ireland Funding Award                                                               2010 & 2012

Golden Fleece Award, Merit Prize                                                                  2011

Crafts Council of Ireland, External Exhibitions Funding Award                         2011

RDS National Crafts Competition                                                  

RDS First Prize Contemporary Ceramics                                          2009 & 2010

Ceramics Ireland Award                                                                       2009 & 2010

Crafts Council Of Ireland Purchase Award                                                     2009

Allianz Business to Arts Award 2010, Commissioned Artist.      

Golden Fleece Award, Shortlist, (One of Eight Candidates)                     2010

Annual Irish Ceramics Award, Hallward/Millcove Gallery                         2009

Crafts Council of Ireland/Irish Arts Review National Emerging Maker Award                                                                                                           2008/09

C.I.T. Post-Graduate Scholarship/Research Award                         2006-08

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