Butler Gallery, Kilkenny
20 October – 16 December 2018
“For years I saw them only as a tremor on the edge of vision”
J.A. Baker, The Peregrine
This exhibition, entitled The Augury, expands on some of the principal concerns that have emerged in Healy’s practice in recent times. The works in the exhibition attempt to explore our tenuous and conflicted relationship with the natural world and in particular how this reflects on the various symbolic uses of the animal in culture.
Focusing most conspicuously on birds of prey the works examine the iconographic and symbolic significance of this animal, while also alluding to the transcendent or mystical associations it conjures. Making reference to The Peregrine, J.A. Baker’s canon of nature writing, the works reject familiar representations of nature, resisting associations with the sublime or the pictorial; here the birds are presented as distant, unknowable and fundamentally alien.
Spanning a range of media, the works also ruminate on the forms of transformation the bird undergoes in culture more generally. At times an object of symbolic political power, it is also regarded as a symbol of ecosystem health and by contrast, at its most quotidian, as a symbolic object of consumption - each transformation a facet of ‘nature’ we reshape for the purposes of capital. Underpinned with an atmosphere of environmental anxiety, the works in the exhibition question the underlying concept of dominion, which has until now, defined humankind's relationship to the other inhabitants of the planet.
Art in focus, Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times, Nov 10th, 2018