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The Penwith Gallery improves to One out of Six

I am intrigued to discover how very much I want to be challenged by Art and not just to see something done well that has already been done and is now being done again.
Of the 6 artists in this exhibition, by far the most interesting work is by the sculptor Seamus Moran. His work is complex and intriguing. He is at once thoughtful, challenging, humorous and incredibly skilled. The attention he gives to his work is apparent in every tiny element. The humour is black, the Catholic influence evident, the whimsy unexpected.
Of the many pieces in the exhibition, the humour of a half-closed, spiked pod containing feathers called simply ‘Snatch’ is clear but the piece itself makes a stronger statement about the harshness of life, dog eat dog – live with it.
‘Disposable’ is a crab shell filled with what appear to be pieces of acrylic with plastic forks unfolding around the shell. The crab lies on its back and we do not know if it is dead or about to flip over and scuttle away. It is an animation waiting to happen.
For me, the star of the show was undoubtedly a piece called ‘Harness’ in cast alloy, stainless steel and wood. An articulated bird-like figure, armoured and ‘volant’. There is heraldry a-plenty here and the figure is reminiscent of some of the earliest and crazier ‘crests’ worn on top of the tilting helm for jousting. The figure is both open and strong while being intensely vulnerable. It reminds me of Epstein’s Rockdrill. Strength and vulnerability. Great combination.
Next to Harness is the tiniest piece in the exhibition ‘Untitled Bronze’ – incidentally, how challenged we are by the lack of a label. Will it make us look more carefully, more openly – longer? The piece is minimal and bone-like yet still strong, very ancient and utterly fragile. There is a resemblance to a holy relic, both in the object itself and in the presentation – a spike from the Crown of Thorns. The complexity in such a tiny piece is intense.
Seamus Moran uses bone, feathers, resin, metals, porcelain, leather, wood – he uses what will work and it does work in each piece. There are elements of fetish, the grotesque, there is hard-hitting humour, there is pain, punishment and fragility but, above all, there is a mind that never stops asking questions or looking for new answers.

Maxine flaneuse de Cornouaille

Penwith Gallery, St.Ives 6th Oct-3rd Nov 2018
Group exhibition by Tom Leaper, Karen McEndoo, David Moore, Seamus Moran, Iona Sanders and Mark Verry


Volume 33 no 3 January / February 2019 pp 32-33

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Kei Saito

Hi Maxine, I was unfamiliar with the work of Seamus Moran and was fascinated by his metallic net toilet roll that I found on his website: “A mind that never stops asking questions or looking for new answers” shows geniality and is what a five year old does, something most of us lose as we grow older; apparently he hasn’t lost this ability. But what you wrote at the start of your review was even more revealing, also about your geniality, “I am intrigued to discover how very much I want to be challenged by Art and not just to… Read more »

Maxine Symons

Good morning from Cornwall. Yes, I am quite surprised to discover how much I want to be challenged by Art and, yes, I agree that our lives are controlled. I usually shock people by telling them that I do not have TV or radio or read newspapers. I’m afraid the lack of other people’s opinions might be leading me to think – oh, dear! And I think that part of the problem is that what are in fact ‘tools’ i.e, phones, laptops, googles, amazon, have become Gods, tiny insinuating Gods, a species of Comfort Blanket God without which people are… Read more »


Maxine… with your abandonment of all waves news and media, have you ever felt “left out”? I am saying navigating through the onslaught is an essential 21st century necessity in and of itself and an experience that is necessary for the in take of contemporary culture and it’s failure…. or are you with “it” none the less..? Off hand, your deprivation of 21st century reality is rather precious for you know not what your transcendence really means. Or have you other thoughts that are not with in the framework of acceptability?….