Trans Fabula 2012
A solo exhibition by Fergus Doyle Tuesday 4th September – Saturday 6th October 2012 Upper Gallery
Wexford Arts Centre is delighted to present Trans Fabula, a solo exhibition of photographic and mixed media work by Wexford based artist Fergus Doyle. Whilst the artist’s primary interest resides in how cultural and social traditions and norms are fabricated, it is the role of language in this process that underpins the work.
Spending his formative years in London, during what is commonly described in Ireland as The Troubles, the portrayal of political and social issues by UK and Irish print and broadcast media of the time became an early influence. Traveling to and from Ireland throughout his childhood and early adolescence, observations of Ireland’s changing socioeconomic landscape were observed during these periodic visits. Settling back in Wexford, Doyle began to question the role collective memory plays in contemporary life and came to view the curious history of the reclaimed lands of Wexford slobs as representative of the wider country.
Return to Blue, a central work in the exhibition, presents the viewer with an image of the new pump which occupies the original room of the pump house located on the Wexford slobs. The title refers to the colour of the Irish standard flag and also the original colour associated with St. Patrick. Begerin, formerly an island that occupied Wexford Harbour is now land locked. It is closely associated with St. Ibar, who at first was contested by St. Patrick as he attempted to expel him from Ireland. These strands of meaning that become engrained in the fabric of a place, meshing fact and fiction, is an example of what intrigues Doyle. Without expressing any overtly political message, Return to Blue looks back to our past history, and is also suggestive of the current political uncertainty within Europe.
The ambiguous origins of cultural norms are explored alongside the notion of happenstance that brings events and people together. In the exhibition, this is represented by the photographic image of the twin brothers and authors of the Guinness Book of Records, Ross and Norris McWhirter. In an unlikely twist, the idea for the Guinness Book of Records came during a shooting expedition on the slobs and the unanswered question of whether the golden plover was the fastest game bird. The twin brothers were commissioned to compile the first book as the brothers ran an information agency in London. The brothers successfully edited the publication for a number of years before Ross was assassinated by the IRA in 1975 after offering a reward for the capture of those responsible for the London bombing campaign. His lobbying for photographic ID for all Irish living in England was unsuccessful.
As the title suggests, the artist’s interest resides in how narratives, and in particular political and social histories, are reinterpreted through word and image across generations. Bringing seemingly disparate subjects together; the reclaimed lands of Wexford Slobs with twin brothers and authors of the Guinness Book of Records, Ross and Norris McWhirter, Doyle’s interests are wide ranging and carefully tease out connections and instances of influence between events and happenings.
Trans Fabula is his first solo exhibition.