‘Good art should make you consider yourself in relation to time, which means in relation to birth, life and death.’
Working in sculpture, film and photography, Dorothy Cross (b. 1956, Cork) looks at relationships between body and time and the human and the natural world. Based on Ireland’s rural West Coast, Cross’s immediate environment is inseparable from her practice, present in the richly symbolic materials she uses to create strange and often unexpected encounters. In the early 90s, Cross came to widespread attention through a series of works featuring cow skins and cow udders. Since then, the artist has continued to work with organic matter, including whale skeletons, skull fragments and, at times, casts of her own body parts.
Cross has consistently returned to the shark in her work, an ‘ancient and maligned’ creature onto which ‘the human race projects so much fear of their own mortality’. For Buoy (2014), she gilded the underside of a Blue Shark in precious white gold, its form balanced on a painter’s easel above a slab of alabaster. Eye of Shark (2014) housed a preserved eye within the walls of the gallery itself. The artist has continued to delve into the realm of geology and alchemy in the amalgamations of objects she creates, reinvigorating the lives of everyday things – sometimes humorous, sometimes disturbing, always intellectually stimulating and visually arresting. She uses a delicate and arduous process to make her celebrated Foxglove sculptures: each flower is dipped in wax, then encased in plaster before the creation of the bronze. Concealed amongst the details of the work are cast fingertips, referencing tales told to the artist as a child that if you put your fingers in the plant and lick them, you would go blind. Cross’s work celebrates wonder and beauty despite the brevity of human existence.