Beatrice O’Connell: ‘The Flood’ and other stories
November 18-28 2011
In a remote part of northern Madagascar there is a legend. One day a lost traveller, thirsty and exhausted, arrived in a village asking for water. The village chief explained that he wished they had enough water to demonstrate the tribe’s natural goodwill towards strangers but unfortunately as water was such a scarce and valuable resource, they would have to refuse his request. The traveller who happened to be a witch doctor left empty handed. However, on the way out of the village he met a young pregnant woman. Seeing that he was thirsty she offered him the last of her water. Furious with the lack of kindness shown by the village yet heartened by the kindness of the woman, he cursed the village with the chief痴 two wishes; that they would have enough water to satisfy the thirst of strangers, and that the villagers would show their true selves. In the morning the village was completely flooded and all the inhabitants except the young woman had been turned into crocodiles. Today it is said that the local people are all decendents of the woman who gave the stranger water. The locals feel an affinity with and sympathy towards the crocodiles and offerings of zebu meat are made on religious festivals.
This tale is taken as a starting point for an engagement with social and gender history. Drawn from the artist’s personal experience, themes of isolation and vulnerability are explored. Individual acts of kindness and affection are contrasted with societal greed. Questions are posed around the individual’s relationship with her surroundings. These questions are interwoven throughout the narrative, allowing metaphors to emerge. The artist draws on her own photographic archive taken while documenting her travels. Theatre and literature are also referenced to explore human vulnerability.
Beatrice O’Connell graduated from the BA in Fine Art, DIT in 1996. She had her first solo exhibition in that year in the National Concert Hall, Dublin.
O’Connell has had solo exhibitions in the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, The Hunt Museum, Limerick, The Lambay House Art Gallery, Howth, The Talbot Gallery, Dublin and the Cross Gallery, Dublin.
O’Connell has been the recipient of various awards at ﾍontas, ﾉigse Carlow and a Dublin Corporation Bursary.
She has participated in many group exhibitions in Ireland, the UK, US and Australia including the Annual Wexford Opera Festival Exhibition, ﾍontas, Oireachtas, ﾉigse Carlow and Temple Bar Gallery.
She has completed commissions for public and private clients. Her work is in various public collections such as the OPW and AXA Insurance and private collections in Ireland, the UK, US and Australia.