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Christine O'Brien

visual art

Press Reviews

ARTS & THEATRE COLUMN, Munster Express, 13 MARCH 2018

ART EXHIBITION REVIEW | Woven Decade

The members of the art collective known as 20ten who operate a small but inspirational gallery in Lombard St. have decided to include a series of solo exhibitions this year as well as group shows. Until the end of March it will Christine O'Brien with Woven Decade.

I visited the 20ten gallery on the same day that I was going to Carrick on Suir to see Into The Woods, and a box of standing willows was like a dense copse. O'Brien uses these willow branches, also known in Ireland as sallys (as in Sally Garden) to weave baskets, vessels or receptacles. Maybe even, containers of the imagination.

O'Brien is an inspirational art maker in painting, print and photography as well as doing art installations and teaching. She grew up with a fascination for hedges, trees, pathways beside water, parks and the occasional garden. Her mother was a founder of Waterford Craft Workers and she passed on a love of willow weaving to her daughter and now the daughter is trying to pass the craft on to her own daughter.

The range of willow vessels gives food for thought and in some cases, they reminded me of birds nest and small animal sanctuaries. This week when clearing the driveway of snow I discovered a small dead bird and felt sad. My wife had put out food and water every day during the snow. Again it was curious if not serendipitous that some of O'Brien's creations are made from weeping willows.

A set of paintings represented May and Autumn (young life and adult life).

Go and see this gallery any afternoon from 1 to 5 and see Christine O'Brien use willow to weave family stories and she will show you how to do do it and the handing on of tradition involved.

If only all gallery visits were so inspirational.


Boundary Lines at Solstice : Munster Express online - Review: By Liam Murphy. Published on Friday, January 7th, 2011

Bealtaine - Daughter cobsThe exhibition of new work at The Granary - Boundary Lines At Solstice - was such a boost of light pre-Christmas by an artist who challenges with her work, her vision of the world, but this time there was a sharing of colour, of light, of hope and the very patterns of our existence. I saw the work on the morning of the shortest day when there was a pinkish tone to the sky - a true solstice day in the deep mid-winter.

Chris O'Brien Shanahan shows the viewer that boundaries are as natural things - hedges, water’s edge, a charcoal treeline, roads, contours, pathways. The work and the artist seem at one with the environment, like a natural protection in a fascination with patterns, be they photographic patterns, bogland patterns or a clever collage of paper.

Craters, bogs, fields, a wooded track in Australia are all part of a natural pattern.
Several times she uses and repeats an off-shaped heart, an impression that suggests Daughter as a vivid green shooting growing shape, or Mother as autumn golden but still as defining as the seasons that shape and define our lives.

She returns to Fenor Bog as ancient polace, a repository and recreates patterns that seem modern and timeless like a child's paper chain of possibilities.


Punchinello : Munster Express - Friday, 7 August 2009, by Liam Murphy

punchinello garter lane 2009At face value, the exhibition Punchinello, at Garter Lane Theatre, is aimed at children as part of their exciting pre-Spraoi series of family events, SprÓg. But you would miss a fine fun and progressive art experience. All the way in from the street there are colourful flower patterns from Spraoi in the Park, creating a visual thrill and huge Punch and Judy heads adorn the foyer and entrance to the gallery. Recycling seems to be a theme in the arts this year with Galway featuring reheats and repeats, and Kilkenny in a similar vein.

No matter … in the gallery, the nature conservation work of Chris O’Brien Shanahan, sets a beautiful tone with a Walkway and Weave montage. Gabriella Eviston has a selection of acrylic on board around the theme of Wind. Joe Moran has some cast bronze small heads and two fantasy sculptures from scrap. Steel Dog used car bumpers and bicycle parts as did Bird Skrapparts to create a great talking point.

Philip Cullen has created wonderful cut-outs in a carton style to give a dancing effect. Ben Hennessy’s Lost Ark work used video/digital imagery on a screen to present a wonderful exciting set of expressive images. In front of the screen is an impressive big Buddha Bag to sit into. Ben would make a splendid illustrator and it is a great experience to sit and enjoy the screen, especially the Two Headed Giraffe, Lost Animal and an amazing Boy With The Moon On a Red String. This exhibition runs until the end of August and it is a joy to enjoy.


Municipal Art Shows, Munster Express - Review: Friday, 28 November 2008, by Liam Murphy

oren littleThe Christine O'Brien Shanahan show, Dreamcatcher, at the Index Gallery, is an excellent mixed media event in a busy space. Work that draws on similarities between places like Australia and Fenor, gives the casual viewer an experience of the dot style of Aboriginal art in three studies, DREAMING BENEATH THE WILLOW, with its chalky tree and rich dot pastels.

Natural patterns attract Shanahan's attention and that is evident in skylines and boglands as in FENOR WEAVE.

installation, with chris and anneA beautiful photographic book reproduces a most varied study of Fenor Bog - a book that just cries out for a publisher to bring the work to a larger audience.

The contrasts in two TRAMORE SKYLINES catch, not only the dreams and possibilities of summer, but the colder resonances of winter in a favourite place.

GOING INTO THE ISLAND is a site specific central space featuring a pattern of stones and shells that is invitingly tactile and to reposition a stone would not wreck the universe. This piece has grades of detail and subtle earth tones.


Munster Express Review of Festival | LIVE Art


IMAGINE Arts Festival, work shown at Greyfriars


© Christine O'Brien 2006- 2018 | all images, paintings, photographs © Christine O'Brien