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Orla’s pensive females

Orla’s pensive females
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Orla de Brí, Flow, 2015

Since she last featured in Art News (see the Irish Arts Review Autumn 2012) with her dramatically positioned sculpture in Ratoath, Co Meath, Orla de Brí has been working on some large (8 meters high) commissioned work and a new body of smaller works that ‘are about life and how nothing stays the same’. According to Orla, ‘even gender roles are changing with men more involved in nurturing and women in providing’. This conviction has prompted Orla to create a very arresting She Stag series, the most impressive image in which is that of a five-pointed set of antlers growing out of an undefined skull but a clearly female torso below. What exactly Orla would make of that all- important but never changing role between man and woman – that of reproduction – remains to be seen. Meantime in the grander scheme of things, Orla secured a commission last year from a most unlikely source for her new sculpture called Flow which has now been shipped to Istanbul and erected overhanging a stream in the Sabanci International Equestrian Centre there. Her client, Ms Sevil Sabanci is an international equestrian and saw some of Orla’s work while visiting the RDS with her daughter Melissa. Perhaps she also visited the Chester Beatty Library while in Dublin as her father, who founded the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul had a particular interest in, and extensively collected, Ottoman calligraphic art.

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Orla De Brí

A recurring theme in Orla’s larger works is that of a female, nude figure pondering the state of the world – which is why we dubbed her Meath work the Ratoath Rodin. In her Istanbul Flow, the pensive, female figure is positioned at the end of a curving, steel arc and, again according to Orla, ‘has an obvious connection with the river but Flow is also a mental state that happens when a person is absorbed in what they do, so immersed that there is a feeling of great positive energy and joy in the task.’

Orla’s latest commission comes from the University of Limerick and this time her pensive female is perched aloft a slim but high pedestal. Not the most comfortable position from which to ponder the universe.

John Mulcahy is the Editor of the Irish Arts Review.

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