Sunday, December 19, 2010


My TG4 interview last Thursday took place in the Model, Sligo. Sligo's Model arts centre has recently been reopened after redevelopment. It was originally built in 1862 as a Model School. The redeveloped building is impressive, boasting a restaurant and coffee dock, a bookshop, a wonderful gallery circuit, a purpose built performance space, and a suite of impressive artist studios on the top floor.

At the moment as you walk into the entrance foyer you are confronted with a huge fallen angel, wings askew, the body covered by a cloth and the whole cordoned off by yellow police crime scene ribbon. It's the main item in the current large-scale installation project by artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov entitled Angelology. These are Russian-born, American-based artists who collaborate on environments which fuse elements of the everyday with those of the conceptual.

Angels seem to be everywhere nowadays but they always seem to be the fey, otherworld type of angels, not the Archangel Michael type. This is different. It's interesting to think of this fallen angel as representing something which has been lost or neglected and allowed to die, something strong and real and necessary.

Other items in the exhibition include drawings, paintings, sculpture and mixed-media installations that entirely fill the galleries. There is even a model of an apparatus by which a human can climb up into the sky to try and meet an angel. But has it anything to say about the present economic climate in Ireland? I hear you ask. Probably, though the angel is certainly not a tiger-type.

This reminded me of the Fiona Banner installation I saw in the Tate Britain earlier in the year. There she had two decommissioned war planes, one hanging from the ceiling and one, a Jaguar, thrown on the floor in much the same pose as the fallen Sligo angel.

This exhibition in the Model continues until 16 January 2011. The big exhibition there next year is Jack B. Yeats: The Outsider which will run in the Model from 5 February to 5 June.

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