Two Rooms presents an exhibition by sculptor Denis O’Connor, his first in Auckland for seven years. This exhibition continues his exploration into the mysteries and importance of memory and its relevance in the present. These works encompass intimate personal narratives and broad social histories. They layer journeys across the world pursuing the development of his art, with migration stories from the Old World to the South Pacific. Voices from 20th century literature and encounters with the familiar in the depths of a foreign location are coded meticulously into engraved roof slates and slabs of exotic onyx.
The inspirational moment for ‘What the Roof Dreamt’ began as a boy in the 1950’s on the roof of a state-house, watching ships disappear over the horizon into a nether-region, referred to as ‘overseas’. Thirty roof slates, surplus to the re-roofing of the old Art School in Christchurch, have been carved, burnished and waxed and now hold a collection of images and texts drawn from his notebooks of four decades of travel. ‘They are enigmatic, emblematic, plotless narratives revealing the imaginative complexities of his cross-cultural encounters’. Writer and curator Lara Strongman describes his process in an essay as at once ‘archaeological and lapidary: he digs up traces of the past and polishes them for display’.
In 2005 Denis O’Connor was the inaugural recipient of the Rathcoola Fellowship; a Residency that attracted 110 applicants from writers and visual artists in both NZ and Australia. Eleven of the thirty seven works in the exhibition were created in Ireland including a triptych of photographic works in collaboration with Irish Art photographer Dara McGrath.