Caitlín Ní Dochartaigh
This installation consists of 51 pots and plates made of air-dried clay, supported by 55 papier-mâché cardboard boxes. These painted and decorated objects are placed into loosely defined groups according to their subject matter and aesthetic nature. There are painted cardboard shapes on the floor and walls that emphasise the illustrations on the clay objects and cardboard plinths.
This artwork takes inspiration from a cabinet that was in my great-grandparents’ house. The cabinet was filled with hundreds of souvenirs and commemorative objects that they had collected over the span of six or seven decades. Their memories were documented through these objects and I viewed this cabinet as a personal archive of their lives. Their extensive collection of souvenirs inspired the scale of this artwork and the diversity of objects present within this installation.
I am interested in the value that we place on objects such as souvenirs and how souvenirs can be both personal and impersonal at the same time. These objects are typically mass produced with cheap materials, yet significant sentimental memories are projected onto these items by those who own them.
By making ceramic objects I have adopted the materials often associated with souvenirs. I have also incorporated the ostentatious, tacky or kitsch aesthetic that often adorns these souvenirs and applied this to my own ceramic objects and plinths exploring questions of taste and value. The cardboard plinths have been decorated to match their ceramic counterparts, making them active within the artwork, functioning as art objects themselves rather than just acting as benign display mechanisms. Through using materials like clay, paint, cardboard and papier-mâché I am embracing some of the first materials I would have encountered when making art as a child.
I have my used my own cultural identity as inspiration for the decoration of the artwork, drawing from memories relating to my childhood, my family and places or moments of significance to me. Through their production and decoration these objects begin to act as my own personal souvenirs exploring and archiving my own memories.