9 - 26 April 2014

Opening Night | Thursday 10 April 6-8pm

Dominic Kavanagh

The Beehive is an installation inspired by and sourced from urban ruins. It metaphorically relates the lifeless urban scrapheap to the contrastingly buzzing, complex and teeming circumstance of a archetypal beehive.

IMAGES |Dominic Kavanagh, The Beehive, 2014. | Images courtesy of the artist. 


The notion of beehive conjures an image of myriad worlds. Chamber upon chamber of industrious activity - a thousand individual elements, each one a different window into a new universe, all carefully constructed as one connected, seething entity.

So too, Dominic Kavanagh’s sculptural ‘scrapheaps’ provide multiplicitous windows into the memory (and former life) of objects. A collector of the decayed, discarded, and detritus of everyday life, Kavanagh treats each abandoned element with affectionate reverence. These ‘treasure artefacts’ bring with them individual history, and assembled together, create worlds containing unlimited stories within.

Drawing from the aesthetics of contemporary ‘ruin’, Kavanagh carefully - perhaps obsessively - constructs artificial landscapes from found-object materials. His installation, assemblage, and performance practice, honed over a number of years, is a re-mix of sorts… re-curating his collection of found artefacts through constant re-use and revision. In recent years Kavanagh has developed his hybrid practice with the introduction of sound and performance aspects. Much like the installations themselves, his very practice is composed of re-constructed, de-constructed, and refigured elements. By aestheticizing ruin, it is prescribed purpose and worth.

In this most recent of Kavanagh’s signature scrapheaps, The Beehive embraces nostalgic notions of domestic kitsch with the incorporation of synthetic plants and a seemingly benign trickling water feature which in fact serves a critical role as generator of sound. You can almost hear the hum of the electricity source required to create such an artificial representation of ambient ‘nature’. Kavanagh's sourced artificial plants - the detritus of a specific moment in interior decorating time, now passed, are presented as the very embodiment of falsified ruin. Here, the viewer is privy to a whimsical detour in the journey of discarded foliage that will never decompose.

Deceptively chaotic, Kavanagh’s manufactured ruins are, in fact, highly resolved. Aesthetically confusing at first glance, the composition and logic of form, texture and repetition emerge as the viewer’s eye adjusts to the initial overload of visual information. The ‘ruin’ reveals itself as gentle, enchanting and friendly - evoking the childhood delight of adventure and discovery. In this sense Kavanagh presents to us a conundrum, a paradox of chaos and order; detritus and treasure; and the authentic aestheticizing of a falsified ruin.

At once The Beehive recalls methodical archaeological dig, childhood scavenger hunt, and the industrious activity of insects constructing their hive. A world of worlds, discovered once and offered up by Kavanagh to be discovered again.

Charity Bramwell, 2014.