Artists' Takeover: Maud Cotter
'In poetry all things seem to touch so they are’ *1
The relational space that Susan Howe opens in her poetry
suggests that everything that we touch brings us into
being with it. Coming into our minds in relational form as
experience, it’s pulses enfold with our own. What I touch
with my mind will make me who I am.
(looking at a leaf in 1972. Photograph by Jennifer O'Sullivan)
She speaks of her debt to Wallace Stevens "for ways in
which, through words frequencies and zero zones, his
writing locates, rescues, and delivers what is various
and vagrant in the near at hand”. *2
From the ground-up is how I like to begin, with a simple
fold or slit in something nearby; a bottom up way of
making. Working with what is to hand can unwrap other
mutations in material behavior, waiting until things tire of
busy-ness and simply present their skeletal selves.
Folding and welding plastic for the moon is falling
created a semblance of wellbeing, a florid and repeating
order woven with an asphyxiating and ruinous material.
The thicker gauge blue plastic I used, pulls the other
thinner transparent plastic into line, a semblance of life.
This dead field which mimics life is a core ingredient of this
dystopian work, “an inevitable knowledge, Required, as a
necessity requires”. *3
Apparently, the moon gives an impression of falling as it
orbits the earth elliptically, sometimes it is large and close
by, other times it appears to fall away.
After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.
It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For tis blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.
The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.
Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence
Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
Required, as a necessity requires.
Wallace Stevens, The Plain Sense of Things *3
invitation for ‘also’ exhibition, Rubicon Gallery, by Coracle Press, 2002
The word also provides a place within which things can sit
together. It is possible to step about in the word, enjoy its
spaces, count its letters as individual entities.
I was gathered by the word into a place to work.
Coracle Press designed an invitation for an exhibition of
mine of the same title, also, Rubicon Gallery, 2002.
The invitation presented as a concertina of lowercase letters
folded together to form the word. Half sentences and bits
from my sketch books were added as a list, not a poem, to
the inner folds.
the implied desire of an empty room is held at the brink of
impatience, while the air we shift on opening a door defers
our passing. that held by a coat seeps out a trail of
absence. these vapors have grown meek through lack of
recognition. within these pieces lie a remembrance of the
ordinary, spaces that cushion the everyday and intervene
between our flesh and other things. chambers, large
enough to be holders of fragments, accept their many
charges. places that contain the discarded remain with
us, depositories of what we have lost.
all simply present the evidence of their existence *4
Work flows from making and watching for points of entry,
for ways of harnessing the energy and volition within
A merged practice of looking, thinking, and making, works
for me. These strands need time to integrate, time to gain
strength of purpose.
Finding a way forward, is an ongoing challenge, a place
where propagative ideas and making become the engine
The nature and meaning of physical reality is important to
me. Our immersion within matter is a fit subject for a
sculptor such as myself.
The field of play is much more varied than it might
‘All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)’
Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘Pied Beauty’ *5
"(Who knows how?)”
In this short piece, I would like to:
air questions within my practice, on the nature and how of
find new coherences in a field of change
speak to the continuity of practice, of finding generative
& answer some questions … if possible
This I will illustrate with some of my work to date, and work
in hand, focusing on the question, posed by Gerald
Manley Hopkins in ‘Pied Beauty’, “(Who knows how?)”,
his exquisite uncertainty a better foundation than most.
#strangehusbandry, Kerry, 2017
The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of
Science by Nancy Cartwright holds an eclectic, rigorous,
and playful description of physical reality.
"The laws that describe this world are a patchwork, not a
pyramid. They do not take after the simple, elegant and
abstract structure of a system of axioms and theorems.
Rather they look like – and steadfastly stick to looking
like – science as we know it: apportioned into disciplines,
apparently arbitrarily grown up; governing different sets
of properties at different levels of abstraction; pockets of
great precision; large parcels of qualitative maxims
resisting precise formulation; erratic overlaps; here and
there, once in a while, corners that line up, but mostly
ragged edges; and always the cover of law just loosely
attached to the jumbled world of material things". *6
park bench, Cork, 2021
I remember those early days of the first lockdown
walking in an empty city and being enthralled by a
feather spinning in the wind, caught in a spider’s web,
and the huge built world in stillness, the end of a certain
kind of time and the beginning of another.
In this new time a park bench has embroidered itself for
the oncoming revelry.
Knobs of moss have swollen, upholstering snug spaces.
Crows cross the street like citizens of a new wonderland.
All the consequence of a changing reality.
fish blood on ice, English Market, Cork. 2018
The acceleration of consequence is pervasive, as we
manufacture unnecessary commodities.
This tensions the place of making. I change to a different
different pace of assimilation, I slow down, dig deeper.
The body is stretched paper thin. fish blood on ice
constriction invites expansion.
I am making a bookmark, a bolt of lightning, a zig zag
expansion of two sentences by Susan Howe, the
bookmark sketch by maud cotter, 2021 *7
'If a line is quick and strong it pierces our glassy earth. It
bursts out of reflection on all sides because the heart
refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses
it already tends outward with a vast force.’ *8
In 2020, I worked collabortively with Simon Cutts of
Coracle Press on my hot water bottles work titled unique
forms of continuity in space, eleven.
Coracle made a book - casebound with picnic-paper over
boards with an embossed cover image. Inside there are
seven tipped-in images of the works from the sequence
to accompany poems by Simon Cutts. 36pp, 17.5 x 15 com
unique forms of continuity in space/eleven
maud cotter, The Dock, 2018-2019, rubber, prestia
plaster, 12.5 x 23 x 15 cm
maud cotter and simon cutts, unique forms of
continuity in space, book, coracle, 2020
somewhere else, 2020
aluminium, acrylic mirror, plastic, paint, 150 x 173 x 110 cm
Courtesy the artist and domobaal
will be on view in Maud Cotter's forthcoming exhibition
a consequence of - a dappled world at the Hugh Lane Gallery
Maud Cotter, Short Biography, 2021
a consequence of – a dappled world, is a solo exhibition
of a body of work developed from 2015,which will be
exhibited from 2 June - 25 July 2021 at the Hugh Lane Gallery.
Gallery. A book of the same title will be published by Hugh
Lane Gallery to accompany the exhibition a
consequence of - without stilling at Limerick City
Gallery of Art, 2018 and a consequence of - a breather Shannon,2019,
of air at The Dock, Carrick on Shannon, 2019, were part of
that body of work in emergence.
The Twin, Coventry Biennale of Contemporary Art,
Coventry, UK :backyardsculpture, domobaal gallery,
London, Matter of Fact, solo show at domobaal gallery,
London, 2016. 2116: Forecast of the next century, Lewis
Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 2016 touring to Eli and Edythe
Broad Art Museum, MI, USA.
She lives and works in Cork, Ireland. She is co-founder of
the National Sculpture Factory and a member of Aosdána,
and is represented by domobaal gallery, London.
*1 quote: susan howe from her book of essays ’the quarry’, chapter five ‘arisbe’, published by
’new directions’ or nd books in 2015, ISBN 9780811222464
*2 quote: susan howe from her book of essays ’the quarry’, chapter one ‘vagrancy in the park’, section one ’roaming’
published by ’new directions’ or nd books in 2015, ISBN 9780811222464
*4 notes from sketchbooks: maud cotter, 2002
*6 quote: nancy cartwright from her book, the dappled world: a study of the boundaries of science,
introduction, published by cambridge university press in 1999, ISBN 0 521 64411 9
*7 the bookmark forms part of the forthcoming publication by dublin city gallery the hugh lane, a
consequence of – a dappled world, designed by tony waddingham, 2021
*8 quote: susan howe from her book of essays ’the quarry’, chapter one ‘vagrancy in the park’, section
two ’ring around the roses’ published by ’new directions’ or nd books in 2015, ISBN 9780811222464
courtesy of maud cotter and domobaal