for Intermedia Triskel Art Centre, Cork, Ireland.

24th February - 4th March 1995

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The Irish Times, Dublin, Friday, March 3, 1995
Mark Ewart

For his current installation, entitled Wain Vane, Alastair MacLennan has acknowledged the burgeoning peace process in Northern Ireland by documenting new births in Cork since the first of January. The fact that the births are registered in Cork and not Belfast does not affect MacLennan's objective, since his work usually strives to transcend locality and faction, in an effort to resolve conflict in the widest sense. The metaphor for new life and new stability in the North is handled with the utmost sensitivity, and has effectively transformed the main gallery into a pristine secular chapel.

Arranged along the walls are labels printed with information regarding gender, date, place of birth. These are fixed on to tracing paper that in turn obscures charred maps of Cork. Black and white threads hang from each of these 69 collages to meet a corresponding water-filled bowl directly. Red and green threads float in each bowl as it supports a dead twig fixed with a white ribbon. The fragility of these objects is imbued with a symbolic significance that echoes the trepidation surrounding the peace process itself. A characteristic of MacLennan's work is to enforce duality through contradictions of image and concept; black/white, old/new, fire/water, birth/death, stability/eviction and so on. The perfect balance and regulation of this installation's layout has even manipulated the whiteness of the space and the filtered natural light to significant ends.

Chris North's contribution has an immeasurable effect on the atmosphere of the piece. He has recorded a toddler babbling phrases with a hypnotic Belfast brogue that floats above the billowing muslin that conceals the skylight. Again, there is a symbolic inference as the child struggles to form sentences, the politicians struggle to compose their conflicting rhetoric.

Perhaps the most indelible image of all this is the "tree" placed on the gallery floor. This lone branch is sprouting new foliage that unmistakably leads to a poignant analogy for peace.