Mary Niamh McCormack

Soundings, the inaugural exhibition at the Municipal Gallery, dlr LexIcon, Dún Laoghaire, explored the relationships that exist between Dún Laoghaire, the sea and its people through a series of artworks, talks and lectures. Curated by Michael McLoughlin in association with Dún Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat crewmembers, it brought together six contemporary visual artists with connections to the greater Dún Laoghaire area (who have lived, worked and studied there), or who have investigated maritime histories, memories, testimonies and archives in their work.

As part of her contribution to the exhibition, Sabina Mac Mahon invited fellow-artist Mary Niamh McCormack to present new work using materials sourced from the nearby RNLI lifeboat station. 

Following a conversation with Dún Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat crew about objects relating to the history of the lifeboat station and the debris that washes up against the West Pier following easterly gales, McCormack decided to create a sculptural piece that would highlight the changing technologies in use throughout the RNLI’s history. The title of the resulting work, Marooned, alludes to the maroon launch used in the sculpture while also playing on the nautical theme of the exhibition.

Used as an alarm or warning prior to the development of modern telecommunications systems, maroons were deployed to call lifeboat crews to the station to launch the lifeboat. Essentially a type of rocket, maroons exploded 1,000ft in the air, making a loud banging report - audible for several miles - and a bright flash. As well as calling the crew to the boat the noise of the maroon would alert seafarers in distress to the fact that help was on its way.

In her sculptures and installations Mary Niamh McCormack uses abandoned and discarded household, industrial and natural materials to create temporary site-specific works that adapt and react to the spaces in which they are placed, resulting in restrained three-dimensional assemblages that teeter between stability and collapse. She is interested in different forms of collecting and her practice revolves around beachcombing, a timeworn activity that involves the gathering of items of value, interest or utility from beaches and shorelines. Once-abandoned objects are infused with a renewed sense of purpose in her haphazard arrangements and their aesthetic qualities, as well as the transitory nature of time, are explored in sculptural form.

Born in Dublin in 1984, McCormack studied Fine Art (Sculpture) at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and graduated with a 1st Class BA (Hons.) in 2007. Since 2011 she has been based between Dublin and London, where she recently completed an MFA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.

Mary Niamh McCormack
maroon launch, empty shell, text
dimensions variable