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15/02/2017 - Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre


Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre




Dublin based Inishowen artist Maria McKinney’s exhibition ‘Sire’ officially opened in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny on Tuesday 14 February.



This exhibition comprises of a body of work that explores the correlation between the predictive features of genomics in the development of beef and dairy cattle, and how this might echo the forecasting function of the traditional corn dolly.



In pre-Christian Europe, people annually performed customs in relation to the reaping and sewing of the harvest. These rituals have since been popularly interpreted as an attempt to influence the future behaviour of nature. 



Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre



Part of this practice involved making a corn dolly, an object made through the intricate handcraft of binding straw with the final sheaf of that year’s crop. This figurine is regarded as the vessel to where the spirit of the harvest resorted and resided through the winter months after the crop was reaped. In spring it would be returned to the earth by being buried under the first sown seed. This doll has since become a symbol of fertility, both of the land and the living creatures that feed off it. 



Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre


In contemporary society however, the branch of knowledge known as genomics has given humans the ability to truly influence how nature behaves in future generations of animal and plant species. Having gained an understanding of the complex structure of genes and their functionality, the emergence of bioinformatics has allowed scientists to direct breeding strategies with the objective of achieving more physically healthy and commercially productive animals. 



Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre



This body of work is proposed as a rephrasing of what was once intangible. Now we not only understand these formerly mysterious processes of propagation, but also manipulate them to our own ends. This ability is in itself a cause of wonderment; the magic has become in a sense, real. 



A native of Moville in Inishowen, Maria McKinney is a visual artist working in sculpture and installation based in Dublin. Her work considers the complexities that structure our everyday environment and she was shortlisted for the MAC International 2014 selected by Hugh Mulholland, MAC, Francesco Bonami, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Judith Nesbitt, Tate.  She recently completed a residency in Parity Studios UCD where she created this work.



Sire Exhibition opens in Regional Cultural Centre



For eighteen months in 2015 and 2016 Maria McKinney worked with Dovea Genetics – a bull stud with 90 bulls standing at stud producing semen in a controlled environment.  Her scientific collaborators were quantitative geneticist Dr. Donagh Berry, Teagasc, genome biologist Prof. David MacHugh, UCD and Head of Veterinary Clinical Studies Prof. Michael Doherty, UDC. 



This significant body of work was first exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery in Dublin in September/October 2016 and includes sculpture, large-scale photographs and a video installation.



The exhibition will run from the 14 February to the 25 March 2017 and will be open Tuesday – Saturday 11am to 5pm (closed March 17 & 18).



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