SEA CHANGE: Sculpture by Moss Gaynor

Moss Gaynor is a Clonakilty-based sculptor who works primarily with the medium of steel, which he blends with a variety of other non-ferrous materials such as limestone, hardwood and found stone.  He is responsible for such impressive local public works as the soaring surfboard on Inchydoney beach (a true modern megalith if ever there was one) and the more playful statue of Tojo the monkey in Clon’s Recorder’s Alley.

SEA CHANGE is Moss’ first solo exhibition of sculpture.  Arranged neatly around the bright, airy interior of the Skylight Gallery, the nine pieces on display draw their inspiration from the sea and the changing beauty of the West Cork coastline, though this is not their only reason for being.  Just as upmost in the artist’s mind is his mission to cast off the constraints of functionality and concentrate solely on fashioning pure sculptural forms out of metal—a new development that is directly referenced in the title of the show.

Sea Change, steel and found stone, 2015 (photograph by John Beasley)

Sea Change, steel and found stone, 2015 (photograph by John Beasley)

Hard as it is to choose one standout piece, I have to admit I loved the titular work.  What impresses me most about this composition is how it demonstrates Moss’ interest in reconfiguring the manmade worlds of architecture and industrial design.  This is as fundamental to his aesthetic as is the influence of the natural world.  If it were not for this sculpture’s beautiful dark brown cladding, you’d think you were looking at a discarded piece of industrial machinery, a hydraulic component suggested by the lever weighted down with a smooth found stone.  Then again, the elegant curvature of the piece is reminiscent of a sail, which for me raises one of the most fascinating characteristics of Moss’ work—namely, the use of contrast.  SEA CHANGE (the artwork) offers a fine example of the interplay between industrial and aesthetic techniques underpinning the exhibition as a whole.  In other works, the brown sheen of the metal is set against sleek silver elements such as the three projecting beams in LINES FROM AN IVERAGH POEM or the indented panels, stunningly reminiscent of embroidered fabric, in WHERE LAND MEETS SEA MEETS SKY.  Elsewhere, lines are either dead straight (horizon?) or circular (waves?); smooth surfaces meet deliberately knobby welds; solid materials such as limestone plinths and wooden beams interact with suspended, fragile components.  Contrast, contrast, contrast…

Highly evocative, too—as is so often the case with first-rate work. LINES FROM AN IVERAGH POEM reminded this viewer of a found artefact, a Celtic brooch in particular.  ISLANDER, one of two figurative (ish) pieces on show, resembles a tunic or coat of armour, the tactile quality of the piece enhanced by the appearance of metal straps, a recurring motif.  HORIZON, comprising two wooden beams, one vertical, the other horizontal, connected by, once again, a sweeping metal curve, looked like a section from some medieval pulley or siege weapon.  CASHEN, in which the smooth metal outlines of a boat are connected to a hardwood base by looped rope motifs, is another expressive composition:  Here, strands of metal hang over the base like plant roots and, in light of the personal story behind the piece, might be read as a kind of family tree.

Moss talks about how the coastal landscape of West Cork has impacted upon his work and there is no doubt that this is in evidence throughout the exhibit.  Dig deeper with the eye and the imagination, though, and you’ll begin to appreciate the degree to which industrial and functional techniques are reinterpreted with skill and originality.  Beauty is wrought out of industry and process.  Nature is crafted, worked, even handmade.

‘Sea Change’ runs at the Skylight Gallery until May 23rd, 2015. Note: the gallery is located on the top floor of the Bandon Craft Centre, Bridge Street, Bandon.

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One thought on “SEA CHANGE: Sculpture by Moss Gaynor

  1. Great article, Donal, and a very sophisticated subject! I enjoyed your attention to the compositional language of the work. Sea Change (the sculpture) feels, to me, to be part relic, part totem and part shield. And here-in lies its strength; that it can elicit multiple associations whilst maintaining a unique integrity of form. The works, from what I can see here, conjure beautifully wrought relics, that seek, somehow, to reconcile the industrial and the natural via art’s own arcane mystery: composition. Beautiful stuff. Looking forward to many more reviews!

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