Exploring the idea of identity

‘Plunge‘ is an exhibition of drawings by artist Robert Dunne at the Upstairs Gallery, Watergate Theatre from August 3 to September 14.

‘Plunge‘ is an exhibition of drawings by artist Robert Dunne at the Upstairs Gallery, Watergate Theatre from August 3 to September 14.

Robert Dunne grew up in what used to be a mining village. People mined for coal there for hundred’s of years, a lot of this activity was on a small scale which was never documented. Occasionally, the earth would cave in to reveal deep dark pits, which were part of a network of old mining tunnels. His mother would warn him not to play in areas which were believed to be unstable. She tried to keep him inside, she wove a wire linked fence around their house, and told him stories about children falling beneath the ground. Robert was as mesmerised as he was afraid. This was his first landscape, this was his home.

Dunne’s work is mainly about this part of his life, of growing up in a community but being somehow separated from it. It is about identity and the uncertainty that comes with that, and the work is an attempt to explore the symbols and language that articulates both the idea of identity and the history that enables it. As someone who emigrated during the economic recession of the ‘80s he learned of the fragile interdependence between person and place. What defines a person when there are holes in the world around them? What does a person remember in order to bridge an ever-increasing distance created by dislocation?

His art practice is interdisciplinary, incorporating drawing, painting, and sculpture. The starting point is always drawing. For Dunne drawing is almost compulsive. He don’t analyse the symbols or metaphors, which develop out of these drawings, but their meaning becomes clear after he has worked on them for a while.

The ideas, which emerge, are sometimes developed in other media; the sculptural work tends to explore specific ideas while drawing forms a large part of the painting process; drawings are layered and taken away, work is exposed and layered again. This is the journey, and in a moment something can happen that leads him below the surface of what he is working on. A mark might reveal the mechanisms of an excavation, a memory, and a colour as a way of documenting the past. For more information see The exhibition runs from August 3-14. The opening hours are Monday to Friday 10am-6pm and one hour prior to the show on Sunday.

To continue reading this article, please register and log in.

Registration is free and you can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with your latest local news!


Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.