Below the Surface

Cathy Henderson Exhibition opens at Mermaid

Mermaid Arts Centre is pleased to welcome Robert Ballagh to open an exhibition entitled Below the Surface by Cathy Henderson on Thursday 8 November 2007 at 6pm. This exhibition comprises as series of oil on canvas portraits of Dublin city's maintenance workers. The paintings are supplemented by a revealing recording of the people in the paintings who talk about their work in the public domain and the attitudes of the citizens of Dublin to them and the work that they do.

This body of work is was produced as a way of acknowledging the efforts and committment of Dublin city's workers who continually maintain, clean and look after our streets, parks, buildings and whose work is crucial to keep the whole organism of the city running smoothly.

Cathy Henderson lives and works in North Wicklow. She graduated with an MA from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 1993. Her work is included in an increasing number of private and public collections in Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada and she has worked to commission for many private and corporate clients including the ESB, Guinness and Bank Of Ireland and the BBC.

Speaking about Cathy's work Robert Ballagh said: "There is a saying that history is always written by the victors and certainly in the realm of portraiture the majority of representations in museums and galleries are of society's rich and powerful, consequently, I believe that Cathy Henderson's decision to paint the "unsung heroes" of Dublin is not just brave but also quietly subversive. These paintings of the anonymous workers, who struggle daily to keep the city functioning, seem to me to work on two essential levels. Firstly, they are well made pictures and a good portrait must always be a successful work of art but also, and perhaps more importantly, they effectively capture a "likeness" of their subjects. This I can affirm for when I visited Cathy's studio I found myself looking at many familiar faces; undoubtedly this is a consequence of my being a citizen of Dublin's inner city where I have seen many of Cathy's subjects going about their daily round."

The exhibition continues until 1 December.

Click on any of the images to the right to see larger versions. Click the play button, the beneath each image, to hear an interview with the subject. It may take a few moments to load.