Miriam de Búrca

    Miriam de Búrca was born in Munich, Germany and grew up in the west of Ireland. She studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art and the University of Ulster, Belfast and was given an Award of Excellence for her practice-based PhD at the University of Ulster in 2010.

    Earlier work engaged with her personal experience of the persisting divisions in Belfast. She experimented with film, video and installation and her drawings would document weeds (‘Native Aliens’) that sprung up from the ashes of bonfires and sites of dereliction following periods of conflict. Subsequently, she documented the constructed, colonial landscape of the Crom Estate, a former Anglo-Irish estate where she later lived. With Brexit in mind, she has also been documenting plant life that grows directly on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, identifying them by their co-ordinates rather than botanical nomenclature. These drawings accentuate the transformation of a place with a fractious history and the conscious effort it takes to recall and understand its past and present. Recent work focuses on burial sites in Ireland called cillíní, which were used to bury unbaptised babies (until as recently as the 1980s) and many others considered ‘unsuitable’ for consecrated ground. Unmarried mothers, the mentally ill, unknown strangers, disabled children (or ‘changelings’), suicides and excommunicates, were all laid to rest here, exiled to a state of eternal limbo. De Búrca examines these phenomena through a post-colonial lens, mimicking imperialist methods and aesthetics that she feels at once attracted to and repelled by. Her ‘sod’ drawings hark back to botanical studies, but they take the conversation about land and its meaning further by transforming this knowledge-gathering system of scrutiny into a process of contemplation, remembrance and recognition.

    Her drawings and short film- and video-works have been exhibited internationally such as in London, New York, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Warsaw and Berlin. She is represented by the Cristea Roberts Gallery, London and has works in the collection of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Arts Council of Ireland; the British Museum; the Mead Gallery at University of Warwick, Coventry; National University of Ireland Galway; Glucksman Gallery at University College Cork, as well as in several private collections. Her drawing has recently been published in Phaidon’s series, Vitamin D3: Today’s Best in Contemporary Drawing and will be featured in Irish Art 1920–2020: Perspectives on a Century of Change, eds. Yvonne Scott and Catherine Marshall, 2022.

    Miriam de Búrca lives and works in Galway, Ireland.

    Installations

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