Miriam de Búrca

    Miriam de Búrca is an Irish artist who grew up between the west of Ireland, Austria and Germany. She studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art and the University of Ulster, Belfast, where she was commended with an Award of Excellence for her practice-based PhD in 2010. Legacies of systems of coercion, exploitation and extraction permeate de Búrca’s work, explored earlier in film, video and installation, and more recently in drawing and glass work.

    Early work engaged with her personal experience of the persisting divisions in Belfast. She documented weeds (‘Native Aliens’) that sprung up from the ashes of bonfires and sites of dereliction following periods of conflict. She also documented the constructed, colonial landscape of the Crom Estate, a former Anglo-Irish estate where she later lived. After Brexit in mind, she began recording 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 drawings 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 work has been exhibited internationally for over twenty years, including in Belfast, Dublin, London, Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Lisbon, New York, Chicago, Florida, Montreal and Tel Aviv, amongst others. Her works are in private and public collections including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Arts Council of Ireland; National University of Ireland Galway; and Glucksman Gallery at University College Cork.; the British Museum, London; and the Mead Gallery at University of Warwick, Coventry; 

    Her drawing has recently been published in The Story of Drawing: An Alternative History of Art (Yale University Press, 2024); Landscape and Environment in Contemporary Irish Art (Churchill House Press, 2022); Irish Art 1920 – 2020: Perspectives on a Century of Change (Royal Irish Academy, 2022); and Vitamin D3: Today’s Best in Contemporary Drawing (Phaidon Press, 2021).

    Miriam de Búrca lives and works in Galway, Ireland.

    For a complete list of available works by Miriam de Búrca please contact [email protected]


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