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Ofrendas are a work-in-progress by Mary Conroy reflecting on the impermanence of life, the state of living and the condition of death. It combines a traditional ceramic process with the notion of the spiritual power of objects, ritual and grief.         

Smoke-firing is an ancient technique used by ceramic artists, that utilises the elements of fire, water, air and earth to produce organic patterns on a clay body. These skulls were cast from an original Mexican Dia de los Muertos souvenir skull.

Patterns were created by burning objects found in the studio of Jean Conroy, the artist’s late sister, with a group of ceramic skulls in a pit-firing.  These skulls were wrapped and burned by her friends at a gathering to mark the 3rd anniversary of her death.

This event acted as a way to bring people together to remember Jean’s life but also to let go of these objects which were of great of significance to her, but brought others fond but painful memories.

Fire is a transformative element and, for the artist, this burning symbolises the release of attachment to these objects and taking a step forward in the grieving process.

Ofrendas are on view from 1-30 November 2017 at Ormston House.

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