Nuala O’Donovan

Nuala O’Donovan was born in Cork City. She studied ceramics at the Crawford College of Art and Design, graduating with an MA in 2008. Since graduating her work has been purchased for public and private collections in Ireland, the U.K. and Europe and has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally. She currently lives and works in Cork City, Ireland.


Nuala O’Donovan’s work combines regular pattern with the characteristics of fractal forms from nature. Each element of the pattern is individually made, the form is constructed slowly over a period of weeks or months, and fired a number of times during the making process. The finished forms are a result of an intuitive response to the direction that the pattern takes as well as the irregularity in the handmade elements of the pattern.

The result of using the characteristics of fractal geometry in making decisions regarding the form of the sculptural pieces is that the form is resolved but retains a sense of potential growth. Her hope is that the viewer engages with the piece by allowing their own personal experiences to influence their view of the outcome of the form and/or future possibilities. This aspect of her work also refers to the transitory quality of living organisms, which combine traces of history, the present and the future in the patterns found in their surfaces and forms.

She is interested in the narrative quality of irregularities in patterns in living organisms. The history behind a scarred or broken surface is what fascinates her. The evidence of a response to random events visible in patterns in nature is testament to the ability of living organisms to recover, to respond, and to continue growing and changing. It is the imperfections in the patterns caused by a unique experience that are evidence of the life force in living organisms.