Nuala O’Donovan

Nuala O’Donovan is an Irish Artist, living and working in Cork City on the south coast. She is a graduate of Middlesex University, U.K. and MTU, (Crawford College of Art and Design), Cork, Ireland. O’Donovan worked in design in the U.K., U.S.A. and Australia. She returned to Ireland where she taught design at MTU before returning to education to undertake an MA by research in the Ceramics Department at the Crawford college of Art and Design in Cork, completed in 2008. Her research area: Irregularities in Patterns in Nature & The Geometry of Natural Forms. Her artwork has been exhibited and published internationally, and she has been an invited speaker and teacher at workshops and International Conferences in Museums, Galleries and Universities.


I make sculptural pieces from unglazed porcelain clay. My hope is that my work communicates a sense of energy, life and dynamism through a combination of the use of abstracted pattern and geometry from natural forms.

My starting points are detailed drawings of plants, shells and seeds. In order that the form of the finished work is consistent with the qualities of the source material, I use a set of constraints based on a combination of regular and irregular geometric principles which are found in nature. I am interested in the history of the use of the geometry of natural forms in European art – in particular classical Greek art and architecture. I use these principles of Classical geometry when making decisions about the proportions of my work, and combine them with fractal or irregular geometry by using the principles of fractal geometry in the creation of the pattern. The form of the individual pattern is repeated in the outcome of the overall work – the “inherent design carried within itself”, so that each outcome is unique even if the starting point is similar. Each sculptural piece carries, within itself, its own narrative from the time during which it was made.

My work is made by hand, as a result of which each element of the form is unique and imperfect. I find the narratives suggested by imperfections and irregularities within patterns fascinating, and the imperfections are allowed to exist in the finished pieces – they are immediately apparent when my work is scrutinised closely. I hope that my work illustrates a number of my beliefs – the beauty of the collective, created by the acceptance of individual imperfections and the transient beauty found in nature.

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