Isabel Nolan, Curling up with reality

It‘s interesting to see how the perception of artists’ writing and the role it can play in their practice as a whole has thoroughly changed in recent years. While that may be the case, often the ‘art‘ – in its visual, material, processual manifestations – still takes the limelight, and whatever writing an artist may do remains somewhat hidden in the background. Isabel Nolan, Curling Up with Reality (2020) literally addresses this imbalance. Although it is a hefty and highly visual – and colourful, because if there is one aspect that Isabel doesn’t shy away from it’s colour, in her watercolours, paintings, sculptures and tapestries – object of a book, in its development just as much, if not more, attention has been paid to exactly this aspect of her practice – the writing.

I worked with Isabel over the course of more than a year and read, selected, ordered, copy-edited and proofed her highly enjoyable, honest, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes awkward but incredible incisive essays, exposés and musings. Some topics come back and are reworked in other texts, some details are spun out in other directions, underlining that certain issues have remained fundamental to Isabel’s thinking over a long period of time (see for an outline of the range, the screenshot of Isabel’s Instagram post below). Over twenty texts are included in this book, situating her writing as as important for her as the work that most of us know her for. And I am not the only one who thinks so: Barry Schwabsky discovered that too…

Published by Launchpad, London, and Kerlin Gallery, in association with Douglas Hyde Gallery, both Dublin, designed Tony Waddington.

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