Supplicant - VISUAL

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art &
The George Bernard Shaw Theatre


Ursula Burke

15 November 2021 - 30 January 2022 |

VISUAL is delighted to support the presentation of new work by artist Ursula Burke. Influenced by conventions in classical architecture and statuary, Supplicants includes soft sculptures, tapestries, drawing and fresco painting.

“A wave is sweeping around the globe where discontent and disillusion in the establishment are ripe. We are in the middle of a global transformation, where turbulence and revolt can be seen in many countries. How can the phenomenon of populism and the rise in extreme versions of nationalism be seen not as an aberration or singular event but as a symptom of something much larger? Where and how do we find meaning when the structures upon which we anchor our lives, such as family, religion and community, are being eroded?” – Ursula Burke

Beholden to someone more powerful, a supplicant humbles themselves in order to gain what they want and need. This collection of work considers the power relations and societal hierarchies that exist within our social and material lives.

A life-sized sculpture of a Caryatid, a lone female figure made mainly of wool and porcelain, stands symbolically supporting the entablature of a building upon her head. Tapestries explore the conventions around representation and display in Medieval and Renaissance wall tapestries. Framed drawings present thinly veiled representations of injustice and inequality.

Responding to the context of the space and VISUAL’s architecture, Ursula Burke works on a larger scale here, using materials that are often overlooked, underestimated or relegated to the domestic/female domain.

About the Artist:

Ursula Burke is an Irish artist working in various media, including porcelain sculpture, textile sculpture, embroidery sculpture and drawing. Solo exhibitions include A False Dawn, Ulster Museum, Belfast (2020) and Centre Culturel Irlandais (2019); The Precariat, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2018) and The Dock, Leitrim; Vestiges, Ormston House, Limerick and Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin (2016); Hope for a Better Past, The MAC, Belfast (2013). Burke was recently awarded a Markievicz Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and the Decade of Centenaries, Department of Arts and Culture.


Caryatid: a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support, taking the place of a column or pillar to support a structure

Entablature: one of the major elements of classical architecture, the entablature is the upper part of a building, with horizontal mouldings and bands supported by columns