Maeve Curley

Layers of the Ocean

Seashells are the exoskeletons of mollusks such as oysters and mussels. These sea creatures grow their shells from the bottom up by adding ocean minerals at the margins. Starting by photographing an oyster shell the artist drew the layers of the shell to use for the sculpture, the bottom layer of the sculpture being the smallest. Little by little the shells margins grow, each layer different and beautiful in their own right. These layers create the form of the sculpture. Each shape informs the next layer in the same way as mollusks make their shells adding materials to the margins of the layers. Slowing over time the shell grows.  

In this time of lockdown and social distancing one can identify with a little mollusk in its shell protected from the wild Atlantic currents and tumbling oceans. During this tough time, Irish people were confined to their homes their shells but they still shone a light in lockdown. Especially when they lit candles and held lights for the frontline workers. The pearly light at the centre of the oyster will gently shine through.  This large sculptural seashell will sit on the quay side and allow people to see the beauty of these small sea creatures. The light of the pearl will shine through the layers of the ocean. 

Maeve Curley is a visual artist, a graduate architect and member of the studio Interface. She studied hand drawing, model making and photography at SAUL.   

Her thesis ‘Civic Games’ was shortlisted for the Mies van der Rohe Young Talent Architecture Awards and one of her collages was exhibited as part of the Venice Biennale of Architecture.  

Maeve has gained experience with woodwork and digital fabrication through her time studying in the Fab Lab in Limerick. While studying there she and her colleague designed their own timber joint which was placed second in the national wood awards.   

She is influenced by art, architecture, physical movement, the Irish landscape and seascape. An avid sea swimmer, who spends time exploring the versatile seashores along the coast of Connaught. While sea swimming she was influenced by the shells she saw on the ocean floor.  

She has predominantly worked in the west of Ireland and for a period in Marseille, France. While in France she studied a diploma in Digital Media Studies. She is currently based in Westport working as an architect and travels to Connemara to create art at Interface. @curley_maeve

Photograph: Conor McKeown