Daphne Wright is a Research Fellow at the Fine Art Department of Manchester Metropolitan University, a post funded by the Henry Moore Foundation. In 1993, Daphne Wright was commissioned to produce a work for the Diaspora Project. This ongoing initiative, funded by the Irish Arts Council, selects Irish artists living abroad to produce works on the theme of emigration. This is the first showing of ‘Domestic Shrubbery’ in England.
Daphne Wright’s practise deals with her experience as a Southern Irish Protestant. Her community is a remnant of the plantation of English landowners and tenant communities which now accounts for a dwindling 3% of the Republic of Ireland. Thus Wright’s perception of her cultural identity is suspended between ‘Englishness’ and ‘Irishness’. Her work explores this ambiguous construction of personal identity and its effect on the individual’s sense of place within society.
‘Domestic Shrubbery’ re-explores the notions of ‘home’, ‘family’ and ‘belonging’. With its wallpaper-derived trellis of plaster roses, Wright breaks down the inner and outer boundary lines between ‘family’ and ‘society’ to create a home environment that is at once a place of retreat, intimacy, confinement and discomfort. A soundtrack plays the voice of a woman imitating the cuckoo bird, a term of endearment by a parent to a child in some communities. However uncomfortable associations are alluded to. The cuckoo in nature is not raised by its natural parents but displaces other birds to dominate their nests. The viewer is left with a disquieting feeling. Home and family are ever sites of ambiguous comfort.