In the fourth episode of the new series of The Works Presents, to be broadcast on RTÉ One on Thursday 13th Oct, John Kelly travels to the studio of acclaimed contemporary Irish artist Alice Maher, to talk about her wide ranging work over the last thirty years, from the early days of art school through to her recent exhibition The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House.

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Born in rural Co. Tipperary, much of Alice’s work features materials she encountered in the fields as a young girl – nettles, brambles, bees and berries. Using these materials in her iconic Nettle Coat and Berry Dress, Alice has created works whose dimensions change with the passing of time.

Never afraid to try new things, Alice has worked across a diverse range of art disciplines, from watercolour paintings and charcoal drawings, to large scale installations and small sculptures.

Known for her extensive use of human hair in her work, Alice often brings the female form to the forefront of her art. Alice talks to John about how the idea that a woman can be a creator of culture is still relatively new and that by placing the female as the main protagonist in her work, she hopes to make them something more than simply a thing to be objectified.

The Gardener by Alice Maher, via Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

Alice also talks about her search for strong, female artistic role-models in the 1980s and her admiration of artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Paula Rego, and shows John some examples from her latest exhibition, The Glorious Maids of the Charnel House, in which she captured both the burden of the female in society and the potential for personal growth from carrying this burden.  

The Works Presents Alice Maher, RTÉ One, Thursday 13th Oct, 11.05pm. The Glorious Maid of the Charnel House is currently showing at the Purdy Hicks Gallery, London - details here.