Jane Irish began her residency in September 2020, after being selected by FWM Curator Karen Patterson—working in partnership with The Clay Studio—to produce a yardage design in collaboration with FWM. Working primarily in painting and ceramics, Irish was invited to feature new work from her practice alongside the yardage, culminating with the presentation of Hard/Cover, a group exhibition featured in the museum’s eighth-floor gallery.
For this exhibition, Irish learned repeat-pattern techniques to produce Goya’s Dream, a 15-yard canopy of cotton sateen displayed above eight ceramic vessels and 100 Rococo-inspired tiles. The vessels take their shape from mid-eighteenth-century potpourri containing herbal spices. Here, they function as a motif to represent trade and, in the artist’s view, a shameful justification for imperialism and colonialism.
Irish first illustrated her vessels as 2D models in a “pattern book”: a practice popularized in the nineteenth century, allowing architects to share new designs in a printed volume. Images placed on these vessels include defendants from United States v. The Amistad (1841), a groundbreaking Supreme Court case in furthering the abolitionist cause to end enslavement, as well as portraits of the first Western missionary in Vietnam. In her yardage, a cloud seen in the reflection of a rice paddy appears beside representations of US military intervention in Vietnam. These inclusions are representative of the artist’s ongoing interest in straddling the lines between justice, politics and beauty.