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Born in Wolverhampton, Stephen Brandes has lived and worked in Cork since moving to Ireland in 1993. His complex and detailed ink drawing Der Angstlustbaum, is inspired by a wide range of cultural references, including Charles Darwin´s “Tree of Evolution”, but the term, (not a recognized German word, but an invented word translating roughly as “anxiety driven tree”) also features in a quote from the band “The Fall”. The inspiration for this drawing, and other works by Brandes, stems partly from a visual diary the artist made in 1999 when he retraced his grandmother’s 1903 journey through Europe, when she fled pogroms and persecution in Romania. Brandes´ work has developed into a series of elaborate visual fictions, interweaving this family history with his own experience and invention. His work is infused with often, dark humour and is influenced by European fairytales, graphic novels and underground comics.
Recent solo exhibitions by Brandes include “Chutsparadiso” at the West Cork Arts Centre in 2007; “Travelogue” at the Rubicon Gallery in 2005, ‘Ways of Escape´, at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios, Dublin, in 2004. Brandes represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Brandes has also worked as a curator of independent art projects, notably Superbia (2003) and Superbia 2 (2005).
In case it helps to situate the conference being planned for June 2014 in Cork, and you were not at the 2010 event in Limerick, here is that Call for Papers:
Ireland and Ecocriticism: An Interdisciplinary Conference, 18-19 June 2010 Maureen O'Connor, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ireland is a land of pastoral greenery, but its landscape is an arguably 'unnatural' construct, a topography shaped by a history of conflict and suffering. Gerry Smyth asserted in 2000 that 'Irish Studies and ecocriticism ... have a lot to say to each other', yet despite the centrality of the land to Irish identity at home and abroad,ecocriticism remains largely absent from Irish Studies in Ireland. One explanation for reluctance to engage with this theoretical practice may be the long history of the country's conflicted, traumatized relation to the land, its often reductive figuration as 'nature', and one aim of this conference will be to examine this critical recalcitrance, when the land and the landscape feature in a vast range of cultural productions in Ireland, from folklore and music, to poetry and painting. The longstanding tension in Western society between 'nature' and 'culture' has unique implications for the social and political framing of the natural world in an Irish context. This fraught and complicated relationship urgently requires interrogation in an age of rapid climate change, when, for example, a country as wet as Ireland faces a water crisis. Proposals are welcome from across the disciplines, including environmental studies, anthropology, journalism, migration studies, history, geography, urban planning, music, literary studies, art history, folklore studies, archaeology, education, architecture, women's studies, philosophy, theology, culturalstudies, sociology, film and media studies, and colonial/postcolonial studies. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: Plantation and settlement Irish ecofeminism The simianised Irish, Paddy's pig, and animal rights Folklore and fairytales Traditional music Irish-language texts-the nature of translation, translating nature Meat-eating and national identity 'Oriental' Ireland and theosophy Colonial/postcolonial perspectives on representations of the natural Agrarian movements and utopian communities Ruins and landscape Landscape and national character Gendering the landscape The 'Celtic Tiger', late capital, and the death of nature Tourism and the heritage industry The visual arts, past and present The Catholic Church and the 'natural' Diaspora and nostalgia Landscape-based worship: holy wells, patterns, and pilgrimages