Irish sculptor, draughtsman, painter and installation artist, active in London. She studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (1976–80 and 1982–3), graduating with a BFA. In 1980–81 she trained and worked as a studio camera operator; in 1983 she moved to London and began her studies for an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Her work in the 1980s was concerned with issues around territory, using mapping as a metaphor for control. In the Body Map series she painted cross sections of the female body as if it were terrain to be tamed, for example in To Alter a Landscape (1983; Dublin, Irish MOMA). Prendergast did not see this work as having a feminist agenda, rather as trying to articulate ‘a personal geography'. Issues of scale are also present in Prendergast's sculptures and installations. These concerns with scale and mapping continued to be featured in the City Drawings, a series of drawings begun in 1992 representing maps of the world's capitals. These drawings leave out all defining features except for roads and rivers, so that each city becomes a diagram of its historical construction. Much of Prendergast's work can be seen as a critique of colonisation, against the backdrop of Irish struggles for independence. In the 1990s Prendergast began to alter domestic objects. These objects have a strong Surrealist influence, replacing her earlier concentration on the female body with a more general human presence.
Kathy Prendergast (exh. cat., essay C. Joyce, Dublin, Trinity Coll., Hyde Gal., 1990)
Re/Dressing Cathleen: Contemporary Works from Irish Women Artists (exh. cat., ed. J. Grinnell and A. Conley; Chestnut Hill, MA, Boston Coll., McMullen Mus. A., 1997)
Kathy Prendergast: The End and the Beginning (exh. cat., essay F. McKee, Dublin, Irish MOMA, 1999)
CATHERINE M. GRANT
10 December 2000