James L. Hayes
The Essence of Taste

Saturday 6 October – Saturday 24 November

West Cork Arts Centre is delighted to announce the opening of its latest exhibition The Essence of Taste by Cork based artist James L Hayes. This show is a culmination of Hayes’ ongoing investigations into issues related to both environmental and economic conflicts. These themes are explored through multi-disciplinary and kinetic sculptural installations.

The exhibition also features a split-screen digital projection that originated from Hayes’ most recent research in the Western United States.  This explores the myths and narratives surrounding some of America’s most infamous early western, frontier men and women and also aims to examine the cultural phenomena of ‘celebrity’ and ‘notoriety’.


Looking into the Light of Dark Matters is an installation that consists of one bronze plane accompanied by numerous wax replicas of polystyrene model planes, making reference to the casting process itself. The planes are positioned on a steel structure reminiscent of a pylon or oil derrick, the wax planes themselves are also dyed with spent engine and aviation oil. These planes hint at the dark underside of our appetite for travel and our reliance on a material that is steadily running out. The planes are accompanied by a digital projection of wind turbines indicative of a new generation of green energy.

The exhibition title piece The Essence of Taste is an installation composed of a circular drill of cast iron and cast bronze asparagus.  This work considers the unique phenomenon by which asparagus affects the urine and it utilises scientific processes and distillation methods to further examine bodily processes.
At the centre of the drill is a motorised, rotating, spraying device which intermittently sprays the cast asparagus with the essence of filtrated ‘asparagus urine’ carried by ethanol. Over a period of weeks the iron and bronze cast asparagus will change colour significantly.
This work continues the artist’s research into sustainability and examines the notion of ‘food miles’. It also probes our desire for unseasonal or unavailable foodstuffs and its consequences, investigating that which may constitute ‘waste’ both bodily and financially.


Bill and Annie, a split-screen digital projection, aims to explore and historicise issues of notoriety and infamy as they relate to a contemporary context. It traces a lineage from these prominent historical figures, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, and the legacy that surrounds them, to a current fascination with celebrity culture. Through the use of interview based film and staged re-enactments and performances, this work examines the profound impact these iconic figures have had on everyday American society by examining the role of their legacy in the subsequent creation and embodiment of certain American, western ideals.

This exhibition will also be visited by hundreds of schoolchildren from all over the West Cork area as it forms the basis for WCAC’s 2012 – 2013 Primary Schools Programme.  Next Spring there will be an exhibition of work by children at WCAC in response to the inspiration they gain from The Essence of Taste.


James L Hayes is a contemporary visual artist and member of teaching faculty at CIT Crawford College of Art. He is a graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design, De Montfort University, Leicester and the University of London.

The Essence of Taste by James L Hayes opens on Friday 5 October at 7.00pm and all are welcome to come along.  The exhibition continues to Saturday 24 November.
Further information from 028 – 22090 and www.westcorkartscentre.com