VAULTS: Mary Bowen Galvin | Ad pondus omnium

25 July – 24 August, 10.30am-6pm  

Known for her work in two-dimensional media such as painting, artist Mary Bowen Galvin found herself experimenting in three dimensions with found materials during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Exposure to the theatricality of Roman Catholic ceremonies as a child had left the artist with a healthy degree of scepticism and disrespect for hierarchical systems of control, but also a residual appreciation of the power of the artefact. What has emerged is ‘Ad pondus omnium’ (the weight of all things), a series of playful sculptural pieces that humorously address the hypocrisy and absurdity of the church and its trappings, drawing particularly on the use of gold and intricate detailing to attribute significance and value. 

Each new sculpture in the ‘Ad pondus omnium’ series has its origins in a found object with a known history or intended use. A search for companion pieces follows resulting in a collection of disparate or similar artefacts that form a narrative within the overarching pseudo-ecclesiastical theme. The artist is interested in the potentiality of devalued and discarded materials and the possibility of re-invention or resurrection. 

The use of plastic toy soldiers as a raw material allows for a subtle commentary on the complicated relationship between religion and conflict whilst also replicating the grandiose embellishments found on church architecture, furniture and ceremonial paraphernalia. The core of each sculptural object is either playfully celebrated or partially disguised. Egg boxes become shrines, packaging from boxes of chocolates become gold gilded backdrops and plastic spacers used by tilers become a sea of miniature crucifixes.  

The installation in the vaults at Lavit Gallery presents the body of work to the public for the first time and does so in the guise of a collection of liturgical items housed within a secure or sacred space much like a sacristy, chapel or shrine. The objects are impressive and seductive as the church might intend but the artist’s wry sense of humour is evident throughout. 


Mary Bowen Galvin, The Crown of Carnage

Mary Bowen Galvin, The Crown of Carnage



Mary Bowen Galvin is an artist based in her hometown of Cork City. She holds an MA Research in Fine Art (2012) and a BA (Hons) on Fine Art with Distinction (2009) from MTU Crawford College of Art & Design. Group exhibitions include the Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition (2023, 2021), West Cork Creates at Cnoc Bhuí, Union Hall Co. Cork (2023, 2021),  ‘Roaming’, LHQ Gallery, Cork County Library (2023), Annual Members Exhibition (2022, 2021), Summer Exhibition (2022) and Winter Exhibition (2023) at Lavit Gallery Cork, ‘Remaining Places’, Fota House, Co. Cork (2022), ‘Between the Sights of the Sun’ curated by Maeve Mulrennan, Birr Arts Festival, Co. Offaly (2021). Her work is in the collections of Munster Technological University and the CETB Student Collection as well as in private collections in the UK, France, USA and Ireland. Mary is a member of the Backwater Artists Network and previously worked as an arts facilitator with young adults with special needs in addition to working with Cork Stroke Support and the Crawford Art Gallery.