Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Aoibheann Ní Ealaí 

BA [Hons] Art

Aoibheann Ni Ealai is an Irish born artist who during her time as a student in IADT developed a love for sculpture and experimentation with a variety of materials. Aoibheann’s art has been influenced by various religions and the symbols associated with them. Her work seeks to materialise symbolism and elusive subjects. She is drawn to the use of tinted glass because of its association with places of worship. Aoibheann has exhibited in IADT student shows such as Perceived Dimensions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2018), and High Heart at Pallas Projects/Studios (2021).

Project Description

Through the medium of sculpture, my work combines secular and religious symbolism. The use of symbols is a shared but unspoken language, and this an important aspect of my works. I often work with fragile materials, such as glass to discuss topics that may be deemed sensitive. I have taken inspiration from religion and its ability to bring people together, especially during difficult times. In 2020 I created three-dimensional stained-glass sculptures as an exploration of how the ability to practice religion in public was affected by Covid 19. My more recent works have developed to discuss not religion itself but rather actions that may have become “religious” or “ritualistic” in people’s lives as a way to feel in control.

Iconographic Symbols in Religious Art: An examination of the Lion, the Rose, the Lotus, and the Hand, as iconographic motifs

In my Thesis, I discuss common motifs present in the artworks of the most populous religions, what they represent in their pertaining faiths, how they are illustrated, and how they have been interpreted throughout each one over time. In each chapter, I examine the employment of Flora, Fauna, or specific gestures utilised in the representation of religious figures in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. I have chosen to discuss the Lion, the Rose, the Lotus and Hand Gestures in this thesis because these motifs can be seen throughout various religions, which has allowed me to thoroughly investigate each one to determine their symbolic significance and influence.