HOME: James L. Hayes

In James L. Hayes’ installation No good deed goes unpunished, a grid of white panels presents repeated plaster casts of the reverse side of a canvas.

The original painting was made by the artist’s late father in the 1970s and depicted his native homeland of West Waterford and the Comeragh mountains, a ‘classical’ Irish landscape that captured his nostalgia for the land he emigrated from in the 1940s. In turning aside the painted canvas to reveal its frame and fixtures, Hayes eschews the desire to focus on appearance in order to amplify the underlying, often invisible supports of what we live upon. For the artist, this mode of denial is particularly indicative of contemporary responses to climate change

Homegrown comprises three large stems of asparagus cast in bronze, set on a handmade felt cushion. The asparagus was grown in rural Ireland, and cultivated by the artist’s late father in an attempt to understand why such vegetables are generally imported to the country despite the favourable agricultural conditions here at home. The demand for such products generates a substantial carbon footprint and comes at great ecological cost to farmers in South and Latin America, forced to clear indigenous forests and destroying vital ecosystems in the year-round production of cash crops. Homegrown signals this inherent contradiction and, through the irony of the bronze casting’s relative ‘eternity,’ questions the structures that underpin our culinary habits.