Francis Ruane

Since I first saw Linda Brunker's beautifully crafted pieces in 1988 they have continued to challenge the traditional conception of sculpted figures. In her early works, the female form was delicately conjured out of leaves that appeared to be blown into shape by the wind. These were apparitions which had the feeling of being accidental, transitory, momentary.

The physical reality of bronze sculpture is that it is heavy and static. Brunker works against this so that the material seems light and fluid, creating fragile images that defy logic. In some of her sculptures she resists the solidity of bronze, creating spaces which open up the pieces, letting air and light flow through them. This sense of lightness is enhanced by their overall compositional structure, where the entire piece is often balanced on a single point.

Brunker's use of feathers, leaves and seaweed as recurring imagery reinforces the appearance of lightness and delicacy in her work. These ephemeral objects have been painstakingly cast in bronze with a patience and skill that is truly remarkable. These source materials obviously link the sculptures with nature but there is also a sense of nature in the way they have been composed into flowing shapes which echo the rhythms of wind, fire and water.

Catalogue introduction for exhibition at the Solomon Gallery, 1995

Aidan Dunne

In Linda Brunker’s elegant sculptures, masses of natural forms, from leaves to starfish, bear the imprint of human, usually female, heads and bodies. They are emblematic of the structural patterns that connect not just living things but all forms on all scales, from microscopic to to cosmic. The work is technically impeccable and often ingenious......

Critics Choice The Tribune Magazine, 10th November 1996

Linda Brunker’s trademark is an unlikely but pleasing combination of elements: a figurative
form incarnated in a fugitive shape built from a repeated natural motif, typically leaves or feathers. These mould themselves as if spontaneously around a female head or torso and the result is an elegant, spectral, fluid presence, something that should contradict the fixity of bronze but somehow doesn't. Ever since her degree show she has always looked like a highly interesting artist and this exhibition confirms her promise. It covers a lot of ground because each piece is intricately detailed in concept and execution and demands a lot of space and attention. She is pretty convincing with some really outstanding pieces.

Critics Choice The Tribune Magazine, 30th October 1994

Dorothy Walker

........''Linda Brunker's poetic bronze figures made of bronze oak leaves astonish not only the foundries where she does her innovative casting, but also the public who rush to buy her work. Her concerns are based on landscape and nature, and her figures, when shown in the romantic woodland gardens of Fernhill at the foot of the Dublin mountains, seem to take form from the leafy undergrowth. Seamus Heany asks in a recent poem 'How habitable is the perfect form?' The perfect form is habitable when the underlying idea, the artist's intention, and the medium used to express that intention and idea, coalesce so closely and with such crucial balance that an ardent energy is released, breathing life into inert matter.''

Bronze by gold - "The work of Irish Women Sculptors"

Irish Arts Review 1989/90

Aidan Dunne

Remember the story of Daphne and Apollo? As Ovid has it, a spiteful Cupid inspires love in Apollo with a golden arrow, but puts love to flight in Daphne with a leaden one. When the god pursues her she prays for deliverance, which takes a strange form. Just as Apollo catches her she is transformed into a laurel tree.

London's National Gallery possesses a small Renaissance painting depicting Apollo and Daphne. It is attributed to the brothers Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo. In their picture they situate the myth firmly in their own 15th century Florence. Apollo has grasped Daphne, but she is already transforming into her tree state. Her outflung arms sprouting vegetation, one leg has apparently become a stem and plunges into the ground.

There are many other such transformations in classical mythology. Myrrha, for example, after coupling incestuously with her father, is changed into a myrrh tree. Or Phaethon's sisters, mourning his death, are transformed into poplar trees, their tears into beads of amber. Phaethon's fried Cygnus, meanwhile, is, as his name implies, changed into a swan. Jupiter assumes the form of a swan to seduce Leda.

Then there is the Irish myth of the Children of Lir. These stories have also provided artists with sources for images of metamorphosis. Often the images seem to go beyond their immediate sources, however, and recall a time of nature worship.

The connection between such images and the work of Linda Brunker is clear enough. Just look at the pair of figures in 'Reach'. Their bodies, pressed together, have the texture of bark, their upraised arms are branches, soaring and dividing. In 'Groundling' a leafy, crouching figure sprouts roots from the soles of its feet. The kneeling figure in 'Source' is armored with a carapace of masses of pine cones, while her arms and face have the texture of bark, and branches spring from her hands.

As it happens, though, there is an additional element of correspondence in the figure of Daphne, as caught in the moments of her transformation, between the worlds of plant and human. For Daphne is said to be the daughter of a nymph - priestess of Gaia (her father is the river-god Peneus).

And of course, Gaia, Mother Earth, is now the symbol not only for nature, but also of the conservation movement, the personification of ecological consciousness.
It is impossible to look at Linda's sculptures without linking them to a sympathetic awareness of nature and a strong sense of identification with it. One of her first works to attract attention was a globe formed by a network of leaves.

Many of the figures she makes adopt what might take as being attitudes of reverence or ecstasy, kneeling, bowing, soaring,. One thinks of feminist writes Charlene Spretnak's conception of a specifically feminine spirituality, embodying an awareness of the under lying unity of different forms of being, and of all life as being a rhythmic, cyclical process.

In 'Foliose' the figure of a woman, bent over, kneeling, hugging the ground, is both shaped and clad by a mantle of leaves which seem to have drifted about her. They shelter her but also form her. The individual is a part of nature, woven into its fabric. But, more, the individual is just a momentary configuration of elements, a form borrowed from nature, a transient being. Life is indeed dynamic and transitory.

This is underlined by a work like 'Reform' , in which leaves swaying on undulant stems slip into the evanescent form of a torso, or 'Sink or Swim', where seaweed, starfish and sea horses casually suggest a figure reaching upward. The head and shoulders that emerge from the pattern of feathers in 'Coming Round' may also be a reference to Lir's children, transformed into swans.

The paradigm of Linda's sculpture is a dual one: the body impressed on nature, nature shaping the body. Generally it is woman's body (nature is always female), her sensuality expressed in an elegance of form and in the luxuriance of the natural textures which define her. Not that this is a recipe invariable followed. It is, rather, a basis, with deep roots in mythic literature and contemporary consciousness. From this basis she has made a remarkably rich, and remarkably beautiful body of work.

Catalogue introduction for exhibition at The American Irish Historical Society, New York 1995