Ursula Burke

Super Mario (2012)

Porcelain Sculpture

14cm x 12cm

Courtesy of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland


Ursula Burke is an Irish artist who works within the discipline of sculpture. She uses a variety of media including porcelain sculpture, embroidery sculpture and drawing. Her work explores abuses of power in many realms of the social and political in the West.

Representation and Identity within post-conflict Northern Ireland is the main imperative of her work. Using a range of formal techniques drawn from the canon of fine art classicism, she works in dialogue between idealised versions of society expressed through the classical period and potential constructions of the ideal within contemporary, post-conflict, Northern Ireland.

Formally, her work appropriates tropes deeply invested in the Classical, and re-inserts them in the contemporary, aiming to create a conceptual bridge between the Classical 'ideal' (in form/society) and the 'reality' of contemporary post-conflict Northern Irish society. Burke has been described as one of the most important Irish artists of her generation, with her work focused on the re-presentation of materials and images with a rich artistic history and cross-referencing them with a Northern Irish context.

Burke’s work introduces surreal representations of sectarian ritual and features protagonists with conflicting interests and common culture. Her sculptural work is layered with historical art references, elements of the surreal and often present dark and humorous constructions. This piece entitled Super Mario with its muscular, balaclava clad character reacting to a video game is an example of Burke's ability to draw humour from dark themes.