Kathy Prendergast

The Black Map Series 

18 February to 10 April 2010

Kathy Prendergast uses a range of materials in her work, from ordinary domestic objects to cast bronze, and from chalk or marble to human hair. Since the early 1990s Prendergast has also used maps and ideas around mapping as a key point of departure for a number of series of works.

Prendergast’s current series of Black Maps, exhibited at Peer, are produced by a laborious process of inking-out vast areas of road maps from countries around the world, leaving visible small white dots that denote areas of habitation.

At close inspection, roads, place names and geographical details can still be discerned underneath the densely hatched lines of black marker, giving these works a strong sense of having been crafted by hand. Viewed from a distance, each work has the appearance of a star chart – constellations of small villages, large towns and major cities all represented by hundreds of uniform-size single white marks.

In some countries, such as Poland and the Ukraine, the distribution of dots across the density of black is fairly evenly spread, suggesting a balanced distribution of population across a geographical area. One could also infer from this that these communities also have roughly equal areas of land for agriculture around them. By contrast, two maps of western USA show lines of clustered of dots and leave large areas totally blacked out, suggesting arteries or routes of passage through less agrarian landscapes. In these works, Prendergast has effaced the functionality of the map as an indicator of the topographies of the land, and has re-cast it to a chart that indicates only our impact and imposition onto it. She recently commented, ‘The map is an expression of the landscape but over and above that, it is an expression of us on the landscape.’

Maps are employed in Prendergast’s work as both subject and as object – for their conceptual dexterity and for their functional matter-of-factness. She does not attempt to transform her source material into a pristine, finished object. Her hand as the maker is very present and any imperfections in her methodical process, as well as the integral creases of the map that reveal its original, shop-purchased form are left untouched.


Kathy Prendergast was born in Dublin and now lives and works in London. She has exhibited widely since the 1980s. In 1995 she won the Premio 2000 for the best young artistat the Venice Biennale for her City Drawings series. This body of work was subsequently shown at Tate Britain, and also at the Irish Musuem of Modern Art as part of her retrospective exhibition The End and The Beginning. She participated in the Sydney Biennale and in exhibitions at the ICA Boston, the Drawing Center and PS1, New York. She is represented in many private and museum collections including Tate, Albright-Knox Museum and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. She is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

An A5 fold-out publication with a new text by Catherine Nash is available. Click here to buy a copy.

Artist's multiple:
To help raise funds for PEER Kathy Prendergast has produced Chimborazo, a limited edition silk scarf. This scarf is based on a hand-coloured map by the artist of the eponymous volcano in Ecuador. Click here to buy one.

Kathy Prendergast is represented by
Kerlin gallery, Dublin

This project has been generously supported by:

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