Gallagher has been working on the Watery Ecstatic series since 2001. These lyrical watercolours and cut-paper collages present a variety of marine organisms, including eels, jellyfish, clusters of seaweed and imaginary archipelagos. Their delicate precision is reminiscent of pages from a scientist’s notebook, even as curious faces and stray fragments of newsprint emerge from among the floating tendrils. As a student, Gallagher took an oceanography course and spent a semester on a research boat catching and studying pteropods – wing footed snails. The process of drawing these elusive, microscopic creatures helped to steer her towards her vocation as an artist.
Preserve 2001 consists of a sculpture and a suite of sixteen works on paper, in which wig advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s provide the starting point for layers of collage, drawing and plasticine. The sculpture evokes the same period, suggesting the open, geometric constructions of minimalist artists such as Sol LeWitt, but also resembling a playground climbing frame or an elaborate cage. In contrast to the unadorned surfaces of minimalism, the wooden bars have been decorated with rubber forms and painted white, so that they recall the scrimshaw carvings into ivory or bone made by sailors on long whaling voyages.