Her choice of sources and materials reflects a playful and seductive approach - from cast bronze, magazine adverts, bulldog clips, National Geographic photo stories, vintage jewellery and mementos to modelling wax.
In her first solo show at Ceri Hand Gallery, Donnelly presents a new body of work drawing on Simon Schama's interpretation of The Ecstasy of St Theresa (1644-1647, Gian Lorenzo Bernini) in the BBC TV series The Power of Art.
Filming art history book drawings of this work, Donnelly has re-created The Ecstasy of St Theresa utilising the same long, languid pans of the sculpture witnessed in the TV footage. Donnelly highlights the BBC's attempt to communicate the surface (the folds, ruptures and physicality) and the rapture embodied in the work. Donnelly's film is projected onto a roller blind, neatly re-presenting the creative process and time, embodied as drawing-sculpture-film-drawing-film-sculpture, framing the exhibition as an orchestrated spectacle.
The concerns and details of Bernini's work are played out within the gallery: The fluidity and lightness of the drapery on St Theresa's habit, eternally frozen in a moment, is referenced in the bronze sculptures; the angels spear and the sun-rays are re-visited through reflective surfaces; the marble inlay on the floor of the altar depicting 'the very threshold of the underworld... where the earth splits... and the skeletal dead clamber forwards' is reflected in the small falling collaged matadors outfits, (taken from press cuttings), repeated and secured with hat-pins.
The extended hand and the curling foot of St. Theresa are used as a motif in several different works such as the Sketches series, referencing touch and drawing the eye to points in space. These jewel-like works personify desire, and the transcendent power of the must-have object.
Time and its relation to both drawing and sculpture are reflected in the Polaroid's which intervene and form many of the works in the exhibition. Now nearly extinct, they capture elegantly and instantly, yet are a unique document of moments passed.
At the centre of the exhibition, creating DaVinci like arcs, large spindly, floor based drawing machines have ground to a halt - objects burdened by the weight of their own function.
Throughout the exhibition there is something like a tracing with the finger of the edge of each piece of work to ask does this belong to the wall or the floor - is this an object or a surface, which relates back to the cinematography of the representation of Bernini's sculpture by Schama - how object became two-dimensional, became an object in time.