Roisin Dunne’s Dark Images

When you first lay eyes on the art of Roisin Dunne, you are instantly intrigued. Her work, in all its various forms, has an unusual, emotive effect on the viewer. You’re not always quite sure what you’re looking at but you can’t stop looking all the same.

The Spectral Sequence was the first piece I saw of Dunne’s and it caught my attention immediately. I was almost repulsed and definitely fascinated by the strange face staring back at me.  Strangely enough, this image was only a one off for Dunne. The unusual effect was achieved with pen, bleach, water and cartridge paper and was the closest Dunne had ever come to painting. She felt it was a ‘risky and fast paced process and I’m still not sure if I’m comfortable with it. I am not sure where that will go, we will have to wait and see.’

Spectral Sequence

Born in 1982, Dunne has always had an interest in art and design. First completing a BA in Fashion Design at St Martin’s College of Art and Design, London, Dunne discovered that her passion veered more toward the illustrative rather than technical side of things. She had no desire to prepare patterns and seemed to be more drawn to the design aspect of the course. She went on to complete her Masters in Communication in Art & Design at London’s Royal College of Art. You can see more of her work on her website.

Since then, Dunne has completed work for several bands and for a charming piece on corpses and their uses for FUN Magazine.

Skull Moss

The Moss artwork for the album Sub Templum, by the British doom metal band Moss, centers on a freemasonry theme. With all the images coming from Dunne’s research of the brotherhood, she chose to embellish the more occult and mythological aspects of Masonry lore. The result is a truly dark and symbolic series that makes the most of her unique style.

Prince Mason

The tiny furrows and scratchy detail of Dunne’s work is reminiscent of medieval woodcuts. The black and white lends an eerie quality, making the shadows seem darker than black and the white a stark and confronting plane of absence.

Tree of Life

Dunne likes to work with black and prefers to focus on texture and detail. Though not religious, she has long been fascinated by Christian art and also cites the Symbolists of 19th and early 20th century as a big inspiration.

Dunne currently favors working with a rapidograph pen and cartridge paper. Preferring to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to materials, Dunne likes to ‘feel like I can sit and work anywhere’.

Black Series 5

The drawings in the Black Series were based on the idea that Black is multi-dimensional, and is therefore a space rather than a shade or colour, and the possibilities within darkness, such as growth, development from chaos.

– Roisin Dunne

In her time at the Royal College of Art, Dunne began working with a fellow student, Mark Atkinson. Atkinson had written a poem called The Earth Eaters that explores the idea of harvesting and archiving collective memories.

The Earth Eaters 6

A plastic light falls over a stretch of land where corn fields once grew and blackbirds used to mass. Now only brown dirt swirls up in spiraling forms that drift across reformed hills and gouged hollows. Rows of men move uniformly across the dirt fields, scraping and eating the earth searching for the remains of what had existed before

– Atkinson, The Earth Eaters

The Earth Eaters 3

This piece of his own time stands defiant for a moment before finally crumbling in to the acid like pool of his weakened memory. He feels it surround him. Reaching into the empty space in his head like a tongue exploring a missing tooth, he tries to whistle the songs of the burning birds.

– Atkinson, The Earth Eaters

Dunne explains,

we wanted to work together and produce a body of work that was connected but remaining vague and abstract.

The story and illustrations are being included in a book of my work that is being published soon by Ditto Press.

The Earth Eaters 7

Here in his work, he feels like a record needle forced eternally over dark grooves. Each movement he makes re-awakens something forgotten, some memory or object thought lost within the past and within the all consuming dirt.

– Atkinson, The Earth Eaters

With other examples of work completed for bands Capricorns, Terrorizer and Cannonbury on her site, Dunne’s emerging style is strong and her images are powerful. A combination of intense symbolism and rambling abstraction, Dunne’s art is suggestive without being restrictive.


Lara Cory has recently completed her first novel and she has a food blog. She has always been interested in music, writing, art, film and books. She studied Communications and Music and lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two small boys.

One response to “Roisin Dunne’s Dark Images”

  1. Peter says:

    Love Roisin’s work.

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